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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
1165
REVIEWS
187
FOLLOWING
5
FOLLOWERS
118
HELPFUL VOTES
991

  • Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and His Scandalous Duchess

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Alison Weir
    • Narrated By Judith Boyd
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (11)

    In this remarkable book, Alison Weir recounts one of the greatest and most remarkable love stories of medieval England. It is the extraordinary tale of an exceptional woman, Katherine Swynford, who became first the mistress, and later the wife, of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. But Katherine Swynford was much more than that.

    Marsha E. Wood says: "Enthralling"
    "BORING...MORE "ROYAL BABY MAMA DRAMA""
    Overall

    I'm a big fan of Alison Weir's work and purchased this book on faith. It is a disappointment on all levels. Audible.com calls this "one of the greatest and most remarkable love stories of medieval England. Katherine Swynford, who became first the mistress, and later the wife, of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. But Katherine Swynford was much more than that. She was the mother of the Beauforts, and through them the ancestress of the Yorkist Kings, the Tudors, the Stuarts and every other sovereign since - a prodigious legacy which has shaped the history of Britain." By being the "Number 1 Baby Mama"? Weir tried hard to make something interesting out of a very boring subject. Where is the LOVE? Weir had to make a story out of conjecture and suppositions. Everything is "Katherine MIGHT have attended" or "Katherine LIKELY wore an outfit of...." We never learned anything about the woman herself. Was she beautiful? Sexy? How did she feel about her "baby daddy" using her years? Weir tries to give us the impression that Katherine was smart but who hangs around for DECADES for a man to marry her and then only after his wife dies and he is close to death?! She was in her late 40's before she finally became a Duchess through marriage. Her legacy of "shaping the history of Britain" resulted in Prince Charles doing the same thing to Camilla Parker-Bowles. What a bunch of low self-esteem people! Must be the inbreeding.

    1 of 5 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
    (241)
    Performance
    (227)
    Story
    (227)

    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
  • 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
    (52)
    Performance
    (48)
    Story
    (48)

    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!

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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