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Greg and Sara Masarik

  • 21
  • reviews
  • 29
  • helpful votes
  • 139
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  • The Westing Game

  • By: Ellen Raskin
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 6 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 217
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 192
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 192

A bizarre chain of events begins when 16 unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger - and a possible murderer - to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead...but that won't stop him from playing one last game!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I love this story

  • By Alex on 12-17-18

Surprisingly fun!

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

Reviewed: 01-29-19

Somehow I missed this one in childhood. I regret that. It would have been an absolute favorite! But the 40 something-year-old in me is content to have at least met it in time for my children’s childhood.

So much better than so many others in its category, this is a fun cerebral adventure.

  • Murder on the Orient Express

  • A Hercule Poirot Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Dan Stevens
  • Length: 6 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,249
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8,568
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,542

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer. Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • My first Christie

  • By Michael Andrew Kinkead on 08-06-17

Wonderful story with a flawless performance

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

Reviewed: 11-24-17

Dan Stevens is a genius. His narration is positively inspired. I was floored by the ease with which he switches between voices and accents. I have over 300 audiobooks this one comes as close to a perfect audiobook as they come.

  • The Black Stallion

  • By: Walter Farley
  • Narrated by: Frank Muller
  • Length: 5 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 414
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 359
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 364

When the steamer Drake is shipwrecked off the Spanish coast, only two passengers survive. One is Alec Ramsay, a young American boy. The other is the Black Stallion, the wildest of all wild creatures. Stranded together on a desert island, boy and stallion develop a deep and wonderful understanding. The Black Stallion is the horse Alec has always dreamed of - beautiful, free-spirited, and astonishingly strong. Alec is determined to tame him and bring him home to New York.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Precious story! Hugely satisfying!

  • By Aurora Leos on 05-28-13

Excellent story with an equally excellent narrator

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

Reviewed: 03-12-17

This is a story that seems to have gone out of style. There's no reason why it ever should have gone out of style. The story is book ended between two very exciting pivotal events with a lot of good old fashioned storytelling in between. This is a book that has the power to inspire great character and its readers. And it is highly entertaining. The narrator was fantastic!

  • The Princess Bride

  • By: William Goldman
  • Narrated by: Rob Reiner
  • Length: 2 hrs and 32 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,050
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,744
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,749

This adventure story has everything you could want: the good guy, some bad guys, the girl, sword fighting, revenge, romance, of course a happy ending, and rodents of unusual size. Join Westley the plucky farm boy, Buttercup the beautiful young maiden, Inigo Montoya the driven, embittered swordsman, and many other strange and unusual characters in this swashbuckling tale of good-natured silliness. It is read by Rob Reiner, who directed the motion picture based on this classic tale.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Reservedly recommended

  • By J. Herndon on 06-10-07

ABRIDGED! AN INCREDIBLE BOOK REDUCED!

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

Reviewed: 09-02-16

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The whole text.

What could William Goldman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Read the entire text.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He was great.

What character would you cut from The Princess Bride?

None

Any additional comments?

What an absolute shame.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • God's Smuggler

  • By: John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill
  • Narrated by: Robert Whitfield
  • Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 619
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 544
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 542

As a boy, he dreamed of being an undercover spy behind enemy lines. As a man, he found himself undercover for God. Brother Andrew was his name, and for decades, his life story has awed and inspired millions. This best-selling memoir recounts the incredible efforts of the young Dutch factory worker to transport Bibles across closed borders, and the miraculous ways in which God provided for him every step of the way.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • God is still in control!

  • By De on 11-20-15

Easily one of the most important books for our age

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

Reviewed: 08-09-16

Even though this story is set more than 50 years ago, even though it contains eternal truth, this story is for this age. This story is the stuff that tomorrow's martyrs can feast on and draw strength from.

  • The Green Ember

  • By: S. D. Smith
  • Narrated by: Joel Clarkson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,814
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,515
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,508

Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not Just for The Elementary Age Group

  • By Chelle on 08-27-15

Powerful nurture for the moral imagination

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

Reviewed: 07-18-16

We discovered this book about a year ago. We purchased it through Audible and it has since become the nightly bedtime book for my children (5, 7 & 9). As a family, we have loved seen such beautiful examples of family life, sibling loyalty, rising up to do what is right even when it is hard, and a story with real hope. Each of my children received the hardback in their Easter baskets this year because of how much they love this story. This book is streaming from their audible devices every night because they know it so well that it is the perfect way to fall into pleasant dreams.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

  • Adventure. Peril. Lost Jewels. And the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree.
  • By: Andrew Peterson
  • Narrated by: Peter Sandon
  • Length: 8 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 771
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 674
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 675

Once there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink and their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Compelling Plot, Imaginative World, Strong Morals

  • By David Michael Gregg on 04-11-11

Compelling, deeply moral, quirky war story

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

Reviewed: 03-17-16

Any additional comments?

This is a war story. A compelling, intriguing, sometimes quirky but deeply moral war story. This is the kind of story that helps us believe that we could stand and be counted if called upon to do so. This is a story that feeds the imagination and stretches the soul and it is a beautiful testimony to the power of family. It is a very good story to have in our moral imaginations.

Getting into the early pages is more than a bit disorienting. Like Middle Earth, we have humans and other creatures cohabiting in a war torn land. Unlike Middle Earth, the names are goofy and seem like a long series of smart jokes. It was enormously helpful for me to know that Mr. Peterson intended this to be the "vastness of Lord of the Rings" with the "whimsey of the Princess Bride". I tend to prefer more serious character sketches but once I allowed myself to get into the style, I found that it actually works really well.

"Oh, yes, the people of Skree were quite free, as long as they were in their homes by midnight. And as long as they bore no weapons, and they didn’t complain when their fellow Skreeans were occasionally taken away across the sea, never to be seen again. But other than the cruel Fangs and the constant threat of death and torture, there wasn’t much to fear in Skree."

It is clear from the introduction that we have an oppressed people who are living a shadow of real life. We know right away that this is a story about good versus evil and that the characters we are about to fall in love with are suffering.

The first portion of the book uses humor and quirkiness to reveal this tension. Like any good epic, this home setting is peppered with questions about identity, purpose and intention. The characters are sketched with the promise that they will be filled in as we go - but that they themselves still have much to learn about their history and how that will reveal their future. It is a very good setup and the layers are pulled back slowly.

The quirkiness dissipates when the hero struggle begins to emerge. We still have weird names and strange creatures with goofy tendencies, but those become servants of the text instead of the focus once the children are in jail.

What I found particularly rewarding about this text is that is does not hold back on the need for people to behave in heroic ways even when it may cost them everything. There aren't many cheap saves or easy outs. This is a dark and dangerous culture war and it requires character, love, faith and hope to survive.

The family context is gorgeous. It is so authentic. All of the normal family battles are present but they are met with love and loyalty and faith. Faith in each other and in The Maker and His providence.

An excellent first book in a series that I can't wait to unpack.

I would rate the intensity of this book as being on par with the early Harry Potter books or The Hobbit. More intense and mildly violent than Narnia or The Green Ember but just as moral, wholesome and heroic. In fact, there are a number of things in the text which remind me of the HP books. There is no witchcraft or wizardry but there are mythical creatures who are otherworldly and there are some questions about one character who was human and is now somehow altered. Classic fantasy type of stuff.

Like The Green Ember, a new book with an old soul.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • North! Or Be Eaten!

  • By: Andrew Peterson
  • Narrated by: Peter Sandon
  • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 447
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 403
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 402

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they're really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A compelling hero epic

  • By Greg and Sara Masarik on 03-17-16

A compelling hero epic

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

Reviewed: 03-17-16

Would you consider the audio edition of North! Or Be Eaten! to be better than the print version?

I like both - I loved this narrator but the illustration in the books is really enhancing. The audio has been a wonderful companion.

Any additional comments?

When CS Lewis wrote Narnia, he wasn't really writing fantasy - he was playing with "dressed rabbits" - a style of anthropomorphizing pastoral animals and mythic creatures (like centaurs) so as to give the story a magical setting. Basically, however, the creatures all followed rules that were fairly basic to regular humans and this made Narnia quite relatable to most of it's readers.

When Tolkien built Middle Earth, he built an entirely different world than our own. Instead of magic invading the "real" world, Tolkien created another world with different kinds of creatures but still the same basic sense of physics/gravity and created order.

Peterson's Wingfeather books are more like Tolkien than Lewis. I understand why they are classified as fantasy (they do have otherworldly creatures) but they are not magical in the way that Harry Potter defies the laws of reality nor are they fantastic in the way that Percy Jackson super imposes an alternate reality on our own. Instead, they are very much a classic hero story set in a world that is remarkably like ours (minus a few hundred years). It would be more fair to classify Peterson as being like the author of Beowulf, Homer, Tolkien or any of the Robin Hood authors.

In this installment, the plot deepens and darkens. The characters are living under the terrible burden of an inescapable legacy during a dark time when evil is winning. Many of our primary characters are absolutely tested to the breaking point - and all bear awful scars from the choices that they make.

But, like any true heroic epic, there is never a moment without hope. There is always a fight to move towards the light and like the plot, the characters are deepened in so doing.

This book is intense. It is beautifully written and very exciting to read. We find ourselves utterly invested in our characters and so we suffer with them and we hope for them.

The mood and subtext of this book reminds me of Oliver Twist or Barrie's Peter Pan. Unlike Lord of the Flies, the darkness does not win. It scars. It wounds. It exacts a bounty. But darkness never really wins.

I am thrilled to have this series in our family library. This beautiful set of stories does what Chesterton and Lewis insist that good fairy tales do - it introduces my children to real and terrible dragons but shows them that those dragons can be defeated when heroes live sacrificially.

Unlike Narnia, this is not a collection of integrated stories. Like The Lord of the Rings, it presents one epic story broken across several volumes.

My particular children are not terribly sensitive to the struggles in hero epics and so at 5, 6 and 8 they cannot get enough of these books. For most children, however, I think that these are probably a better fit for 10+. There is no gratuitous violence - but there are violent struggles that clearly illustrate the battle between good and evil and there are bloody descriptions as appropriate. There are no outright tragedies in this volume but there is a lot of suffering. This could be an excellent family read aloud for a family who is steeped in saint/martyr stories and hero epic and who are willing to pause to discuss intense parts as needed.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Sense and Sensibility

  • By: Jane Austen
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 12 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,899
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,378
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,369

When Mrs. Dashwood is forced by an avaricious daughter-in-law to leave the family home in Sussex, she takes her three daughters to live in a modest cottage in Devon. For Elinor, the eldest daughter, the move means a painful separation from the man she loves, but her sister Marianne finds in Devon the romance and excitement which she longs for.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • very easy on the ears.

  • By Rachael on 02-27-08

One of my favorite Juliet Stevenson's performances

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

Reviewed: 01-28-16

Would you listen to Sense and Sensibility again? Why?

Yes - and I have. This is one that always offers something new and Juliet Stevenson keeps me totally swept up in the story each time. There is always a part that I have forgotten which takes me by surprise and adds to my enjoyment.

What other book might you compare Sense and Sensibility to and why?

Clearly we have to compare it to Pride and Prejudice.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Persuasion

  • By: Jane Austen
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,900
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,315
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,324

Anne Elliot has grieved for seven years over the loss of her first love, Captain Frederick Wentworth. But events conspire to unravel the knots of deceit and misunderstanding in this beguiling and gently comic story of love and fidelity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Juliet Stevenson is Simply Amazing

  • By Em on 04-15-12

Not my favorite Austen; Stevenson is marvelous

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

Reviewed: 01-28-16

Would you consider the audio edition of Persuasion to be better than the print version?

Yes, as a matter of fact I would. Juliet Stevenson is one of the hands down best narrators of our age. She does a marvelous job and kept me at the table even when I simply do not appreciate these particular characters or this plot.

If you’ve listened to books by Jane Austen before, how does this one compare?

Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Emma are just so much better.

What about Juliet Stevenson’s performance did you like?

Her intonation is brilliant. She manages to make different voices without it sound forced. She also has incredible theater in her voice which gives the story more texture and reveals all of the layers of meaning. She is phenomenal.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful