{Book Review} Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl: A NovelGone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been trying to think of just exactly what I think about this book. I’ve been seeing the previews for the movie on TV for weeks now, and I knew I wanted to read the book before the movie came out. I think we can all agree that the books are almost ALWAYS better than their movie version.

This is why I was anxious to read ‘Gone Girl.’ I had a conversation with some co-workers about this book, and it seemed to be a ‘love it or hate it’ kinda story. I started reading a few days ago, and I can best sum it up in two sentences.

I loved it. And I hated it.

This was another book that followed the pattern of alternating chapters between two narrators. One chapter would be the husband, Nick Dunn. The next would be his wife, Amy. Nick & Amy Dunn are a young married couple, and they have moved from New York to Missouri so that Nick can be closer to his family. They aren’t happy in New York and they certainly aren’t happy after moving to Missouri.

Nick comes home on their 5th wedding anniversary to find his wife missing, the house in disarray and no clues as to where she would have gone.

The book floats from chapter to chapter, leaving me guessing as to what really happened to Amy every time I turn the page? Was it him? Was it someone else? Was it a friend, a lover, a parent? Where did Amy disappear to?

The story was mesmerizing, in a very dark way. It was suspenseful and it drove me crazy to not have it all figured out right away. I loved the story line, but oh my gosh– how I hated Amy Dunn. And her husband was right up on my list of people I’d like to punch in the face. The story painted a picture of someone with a very dark personality disorder, and it was amazing to read about the scheming, the planning, the sheer ambition it took to pull off the disappearance of Amy Dunn.

I’ll stop there. You’ll have to read for yourself.

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Not to Be Outdone

Sometimes there are things that happen in life that you cannot explain. A little moment of something that leaves you questioning “how in the world did that just happen?” I already mentioned the other day that sign that my grandma showed us on the day of her funeral, that one small yellow rose in full bloom, sent her message loud and clear.

Not to be outdone, my grandpa decided to send me a little something as well.

Several years ago, my husband bought me a necklace. A beautiful diamond necklace on a thin, wispy silver chain. I didn’t wear it all the time, because it was black and silver and it didn’t match everything I wore. I remember one day a couple years ago, I was cleaning the house and had been going up and down the stairs dusting, carrying laundry, etc. The necklace was itching my neck, so I decided to take it off. While the best decision would have been to take it off and put it away in my jewelry box, I instead decided to take the easy way out and set it on top of a cabinet we have in the family room.

Thinking I would remember to grab it later, I set it down and walked away from it. When I thought about it a few days later it was gone. I looked on the floor around the cabinet and also looked in my jewelry box, thinking maybe *hopefully* someone else had put it away for me. After searching over the next couple days, I felt so bad that I couldn’t find it. My worry was that it had slid off the cabinet, and one of the dogs swallowed it. Not wanting to look through any residual piles in the backyard, (because ewwww), I just hoped that someday that necklace would turn up.

I didn’t tell my husband for a very long time that it was lost. I felt so bad that he had picked this necklace out, and then I was an idiot and lost it somewhere. He’d bring it up every so often, mentioning that I never wear it, and I always had an excuse– it didn’t match what I was wearing, it itched my neck, etc, etc.

It was only recently in the last few months that I finally fessed up and told him I lost it. I would still look through the piles in my jewelry box every so often, hoping that it would turn up somewhere. I’ve moved furniture around in the family room, hoping that I would discover it had fallen behind something, but still nothing.

The glass curio cabinet in my living room.

The glass curio cabinet in my living room.

Now this is when the unexplained happened. In my living room, I have a glass curio cabinet that holds a lot of things with sentimental value. When I got home from my grandma’s funeral a few weeks ago, I put some things in this cabinet– a picture of her, a copy of her obituary, the prayer card from the funeral home, and a few yellow flowers from the arrangement on her casket.

I had been trying to dry those flowers out so that I could keep them, and had been showing my youngest daughter how to do that. A few days ago, her and I walked over the that cabinet and I was showing her the yellow flowers that were pretty close to being completed dry.

The flowers drying on the shelf

The flowers drying on the shelf

Two shelves down in the cabinet is a small wooden box. It is a box that my grandpa used to keep on his dresser in his bedroom. He passed away in 2001, and I use that box to keep several things to remember him– a few flowers from his casket, a couple shells from the military honors at the cemetery, a prayer card, and a few other small things.

The little wooden box that belonged to my Grandpa.

The little wooden box that belonged to my Grandpa.

I opened that box to show my daughter what the flowers would look like completed dried out and to show how long they would last if you were very careful with them, and what did I find when I opened that box?

Inside the wooden box, filled with mementos of my grandfather.

Inside the wooden box, filled with mementos of my grandfather.

My necklace. Down in the bottom of that box.

Now this is one of things I had no explanation for. My husband and daughter were standing right by me, as I stood shocked — with my jaw practically to the floor. I could not figure out any reasonable explanation for how that necklace ended up in that box– in a cabinet. On a different floor of my house. Years later.

What’s strange is that I’ve looked through that box before, most recently in the last couple months. Sometimes when I’m dusting that cabinet, I will look through that pretty wooden box just to go back in the past for a few minutes and remember my grandpa.

I don’t know how that necklace ended up where I found it, and the only sense I can make of it is that a certain someone up there wanted to make sure I knew he was still around, too. Smile

{Book Review} On The Island:A Novel by Tracey Garvis Graves

On the Island (On the Island, #1)On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was recommended to me by a co-worker, who said that she recently read it in her Book Club. They chose the book because it is written by an Iowa author.

Because I’ve always enjoyed every book she’s recommended to me, I went ahead and purchased the Kindle version and started reading.

On the Island is a quick read, and one that I read almost in one setting. I got sucked into it pretty quickly– within the first couple pages as I learned about Anna and TJ, two people that were stranded on an island together as the result of a plane crash.

The one thing that you might not expect is that TJ is a high school student, recently in remission from cancer. Anna is a 30 year old high school teacher. She is also his tutor, who has been hired by his family to spend the summer with TJ. Anna is supposed to be helping TJ get caught up after missing so much school.

Anna, TJ and his family are supposed to be spending the summer in the Maldives, but TJ’s family has left a few days prior. TJ and Anna were flying out later, because TJ had insisted that he stay behind a little longer to go to a party with his friends.

The seaplane they take to get to where the family is staying crashes when the pilot has a heart attack. Anna & TJ are stuck on an island, with no idea of when (or IF) someone will find them.

That’s where I will end with the storyline, because I don’t want to reveal any spoilers.

I enjoyed reading this because it was told from both Anna’s and TJ’s point of view. The author did a fantastic job of describing the island, their adventures, and the changing relationship between the two characters, despite their age difference.

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Bye, Bye, Harley

motorcycleBack in 2009, we bought a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle. We paid cash for it back then, and spent a lot of money on upgrades. We had a hell of a lot of our savings invested in this bike. It was my husband’s dream motorcycle. A pure splurge.

It was gorgeous. All black with shiny chrome trim on everything. My husband worshipped this motorcycle and kept it in mint condition, polishing it every time he rode it. It had low miles, and it still looked brand new.

Until the day it was totaled.

A family member borrowed the motorcycle a couple months ago and was out for a ride on it. A woman driving a minivan (who to this day, I will swear on every fiber of my being was looking at her phone) was at a stop sign and pulled out in front of them. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt, but the motorcycle was done for.

I think what upsets me the most is not that they were in an accident, but the way the other driver reacted– especially since it was HER FAULT.

Several witnesses stopped to check to see if everyone was OK, and this driver (a woman in her 30s) didn’t think that anyone needed to be called. She was annoyed that the witnesses were telling her to call the police. She never checked to see if anyone was hurt, and really behaved as if this accident was just a big fat interruption to her already busy day.

Over the next few days, when I got her name and other information, I did what most of you would do. I checked her out on Facebook. (Of course you would do that!)

She is a wife. She’s a mother of three young children. She works in a job with children in one of the surrounding suburbs. She is a Christian with a husband that works for a church. The more I scrolled through her Facebook page, the more angry and resentful I got. No mention of an accident (still to this day), and no care or concern for the people she injured. We had to hassle with her insurance company for a month, we were the ones that were out a vehicle, and we were the ones inconvenienced– playing middle man between insurance adjuster and repair shop.

I refuse to dwell on that anymore, but I still would love to cross paths with this person someday.

While we were waiting for her insurance company to decide what they were going to do, we started discussing how unsafe motorcycles are. How the injuries could have been much worse, how it could have been US on the motorcycle. Now mind you, I’m not anti-motorcycle. I know that my husband takes every precaution when driving. He pays attention to traffic, he had extra loud exhaust pipes so others could hear him approaching. Three headlights across the front so people could see him better.  He’s a good driver.

In all honesty, it’s not the motorcycles and their drivers that are the unsafe ones. It’s the other drivers around them that usually cause the accidents.

When it became quite apparent that this motorcycle wasn’t going to get fixed, we debated on what to do with the money. Buy another motorcycle? There was no way we would ever get as much as what we paid for it originally, so we’d have to finance a new one. That wasn’t going to happen.

Because we bought the motorcycle for my husband to enjoy, we tried to think of things we could spend the money on to enjoy as a family. Take a trip? Buy a new vehicle? We didn’t really need either of those.

So what did we buy? Stay tuned.

That One Yellow Rose

I’ve written many times before that I am firm believer in signs. Signs that we are either taking the right, or sometimes the wrong, direction in life. Signs that are not only gently pointing us where we should go, but sometimes even giving us a firm shove in case we can’t take a subtle hint.

My grandmother passed away a couple weeks ago. She was 93 years old, but this was so unexpected. It was a heartbreaking loss for our family, but the one bright thought I constantly remind myself of is that she is finally HOME. She is reunited with my grandfather that passed away 13 years ago. She is with her ten siblings again and her parents. What a joyous thing to think about.

Back to the signs.

It’s certainly no secret that I’ve mentioned numerous times over the years how much I miss our old church. Not even the church itself, but the people there. The activities we were involved in . We were happy and we felt like that was a good time in our life when we were attending that church. We’ve never been able to quite find that same experience again. We’ve found other churches and met new people over the years since we’ve moved but never that certain something. That something-I-can’t-quite-put-my-finger-on making us look forward to going back each week.

While sitting at my grandmother’s visitation a couple weeks ago, a deacon from the church got up to speak.  He said some very nice and endearing things about my grandma– her love of angels, flowers (especially yellow), and her fondness for a good slot machine.

But there was one comment that really struck me.  This deacon mentioned how important my grandmother’s faith was to her.  How important she valued her relationship with God, and how being a Christian defined her.   He then went on to say that her relationship with God was so strong and her faith so much a part of her life that she has passed it down to her children… and her grandchildren.

Woops.   That part?  Not so much true.

We don’t have a relationship with God.   We don’t attend church, and don’t put our faith as one of our top priorities.   We don’t pray, unless you count “Please God, don’t let this police officer pull me over for speeding right now” as a prayer.   Or “Dear God, please don’t let them cash my check before I get paid on Friday.”

So I sat during the rest of that visitation and thought about my grandmother’s faith. I thought about years my grandparents were married and the strong relationship they had with their church and with God. I thought about how many times I was told that when Grandma faced trouble, she pulled out her rosary and prayed.

I knew that my husband and I needed to get our family back to church. I knew I owed it to my grandparents to carry on a strong faith in God to my children. And even my own grandchildren.

The next day, during the funeral mass, I kept thinking about it as I recited the prayers I remembered from my childhood and sat in the church I grew up in.  The church my parents were married in.

imageWe got back to my parents house after the service, and my mom noticed something. The little rose bush outside the window, sitting right outside the window where my grandmother ate breakfast and drank her coffee everyday… the little rose bush that hadn’t bloomed all summer… had one single yellow rose blooming.

She’s here and everything is going to be all right.