RaveThe Telegraph... remarkable ... Kolbert is a witty, deft writer with an eye for vivid colour. She takes us from sun-blistered desert islands on the Great Barrier Reef to the sopping Peruvian jungle, where she joins her guides chewing coca leaves to sustain her Andean trudge. But her most urgent warning is about the condition of our oceans ... Hers is a deadly message, delivered in elegant prose, and we can’t afford to ignore it.
MixedThe GuardianStrøksnes is caught up in this fever, and his book moves through a world of light and dark in which the shark becomes a symbolic quarry, summoning other stories. In intriguing digressions into science and folklore, he speaks of his love and fear of the ocean. Especially fascinating is a section on the 16th-century Swedish chronicler Olaus Magnus, who discerned all manner of bizarre monsters, filling Nordic seas with nightmarish creatures as chimeric compounds of real animals ... His writing is never less than interesting. But I find his hunt for the shark as hard to take as the errors in his book – in part the fault, I suspect, of the American English translation.
RaveThe GuardianThe glory of this book is its richly evoked world, from the descriptions of the once wild California land steadily encroached on over the course of the 70s – as mountain lions are driven out and replaced by swimming pools – to the intense psychodramas of an extraordinary family ... Frank is a master of self-reflection, under the bowl of blue sky and in those closeted canyons. He says nothing in an ordinary way; everything has a dreamlike smoothness, born out of his extended act of retrieval and the remembered violence of emotion and inconstancy ... The final chapters – sad and glorious – capture a glitteringly dysfunctional family in a moment in time. I doubt you’ll read a better memoir this year. The Mighty Franks is full of humour and brittle irony. In Aunt Hankie, Frank has created a great new nonfictional character: an indelible wonder of dark depths and hypnotic high style.
RaveThe Guardian...[a] brilliant book ... The beauty of Godfrey-Smith’s book lies in the clarity of his writing; his empathy, if you will. He takes us through those early stirrings in the seas of deep time, from bacteria that sense light and can taste, to cnidarian jellyfish, the first organisms to exhibit nervous systems, which he describes wonderfully ... Returning again and again to his many-armed friends in their Octopolis off the Australian shore, Godfrey-Smith evokes a cephalopod utopia. In the process, he proves that, like all aliens, these strange, beautiful creatures are more like us than our hubris allows.