Friday, September 7, 2012

What I Read This Summer

As an add-on to yesterday's post, below are some of the books that I read over the summer. I will post a few more tomorrow. All of the reviews are summaries that I cut and pasted from Amazon in case any of you want to get an idea of the storyline.   

1.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. 

My comments:  All I can say is "WOW". I won't even copy the review from Amazon. You must read this book and then you will understand what I mean. I can't even begin to imagine how the author came up with the plot. This is the book that was reviewed in People and that I downloaded in Tokyo to my Kindle. Best.Move.Ever.

2.  Forget You Had A Daughter: Doing Time In The 'Bangkok Hilton': Sandra Gregory's Story by Sandra Gregory, Michael Tierney and Martin Bell. 

"Having lived a successful life in Bangkok that included friends, two teaching jobs, and her own apartment, Sandra Gregory recounts how her life took a terrible turn in 1993 and how she experienced a journey from prison to renewal. While recuperating from dysentery and dengue fever, Gregory ran out of money. With mounting medical bills to pay, she met a heroin addict who offered her $1,000 to smuggle his personal supply of heroin to Japan. It was just enough to pay her medical bills and buy a ticket home, but Gregory was arrested at Bangkok airport before she even boarded the plane. Detailing the four and a half years she spent in the notorious Lard Yao prison, dubbed the "Bangkok Hilton," Gregory describes scenes of horrific brutality and suffering before being transferred to a British jail to serve the rest of her 22-year sentence. She tells of her daily fight for survival, of many women who died with no medical care or loved ones around them, and of her acceptance of her guilt and ultimate redemption."

My comments: I was surprised to read, despite the horrors this woman experienced while she was in the Thai prison, it was so much worse for her in the British jail(s) that she was transferred to. I chose to read this book because I have a friend who counsels a prisoner at this same prison.  In fact, my friend's prisoner is incarcerated for the exact same reason as was Sandra Gregory. One day, my friend and I had a lively "discussion" about her prisoner's very lengthy prison sentence (at least 20 years) relative to the crime she committed (as opposed to murder, theft, etc.). During our discussion, my friend told me a little about the conditions of the prison and I tracked down this book to read more.  One thing I learned from this book is that you absolutely, positively do not want to smuggle drugs in/around South East Asia. You will get caught and you will most likely die in prison. There is no leniency here for those that support the drug trade. 

3.  Where We Belong by Emily Giffin.

"The author of five blockbuster novels, Emily Giffin, delivers an unforgettable story of two women, the families that make them who they are, and the longing, loyalty and love that binds them together.  Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.
For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever."

My comments: I enjoyed all of Emily Giffin's previous books and this one was no exception. 

4.  I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events--the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don't by Jennifer Gilbert.

"When Jennifer Gilbert was just a year out of college, a twenty-two-year-old fresh-faced young woman looking forward to a bright future, someone tried to cut her life short in the most violent way. But she survived, and not wanting this traumatic event to define her life, she buried it deep within and never spoke of it again.  She bravely launched a fabulous career in New York as an event planner, designing lavish parties and fairy-tale weddings. Determined to help others celebrate and enjoy life's greatest moments, she was convinced she'd never again feel joy herself. Yet it was these weddings, anniversaries, and holiday parties, showered with all her love and attention through those silent, scary years, that slowly brought her back to life.  She fell in love, had her heart broken a few times, and then one day she found true love in a place so surprising that it literally knocked her out of her chair.  
As Gilbert learned over and over again, no one's entitled to an easy road, and some people's roads are bumpier than others. But survive each twist and turn she does—sometimes with tears, sometimes with laughter, and often with both.
Warm, wise, alternately painful and funny, I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag is an inspiring memoir of survival, renewal, and transformation. It's a tale about learning to let go and be happy after years of faking it, proving that while we can't always control what happens to us, we can control who we become. And instead of anticipating our present in a goodie bag at the end of an event, we realize our presence at every event is the real gift."

My comments: This was another tear-jerker but worth the read. I cannot remember hearing about the horrible event that set her "story" in motion - odd because she was the same age and in the same life situation (recent college grad) as I was at the time she was stabbed.  

Have a great Friday.

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