Saturday, 18 December 2010

Broken Things

Broken Things by Padrika Tarrant

Bought this one more or less at random from Salt Publishing. I thought I was buying a novel, as it was described as the author's 'first full-length work' but it isn't a novel. It's a collection of beautifully written but weird and somewhat disturbing short pieces. Some are subtly connected to others, and all are connected by their themes of broken things - both objects and minds. They're not really stories - many have no plot. They're more like cameos.

It's the kind of book where every now and again you have to read a sentence several times, because you just love the phrases used. And some of the images will stay with me for a long time. See the excerpt on the link above, for an example.

Monday, 13 December 2010

This Thing of Darkness

This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson

My 15-year old bought this one for my birthday. It's a whopper of a book, nearly 800 pages. And every one of them brilliant.

It covers the story of the voyage of the Beagle in the 1830s. Yes, that Beagle, which carried Charles Darwin on the journey which helped him formulate his theories of evolution. It is the tale of both Darwin and Robert FitzRoy, the captain of the Beagle and a scientist in his own right. The book follows them both during the voyage and in the years afterwards, until FitzRoy's death thirty years later. It is action and adventure on the high seas, and also shows the unfolding of ideas which ultimately led to The Origin of Species.

I can't do it justice here, but if you like action, if you like science, if you like historical, you'll love this book. (If you're into fluffy romance give it a miss!)