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spookycat918

  • 5
  • reviews
  • 4
  • helpful votes
  • 5
  • ratings
  • Sterling

  • A Novelette
  • By: Michelle S. Daniel
  • Narrated by: Paula Slade
  • Length: 1 hr and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2

Plagued by guilt after her son's mysterious disappearance, single mother and attorney-at-law Helen Waters attempts to take her life one cold December day only to discover the power of forgiveness.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Powerful

  • By spookycat918 on 04-20-16

Powerful

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-20-16

Efficient storytelling and superb acting pack an emotional punch in this novelette. The simple setting (much of it a conversation between two people in a cabin), coupled with the paranormal/psychological mystery-drama element, reminded me so much of classic "Twilight Zone" in the best possible way. The writing is very visual without getting too dragged down by description, and the characters feel very real. The narration is heartfelt and will no doubt move you to tears. Without spoiling anything, I can say that while the story centers on a great tragedy, the resolution is both uplifting and satisfying.

  • Swan Song

  • The Julie O'Hara Mystery Series, Volume 2
  • By: Lee Hanson
  • Narrated by: Paula Slade
  • Length: 6 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14

As dawn breaks, the pale body of a beautiful, raven-haired young woman is discovered in an errant swan boat, adrift on a small lake, smack in the middle of a jewel-like park in Downtown Orlando. It looks like a suicide, Snow White in a fractured fairy tale. Body-language expert Julie O'Hara, isn't buying it. And that's a BIG problem, since Julie is the one person most likely to figure it out.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow!

  • By spookycat918 on 09-11-15

Wow!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-11-15

This book was intense! I started it right on the heels of finishing the first Julie O’Hara mystery, “Castle Cay,” and finished “Swan Song” in just a couple days. All of the positive things I had to say about “Castle Cay”—strong characters, good pacing, great mystery—are raised to whole new level in “Swan Song.” So much character development and human drama is packed into a relatively short space. I really liked the approach this time around of interspersing the “present-day” scenes of the story with flashbacks from the perspectives of the victim and various key people in her life. We even get some brief scenes from the murderer’s point of view, but the author is careful not to reveal too much. The back-story of the victim (as well as a significant person in her life) unfolds with lots of tension, action, and emotion, but doesn’t feel overly exposition-y. It is also quite heartbreaking at times. But the resolution is satisfying, and I think readers will find it ends on a positive, hopeful note.

Fantastic delivery once again from narrator Paula Slade. All of the drama and depth of emotion from these characters really came across in her performance. I confess that a few of the scenes genuinely made me tear up.

Am looking forward to listening to the third installment of this series, “Mistral Murder”!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Castle Cay

  • Julie O'Hara Mystery Series, Book 1
  • By: Lee Hanson
  • Narrated by: Paula Slade
  • Length: 6 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 132
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 118
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 117

When her best friend is murdered, Julie O'Hara, a body language expert, packs up her suspicion and flies to Boston for his funeral. Who could have killed rising artist Marc Solomon, and what does Castle Cay, the Solomons' mysterious Caribbean island, have to do with it? Before long, Julie's sixth sense pulls a hidden string that unravels a deadly conspiracy and her own troubled past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Castle Cay

  • By barbara on 07-29-18

A smart and engaging mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-01-15

I’ve recently gotten hooked on murder mystery television series after “binge-watching” some terrific programs on Netflix, but this was my first venture into books of that genre. I can easily say that “Castle Cay” did not disappoint, and has gotten me hooked on mystery books as well!

The story was intriguing, and the characters thoroughly likeable (or despicable, in the case of the villains). The drama was well-paced, and the book overall felt like it was the perfect length. The mystery kept me guessing for much of the way through.

I appreciated the fact that while our protagonist Julie O’Hara is very sharp and intelligent, she is not an over-the-top “super-genius” á la Sherlock Holmes or House. Instead she relies on a combination of rational analysis (body language expertise) and emotional intelligence (a.k.a., gut instinct) in a very believable way. The body language element was not overdone, either; it was incorporated just enough to add an extra layer of communication to the character’s interactions. As a bonus, I learned some interesting facts about the elements of body language!

The audiobook narration was delivered with flair, and served the dramatic tension very well. There were so many characters in this book that it could have been easy to lose track of who was speaking when, but the narrator gave each character a distinctive voice, and the cadence of the conversation dialogue sounded very natural. She also did a very good job of using tone-of-voice to hint at the conflicting emotions behind many of the characters’ words, giving you the impression they were not always revealing all they knew.

I’m very much looking forward to listening to the sequels, “Swan Song” and “Mistral Murders,” as well as exploring murder mysteries by other authors. Thank you, Lee Hanson and Paula Slade, for cluing me in to a new favorite book genre!


P.S.: (On a side note: About half of the book takes place in the protagonist’s hometown of Boston. As someone from Massachusetts who attended school in Boston, it was a lot of fun to read a story set in this city and be able to recognize various landmarks, suburbs, and of course the famous accent! So many U.S. books, films, and TV shows skew towards New York or L.A. to the exclusion of other smaller urban settings, so this was nice change of pace.)

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Sadie Sapiens

  • By: Jeff Bauer
  • Narrated by: Paula Slade
  • Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

High school, junior year, and Emma is barely getting by, head down as she stays low on the social radar. Sadie, her best friend and constant companion, craves attention and understanding as much as Emma does. The two of them find strength and comfort in their friendship while surviving one crisis after another. Thing is, Sadie only weighs four pounds, stands ten inches tall and talks to Emma by barking. Until Emma notices something very unusual - Sadie displays a high degree of intelligence. Way intelligent.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sadie, the Crusader

  • By Michaela M. Nelson on 12-07-14

Plenty of depth in one little dog!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-27-14

This is not your average “talking dog” story. While “Sadie Sapiens” certainly has its cute and humorous moments, the book explores a much broader and deeper range of emotional and intellectual territory than its whimsical premise might imply. Super-smart chihuahua Sadie and her teenage human companion Emma brave their way through a rollercoaster ride of exciting and harrowing experiences. Many of their adventures center around Sadie’s remarkable talents, but just as often the drama arises from the everyday tragedies and triumphs of real life. Both heroines emerge from their respective traumas stronger, wiser, and with a greater sense of self. Their journey is a heartwarming one, with a dog/human “pack” bond like no other.

As the human protagonist of the story, Emma is smart, compassionate, courageous, and self-motivated. In so many ways, Sadie is her equal. Sadie goes way beyond “cute”: she feels like a fully-realized character, a sentient being who thinks, feels, and reasons for herself. She also acts as a fascinating foil to the human characters of the novel as she observes their habits, biology, and cultural norms with a detached curiosity that causes us, the readers, to reflect on those traits that make us most human.

The audiobook performance was very compelling and really did justice to the wide range of intense emotional scenarios. I guarantee you will laugh and cry along with the characters as you are drawn into their deepest thoughts and feelings by the narrator.

I would definitely recommend “Sadie Sapiens” to both YA and adult readers alike. In fact, I think it would make a great book for kids and adults to listen to together. It brings up a lot of good talking points about how humans relate to animals and to each other, as well as how we might broaden our definition of “intelligence.” The book also contains some subtle messages on the evolving role (for good and ill) that technology plays in our lives.

I wish Audible would allow fractional star ratings, as I really feel this ranks much closer to 4.5 than just 4 stars!

  • The Haunted

  • By: Michaelbrent Collings
  • Narrated by: Paula Slade
  • Length: 7 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 78
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 74
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 73

They have the beginnings of a perfect family. A husband, a wife, a baby on the way. But something will stop them from being happy as they move into their new house: the power of the undead that roam the halls of their home. The demons that have come to claim them. The darkness that seeks to destroy them.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Paranormal Snoozer

  • By Thomas Cook on 11-26-14

Chilling, suspenseful, and totally addictive

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-24-14

What did you like best about this story?

The protagonists were extremely likable, and you really feel invested in their fates right from Chapter 1. This story bucked the conventional horror trope of "main couple is driven apart by terrifying events." Cap and Sarah undergo some truly horrific and hellish experiences together, but if anything, the bond of their relationship is only strengthened by these experiences.

What does Paula Slade bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator was spot-on in her portrayal of a diverse cast of characters and gave each individual (ghoulish or otherwise) a distinctive voice and personality. She also succeeded by turns at maintaining an engaging level of intensity throughout segments of high drama, while drawing you in with a calm and inviting manner during the early set-up scenes and the later moments of (brief) respite.Audiobooks, when done right, bring the reader's experience of a story to a whole knew level. Paula Slade's interpretation of "The Haunting" really brought this book to life (so to speak!).

Any additional comments?

This is a tightly-written, fast-paced story that is hard to put down-- or in this case, hard to pause your iPod on. It's intense and addictive. I got through it very quickly, and that was even with forcing myself *not* to listen to it during times when I was home alone. (Trust me, you'll want to listen this anywhere *but* an empty house.) The high-adrenaline action is peppered with creative and nightmarish details that keep you guessing. You will find yourself terrified alongside the protagonists, and as eager to know what happens next as they are.