Sunday, 27 November 2022

S SR Perspective

SR Perspective: Shenandoah Nights

Shenandoah Nights

(Book 1 in Winds of Change Series)


Now that I have read book one and book three in the Winds of Change Series, I admit that I have become a slight fan of time travel.  I realize to write in this genre, one needs to have a very creative imagination, know their historical facts, and be highly knowledgeable of the subject.  That is exactly how I see the difficult and hard work that Lisa Belcastro invested in authoring this series.


Many around Martha’s Vineyard still wonder about the disappearance of Melissa Smith five years earlier from the Shenandoah while on its annual adventure for the fifth grade students from area schools.  This year, Rebecca O’Neill, a sixth grade teacher, feels she was coerced by the school principal, but reluctantly agrees to replace an ill chaperone.  Little did she know what lay ahead!


Rebecca was assigned Cabin Eight.  She heard the rumors about Cabin Eight being the cabin Melissa Smith had occupied.  She became curious about Melissa’s disappearance and googled for information.  She found numerous articles, even one written by Pete Nichols, who had been a crew member on the Shenandoah at the time, and had written a sci-fi version stating Melissa had mentioned hearing voices and asked if anyone ever mentioned having visions of sailors in Colonial Boston;  talked about strange dreams and being excited and agitated.  Reading this sent a cold chill down Rebecca’s back.


As she boarded the Shenandoah, her dad and his love for this schooner came to mind.   He told her stories about the history of the ship.   He was a friend of Captain Roberts, the owner of the Shenandoah and had told him many times he had the best ship in the harbor.  She wished she could tell her dad about being a chaperone – but dad was gone now.


Rebecca first meets Hawk, the handsome first mate on the vessel.  When the story first began, I thought perhaps there would be romance on the schooner between Rebecca and Hawk.   She had barely settled in cabin eight that Sunday afternoon before she heard footsteps and hushed voices that talked of readying the cannons.  Becca, her nickname, was disconcerted and chided herself for reading Pete Nichols’s story.  At the end of the day she nervously sought after Hawk, but was told he was asleep in his doghouse.  She dropped a question about Melissa among the crew members and received silence.  That’s when she met Mike Natale, the son of Melissa’s best friend who told her Melissa did not drown. 


The plot thickens considerably and the real story begins.  That night Becca went to sleep and woke up hearing voices talking about the HMS Lively.  She heard the name Jonah and Ben and talk of war.  She was aware she was not in cabin eight.  Rebecca attempted to see around a stack of crates and knocked them over hearing a loud boom and clanging.  She noticed a door behind her and dashed for it screaming Hawk’s name….. 


Prepare yourselves, fellow readers, for traveling back in time, lots of fun, meeting George Washington, but most importantly how Becca discovers the portal to time travel.   Will she stay in the 1770’s with Benjamin Reed who she loves above anyone?  Will she meet Melissa?  Will she be tried as a traitor in the 1770’s?  You must read Shenandoah Nights to find out answers to all these questions.  Personally, I puzzled constantly about how Christianity and time travel could ever be partners.  It probably is not possible, but what if?  Fascinating to ponder.  Terrific job,  Lisa Belcastro! Now onto book two.


Purchase today at Amazon.

Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha s Vineyard. She was inspired to write Shenandoah Nights, the first in the Winds of Change trilogy, while chaperoning her first of two school summer trips with her daughter, Kayla. The weeklong adventure, sans electricity, Game Boys, iPods, and modern conveniences, kindled her imagination to dream of an altogether different voyage. Lisa pens the cuisine column for Vineyard Style magazine. She has worked as a staff and freelance reporter and photographer for The Chronicle of the Horse and as assistant editor at The Blue Ridge Leader. She has written articles for USA Today, Dressage (London), USA WEEKEND Magazine, The Blue Ridge Leader, and Sidelines.






Just Sayin....
Barbara Shelton


“WOW, I thought as admired the covers of all three books in this series – they are lovely.”  That was before I read the book description on the back cover and noticed it said Melissa traveled back in time.  This reviewer is not a fan of time travel novels, but I love history. 

Being a land-lubber all of my life, I was not familiar with boats of any kind.   My family did sail on the SS United States when we returned from Germany ending my husband’s military assignment in Germany in 1962 – but all the terminology about sailing was foreign to me – especially on a schooner as large as the Shenandoah.  Like Spike, Melissa’s cat – I was unsure about what to expect on Melissa’s trip on the Shenandoah, but instead of complaining, began reading anyway despite my views of time travel.

During the first few chapters I was getting acquainted with Melissa Smith, who was enjoying being single after divorcing her abusive husband.  She had no intention of becoming romantically involved again – if ever!  She was well liked by the Holmes Hole students she taught and excited about spending her fifth summer as chaperone on the annual Shenandoah trip for the graduating fifth graders from each of the five island elementary schools.  Being a camera buff, she took many pictures of each trip and used them for making note cards as well as scrapbooks for each class.

On her way to board the Shenandoah Melissa contentedly thought about this two-hundred year old wonder that had been reconstructed and remodeled before Melissa was born.  It had been purchased by Captain Roberts in 1958 and now was a sleek tall ship with a black hull and long masts.  This year Melissa was staying in Cabin Eight, the only cabin which was left in its original state.

The first night Melissa had a vivid dream about a person named Adam replying “Ye must be relieved the Townshend Act has been repealed.”  Followed by a reply, “Aye, Adam, we must all be grateful, though the cost was dear.  Five men, five families.  I fear the violence has only yet begun.”  She had the sensation of falling….falling into a black hole.  I think that is as far as I will take you because now it really becomes interesting.   I will tell you that Melissa endures these dreams for two nights and wakes up in 1770 aboard the original Shenandoah and the story becomes intensely attention-grabbing.

Okay, okay….now I am a fan of time travel!  Not wanting to give any spoilers, I won’t tell you about Melissa’s life in the 1770’s – you won’t be freaked out…but you will enjoy a history lesson well researched by Ms. Lisa Belcastro and cleverly turned into twists and turns that I totally believed.  Faith in God was as real in 1770 as it is today.  Melissa said her prayers often before 1770, but besieged God with frequent prayers after falling through the black hole.  I will confess her prayers became confusing then….she was not sure for what to pray!  The ending was unexpected.  Lisa Belcastro did an exceptional job with this third novel and now if you will excuse me – I must read the first book in this series, Shenandoah Nights.  I’ll be back in November to report on that novel.  In the meantime, keep reading and thank God for writers like Lisa Belcastro.

Columnist: Barb Shelton





Now widowed, Barb was married 40 years to Jack Shelton, a retired military officer, as well as a retired executive director of Love Field in Dallas, Texas.  Barb and Jack shared eight children between them, (His, Mine, Ours): 19 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.  Barb was born and raised in Enterprise, Kansas. She is musically inclined and is a retired church music director. A former Weight Watcher lecturer, she has had many interesting and unusual jobs, including working for a private detective, defense attorney, office manager for a video production company and administrative assistant to two different pastors. She is involved in volunteer and church activities, and describes herself as creative, friendly and can talk with anyone. "I am a Christian and love to spread God's love and enjoy making others smile and lift up their day." 

Barb is a Certified Lay Speaker and Lay Leader of her congregation at the United Methodist Church of the Covenant in Arlington, TX, where she sings with the same choir she directed over 30 years ago!  She wishes to write a book one day. "I've been through several soap operas in my lifetime and lived to tell about them."

Barb is the writer of two blogs, Passing it Forward and Blessed by Grace, both of which she invites you to drop by to visit one day.



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