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J Conifer

Listener Since 2004

1
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 3 reviews
  • 65 ratings
  • 493 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Carlos Eire
    • Narrated By David Drummond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    A childhood in a privileged household in 1950s Havana was joyous and cruel, like any other - but with certain differences. The neighbor's monkey was liable to escape and run across your roof. Surfing was conducted by driving cars across the breakwater. Lizards and firecrackers made frequent contact. Carlos Eire's childhood was a little different from most. His father was convinced he had been Louis XVI in a past life. At school, classmates were attended by chauffeurs and bodyguards. Then, in January 1959, the world changed....

    Dataman says: "Like Watching a Stranger's Home Videos"
    "Disappointing narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This National Book Award-winning memoir is a delight. Eire's observations of his time in Havana as a young boy growing up in a well-to-do family, before the revolution, reflect the unique perspective of youth on family and daily events yet also reveal glimpses into the future as a "lost boy" evacuated from Cuba shortly after Castro came into power. I loved his "voice" as the author, but I did not care at all for the reader's interpretation of the book. His mostly flat, predictably metered reading I found tedious. He did manage some different voices for the female characters and the odd sound effects. But I don't think he did the story justice. I would still recommend the book, just listen to a sample first to see if you're willing to spend so many hours with that voice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Million Shades of Gray

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Cynthia Kadohata
    • Narrated By Keith Nobbs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (38)

    A boy and his elephant escape into the jungle when the Viet Cong attack his village immediately after the Vietnam war.

    Lisa says: "beautiful writing"
    "Wonderful book! Not so much about elephants."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to this book on a long drive in one day. As the story progressed I was occasionally irritated by the simplistic writing style, however the author created such empathetic characters in Y'Tin and his family that I stopped being annoyed and became very enthusiastic about the way she shared a rarely-exposed side of war. Younger readers rarely have a chance to consider the other side of the story for people who live through a war. With the young protagonist, Y'Tin, who comes to question issues around why the Americans, including a special forces unit that his father worked with, left without "winning" the war, how friends can undergo changes as their normal lives are deconstructed, and how family and extended family, in this case the elephant "Lady", are so important. The questions he ponders during his time in the jungle after fleeing the North Vietnamese army are thought provoking to readers/listeners of all ages. I really enjoyed this book because it reminded me that wars have two sides (at least) and are rarely "won". An while it was not so much about elephants, there are wonderful passages about Y'Tin's relationship with Lady and tidbits about elephants and their place in the southeast asian culture.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Kitchen House: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Kathleen Grissom
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy, Bahni Turpin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7112)
    Performance
    (5054)
    Story
    (5043)

    Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction.

    B.J. says: "Good, but with reservations"
    "Looking for a prequel to "The Help"? Don't go here"
    Overall

    I really wanted to like this book, but found the story line and characters predictable and unremarkable. The central character, an Irish girl who ends up being raised by slaves on a tobacco plantation in post Revolutionary War south, is likeable, but lacks depth as a character. All the other characters are equally shallow and stereotypical. The plot is unsurprising as well.
    However, if you're looking for good narration, Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin do a first class job and their voices were the only thing that kept me listening to the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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