In my head...and other thoughts.

My thoughts. Simple as that. I'm a Christian. Mom. Wife. Daughter. Friend. Coworker.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Moonlight on Linoleum

Moonlight on Linoleum by Terry Helwig and published by Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster.

If you love a good story about dysfunctional families - then stop what you are doing and read this story!! You will NOT be disappointed. You WILL be amazed at the obstacles these children overcame, the tenacity of the eldest child Terry (the author), and the blatant selfishness of their mother.

Helwig's description and story-telling is so beautifully written you may have trouble remembering that this actually happened - that Helwig most likely had to conjure up buried memories of her childhood that were very hard and difficult.

The story starts out by Helwig's mother, Carola Jean Vacha, telling Helwig that she left her father so that Carola wouldn't kill him. Thus begins the life that Helwig has so graciously shared for us to read about. Her mother, luckily, doesn't murder their father, but does instead gets a divorce and moves out west to Colorado. There Carola meets her second husband in which she has another child, Patricia.

The story continues on, with more babies, more husbands, and always moving to another location. Helwig talks of her mom's rendezvous with many men and her addiction to pain killers. Helwig's devotion to her sisters are shown throughout as well as her dedication.

Helwig might not think of herself as the mother, but throughout the story, we see her taking more control of the family.

I give this story 4.5 stars. Thanks to, Simon and Schuster, and Terry Helwig.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Christmas Journey Home

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias and published by New Hope Publishing, a division of WMU. I received this book via

In one word, I would describe this book as "cute". Many characters tell their side of the story throughout the book. Being from the United States, the plot pulled me into the story. Being a Christian, I felt that if I could relate or understood better the conditions in which illegal aliens find themselves in, I would like to think I would have more compassion. The story boils down to one question: is it better to follow the laws of the land, or to show compassion to every human being, no matter their financial status/race/weight/etc. etc. (Even though everyone would most likely say compassion and love overrules, sadly it doesn't seem to be the case in which the world we live in today.)

We meet Isabella and her newly-wed husband Francisco out in the middle of the Arizona desert. Driven by violence in their town in Mexico and by the urging of her grandfather, the couple are illegal aliens trying to find a better life for themselves and a baby, who will be soon born. Isabella's whole family was killed by gang violence and as long as it is no longer safe for them to live there with a child on the way, they head out to the great unknown, trying to reach the American Dream.

Miriam, a newly-widowed wife and mom to six-year old son Davey, doesn't know how to control her grief or anger of her husband dying. Staying on at the ranch after her husband passes away due to his job as a border control agent, has left Miriam tired and stressed. If not for her mother, Carolyn, who has come to live with them to help - Miriam knows she coudln't continue to stay on the ranch that her son loves so clearly.

Things then continuely spin out of control for both Isabella and Miriam. Isabella and her husband are forced into a labor house while Carolyn's health suddenly takes a turn for the worse, leaving Miriam to fend for not only Davey and herself, but the sprawling ranch and the many animals who live there.

The story continues to show each person's thoughts in the situations. We even see how much Davey has the child-like faith of knowing there is a God. The story wraps up nice and neat, just like a Christmas present.

While the plot was an interesting concept, I wish the characters were more developed, had more depth to them. We only get a glimmer of Carolyn and her struggles and thoughts about her health. Isabella's grandfather is mainly only shown conversing with God and his one companion, another elderly man who has also lost his wife. I would have liked more of a background of Isabella and Francisco, the country to which they are fleeing from.

I would give this book a 3.5 rating. Good plot, but wish it would have given more of a punch. Thank goes to New Hope Publishing,, and Kathi Macias for letting me review this book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ten Plagues

Ten Plagues by Mary Nealy. Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Received by

As I've said before, I have been wanting to find Christian authors who write fiction that can tell the message of Jesus Christ through their story as well as serving up an excellent plot for readers to sink their teeth into. I received Ten Plagues by Mary Nealy through and wanted to see if Nealy could deliver what I was looking for. Sadly, this came up short for me.

The story starts out with Keren Collins, a cop investigating the deaths of  ladies who have just turned their lives around. Enter Paul Morris, an ex-cop who is now a pastor at a local mission, the mission where most of the ladies turning up missing, have gone for help. Morris unexpectedly receives a package each time before the dead are found. Obviously, someone wants Morris to feel pain, by taking the very ones who come to him for help and torturing them with different plagues as are found in the Bible.

Collins and Morris work together along with Collins' partner O'Shea, who is conveniently left out on many scenes in the book. Collins and Morris have a history with each other, dating back to when Morris was a detective himself. This pairs the couple up to a stormy relationship while trying to be professional about their job in bringing justice to the killer.

The author uses scripture throughout the story to back up her plagues plot and uses some interesting dialogue between Collins and Morris on how tough it is to be a cop and a Christian at the same time. I did not mind the plot with the serial killer and wished it would have gone deeper actually. I wish it would have included O'Shea more into the story, as he is Collins "real" partner.

One thing I can't stand in stories (and this is a personal reference in which some of you already know) is the romance factor. Some authors can pull this off without me rolling my eyes very much, but in this story, it practically wanted me to stop reading half way through. Why is it that every time a man and a woman who are put together in a situation, have to act so juvenile in admitting they like each other? The author tries to make the duo have a "disturbed, troubled" history so that they fight at almost every juncture, when in the character's "mind", they can't believe how much they want to kiss the other!

I would give this a three-star rating. Wish I could have given it a better one.

Kisses from Katie

Kisses from Katie by Katie J. Davis. Published by Simon and Schuster, Inc.

Being a Christian, I always feel compelled to read more works by authors who themselves are Christians. I am not fond of theological works, although I probably should be. I am a fiction reader, more or less, and thinking one who can pull off a great work of fiction with sharing the message of God, to be one of the greatest things on Earth. What a way to use their talent to glorify God!

Saying that, I realize, that this is more of a memoir or along the lines of an autobiography of Davis' decisions and what that has lead her to accomplish in her life. I have been reading more memoirs of late, finding that a good memoir is just as good or better than fiction. Finding the right memoir that speaks to oneself, is the trouble. Sure, many people can and have wrote about what they think is important or what special circumstance they have gone through, but few can tell it in a way that draws the reader in; a way that makes the reader want to know more about the situation. Davis does this for me and oh, so much more!

Davis is a young adult woman who finds herself submitting to God's call on her life. Although it isn't something that most can or will do, Davis feels this pull more than anything and with her love of God so strong, dives right into what she was meant to do. She packs up after graduating high school and leaves for the desolate country of Uganda.

WOW! Right there this blows me away. An 18-year old girl who has had a relatively "easy" life living in the United States, gives it all up, to go help the children and people who live in the poor African country. What a testimony right there. Davis goes on to explain how she started her missionary work as a teacher and how at a very young age, adopted her first daughter.

Her story goes on to show the importance of loving and having family, other than having materialistic items. Something we all know, but oh so often, don't live it. Davis' story continues on how she started her own organization to help the people more and has now adopted 14 daughters.  Her struggles with showing love to her daughters, who sadly don't understand true love, to her problems on how to take care of the many people who come to her for very basic needs, is a miracle. Plain and simply, it shows how God can and will use a willing individual for His greater good.

While reading the book, I did find myself jealous of Davis, which is crazy in itself. Would I really want to live where there were no running water or electricity? To live where I was the only person of white skin? To battle the bugs and illnesses that run rampant? The simple answer is no. But to fully and willingly sacrifice as much as she has done for God, yes. But the most AWESOME thing in this book happened when I was thinking such selfish thoughts...God spoke to me through Davis' writing.

It was like He knew I what I was thinking and BAM! Davis would write something that spoke to my heart, that I would nearly break down and cry.
One of those passages is " God reminded me how beautiful we all are to Him, after all, we were created in His own image, and He looks at me, at you, in all our sweat and dirt and brokenness and says, " I choose you. You are beautiful."
Or this passage that made me remember how very much loved I am by Him - "Thank You that when I feel old and used up and broken and no more exciting than a cardboard box, You whisper that You love and value you me, and that in Your eyes, I am shiny and new."

I have had not heard of Davis before reading the synopsis of the book on I necessarily didn't even mean to click on the title to read it, but there again, the power of God. What a truly remarkable story that is still in the works! Davis should be proud of not only her pure love of God, but of writing an exceptional well-told story.

And hopefully, anyone who reads this book can walk away knowing that it doesn't take someone serving in a foreign land to serve God and do His will. Davis sums it up all nicely in this passage from the book, "I am just an ordinary person. An ordinary person serving an extraordinary God."

I give this a 5 star rating.

Becky's bookshelf: read

The Lovely Bones
5 of 5 stars
This book was sooo good! I really loved reading it. It is about a girl who has been murdered and we join her while she overlooks her family dealing with the aftermath of loosing a daughter/sister/etc. Alice Sebold did very well with this bo...