Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Full Dark, No Stars" by Stephen King

"Full Dark, No Stars"
by Stephen King
Read by Craig Wasson and Jessica Hecht
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio (2010)
Approx 15 hours

Okay, off the top here I've gotta admit, I'm a HUGE Stephen King fan, I would read a grocery list if he wrote it. That's the big reason I picked up this audiobook. Stephen King is the master of horror, and can always bring me to dark places and allow me to leave unscathed. This collection of novellas was no different. In fact this collection will take the reader/listener to some pretty dark places, but you will come out ok, trust me.

"Full Dark, No Stars" is a collection of four novellas dealing with the theme of retribution. In all cases someone gets retribution, in one case I'm not so sure if the retribution was steered toward the rightful person but it was there. This collection also explores the human psyche in its darkest corners. King always asks the question "What if..?" and can create some startling stories. Sometimes in King's novels the what if may be "What if an alien landed? What if a giant spider/clown thing lived underground and fed on children?" This time around, however, he takes us on a trek through some dark realities; What if you were married to a serial killer? What if you dumped your wife down the well? What if you escaped a serial killer? What if you could be cured of cancer?

The four novellas are tell of murders of some sort, two of which from a male point of view and two from a female point of view. This is why there are two different narrators, one male and one female, both do a superb job of presenting these dark stories. I think Craig Wasson shines best in his presentation of the first story "1922," he creates the down home feel in his vocal presentation, making it sound as if we are listening to Wilfred James actually talk out his confession.

Now, let's talk a bit about the four stories:

Wilfred James, the story's narrator, writes a lengthy confession for the murder of his wife, Arlette, in Hemingford Home, Nebraska, in 1922. (King fans will recognize the town as being the center of the psychic magnet for the "good guys" in "The Stand.") Wilfred owns 80 acres of farmland that have been in his family for generations. His wife owns an adjoining 100 acres willed to her by her father. Wilfred loves his farm and scorns the thought of living in a city, but Arlette is hates the farm life and wants to move to Omaha, (Insert "Green Acres" theme song here.) She wants to sell her land to a livestock company for use as a pig farm and slaughterhouse. But if she does so, Wilfred's farm will smell like pig shit and the water will become disgusting, as he lives downstream from it. Arlette wants Wilf to sell his land to the farmers as well so they can all move to Omaha, while Wilf wants her to use the land to farm crops. They cannot agree, so Arlette decides to sell her land, divorce Wilf, and move to Omaha herself. Wilfred, who is very attached to his land, can't stand to have it be laid to waste in this way, and manipulates his reluctant 14-year-old son, Henry/Hank, into helping him murder his own mother, by convincing him of how awful and selfish she is, and how terrible their life in Omaha will be, particularly since it will take Henry away from the girl he likes.

They do the deed and then dump her body down the well, at first this seems like the deed is done, but soon the rats come. The rats used to live in the well and seem to have become Arlette's minions. Haunting and torturing Wilf and his cattle. To top it off Hank gets a neighbor girl pregnant and soon his doom is unveiled. Wilf does not come out on top like he hoped and the rats follow him everywhere.

"Big Driver"
I've always heard that when you write for a living write about what you know best, I've noticed King takes this to heart in that a lot of his main characters are writers, this story is about yet another writer. Tess is a successful mystery writer who appears at a speaking engagement for the group Books & Brownbaggers at the Chicopee Public Library in Chicopee, Massachusetts. After the event, the head librarian, Ramona Norville, who had invited Tess to the library for the event, tells Tess to avoid Interstate 84, which she believes to be dangerous. Instead, she gives Tess the directions to Stagg Road, a presumably safer shortcut to Tess' home in Connecticut. However, as Tess takes the shortcut, her Ford Expedition rolls over pieces of wood with nails that lie across the road, giving her a flat tire. The place where the incident happens is by an abandoned store/gas station.

Shortly afterwards, an enormous man in a pickup drives by and offers to assist Tess. However, when Tess looks in the truck's bed and notices pieces of wood similar to those that punched out her tires, the hulking man knocks her out. She returns to consciousness as the man is raping her inside the abandoned store. This begins a horrific ordeal in which Tess is repeatedly assaulted, both sexually and physically, finally being choked to unconsciousness. Tess plays dead while the man dumps her into a culvert, where she sees the rotting corpses of several previous victims, indicating that she has encountered a serial killer. Tess manages to find her way home but is a changed person and seeks revenge. King says he got the idea for this story while going to a book signing himself and stopping at a rest stop and seeing a woman with a flat tire getting help from a friendly truck driver. Of course, King turns this into a darker story with a darker ending than what probably happened with the good samaritan at the rest stop.

"Fair Extension"
On his way home, Dave Streeter sees a man with a roadside stand by the road to the Derry airport (here King brings back the town of Derry, Maine, which has gone through all sorts of different hells). Street goes out and talks with the man, George Elvid, who tells Streeter that he sells extensions of various types. Streeter, who is dying of lung cancer, thinks Elvid might be a mental patient escapee after he claims to have existed for centuries. Elvid offers Streeter a chance to live for approximately 15 years if he pays 15 percent of his salary for every one of those years... and transfers the "weight" of his misfortune onto someone he knows, but not just someone he knows, it has to be someone he hates.

Streeter selects Tom Goodhugh, his best friend since childhood, whom he has secretly hated for years. Streeter has done everything for Goodhugh, including doing his homework. Later, Goodhugh stole Streeter's girlfriend in college and married her. Goodhugh founded a successful million-dollar waste removal business with Streeter's assistance and now lives a lavish lifestyle, has three children on the fast track to great lives, and doesn't look like age has caught up with him, unlike Streeter.

A couple of days later, Streeter goes to his doctor, who tells him his tumors are shrinking. Four months later, Streeter is declared cancer-free, which perplexes his doctor. The good luck continues in subsequent years, as Streeter is promoted several times at work and his marriage becomes joyous and rich with lavish lifestyle improvements. His children begin a long line of career successes: his son creates two bestselling video games and his daughter gets her dream job as a journalist at the Boston Globe right out of college after graduating from the Columbia School of Journalism.

At the same time, Goodhugh's wife develops breast cancer, one son has a heart attack and lives but suffers brain damage, his daughter's husband dies, she gives birth to a stillborn baby (due to same heart defect that caused the heart attack in his other son). Streeter wins a longer life but at what cost.

"A Good Marriage"
Darcy Anderson has been married to Bob, a partner at a Portland, Maine accounting firm, for 27 years. They have two children, Donnie and Petra, who have left home for college. They also have a mail order business selling and appraising rare coins. But one night, while Bob is away on a business trip, Darcy goes into the garage to search for batteries. When she rummages through Bob's belongings, she stumbles across a pornographic magazine showing images of sadomasochism. Unnerved by the magazine—and the fact that it is in Bob's possession—Darcy finds a secret compartment behind the garage's baseboard and makes a more horrific discovery: a small box containing the ID cards of Marjorie Duvall, a victim of a serial killer called "Beadie." Once Darcy has discovered this and then she researches and finds that all of Bob's out of town trips correspond to other murders by "Beadie." What will Darcy do with this information? If she tells the cops what will the neighbors think? She and her children's reputations will be ruined, after all, how could she be married to him and not know? What she does may surprise even the most avid fan of King's work. Stephen King wrote this after hearing the news reports of the "BTK" murderer caught in Kansas a few years back, and his exploration of how the wife of BTK could not know is what makes this story so realistic.

Definitely a good dive into the dark side from Stephen King.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka

"The Metamorphosis"
by Franz Kafka
read by Michael Scott
Approx 2 Hrs.

I was looking for something to put on my iPod my audiobook supply was getting pretty low and the website provided some filler. Every Fridy provides links for free audiobooks or lectures, most of the audiobooks are public domain productions through LibriVox. I have listened to some LibriVox productions before and was never impressed, LibriVox is a volunteer system, people volunteer to read books and LibriVox releases them. This time around I noticed it wasn't a LibriVox production so I decided to give this one a chance, after all I've always wanted to be able to say I've read Kafka. And it was definitely a step or two above the ones I've heard from LibriVox.

While listening to this audiobook I had to do some research on the book and was surprised to find some of the references to the book, some from "The Simpsons" tv series and in the movie "Flushed Away." Hey, with "The Simpsons" referencing the book, it had to be good, right? Actually finding those references are what kept me listening to the book. The story itself was exactly what I like to read, and the reader, Michael Scott (no not the character portrayed by Steve Carell, although that would have been interesting) read the book well, although he may have intended his reading for a younger audience, judging from his delivery, but he had Kafka's words, or rather a pretty darn good translation, to work with and kept me listening.

Published in 1915, "The Metamorphosis," tells the story of Gregor Samsa, who wakes up to find that he has been transformed into a giant insect. When I first heard about the book I heard that he had been transformed into a cockroach, and that's what many of the pop culture references seem to say, but after reading and hearing Gregor's description of his body in the book, I gather it's more of a beetle of sorts. At one point the maid that teases him refers to him as a dung beetle, but that is out of jest and hard to say that's what he actually is, so let's just go with insect for the sake of this review.

Gregor wakes to knocking at his door, but with his new insect body can't seem to get out of bed, he responds but the sounds he makes are pretty much unintelligible. The person knocking at the door is the chief clerk from the company where Gregor is a traveling salesperson. I thought it was interesting the traveling salesperson and cockroach transformation at this point seemed pretty tongue in cheek, but with the insect form not fully defined this may not have been intentional. Apparantly Gregor is so enslaved by his company that he can't even call in sick. As the family entreats Gregor to open the door, he refuses. Mrs. Samsa insists that Gregor must be ill or he would not be acting like this. The chief clerk loses his temper and tells Gregor that he is shocked by his attitude, insisting that his position in the company is not unassailable because his work has been poor lately. Gregor is angered by this speech, and insists that he is simply feeling slightly indisposed but will soon return to work. He retorts that his business has not been bad lately. Because of the changes in Gregor's voice, no one outside understands a word he says. Fearing he is ill, his parents send Grete and the servant girl to get the doctor and the locksmith. With great difficulty Gregor manages to open the door by himself.

Seeing Gregor, the chief clerk backs away while his father begins to weep. Here's where it gets weird. Why doesn't the family flee in terror? Gregor begs the chief clerk to explain the situation at the office and to stand up for him. He says that he will gladly come back to work and asks the chief clerk not to leave without agreeing with him. Gregor tries to stop the clerk so as to keep him from leaving with such a negative view of things, but then his mother, backing away, knocks over a coffee pot, causing a commotion and giving the chief clerk an opportunity to get away. Gregor's father picks up a walking stick to drive Gregor back into his room. Gregor gets stuck in the doorway, and his father shoves him through, injuring him in the process, and slams the door behind him.

Grete, Gregor's sister, attempts to leave him food, but the food he enjoyed as a human doesn't suit his tastes anymore. Grete sees the food is untouched and experiments with foods to find what Gregor will eat. At this point in the story she seems to be empathetic toward Gregor and tries to help him. All the family seem to be optimistic in thinking Gregor will get better, but he never "gets better."

The family doesn't realize Gregor can understand their speech so no one talks to him directly. He learns what is happening by listening to their conversations through the door. He finds out that the family has money saved from his father's business, which had collapsed five years ago. Gregor had not known about this money, and when his father's business fell apart, he had thrown himself into his work in order to provide for his family. The family's initial excitement of receiving his earnings had worn off, however, and he remained intimate only with Grete, whom he had wanted to send to the Conservatory to study the violin.

Gregor watches his movements carefully, since any noise he makes distracts his family. He learns from their conversations that in addition to money from the business, the family has also saved money from his salary, but it isn't enough to live off of for very long. Gregor feels deep shame every time money is mentioned. He finds that his vision is getting worse, so that he can no longer see across the street. Every time Grete walks into the room, she runs to open the window, which bothers Gregor. Realizing that his sister is uncomfortable in his presence, Gregor figures out a way to cover himself with a sheet to keep out of sight. Gregor's parents never come into his room, and when his mother begs to see her son, the others hold her back.

Gregor discovers that he enjoys climbing the walls and the ceiling. Noticing this, his sister decides to give him more space by clearing the furniture from his room, and she asks her mother to help. Gregor's mother says that this will make it look like they are giving up on Gregor's recovery, but Grete disagrees. Hearing his mother's voice, Gregor realizes the importance of the furniture to him. The noise that the women make upsets him, and he decides to come out of hiding to save the framed picture on the wall from being taken. Seeing him, his mother faints and Grete runs out of the room for medicine to revive her with. Gregor follows and when his sister sees him she runs into his room and slams the door, trapping Gregor outside. His father arrives to find him out of his room and begins throwing apples at him. One of these lodges itself in Gregor's back, almost crippling him. As he loses consciousness, his mother begs her husband to spare her son's life.

Gregor's injury makes the family decide to be more accepting of him, and they leave his door open so he can watch them. They are very quiet most of the time and extremely tired from the jobs they have taken. No one bothers with Gregor too much. They have replaced the servant girl with a maid. Gregor, lying in his room, resorts to his memory. The family considers moving, but can't because they don't know how to move Gregor. He becomes angry that he is being neglected. Grete barely cleans his room and doesn't bother very much with his food anymore. When his mother tries to clean the room in Grete's absence, this triggers a family fight.

The maid, discovering Gregor, is not repulsed but rather spends her time teasing him, which annoys him to no end. Three lodgers have moved into the apartment, and the excess furniture, as well as all superfluous junk, is moved into Gregor's room so that he barely has room to move. He also stops eating almost entirely. The door to his room is now usually kept closed because of the lodgers, but Gregor doesn't care any more and often ignores it even when it's open.

The lodgers, who are domineering and receive too much service and respect from Gregor's parents, ask Grete to play the violin in the living room when they hear her practicing. She begins to play, but the lodgers are soon tired of this and move away to show that they are disappointed with her playing. Gregor, however, is drawn to the music and crawls out of his room to get closer, dreaming of getting Grete to play for him in his room and of telling her about his plans to send her to the Conservatory. The lodgers suddenly notice Gregor and give notice immediately, saying they will not pay for the time they have lived there.

Grete steps forward and tells her parents that they have to get rid of Gregor. He is persecuting them and trying to drive them out of the apartment and, if he really were Gregor, he would have left of his own accord and let them live their lives in peace. Suddenly realizing that he feels only love and tenderness for his family, Gregor understands that his sister is right and he should disappear. He returns to his room, waits until sunrise, and dies.

Gregor's family is happy, but they also mourn his passing. At this point the story becomes a weird "happily ever after" story but in an absurd way. You'll have to read it for yourself to find out why.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"
by Betty Smith
read by Kate Burton
produced by Harper Audio (2005)
Approx 15 hours

I'm not sure what it is but there is something about reading / listening to books about the early years of America and the struggles it took to live day by day that can put some perspective into your life. Yeah, times were different back then but if they can survive so can we. At least that's what I get out of books like this. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" not only tells the story of a family's struggle and determination around the turn of the century into the first World War, but also since it is set in that time provides an historical view. This novel approaches many issues that keep this one a book for the ages other issues the book addresses include: Man vs. his environment, Education, Coming-of-age/loss of innocence, Family, and Exploitation of workers and the poor.

The novel is split into five "books," each covering a different period in the characters' lives. Book One opens in 1912 and introduces 11-year-old Francie Nolan, who lives in the Williamsburg tenement neighborhood of Brooklyn with her 10-year-old brother Cornelius ("Neeley" for short) and their parents, Johnny and Katie. The family subsists on Katie's wages from cleaning apartment buildings, pennies from the children's junk-selling and odd jobs, and Johnny's irregular earnings as a singing waiter. His alcoholism has made it impossible for him to hold a steady job, and he sees himself as a disappointment to his family as a result. The only antidote to alcohol Johnny accepts is coffee, which enables him to come out of and sometimes stay out of his alcoholic stupors but gives his behavior a manic quality nearly as closely associated with his alcoholism as the barbiturate itself. Francie admires him, however, and relies on her imagination and her love of reading to provide a temporary escape from the poverty in which she lives.

Book Two jumps back to 1900, with the meeting of Johnny and Katie - the teenage children of immigrants from Ireland and Austria, respectively. Although Johnny panics when Katie becomes pregnant with first Francie and then Neeley, and begins drinking heavily, Katie resolves to give her children a better life than she has known. During the first seven years of their marriage, the Nolans are forced to move twice within Williamsburg, due to public disgrace brought about first by Johnny's drunkenness and then by the children's Aunt Sissy's misguided efforts at babysitting them which is a bit comical but you can see the embarassment of the time. They arrive at the apartment introduced in Book One.

In Book Three, the Nolans settle into their new home and the children (now seven and six) begin to attend the squalid, overcrowded public school next door. Francie enjoys learning even in these dismal surroundings however the at the time the teachers seem to have it out for the poor children. So with Johnny's help, Francie gets herself transferred to a better school in a different neighborhood. Johnny's attempts to improve the children's minds fail, but Katie helps Francie grow as a person and saves her life by shooting a child-rapist/murderer who tries to attack Francie shortly before she turns 14. When Johnny learns that Katie is pregnant once again, he falls into a depression that leads to his death from alcoholism-induced pneumonia on Christmas Day 1915. Money from the family's life insurance policies and the children's after-school jobs keeps the Nolans afloat in 1916 until the new baby, Annie Laurie, is born in May and Francie graduates from grade school in June. The latter occasion allows her to finally come to terms with the reality of her father’s death.

At the start of Book Four, Francie and Neeley take jobs since there is no money to send them to high school. Francie works first in an artificial-flower factory, then in a press clipping office. Although she wants to use her salary to start high school in the fall, Katie decides to send Neeley instead, reasoning that he will only continue learning if he is forced into it while Francie will find a way to do it on her own. Once the United States enters World War I in 1917, the clipping office rapidly declines and closes, leaving Francie out of a job. After she finds work as a teletype operator, she makes a new plan for her education, choosing to skip high school and take summer college-level courses. She passes with the help of Ben Blake, a friendly and determined high school student, but fails the college's entrance exams. A brief encounter with Lee Rhynor, a soldier about to ship out to France, leads to heartbreak after he pretends to be in love with Francie when he is in fact about to get married. In 1918, Katie accepts a marriage proposal from Michael McShane, a pipe-smoking retired police officer who has become a wealthy businessman and politician.

As Book Five begins in the fall of this same year, Francie - now almost 17 - quits her teletype job. She is about to start classes at the University of Michigan, having passed the entrance exams with Ben's help, and is considering the possibility of a future relationship with him. The Nolans prepare for Katie's wedding and the move from their Brooklyn apartment to McShane's home, and Francie pays one last visit to some of her favorite childhood places and reflects on all the people who have come and gone in her life. She is struck by how much of Johnny's character lives on in Neeley, who has become a talented jazz/ragtime piano player. Before she leaves the apartment, she notices the Tree of Heaven that has grown and re-sprouted in the building's yard despite all efforts to destroy it, seeing in it a metaphor for her family's ability to overcome adversity and thrive.

Although the book addresses many different issues--poverty, alcoholism, lying, etc.--its main themes is the need for tenacity: the determination to rise above difficult circumstances. There are moments in the book when I question the reality, but then I have to remind myself it is just a novel. For instance, the Nolans are financially restricted by poverty but yet always seem to find ways to enjoy life and satisfy their needs and wants. Francie can become intoxicated just by looking at flowers. Like the Tree of Heaven, Brooklyn's inhabitants fight for the sun and air necessary to their survival. Sure there are some moments where it is beyond reality but that is what makes the magic of a good book.

The reader, Kate Burton, does a superb job in reading the book and applying the Brooklyn accents at the right moments to keep you in the realistic moments.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay

"The Power of One"
by Bryce Courtenay
read by Humphrey Bower
Published by Bolinda Publishing (2006)
approx 21 hours

I think I have just listened to one of the most fun and inspirational books of all time. I've always been a slight fan of boxing, okay rather used to be a fan of boxing, mainly a fan of Muhammed Ali. Tyson intrigued me but later in his career he turned out to be pretty much a thug and I lost interest in the sport altogether. What does this have to do with this book? Well this is the story of PK, a young white boy growing up in South Africa, during the 30s and 40s and ends up having the goal of becoming the World Welter-weight champion.

The book is written beautifully in first person and the author even does a few tricks with the storytelling that allows the reader/listener to hear the book from PK's point of view with the view changing as he ages. When he is young all the older characters are exagerated and larger than life and as he matures, his views of the adults becomes more introspective.

He first goes through the ridicule of being an English boy (a rooinek, Afrikaans for redneck). Only being 5 years old the book opens when he is at a boarding school. He was sent away to this school after his mother was sent to a "nervous hospital."

PK gets his name from this boarding school, in that he is called by the other children and staff, pisskop (Afrikaans for "piss head") because he wets the bed. The opening of the book finds PK being tortured in the school's showers for wetting his bed, by the Judge, an older kid and bully, and the jury, the Judge's followers. That christmas PK goes home to his nanny a tribeswoman who was first his wet nurse then his nanny. She calls in the tribal chief (a witchdoctor) to cure him of his night water. The chief cures him and in turn gives PK a chicken as a pet and calls him Grandpa Chook. PK trains the chicken and the chicken becomes inseparable from PK. When he goes back to school, the chicken earns his keep by eating cockroaches in the school's kitchen.

The Judge begins this new term showing off his home made tattoo of a swastika. The Judge as well as the school support Adolph Hitler in this world war. PK is the only rooinek and becomes the subject of all their torment. The Judge makes PK march, hold up an iron bar for hours on end and various other tortures as a prisoner of war. PK eases this by lowering his “camouflage” and telling the Judge he can help him pass his classes. PK being smarter than most of the other boys does the Judge's homework and gets less torture. But when the term ends and the Judge passes, PK gets the worst torture ever. In one of the saddest scenes of the book PK gets the worst humiliation and loses Grandpa Chook.

At the end of the year, traumatized from his experiences, PK is informed that he will not be returning to the farm, rather, he will be going to the East Transvaal town of Barberton, where his grandfather lives after the outbreak of Newcastle disease on his previous home.

On the train to Barberton, PK befriends Hoppie Groenewald, a guard. Groenewald shares his love of boxing with PK. After seeing him win a boxing match, PK is mesmerised with the sport and vows to become the welterweight champion of the world. However, the next day Hoppie departs to fight in a war, and Hoppie's friend Hetty dies on the train PK is travelling on. "First with your head and then with your heart." So says Hoppie Groenewald, boxing champion, to a seven-year-old boy who dreams of being the welterweight champion of the world. For the young PK, it is a piece of advice he will carry with him throughout his life.

When PK arrives in Barberton, he realizes both his academic and physical potential. He excels in his grades and fights the children of the school. He trains with the local Prison Boxing team and proves his ability and becomes a frequent winner, never losing a match. PK encounters numerous friends in Barberton, including a professor of music, Prof. Karl von Vollesteen who is placed in prison as a prisoner of war (being German in an anti-nazi town), and a black prisoner, Geel Piet, who coaches him in boxing. They form alliances, and each believe that all humans have equal rights. Along with the librarian, Mrs. Boxall, they establish the 'Sandwich Fund', which helps to supply the families of people in the Barberton prison.

Over the course of his childhood and young adulthood, PK builds confidence in his boxing. He also learns that racism is the primary force of evil and builds compassion and empathy for the mistreated blacks of apartheid South Africa. PK meets Geel Piet while spending time with Doc in prison, who teaches PK several new boxing techniques, furthering his talent. The black prisoners believe PK is a chief, the "Onoshobishobi Ingelosi" or "Tadpole Angel." One night PK discovers Geel Piet has been murdered in the boxing gym by the warder and soon that warder dies of a disease the resembles the injuries inflicted upon Geel Piet.

Book Two of the novel describes PK's experiences at the Prince of Wales school. He quickly partners up with the son of a Jewish multimillionaire, Morrie Levy. PK and Morrie take the school by storm - PK's boxing talent reforms the pathetic Prince of Wales boxing team, and Morrie becomes PK's manager. Soon the two boys have a lucrative gambling business set up, as well as all kinds of other "scams" which bring in enough money for PK to begin boxing lessons with South Africa's top coach, Solly Goldman. PK becomes a stranger to failure, excelling at boxing, rugby, and academics. PK's victory over a distinguished black boxer, who happens to be the son of his Nanny, this furthers the belief that he is the "Tadpole Angel." However, he must face Doc's death towards the end of his school career as well as the disappointment of not winning a Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford University.

Book Three traces PK's life in Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) where he takes on a dangerous job as a "grizzly man" in the mines in order to build up his body for his boxing, and to earn enough money to pay his way through three years at Oxford. He forms a close friendship with a Russian miner, named Rasputin, who eventually saves PK during a mining catastrophe, dying in the process. PK recovers but, before leaving the mines, he discovers that he has been working for his old nemesis, Jaapie Botha, previously known as "the Judge". PK fights Jaapie and fights for justice.

This book points out the unfairness in the world from a child's point of view developing into a voyage of hope for mankind. Share this one with your family. I would highly recommend this to anyone over the age of 10. Also, the reader, Humphry Bower does a superb job of creating the atmosphere of this book through his voice.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Field Report: Audio-Technica AT4040

Field Report: Audio-Technica AT4040

A Studio microphone worth looking into.

Click on the link and read my review.