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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
1166
REVIEWS
188
FOLLOWING
5
FOLLOWERS
118
HELPFUL VOTES
993

  • The Sisters Who Would be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Tragedy

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Leanda de Lisle
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (50)

    Mary, Katherine, and Jane Grey---sisters whose mere existence nearly toppled a dynasty and altered a nation's destiny---are the captivating subjects of Leanda de Lisle's new book. The Sisters Who Would Be Queen breathes fresh life into these three young women, who were players and victims in the violent and vicious world of Tudor power politics and whose heirs could otherwise be ruling England today.

    Linda Lou says: "WELL-RESEARCHED & ENTERTAINING"
    "WELL-RESEARCHED & ENTERTAINING"
    Overall

    After having read a half dozen books on Lady Jane Grey's extremely short reign as Queen of England, it's refreshing to finally come across one where her place in history is kept in its proper perspective. And the bios of her two much more interesting sisters is an added bonus. The narrator's voice is perfect for this kind of book, moving the story along at just the right pace. Almost nothing has been written on Jane's sister Kathryn and what little on Mary made more of her disability than the remarkable woman herself. The author provides a well-researched historical account of three tragic lives which is both informative and entertaining.

    24 of 24 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
    (851)
    Performance
    (697)
    Story
    (692)

    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"!

    0 of 0 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
    (21)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (19)

    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.

    Kathi says: "Another great Bess Crawford story!"
    "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.

    0 of 0 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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fortune's Spear: A Forgotten Story of Genius, Fraud, and Finance in the Roaring Twenties

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Martin Vander Weyer
    • Narrated By James Conlan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Gerard Lee Bevan was the black sheep of one of London's most respectable banking families. A high-living womanizer and upper-class shyster of almost pantomime proportions, he exploited a glittering range of social connections. After a long run of success in City dealings he perpetrated a massive fraud which ruined both the City Equitable Fire Insurance Company and his stockbroking firm, Ellis & Co. He fled the country and was eventually arrested, tried, and jailed.

    Linda Lou says: "REALLY AWFUL"
    "REALLY AWFUL"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If the subject matter was even remotely interesting. Gerard Bevan was a boring one-dimensional person. No wonder it is "a forgotten story..."!


    What was most disappointing about Martin Vander Weyer’s story?

    It's way too long and contains too much boring minutiae.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by James Conlan?

    If the book itself was worth listening to.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Not really.


    Any additional comments?

    I spent several hours trying to figure out why this book was even written. Finally I had to put myself out of my misery and just stop listening to it. To go on was like plunging a rusty fork in my eye! I see now why no one had rated or reviewed it on either Audible or Amazon. The only redeeming thing is if you suffer from insomnia. It WILL definitely put you to sleep!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 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.

    Linda Lou says: "GOOD TRUE CRIME STORY"
    "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!

    1 of 2 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
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    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! 👎

    1 of 1 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
    Performance
    Story

    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! 😝👎

    1 of 1 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!

    1 of 1 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
    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
    Performance
    Story

    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!

    3 of 3 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
    (249)
    Performance
    (235)
    Story
    (235)

    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...

    V. Dickson says: "Queenie is the Jar-Jar Binks of the Spyness series"
    "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!

    16 of 21 people found this review helpful

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