Thursday, September 10, 2020

Below Deck Mediterranean Season 5 Review

If you haven't been up on your Season 5 Below Deck Mediterranean then go watch it before reading my comments and review.  I highly recommend watching Below Deck Mediterranean on Bravo!!

Captain Sandy and the crew are voyaging around the beautiful island of Mallorca, Spain, on a 184-foot mega-yacht "The Wellington" according to Bravo is the largest in Below Deck history.  Captain Sandy had a rough sea on board. 

The Captain had to get rid of 3 crew members so far. I believe there is only one more episode left, so hopefully no more firing. 

Season 5 Below Deck Mediterranean is one of my favorite seasons of the Below the Deck series because there are women running the boat. Finally!! 


"Voyaging around the beautiful island of Mallorca, Spain, on the 184-foot mega yacht “The Wellington,” the largest in Below Deck history, the crew encounters choppy waters trying to navigate everything from heartbreaks and power struggles to challenges with maritime law. As these yachties work to conquer each charter, they struggle to set aside their differences, forcing Captain Sandy to make career-defining decisions that challenge the group in more ways than one.

A rarity in the yachting world, Captain Sandy’s crew is led by two female heads of department: Hannah leads the interior, while Malia oversees the exterior crew in the most dramatic season yet. Chief Stew Hannah hopes for smooth sailing when it comes to her high standards with the crew and service, but her leadership is challenged like never before. Embattled by a defiant stew, tensions escalate when the team takes on uncompromising guests. Malia returns in a new role as Bosun and works hard to gain respect from her fellow deckhands, who challenge her position and test her patience.

In the galley, Kiko takes pride in presenting dishes that are as flavorful as they are beautiful but finds himself in deep waters when charter guests present a set of unthinkable requests. Hailing from a small village in Northeast Italy, Lara is an experienced stew. Always prepared to confront any issues head-on, she is not afraid to express her opinion, which does not sit well with everyone in the crew. Previously working on three smaller yachts, third stew Jessica is ecstatic to join the team and experience working on a mega yacht. However, she lands in hot water when she mixes work and play. As former captain on a smaller boat, Pete joins the crew as lead deckhand, and finds that reporting to his supervisors is more challenging than he anticipated. Quickly falling in love with the yachting industry and its adventurous lifestyle, Alex is ready to tackle the charter and bring his “wicked smart Bostonian” sense of humor on deck. After overcoming a difficult past, Robert is looking for a fresh start by joining the deck crew, until an unexpected romance takes him for a bumpy ride." 

Below Deck Meditterean's website: CLICK HERE 



Hannah Ferrier was really different this season. She didn't seem so angry. She was calm, kind, and a workable leader.  In previous seasons, she usually was screaming at everyone telling them they weren't doing anything right. The way she handled Lara was perfect. She dealt with Lara first, but eventually after trying so many different ways she took her to the Captain. Captain saw Lara's behavior and fired her. Lara was like figures on a chalkboard. She should have been let go by the end of the first episode. She was so very annoying. 

Jessica is too busy with guys, especially Pete, then doing her job. Also, it didn't help that she broke her finger. Hannah is stuck with doing everything until they hire a new Second Stew. I love the episode of Captain Sandy telling Hannah they found a new Second Stew. Hannah's face was amazing when Captain said, "Bugsy." I don't remember why they ended up hating each other so much but I felt really bad for Hannah especially when Captain Sandy was rubbing Bugsy's table decor in her face. Hannah knows she hates doing table decor and it isn't her strong skill, but still, it isn't very nice of her to shove that in Hannah's face. 

Captain Sandy and Kiko the ChefChef Kiko has the most adorable face. He was doing such an amazing job after the first charter. He did a 7-course dinner for 12 people. That is 84 dishes and he nailed it. He got hit hard with the Vegas dinner. It was really bad and hard to watch.  He has never been to Vegas so he turns to Hannah for help with the menu. That wasn't the best idea, he should have just done it on his own and not have asked Hannah for help. 

Getting fired is really hard but to be fired in the middle of a charter and in the middle of the dinner with all your colleagues around is a nightmare.  I was mad at Captain Sandy for the way she handled the situation. Hannah felt like it was her fault. Chef Kiko and Hannah were really tight. Captain Sandy told her not to feel bad because "he" is the chef, not her. A good chef wouldn't turn to a stewardess asking what to cook. The producers most likely didn't fight for him to stay on board because he was boring.  He never was crazy wasted, didn't sleep with anyone on board, didn't scream at anyone in the kitchen.  

Ben has always been my favorite chef on the Below Deck series. I was hoping they would bring him back on the boat to take over Kiko's position, instead, they turned to Malia's boyfriend Tom Checketts. His food looked amazing. His food had class and elegance to it.  Kiko was a new chef and was learning. He needs to gain more experience. However, I wasn't happy with how Sandy treated Kiko.  

Another thing I was upset about was the way they got rid of Hannah. Malia is power-hungry.  I am not a huge fan of her. Don't get me wrong, Malia did an awesome job managing her department. She also helped with other departments when they were short-handed. She stepped up to the plate to impress Captain Sandy and she did a great job of doing that. What I don't like about Malia is she doesn't care about people all she cares about is impressing Captain Sandy and following the yachting rules. Hannah didn't want to move into the bunk with Bugsy. Malia stressed the yachting rules about boyfriend/girlfriend is working on the boat they get a bunk together. There were only 2 charters and they will be done.  This pissed Malia off. The next minute she goes to Captain Sandy about Hannah having drugs on board. She took a picture of it. Captain Sandy had to pull Hannah in and question her about it. She had valium and a CBD pen for her anxiety. Hannah told her this is a prescription from her doctor.  Captain Sandy wanted to collect them to see if there is a doctor on them. Captain Sandy panic thining she might dump it down the toilet. Captain Sandy walked in on her when she was going to the bathroom. This made her really mad. Hannah was done. She went to the deck and was on the phone. Captain Sandy tries to talk to her.  She was basically firing her again. Captain told her she is a risk. Hannah told her she has anxiety.  It was stressed her brain needs to be clean and away just in case something or someone gets hurt. Hannah stressed she didn't take any and then she walked away. 

Their conversation went something like:

Captain Sandy: You don't think I like you?

Hannah: no

Captain: Then I would have fired you on season 1, 2 and 3. I care about you.

Hannah: I just want my bags.

Captain: Fine whatever we are done.

This makes me mad because Captain Sandy put a negative message about anxiety.  She made it seem like a person who has severe anxiety are bad people and can't do their jobs.  Why isn't she yelling at the rest of the crew for getting drunk? Most of the time the crew gets drunk and in the late morning have the charter guests arrive. It was not fair treatment. Just saying.  

I would love to work with Bugsy. She compliments her other stews and is really organized. She also makes a killer table arrangement. Bugsy looks like she loves her job whereas Hannah was following the motion of the job. Aesha Scott brought energy and excitement back into the boat.  

This makes me so sad because Hannah and Kate are my favorite Cheif Stews and they both have retired from yachting.  I would love to see Kate working for Captain Sandy for one season. Hannah won't be back because she had a baby. 

The show has lots of drama, drunk guests, romance, arguments, and more. It is a fun show to watch. It like a drunk soap opera. 


Captain Sandy: (Captain) A Fort Lauderdale native with over three decades of yachting experience under her belt, Captain Sandy is one of the most respected captains in the industry. Sandy knew she wanted her career to revolve around the ocean from a very young age and was not discouraged when she discovered yachting to be a male-dominated field. Knowing the difficulties that come with leading an entire team while providing 5-star service, she makes it her mission to know everything and every department on the boat. As the crew travels around the island of Mallorca this season, Sandy attempts to keep the mood light, often joking with the crew. Still, she is not afraid to crack down on insubordination and be the tough boss she needs to be, in order to provide guests with the best charter experience.

Hannah Ferrier: ( Cheif Stewardess) A Sydney, Australia native, Hannah returns this season as Chief Stewardess keeping her focus on interior decor. Having developed a thick skin growing up, she uses this to her advantage when tackling the needs of demanding guests on board. Goal-oriented and determined, Hannah’s work ethic and charm are unparalleled. After a sporadic European excursion inspired her to sell all her possessions to pursue yachting, she quickly rose up the ranks to Chief Stew. With almost a decade of experience, she firmly manages her stews while still being the life of the party. As much as she tries to avoid it, however, drama always seems to follow her. With a surplus of big personalities this season, only time will tell if Hannah can endure the scrutiny.

Malia White: (Bosun) A Below Deck Mediterranean veteran, Malia is challenged with more responsibilities when she returns this season as Bosun. Known for being involved in a heartbreaking love triangle in the past, her triumphant return is marked with more experience as she continues to climb the ranks. Malia is more ready than ever to jump in and assert herself in her new leadership role. Comfortable in warm waters, she is blunt, outspoken, and quick to speak her mind. Growing up with five older brothers set the tone for her adventure-seeking, active lifestyle. A certified divemaster, Malia has backpacked the world, even teaching scuba and water sport lessons throughout the Bahamas and Hawaii. Never shy about making her mark in a male-dominated field, Malia rose through ranks on superyachts since her last time working with Captain Sandy, and now has her Captain’s License.

Hindrigo "Kiko" Lorran: (Chef) Brazilian-bred Kiko is spicing things up in the galley this season. Always one to thrive on variety and spontaneity in his life, he finds that his current role best combines his passions for yachting and cooking. Kiko, who considers himself a "rustic chef," has worked across the globe, from Barcelona to Cape Town to the Amazon River. With over 10 years of experience traveling the world, he has mastered the art of international cuisine. Being fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and English has helped him become a renowned chef and yachtie. Manning decks out at sea and catching waves on his surfboard inspired him to publish The Surfer's Cookbook in 2016. Seasoned in his craft, he enjoys creating a wide-range of beautiful yet flavorful dishes, from sushi and ceviche to hearty international fares. 

Lara Flumiani: (Stewardess) Having entered the yachting industry by accident but quickly falling in love, Italian native Lara has been steadily climbing the ranks for 10 years. After jumping around as a stew for some time, she finally got her chance to thrive as Chief Stew on a small yacht. Lara never thought she would be a world traveler, but has managed to sail her way through Mallorca, Corsica, and Phuket. This season, Lara’s laid-back nature and eye for detail give her an edge as a stewardess. She does not hold back when confronting drama head-on and can be considered quite the hothead. She is not afraid to lose her cool if a fellow crew member fails to meet expectations. With endless love for culture, Lara takes full advantage of her changing scenery, hopping off-board to party and go sightseeing any chance she gets.

Jessica More: (Stewardess)A child of divorced parents who grew up in Florida and Southern California, Jessica spent her youth surfing at the beach where her love of the ocean was born. Before selling her belongings to work her first charter, she worked a multitude of jobs: slinging drinks at a Las Vegas strip club, working in the music industry in Los Angeles, and even dabbling into real estate. Despite her varied resume, she excelled at every job she tried. When the "real world" seemed too daunting, Jessica turned to yachting. She owes her ability to remain calm to her first stewardess job with a skeleton crew of three. Jessica is known for her laid-back demeanor and can handle a great deal of drama – until she feels disrespected. She approaches each charter with an open mind, but has no problem dealing with confrontation if necessary. Jessica hopes to find romance on board this season.

Pete Hunziker:  (Deckhand) was the quintessential all-American boy growing up. The youngest of three brothers in his middle-class household, Pete always fought to stand up for himself and stand out, which led to his passion for bodybuilding, football, and wrestling. While working at Domino’s as a sophomore in high school, he was introduced to a retired U.S. Navy Seal who taught him everything there was to learn about boating and life. His life took a quick turn at 19, when he fathered a child with a woman he barely knew. When his son was two-weeks-old, Pete became ill and fell into a six-week coma. As soon as he was cleared, he returned to work to support his new baby. Eight years later – when he is not working or taking care of his son – he is known as "Party Pete" and anyone can assume he is either on the beach or at pool party as he resides in the Miami heat. "Party Pete" turns to dance to burn off the stress of back-to-back charters. This licensed U.S Coast Guard is ready to bring the energy on deck this season.

Alex Radcliffe : (Deckhand) Born and raised in Massachusetts, Alex was raised by his single mother in a blue-collar community. His upbringing taught him a strong work ethic. He found his way into the yachting world through a friend who worked in the industry and instantly fell in love with the adventurous lifestyle and gorgeous destinations yachting had to offer. Although he initially employed a "fake it 'til you make it" mentality, Alex is a quick learner and worked his way up the ladder. He works each charter with pride, and has his sights set on eventually becoming a captain. Working as a deckhand this season, Alex brings his confidence – and a dash of New England humor – to any situation. Admittedly stubborn and a shameless flirt, this life of the party works as hard as he plays.

Robert Westergaard: (Deckhand) A native of South Africa, Robert is eager to learn the ropes with the deck crew. After losing his father at a young age and being separated from his mother, Robert found it difficult to steer clear of trouble with little guidance. He eventually launched a career as a professional model to pay off his mother’s debt and support his sister. For nine years, he traveled the world working with prestigious fashion houses. When his mother passed, Robert turned to the sea for healing. A thrill-seeker with a passion for travel and mechanics, he soon found his way to yachting. With a few charters behind him, this heart-throb has respect for workplace hierarchy and attributes most problems on board to a lack of communication. He is known for being dependable, honest, and trustworthy. Robert is excited to try his hand with the team in Spain and hopes to find adventure this season.

Christine 'Bugsy' Drake: (Stewardess to Cheif Stewardess) Born in South Africa, Bugsy has six years of yachting experience under her belt. She earned the title of Chief Stewardess during her travels throughout the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and the Atlantic. This season, she joins the crew in the Second Stew position with fewer responsibilities to juggle. Back on board, Bugsy is looking for redemption while also hoping to find both fun and romance. Best known for her bubbly personality and passion for planning theme parties, Bugsy has no issue speaking her mind when things go awry.

Tom Checketts: (Chef)Born and raised in the UK, Tom knew from an early age he wanted to pursue a career in culinary arts. With both parents as chefs and a family of food lovers, he naturally gravitated towards cooking. During his studies, he decided to train as a pastry chef and spent several years working in the UK’s finest restaurants, including Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea. With a desire to see the world, he packed his bags and traveled across Europe working in the French Alps, Switzerland, Austria and Portugal. As his love for food and adventure only continued to grow, he joined the yachting industry and has not looked back since. With 9 years of experience working on yachts as a head chef, Tom joins the galley this season bringing his British charm, confidence and passion for food. Although he can struggle with authority at times, his beautiful and creative dishes speak for themselves. When he is not on charter, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend Malia White and racing in Ironman triathlons.

Aesha Scott: (Stewardess) Growing up with a big family in a small town in New Zealand, Aesha was raised to be loud and gregarious with a bawdy sense of humor. Though yachting was never on her radar, she was drawn to an adventurous lifestyle. Once she jumped into the industry, she was hooked and has not looked back since. With five years of yachting experience, Aesha returns this season as Second Stew. She originally began working as a deckhand before moving over to the interior. Though she loves both roles, she prefers working with guests and prides herself on always doing an impeccable job. Whether she is partying with her friends and fellow crew, diving, exploring various destinations, or flirting with the nearest deckhand, Aesha’s end goal is always the same: to have a good time.

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Year the Stars Fall by Elizabeth Wehman Book Review and Giveaway


In the spring of 1833, newlywed Betsey Baker-Swain’s simple life changes when she and her husband, Aaron, make a hasty decision to join Betsey’s family on a move from Pennsylvania to Michigan Territory.

Along the way, rainstorms, freezing temperatures, seasickness, and lack of privacy pale in comparison to what the family will encounter once arriving at their destination. Soon, daily trials will include ear-piercing howls of wild wolves, bad weather, clouds of mosquitoes, and disturbing situations with the natives. Even then, Betsey wonders if this trip will finally quench her father’s adventurous spirit.

Over the next year, the Baker family will gain incredible strength, divine trust, and unexplainable courage, but will it be enough to keep them at the tiny cabin by the twisting Shiawassee River? Will uncertainty overtake their determination or will God’s intervention sustain them enough to become a part of the history of a new land?

Book:  The Year the Stars Fell

Author: Elizabeth Wehman

Genre:  Christian Historical Fiction

Release Date: April 14, 2020


I was so excited to be given the opportunity to read Elizabeth Wehman's new book "The Year the Stars Fall", book one in the Newburg Chronicles series. 

Wehman takes us back to 1833. The story is based on real-life events. Betsy Baker Swain and her husband, Aaron make a fast decision to go with her family from Pennsylvania to Michigan territory for cheap and to make a good living. As you know the pioneering days brought had many conflicts. As you know there weren't a limited amount of trains, no cars, planes to anywhere they wanted. They dealt with rough terrain, cold temperatures, wild animals mosquitos and so much more. If they need help with anything they are screwed because they don't have neighbors nearby. They also had to worry about Native Americans, the Chipwea 

The book also brings up the conflict caused by the Cass Land Agreement and the government's offer of cheap land in what's now Michigan.

The family also had to worry about communication with the Chippewa Natives Americans.  Wehman reveals details about the family contribution to the settling of New Newburg and events in 1833. I learned about the Leonid Meteor shower that looked as if the sky was falling and is visible across much of the USA in November 1833. Wehman did her research and it showed. I felt like I was reading a biography book about Betsy Baker-Swain and Aaron's life journey. It is an inspiring book full of dreams, hopes, and faith. The story is centered on trusting God. It isn't a preachy story. I can't wait to read more from this series. 

"Celebratelit sent me this book for my honest opinion." 


Elizabeth Wehman’s writing career spans over thirty years and encompasses curriculum, periodical, journalism, and novel writing.

Her dream has always been to write novels and Elizabeth launched her first contemporary fiction, Under the Windowsill, in 2014. Since then, she’s added four titles to her shelf. They include: Promise at Daybreak, Just a Train Ride, Mere Reflection, and her latest complete historical work, The Year the Stars Fell.

She found the historical genre to be filled with rabbit trail research as well as walks through bygone cemeteries. The pioneers, of the early nineteenth century, reflected an amazing stamina and a determined courage to venture into the unknown. The Year the Stars Fell is based on a forgotten village established in the Territory of Michigan in 1833. She fell in love with the Baker family and the information she discovered about them gave way to folklore and tales of the early homesteaders. Two future novels are planned that will include the continuation of the nineteenth-century farming community. The series will be called, ‘The Newburg Chronicles’.

In her spare time, Elizabeth loves to read and enjoys being out in nature. Her favorite places are digging in her flower garden, listening to the birds as they herald a new day, or taking a walk on the country roads surrounding her home in Michigan.

Elizabeth has been a trucker’s wife for over thirty years which helps supply the needed solitude to produce extraordinary stories. She has three grown children, four grandpuppies, and two sons-in-law.

Her Website: Click Here

More from Elizabeth

My “Stars” book began to emerge after doing research about the county where I live, here in Michigan. On an information discovery about another book, I came across the story of the Baker family. They were highlighted as the one of the first farming families to enter Michigan Territory in 1833. Hosea Baker brought his entire family from Pennsylvania to settle on 600 acres in an area beside the Shiawassee River.
Joining him there were his wife, Sally, his grown son Ambrose, his daughter and her husband, Betsey and Aaron Swain, and some younger daughters. While there, they hooked up with a boy named Alexander Stevens. Their first year included: building a home and barn, clearing and planting the first crops in the county, setting up a household, and Betsey giving birth to the first recorded child in the county. Betsey and Aaron named their new baby, Julia.
So much intrigued me about their story. I was excited to flesh it out with the help of short excerpts written in a Shiawassee County history book from 1888. From these short tidbits about the family, I soon embellished a story which is a mere glimpse into what their story could have included during their first year as settlers in a vast wilderness.
Much of the story is from my own imagination, but many of the highlights include the excerpts written about the family in 1888. After writing their story, I now feel a specific kinship to them.  This is my first complete historical fiction work. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.


To celebrate her tour, Elizabeth is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of The Year the Stars Fell and a $25 gift card to Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, which can be used online!!


Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the links below to enter.


Monday, August 31, 2020

A Dazzle of Diamonds by Liz Johnson


Best friends Penelope and Tucker have faced their share of challenges. But finding a lost treasure in time to clear his family's name and win him an election may uncover something they never expected.

Quote from the book: “Because this wasn't about the plans she made but the ones God had in store for her. Knowing she could trust him with her future was better than any list she could make, any task she could check off.”


Liz Johnson blew it out of the park with her book "A Dazzle of Diamonds".  This is book 3 of the Georgia Coast Romance series. I have not read the first two books and was able to follow along really well. The first two books of this series are on my list to read since I really enjoyed book 3 in the series.  

Johnson takes us into Caroline's diary from the Civil War days and cleverly put present-day throughout the book with Penelope and Tucker's life. Caroline's diary helps give Penelope and Tucker clues to help prove his family wasn't a traitor.  Penelope and Tucker have been friends for twenty years. 

 Johnson is amazing at making the characters seem real like it actually happened. One of my favorite characters in "A Dazzle of Diamonds" is Tucker's quirky, Aunt Shirley who brought strong will, southern sass, and charm. She was the wisdom. We see Tucker's struggles and overcoming his struggles of not being good enough. I was really hoping Tucker and Penelope would end up in a relationship not just being friends because they would be perfect for each other.  Hint hint Liz Johnson.  LOL. Tucker is so protective of Penelope. Maybe next book. 

Her location descriptions and the history she put into the book was spot on. The flow of the book at times was slower then I would have liked it, but it didn't make me dislike the book.   Johnson put enough inspiration in it but didn't overdo it. It wasn't preachy. It was so cool how she weaved the Civil War and today together. 

I highly recommend reading "A Dazzle of Diamonds" book 3. I am looking forward to her next book. 

"Received book from @Revell books for the free copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own."


By day Liz Johnson is a marketing manager. She makes time to write late at night—that’s when she thinks best anyway. Liz is the author of more than a dozen novels, a New York Times bestselling novella, and a handful of short stories. She’s a Christy Award finalist and a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist. She makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona, where she enjoys exploring local music, theater, and doting on her nieces and nephews. She writes stories of true love filled with heart, humor, and happily ever afters.

Check out her website at: Click Here


Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham Book Review


Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory, where she became Miss Aggie, a respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid. But the past has a way of catching up with people. 

When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie's pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves- but he is the one person who can never know. 

In the shadows of the Black Hills, can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can't seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness? 


I was so excited to get a copy of "A Life Once Dreamed" as you know I love historical fiction series. This book takes us back to the 1880s frontier land  "A Life Once Dreamed" is a historical romance about Agnes who has a secret and is trying to run away from her past. She left Boston in hopes of making a new life for herself as a school teacher in the Dakota Territory.   Her life changes when James Harris, a doctor, shows up where she lives to help out with the scarlet fever epidemic outbreak in the town. He brings up all their past and Aggie's hurt. She refuses to share the secret of why she left him all those years ago. Agnes encounters life and death situations. Aggie and James need to decide if what they share is enough to overlook all the obstacles that stand between them. She turns to God to help her get through these things. She'd do what she could to help God's purposes.  Keep in mind, during the 1880s times were rough in the west. I was surprised when I found out what her secret was. 

Rachel Fordham is one of my favorite authors. Her books have an amazing flow to it. I always feel like her stories come from a real life.  Her stories are simple with real problems and real characters. Her writing allows you to escape your life for a little while and step into someone else's life journey.  She writes her characters with flaws and imperfection. This is why its so relatable because we all have flaws and issues. No one is perfect unless you are GOD. 

Agnes is selfless, inspiring, and passionate, but at times petty. .James is a little on the arrogant side. He has the most growth and learns a great deal throughout the book.  Sam on the other hand is selfless even despite the hurt he went through. He could have been bitter but he didn't. 

 I couldn't put down "A Life Once Dreamed".  I read it in one whole sitting it was so good. Didn't get much sleep but I loved being into the story and didn't want to leave it.  Fordham does an amazing job describing locations and the characters. 

This book has a beautiful message. It has a message of hope, belonging, acceptance, and finding your true family. God has a wonderful plan for our purpose all we have to do is trust in him and amazing things will happen. It isn't too preachy. I could really see this made into a beautiful film for Hallmark Channel and/or UP channel. I highly recommend this book! It is released on August 4th, 2020. 

*I would like to thank Revell for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Rachel Fordham is the author of "The Hope of Azure Springs". She started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She'd pull a book from the shelf, they'd insist she make one up. Finally, she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing and hasn't stopped since. She lives wiht her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington. 

Check out her website at CLICK HERE

Instagram: @rachel_fordham



Both of your previous novels, The Hope of Azure Springs and Yours Truly, Thomas, take place in the fictional town of Azure Springs, Iowa. Why did you choose the Dakota territories as the setting for your latest book?

I’ll always be fond of Azure Springs, Iowa, and would love to set a million books there. For A Life Once Dreamed, I needed a setting that was a sharp contrast to Buffalo, New York, where the book begins. I wanted a place that would still be rugged and, in many ways, isolated for my heroine to start her new life in.

Penance became that town. It’s full of heart and endearing characters, but it’s also a land that challenges the main characters and causes them to learn a new way to live and to look at life. I hope everyone will love this rustic town like I do. 

What type of research was required for your book?

There were many small things that required research -- the climate, vegetation, and the industry of the Dakotas. She read up on the rules of etiquette in small rural towns and the life of a teacher. But the issue required the most digging was illegitimacy and adoption laws of that era. 

One of your main characters faces stigma for being an illegitimate child. In the story, you explore how illegitimate children were treated during this time period. Can you expand on this?

The idea for this novel came after watching the movie Blossoms in the Dust. It tells the story of Edna Gladney, who was a pioneer in the fight against the illegitimate stigma. I watched this and couldn’t stop thinking about how sad it was that people’s lives were torn apart by something they couldn’t change.

After doing research, I discovered that in the time period of my story it was still somewhat possible to keep illegitimacy a secret because birth certificates and official birth records were just starting. Often babies were quietly claimed by someone else, but if their status was known they were often mocked, labeled, and legally discriminated against. In my main character’s case, her status would have been revealed because of who she was marrying and who knew about her birth. Rather than face the community backlash and public shame, she flees, sparing herself and James.

In the years following when my story takes place, the government required the status of illegitimate children to be listed on birth records, and it wasn’t long before those children were harder to adopt out and labeled as inferior. It became much harder to hide, and the stigma grew even worse until people like Edna Gladney fought to spare these kids.

In today’s world, it seems foreign to most that illegitimacy was viewed with such scorn. Yet many of us, if we dig in our family tree, will find that we have been touched by this in some way. Bringing a light to this once popular form of discrimination was not only a thrilling writing experience but one I think is important.

Do you have a favorite character from this story?

I’m fond of this whole cast. If I had to pick a favorite, I think I’d say Tommy, one of Agnes’s school children, because he’s the perfect comic relief and you never know what will come out of his mouth.

A Life Once Dreamed offers readers a wonderful romantic tale that includes elements of hope and healing. What do you hope readers take away from this story?

Like always, I hope readers end the book with a happy sign and all the good feelings that rush over you when you’ve been swept away in an engaging tale. Then I hope they pause and think about what they read and realize they were more than merely entertained. I’d love to know that readers left this story more aware of those around them. Illegitimacy may have lost its stigma, but there are still so many times when we are quick to judge someone based on factors out of their control. In addition, I hope readers will think about how sometimes the roads we travel in this life take us far away from what we were seeking but somehow take us to exactly where we are meant to be.

Are you surprised by how your stories take shape, or is the finished product what you envisioned from the start?

I’m always surprised! I typically begin a rough draft knowing where I want to start and where I think I want to get to, but the way I get their always surprises me. The good thing about this is that I tend to write my rough drafts quickly because I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

What are you working on next?

My 2021 book already has me giddy with excitement. This new book takes readers on a journey with a main character who has a colorful past (years spent in a women’s reformatory), works in a brand-new career field (dental assistant), and can’t help but think if she can clear her name she might have a shot at a real future. 

“Fordham’s writing exemplifies emotional intimacy, renews fascinating historical settings, and exudes uplifting Christian wisdom.”

Booklist on Yours Truly, Thomas 

Friday, August 7, 2020

These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker Book Review


Before Dan opened his door to find a wounded woman who had escaped from the tormentors in the mountain, his life had become rather quiet. He and the eight other people in the mostly abandoned town had become friends. They spent peaceful evenings around the campfire and even made vague plans to journey east one day and leave the ominous mountain behind.

But the woman’s arrival changes everything.
Who is she? How does she know so much about Dan’s brother, who is still held captive in the mountain? Why are long-forgotten memories rising to the surface? And why does Dan feel so compelled to keep her presence in his house a secret?

Visionary writer Shawn Smucker is back with an unsettling story that invites us to consider two challenging questions: To what lengths will we go to assuage our own guilt? and Is there a limit to the things we will do for the people we love?


This is the second book I read by Shawn Smucker. My first book was "Once We Were Stranger" which I recommend. "These Nameless Things" got me to thinking about life in many ways.  This book reminds me of a little bit of Handmaid Tales. Throughout the book, we are taken into Dan's journey until a woman shows up causing the characters to remember things and how everyone is connected in some way.  It shows how every decision we make can impact or destroy other people's lives. The book mainly focuses on Dan and his brother, Miho, and Abe. Abe seems to be the leader in the end. 

It is a book of darkness, but also a book of hope and forgiveness. The path we take is our choice. I couldn't help but think about the decisions I have chosen in my life and how I can make better choices in the future. We all sin and we all have guilt, but we also all have a kind heart. Shawn Smucker wrote layers and layers into her book. Themes in "These Nameless Things" are family, forgiveness, temptation, consequences, guilt.  It also is about caring for one during hard times. 

The pace of the writing was slower but in a good way. This helps you think about their journey more. The characters and situations in the story are relatable. I look forward to reading more books by Shawn Smucker. 

I received this copy from Fleming H. Revell Company in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


I think everyone’s looking for a place in the world – not a physical location as much as an emotional one. Just a tiny bit of space to set up shop, to exist.

Life hinted at where that space would be for me when I was a small boy and books picked me up and carried me away. If you came looking for me in the mid-80s you would have found me sitting on a large porch attached to a ramshackle farmhouse, reading about Narnia or the Shire, brushing away the flies, constantly saying, “Okay, mom, just one more chapter.”

But then, normal life, with all of its misleading promises and plastic desires, got in the way. I wandered. Geographically, I went to a hot city in Florida, an old village in England, and then back to Virginia. Emotionally, I traveled even further. Finally, after ten years of searching, I found stories again. Or maybe they found me.

Now I live in that place I was always trying to find. I wake up beside my beautiful wife, Maile. I make breakfast for my six children. I spend the rest of the day capturing stories, doing what Steinbeck called the impossible: trying to explain the inexplicable. Trying to transplant stories from my mind to yours.

Thanks for visiting my tiny bit of space.

Shawn Smucker's Website: CLICK HERE

Monday, July 27, 2020

Sophia Violet and the Fiery Orb by Evangeline Greene Book Review

Just when fourteen-year-old Sophia Violet thinks her life can't get any weirder, her entire world turns upside down. In a few short weeks, she goes from being an awkward teenager to holding the fate of two worlds in her hands. Naturally, she resists. She has her own problems to solve. Like what's up with her best friend, Luna, who's been shapeshifting in and out of her life for as long as she can remember? Yet no one else, including her adoptive parents, has ever met her. At least not in her human form.  
And what about the wolves that haunt Sophia’s fire escape each night? Or the cat that appears out of nowhere just in time to save her from an oncoming car? What do they want? Could they have anything to do with that creepy old woman, Esmeray, who has been lurking around Sophia’s New York City apartment lately?  
Things come to a head when Sophia draws the attention of the principal. He invites her to a special summer camp for students from Chiralis, a mysterious world on the brink of extinction. Through a series of dangerous adventures, Sophia becomes entangled in Esmeray’s plan to steal a powerful Orb. It has the potential to destroy Earth and Chiralis. At the same time, Sophia makes shocking discoveries about her hidden powers and begins to accept herself in ways that will change her life forever.
"Sophia Violet and the Fiery Orb" by Evangeline Greene is an adventure sci-fi story. It reminds me of a mix of "Hungar Games" and "Twilight". We are taken into Sophia, a 14-year old, with many different powers including shapeshifter, space travel. She is spending time at a camp for training. She meets many different people and learns about their powers and background causing Sophia to lose trust in everyone. Sophia takes on the quest to save the orb. She learns how to travel to different places. During her camp time, we learn about the Chiralians. They don't eat, drink and have access not only to Earth but other rudimentary planets. Esmeray's son Cru wants her son to become the Master Orb. There are so many twists and turns. I don't want to say too much because I want you to learn the details while reading "Sophia Violet and the Fiery Orb." Evangelin Greene did a great job of making the characters relatable. She painted locations really well. I was able to see the locations in my mind. There were times I didn't understand the rules and the different type of people. The book never really went into depth about why the Orb is so important. I got the gif of it, but I wish there was more information. I also wanted more backstory on Sophia's family. I had fun reading this book. I am so glad I was given the opportunity to read her work. If you are looking for a fun sci-fi, adventure, superpower, crime investigations then "Sophia Violet and the Fiery Orb" needs to be on your bookshelf. I hope she makes this a series. I look forward to reading more of Evangeline Greene's books.
I was given this book to do an honest book review. This is my opinion on this book
I spent a lot of time at the library as a child. A lot. Many of my happiest memories feature me sitting curled up in a corner reading authors such as Judy Blume, James Herriot, John Irving, and Stephen King. An eclectic mix for sure, but each one whisked me away on an exciting journey that made me thirst for more. I started writing almost as soon as I could read. But always on the side. Life kept me busy. Writing was not a valued endeavor in my childhood home. Still, I always managed to steal away to scribble a few lines. Quietly. Secretly. I tried to banish the urge many times, but it always came back, in the shower, at the dentist, or at 3 am in the morning.
Now I have the time and space to indulge my imagination. I’m ready and eager. I loved writing this novel. Like the wolves that haunted her balcony, Sophia Violet was one of the late-night visitors in my head for many years. Her determination inspired my own and she now lives on the pages of this book. I look forward to seeing what she does next. I hope you do too...
Evangeline Greene

Amazon Review:

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