Acquired Book By: I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists.
I received a complimentary ARC copy of “Daughters from Distant Shores” direct from the publisher Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review. A print copy of “Sons of Blackbird Mountain” was available via my local library by which I borrowed in order to understand the fuller back-story attached to this series. My ruminations on behalf of the first novel are being shared for my own edification and to help introduce my readers to the series overall whilst sharing my own journey in its discovery. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
How my love of INSPY reads inspired my choice to participate on this blog tour:
When I first started blogging, I was going to set out to read new authors of INSPY Lit I hadn’t had the pleasure of reading previously. It was through my visitations with Casey Herringshaw’s blog which inspired the list I had developed of seeking out new and established INSPY authors who were drawing the eye of book bloggers like Ms Herringshaw and readers alike. It was through reading her blog rather extensively I found the list which was then developed in the final #70AuthorsChallenge.
Joanne Bischof happens to be the 18th author out of my original #70AuthorsChallenge List.
Curiously, like most book bloggers our good intentions when we first start joining the exciting world of the book blogosphere and the bookish side of Twitter, our personal reading goals can sometime be cast aside. This is why I haven’t made an extensive dent in my readerly goals for my INSPY Reads and why I am intending to make more head-way on them this year as I feel it will be a healthier year for me all the way round. The past few years especially were marred a bit with personal health afflictions but this year, as I move into March, I feel more hopeful I might have sorted out a way to ease the frequencies of my chronic migraines and by doing so, perhaps for the first time since I started my blog I’ll have a greater freedom in being able to read whenever the mood strikes rather than having to wait out the after effects of a migraine.
My love of reading INSPY Lit extends back to childhood – as I’ve been a hybrid reader of both mainstream and INSPY Lit since the origins of when I first became a reader. Finding several blog tours this year focusing on these authors and their stories was a treat of bookish joy as I dearly want to expand my knowledge of the stories being published from both Major Trade and Indie Publishers within the INSPY realms of interest I enjoy reading. This particular blog tour felt like a step in the right direction.
A Tale of Family, Brotherhood, and the Healing Power of Love
After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of Nineteenth-Century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.
But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.
As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?
A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.
Places to find the book:
Published by Thomas Nelson
on 3rd July, 2018
Format: Trade Paperback
My path originally crossed with Joanne Bischof before I became a book blogger as I was an avid reader of blogs – both individuals like myself and author blogs or group author blogs – somewhere in those travels, whilst finding new and inspiring authors of INSPY Fiction I wanted to be reading I came across Ms Bischof. I had her badge in my sidebar for a long time until during one of the updates to the theme I hadn’t realised it hadn’t staid where I had placed it. I’ve changed that now – as I love to support the authors I want to be reading inasmuch as the authors I am reading.
There is a lot of life being lived between those early promising months as a 1st Year Book Blogger and now – to where, I truly have only just embarked on gaining a footing towards my reading goals for my *70 Authors Challenge* wherein I want to be reading more INSPY Fiction per month and year. I used to have a bit more equality in my reading life – where I would read approx. 50/50 spilt between mainstream and INSPY narratives though as a book blogger, I realise those ratios have decreased a bit on the INSPY side.
I love this side of literature because I love the soul lift I receive in reading the stories – the novelists who write INSPY Historical Fiction give me a wicked good sense of the historical past as much as any mainstream author but with one added benefit – the stories are writ clean and I don’t have to worry about inclusions that might offend or leave me feeling uncomfortable in those sequences as I read. Despite that, I still stand behind reading my mainstream choices as to me literature as a whole is best read through all the different styles and voices which are readily available today. You learn and grow through what you read – the variety of voice, style and the craft behind the written word is what invigorates me the most.
Having said this – I hadn’t realised this series was focused on the deaf and I was quite humbled to realise it is has a wonderful writer behind it who not only recognises the deaf culture and community but has taken great lengths to represent their language and the ways in which they communicate to the degree she has given her series! I’ve been wanting to become fluent in sign (ASL) for a long, long time. It is hard to source tutors and generally in my experience the communities who have resources are not always open to those who are sighted and of hearing to learn to sign. I find my region especially difficult in crossing that barrier even though I tend to pick up the signs quite quickly and at one point, I was understanding a conversation without knowing all the signs initially as I could ‘read them’ as they were signed all the same.
Perhaps one day I can finally deepen my knowledge of ASL and find a tutor open to a girl who wants to sign and understand the nuances of communicating in this language. Til then, I was most eager to settle into “Sons of Blackbird Mountain” as I was truly captured by what Ms Biscof shared in her author’s note to readers.
One thing was definitely for certain, if an elder Aunt (Aunt Dorothe) had started a conversation and a friendship by postal mail to a grieving widow, the last thing one would expect upon arrival to this Aunt’s house is finding her deceased! When I read this section of the novel, I could understand how the very oxygen had left Aven’s lungs and how she felt as light-headed as a woman about to faint. She had travelled so dearly far and had come up far shorter than anyone could have surmised from such correspondences as she had exchanged! To be on a mountain with family of her late husband but without a compass of a thought towards why she was guided here would put anyone at a disadvantage and of feeling uneasy about their arrival.
As soon she met the ‘sons’ of this Blackbird Mountain, the alarms of regret started to wash over her spirit as well it should as she was told they were far younger than their present state of adulthood! You’d have to wonder what the old woman was really up to in regards to wanting to get Aven here and what was motivating her to encourage her to take such a leap of faith in removing herself from overseas and of trucking so far into the Virginia mountains?
You’re first struck by the quiet nature of Thor, the impedious personality of Haakon and the kind hearted nature of Jorgan. Not to mention how Miss Ida their housekeeper is a salt of the earth and knows exactly what to do when something unexpected riles a person’s nerves! How sweet it was to find her about as it felt like she was the first outside of Thor who was seeking a chance to make her feel more comfortable on her arrival than being the odd one out.
Thor has a sensitive heart – he might not be able to communicate traditionally through spoken speech but he feels things in life deeply. He’s moved by a person’s emotional state and that is how he originally felt something for Aven; it was through a photograph of her – where he could intuit her emotional state of mind when she first married his cousin Benn. It was a union he felt might be a bit fraught with adversity as he could sort out by her photograph what was going on in her mind at the time the photograph was taken.
Observing Thor struggling with his affection and fondness for Aven; thus far removed from her life and then suddenly finding himself in close quarters with her now in the future was humbling. Especially as he had genuine concern for her and could sort out things about her emotional state that she might not have been fully aware of herself; or if she had, you might muse she might have hoped part of that inner truth could have been better veiled.
Jorgan was such a sweet fellow – not just to welcome Aven in with open arms but to have the courtesy to explain the ‘family business’ be as it were – though just observing Thor a bit with his affection for a drink, you could almost surmise it! Jorgan was also soon to be wed which I felt might put Aven’s concerns to bed – though in measure of that news, she still seemed to be a bit unsure of herself and her place here. Even with the reassurance about how Miss Ida lives nearby and how the boys despite their grievances with the locals come to have quite a keen living based off what their selling. She’s been in worst straits than this and being how agreeable the three seemed on sight, I was hoping Aven might find herself comfortable to be with this side of her husband’s family. Especially as I had a feeling she was being influenced to come here by a crafty old woman who knew a thing or two about second chances and new beginnings.
I liked the attention to the smaller details – of how embroidery was a bit of a challenge for Aven but she had the eye for it and how sewing gave her a true sense of pride. Sewing is something I’ve longed to acquire a skill for myself but I’m thankful I learnt how to knit. There is a strong joy in being able to see something appear in front of you which you’ve been able to craft yourself and by hand. Knitting and sewing share that kind of simple happiness and I liked how Bischof was describing the scene in Dorothea’s room where Aven first saw her handiwork.
Atmospherically – this story is rooted in the mountains and of mountain life; something I truly appreciate as I have read other stories set in and round Appalachia which are equally enjoyable to simply ‘settle into’ and be of the folk who live there. There is a simplicity to living but there are also obstacles and prejudices to overcome as well – Bischof hints at these larger issues in the background whilst tucking us close to how these brothers live on the land they have to use to provide for themselves. I even enjoyed the arching back-story about Aven herself – from her memories of her mother to what happened which prompted her marriage to Benn. Circumstances dictated a lot of her life and how she had to remain adaptable to the adversities which arrived on her path.
Heartache and regret, boldness and sacrifice. What will restoration cost the beloved Norgaard family?
Aven Norgaard understands courage. Orphaned within an Irish workhouse, then widowed at just nineteen, she voyaged to America where she was wooed and wed by Thor Norgaard, a Deaf man in rural Appalachia. That the Lord saw her along the winding journey and that Aven now carries Thor’s child are blessings beyond measure. Yet while Thor holds her heart, it is his younger brother and rival who haunts her memories. Haakon—whose selfish choices shattered her trust in him.
Having fled the farm after trying to take Aven as his own, Haakon sails on the North Atlantic ice trade where his soul is plagued with regrets that distance cannot heal. Not even the beautiful Norwegian woman he’s pursued can ease the torment. When the winds bear him home after four years away, Haakon finds the family on the brink of tragedy. A decades-old feud with the neighboring farm has wrenched them into the fiercest confrontation on Blackbird Mountain since the Civil War. Haakon’s cunning and strength hold the power to seal many fates, including Thor’s which is already at stake through a grave illness brought to him as the first prick of warfare.
Now Haakon faces the hardest choice of his life. One that shapes a battlefield where pride must be broken enough to be restored, and where a prodigal son may finally know the healing peace of surrender and the boundless gift of forgiveness. And when it comes to the woman he left behind in Norway, he just might discover that while his heart belongs to a daughter of the north, she’s been awaiting him on shores more distant than the land he’s fighting for.
From Christy Award–winning author Joanne Bischof comes Daughters of Northern Shores: the highly anticipated sequel to her moving novel Sons of Blackbird Mountain.
Places to find the book:
Published by Thomas Nelson
on 12th of March, 2019
Formats Available: Hardback, Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook
The Blackbird Mountain series:
Sons of Blackbird Mountain (book one)
Daughters of Northern Shores (book two)
Converse via: #HistoricalFiction or #HistFic and #HistRom
#INSPYRomance + #INSPY or #INSPYBooks
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: