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Robyn

ratings
54
REVIEWS
54
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
4
HELPFUL VOTES
30

  • 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
    (143)
    Performance
    (132)
    Story
    (134)

    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!"
    "Liberace, prejudice, AIDS"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I always take first person accounts with a grain of salt, but read this as light relief from my usual serious reading agenda. It was an interesting picture of talent, the quest for stardom, and the distorting power of money and fame. The ins and outs of family and love affairs are always titillating but for me, the book is most informative as a social history of being gay in the pre-AIDS and post-AIDS Western world. Early in his life and career Liberace had no choice but to remain in the closet and, once the pretence was established, what could he do but maintain his stance and deny the rumours? It is a sad indictment of prejudice and persecution of gay men. How different Scott and Lliberace's lives would be if they were born now - if not fame/notoriety, at least more freedom to be who they are than they could ever have dreamed of.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Julia Scheeres
    • Narrated By Robin Miles
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (573)
    Performance
    (487)
    Story
    (490)

    In A Thousand Lives, the New York Times best-selling memoirist Julia Scheeres traces the fates of five individuals who followed Jim Jones to South America as they struggled to first build their paradise, and then survive it. Each went for different reasons - some were drawn to Jones for his progressive attitudes towards racial equality, others were dazzled by his claims to be a faith healer. But once in Guyana, Jones' drug addiction, mental decay, and sexual depredations quickly eroded the idealistic community.

    Rachel says: "Unforgettable"
    "Gripping"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the fascinating tale of an arch (and eventually insane) manipulator and the trusting and adoring people who followed him to their eventual death. The author recounts the stories of a number of individuals who gave up everything for Jones and his 'promised land' and these stories add immediacy and poignancy to the telling. We also learn about some who left, and some who stayed and survived. All of these stories give some idea of the way people became ensnared in Jones's net and went, willingly or otherwise, to their death. The various strands of the story are beautifully brought together and the reader's interest is maintained from beginning to end. One can only wonder at those whose faith in Jones did not waver in light of his cruelty to both adults and children, his self-confessed adultery with both men and women, and his increasingly bizarre pronouncements. Robin Miles' narration is perfect: the voice, pace, expression are all spot on for this compelling story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Long Way Home: A Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Laura Caldwell
    • Narrated By Laura Caldwell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (89)

    Nineteen-year-old Jovan Mosley, a good kid from one of Chicago's very bad neighborhoods, was coerced into confessing to a crime he didn't commit. Charged with murder, he spent five years and eight months in a prison for violent criminals. Without a trial. Jovan grew up on the rough streets of Chicago's Southeast Side. With one brother dead of HIV complications, another in jail for arson and murder, and most kids his age in gangs, Jovan struggled to be different. Until his arrest, he was.

    Ginger Heyman Pigott says: "Compelling and important"
    "a different kind of horror story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a compelling book in many ways: the tragedy of years lost from the life of a promising and very likeable young man, the glimpse it provides of the process from the point of arrest by police, the brutality of the prison system, the legal system in which a case can stagnate, the incompetence of many professionals, day-to-day life in prison. There appears to be little or no hope until the chance meeting which eventually sees the wronged young man released to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. The role played by the two lawyers is heartwarming, as is his mother's dedication and the support of friends who help him as he begins to put together a new life. The section dealing with research on false confessions and other related matters helps to explain what happens to individuals who are caught up in the system: the accused, those who investigate, and the lawyers who prosecute and defend.

    Laura Caldwell is an excellent writer but I initially found her rather monotone delivery off-putting. But before long I felt that it suited the matter-of-fact business-like nature of her work. I agree with other commenters that the third person/first person inconsistency is confusing: it just shouldn't happen - where were the editors? However, that is my only criticism and I found the book rivetting from start to finish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • God's Nobodies: Misguided Faith and Murder in the Life of One American Family

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Mark Obbie
    • Narrated By Scott Aiello
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (4)

    Four years after his father died a hero's death fighting a fire, Tim Ginocchetti was behind bars for killing his mother. How one tragedy led to another is a true story that puts a horrifying twist on the familiar one of bullied gay teens. In this case, the bully was the teen's own mother, and instead of harming himself he killed her in a momentary but irreversible explosion of rage.

    Robyn says: "heartbreaking story"
    "heartbreaking story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a sympathetic recounting of a bright and promising young man's struggle, his mother's misguided attempts to do the best for him, and a controlling (or out-of-control) church. The sad story unfolds to its almost inevitable tragic end where everyone loses - heartbreaking, but well worth reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • She Wanted It All: A True Story of Sex, Murder, and a Texas Millionaire

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Kathryn Casey
    • Narrated By Moe Rock
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (22)

    Trophy wife Celeste Beard wasn't satisfied with a luxurious lifestyle and her rich Austin media mogul husband's devotion - so she took his life! The wife: She wanted everything, but her husband stood in the way. The lesbian lover: A love-struck, middle-aged woman with a history of mental illness, she would do anything to set Celeste free. The beauty salon receptionist: Celeste hired her to tie up the loose ends ... in a second conspiracy to commit murder.

    Adara says: "Great Story"
    "A must-read true crime"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    On every measure this true crime gets five stars - I couldn't put it down. No need to say more!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Ken Perenyi
    • Narrated By Dan Butler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (221)
    Performance
    (190)
    Story
    (191)

    Ten years ago, an FBI investigation was about to expose a scandal in the art world that would have been front-page news in New York and London. After a trail of fake paintings of astonishing quality led federal agents to art dealers, experts, and major auction houses, the investigation inexplicably ended, despite an abundance of evidence. The case was closed and the FBI file was marked “exempt from public disclosure”. Now that the statute of limitations on these crimes has expired and the case appears hermetically sealed shut by the FBI, this audiobook, Caveat Emptor, is that artist, Ken Perenyi’s, confession.

    Tina M. says: "Forgery to Story Telling"
    "A very unusual con artist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am in awe of Ken Perenyi's talent. With no training in art, art history, chemistry, or anything else related to creating a forgery and getting it past the experts, he fooled a lot of people for a long time before they caught up with him. Without a hint of guilt or remorse, he gleefully recounts episode after episode of getting away with a monumental con with a pocket full of big money. With so much practical talent, and an obvious talent for befriending very influential people, I wonder why he didn't choose a conventional career instead of betraying trust and ripping people off. I did read elsewhere about his adopting a girl from Africa which is worth looking up on the internet - perhaps he omitted it from this book so as not to tarnish his image as a conscience-free operator. I must say I learned about artists I had never heard of and took great pleasure in looking at their work, if only via internet images. Apart from a few mispronunciations of artists' names, Dan Butler does a fine job narrating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lady Unknown

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Edna Healey
    • Narrated By Anna Bentinck
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    In 1837, at the age of 23, Angela Burdett-Coutts inherited a vast fortune from her banker grandfather, making her one of the richest and thus potentially powerful women in Victorian England. She moved in the highest social circles: entertaining the rising stars of the political scene, Disraeli and Gladstone; attending scientific lectures with Faraday; pursuing her philanthropic work with Dickens; and falling in love with the aged Duke of Wellington.

    Robyn says: "A very worthwhile biography"
    "A very worthwhile biography"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a well written biography of a little known woman. In detailing Miss Coutts' life, Edna Healey inevitably details the conventions which placed limits on what women could do. In almost all of her charitable works, Miss Coutts relied upon or had recourse to men - perhaps if she had been male she would not have remained a shadowy figure in the history of Victorian England. Nonetheless, she was a compassionate and determined women who was a pioneer in concern for the poor and much of her fortune went towards improving their lot in life. Her friendship with Charles Dickens shed new light (for me) on his work for the poor. In some ways Miss Coutts' life was typical of the life of a well-off Victorian woman - at-homes, continental travel, health cures, and this does become slightly monotonous, but there is a parade of famous characters who regularly brighten the scene. If the social round and charitable works see your interest flagging a little, push on because there is quite a surprise toward the end.

    I was thoroughly enjoying Anna Bentinck's narration, pleasant voice, pleasant accent, UNTIL, it appears, she read several chapters while suffering a heavy cold. The stuffed-up nasal voice was just horrible, I had to force myself to keep listening. Thankfully she recovered but it did spoil my enjoyment of this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Laurence Rees
    • Narrated By Michael Jayston
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Adolf Hitler was an unlikely leader - fuelled by hate, incapable of forming normal human relationships, unwilling to debate political issues - and yet he commanded enormous support. So how was it possible that Hitler became such an attractive figure to millions of people? That is the important question at the core of Laurence Rees’ new book. The Holocaust, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the outbreak of the Second World War - all these cataclysmic events and more can be laid at Hitler’s door.

    Robyn says: "Excellent in every way"
    "Excellent in every way"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a book both for beginners and for those who have already read a reasonable amount of WWII and Nazi history. As well as being a portrait of Hitler, it provides an overview of the main events of Germany history from WWI until May 1945. Laurence Rees' clever tactic of using Hitler's charisma as the central theme provides a different perspective from the usual biographical and war history works. In examining Hitler's rising popularity, Rees reveals much about the man and offers several inter-connected explanations for Hitler's ability to draw people in and to convert doubters to his point of view. He also devotes some time to people who did not fall under Hitler's spell and those who plotted to kill him. Rees goes on to document the decline of Hitler's power to influence as the direction of the war turns and Germany moves ever closer to defeat. The book is well written and Rees' central argument is well presented. Michael Jayston is a very competent narrator and his voice and presentation are perfect for the material.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Conspiracy of Secrets

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Bobbie Neate
    • Narrated By Lynsey Frost
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Tracing family histories is a popular pursuit and everyone loves the idea of discovering where they really come from. But when Bobbie Neate began to investigate her own family's past, she made some shocking discoveries which would cause shockwaves within her own family as well as on a much wider, national scale. The result of Bobbie's quest is an enthralling journey not only into her own past but also into the history of this country and its leaders. It was after the death of her beloved mother that Bobbie started to question strange events from her childhood.

    Robyn says: "Interesting story, weak ending, dreadful narration"
    "Interesting story, weak ending, dreadful narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have two views of this book. I found it engrossing and couldn't wait to get back to it each time I had to take a break. The insight into the worlds of the upper and lower classes and the political and motor racing worlds of the early 1900s, and famous characters of the period, all make an interesting backdrop. And the family interactions are interesting too, with the mystery keeping the reader's attention. Neate paces her investigation and discoveries well so interest is maintained throughout.

    On the other hand, in the end many burning questions remain unanswered or unsatisfactorily addressed. Why did nobody in the family take a stand during their much-loved mother's last illness? Why did they allow 'step-father' to bar them from even visiting their mother on so many occasions, and from being alone with her? Could they do nothing to stop him spending ridiculous amounts of their mother's money? Why did nobody confront him? Why mention his sexual assaults several times with no follow up at all? What was the last word on the burial? Why did we hear so little about her eventual contact with her father? Did anything happen to the professionals who behaved so unprofessionally? This aspect of the book, after suspense sustained for ten or so hours, is very disappointing. Despite all this, I would still recommend the book because I found it a compelling read.

    BUT, the book is badly let down by the narrator. Her voice and accent are very pleasant, but she mis-pronounces SO many words, she really is not suitable for the task. Her accent suggests that English is her native language, so there is no excuse for mispronouncing English words.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Ben Macintyre
    • Narrated By Michael Tudor Barnes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    D-Day, 6 June 1944 was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit, aimed at convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the invasion force. The deception involved every branch of Allied wartime intelligence. But at its heart was the “Double Cross System”, a team of double agents controlled by the secret Twenty Committee.

    Robyn says: "Macintyre and Tudor Barnes - top combination!"
    "Macintyre and Tudor Barnes - top combination!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a must read for anyone who is interested in WWII or who just likes a ripping and suspenseful spy story. I agree with all positive comments below. The book is beautifully written, with the occasional sardonic observation to bring a smile to your lips. The narration is perfect in every way. My only reservation has also been mentioned below - it can be difficult to keep track of the various players in audio format, but I found that with each switch between characters I quickly remembered what they were up to, so I don't consider it a reason not to read the book in audio. And listening to Michael Tudor Barnes is a treat not to be missed. I was left with just one question - could the Germans really have been THAT inept? Apparently so!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Spy Who Loved

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Clare Mulley
    • Narrated By Maggie Mash
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In June 1952, a woman was murdered by an obsessive colleague in a hotel in South Kensington. Her name was Christine Granville. That she died young was perhaps unsurprising, but that she had survived the Second World War was remarkable. She was one of Britain’s most daring and highly decorated secret agents, and the intelligence she gathered was a significant contribution to the Allied war effort.

    Robyn says: "Remarkable woman, remarkable life"
    "Remarkable woman, remarkable life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Christine Granville was a fascinating and captivating woman (at least to the men who knew her), but her outstanding characteristics were patriotism, courage, and determination. Her courage was amazing: some of her exploits had me on the edge of my seat and she narrowly escaped with her life several times, as well as saving the lives of many others. She attracted the loyalty of the men to whom she was close both in her private life and undercover work (with much overlap between the two), so much so that much of her story remained hidden until Clare Mulley conducted the painstaking research which forms the basis of this book. The Spy who Loved is interesting from the beginning to the sad end and, as well as detailing Christine's extraordinary life, it presents a lot of information about Poland, undercover operations, relationships during wartime, sexism in that era, and what happened to secret agents after the war. Maggie Mash is a very competent reader and does a fine job with this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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