Just the Boost I Needed

Ever since Covid started, I have had many days where I struggled to be able to write here on the blog, on my novel, a short story, a flash fiction story. It didn’t matter, I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t find my creativity. My idea bank seemed to be depleted. I was easily distracted.

Today I saw someone had liked my last Book Review and I became curious about this person, so I clicked on his icon, which led me to his blog, and WOW! This guy has liked some of my past posts, but I never bothered to take the time to see what he was doing. Today I am so glad that I found his blog.

His name is Christian Mihai. He’s a young man whose blog is loaded with wisdom and talent. I read a couple of his posts today, but one, in particular, seemed to be exactly what I needed to read.

If you are a writer or an artist, or anyone who has a dream, I highly recommend you visit Christian Mihai’s blog and read this post.

I don’t often read too many other blogs. I just don’t have the time, but I will definitely be reading more of Mr. Mihai’s blog posts. He has inspired me and I greatly appreciate what he does on https://christianmihai.net

Belle of Eden by Sofia B. Ashford

The Belle of Eden by [Sofia Ashford]

From what I understand, Belle of Eden is the debut novel of Sofia B. Ashford.

I received an ebook copy of this story in exchange for my honest review, and I have to say that I was disappointed in the story.

The book blurb states that Belle is rescued from the noose by Commodore Craven and his son, Benjamin, and asked to assist them in their search for the Garden of Eden and the salvation it promises.

Therefore, I expected a story about finding the Garden of Eden and salvation.

However, the book is quite depressing as the majority of the story is about the life bleeding out of Benjamin, and his life seems to ebb and flow throughout the story.

In addition, Belle is a pirate and has a lot of pirate enemies, and everywhere they go, some of her enemies show up and there are battles. In the beginning, most of the battles end quite quickly, but late in the story, the battles take longer and become bloodier.

Ms. Ashford also writes of the Garden of Eden and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, as one and the same thing, which they are not.

And, for those who like happy endings, I will warn you that you may be disappointed in the ending of this book.

I give Belle of Eden by Sofia B. Ashford 3 stars.

Heart of a Runaway Girl by Trevor Wiltzen

Heart of a Runaway Girl by Trevor Wiltzen

As a Book Reviewer, I received a Free ebook copy of Heart of a Runaway Girl (A Mabel Davison Mystery), which is the debut novel of Trevor Wiltzen.

About the Book:

Mabel Davison is doing her best to raise her son, daughter, and niece, while running a motel and diner in a small mountain town. Mabel has a heart for people, and one day she notices a young couple in a back booth having an argument. The next thing she knows the town sheriff is telling her the young girl was brutally murdered and he has arrested the young black boyfriend that was with her in the diner.

Mabel is certain the boyfriend didn’t do it, and she starts poking around trying to find out who did, but it isn’t long before she pokes the local drug traders and makes some enemies. The sheriff tries to convince her to keep her nose out of things and says she needs to focus on taking care of her kids and her business, but Mabel cares to much to let an innocent man go to prison. But what she finds placing her and others in danger.

My Review:

Mabel Davison is a very likeable character with a big heart. She’s the kind of person everyone wishes they knew and called “friend”. She works hard and loves harder. She believes in truth and justice and personal rights and freedoms.

Trevor Wiltzen has done a great job with this first mystery novel in the Mabel Davison Mystery series. The story and characters are believable, and the small mountain town could be almost anywhere in 1980s America. Mr. Wiltzen draws the reader into the lives of Mabel and her family and soon the reader is rooting for Mabel in her determination to get to the truth. Things get intense and keep the reader on the edge of their seat, turning pages as Mabel faces some of the drug traders and heart-stopping danger comes to Mabel’s door.

Heart of a Runaway Girl is an outstanding debut mystery novel with a lovable amateur sleuth as the main character. I enjoyed the twists and turns that kept me guessing as to “whodunnit” til near the very end. I look forward to reading more Mabel Davison mysteries in the future.

I will mention that there is some violence in this book, but it is not graphic. There is also some profanity, but it is used sparingly and the characters who use it wouldn’t be as believable without it. The story also shows that Mabel believes in God, but this comes out in little bits and pieces and is not dwelt upon or preachy.

I give Heart of a Runaway Girl 5 stars.

Bag of Lies by Ricky Dean Wyrick

As a Book Reviewer, I received an Advanced Reader Copy of Bag of Lies, the debut novel by Ricky Dean Wyrick. for my honest review.

At first, it appears to be a historical fiction book set in the Civil War era. But, as you continue reading, a unique twist reveals this isn’t a historical fiction story about the North vs. the South.

Bag of Lies takes you on a journey and plunges you into the middle of a Civil War where it is sometimes hard to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. Michael and a handful of his friends are soldiers in this war, but as friends become enemies and strangers seem like friends, Michael isn’t sure whom he can trust. Michael is sent on a special mission and is afraid of failing. As he attempts to accomplish his mission, more clues as to the true setting and actual story are revealed as Michael faces many struggles and challenges.

There are a couple scenes where Mr. Wyrick head hops, causing the reader to reread a paragraph or two to figure out whose point of view that particular section is coming from.

Ricky Dean Wyrick has woven a very unusual story with interesting twists and turns. Bag of Lies is the first book of a series. The end of Bag of Lies offers enough resolution to satisfy the reader, but also leaves a hint of things to come to whet the reader’s appetite for the next book in the Broken World Series.

Bag of Lies is a well-written, unique story. It is a tale of war, courage, friendship, betrayal, and much more. There is also an inspirational aspect to the story, and there is some mild profanity. If you’re looking for a Civil War story unlike any you’ve read before, I suggest you pick up Bag of Lies. You’re in for a treat!

In my opinion, this story is suitable for middle grade through adult.

I enjoyed Bag of Lies and look forward to the next book in the Broken World Series.

I give Bag of Lies by Ricky Dean Wyrick 4 stars.

Interview with Rita Gerlach, Bestselling Author, in Regard to Her Latest Novel, “Mercy’s Refuge”

Mercy's Refuge by [Rita Gerlach]

I recently had the opportunity to interview Bestselling author, Rita Gerlach to discuss her latest book, “Mercy’s Refuge”. It is a historical fiction novel about the Pilgrims and the trials they faced as they struggled to find a place where they could freely worship the Lord. Much of it is based on William Bradford’s own writing, “Of Plymouth Plantation”.

Q: The book blurb on the back of Mercy’s Refuge mentions that Mercy’s Refuge was inspired by ’Of Plymouth Plantation’ by William Bradford. Can you explain this in a little more detail?

A: William Bradford was one of Plymouth’s founders and later a governor. In 1643, he wrote ‘Of Plymouth Plantation’ to document the events the Separatists endured when leaving England, living in Holland, and then their perilous voyage. I had already begun Mercy’s Refuge with my heroine, Mercy, living in Ipswich, England, so while researching the era I discovered Bradford’s amazing work. I was so inspired by the courage of the men and women who endured so much persecution, and risked all they had to live out their faith. Incidents in the book were new to me, and so I decided this was the direction Mercy’s Refuge was to take.

Q: Do you read books like William Bradford’s ’Of Plymouth Plantation’ regularly for pleasure or did you read Bradford’s book strictly as research for an idea you already had for Mercy’s Refuge?

A: I read ‘Of Plymouth Plantation’ for research, both in the ‘King’s English’ and in a modern English translation. I’m what they call a ‘pantser’. I write pretty much by the seat of my pants. In other words, I do not outline a book chapter by chapter before I write it. I research the era before and during the writing of the manuscript.

Q: Mercy’s story is filled with tragedy and loss. Why did you find it necessary for her to experience so much of these things?

A: Such an interesting question. It was necessary in order to flesh out the characters. Life in 1620 was not a bed of roses. It was hard. There was great poverty and religious persecution. One reader’s opinion of the novel, and how it affected her, touched me deeply. Her comment was what I hoped readers would come away with.

She told me she had been feeling depressed about her job, bills she had to pay, the shutdowns. But when she read Mercy’s Refuge she realized how blessed her life is, that those courageous people and Mercy’s bravery caused her to realize how thankful she should be for the life God has blessed her with.

Readers will also find moments of joy and humor in Mercy’s Refuge.

Q: Who is your favorite character in Mercy’s Refuge and why?

A: Absolutely it is Mercy McCrea. She’s my favorite mostly because she is my heroine…and a true heroine she is. She is brave and forthright. She is as her name is…merciful and kind. She trusts God to lead her and to watch over her loved ones. She is not without flaws, though. I don’t want your readers to think Mercy is the perfect woman. She makes some bad choices that lead to disaster. She is a little prideful when it comes to making a decision, when she should have listened to wiser counsel.

Q: Who was the most difficult character to write?

A: I’d say the most difficult character to write about was Dorothy Bradford. There are so many opinions by historians about her personality. Some believe she was depressed and committed suicide by throwing herself overboard in Plymouth Harbor. Others say it was a tragic accident, and that Dorothy was as courageous as the other women aboard the Mayflower were. She left Holland with her husband leaving her young son behind in the hands of her parents so he would not suffer the journey. I tried to put myself in her shoes. How hard it must have been for her to kiss little John Bradford farewell, and her mother and father, and sail to an unknown land. I believe her death was an accident. Writing about her, I wanted to present her to readers as a woman of virtue, a woman who had a heart of gold but also a heart grieved and afraid of what laid ahead. She and Mercy are very close in the story. I have to include here, that Mercy’s Refuge is not a sugar-and-spice and everything nice story. It is a gritty novel of love and redemption, bravery and faith.

Q: Why do you choose to write historical fiction?

A: Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I’ve loved stories and books. I’m fascinated by the lives lived in the past. You know the ones we don’t hear much about anymore. My mother was a great storyteller. She told me stories about her childhood during the Great Depression and WWII. I believe her stories put me onto the path of writing historical fiction.

Q: Why do you believe that learning and knowing accurate history is so important?

A: If you think of the opposite, where history is told inaccurately it’s like looking at history and historical figures through a pair of dark sunglasses. You only see what a revisionists wants you to see to fit a particular agenda.

We can learn from the truth. The Pilgrims’ story has been skewed in many circles of education. I had one person tell me they learned in school the only reason the Pilgrims came to Plymouth was to kill the Indians and take their land. I recommended William Bradford’s ‘Of Plymouth Plantation’ to read it straight from a man who sailed to those shores and lived peacefully with the Wampanoag Tribe. Not only did the ship’s passengers and crew sign the Mayflower Compact, but they made a compact with the chief of the Wampanoags, that they would each protect the other from their enemies. We are living in a time of ‘cancel culture’, so we best hold fast to what we have left.

Q: How long did it take you to complete Mercy’s Refuge? How much time do you typically take to complete a novel?

A: It took two years total. I initially began writing it in 2014. But I had to put it aside to write five novellas for Barbour Publishing, and the novel After the Rain. Once I fulfilled my commitments to my publisher, I pulled out the manuscript and dove back in. I don’t have it written down but that was around 2018.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from Mercy’s Refuge?

I have an article on my website readers may be interested in reading. It’s called ‘Why I Write Inspirational Fiction’. Here’s a portion that answers your question.

Christian fiction should be a balm of healing against the kind of secular fiction that seeks to glorify the flesh and bring hopelessness to a hopeless world. Writing inspirational fiction is a calling to draw readers back to the Creator, opposed to away from Him, through stories that show the struggles people face, their journeys through heartbreaks and heartaches, to understanding and healing. It is to remind them of His love and forgiveness, how He works in others to bring us to that place, and that it is not by our own strength alone we overcome adversity.’


Q: Where is Mercy’s Refuge available? Is Mercy’s Refuge available in ebook format?

A: Thanks for asking. Mercy’s Refuge is on Amazon in ebook and paperback. I’m waiting on Christianbooks to place it. For now, Amazon is the best place to purchase a copy, and you get it fast.


On a side note, the manuscript was requested by a Dutch publisher in the Netherlands to be translated into Dutch.

I am currently writing a novel set in 1917, during WWI. I hope to have it finished this fall for publication.


Thank you, Kelly, for having me.

You’re very welcome, Rita. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

I’d like to add my website and author’s Facebook page.

Please do.

Rita’s web: http://ritagerlach.wordpress.com/

Author’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/249323152879604/

If you’d like to hear more from Rita, please watch her video interview with Jo Massaro:

I highly encourage anyone who loves history or who wants to read a story that includes true history to read Mercy’s Refuge. I have read it, and if you would like to read my review of Mercy’s Refuge, click the following link: https://kellyfbarr.com/2021/02/08/mercys-refuge-by-rita-gerlach/

Dancing With a Royal by Tomi Tabb

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free copy of Dancing With a Royal by Tomi Tabb for my honest review.

Dancing with a Royal by Tomi Tabb is the story of an up and coming ballerina, Clara Little, in Los Angeles, California who is invited to replace a star ballerina in “The World of Ballet” showcase in England. An unexpected meeting with a handsome man at the airport in Los Angeles leads to another unexpected meeting with the same man in England, Prince David, the Duke of Leeds, a workaholic member of the Royal Family and eligible bachelor. Sparks ignite and the story becomes a sweet romance, and as the romance builds, it soon becomes a heartwarming love story.

Dancing with a Royal by Tomi Tabb is the best book I’ve read in 2021 so far. Tomi Tabb did a fantastic job of creating, not just likeable, but loveable characters — characters that made me smile, that had me cheer for them, that had amazing chemistry, and whom I would love to meet and spend a day with in real life. Ms. Tabb also wrote so well about what it’s like to be hounded by the paparazzi, I could easily sympathize with the characters. Ms. Tabb didn’t just create engaging, delightful main characters, but her secondary characters were just as well written.

This story was definitely a character driven story, but also had a very interesting plot line that kept things moving, and just enough description to paint a picture of the many settings in the reader’s mind.

This book and its characters will live in my memory and heart for a long time, and I look forward to reading the next book in Tomi Tabb’s “Unexpected Royals” series as soon as it’s available.

I highly recommend Dancing With a Royal to anyone who loves a good sweet romance or heartwarming love story, and I give this book 5 stars.

Songwriter Night (a musical romance) by D.G. Driver

Songwriter Night by D.G. Driver

As a Book Reviewer, I received a copy of this book for my honest review.

Songwriter Night by D. G. Driver is a very unique story. I found it engaging and entertaining.

About the Book:
Trish is new in Nashville, TN. She’s chasing her dream of becoming a songwriter in the Country Music capitol of the U.S.A. Not long after she arrives, she sits in a coffee shop working on some lyrics when she meets Lyle. Lyle is a native in Nashville, but he, too, is chasing the elusive songwriting dream. He’s struck by her voice as he hears her humming a tune he’s never heard before. They talk a little and he invites her to the house, he shares with a friend, for their monthly Friday night “songwriter night”. She accepts.

From there, the reader is introduced to a small group of artistic people who all have a love for writing, mostly music. What an interesting group it is.

My Review:
D. G. Driver created a very simple plot line. It lacks the usual intensity, but there are some conflicts that keep the reader turning pages. The writing is also sparse on descriptive setting details, but there is enough for the reader to envision the two settings where the story takes place. Another uncommon aspect of the book are the descriptions told of the characters’ actions.

The best thing about this read is that the characters are each so wonderfully distinct in personality and voice that they each paint their own quirkiness in the reader’s mind. They also fascinate and bring an occasional chuckle and an occasional groan.

A very unique fun thing about this book is that D.G. Driver has included the original songs that each of her characters share at “Songwriter Night”. She even has them recorded for audio readers to actually hear. I didn’t receive the audio, but Ms. Driver has samples on her website that I listened to and I was impressed at the quality of the recordings. Made me almost wish I’d have gotten the audio.

After reading the story, I read the information about Ms. Driver at the back of the book. That’s how I discovered why this story is so unusual and written the way that it is. In addition to writing, Ms. Driver is also very involved in theater, or was until Covid shut down live theaters. When that happened, Ms. Driver, who also thoroughly enjoys listening to cast albums of Broadway musicals, got the unique idea to write a book/audiobook in this one-of-a-kind, (as far as I know), story.

If you love cute romance stories unlike any others you’ve read, you’re sure to enjoy Songwriter Night. If you are an artist or someone who appreciates the arts of music and writing, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this story as well. If you’re just someone looking for a fun, quick, easy read this book’s for you too.

I give Songwriter Night 5 stars.

The Holiday Bride by Claire Sanders

The Holiday Bride by Claire Sanders

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free copy of The Holiday Bride by Claire Sanders for my honest review. The Holiday Bride by Claire Sanders is the second book in “The Masons of Brightfield” series. Ms. Sanders continues to write great sweet romance stories with a touch of humor, and this novel even included a bit of a mystery.

In The Holiday Bride, Andrew Mason has been in love with Hildy for years and finally believes it’s the right time to let her know his feelings for her. However, one problem after another prevents them from building a relationship, including another man. Hildy believes the other man would be perfect in her father’s eyes. However, Andrew, in his jealousy, stumbles across some incriminating information about the other man. This information takes Andrew on a fascinating journey to find out more with the hopes of winning Hildy in the end.

Ms. Sanders creates captivating characters that feel like friends. She paints pictures with her words and brings many smiles and occasional chuckles to her readers’ lips. She creates a plot with a pace that keeps the reader turning page after page late into the night.

The Holiday Bride is original in that Andrew is the main character, although we get plenty of Hildy’s point of view as well. It was very interesting to follow Andrew’s point of view in this story and I came to value the originality of Andrew’s character. He was engaging, unique, intelligent, and lovable.

After reading the first two books in “The Masons of Brightfield” series by Claire Sanders, I have become a fan of Ms. Sanders books and look forward to reading more.

I give The Holiday Bride 5 stars.

CO2, Masks, and Your Health

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Like me, you may be tired of reading and hearing all the differing opinions about wearing masks. However, I had a personal experience yesterday that prompted me to do some research for myself, I’d like to tell you about my personal experience. You see, as a diabetic, I have six-month checkups with my doctor and my appointment is coming up. Before I have my appointment, I always have to get some blood work done so that he can see what is going on with levels of things like glucose, sodium, creatinine, and more to make sure my organs and medications are working as they should.

Due to the Covid pandemic, when I go to the lab to get my blood work done, I must wear a mask, and I wear the simple kind made from cotton material that has elastic to hook to my ears. Yesterday the lab was quite busy and I had to wait about fifty minutes until they called me to draw my blood. By the time the lab technician drew my blood, I was wearing that mask for a full hour.

A few hours after returning home, I received the results from the tests on my blood work, and there were two items on the list of sixteen that were flagged as being too high and of concern: one was my glucose, which for a diabetic happens frequently. The other was the CO2 (carbon dioxide) level in my blood. Normal range of CO2 is 21 – 31 mmol/L (number of millimoles per Liter, and a millimole is one-thousandth of a mole, which is a standard unit for measuring the mass of molecules). My level of CO2 was 32 mmol/L and was flagged as too high. Now, you might say, “That was just one mmol/L over the high end of the normal range. Big deal.”

Well, that was just after wearing the mask for one hour. Let’s think about this: if I went into that lab and my CO2 was normally 26 mmol/L, which is the middle of the normal range, in just one hour the CO2 in my blood increased by 6 mmol/L. If I had to wear that mask for an eight hour work day, by the end of the work day, if my CO2 increased by that same 6 mmol/L each hour, my CO2 level would be 42 mmol/L, a full 11 mmol/L. Then consider if I had to do that five days a week.

Now, do you know what having a high level of CO2 in your blood and body can do?

Well, I did some research to find out. Here’s what I found:

The early signs and mild symptoms of too much CO2 in your blood are:

flushed skin

drowsiness or inability to focus

mild headaches

feeling disoriented or dizzy

feeling short of breath

being abnormally tired or exhausted

These mild symptoms can be corrected by getting fresh air, but even these mild symptoms are considered an issue called Hypercapnia, and anyone with these symptoms for more than a few days is advised to seek medical attention from their doctor.

The symptoms can become severe, and when that happens severe Hypercapnia poses much more of a threat. Your respiratory system could even shut down.

Severe signs of too much CO2 in your blood include:

unexplained feelings of confusion


abnormal feelings of paranoia or depression


abnormal muscle twitching

panic attack

irregular heartbeat

passing out/fainting

Hypercapnia can lead to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a term for conditions that make it harder for you to breathe. Two causes of COPD are Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema.

I have seasonal allergies and had Chronic Bronchitis which became asthmatic several times. Therefore, I refuse to wear these masks more than I absolutely have to, and prefer not to wear one at all. I do experience the mild symptoms of Hypercapnia if I have a mask on for two hours or more and prefer not to have such symptoms – I have experienced mild headaches, dizziness and being abnormally tired. I have even experienced feeling as though I were going to pass out on at least one occasion while wearing a mask in a large room with poor air flow.

Further study also revealed that too much CO2 in your blood not only causes respiratory issues, but also cardiovascular issues, and can also lead to nerve damage, and/or asphyxiation.

Too much CO2 in your blood can also cause a problem known as Respiratory acidosis, which is when your body fluids contain too much acid. This occurs when your kidneys and lungs cannot keep your body’s pH in balance. If your lungs, which normally remove CO2 while you breathe, are hindered from doing their job properly by something like wearing a mask, you can become inflicted with Respiratory acidosis. Acidosis can lead to numerous health issues and can be life-threatening.

Even perfectly healthy people could become inflicted by one of the above health issues by long-term wearing of masks which cause the CO2 levels in your blood and body to increase.

Many people in the world want to lash out in anger at people who don’t want to wear masks, declaring such people selfish, hateful, and uncaring. They tend not to believe that some of us really do have health issues that could worsen from wearing a mask.

The really sad thing is that many people with things like COPD are walking around wearing masks, risking more health issues to themselves simply because of the FEAR of Covid which has a 99% survival rate, and because they are forced to wear a mask, or are verbally, and sometimes, physically attacked by people who refuse to believe that anyone might have a real health-related reason for not wearing one.

If you don’t believe all of the things I’ve written here, I urge you to research the health issues I’ve written about here. If you choose not to believe me or research for yourself, I hope you will at least think about what I have written here that is my own personal experience, and think about how you should behave when you see someone who is not wearing a mask, but isn’t criticizing, getting angry at you, or verbally or physically attacking you because you are wearing one.