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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 2014

ratings
1367
REVIEWS
233
FOLLOWING
5
FOLLOWERS
161
HELPFUL VOTES
1476

  • Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Alex Thorleifson, Scott Thorson
    • Narrated By Peter Berkrot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (174)
    Performance
    (159)
    Story
    (161)

    In this unusually frank book Scott Thorson, Liberace's longtime lover, tells all: the good, the bad, and the ugly truths about the legendary entertainer who went to outrageous extremes to prevent public knowledge of his homosexuality. Liberace's unhappy childhood, dominated by a mother determined to force him into a concert career, serves as the prologue for a story that goes on to detail Liberace's early appearances in honky-tonks, his move to New York to seek fame, and, finally, his first booking in Las Vegas, where he was courted by the Mafia.

    Jeffrey says: "Viciously honest, candid, sad, fascintating!"
    "SURPRISINGLY GOOD FOR A CELEBRITY EXPOSÉ"
    Overall
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    Story

    I was pleasantly surprised by Scott Thorson's candor. He told all of the dirt - even his own. What is sad is Liberace's delusion about the world knowing that he was gay. And that he tried to hide this fact even when he knew he was dying of AIDS. Another disturbing thing is Scott Thorson's insistence that a tired old queen, 40 years his senior, was giving him the love he missed growing up with a mentally ill mother and being shuttled from one foster home to another. He comes off more as one of the many young teenaged boys who worked the Sunset Strip and Las Vegas, looking for lonely old gay men. I ain't saying he's a golddigger but I think he would have been "less gay" if he hadn't been taken in my Liberace at age 17. He even admitted to being "disgusted" by male sex acts - what does that say about his intentions? This book ends right after the acrimonious $113 million "palimony" suit that Thorsen filed against Liberace, settled right before the performer's death for a mere $75,000 after 5 years of litigation. THEN I had to ruin it by Googling Thorsen in a "What Are Thet Doing Now" moment. Scott not only goes further downhill as a person, he is arrested and jailed, shot 5 times, and - the most ridiculous ploy of all - claimed just a few months ago that he had an affair with Michael Jackson. This, after giving MJJ a very respectful chapter in this book, a friendship which ended in the 1980s. Can a lying sequel be far behind with Thorsen having gay affairs with every dead celebrity from Isaac Hayes to James Gandolfini? Readers, just check out this book then wipe both Scott Thorson and the pitiful predatory Liberace from your little gray cells!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth A. Murray
    Overall
    (59)
    Performance
    (48)
    Story
    (48)

    Modern history is filled with terrible crimes, baffling hoaxes, and seedy scandals. The infamous Jack the Ripper slayings. The alleged survival of Anastasia Romanov, the youngest daughter of the murdered Tsar. Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's public fall from grace. The Chicago Tylenol poisonings and the copycat crimes that followed.

    Rob Stern says: "You'll never want to kill again"
    "REHASH OF EXISTING TV FORENSIC SHOWS"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought this book would be about the little known crimes in forensic history, combined with the added insight of an educator. Instead these are the same old stories that have been "done to death" (pun intended) in a century of written material and decades of shows like "Forensic Files" and "Unsolved Mysteries". It starts out with the most chewed on crime of all - Jack The Ripper. WHO CARES ANYMORE!? Even if investigators found a viable suspect, he or she died a long time ago, thereby avoiding earthly justice.

    There are so many other crimes that could have benefited from a in-depth analysis by university professor. Instead she chose criminal events in which she could have done her research and due diligence with her feet up on the sofa, remote control in hand. No need to spend time in now-deserted library stacks when a "Forensic Files' marathon on Netflix or HuluPlus will "get 'er done". This method of classroom teaching is perfect to keep the attention of bored college students, only attending class to receive a barely passing grade. But any real true crime buff will not be satisfied after listening to hours and hours of crimes that we've already seen on television in 4 or 5 different depictions and reenactments. Same old stuff: Black Dahlia, The Brothers Melendez, Anastasia Romanov, the Tylenol poisonings, dirty cops, falsified evidence, police brutality, witness intimidation, coerced confessions, inaccurate eyewitness testimony, shoddy lab work, Russian double agents, etc., etc., etc. BLEH!

    Professor Murray has a pleasant speaking voice but the production of the audiobook is not up to par - her frequent stumbles and stutters are not edited out. In the synopsis, we are promised a "look over the shoulder" of on site investigators. Yet we are given no more than we have all learned by watching "Court TV". Aren't we all now as proficient in pathology and forensics as Drs. Michael Baden, Henry Lee, Cyril Wecht, etc.? Nothing new here - PASS on it!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Fraternity: In 1968, a visionary priest recruited 20 black men to the College of the Holy Cross and changed their lives and the course of history.

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Diane Brady
    • Narrated By Dominic Hoffman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (14)

    On April 4, 1968, the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., shocked the nation. Later that month, the Reverend John Brooks, a professor of theology at the College of the Holy Cross who shared Dr. King’s dream of an integrated society, drove up and down the East Coast searching for African American high school students to recruit to the school, young men he felt had the potential to succeed if given an opportunity. Among the twenty students he had a hand in recruiting that year were Clarence Thomas and Theodore Wells....

    Marion L. Carroll says: "Exceptional insight"
    "AMAZING & UPLIFTING ACCOUNT"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fantastic story about what a black man can accomplish when someone believes in him.. I have a personal insight since I was a high school friend of one of the young men featured here: high profile criminal defense attorney, Theodore V. Wells. Growing up in the 1960s as an honor student with "Tokey" at Coolidge High School in Washington DC, I always knew he would be successful with his great leadership skills and personal charisma. Many of our school mates became top black lawyers and doctors. But I am blown away by Tokey's ultimate career accomplishments.

    This story is a well-researched account of the outstanding journey of 5 young black men recruited by Rev. John Brooks during a racially charged period on U.S. history to achieve the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King. Brooks saw that a select group of black students got scholarships to a top university, kept his foot in their butts during college, and followed their subsequent careers while providing mentoring and support. For once we are not being treated to yet another "rags to riches to rags" story about a black man who was given a chance to do something great only to end up shot dead in a crack house. Tokey, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones and the two others in this book are proud examples of what can be accomplished with the help of people who really care about this country. Well done, Rev. Brooks! And, Tokey, I am so very proud of you!'

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Midnight at the Pera Palace: The Birth of Modern Istanbul

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Charles King
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    At midnight, December 31, 1925, citizens of the newly proclaimed Turkish Republic celebrated the New Year. For the first time ever, they had agreed to use a nationally unified calendar and clock. Yet in Istanbul - an ancient crossroads and Turkey's largest city - people were looking toward an uncertain future. Never purely Turkish, Istanbul was home to generations of Greeks, Armenians, and Jews, as well as Muslims.

    Linda Lou says: "INTERESTING SUBJECT - CONFUSED WRITING"
    "INTERESTING SUBJECT - CONFUSED WRITING"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There IS a kernel of an interesting subject here but the writing jumps around, making the whole book confusing. Grover Gardner is a great asset but not good enough to save this account. Here, again, Audible would benefit listeners by providing us with PDF downloads of accompanying photographs if available in the print version. With a rare account of a magnificent city like Instanbul, I'm sure the author gave the reader a visual glimpse of this colorful locale, along with vintage prints of Constantinople and its transition into Instanbul.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • No Wind of Blame: Inspector Hemingway, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Ulli Birvé
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (39)

    The superlatively analytical Inspector Hemingway is confronted by a murder that seems impossible – no one was near the murder weapon at the time the shot was fired. Everyone on the scene seems to have a motive, not to mention the wherewithal to commit murder, and alibis that simply don't hold up.

    ann says: "great story, so so narrator"
    "ABSOLUTELY HORRENDOUS!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Georgette Heyer, owning every Regency and Georgian book she's written. I'd never read a romance novel before until I stumbled on her "Frederica" about 5 years ago on Audible. I was hooked! But this "thriller" is juvenile, confusing, uninteresting, with boring unlikeable characters. The main one, Inspector Hemingway, is a joke. He couldn't get an indictment against a ham sandwich! Heyer surrounds Hemingway with a cadre of dull sargeants and constables who are as inept as he his. Oh, they finally solve the crime but only after the listener is subjected to 7 hours of "Keystone Kops". Hemingway doesn't even appear until 4 hours in. By that time, I was hoping that ALL of the other characters would just die along with the first victim! They are so flat and dull.

    I couldn't figure out why this book was so bad after listening to/reading more than 20 books by this prolific author. The story sounded like someone else had ghostwritten it, with none of Heyer's usual well-defined characters, smart witty dialogue, and intriguing plot. So off to Wikipedia I went. There, I discovered the problem. Heyer's HUSBAND had provided the main protagonists for the thriller, leaving her to put together a story that was not her personal "baby". As a result, the books are cliché, dull, and awful. Her thrillers were never as popular as her romance novels, selling way less and getting lukewarm reception. There's only one Inspector Hemingway book - THANK GOD! I tried one of her Inspector Hannasdyde thrillers a few months back, but returned it to Audible within the first 2 hours. I thought I'd give it another try, listening to this entire mess, only to be equally disappointed. I'm returning this book as soon as this review is published.

    Narrator Ulli Birvé is competent, given the substandard material. Save your money! I chose to reread my Agatha Christe collection again - Hercule Poirot never gets old!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Phantom Army of Alamein: How the Camouflage Unit and Operation Bertram Hoodwinked Rommel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Rick Stroud
    • Narrated By Steve West
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    In 1940 a group of artists, sculptors, film makers, theatre designers and set painters came together to form the Camouflage Unit. Led by Major Geoffrey Barkas and including among their number the internationally renowned stage magician Jasper Maskelyne, the unit's projects became a crucial battlefield weapon.

    Linda Lou says: "NOT AS IN DEPTH AS I EXPECTED"
    "NOT AS IN DEPTH AS I EXPECTED"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Overall, this book is alright if you know nothing at all about the WWII battles in North Africa. I thought there would be much more about the Camouflage Unit itself. Instead the men and their work is just a "side dish" to Rommel, Montgomery, Churchill, Hitler, Eisenhower, et. al. Even Operation Bertram and the battle at Alamein is relegated to the last 45 minutes of the story. I'm a rabid war buff and had never even heard of this critical and important military unit. So, for that reason, I'm glad that this story was told. But I feel there are so many layers that have yet to be revealed here. Also, Audible really needs to provide listeners with PDFs of photos and/or maps included in the print copies. I don't know if photos of the camouflage work are available in this book but they would go a long way towards helping us really appreciate the misleading tactics used by the Camouflage Unit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Code Name Verity

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Wein
    • Narrated By Morven Christie, Lucy Gaskell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1969)
    Performance
    (1770)
    Story
    (1767)

    Code Name Verity is a compelling, emotionally rich story with universal themes of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery. Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends. But then a vital mission goes wrong....

    Suzn F says: "Haunting, Beautiful, Exquisite, Special Book"
    "CONFUSING"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wasn't aware that this book was considered to be in the Young Adult genre when I bought it. Not that it would have dissuaded me to pass on it. I bought it because of the huge array of glowing reviews. However, about 2 hours in, I thought I was listening to some other book. The way it's written is confusing with the "third person confession" aspect that I didn't really get at first. I couldn't figure out whom was whom and when certain events took place with respect to others. I had to re-read two dozen reviews just to discover that one of the key characters is a prisoner of war, being tortured and interrogated by the Gestapo as a spy!

    Overall, the story is confusing and hard to follow. I love WWII stories, both fact and fiction, but this one was a disappointment. Maybe, after 2,000+ audiobooks, I'm a bit jaded but this book hardly qualifies for "the best book I've ever read", as claimed by other reviewers. It's not even in the top 50%! My advice to those readers is to get out more often!

    I tried to put myself in the shoes of a YA reader yet I fail to see how this book really falls into that category. It's about grown women doing grown folks things. In some places it's a bit too violent for young people, even by today's over the top depictions of violence and sex. I think I may have enjoyed this book better if the reviews hadn't given me a false sense of its literary attributes. Also, the narrator(s) was just OK, not bothering to make much vocal distinction between the two main characters or even between men and women. Maybe I'm referring to only ONE narrator although two are listed - that's how confusing this story is. With one woman being from Manchester, England and the other one from Scotland, you'd think this would help in telling them apart. Perhaps, I missing something........ Just don't nod off or answer your phone while listening to this book! You will be even more confused!

    If you liked this book, more power to you. I don't really buy into the idea that there are good books and bad books - only those which we either like or not. I did not like this one at all. However, I didn't hate it so much that I would warn others away. But neither can I truthfully recommend it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Unleashed: Andy Carpenter, Book 11

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By David Rosenfelt
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (516)
    Performance
    (442)
    Story
    (441)

    Andy Carpenter's accountant, Sam Willis, receives a surprise call from Barry Price, a friend he hasn't spoken to in years. Barry needs Sam's financial acumen and Andy's legal expertise. But when Sam almost runs over an injured dog on the way to Barry's house, he can't drive off without waiting for help. By then, Barry's taken off on a private airplane headed to who-knows-where. Soon after they learn that Barry's plane has crashed, and they come to the terrifying realization that Sam was also supposed to have been killed on that plane.

    Richard says: "Didn't see that coming"
    "ANOTHER GREAT ANDY CARPENTER BOOK"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I fell in love with this series several years ago and ended up listening to all of the books available in audio format - back to back. However, the best way to really enjoy them is to do one every 6 to 12 months, so you forget why you liked the books so much in the first place! Once again, here we get a great crime mystery and likeable characters, combined with humorous writing and smart dialogue. Narrator Grover Gardner continues to provide the perfect delivery. I sincerely hope that when the two works in this series (currently not available as audiobooks) are recorded, the producers don't ruin the Andy Carpenter magic by changing narrators. Or, even worse - horror of horrors! - allow some "A-List" actor to READ (as opposed to NARRATE) the new books. A sure-fire way to bite this great series of man and mutt in the butt (pun INTENDED)! 😄

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Shyima Hall, Lisa Wysocky
    • Narrated By Robin Eller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (123)
    Performance
    (114)
    Story
    (114)

    Shyima Hall was born in Egypt on September 29, 1989, the seventh child of desperately poor parents. When she was eight, her parents sold her into slavery. Shyima then moved two hours away to Egypt's capitol city of Cairo to live with a wealthy family and serve them eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. When she was ten, her captors moved to Orange County, California, and smuggled Shyima with them. Two years later, an anonymous call from a neighbor brought about the end of Shyima's servitude - but her journey to true freedom was far from over.

    Katherine Watson says: "Her situation was terrible"
    "A BIT PREACHY AND NAIVE"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The underlying story here is heartbreaking abd compelling. However it is not told very well. The reader doesn't get a real sense of the pain and horror experienced by a child forced into indentured servitude. She claims to have moved on in her life as a survivor yet she is unable to really tell others her story in an honest and indepth manner - just as expected by a still traumatized person suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She wants the world to know of her "bondage" and "slavery" especially in the United States, the poster child for cruel oppression lasting hundreds of years, even more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Hall claims to have gotten her life together and wants to help others by being a police officer or ICE agent. She says that she only sees life and people in "black and white", "good or bad", no gray areas. She states that she believes in God. Yet, she gets pregnant out of wedlock by a guy she only knew about 6 months. Instead of marrying her "baby daddy", they decide the "black and white" thing is to shack up together. What happened to marriage? Sounds awfully "gray" to me.

    Don't get me wrong. I feel for what this child suffered, being sold by her parents in Egypt for $20 a month, then being forced to clean house, be a nanny, and live in a closet when brought to the U.S. But she hardly knows what real slavery and bondage means in America. She was not raped or kept in chains. I can't allow her to be the standard bearer for the oppression, slavery, brutality, cruelty that this country is known for. This book reveals nothing that can't be found on Wikipedia or Google. In fact, I read Hall's story in People magazine. I bought this book to get a first-hand feel for what she went through. Instead, we are given a preachy, teachy, prosaic, often naive account that just glides over the facts. Oh, except for an excruciating blow-by-blow chapter of what is involved in becoming an American citizen, complete with parts of the naturalization test questionnaire, required documents, and other minutiae of little interest. I would have liked to know how Hall really feels about the betrayal of her family, her country of origin and the foreigners who smuggled her here. I hope she doesn't hit the wall one day, believing that this tragedy is really behind her. Particularly not with a child to care for. I want to see her ACT on her intent to make sure other children don't suffer from child endangerment, abuse, and smuggling by Egyptian citizens by actually getting a job in law enforcement. Right now all she's doing is talking a big game while not living by the high standards that she claims to revere and expect of others.

    This is not a book about slavery and its long-term consequences. At least when Hall was "freed", she could walk down the street as a white citizen without going through decades and decades of racism, depravation, and oppression. This is a true crime story which would have benefited from the experience of a true crime writer. I don't know what Hall's co-author contributed other than, possibly, editing. No research, no background, no NOTHING about child smuggling and modern day indentured servitude. Just a simple memoir, giving nothing of the real essence of the writer. An opportunity missed.

    7 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Everything That Rises Must Converge

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Flannery O’Connor
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot, Karen White, Mark Bramhall, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (365)
    Performance
    (276)
    Story
    (287)

    This collection of nine short stories by Flannery O'Connor was published posthumously in 1965. The flawed characters of each story are fully revealed in apocalyptic moments of conflict and violence that are presented with comic detachment.

    Ryan says: "Pride goeth before the fall"
    "UNNECESSARILY RACIST AND DEMEANING"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    No black American or person of color can read this collection without feeling disgusted, demeaned and revolted. As a black reader, I was totally outraged by this book. I understand why it was originally published in 1965 but I fail to see why Audible would offer this overtly racist collection TODAY!

    I would hope that quite a few white people will also be as upset as I am by this author's consistent need to call us "nigger", "low class" and all manner of racist terms. Anyone who has ever read my reviews knows that I'm not at all screamish or hypersensitive by the use of the word "nigger" in literature. In fact, I hate it when white authors feel the need to be politically correct by using the term "n-word" instead or dancing all around the issue when it is mandated in a literary sense. However, this author repeatedly refers to blacks as niggers for absolutely no reason. I get the first story in which he portrays a woman who gets her due after a lifetime of unwarranted racist remarks. What I don't understand is why in another story he thought it was necessary to describe a person's eye color as "blue as the overalls worn by the niggers"! Really?! Not as "blue as the dress of her of the nigger maid at her side" which suggests a gut description or excited utterance caused by the juxtaposition of the 2 like colors. Neither "niggers" or overalls are anywhere in the scene! In fact, up until that point there was no mention of black people at all. In some stories there are no black people ANYWHERE prior to such totally out of context slurs.

    I enjoyed the first story because whatever reference to race stayed in keeping with the plot and moral of the short story. But it all became really too much for me by the 7th story. I made it that far by taking a break of as much as 4 to 10 days between listening to this book when I would normally knock it out within a day. Even then I had to stop with this book all together.

    If you're not a black person or the rare white person whom feels unspeakably UNCOMFORTABLE from this manner of "racist Tourette's" (i.e., "Hey, John, is it alright - Whoop! Nigger! Soup! - if I borrow your - Yoww! Kike! Mick! - car tonight? - Spick! F**k! Dollar! Screeech!"), overall these stories are interesting. The racist remarks add nothing to the plots - yet detract much. They contain a mentality that should have been outmoded among artists by the time of publication in the 1960s.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • A False Mirror: Inspector Ian Rutledge, Book 9

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Charles Todd
    • Narrated By Samuel Gillies
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    An officer who served with Rutledge in the trenches of France before being sent back to England under suspicious circumstances has now been accused of savagely beating the husband of the woman he still loves. The suspect has taken the wife hostage, threatening to kill her and her maid unless Rutledge takes charge of the investigation. Although the case painfully mirrors Rutledge's own past and the love he lost to another man, he cannot refuse it.

    Linda Lou says: "NOT ONE OF TODD'S BEST EFFORTS"
    "NOT ONE OF TODD'S BEST EFFORTS"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love the Inspector Ian Rutledge series but sometimes Charles Todd drops the ball. That's the case here. Nothing about this story makes any sense. Why would Scotland Yard waste valuable resources by sending one of its best detectives to a small country village at the demand of some guy holding two women hostage? Especially since he's unlikely to hurt one of them because he publicly professes a great love for the married woman? While the book has the usual Todd unexpected plot twists, the whole thing just goes on too long. Rutledge is allowed entry into the house several times, yet he never makes a move to overcome the kidnapper. He even allows food to be delivered after several days instead of starving them out. IF anyone can deal with this improbable story, the book should be abridged since so much of it adds nothing to plot line. Also, narrator Samuel Gilles is no where near as good as Simon Prebble who has done most of the Charles Todd works that I've enjoyed. Gilles' Scottish burr for Rutledge's nemesis, Hamish, is so over the top that half of the time I couldn't understand him, Plus Gilles does nothing with the other characters - they all meld together, sounding alike, making the dialogue hard to follow. Definitely not worth the price of admission.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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