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Publisher's Summary

From the cauldron of controversy that is Hawaiian history emerged Wai-nani, a reflection of the personage of the great chiefess Ka'ahumanu. Like all islanders she was a water baby who found pleasure, sustenance, solace, wisdom, and courage in the grand and vibrant sea. She was born 15 years prior to the landing of Captain Cook in Kealakekua in 1779 and was the favorite wife of Makaha, a fierce warrior modeled after Kamehameha the Great.

Hawaiian women enjoyed sports, were trained in the martial arts, played active roles in decision making, and participated in wars. They communed with the gods through hula and ritualistic ceremonies. Ka'ahumanu swam miles each day, and it is reasonable to believe she would have made friends in the ocean. Wai-nani's bond with Eku, a playful and communicative dolphin, propels her on a mythological journey couched in magical realism. Wai-nani is a celebration of the Hawaiian people of old - especially the powerful Ka'ahumanu, forerunner to the modern woman.

Honorable Mention, 2015 Readers' Favorite Awards, Fiction-Historical-Personage category.

©2008 Linda Ballou (P)2015 Linda Ballou

Critic Reviews

"I was fascinated with the way Linda Ballou had taken us into the intimate and unknown world of the Hawaiian people through the eyes of an unforgettable heroine. Wai-nani is fierce, passionate, and deeply connected to the land and ocean - and to her complex and multi-faceted warrior husband." (Toby Neal, best-selling author of the Lei Crime series)
"Wai-nani is a masterpiece! The historic novel tells the dramatic and heart warming love story of Wai-nani. By weaving the ancient legends of Old Hawaii into this compelling story, Ballou captivates the reader with her beautiful descriptions and very real characters, who come alive in your imagination. Once I got the rhythm I could hardly put the book down. It is an excellent read, especially if you have been or plan to go to Hawaii." (Bonnie Neely, editor of Real Travel Adventures)
"Ballou's artful storytelling pulled me into Wai-nani's dramatic struggle - the universal journey to discover how and why one fits into the beautiful, yet flawed world one lives in. The duality of Wai-nani's relationship with the ocean and a family of dolphins that offers her uncomplicated freedom and expression, and her relationships within a culture where she must struggle physically, emotionally and spiritually against her traditional 'place of standing,' is a magical, inspiring and thought provoking read." (Scott Hillenbrand, feature film director/producer)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Wonderful story - recommended with ebook

What made the experience of listening to Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai'i the most enjoyable?

Listening to the audiobook while following along with my Kindle copy, lazing along the shore in Maui.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai'i?

There are so many! Wai-nani swimming with her dolphin friends to escape her father's wrath and meet the love of her life on another island. Wai-nani eating a 'kapu' banana. Wai-nani coming out of the ocean, naked - and the villagers couldn't believe she swam all those miles to get there from another island, thinking she was a god!<br/><br/>The story is full of so many great moments - I loved every minute of it :-)

Have you listened to any of Christine Padovan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Knowing the narrator's other works, I found out she was directed to be more 'dramatic' with her read than she normally would be. The story itself is written very poetic, and sometimes sentences are just flowery language to describe a scene - and two sentences may not follow a particular thought process. <br/><br/>That being said, I always enjoy Ms. Padovan's vocal tones and thought even with the direction given, she did a wonderful job. I would have preferred if she had been allowed to narrate with less drama and let the words speak for themselves though.

Any additional comments?

The author who is normally a travel writer did a great job researching Hawaiian history and culture, and putting it all together as a fictional story.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • M.B.
  • Monterey Bay, CA
  • 10-30-15

Now Whispersync'ed - get ebook and audio together!

I'm so glad this beautiful story is now Whispersync'ed! You really need to buy the audiobook with the ebook/Kindle version and follow along to really understand all the Hawaiian words and what they mean. The author tends to either use a Hawaiian word to describe children ('keiki') or uses the English word.

Also, it makes it easier to understand if the Hawaiian word is a place, a person or something else.

It is an amazing, lovely written story - I learned so much about Hawaiian culture, superstitions and folklore (and some historical points too). I highly recommend getting it - but get both together for the best experience!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Mahalo nui for this lovely story

Would you consider the audio edition of Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai'i to be better than the print version?

In many ways, yes - it makes the characters feel 3 dimensional, making you feel even more like you are experiencing the events firsthand. I truly felt like I was there with Captain Cook and his men; with Wai-nani as she was wave sliding with Makaha; Wai-nani's dolphin friends helping her escape to another island, etc.

What did you like best about this story?

The poetic writing of Linda Ballou. There was a beauty in all her descriptive use of Hawaiian words. I also loved how Ms. Ballou honored the memory of Queen Ka'ahumanu, wife of Kamehameha the First. Ms. Ballou told a much more compelling and entertaining story than Dr. Patterson did in her book, 'Kuhina Nui...'

What about Christine Padovan’s performance did you like?

I like how she made herself sound younger in the beginning of the story, then her voice deepens as Wai-nani becomes older, spanning the 40 plus years of the story. She did a wonderful job with the old style, traditional pronunciations of Hawaiian words - not like how tourists would say them. She either researched or studied with an Hawaiian linguist for this narration.

Any additional comments?

Mahalo nui for a story well told!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Despised the narration for this book!

I have no idea how the book really was. I need to read it in print. The narration for this book is horrendous. I understand the narrator is actually rather good, but the direction for this book sucks. The narrator has a habit of reading too slow. She draws out the last syllable of the last word in every phrase and her voice goes down on the last word of every sentence. Someone else said they contacted the narrator and was told that she was doing it the way the director wanted it for dramatic effect. It was badly over done. She sounded like a bad copy of a computer generated text to speech program. I could not follow the story because the narration was so distracting.

I only gave the story two stars because I could not follow it. I really think this book would be better read in hard copy. It is not really fair to Linda Ballou to judge her book by the narrator, but the narration was just so bad that I couldn't follow the story. The only reason I gave the narration one star is because there isn't anything lower. If you don't give it at least one star then it just doesn't register, so one star it is.

If this narration was the result of the direction given, then Ballou's books need a different director for future ones.

I received this audio book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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I really wanted to fall in love with this book

Set in the late 1700s, Wai-nani is the daughter of a great Hawaiian chieftain. However, she finds that she can’t live by his rules and swims away to another island. On her journey, she meets people from other Hawaiian tribes, lives through wind and wave, and eventually meets some of the first Caucasians to visit the islands. Along the way, she is accompanied by her friend the dolphin Eku.

I really wanted to like this book. I set into it wanting to sink in and soak up some Hawaiian history via this historical fiction. However, I often found myself a bit lost. Now part of that is me. I am woefully ignorant about both the history and myths of the Hawaiian peoples and the Hawaiian language. Throughout Wai-nani’s story, there are tales of the ancient Hawaiian gods woven in. Quite frankly, I would sometimes lose track of the characters, the names being so unfamiliar to me, and I would then lose track of whether or not I was was listening to events happening in Wai-nani’s present or a tale of old (of ancient gods or ancient warriors) being told to or by Wai-nani. Secondly, there are several Hawaiian words used throughout the book (and normally I revel in this sort of thing) but the sounds are so unfamiliar to me that I had trouble keeping track of what was meant by which word… and Ooops! sometimes I confused a Hawaiian noun with a person’s name and vice versa. So, certain chunks of the plot were somewhat of a muddle to me.

So I would say that if you are as ignorant of the Hawaiian language and myths as I am, this might not be the book to start your education with. Also, I think it might be best to eyeball read it instead of listening to it as you could make note of the Hawaiian words (or hopefully the author included an small dictionary in the ebook/paper versions) and the grammar alone will clue you into whether it is a person’s name or vocabulary.

I did enjoy that Wai-nani had such an active life! She was very physically active, surfing and swimming and hiking much of the time. She often risked much voicing her opinion to chiefs concerning the traditional taboos against women doing this or that (like eating bananas). I would have enjoyed having other female characters doing the same instead of Wai-nani being the odd woman out most of the time.

Then Captain Cook and his ships come sailing in. This was initially a little confusing to me as well, and it’s because Cpt. Cook has a unique name in Hawaiian that is used primarily. However, I did like that it was more of a side note towards the end of Wai-nani’s life instead of some big climax to her life. The book does do a good job of showing that the Hawaiian peoples had full eventful lives and cultures of their own before Caucasians showed up.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks!

The Narration: Christine Padovan was an adequate narrator. She pronounced the Hawaiian words consistently through the book. I can’t speak to the accuracy of pronunciation because I am unfamiliar with the language. However, she had a somewhat stilted voice. I have listened to one other book narrated by Padovan (a SF story) and I thought she had added the stilt on purpose to reflect the fact that most of the characters learned from a computer, giving them all a kind of geek accent. Yet here I hear her doing the same thing throughout the book and it doesn’t work here.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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OMG! The narrator!

This narrator is sooooo bad. Incapable of pronouncing Hawaiian words. Not able to change tone or tempo. Listening to her is painful. I wrote this review at about chapter 6 because I don't think I will finish. It's not supposed to be so sad a story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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love it. made me feel a lot of things... happy-sad

amazing story felt like i was in hawaii the whole time i was listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Can't listen anymoooore

The narrator style is too annoying for me to concentrate on the story. She sounds like a computer generated voice and a valley girl mixed. Every last word is extendeeeed. Should have been narrated by a Hawaiian. Disappointed because I love most stories about Hawaii. Maybe this one is better for Kindle.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Wainani

Any additional comments?

I love the story of this book but the narrator is horrible. I can't finish listening to the audiobook.

5 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Maile
  • Onalaska, WA, United States
  • 04-30-15

Auwe! A'ole!

Would you try another book from Linda Ballou and/or Christine Padovan?

If you are going to narrate a story that is of another culture, and infused with that culture's language, then make sure you can pronounce each and every word perfectly. Christine Padovan's heavy, sonorous reading made me cringe. Each last word of every sentence was drug out and said in a lower tone, making the whole thing sound like a dirge. It was like listening to one finger poi, thick and sticky in the ears. The language, the 'olelo of the islands is beautifully lilting. Her mangling of it made my ears hurt. I am so sorry, but Linda Ballou, if you're going to write a story of my home and people, then have a person who can speak the language read it properly. Have you ever seen a hyphenated Hawaiian word? Wai-Nani? And why would Wainani describe Makaha's skin as 'almond colored'? Really? Last I checked, there are no almond trees back home, and none that were there pre-European contact. Right up there with 'Hawaiian Pizza'. Folks, don't waste your money/credit. If you want to hear Hawaiian spoken well, listen to the beautiful music, the mele of artists like the Brothers Cazimero, Gabby Pahinui, Amy Gilliom, George Helm and many more. Then read the stories and ledgends as written by our King David Kalakaua.

Would you be willing to try another book from Linda Ballou? Why or why not?

If she didn't want to do this well.....

What didn’t you like about Christine Padovan’s performance?

Her. voice. is. so. droning. it. made. me. think. a. root. canal. would. be. more. lively. If you can't study the language of the book, and pronounce it correctly, then pass on the job. We have only 13 alphabets in our language. Nuances mean everything!

What character would you cut from Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai'i?

No fair asking hard questions.

Any additional comments?

I wonder what it would be like have a local, native speaking islander from Hawai'i reading this book. Call Emma Veary or Nina Keali'iwahamana. THEN it would be worth something.

8 of 23 people found this review helpful