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Linda Lou

Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton.  In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!! 

Cave Creek, AZ USA | Member Since 2007

ratings
1153
REVIEWS
184
FOLLOWING
5
FOLLOWERS
112
HELPFUL VOTES
955

  • A Cold-Blooded Business: Adultery, Murder, and a Killer's Path from the Bible Belt to the Boardroom

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Marek Fuchs
    • Narrated By Kevin T. Collins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (6)

    In 1959, Olathe, Kansas was made famous by the murder of the Clutter family and Truman Capote's ground-breaking book on the crime, In Cold Blood. But fewer know that Olathe achieved notoriety again in 1982, when a member of Olathe's growing Evangelical Christian population, a gentle man named David Harmon, was bludgeoned to death while sleeping - the force of the blows crushing his face beyond recognition.

    Boyce says: "True Crime Jewel"
    "GOOD TRUE CRIME STORY"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a surprising well-researched account of the not-so-exciting but gory cold-blooded murder of a husband perpetrated by his Bible-thumping wife and her "chaste" religious lover. (Apparently, kissing, necking, heavy petting, and even oral sex isn't REALLY cheating on one's spouse among the white upper echelon!) Wifey was more ashamed of flirting and inappropriate touching than she was of the prolonged, bloody beating of her husband (suspected weapon: a CROWBAR, purchased by her "Boo" right before the crime!

    The interesting thing is that these two squares almost got away with the "perfect crime", but were finally brought down after more than 20 years, thanks to a new Cold Cse Squad! Of course, Wifey initially blamed the crime on the "usual two black men in masks" who just happened to show up in her bedroom in the middle of the night to kill her hubby for no apparent reason. The author does a great job giving an indepth and upbeat account of a really senseless crime. The reader can tell that even the author ain't buying it! Especially since the two "lovers" never spoke again after the crime, each going on with "life after murder" like white people do: Harvard MBA, marrying well, excelling spectacularly in business, making COO, multi-million dollar homes, trips around the world, and every day suburban tasks like taking the kiddies to soccer and piano practice. But being such religious people, each should have known that "God don't like ugly" and their indiscretion was just around the corner, waiting to pounce upon them when the time was right!

    Ever since my days of "Nancy Drew", I've always been a big devotée of true crime. However, recently the books in the genre have been weak. Are we readers becoming jaded all of a sudden? This book is a rare find! Totally enjoyable with righteous retribution in the end! This, in spite of all-white juriy and an outrageously expensive legal "dream team", including the flamboyant Kennedy family lawyer Mickey Sherman! Unfortunately, the cards are stacked against the lily white defendants. Nobody will walk but, with a bit of luck and a heap of divine intervine, JUSTICE does often prevail and these cold-blooded killers could have hope of seeing their kids! A hope forever denied the victim, a father of 3 - particularly since one of his eyeballs flew across the bedroom during the savage predatory, lying-in-wait, blitz attack- an unprevoked attack premeditated for weeks! Good stuff!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Young Al Capone: The Untold Story of Scarface in New York, 1899-1925

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By John Balsamo, William Balsamo
    • Narrated By Daniel May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Many people are familiar with the story of Al Capone, the legendary Chicago gangster best known for orchestrating the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. But few are aware that Capone’s remarkable story began in the Navy Yard section of Brooklyn, New York. Tutored by the likes of infamous mobsters Johnny Torrio and Frankie Yale, young Capone’s disquieting demeanor, combined with the “technical advice” he learned from these shady teachers, contributed to the molding of a brutal criminal....

    Linda Lou says: "A BAD HISTORICAL FICTION EFFORT!"
    "A BAD HISTORICAL FICTION EFFORT!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I get what authors were trying to to here - create a "prequel" to what is widely known about gangster Al Capone, by making up a fictional account of the first 25 years of Capone's life by setting up reasons for Capone's sociopathic behavior later when he took over the Chicago mob. The problem is that the Balsamo's don't have the least sense of what "literary license" means. They just made up things which belie credibility. How are we to believe that a seasoned Mafia leader like Johnny Torrio quaked in the presence of a 15 year-old Capone who was just an errand boy at the time? The episodes of Capone's crude sexual behaviors are more of what is expected of an adolescent - not the lead-in to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre! That's like writing a story about Ted Bundy as a 10 year old killing animals, masterbating, setting fires, and wetting the bed! Who cares? It's just a back-story to the really gory stuff! This could have been a good effort if more time had been spent in research so that the Balsamo's would not found the need to make up things that just don't make sense. Not worth the price of admission! 👎

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Humbugs of the World

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By P. T. Barnum
    • Narrated By Rick Adamson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (6)

    Here is P. T. Barnum's insightful review of humbugs, scams, deceits (and self-deceits) in culture, economics, entertainment, religion, medicine, and more.

    Linda Lou says: "WHY IS THIS EVEN A BOOK?!?"
    "WHY IS THIS EVEN A BOOK?!?"
    Overall
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    Anyone who pays for this audiobook probably believes the biggest P.T. Barnum "humbug" of all times - that he is the man who said "There's a sucker born every minute"! The quote is by David Hannum ABOUT Barnum! But whomever published this mess is at the head of the "sucker" line!

    This is just a jumble of antiquated nonsense that not only failed to stand the test of time, but likely wasn't that interesting when Barnum originally wrote it down. Or maybe it was interesting to him. Barnum, play your position and stick with what you know - clowns, elephants, and peanuts is your thing! Leave the literary efforts to......well, the literate! Bah, Humbug! 😝👎

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Behind the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Leslie Zemeckis
    • Narrated By Julia Farhat
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    By the director of the hit documentary Behind the Burly Q, comes the first-ever oral history of American burlesque - as told by the performers who lived it, often speaking out here for the first time. By telling the intimate and surprising stories from its golden age through the women (and men!) who lived it, Behind the Burly Q reveals the true story of burlesque, even as it experiences a new renaissance.

    Linda Lou says: "JUST WAY TOOOOO LONG!"
    "JUST WAY TOOOOO LONG!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a great and interesting subject matter. However, it is absolutely not TWELVE-PLUS HOURS interesting!!! Much of the book is repetitive and unnecessary. I saw the documentary based on this work a couple of years ago. It is much, much better than this book! This is truly a account "better served abridged"! Or see if it is still available on Netflix and save almost 10-1/2 hours of your life!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lazarus Curse: Dr. Thomas Silkstone, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Tessa Harris
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    London, 1782. The sole survivor of an ill-fated expedition to Jamaica has gone missing upon his return home. Dr. Thomas Silkstone had been entrusted to catalog all the New World specimens and therefore feels compelled to investigate the disappearance. Meanwhile, a rumor circulates that a potion with the power to raise the dead is afoot, and the formula is thought to be in the missing botanist's journal.

    Linda Lou says: "INTRIGUING DOSE OF SILKSTONE FROM HARRIS & VANCE!"
    "INTRIGUING DOSE OF SILKSTONE FROM HARRIS & VANCE!"
    Overall
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    It is such a great honor for me to be the first Audible.com member to review this book. It was with much trepidation combined with excitement, earlier this year, I read the print version of this book about slavery in Britain. The fourth in the author's Dr. Thomas Silkstone series was released in July, but I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) directly from the publisher. And now I get a second swipe at the brass ring with the audio version! WOW!!!

    As a black American, I was curious to learn more about a barely documented part of British history. About 8 pages in, I was so taken aback by a certain scene that I was "thisclose" to abandoning this effort. But, just like passing a bad wreck on the highway, you don't want to look at the carnage, yet you just can't turn away! I'm so glad that I stuck it out.

    Much of the subject matter - black magic, voodoo, obeah, etc. - was not new to me, especially as it pertains to enslaved Africans. But I knew nothing about the horrible conditions that existed among enslaved and free blacks in England during this era. However, author Tessa expertly presents a sensitive and uncomfortable issue without interjecting "political correctness" - a habit among white authors that I find to be unnecessary when recounting actual historical facts to a present day audience. Who are alleged "PC" writers trying to protect? As black people, we still feel the pain of oppression whether it is "n-word" or "nigger" being bandied about! "A rose by any other name......" etc.

    Tessa Harris does a magnificent job here. As usual in her Silkstone series, the reader is educated on a little known part of history that had a major impact on a small segment of the English population. Yes, there were some parts that were very difficult for me as a black person - they will be just as uncomfortable for ANY human being who claims to be compassionate, fair, and non-racist. But, this novel is well-researched, while being both shocking and plausible. Dr. Silkstone continues to be a respected and likable person with the returning characters still well-developed. The villains are despicable and the heroes sympathetic. Even the black characters are finely drawn with none of the disturbing stereotypes which often pollute such stories.

    That said, all of the above goes right out the door in the cliff-hanger ending! I swear I didn't see it coming! I was left with my jaw in my lap, mad because now I have to wait another year for the next installment! I was so distraught that it took a double Black Jack with beer back to steady my nerves - and I don't even drink! Pretty much like MC Hammer totally changed the landscape of rap music with his 1990 eye-popping, nerve-jarring "Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em" tour , Tessa Harris really "hurt" me with this book! But it is a "hurt" that's so good, I can't wait for more!

    I was so impressed by this work that I purchased from Audible.com, where I usually buy books. That is not the norm for me - once around the park is usually enough. However, how could I pass up the second "go-round" when one of my Top 3 narrators, SIMON VANCE, is onboard here as he was on "The Anatomist's Apprentice", "The Dead Shall Not Rest", and "The Devil's Breath". Just as I expected, the incomparable Mr. Vance's mellifluous voice adds critical layers and textures which make the Dr. Silkstone audio series so outstanding and addictive. Thanks for TWO great literary rides, Ms. Harris!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Queen of Hearts

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Rhys Bowen
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (89)
    Performance
    (83)
    Story
    (82)

    Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 35th in line for the British throne, knows how to play the part of an almost royal - but now she's off to Hollywood, where she must reprise her role as sleuth or risk starring in an all-too-convincing death scene...

    Simone says: "I WANTED to love it but…."
    "MY LEAST FAVORITE IN THIS SERIES"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I absolutely LOVED all of the previous books in this series! When I saw that a new one was available, I didn't bother with the reviews - I just purchased it. The characters are still well-developed and narrator Katherine Kellgren continues in her masterful vien. But the story falls flat here. First, I like British novels because.....well, they take place in the UK! This one has our familiar crew in the U.S. with not so believeable "American" characters. I don't like my posh aristocrats mixed in with "cowboys" and one-dimensional "Hollywood" players. Even "Charlie Chaplin" was lame in his cameo appearance. How can an author fail to replicate a famous legendary person like Chaplin with as much documentation upon which to draw, to say nothing of his huge body of work on FILM? Lead character, Lady Georgiana "Georgie" Rannoch, and the love of her life, the handsome, sexy, Irish nobleman Darcy O'Mara, are still leaving readers with the now-stale cliffhanger on whether they WILL or whether they WON'T! I'm over it! Everyone else in these "Royal Spyness" novels are overtly having big-time sex in the early 19th century, especially Georgie's BFF, Belinda, who would be considered a "golddigging hood rat" even by modern standards. Even Georgie's mother acts "ratchet" when it comes to sex and she's (usually) married! Both Georgie and Darcy are past legal age, in love, and wickedly attracted to one another. It defies imagination that they continue to spend the night together sharing nothing more than a kiss! I could have dealt with the poor plot line if Georgie and Darcy had done the "nasty"' this time! OR I could go along with the chastity angle, if this book was targeted for the Young Adult market and ALL of the "sex-capades" among the other characters wasn't so rampant and blatant. Come on, Rhys Bowen, two broke aristocrats abstaining until they have money is no longer credible!

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By John Toland
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (33)

    This Pulitzer Prize-winning history of World War II chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the Japanese empire, from the invasion of Manchuria and China to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Told from the Japanese perspective, The Rising Sun is, in the author’s words, "a factual saga of people caught up in the flood of the most overwhelming war of mankind, told as it happened - muddled, ennobling, disgraceful, frustrating, full of paradox."

    Scott says: "The pacific war from inside the Japanese empire"
    "AN AMAZING & COMPLETE ACCOUNT!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Great book for World War II fans. It is very complete and unbiased with lots of little known facts. Much of the book is from the points of view of the Japanese - military, civilians, even the Emperor. Hirohito comes off as less of a blundering idiot here than a royalist burdened with the weight of hundreds of years of history, honor, and "face". I see now how impotent he was at the hands of his Shogun military advisors who wanted to fight until death, to the detriment of innocent civilians. I better understand the concept of seppuku or hara-kiri - an act that made absolutely no sense to me before, but my people were robbed of the Asians intense sense of country and honor to one's family and heritage.

    As a black American, I was a bit disappointed that the only mention of our military men was when some inconsequential Japanese woman who had never seen a black person before was horrified by the sight of the "monsters", fainted, and was told later that her life had been saved by those black G.I.'s. But since most of our heroic battles were fought in the German theater against the Nazis, I will give John Toland a pass this time and still rate this amazing account a full 5-stars. Narrator Tom Weiner does a masterful job with a book that gets a bit dry at some points with its blow-by-blow reading of boring documents and military communiqueés. Well worth 40 hours of your life!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Murder in Thrall

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Anne Cleeland
    • Narrated By Marcella Riordan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (69)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (63)

    First-year detective Kathleen Doyle is a plucky Irish redhead of humble origins and modest means. Chief Inspector Michael Acton is her antithesis: a British lord turned cop. He's tall, handsome, and enigmatic - to a fault. He also has a knack for solving London's most high-profile crimes. Acton selects Doyle out of the newbie squad to partner with him on a series of investigations because she always knows when someone is lying - a trait that comes in handy when interviewing suspects and witnesses.

    Tracey says: "Great new entry into British mysteries"
    "ABSOLUTELY DISAPPOINTING!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this book because I thought it was supposed to be mystery thriller with a male and female Scotland Yard team investigating the crime. But I couldn't figure out if it was a crime novel or a romance novel. The female's constant inane banter about dumb stuff made my mind glaze over at some point and I totally missed what the actual crime was! But I hung in for 8 chapters, about to kill myself with boredom, until suddenly out of nowhere, the senior experienced DCI proposes to the rookie female constable! No warning, no kiss, no nothing! There was still 7 hours to go but I had to end the madness! I'm glad I didn't buy the second in this series because the reviews indicate that this one better. The question is "Better than WHAT?!" I'm returning this hot mess!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Queen's Agent: Sir Francis Walsingham and the Rise of Espionage in Elizabethan England

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By John Cooper
    • Narrated By James Adams
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (16)

    A captivating true story that chronicles the exploits of Sir Francis Walsingham - the first great English spymaster and the man who saved Elizabeth's regime and the country's independence. Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time of insecurity and unrest. Rivals threatened her reign; England was a Protestant island, isolated in a sea of Catholic countries. Spain plotted an invasion, but Elizabeth's Secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, was prepared to do whatever it took to protect her. He ran a network of agents in England and Europe who provided him with information about invasions or assassination plots.

    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds says: "Different take on the Reign"
    "AN INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE ON QE1"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This ain't Philippa Gregory or Alison Weir! Although it does get a bit dry at times, this is a straightforward factual account about Elizabeth I's master spy! MI6 has nothing on Sir Francis Walsingham! It's great to read more about the reign of Elizabeth than whether she and "Robin" did it or not, her insecurities about her looks, and her unbridled jealousy if one of her ladies or female cousins married without getting the permission she wasn't giving up anyway! Worth the price of admission!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Venetia

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Phyllida Nash
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (102)

    Venetia Lanyon, beautiful, intelligent and independent, lives in comfortable seclusion in rural Yorkshire with her precocious brother Aubrey. Her future seems safe and predictable: Either marriage to the respectable but dull Edward Yardley, or a life of peaceful spinsterhood. But when she meets the dashing, dangerous rake Lord Damerel, her well-ordered life is turned upside down, and she embarks upon a relationship with him that scandalizes and horrifies the whole community.

    Carol says: "Heaven for Heyer Fans"
    "ANOTHER GREAT WORK FROM HEYER!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Before stumbling upon my first Georgette Heyer novel a few years ago, I was not into romance stories. But I found "Frederica" to be be a great story with well-defined intelligent characters. I then listened to every book available in audio format - at that time about 25 titles. The beauty of Heyer's books is that it matters not who narrates them as long as he or she is reasonably competent. Because each novel stands on its own, the listener doesn't become overly comfortable with one narrator, causing a disruption if there is a change. It had been a while since a new audiobook had been released so I was pleased to be able to enjoy this one. Lead character Venetia is the usual strong female who can live unmarried but doesn't mind when "Lord Right" comes along. Queen Elizabeth I could have learned a thing or two here - the whole "Virgin Queen" thing was a bit much! Heyer's books are very relevant for our time even though written long before feminism, birth control, and couples being sexually nasty for no reason. I'm no prude but it is nice to read a book where love is supreme, respect is obvious, and sex is hinted at without being graphic.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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