Tommo and Hawk starts with the return of Tommo and ends with the departure of Tommo. In between is the description of the unlikely twins' coming of age and finding themselves.
As usual, Bryce Courtenay has written a gripping epic novel which is masterfully researched. The description of whaling is brought to life and is utterly gripping and gruesome.
I was a little afraid that the story of joining the Maori and fighting in New Zealand might become too political and preachy, but as usual, Bryce Courtenay handles things deftly. And as always he sets up scenarios and characters which recur later in the series.
Getting reacquainted with Billy Lanney was a nice surprise, for example. Getting reacquainted with Sparrow Fart was not such a nice surprise.
This middle book chronicles a roughly four-year period when the twins leave Mary and become whalers and then join the Maori before returning to Australia. Back in Australia, Hawk meets a courtesan named Maggie Pye and falls in love with her. Tommo unfortunately falls victim to the opium pipe and the clutches of the nefarious Sparrow Fart. In a sense, Hawk grows in this book while Tommo withers. Unfortunately, Tommo is so haunted by his time in the wilds when he was kidnapped as a boy that he cannot escape his demons.
Toward the end it finally appeared as though things were going to go well for Mary, Tommo, Hawk and Maggie Pye. But as always, fortune has other plans in store.a
The book again has a Dickensian flavour, although not in the same way as the Potato Factory. But the ending of the book has the flavour of A Tale of Two Cities, and the sacrifice made by Sydney Carton is similar to that made by Tommo.
Tommo and Hawk is lush and well-written and full of derring-do and acts of heroism. Life in Australia at the gold mining camps is brought to life in all its seedy realism. This is another book with gritty descriptions of the life and times in the early colonization of Australia.
As always, Humphrey Bower brilliantly narrates the story. His ability as a narrator is I think unparalleled. Bower is an absolute genius.
I don't understand the negative reviews of this book. I read and listen to a lot of books, and I would put the Australian trilogy at or near the top of my listening list. I often get antsy toward the middle and end of an audiobook, wishing for the end, but that is never the case with any of these books. I have now finished the entire series, and it still resonates. I think I might pick it back up and start again with the Potato Factory.
I was saddened to hear of Bryce Courtenay's passing in November. Now I have to go and get more of his works.
Tommo and Hawk does not suffer from the sophomore curse. Nor does it contain excessive or overly graphic content. Whatever graphic content is in the book is necessary to the story. The description of whaling and life aboard a whaling ship is probably more graphic than anything even remotely sexual in the books. Courtenay does not shy away from descriptions of floggings and brutal treatment at the hands of men (and nature). But it all adds to the story and is well done.
This is definitely worth 5 stars in every category and well worth the credit. It would even be worth paying for at full list price.
Fans of Richard Preston will like this book. It's a very comprehensive primer on viruses and pandemics.
It has a bit of an academic tone and can be fairly heavy going, but it's very interesting and thought-provoking.
It's probably not too simplistic for scientists, and it's not too complex for the rest of us. Nathan Wolfe gets it just right.
It's thought-provoking and fascinating and has a good blend of the historical and the current.
I don't think I'll look at chimpanzees the same way again. Or hunting, for that matter.
This is a great book. Most people will probably be drawn to it superficially because of the 9/11 connection. However, the 9/11 information is probably the least interesting part of the book. Most of what Dr. Melinek had to work with were tiny pieces and fragments.
The rest of the books is absolutely fascinating. There's just the right blend of clinical, interesting science, and riveting storyline.
For anyone who is squeamish or easily offended by death and dead bodies, this is probably not a great listen. But for everyone else, it's a good book. There's a lot of blending of Dr. Melinek's personal history in with the work she was doing.
At the end I was hoping she would write a follow-up about her experiences in California. To me that's the mark of a good book -- wanting another.
Two thumbs up!
I was hoping for something more clinical and less Readers Digest. These stories are in the vein of heart-warming, gently amusing and vaguely spiritual or uplifting.
The stories are fine for what they are, but they aren't an in-depth look at funeral homes, funeral directors and morticians. I was hoping for something more along the lines of Mary Roach's Stiff.
I don't think I'll bother finishing listening to these. Or I'll keep them for the category of audiobooks I can listen to while grocery shopping so it doesn't matter if I get distracted.
These are about as bland and vanilla as you could get.
The storyline in the Silkworm isn't quite as compelling as it was in the Cuckoo's Calling. Part of that relates to the completely hideous plotline of Bombyx Mori and the way it is integrated throughout the novel.
The development of the relationship between Cormoran and Robin is very satisfying and multi-layered. The supporting characters are less dimensional, but they work.
The only irritating thing is the literary references /quotations at the beginning of each chapter. Okay, JK, we get it. You're a serious writer. I don't need convincing. I'm a card-carrying member of the fan club.
In all, it's definitely worth a credit. I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.
What a great first novel in what I hope is a long series.
The plotting is sharply written, the characters are well drawn and human. The ending comes as a real surprise. This is a great book and proves that JK Rowling is not just a one-hit (series) wonder.
Robert Glenister's narration is excellent. His voices are well done and completely appropriate to the characters..
I will continue to buy these from Audible as long as they continue to be written and published.
I love these kinds of adventure tales. This series has such promise. I love the early James Rollins books, and this is similar.
The problem with this series is the narration. Sean Mangan has the diction of someone who is inebriated and who is trying to enunciate clearly and yet slurs at the same time. It's irritating. He also doesn't do a terribly good job of distinguishing between the particular characters. Alex Hunter sounds just like Amy.
I may or may not buy the next one in audiobook form. I may just get them all on Kindle.
Fans of Jasper Fforde's novels and fairly tales would like this.
It's a reasonably interesting novel with some quirky characters and interesting plot devices. The narration is fairly well done, and the story is interesting enough.
Is it great? No, but it's fairly good. This is in the category of light fantasy summer reading.
It's about fairy tale archetypes which occur in real life and the squad of characters hired to stop the stories from taking over and having dire consequences. The main protagonist is a Snow White character who ends up getting pulled inside her own story.
As I say, if you like Jasper Fforde's work, then this is right up your alley.
This is one of the few audiobooks where the narration is miles better than the story.
It's an interesting premise (priest called on to exorcise the White House) but it ultimately doesn't deliver. This would have made an interesting long short story or very short novella, but it just drags out interminably.
Take a stereotypical aging alcoholic defrocked priest, possessed building, and throw in some slavery history and some utterly uninteresting tidbits about prior inhabitants of the White House. Shake well and then discard.
Unfortunately, this is the third in a series, and the first two aren't available on Audible. Hint, Audible: Get on that.
There is obviously some backstory missing, but the reader/listener can make an educated guess about what has happened in the previous two books.
Interesting mix of English suburban village (do the outskirts of London count as "village"), residents with secrets, and an interesting cast of characters.
Shawn Barrett's narration is great and he does all voices well. I didn't see the whodunnit coming.
Interesting placement of the story back in the mid-70s as well.
For fans of the Eisenmenger books, this is another winner by Keith McCarthy. His writing is dryly amusing and droll and I find it very appealing.
Mo Hayder has written a fabulous series about the exploits of DI Jack Caffery and Sgt. Flea Marley. As the events in some of the books take place close in time to the previous book, it's helpful to listen to them all in one marathon.
Damien Goodwin, the narrator of Birdman and The Treatment was absolutely excellent. He has a fabulous range of voices and characters. Andrew Wincott, the narrator of Ritual and Skin, was very good (but not as good as Damien Goodwin).
Unfortunately, Stephen Crossley, narrator of Gone and Poppet, is abysmal. He has only two voices: one male, and one female. Regardless of age, class or origin, the characters all sound the same. He has the same sort of breathy earth-shattering revelation quality to his narration that Scott Brick has, but without the skill.
If the story weren't so good, this would be unlistenable. I'm dreading listening to Poppet because it's the same narrator. Perhaps he will have had some lessons in vocal range and intonation.
The story lines are absolutely gripping, and filled with red herrings and intrigue and multiple plot lines. Mo Hayder is a genius. I love everything she has written. She's not afraid to kill off her characters, and there are often things she leaves hanging from one book to another.
The series is fabulous and a must-listen to anyone who likes thrillers, British police procedurals, and intricate psychological mysteries. The books aren't for the faint of heart or the squeamish, but they're well worth it if you enjoy this particular genre.
The theme of lost / missing / kidnapped children runs through all the books, but it's never heavy-handed.
The first two books are five stars across the board, the second two get 4 stars for performance and 5 overall and for story, and this one only gets a 2 for performance. They all merit 5 stars for the story.
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