Saturday, March 21, 2009

Still Here - and *gasp* A Book Review!

I have not been much of a blogger lately. I'm in a sort of funk, I guess. I'm doing things, but they are definitely not the things I normally do. I think part of it is that I've come to a place in my life again where it's time to make some choices and fight against the inertia that seems to hold me in place whenever I spend too much time in my hometown. It's been probably a year and a half of holding what I always imagined would be a nice temporary job in a field so far removed from anything that I ever really wanted to do for a living that it's hardly even funny anymore. I have to make a choice at this point, and I think maybe I've already made it but haven't come to terms with it, about whether I want to take the safe route and have some education paid for by my employer so that I can be something I don't very much want to be but also something that will offer me pretty much definite job security and a decent wage for, well, ever, should I choose to accept. Or whether I need to break loose from this unexpected detour and go back to school or get a job or whatever doing something that I actually have some passion for even if that means taking a pay cut or getting into more debt going to back to school or moving somewhere else and trying to make a go of it again just scraping by. I think I know what I want, but I also don't much trust myself as I don't seem to be a good hand at making decisions. At least not in my own view. So, yes, I'm in a bit of a "Now what should I do with my life?" funk where I have to decide if it would be complete idiocy to turn down a very viable opportunity just because that career path doesn't call out to me...

So I've been thinking a lot. I've been working a lot. It got warmer here, and so I've been walking a lot. And watching this this stupid show that I swore to myself I wouldn't get hooked on this year because it's such an incredible time suck, but I can't seem to make myself stop caring once I've watched a show or two. And on Thursday I had to chase a lost bird out of my house, but that's another story for another time.

In doing all these other things, I've failed to muster any enthusiasm for reviewing books, but I really should because, despite the fact that I read like a turtle (okay, maybe a little better than a turtle - turtles don't really read, you know), I'm getting woefully behind.

So today, I bring to you a selection provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers - yet another of those that the "oooh, shiny free book" went to my clicking finger before my brain caught up. I didn't realize it, but it's Christian fiction. I try to avoid such stuff when reviews are called for because I don't have a good track record with it despite actually being a Christian, and it's usually nice to pick for review books that I, you know, might actually like. Nonetheless, the TBR randomizer chose it for me out of all the languishing ARCs and I read it. I wasn't totally blown away, but you know, I didn't hate it. In fact, I rather enjoyed it at points, but here, let me get to the real thing here.

It's 1975 and Amy Monteiro, a slightly high-strung Christian teenager, has but two goals in life and they are to start her life at college in California and leave her irresponsible mother behind. Imagine her frustration, then, when her mother decides to accompany her in her move to California compounded even further when she finds herself stranded in the one-horse town of Cordial, Colorado waiting for a replacement transmission for her mother's beloved Pontiac. Summer stretches out forever for Amy as she settles into her new job working for the pious if not exactly Christian Mrs. Clancy at Clancy and Sons Funeral Home dealing with "death calls" and being generally creeped out by the thought of dead bodies in the basement. Even while Amy sets about making contingency plans for her escape to California, with or without her mother, the many and sundry people of Cordial are slowly breaking down Amy's walls and teaching her lessons about her life and her God that will last far beyond her summer within the town limits.

I had ambiguous feelings about Patti Hill's The Queen of Sleepy Eye. I will, however, say that it was better than I expected it to be. It does suffer somewhat from what I would say is a typical problem of Christian fiction based on what I've read. It favors message over writing. Hill gets her quite valid points across well, but there's a certain artlessness to the writing. A bit more telling than showing, dialogue that feels stiff and contrived on occasion. That said, though, I did enjoy this story. Hill certainly has a knack for storytelling and the pages went by without my even noticing. She has populated her small Colorado town with characters that might at first seem a bit on the cookie cutter side but ultimately develop into lovable, if flawed, people that the reader can really sympathize with. I noted the points Hill was making with her story, but I never felt like I was simply being "preached to" instead of being told a story.

Overall, I wouldn't say that The Queen of Sleepy Eye will make my short list for top reads of the year, but it is a sweet and very readable story about growing up that reminds Christians that, at the end of the day, what we really need is grace and that God has a limitless quantity to offer.


  1. I'm sorry you've been in a funk. Making decisions like that about changes is difficult for most people. Trust your instinct.

  2. Nice to see a post from you!

    Those kind of decisions are always hard because you can't see into the future to know how it's going to turn out! I agree with Bermudaonion: follow your gut.

  3. I totally empathize and understand about your situation. I've sort of been stuck in the same situation and now I'm regretting not forcing myself to move out of it earlier. Ah well. I hate that I long for job security, and yet nothing that seems to offer it seems very interesting.

    On another note...there is some good Christian fiction out there...keep trying!

  4. I can imagine exactly what you are going through. I've got to make some decisions about my future too. It's so hard trying to get a balance between happiness and security. I wish you the best of luck with it and hope you find what you are looking for.

  5. bermuda, it's definitely a tough time. I'm trying to! =)

    Ali - That's for sure. Everything looks so much clearer when you're looking back on it - it's that pesky future that's so often the problem!

    Amy - Thanks. There's definitely something to be said for job security and health insurance and all that good stuff, but at the end of the day, I don't think I'm ready to stick with what I'm doing just to be "safe." I mean, nothing's really certain anyway, right, except God, so in the end I might not be able to count on the "safe" job either! I know there's good Christian fiction out there - I just need to go acquire it. I even had Becky of Becky's Book Reviews make me a list of her faves so I could find some good stuff! =)

    Mariel - Thanks. It's a lot to ask of a person like me who has trouble deciding what to wear tomorrow to make a major life decision so when the time comes around to do so, I usually go a little nuts. Best of luck with your decisions about your future, too!

  6. I had to smile when I followed your link to the TV show you've found yourself watching again even though you think you shouldn't. :-) Yeah, I'm guilty too.

    I am glad you found some enjoyment out of your Early Review book even if it didn't quite do it for you.

    It's so hard to know what to do, isn't it? Do you follow the safe sure path or do you take a leap? Either way comes with risks, of course. I wish you all the best in whatever you decide to do. We'll be here to support you either way. :-)

  7. I think the 20s, especially the early ones, are just supposed to be full of sucky decisions! I had to make one a couple of months ago too.

  8. Crossroads time. Choices are very, very difficult. My daughter is a junior in college and professors are telling the seniors, especially, that the economy and job market are so bad they might as well go to grad school if they're thinking they want to. Fortunately, she's still got another year.

    So maybe don't review -- enjoy reading instead! Here's one you might enjoy: "Flying Into the Sun" by Ginger Blymyer. There's spiritual growth involved, as the heroine tells God her plan (and listens to the laughter, as the author puts it!). She finds, as you are, that life changes in ways you don't expect.
    Good luck.

  9. Forgot to add that I, too, followed the link to your "stupid show." My girls love that one and waste just as much time as you do!

  10. Aw, Megan, I'm sorry you've been in a funk! But I'm also so proud of you for trying to face the whole issue. For trying to make the decision about what is right for you. I have to admit that I'm one of those people who never really did...I just kept going with the flow. And it's not that I regret where I ended up, because I really, truly don't. But still sometimes little "what if?" thoughts pop into my head. I don't know, maybe that happens to everyone. Good luck, Megan. And I truly believe, if you follow your heart, it will be the right decision for you.