Sherry G. (Shervivor) - , - Reviews

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102 Minutes : The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside The Twin Towers
Review Date: 3/5/2010
Helpful Score: 3


I am fascinated with 9/11 survivor stories so this book was right up my alley. The book describes what happened during the 102 minutes after the first plane hit the North Tower. I think the book also insinuates that more people could have survived if there hadn't been major communication breakdowns between the FDNY and the NYPD. I did not realize that these were dueling agencies with a lot of history of uncommunicative behavior. The book shares the stories of individuals that were inside the towers and made it to safety, devoting a lot of time on the last few survivors that made it out of both buildings. These were the people that were in or near the impact zones. I think the most interesting revelation for me was that there was an open stairway in the South Tower that very few people managed to escape by. Due to communication issues this information was never relayed to the people stuck on the top floors of that tower.

I greatly enjoyed this book because it does not delve into conspiracy theories but gives the details of the human struggle to survive. There is also some history about the towers regarding building codes at the time they were built. I would reccomend this book to anyone that can tolerate reading about that day in sometimes gruesome detail.


4000 Days: My Life  Survival in a Bangkok Prison
4000 Days: My Life Survival in a Bangkok Prison
Author: Warren Fellows
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 14
Review Date: 6/23/2009
Helpful Score: 4


This book is an easy, exciting read. The author does not waste a lot of time with background info and delves right into the vulgarities of being in a Thai prison. The first 4 chapters set up the story of how he became an international drug smuggler. This book really is a deterent for people not to become involved in the drug trade. He gave away his young life for a few thousand bucks. As he writes: "Some say that people cannot be warned, that they have to experience things for themsleves before they learn. I know there is some truth in that. But if my recollection of the horrors I experienced can change the mind of one person, then my life has not been worthless. It will, in fact, become as priceless as a life."

The narrative spends much of the time recounting the brutalities of Thai prison life, where death is commonplace and psychological torture are the norm. The author continuously apologizes for his crimes; obviously his rehabilitation worked. I found the incessant apologizing for his actions somewhat annoying as I do not feel his crimes even came close to matching his punishment. But then again I have never lost a family member or loved one to drugs.

From the back cover:
In 1978, Thai officials captured Warren Fellows attempting to smuggle heroin into his native Australia. The author spent the next twelve years in Bangkok's infamous Bang Kwang pprison. Thrown into this crumbling, understaffed hellscape-prowled by sadistic guards and violent inmates; unsanitary, unregulated, and unforgiving-Fellows encountered both the brutal physical realities of prison life and even more terrifying psychological ones: surrender of hope, exhaustion of spirit, the dull ache of uncompromising despair.

In prison, Fellows survived countless tortuous beatings, ate rats and cockroaches, endured solitary confinement under horrifyingly inhumane conditions, and withnessed countless executions. He learned to numb himself to the screams of his fellow inmates-as common as the vermin crawling his cell. Now a free man, Fellows captures the filth, pain, anger, hopelessness, and torture of life in Bang Kwang with vivid, engrossing detail and brutal honesty.


The Agony and the Ecstasy : A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
The Agony and the Ecstasy : A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
Author: Irving Stone
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 68
Review Date: 7/28/2009
Helpful Score: 7


This is my favorite novel of all time! I have been an avid reader of novels for 28 years, so that is quite the compliment. As I was reading I felt like I had come to know Michelangelo, the man, on a personal level. The way Stone described Michelango carving made me want to pick up a piece of marble and give carving a whirl. I can't imagine the research that went into producing this book. This is a very long novel and if you have no interest in history, Italy or art it may be difficult to get through. But because I love this book so much it would be very hard for me to comprehend that not everyone would love it as much as I do. If you have any interest in reading historical fiction The Agony and the Ecstasy is a must read!


Alicia:  My Story
Alicia: My Story
Author: Alicia Appleman Jurman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 54
Review Date: 5/14/2010
Helpful Score: 4


This was a little different then the usual Holocaust survivor account. Alicia was a young jewish girl when the Germans invaded Poland. It is a different account because Alicia was never sent to a concentration camp but survived in the fields and small villages of Poland. And she was apparently the luckiest person that survived that war. Some of the situations she managed to get out of were amazing. The book also spends quite a bit of time discussing what happened in Europe in the couple of years immediately following the war, which was very interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Holocaust.


All But My Life : A Memoir
All But My Life : A Memoir
Author: Gerda Weissmann Klein
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 88
Review Date: 10/29/2009
Helpful Score: 4


This is a beautifully written memoir. Gerda was just 15 years-old and living in Poland when the war began. Slowly, during the war years, she lost everything. Holocaust survivor stories fascinate me because it is interesting how some people had a little extra desire to live and were able to endure more than others. Gerda was one of these people. She kept the idea of a reunion with her family as incentive to endure the brutal hardships of work in various labor camps. There is also an epilogue written when she was 70 that gives her perspective of bearing the intervening years of her life. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in WWII, the Holocaust or survival stories.


All For Love: The Scandalous Life and Times of Royal Mistress Mary Robinson
Review Date: 8/17/2009


From the back cover:

"At only fifteen, Mary Robinson was married off to an unfaithful wastrel. Over the next seven years, her spellbounding talent, beauty, and drive would lead her from the denigration of debtors' prison to the London stages, where a star was born. With the heart of a poet and the face of an angel, she was sold as societty's darling. Though she was dubbed the "Priestess of Taste" for her dashing style, her unabashed exploits made her the queen of scandal, envied by women worldwide and desired by every man within reach.

From Mary Robinson's shocking affair with the Prince of Wales and the fortuitous liaisons that titillated the country, to heartbreaking betrayals and restless pursuit of true romance, this breathtaking novel paints a vivid potrait of a woman who changed history by doing as she pleased-for money, for fame, for pleasure, and above all, for love."

This is good historical fiction that proves, once again, how rough it was to be a woman in a man's world during the 18th century.


American Widow
American Widow
Author: Alissa Torres
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 12/14/2010
Helpful Score: 1


This book wasn't what I expected. American Widow is a graphic novel (comic book style). It makes for a very quick read and was actually enjoyable to me. It really makes you sympathize with the 9/11 widows and realize that the money didn't flow directly to them like everyone assumed. All the money that was donated to the Red Cross was tied up in corporate red tape for a very long time. Then the US government placed a value on the people whose lives were lost, and the older you were the less you were worth.

Alissa Torres was pregnant when her husband died on his second day of work at the Trade Center. The book covers the trauma of having to deal with the Red Cross, the US government, friends, the medical examiners office, the funeral, a new baby, and the family dog.


The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 977
Review Date: 4/25/2010


This is a heart warming story of one family, as told by the family dog, Enzo. Enzo tells about his life; from his first memories of puppyhood on a farm as just one of many puppies for sale, to his owner finding love, marrying a woman that makes the dog a little jealous, to the birth of their daughter whom Enzo protects. Reading it makes you ponder if your family pet loves you as much as Enzo loves his family. It also makes you consider leaving the TV on all day long for the entertainment of the pets. This was an easy read but keep in mind that a dog's life span is rather short. You just may shed a tear or two.


Ashes, Ashes
Ashes, Ashes
Author: Jo Treggiari
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 12/1/2015


I enjoyed this book. I liked the main character as a strong girl who was capable of caring for herself in a harsh world. Some of the plot lines were predictable. But overall I liked this book.


Auschwitz: True tales from a grotesque land
Auschwitz: True tales from a grotesque land
Author: Sara Nomberg-Przytyk
Book Type: Unknown Binding
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/24/2011


This is probably the most mentally difficult book I have ever read about the Holocaust. The author was a prisoner in Auschwitz from 1943 until January 1945 when the Russian army advanced into Poland and the Nazis forced the prisoners to march. Sara is able to tell these horrible stories from her time there in a way that makes you truly understand the mental challenge of survival in Auschwitz. She is an expert story teller and worked in the infirmary. She gives many firsthand accounts of Josef Mengele and his brutality hidden behind a handsome face. She also delves into the moral issues of how prisoners were able to deal with the daily sight of death and continue to maintain an attitude that allowed them to survive. She touches on all of the 'lore' of Auschwitz but manages to somehow humanize the unthinkable atrocities.

This book will draw you into the nightmare that was Auschwitz. It is likely you will not be able to put it down once you begin. If you have a strong constitution and are interested in knowing more about life inside Auschwitz I recommend this book. The author is a skillful storyteller.


Be Here Now: Vieques: The Most Complete And Continuously Updated Guide Available
Review Date: 8/12/2010


This is truly the most comprehensive Vieques travel guide I have found. It is much better than the small Vieques section you would find in Fodor's or Frommers. The author continously updates the book, which is especially important for an island such as Vieques that has just recently found its value as a tourist destination. All the beaches that are accessible are listed with semi-good directions on how to find them on the potholed dirt roads of the island. If you are going to Vieques I would recommend you have this book along as your travel companion.


A Beautiful Child
A Beautiful Child
Author: Matt Birkbeck
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 47
Review Date: 7/24/2009
Helpful Score: 5


Wow! True crime at its very best. This book had me glued to the pages all the way to the very end. I am utterly impressed at what the author went through to put this story together. This is the true story of a mystery girl that was kidnapped by a ex-con pedophile at a young age who he subsequently raises as his own daughter. This mystery girl is an amazing person that left a remarkable imprint on numerous lives during her short time on earth. The fact that her true identity is still a mystery as of today (July 2009) is very sad. The book details the weird life of her 'father' Franklin Floyd. It truly makes you wonder how many more lost children are out there. Thank you to Matt Birkbeck for assuring that 'the beautiful child' will not be forgotten in death.


Best Friends Forever
Best Friends Forever
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 320
Review Date: 9/20/2010
Helpful Score: 1


As I started reading this book I said to myself "I keep forgetting how much I like Jennifer Weiner novels" but then at about a third of the way through it wasn't as exciting to me as the beginning of the story was. It is a good enough read and I would say it is worth the effort, but it isn't her best. The story is about childhood best friends that grew apart after a betryal. Zoom ahead about 20 years and the betrayer reenters the betrayed's life.


Beyond Courage:Shipwrecked and Adrift One Family Fights to Survive
Review Date: 9/3/2009
Helpful Score: 2


If you like survival stories you will enjoy this book. A family of three; Dad, Stepmom and 17 year-old son go on a sailing adventure to the South pacific...then hit a reef. They end up in a dingy and liferaft with a small amount of food and water. It is interesting to view how they kept their spirits up even when the ocean constanly flips the dingy and then the water eventually runs out. It is a touching story of family. I know if I were stuck in a liferaft with my 17 year-old daughter I would be jumping over the side after a few days!


Brains: A Zombie Memoir
Brains: A Zombie Memoir
Author: Robin Becker
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 2/21/2012


With the increasing popularity of the zombie genre it was fun to read a zombie novel that takes a on new perspective. What a fun idea to consider 'life' from a zombie's point of view. I became strangely engrossed in the thoughts of intelligent zombie, Jack Barnes. the book is full of pop culture references and gives answers to many of those things we always wanted to know about zombies such as, if they are dead and rotting won't they eventually rot away to nothing? If you have any interest in the zombie genre I recommend this educational read.


Bury Me Standing : The Gypsies and Their Journey (Vintage Departures)
Review Date: 5/6/2009
Helpful Score: 6


This book is a very good read for anyone interested in Eastern Europe or Eastern European cultures. It is a very humanitarian aspect to viewing the gypsies that have been treated so horribly throughout history.


Camille
Camille
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/29/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I read this Dumas fils (the more famous Dumas' son) classic after watching the movie classic 'Camille' starring Greta Garbo as the beautiful Parisian courtesan that has to choose between true love and a rich baron. Some say this was Garbo's best role. The story is a sad one but lovely all the same. If you enjoy classic literature please do not pass this one up.


Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper
Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper
Author: Diablo Cody
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 217
Review Date: 4/6/2010


This was a quick and interesting read. Quick because it only took three hours of my time (and I am a very slow reader). Interesting because it gives the reader an unabashed inside view into the world of strippers. It is very detailed regarding the strippers, the customers (men are truly gross), and the reasoning why a very untypical person would enter the sex industry. I enjoyed her writing style. Cody is very witty. This is a great book for when you need some light reading, especially if you always wondered what stripping is all about.


Chang and Eng
Chang and Eng
Author: Darin Strauss
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 1.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 6/7/2010


I was very excited to read this book as I have been fascinated by the original siamese twins since I was a child. What a disappointment! The author chose to write the book from the perspective of Eng, the stoic twin instead of from the viewpoint of Chang, the fun loving twin. I truly struggled not to bail on this book. I kept hoping it would improve. I told myself repeatedly "just 20 more pages, it must get better". I almost made it to page 100 before I bailed. I just could not relate to Eng's morose thinking. He appeared to enjoy nothing in his life even though he was at the Thai king's court, traveled the entire world, managed to marry a set of American sisters and fathered a huge brood. I felt that if the book has been written from the persepctive of Chang there would have been excitement and more insight into being attached to another person your entire life. I cannot recommend this book. It was just boring.


Child of God
Child of God
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/7/2013


I enjoyed this book even though the author goes a little overboard with his use of adjectives. The story is that of an extremely creepy serial killer who lives in a small country town in the late 60s. As the story develops the main character sinks deeper and deeper into insanity. The scenes describing the murders and his subsequent actions are graphic and arent for the weak of heart. This book is a very quick read. I am a slow reader and finished it is just a few hours.


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