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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

1254
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 216 reviews
  • 1311 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 189 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
5
FOLLOWERS
136

  • The Tudors

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By G. J. Meyer
    • Narrated By Robin Sachs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (180)
    Performance
    (109)
    Story
    (112)

    For the first time in decades, here, in a single volume, is a fresh look at the fabled Tudor dynasty, comprising some of the most enigmatic figures ever to rule a country. Acclaimed historian G. J. Meyer reveals the flesh-and-bone reality in all its wild excess.

    Linda Lou says: "OUTSTANDING!"
    "OUTSTANDING!"
    Overall

    As an unabashed lover of British royalty, I've read over 100 books on monarchs from William The Conqueror to Edward VIII (the family gets boring after that). For me, the Tudors have always been embodied by a twitchy but regal Bette Davis as Elizabeth I and the fat-boy Holbein painting of Henry VIII. But this book gives all 6 Tudors their due, in one of the most indepth accounts ever. The media has sold us on largely fictional and/or subjective views of Tudor monarchs, Henry and Elizabeth, while basically ignoring Henry VII, and Mary I, Jane Grey, and Edward VI. However, this author sets the record straight. He tells each monarch's life from beginning to end, rather than as merely side characters to the longer reigning Tudors. He also provides the reader with backstories into the people and living conditions of that era, showing the period to be awash with poverty, ignorance, and oppression. Henry and Elizabeth, who are 2 of the most remembered monarchs were certainly not the greatest. And their cruelty, greed, vanity, and selfishness was overwhelming. "Off with their heads" was more than a mere expression for them. This book is enlightening, educational and entertaining. The author pulls no punches yet still allows the reader to judge for him/herself as to the short but turbulent reign of the Tudors. At 24.5 hours in length, it's hard to believe that any more could be written about this dynasty - this has got to be the best researched book EVER on the subject. I'd like to see the author write a "prequel" about the Plantagenets who gave England 14 kings over a span of more than 300 years vs. the Tudor reign of only 118 (83 years combined between Henry VIII and Elizabeth I). This is the only book that I've bought here which is worth 2 credits.

    61 of 65 people found this review helpful
  • Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Arthur T. Vanderbilt II
    • Narrated By Patrick Lawlor
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (12)

    Written by descendant Arthur T. Vanderbilt II, Fortune's Children traces the dramatic and amazingly colorful history of this great American family, from the rise of industrialist and philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt to the fall of his progeny - wild spendthrifts whose profligacy bankrupted a vast inheritance.

    Linda Lou says: "EXCELLENT, HONEST ACCOUNT"
    "EXCELLENT, HONEST ACCOUNT"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Fortune's Children in three words, what would they be?

    My headline sums it up along with a third description: EXCELLENT, HONEST, WELL-RESEARCHED. That's FOUR words but you get my drift!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There were way too many characters to pick a favorite. However, if I have to choose, it would be the author, Arthur T. Vanderbilt II, for writing such an amazing history of his ancestors. He didn't pull any punches and remained totally unbiased. It's easier to name my LEAST favorite person: the family patriarch, Cornelius Vanderbilt, a crude, ignorant, penny-pinching and spiteful man.


    What does Patrick Lawlor bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Patrick Lawlor has the perfect non-regional white boy voice to narrate the history of a uniquely American creation: gilded age robber barons.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, indeed. I almost did but one MUST eat!


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Free: Three Shots Rang Out - The JFK Assassination 50 Years Later

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs)
    • By Darren Reynolds
    • Narrated By Diane Sawyer
    Overall
    (439)
    Performance
    (383)
    Story
    (383)

    This edition of Three Shots Rang Out: The JFK Assassination 50 Years Later is an audio-only ABC News special created exclusively for Audible and hosted by ABC World News Anchor Diane Sawyer. Sawyer takes listeners back to Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, for a “you are there” exploration of the day of U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

    Laura says: "Skip this book!"
    "BEEN THERE, DONE THAT.....UNNECESSARY RETELLING"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was a 13 year-old junior high school student in Washington DC when an announcement came over the intercom that President Kennedy was dead. We were sent home early. The great thing about growing up in the 60s and 70s is that there were only 3 national television channels and 1 local - all went off the air at midnight. We weren't inudated by 999 channels running the same 15 second home video loop over and over again like it's done today, augmented by a kazillion iPhone videos online.

    This is not an audiobook. All it is in "CNN In A Can" - a bunch of clips and recordings pasted together with Diane Sawyer as "narrator". WHY?! If we are old enough to remember what we were doing when JFK was killed, we don't want to relive the trauma of what was our first major televised tragedy. If you weren't born at that time and if the horrific story of a husband having his head blown off into his wife's lap is of interest to you, I'm sure there are a half dozen documentary films about the assassination available on Netflix.

    I'm glad I got this "book" free because I'd be requesting a refund. This is absolutely horrible!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dressed for Death

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Donna Leon
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (240)
    Performance
    (153)
    Story
    (152)

    Commissario Guido Brunetti's hopes for a refreshing family holiday in the mountains are once again dashed when a gruesome discovery is made in Marghera--a body so badly beaten the face is completely unrecognizable. Brunetti searches Venice for someone who can identify the corpse but is met with a wall of silence. He then receives a telephone call from a contact who promises some tantalizing information.

    Tom says: "marvelous duo"
    "MY NEWEST "GUILTY PLEASURE" IN BOOK SERIES"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Gotta love Italian police detective Guido Brunetti! Author Donna Leon serves up Venetian life with a side a great food and wines. The characters are well-rounded and the subject matter is deeply researched. I'm working my way through the entire series and I'm hoping that the missing audiobooks will be available soon.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Sylvester: Or, the Wicked Uncle

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Nicholas Rowe
    Overall
    (275)
    Performance
    (239)
    Story
    (243)

    When Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, first meets Phoebe Marlow, he finds her dull and insipid. She thinks he is insufferably arrogant. But when a series of unforeseen events leads them to be stranded together in a lonely country inn, they are both forced to reassess their hastily formed opinions, and they begin to discover a new-found liking and respect for each other. But what Sylvester doesn’t know is that Phoebe is about to publish a novel - a novel in which all London will recognize him as the villainous ‘Count Ugolino’

    C. Mendez says: "Finally!!!"
    "GOOD STUFF"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you're a true Georgette Heyer fan, you'll love this one! I listened to the abridged version of this book a couple of years ago but I enjoyed the longer one even more. Narrator Nicholas Rowe hits it out of the park with his characterization of Sylvester and the lesser cast members.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Sarah Churchwell
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (32)

    Since its publication in 1925, The Great Gatsby has become one of the world's best-loved books, delighting audiences across the world. Careless People tells the true story behind F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece, exploring in newly rich detail the relation of Fitzgerald's classic to the chaotic world he in which he lived. Fitzgerald set his novel in 1922, and Careless People carefully reconstructs the crucial months during which Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald returned to New York in the autumn of 1922.

    Linda Lou says: "UNDERWHELMING"
    "UNDERWHELMING"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While this is a well-researched book about the Jazz Age and F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic "The Great Gatsby", there wasn't much more insight into Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda than one can find on Wikipedia.com. The narrator was boring and misprounced several words. Plus her idea of reading French words and phrases is to speak as if she's squeezing her buttocks tight and SPITTING the words out like the cartoon character Pepe Le Pew! You might like this book but I found it to be a colossal waste of time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Suffer the Little Children

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Donna Leon
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (123)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (43)

    When Commissario Brunetti is summoned in the middle of the night to the hospital bed of a pediatrician, he is confronted with more questions than answers. Three men, a young carabiniere captain and two privates from out of town, burst into the doctor's apartment while the family was sleeping, attacked him, and took away his 18-month-old boy. What could have motivated an assault by the forces of the state that was so violent it has left the doctor mute?

    David says: "Inspector Brunetti continues to please"
    "GREAT ITALIAN DETECTIVE SERIES!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love this series about Venetian police detective, Commissarie Guido Brunetti! Donna Leon writes great crime mysteries while giving the listener an "armchair" tour of Venice. I've read quite a few in this series and, even though several are not yet available in audio format, each novel stands on its own so they can be read/listened to out of order. Again we have great plot twists with a surprise ending, delicious food, good wines, mini-Italian language lessons, and locale color. Narrator David Colacci is awesome with his command of Italian dialects, along with those of Europe and North African - the melting pot diversity of Venice. This is a great book - ignore a recent "hater" who recently has been randomly rating ALL of my reviews as "Not Helpful". Listen to the books I review and judge for yourself. I'm honest about MY tastes but you may see something different. It's called individuality! Try this one for size - I think you'll love it as much as I did!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Foundling

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Phyllida Nash
    Overall
    (125)
    Performance
    (98)
    Story
    (102)

    The shy young Duke of Sale has never known his parents. Instead, his Grace Adolphus Gillespie Vernon Ware or Gilly for short has endured 24 years of rigorous mollycoddling from his uncle and his valet. But his natural diffidence conceals a rebellious spirit. So when Gilly hears of Belinda, the beautiful foundling who appears to be blackmailing his cousin, he absconds with glee. Only he has no sooner entered his new and dangerous world than he is plunged into a frenzy of intrigue, kidnap and adventure.

    Amanda says: "Rollicking Adventure"
    "ANOTHER GREAT GEORGETTE HEYER BOOK"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been a Heyer fan ever since I read my first work by her, also the first romance novel in my 60 years of reading. Again, Heyer does not fail to deliver yet another charming and witty Regency era book. Usually she writs from the perspective of an independent woman of either noble or genteel birth. Here she gives a great account of an overly protected Duke who escapes his handlers to spend several harrowing, exciting and often dangerous days as "Mr. Dash of Nowhere In Particular". Narrator Phyllida Nash is magnificent as always. Great story!

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Michael Blanding
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (77)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (67)

    Maps have long exerted a special fascination on viewers - both as beautiful works of art and as practical tools to navigate the world. But to those who collect them, the map trade can be a cutthroat business, inhabited by quirky and sometimes disreputable characters in search of a finite number of extremely rare objects.

    Once considered a respectable antiquarian map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley spent years doubling as a map thief - until he was finally arrested slipping maps out of books in the Yale University library.

    Andy says: "with a little charm, you can rob almost anyone"
    "AN OPPORTUNITY WASTED!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    GRIPPING?!? I don't think so! This is probably the most boring book I've ever listened to. This was an opportunity wasted by the author. A little-known subject matter which COULD have made a great story. All I got was a greedy privileged man who thought he was above the law. When caught, Edward Smiley got sentenced for a white-collar crime. Yet, he stole valuable antique maps with the "mens rea" of a street thug. Cat burglars, jewel thieves and even map thieves should be charming and charismatic. Smiley had the personality of a box of wood chips! Author Michael Blanding does nothing to raise this subject and this sociopath to the level of any intelligent person's interest.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Blood from a Stone

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Donna Leon
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (138)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (55)

    On a cold Venetian night, shortly before Christmas, a street vendor is killed in a scuffle in Campo San Stefano. The closest witnesses are the tourists who had been browsing the man's wares: fake handbags of every designer label. The dead man had been working as a vu cumpra, one of the many African immigrants purveying goods outside normal shop hours and without work permits. Commissario Brunetti's response is that of everybody involved: why would anyone kill an illegal immigrant?

    connie says: "genre surprise"
    "PREDICTABLE & DISAPPOINTING"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the 3rd of this series that I've listened to. I enjoyed "Fatal Remedies" and "Doctored Evidence" so much that bought this one before finishing the 2nd one. (NOTE: All of the books in this series are not available in audiobook format. However, each novel stands on its own without much passage of time between them so the reader is able to jump around, even skipping several without much negative impact.).

    This book plods along with usual slow pace that the author seems to embrace, with much "stage business" like describing a person flicking imaginary lint from his or her clothing or the biting the lower lip in a contemplative manner while pondering a question asked. The reader is given indepth descriptions of Venice and the customs and mores of all of its disparate citizens. One can almost smell the canals, the crush of humanity on a hot humid day, or the bouquet of a very excellent wine at a sidewalk cafe. We become one with main character, Commissario Guido Brunetti, and his colleagues at the police department. Several reviewers have complained about the unbelievable amount of time that the author spends on telling us about Brunetti's personal life with his wife and two teenaged children. I agree that it is a bit overdone but somehow doesn't take away from the real story of rampant criminal behaviors in Italy (from common pickpockets to the highest political arenas in the country), the investigation of complex crime plots and, finally, the successful resolution leading to arrests - although not necessarily CONVICTION, since that depends on the socio-economic status of the perpetrator(s). That's seems to be the only reason that Brunetti has a job at all! If not for him, every poor Italian or illegal immigrant charged with murder - especially the Africans - would be lynched in the center of the Venetian version of Times Square ("Tempo Piazza", perchance?) after a very quick, very unfair trial. But I like Commissario Brunetti, Venice, his family, and his intelligent way of solving crimes against very difficult obstacles, including his immediate supervisor. I've learned a lot about the country, and even more about great foods and wines from Brunetti's wife, a fantastic cook. I've even picked up a fair amount of Italian "survival phrases" in just 3 books. Narrator David Colacci is outstanding! He's a master at all of the numerous dialects and accents in Italy, plus France, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Senegal, Sierra Leone, etc. - you name it, he can do it! All while reading in English with a decidedly non-regional American accent.

    OK, that's my take on the overall series. As for THIS particular story, I was a bit disappointed. Usually the reader doesn't get the "reveal" until a few chapters from the end and even then, there's another unexpected plot twist. We are normally introduced to the murder within the first 20 minutes of the story. Next, we are "forced" - not in a bad way - to wade through hours of stage business, dozens of reoccurring secondary and non-reoccurring tertiary characters, needless dialogue, food preparation, plating, and devouring, in-depth location descriptions, police investigations (with much MIS-investigations from the higher-ups), Brunetti's illegal and often unethical undercover investigations with his personal team of "Untouchables" - until suddenly we all get the actual crime, why the murder (or murders) had to go down, and whom is responsible. Good stuff!

    Here, the whole tapestry of the plot unravels within the first few paragraphs of the book. Follow me.....this is not a spoiler, just plain common sense that Sherlock Holmes' DOG could deduce: A broad daylight execution of a street vendor in Venice by two swarthy-looking guys recruited from Italy's version of "The Dirty South", i.e., Sicily. They use small caliber revolvers with silencers. The kill is up close, clean, and efficient. The victim is African. Once that tidbit is juxtaposed with the words in the title "blood" and "stone", it doesn't take a rocket scientist - or, in this case, a certified gemologist - to figure out where the story is going. The Mafia wasn't contracted over a bunch of knock-off Louis Vuitton purses! After the first 15 minutes, I was not desperate enough to salivate over the description of thyme-infused grilled skirt steak with creamy polenta and a glass of Badia A Coltibuono to commit an additional 8.5 hours to this book! No, grazie, i miei amici da Audible.com! Arrivederci!

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Left to Die

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Lisa Jackson
    • Narrated By Alan Nebelthau
    Overall
    (250)
    Performance
    (179)
    Story
    (179)

    Lisa Jackson's novels of romance and suspense race up the best-seller charts. In Left to Die, the Pinewood County Sheriff 's Department is on the trail of a cold-blooded killer who acts as a savior to women stranded during terrible mountain snowstorms before stripping them of their dignity and leaving them to die, a victim of the elements. But the killer's latest victim managed to escape, leading some to believe there may now be an imposter on the loose.

    mary says: "Worst Narrator Ever!"
    "WHAT?!?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If I hadn't wasted almost 15 hours for NO conclusion!


    What could Lisa Jackson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    She could have wrapped this plot line up in THIS book, not force readers to waste another 15 hours listening to the next book in this series "Chosen To Die". By hour 5, I "Wanted To Die"!!!


    How could the performance have been better?

    Other listeners seemed to hate narrator Alan Nebelthau's fast pace. I'm really hard on narrators, yet that was not my problem with him. This book is written by a woman, about women victims and women detectives. Why use a male narrator? To distance the story from "chick-lit"? I can't imagine how anyone could get mixed up with the raw, grim subject matter. Nebelthau Is not bad but his craggy, "Tombstone" cowboy voice just doesn't fit.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Left to Die?

    Way too many to list here. Just let me say that I skipped Chapters 12 thru 23, inclusive. And I don't feel like I missed a thing!


    Any additional comments?

    This book could have been told in half the time. Interwoven separate plot lines were unnecessary and intrusive upon the main story. Then to slog through 15 hours of a jumbled story, only to find out that I have to buy ANOTHER book and slog through an additional 14 hours is just too much. I love book series - the listener/reader gets to become comfortable and knowledgeable about the main character along with several reappearing supporting ones. The only thing that changes is the crime/mystery/thriller - the detective solves each crime in each book and we move on together. I don't buy into "cliffhanger" novels where I go through hours of investigation and terror, only to NOT find out what happened. And, in the end, all of these different plot lines just don't align up right. By skipping most of this book, I still ended up where everyone else did - in a lot less time.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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