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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
1174
REVIEWS
195
FOLLOWING
5
FOLLOWERS
130
HELPFUL VOTES
1045

  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Edward Gibbon
    • Narrated By Bernard Mayes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (340)
    Performance
    (183)
    Story
    (184)

    Considered one of the finest historical works in the English language, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is lauded for its graceful, elegant prose style as much as for its epic scope. Remarkably accurate for its day, Gibbon's treatise holds a high place in the history of literature and remains an enduring subject of study.

    Gibbon's monumental work traces the history of more than 13 centuries, covering the great events as well as the general historical progression. This first volume covers A.D. 180 to A.D. 395, which includes the establishment of Christianity and the Crusades.

    William Penny says: "What an age we live in"
    "TEDIOUS TO LISTEN TO"
    Overall

    I love any kind of history but this is very hard to listen to due to the droning, monotonous tone of the narrator. I was just about to purchase Volumes II and III but I can't get through the first few hours of this part! What I did hear is very well researched. It could be a lot more interesting with a narrator like Charlton Griffin ("The Roman", "Genghis Khan", "Alexander of Macedon") who has a superb voice for ancient history.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Shadows of the Workhouse: Call the Midwife, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Jennifer Worth
    • Narrated By Nicola Barber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (196)
    Performance
    (179)
    Story
    (183)

    When twenty-two-year-old Jennifer Worth, from a comfortable middle-class upbringing, went to work as a midwife in the direst section of postwar London, she not only delivered hundreds of babies and touched many lives, she also became the neighborhood';s most vivid chronicler. Woven into the ongoing tales of her life in the East End are the true stories of the people Worth met who grew up in the dreaded workhouse, a Dickensian institution that limped on into the middle of the twentieth century.

    Jan says: "Nice followup to "Call The Midwife""
    "NOT AS GOOD AS THE FIRST OF THIS SERIES"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thoroughly enjoyed "Call The Midwife". This second book.......not so much....... BUT.... I watched the BBC version on television in between listening to this one and the first. The television show had included many of these stories so they were a bit anti-climatic. Also, the writers of the TV series took the very best of Worth's memorable stories and expanded on the plots and gave the characters so much more depth.

    This book is a just an average grade follow-up to the first but is made even more sub-standard and redundant if you've already watched it on BBC.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Why Shoot a Butler?

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Ulli Birvé
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (20)

    On a dark night, along a lonely country road, barrister Frank Amberley stops to help a young lady in distress and discovers a sports car with a corpse behind the wheel. The girl protests her innocence, and Amberley believes her – at least until he gets drawn into the mystery and the clues incriminating Shirley Brown begin to add up. In an English country-house murder mystery with a twist, it's the butler who's the victim, every clue complicates the puzzle, and the bumbling police are well-meaning but completely baffled.

    Sharon says: "Baaaaad narration is ruining this book!"
    "NOT THE STANDARD HEYER FARE"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've listened to 28 of the Georgette Heyer books written in the Georgian and Regency periods. Before reading my first Heyer work, I was not a fan of the Regency romance genre. However, I was hooked after listening to "Frederica" and promptly purchased more than 2 dozen more her audiobooks. But this book isn't nearly as good as Heyer's first work, "The Moth", written while in her teens. This story dragged out for hours with nothing of consequence going on. The characters are uninspiring and flat. The dialogue is boring. Halfway through the book, I still hadn't figured out what the whole thing was about. Maybe if I hadn't started with such great Heyer stories like "Behold", "Here's Poison", "Devil's Cub", "The Nonesuch", "Royal Escape", and "These Old Shades", I'd be more inclined to give "Why Shoot A Butler?" a higher rating. Something is missing here, i.e., the spark and genius that made the other Heyer books so enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Geoffrey Wawro
    • Narrated By Geoffrey Wawro
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    The Austro-Hungarian army that marched east and south to confront the Russians and Serbs in the opening campaigns of World War I had a glorious past but a pitiful present. Speaking a mystifying array of languages and lugging outdated weapons, the Austrian troops were hopelessly unprepared for the industrialized warfare that would shortly consume Europe.

    rich says: "Wawro's Diatribe Against A-H Military Leadership"
    "JUST OK......"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you like war history - and I do - this overall story could have been very interesting. However, much of it is repetitive and narrator is not suited to this kind of book. It's about the Habsburg Empire so why use an American with a non-regional accent? Let me answer that for you......HE WROTE THE BOOK!!! I didn't notice that when I purchased this title or I would have passed on it because I have yet to listen to an audiobook that works when the author reads his own book. There were points where Wawro's tone was too cavałier for the subject matter. Often he stumbles over words and even sounds bored in places. This book should have been narrated by a British, German or Austrian person, of either sex. I don't but an Serbian using the term "Guys"! Someone like Simon Vanve, John Lee, Wanda McCaddon, Simon Prebble, or Nadia May could have delivered a more impactful performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The King's Curse: Cousins' War, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Philippa Gregory
    • Narrated By Bianca Amato
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (57)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (57)

    Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII's claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter - Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret's contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon.

    Linda Lou says: "A DISAPPOINTING ENDING TO AN GOOD SERIES"
    "A DISAPPOINTING ENDING TO AN GOOD SERIES"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    OK......I know this book has received overwhelmingly positive response thus far, but I'm not at all impressed after waiting through a pre-order period to buy it. I'm a big fan of Philippa Gregory and a devotée of the Tudors and Henry VIII. I've listened to all of "The Cousins' War" series and enjoyed them all. But 24 hours of Lady Margaret Salisbury, written in this manner, is just way too much! I'll just have to "take one for the team" and amass a collection of "Not Helpful" votes. Oh, well, I'm calling it like I see it.

    This COULD have been a good book and a perfect ending to the "Cousins" series. But Gregory made Lady Margaret Pole incredibly unlikeable. In the hundreds of book that I've read about this era, I always felt sorry when elderly Margaret was executed. But, in THIS book, I wanted to execute her myself about 4 hours in! Pole is depicted as narcissistic, ungrateful, snobbish, ungracious, devious, duplicitous, haughty, evil, and hateful. I got so sick of her whining about the Plantagenets being undermined by the Tudor dynasty that it was a wonder that Henry The SEVENTH didn't behead her for treason!!! Did she forget that there WAS once a Plantagenet dynasty and that dynasties all eventually END?

    Pole, an overt snob, claims to know what is in the minds of the common people during King Henry's crazed years. Gregory has her giving long discourses into the feelings and thoughts of the English commoners - all while looking down her long nose at anyone who doesn't have royal blood. I don't think she even allowed her tenants to enter her orbit, much less a tinker or tanner in the local pub. Her conceit is unparalleled! In first person singular, Pole tells us how good looking she is, how accomplished she is, what a great mother she is, what a fabulous estate manager she is - on and on and on - in ad nauseum!

    I'm not one for abridged books, especially in fiction. However, this would have been a much better book if it was about 12 hours shorter. So much is repeated over and over in this story. Margaret whines and complains for hours about stuff she considers to injustices or depravation but to others would be blessings. When she is widowed, left virtually penniless (by HER standards), and is unable to feed her children, she begs Bishop John Fisher for help in finding a religious order to take in her family. But when he finds a perfect situation for her and her 2 youngest children, along with a place nearby for her other young son Reginald, at first she bitches about it all being way "beneath a Plantagenet"! Marge! You are broke! You can't house or feed yourself! Royal blood don't buy milk and bread, heifer!!!

    Just about everyone who would find this book interesting already knows a little bit about King Henry, Queen Katherine of Aragon, Princess Anne, and Anne Boleyn. But Gregory has to give the "4-1-1" on every little thing of all of the key players like we didn't know a thing about the Tudors. To harp incessantly on the minutiae of those figures in a book which is supposed to be about the life and times of Margaret, Countess of Salisbury is unnecessary. Especially since this is the 6th in a series that many of us have already read. In addition, Pole seems to appear everywhere in this story like a Tudor-era "Forrest Gump"! When did she have time to be a wife, run several estates, making herbal potions and drugs, physically micro-managing the tenant farms, give birth to a half dozen children, be a "governess/companion/BFF" to Arthur, Katherine, Henry, and Mary, all while overseeing more political intrigue than MI-5?! On top of that, Gregory has everyone aging appreciably except Margaret, as if she was some kind of "Dorian Gray" character. As a grandmother, she admonishes her middle aged son, Lord Montagu, for his grey hair, claiming it made HER look old! As if he had access to "Grecian Formula"!

    Another issue I had is with the narrator, Bianca Amato. She is usually a fantastic and capable artist. Here she makes a great Lady Margaret, although her voice soon becomes irritating reading this unusually long and mawkish story. She narrates like she's giving a funeral eulogy! But that's the fault of the author and the length of this audiobook. A funeral lasts a comparatively short time. And why didn't Amato give Queen Katherine a Spanish accent? Katherine's cultured clipped tones are what makes her such an enduring historical favorite. That accent is as critical to her persona as her stoic dignity and unwavering faith in God. One cannot imagine her without that voice after seeing "The Tudors" on cable television.

    I made it a point at about 50% into this torture to just look up Pole in Wikipedia. In real life, she was a force to deal with, in and out of favor with King Henry, but seemed to do her best to keep her nose clean. Even then, with all of connections, one would think that she would have been a bit more cautious in her dealings with the King and his posse. Her biggest mistake was not remarrying a peer and keeping her family together. Abandoning young son Reginald to the church later caused the entire Pole family undue hardships. Although he became a scholar, a canon, a papal Legate and Archbishop of Canterbury and was an integral member of Henry's court, he later broke completely with the King, making any communication between him and his mother and brothers treasonable. Margaret and her entire family have a great story to tell on their own strength, but Gregory gave too much weight to ancillary characters and inserted improbable scenarios which stretched the credibility even allowed by the literary license of historical fiction. She also sets up Margaret up for a well-deserved march to the executioner's block by putting her in the middle of every scandal and act of treason possible.

    Others may enjoy giving up 24 hours of their life to this tome. Personally I found this to be a disappointing end to an otherwise MOSTLY great series. OFF WITH HER HEAD - in 12 hours or less!!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Stephen Puleo
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (23)

    Around noon on January 15, 1919, a group of firefighters were playing cards in Boston's North End when they heard a tremendous crash. It was like, "a roaring surf," one of them said later. Like, "a runaway two-horse team smashing through a fence," said another. A third firefighter jumped up from his chair to look out a window - "Oh my God!" he shouted to the other men, "Run!" A 50-foot-tall steel tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses had just collapsed on Boston's waterfront, disgorging its contents as a 15-foot-high wave of molasses that at its outset traveled at 35 miles an hour.

    Linda Lou says: "INTERESTING STORY - ABOUT 2x TOO LONG"
    "INTERESTING STORY - ABOUT 2x TOO LONG"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a compelling little known event in American history. Who knew that molasses had killed people and destroyed property? The author does a great job but the listener/reader has to wade through over 4 hours of minutiae before the account of the flood begins. That's about 1/2 of the whole book! I listened as far as the part of Chapter 3, then skipped several hours and picked up at Chapter 9 - the early morning hours before the molasses tank exploded. After that, the story flowed well with a good description of the disaster and it's aftermath. The length made it impossible for me to give the BOOK a 5-star rating - which I would have if I hadn't paid for a 9+ hour work with only 4 hours worth of listening.

    What's worse is that Stephen Puleo writes an epilogue and then an epilogue to the epilogue! The latter consists of letters from the ancestors of the victims who knew little or nothing about the tragedy until reading this book. They provide a personal insight into their relatives. Then Puleo takes time to analyze this added information. However, with the in depth research done by Puleo, these observations would be better served in a revised edition to this book, rounding out the true characters in this tragedy.

    Once again, a book better served ABRIDGED!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Catherine Pelonero
    • Narrated By Dina Pearlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (76)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (72)

    Written in a flowing narrative style, Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences presents the story of the horrific and infamous murder of Kitty Genovese, a young woman stalked and stabbed on the street where she lived in Queens, New York in 1964. The case sparked national outrage when the New York Times revealed that dozens of witnesses had seen or heard the attacks on Kitty Genovese and her struggle to reach safety but had failed to come to her aid or even call police until after the killer had fled.

    Linda Lou says: "EXCEPTIONAL TRUE CRIME BOOK"
    "EXCEPTIONAL TRUE CRIME BOOK"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a "woman of a certain age", I remember when this crime was committed. All the media talked about was the apathy of Kitty Genovese's neighbors during the 1/2 hour it took for her to be savagely murdered. Author Catherine Pelonero gives a complete and unbiased account of this heinous crime. Instead of focusing on the more sensational headliner-grabbing fact of a white woman being killed by a black man, Pelonero tells the good and bad about everyone, including the 30+ witnesses who didn't help Kitty that night.

    For the first time, I learned that Kitty was a lesbian - considered "deviate" for that era - and had a criminal record and worked in a bar. Not that her lifestyle made her at risk for this savage crime. However, the media of the time made no mention of any of this. Her killer, Winston Moseley, heretofore shown only in a booking photo, was a middle-class professional husband and father with no criminal record. He owned his own home and two cars. His wife was a registered nurse. Again, I don't remember these facts being told by the press. That said, Pelonero gives each of these two very disparate persons equal weight, choosing to focus on FACTS of the crime.

    What no one knew was Moseley was a serial killer and rapist. He'd previously terrorized women of his own race so not much investigation was put into those crimes. In fact, Anna Mae Johnson, a black woman, had been murdered on her porch then dragged into her living room where Moseley raped her post-mortem, with her husband asleep upstairs. The medical examiner stated that the woman had been stabbed. It wasn't until Moseley confessed to that murder and saying he'd SHOT the victim, did an exhumation reveal bullets in the dead body. (While much has been written about Kitty Genovese, I've yet to find any books written about the life and death of Mrs. Johnson.)

    Moseley, a prolific but undetected criminal has gotten less attention in history than Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahlmer, John Wayne Gacy and other white serial killers. It is this very racial oversight which led FBI profilers into mistakenly predicting that the DC Sniper had to be a white male. They should had done the research that this author put into her book.

    This is one of the best true crime books that I've read in years. Pelonero does get a bit weighty in some places, giving a blow-by-blow account of some court testimony. But her attention to detail in other areas is well done. This story is not just about 3 dozen people who failed to act by merely not calling the police - although not much has changed in many decades since then, as evidenced by the recent murder in a yoga wear store while 2 Apple Store employees next door listened with their ears to the common wall. This is a story about a horrific crime, an innocent victim, a mentally ill killer and the question of the public's MORAL duty to assist a fellow human being fighting for his or her life.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • South Pacific Cauldron: World War II's Great Forgotten Battlegrounds

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Alan Rems
    • Narrated By Michael Prichard
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Unlike most other World War II accounts, this work covers the South Pacific operations in detail. The audiobook includes many now-forgotten operations that deserve to be well remembered. Significantly, the official Australian history of World War II correctly observed that Australia's part in the Pacific war is barely mentioned in American histories. This volume finally brings the major Australian contribution to the fore.

    Linda Lou says: "PONDEROUS BUT OVERALL COMPLETE"
    "PONDEROUS BUT OVERALL COMPLETE"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I initially purchased this because the synopsis led me to believe it had a good account of the Australians' contribution to the victory in the Pacific theater. Not so. The usual American stories are covered much more than any of the Allies, particularly Australia. I am so sick of hearing about General Douglas MacArthur's legendary narcissism.

    This overall account is a bit heavy, causing me zone out several times. And, many times, it was difficult to tell whether it was the Allies or the Japanese fighting, dying, escaping and/or strategizing. There's a lot of statistics in this book which would make it more interesting in print rather than audio. very little on the Australians

    One point that I found to be of great interest is the way author Alan Rems described the problems incurred by the African-Americans in World War II as a whole. In the kazillion books that I've read on the subject, black soliers are rarely even mentioned. In the few books that contain our contribution, the gamut runs to either our men being totally useless and untrainable or - closer to the truth - they served with incomparable bravery and sacrifice. Here, we learn the real obstacles that made it difficult for black Americans: being expected to put their hearts into fighting for a country that treated them like second-class citizens. Yet even Hems fails to name the first African-American soldier to be killed in the line of duty in the Pacific in his description of the deed.

    Overall, this is a good book for real devotées of military history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Sins of the Father: Clifton Chronicles, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Archer
    • Narrated By Alex Jennings, Emilia Fox
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (875)
    Performance
    (720)
    Story
    (715)

    Only days before Britain declares war on Germany, Harry Clifton, hoping to escape the consequences of long-buried family secrets, and forced to accept that his desire to marry Emma Barrington will never be fulfilled, has joined the Merchant Navy. But his ship is sunk in the Atlantic by a German Uboat, drowning almost the entire crew. An American cruise liner, the SS Kansas Star, rescues a handful of sailors, among them Harry and the third officer, an American named Tom Bradshaw.

    Margaret Campbell says: "Can';t Wait for the Next One!!!"
    "DISAPPOINTING FOLLOW-UP TO BOOK 1"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first book in this series, "Only Time Will Tell", was well-written with great characters, interesting plot lines, and the perfect narration using both a female AND male narrator to seamlessly blend the two main characters accounts. (Well-matched narrators with quality recording production is the often overlooked cornerstone in well-produced audiobooks.)

    So it was with great anticipation that I began the second installment of "The Clifton Chronicles". I'd already added all of the series to my Audible "Wish List" thinking that it would be another masterpiece in sweeping generational sagas, second only to John Galsworthy's series, "The Forsyte Saga". However, this book should have titled "NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE"! It is nothing more than 10 wasted hours, culminating in a lame kitschy cliff-hanger not worthy of a writer like Jeffrey Archer. This book is a long, disjointed, meandering tease written to get readers to buy Book 3. I wish I'd read the Audible synopsis of the third book which overtly and unabashedly reveals the secret and major conflict that took Archer 10 hours NOT to resolve in Book 2. I ended up skipping more than half of chapters, eventually going right to the last one, which turned out to be disappointing. If you've read Book 1 with its engaging cliff-hanger at the end, just skip this one and spend your credit or money on Book 3. As for me, stick a fork in me - I'm DONE with "The Clifton Chronicles"!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • An Unwilling Accomplice: Bess Crawford, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Charles Todd
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (35)

    Arriving in London on leave, Bess Crawford receives an unusual summons from the War Office. She's been requested to accompany a wounded soldier to Buckingham Palace, where he's to be decorated for gallantry. Though she is certain she's never met or nursed Sergeant Jason Wilkins, she cannot refuse the honor. Heavily bandaged and confined to a wheelchair, the soldier will be in her care for barely a day. But on the morning after the ceremony when Bess goes to collect her charge for his return journey, she finds the room empty.

    Linda Lou says: "JUST OK"
    "JUST OK"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love all of Charles Todd's books, having read 5 of this series. However, this story was just too incredulous for words! It's hard to believe that a nursing sister and a military officer would go tearing around the English countryside looking for a missing injured soldier whom the Army and Scotland Yard is chasing. This, in the middle of a war, as if both of these people couldn't be better utilized elsewhere. I get that Bess wants to save her reputation since the soldier went AWOL on her watch but to waste resources like gasoline trying to outdo the criminal investigators already on the case is a bit much.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Defiant Courage: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Astrid Karlson Scott, Tore Haug
    • Narrated By Peter Altschuler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    In late March of 1943, four commandos arrive in northern Norway with a mission of establishing a base for sabotage operations. Before they can unload their cutter, they are betrayed, as a German Schnell boat arrives and turns the quiet fjord into a battle zone. Only one man, Jan Baalsrud, surrvives the attack. This is the story of his perilous journey to freedom. Wounded, the dauntless soldier swims icy fjord waters, climbs snow-laden granite peaks, endures violent snowstorms and is hurled off a mountain by an avalanche.

    Linda Lou says: "GOOD STORY THAT'S JUST TOO LONG"
    "GOOD STORY THAT'S JUST TOO LONG"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would shorten it. The story is a compelling and interesting one. However, there's too much unnecessary information which adds nothing. Also the dialogue is contrived and written as if this is a fiction novel rather than a true account.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The heroic survivor Jans Baalsrud. His courage and faith was incredible.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Peter Altschuler?

    Maybe. However, I didn't like him in this work because his tone is too cavalier, almost as if he's reading a fairy tale like "Hansel and Gretel" to a group of transfixed school children.


    Any additional comments?

    Overall, this was a great inspiring story of courage under the worst conditions ever. An abridged version would keep the listener engaged. In the hard copy, at least one can scan through and/or skip irrelevant pages.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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