Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: Beside Two Rivers by Rita Gerlach

Daughters of the Potomac #2

By:  Rita Gerlach

Published:  October 2012


A tale of love won and love lost, and the faith to find it again. From the banks of the Potomac to the misty moors of England, Darcy follows a path where the secrets of the past slowly rise to the surface in this dramatic saga that began in Before the Scarlet Dawn. She meets Ethan Brennan, an aspiring English horse breeder, who embraces her independent spirit and marvels at the simplicity of her faith. Ethan and Darcy fall in love, but are kept apart by a promise to another and a sworn oath to a dying woman whose long-hidden secret threatens Darcy 's and Ethan 's lives.

I have received and read this book as part of the Virtual Blog Tour with  If you remember, I reviewed Book One in this series titled, BEFORE THE SCARLET DAWN just a few weeks ago.  Check out my review, HERE.  Also, as a side note, BEFORE THE SCARLET DAWN was free yesterday for the Kindle.  You never know how long that promotion will last.  Click HERE to check it out. As with any book in a series, you appreciate the characters and their stories more if you have read the books together rather than as a stand alone.  This book will also be much more enjoyable if you know the history from Book One first.  I am certainly glad I read BEFORE THE SCARLET DAWN, but this book would still be enjoyable without reading it.  

In BESIDE TWO RIVERS, the story begins with Darcy, the daughter of the main characters from BEFORE THE SCARLET DAWN.  Darcy is now a grown woman and is struggling with her ties to her Aunt and Uncle who raised her in America and her familial ties to England.  It does take a bit of time to get into this story, but at about the half-way point, the story-line becomes intense which made for a faster read all the way to the end.  After many obstacles, you are anxious to see how Darcy perseveres.  

This second book in the series had a little less historical information in this book due to the Revolutionary War being over, but much more descriptive characterization of both the people and the places in the story.  The author certainly knows how to paint a picture with her words.  Her use of the language and protocol/manners from the time period were also well done. I for one am thankful to have lived in this century.  I'm not sure I could have bit my tongue as often as Darcy did! 

I adored Darcy and was pleased with the woman she had grown up to be.  She was much like her mother, even though she was away from her for most of her growing up years.  I loved her spunk and was inspired with how she handled her fears and problems.  Again, Gerlach weaves faith in God throughout the story without it being over-bearing and preachy.  It is just the right touch to remind the readers of where we need to turn in our trials as well as our triumphs.

Even though not everything is tied up with a pretty bow in this story, I still appreciate the way it ended and leads me to be anxious for the third book in the series that will focus on Sarah, a character from BEFORE THE SCARLET DAWN.  This third book, BEYOND THE VALLEY, is planned to debut in February 2013.  Watch for my review then!

 photo courtesy of

Rita Gerlach lives with her husband and two sons in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains, amid Civil War battlefields and Revolutionary War outposts in central Maryland. In many of her stories, she writes about the struggles endured by early colonists, with both American and English settings.  For more on Rita Gerlach, visit her blog at .  Connect with Rita Gerlach on Facebook, HERE.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Winter Front Porch Decor

Rather than putting my flower pots away for the winter, I decided to use them.  
I added some greenery (from IKEA) and some scented pine cones (from Michaels) and red and gold berries (from Michaels) and gathered them all up in the pot.  
I set two of them by our front door and guests can smell the cinnamon scented pine cones upon arrival.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright


By: Cameron Wright

Published:  August 27, 2012


Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working. Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the bad-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money--a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past. The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one woman's journey to save her son and another woman's chance at redemption.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book.  I figured it would be depressing and I couldn't imagine how a story of people living in the dump was going to be much of a story to tell.  Well, I was completely wrong.  The story is told from Sang Ly's perspective and she is quite the storyteller.  She is quite witty and had me laughing in the first chapter.  She is thoughtful, intelligent, and has a will to improve her life.  

Sang Ly is a wife, but most importantly a mother.  She thinks and feels like any mother in the world, with her focus on her son being healthy.  Isn't that what every mother in the world wants?  No matter whether you live in a dump in Cambodia or a mansion in California, all a mother wants is for her child to be happy and healthy.  For Sang Ly, it was her sole purpose.  Sang Ly devises a plan for a better life and that dream involves her asking for help from someone she least expects to ask for help. 

The way of life for the people living at the dump and the descriptions of their homes and belongings were shocking to me.  The little things that were appreciated, their meager food portions, the constant struggle to survive were heartbreaking....and even more so knowing this truly is happening every day in Cambodia and other places around the world.  This story will remind you that possessions are just things and what truly matters in life is happiness, love, family, friends and your health.  Sang Ly and her husband Ki remind us that we make our own happiness, not by the things we have, but by spending time with those we love. 

This story is based on truth and is told about real people.  By going to you will learn even more about the story of those who live at the dump.  I found the photos on the website and at the back of the book, fascinating and wonder how the people in the story are doing now.

This story is eye-opening, intellectual, heartbreaking, and inspirational.  It makes for an excellent book club discussion and questions are available on the book website.  

photo courtesy of
Camron Wright is an author I will be watching for in the future.  Camron Wright was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a master’s degree in Writing and Public Relations from Westminster College.
He has owned several successful retail stores, in addition to working with his wife in the fashion industry, designing for the McCall Pattern Company in New York. He currently works in public relations, marketing and design. Camron began writing to get out of attending MBA School at the time and it proved the better decision. While reading this book, I realized I had one of his books on my to-read shelf, LETTERS FOR EMILY.  I look forward to reading this book as well.  

To purchase a copy of THE RENT COLLECTOR, click the photo below:

I read this book for my own enjoyment. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchases this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review: The Christmas Star by Ace Collins


By: Ace Collins

Published:  October 1, 2012


Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II. His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Each Christmas the final decoration Madge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal. Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.
Yet a letter delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery posed in that letter put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas. Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that Jimmy has never known.

If you are looking for a book to get you into the Christmas spirit, this is the book for you.  THE CHRISTMAS STAR has all the qualities for a great Christmas read.  It reads rather quickly, the story is centered around the Christmas holiday, and is an excellent reminder of what Christmas is really about.  

I read THE CHRISTMAS STAR as part of the Pump Up Your Book book tour.  I decided it was the perfect book to read while traveling to St. Louis over Thanksgiving and I was right.  As I mentioned, it was a quick read and was a delightful story to get me into the spirit of celebrating Thanksgiving and soon, Christmas.  I truly enjoy historical fiction and with this book set in the early 1940's, it was right up my alley. The story begins with Jimmy, a teenager who is grappling with the fact that his father died protecting our country and is frankly, not in the Christmas spirit like the rest of his small town in Arkansas.  His mom is struggling to make ends-meat like most of his neighbors after the depression and he is down-right angry at the world.  Certain people come into Jimmy's life, both good and bad, and he has a decision to make about which direction he wants to go.  

I have to admit, when I started reading the book, I was pretty sure I knew how it would all play out.  But, Ace Collins kept the surprises coming and left me satisfied and teary at the end.  I appreciated the Christian piece to this story as Jesus truly is the reason for the season.  The Biblical piece wasn't overbearing, but was just part of the conversation, which made it feel real.  In fact, I thought the whole story was very believable and could have easily happened in any small-town in America.  

Collins has a great way of describing his settings and characters that you can picture them as you are reading.   My favorite characters were Calvin and Audrey, and their effect on Jimmy was certainly a highlight of the story.

I also appreciated how much this story reminded me to listen to that inner voice.  Jimmy was frequently struggling with decisions along the way and at times ignored that voice urging him to make the right decision.  So often, we ignore that voice as well.  Jimmy had given up hope for ever being able to enjoy Christmas or his life, ever again.  This story showed how important it is to continue to have hope and to never give up.  

I had a couple quotes from the book that really spoke to me:

Anger is a wound that only makes things worse. Page 23

That's the nature of busy people in a busy world.  They are so busy seeing what is in front of them they fail to see what is around them. Page 50

I truly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a Christmas story that will get you into the spirit of giving of yourself, loving others, and having hope.  

Bestselling author Ace Collins has written more than fifty books including novels Farraday RoadSwope’s Ridge and Words of the Father, as well as the nonfiction Stories Behind The Best-Loved Songs of ChristmasgrAttitudes, and Lassie A Dog’s Life. His books have become movies and network television specials. He has appeared on Good Morning America, the NBC Nightly News and The Today Show and has been featured in the Distinguished Lecture Series at the National Archives in Washington D.C. Ace Collins has sold more than 1.5 million books during his career.

His latest book is the Christian holiday fiction, THE CHRISTMAS STAR.

You can visit Ace on the web at

Friday, November 23, 2012

So Thankful - Day 22 - Thanksgiving

November 22

Spending the day with family, remembering all our blessings, being thankful for the food before us and grateful for not having to cook or clean up after it has made this a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for the many employees of Cracker Barrel who work very hard on Thanksgiving to provide such wonderful service and delicious food to those of us that choose to eat there. In the past four years of eating our Thanksgiving meal there, we have never once been disappointed. Plus, you get the added benefit of shopping in their store while you wait!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So Thankful - Days 19, 20, and 21

November 19
Today while out running errands I came across two new candies....m&m white chocolate peppermint and Dove Promises peppermint bark. Um..yeah. I haven't tried them yet, but I am pretty sure I'm going to love them. So, today I am thankful for candy/sweets. Sometimes they are just the thing you need to cheer you up.

November 20
Today I am thankful for my parents. They have been married 56 years and have been there for me through EVERYTHING! Now they are here for our kids as well. Tonight they drove nearly 2 hours each way, with the ride home through terrible fog, to watch our son perform at his middle school band and vocal concert. They will come back next week to watch our other son in his Christmas program. They have sat through countless ball games and programs for me and their numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren over the years.  They share unconditional love with many, many people and I am proud to be their daughter.

November 21
Today I am thankful for traditions. Four years ago we began a new Thanksgiving tradition of going away with my husband's sister and her family. We have traveled somewhere in the Midwest with the only condition being that there is a Cracker Barrel since they are open on Thanksgiving day and serve a superb meal. So today we left for this year's destination...St. Louis and I know the weekend will be filled with great food, laughter, shopping, and lots of memories.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Get Your 2013 Household Planner and Resolve to Get Your Life in Order

Susan Heid is back with her Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner for 2013 and it is better than ever with her new Supplement Kit.  You can get your planner TODAY for $9 or $14 with the Supplement Kit.  You can even get the rest of 2012 included free, so you can start NOW. Just note that with your purchase. 

What can the Weekly Household Planner do to help you?????

  • If you are looking for organization in your life, this planner is for you. 
  • If you are looking for ways to plan out your days better, this planner is for you.  
  • If you are looking for ways to fit in more "me time", this planner is for you.  
  • If you are looking for a way to better manage your home and keep it ready for those "drop in visits", this planner is for you.  

This Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner covers everything you need to do in a day/week/month.  It is split up into manageable tasks for each day...many you can even assign your children.  There is plenty of space to add in your own reminders and tasks.  Each week has a list of tasks you do everyday like making beds, sorting mail,and taking your vitamins.  Then each day has a lists of tasks such as cleaning out your purse, cleaning your microwave, water plants, and restock toilet paper.  Then there are tasks for the week, fitting them in whenever it works for you, like paying bills, ironing, and planning for the next month's birthdays.  If you choose the Daily Scripture package, each day has Scripture readings for your quiet time.  At the bottom of each sheet is a quote to inspire you.  I haven't seen such a complete and thorough calendar ever before.  Susan has thought of everything.  When I step away from the calendar, I notice how much my life goes off track.  This calendar will keep you focused, on track, and help you get done what you need to get done, with time for yourself! 

This year, you have the opportunity to also purchase a supplemental pack in addition to your calendar.  The Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner and Supplemental Pack includes a master family planner, special occasion/gift planner, holiday planner, menu planner/grocery list, and babysitter information many more. 

Many women, even some of my closest friends, have raved about The Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner.  For only $9 or $14 with the Supplement package, you can have your life back on track and your house in order.  You can print out each week at a time or print the whole package and put it in a binder.  I also know of women who take theirs to Staples to have it bound into a book.  The key is to have it out and available for your daily use.  Click HERE to get yours and start putting your days back in order!

Thanks to The Confident Mom for sending a calendar and supplemental pack for review.  This review is my honest opinion.  I only review items that will benefit myself or my family.  I am a Confident Mom affiliate and receive a small payment for purchases through my link. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Giveaway Winner: yurbuds earphones for women

True Random Number Generator  20Powered by RANDOM.ORG

The winner of the yurbuds earphones is............
Laura Lane.
Please check your email Laura and respond within 48 hours and I will ship these right out to you.
Thanks to everyone for entering!

A Little Monday Inspiration

Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down.  

Taken from a New Balance advertisement

If you are like me, sometimes I like to take the easy way out...with housework, cooking, parenting, and exercising.  But, when I do really push myself to accomplish the task in front of me....step outside of my box....really work my butt off....I am always, always, always much better off.  So, here's to pushing myself to the limit today.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

So Thankful - Days 17 and 18

November 17

This morning as I leave my house early to watch our daughter play basketball and my husband leaves to coach our son's basketball team, I was reminded of something I saw on Wednesday afternoon.  As Bennett and I were shopping at Dick's Sporting Goods on Wednesday, a father and his 3 children were shopping there as well.  What stood out to me was that one of his children was obviously very sick.  I'm not talking about the cold/sniffle kind of sickness, I'm talking about cancer.  It was obvious this child had suffered much in his short years of life.  His hair was thinning and he had bruises and was very pale.  He tired very quickly and was frequently sitting on benches throughout the store as the rest of his family shopped.  I would guess this child was around 10 and as they left the store, he was completely exhausted and his dad, picked him up and carried him out to their car.  My eyes misted up as I watched this take place as I have no idea what it is like to have a sick child.  When our kids have the flu or bronchitis or pneumonia, my heart aches for them and I want to take their pain away.  I don't know how I would get through one of them being really sick...for a long time.  On Wednesday, I wanted to take that child's pain away.  As I was checking out, right after the family had left, the cashier asked if I wanted to donate to the child's cancer fund....of course I do.  So, today, as I watched our daughter play basketball, as I watch our children play outside with their friends, I am thankful for our family's health.

November 18

Today I am thankful for surprises.  My niece, Jena was on her way home for Thanksgiving Break.  Since she lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, I don't get to see her very often.  Even though, as she called, our family was getting ready to go to church, we stopped and changed our plans.  Those 3 hours with her were worth a change in our plans for the morning.  I am so proud of her and all she has accomplished.  She is in school to be a Physician's Assistant and will be living with us this next summer during her internship.  I have loved watching her grow up and any time I can spend with her is a treat.  Thanks Jena for surprising us with your visit today!

Friday, November 16, 2012

So Thankful - Days 14, 15, and 16

Spending my week working has really gotten me behind at home and my blogging has had to take a back seat.  So, here I am, playing catchup again.

November 14

Today I am thankful for one on one time with Bennett.  We finally found time to have our date for his birthday.  Even if it was 4 months late.  Bennett had been wanting to go shoe shopping at Dick's Sporting Goods for awhile so we went and spent time there....a lot of time.  Bennett is very particular and decisive with his shopping.  But, he finally found a pair of tennis shoes and a shirt that he wanted and purchased them with his own money.  After a few more errands, we had dinner at HuHot, a mongolian grill restaurant.  It was his first time eating there and we both enjoyed it.  Having that one on one time with your child is very special and I am glad we make that a priority in our family....even if it is 4 months after their birthday!

November 15

Today I am thankful for extra cuddle time.  Reagan wasn't feeling well at school today so we decided to skip both her dance class and her basketball practice in the evening and just rest.  We snuggled in together on the couch while I held a warm cloth over her painful ear.  Unfortunately, our busy schedules make snuggle time a rare occurrence these days, so today, I am grateful that we could take the evening at a slower pace.

November 16

Today I am thankful for coffee.  Spending my days subbing this week has been a little tough on my schedule.  I am not used to going off to work every morning like most people.  I honestly don't know how parents work all day and run their kids around at night.  When do you get anything done?????  Anyway, my coffee has been my buddy this week and has gotten me through my early mornings.  I love all the different flavored creamers out right now...pumpkin spice, white chocolate raspberry, egg nog, and peppermint mocha to name a few.  It makes my morning coffee even more enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

So Thankful - Days 10 -13

I've been out of town and have had a busy schedule, so today I am playing catch-up.

Nov. 10
Today I am thankful for my extended family. My mom and her sisters still gather for a Christmas celebration every year. The 5 sisters, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all come together to celebrate. It is one of my favorite weekends of the year and today our Jones Family Christmas was held. Such a wonderful time with family!

Nov. 11
Today I am thankful for the thousands of Veterans who have fought for our freedoms that we so easily assume will always be there. I'm especially grateful for my dad who served in the Korean War. Even though it may be considered the "Forgotten War" I know he hasn't forgotten his time there. He saw things no one should have to see and did things he never thought he would do and some, including myself, will never understand their courage. But, I am thankful to be an American and I appreciate their sacrifices as well as those of their families.

Nov 12
Today I am thankful for the technology of cell phones. My cell phone quit working properly and you suddenly realize how dependent you are on them. Thankfully, I was able to get a new phone and am "connected" again.

Nov 13
Today I am thankful for my employment. I am a part-time substitute teacher at the middle school/high school.  I work when it works for me and when I do work, the days are usually quite fun. No two days are the same that is for sure. The extra money is nice (especially to help pay for trips and new cell phones) and I get to get out and use my brain once in awhile!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Little Monday Inspiration

I AM A RUNNER because I run. Not because I run fast. Not because I run far. I AM A RUNNER because I say I am.  And no one can tell me I'm not.

John Bingham

photo courtesy of
John Bingham is an author and runner.  He writes a column for Runner's World magazine and believes the goal of running should be to finish and have fun.  Thank you John!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Review: Mr. Breeze By Morrie Richfield


By: Morrie Richfield

Published: May 25, 2011


What if we found out that everything we have ever thought about God and religion was wrong. The history of mankind we have come to accept as fact is also wrong. We are all about to find out the truth about ourselves, our religions, and our god.

Honestly, when I finished this book, I just sat there for a bit....thinking....gathering my thoughts.  I went back to the beginning of the book and read the first few pages again.  This book is really nothing like anything I have ever read.  The only book that is even remotely close to resembling it would be THE SHACK, but that is a stretch.  I had to remind myself that this book is fiction.  But, could it be true????

This book could definitely be controversial to those who have very strict beliefs about God and religion.  But, it will certainly give you something to think about once you have finished it. Without giving too much of the story away, there is a man, named Mr. Breeze, who travels to hospitals, accident sites, and other locations to protect people from danger and to cure people.  He cures people of major diseases and injuries beyond comprehension.  Michael, a reporter, after being frustrated with all the negativity in the news decides to try and find good news in the numerous stories out there.  He then begins seeing a pattern of happy news events that have the same theme and same man named Mr. Breeze, who helped them.  Michael sets out to find out who this Mr. Breeze really is.  This is their story.  It is told without a single chapter which took some getting used to, but still the story moved quite quickly.  After the first miracle, you are eager to get to the bottom of this story.

What I have been left with after reading this book....

  • We all need to find the good in life and in people
  • We need to share that good news with others
  • Hate can ruin all the good in the world
  • Each one of us can change, take a step in the right direction, and live in peace and harmony with each other
MR BREEZE is part of a book tour with  By clicking HERE or on my sidebar, you can register to win a Kindle Fire HD as a part of this book tour.

Morrie Richfield lives in Pennsylvania with his two sons, his dogs and his cat.  He is working on his next novel, and he still dreams that someday the world will be a better place for all of us to live.  For more on his inspirational novel, MR BREEZE, visit his website at

So Thankful - Day 9

Read the best books first, otherwise you'll find you do not have time.
- Henry David Thoreau

I love books.  I love to read.  I take a book or my Kindle with me everywhere I go in case I have an opportunity to read for even just a few minutes.  I am thankful for all the talented authors that write these books to help me learn, to give me an escape, to make me laugh, and to make me cry.  Books make me happy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

So Thankful - Day 8

Today I am thankful for naps.  While I was out running errands today I started not feeling well.  So, I decided I better head home.  I got home and went right to bed.  After a nice nap, I was feeling good enough to get up and play taxi mom.  Hopefully the bug that was messing with my stomach left me while I was sleeping.  This mom has no time for the flu!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So Thankful - Day 7

My favorite apple is the Honeycrisp apple.  
Did you know it was created in Minnesota's Agricultural Experimental Station?  
They are really only available during the fall around here which makes me sad, but also appreciate them even more.  When I do see them, I snag up a bunch.  If you haven't tried a Honeycrisp apple, they are the perfect combination of everything you want in an apple...crisp, sweet and tart.  
I also love the color of the skin, red with shades of yellow. 
 You may still be able to find Honeycrisp apples in your store, and if you see them, try them out.  
You won't be disappointed.  
Thanks to the horticulturalists who created the Honeycrisp apple!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review: Before the Scarlet Dawn By Rita Gerlach


Daughters of the Potomac #1

By: Rita Gerlach

Published: February 1, 2012


In 1775, Hayward Morgan, a young gentleman destined to inherit his father's estate in Derbyshire, England, captures the heart of the local vicar's daughter, Eliza Bloome. Her dark beauty and spirited ways are not enough to win him, due to her station in life. 

Circumstances throw Eliza in Hayward's path, and they flee to America to escape the family conflicts. But as war looms, it's a temporary reprieve. Hayward joins the revolutionary forces and what follows is a struggle for survival, a test of faith, and the quest to find lasting love in an unforgiving wilderness.

I purchased this on my Kindle because I have a review coming up for the second in this series and the Type "A" in me felt I needed to read the first book in the series to be able to give it an adequate review.  I am now anxious to read the next one in the series.

I think my favorite genre is historical fiction, but this time period (Revolutionary War) is not one I read often.  After traveling to Philadelphia and seeing Independence Hall you would think I would have been more interested in this time-period, but usually WWI and WWII eras seem to get my attention.  Even though this book didn't go into a lot of detail about the war, there was still a lot of attention given to the setting, the way people related to each other and their fears during this time in our history.  I found the different social classes and their expectations very interesting.  I was also drawn to the servants in the story and how even though they were considered like family, there was a definite difference in their societal level.  

The beginning of this story involved Eliza and her attraction to Hayward.  Hayward and Eliza get married and flee England to move to a home along the Potomac.  Then the story focuses on Eliza.  Hayward goes off to war....for 6 years....with no communication back to his wife....AT ALL!  I had a really hard time grasping this concept.  She was to wait for him and attend to his home, expecting his to return at any moment....for 6 years.  I can tell you, I am not sure I would have survived during this time period or put up with that from my husband.  The author painted a very clear picture of the struggles Eliza went through, both physically and mentally.  I felt her pain, anguish, and frustration throughout the story.  Even though Eliza made some choices that changed her life forever, I'm sure I would have done the same thing in her situation.  

Hayward returns home from war a different man, as many soldiers do.  But, in this story the unthinkable happens and because of the time period and how women were treated, he was able to get away with it.  The shock of his actions and the pain Eliza suffered are what is drawing me to the next in the series, BESIDE TWO RIVERS.  I must know what happens next.

This book is classified as Inspirational Historical Fiction.  In the story, Eliza's father was a vicar (priest) and so her faith is very evident throughout the story.  Scriptures are often referenced and Eliza must rely on her faith in God to get through her struggles.  I saw it as a natural part of the story and not overpowering in any way.  I appreciated that Eliza turned to prayer and Scripture when in doubt of her path in life.

If you are looking to start a new series, I recommend you read this one.  Watch for my review of BESIDE TWO RIVERS, published in September 2012, to be posted by the end of the month.  You won't have to wait long for the third in the series to come out, as BEYOND THE VALLEY will arrive in February 2013.  

photo courtesy of
Rita Gerlach lives with her husband and two sons in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains, amid Civil War battlefields and Revolutionary War outposts in central Maryland. Check out her blog at

So Thankful - Day 6

Today as I am spending my day working as an election judge, I am so completely thankful for our country and our freedom.  So many men and women have fought for us to continue to live free in this great nation.  While we are able to drive our cars and walk into a polling place, place our vote, and return to our homes or jobs, other country's citizens must stand in line for hours, must be ever watchful for their safety, and possibly risk their life just to place their vote.  Please make sure your voice is heard today and be thankful for our freedom to share our voice.  Your vote counts.  Make sure it is recorded.  Be a part of history.  Vote today!

Monday, November 5, 2012

So Thankful - Day 5

Today I am thankful for music.  All of us in our family are music lovers.  Myself and all three of our children play the piano.  The boys play the drums both in their band at school and in a drum group called Sheltered Reality.  I sing in our church choir.  Pat played several instruments during his time in band at school and he relates that to some of the best times of his high school years.  We all love to listen to music.  We may have different tastes in the types of songs we like to listen to, but we can certainly all appreciate all types of music. Music can relax you, excite you, motivate you, and soothe you.  If we didn't have music in our life, the world would be sadly quiet.  Even as I sit here, Pandora is playing one of my favorite playlists, Rick Springfield Radio.  Soon I will be tuned in to Christmas music.  I can't wait!

So Thankful - Day 4

Today I am thankful for my vehicle.  I've never been one to care much for what I am driving.  I like it to look nice, be dependable, and get me where our family needs to go...safely.  It needs to have plenty of room for all our "stuff" and sports gear and that is why for the last several years, I have driven a minivan.

After traveling over 16 hours this weekend and over 9 hours last weekend, I appreciate that we have a stable, dependable and safe vehicle.  I appreciate all the people who work on assembly lines and take care to make sure our cars are safe and put together properly.

A Little Monday Inspiration

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet

It is Monday.  You may have a To-Do list a mile long, your baby kept you up all night, or you don't want to go to work...whatever it is that is keeping that smile off your face....wipe that frown away and do whatever you can, RIGHT NOW, to make today your best day.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

So Thankful - Day 2

Today I am thankful for my husband Pat. Together for 14 years, I can not imagine living one moment without him. He gets me. He puts up with me and my family. He spoils me. He works hard to provide for all of us. And best of all, he makes me laugh, every day.

So Thankful - Day 3

Our children are my life. Every decision I make relates to them and their needs. They bring me joy every day. Each of their personalities remind me of parts of myself and that makes me smile. Being their mom is what I was meant to do.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

So Thankful - Day 1

In years past, I have dedicated the month of November to things I am thankful for. I felt the need to do it again as I am feeling so incredibly blessed.

Today, as our family is traveling north to spend a long weekend with family 8 hours away, I am thankful for in-vehicle DVD players and technology. It has been a mostly peaceful drive for us and the kids are also enjoying their quiet time.  I'm also thankful for our van that gets us where we need to go.