Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Spotlight | “Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey” by Abigail Wilson

Posted Monday, 1 June, 2020 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I was wicked eager to host an interview for this blog tour when I first signed on to host the author and her story – however, whilst I was in the throes of co-hosting #WyrdAndWonder (see also Post) for our 3rd Year of celebrating the fantastical throughout May, I was also succumbing to wicked horrid seasonal allergies which truly upturnt my world for the month. Somehow I managed to forget to finish my questions for the author in time for my tour stop and requested to change it to a spotlight as I truly wanted to talk about why this story leapt out to me to be read!

I have a sweet passion of joy reading INSPY Literature – as throughout my blog – you’ll find reviews for INSPY Contemporary Romance, INSPY Contemporary Realistic Fiction, INSPY Historical Romance and/or INSPY Historical Fiction – whereas I have this addiction to reading Suspense novels by INSPY novelists who are being published via the imprint Love Inspired Suspense! This is something I enjoy reading in tandem with my Mum – as getting the chance to read novels and talk about them shortly afterwards with someone who equally appreciates the same kind of stories as you do is pure blissitude.

When it comes to reading INSPY Historical Fiction & Romance – it began in my childhood when I first became a hybrid reader of both mainstream & INSPY literature – Judith Pella and Lois Gladys Leppard were two of my ‘first’ beloved authors in this vein of interest. They were writing the stories and series I was excited to find a a young girl who was thriving on their wonderfully realistic worlds and characters of whom were their own heroines.

The Regency is a timescape I love re-visiting – it is one of those cosy comforting eras of joy for me as a reader second only to the Victorian. I’ve been seeking out stories set in both time periods since I was nine years old and read my first Regency Christmas Romance anthology! It was a turning point for me because it not only showed me period Historical Fiction but it also showed how wicked intriguing a Historical Romance (ie. #HistRom) could be where you find yourself caught inside the fever of what a Historical Romance can give you during the Regency. From the balls to the pretense of courtship – there is a lot to delight inside of a Regency Rom!

Thus, having this background of readerly enjoyment – when I saw this announcement for the blog tour featuring “Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey” – I truly squealled with delight as I definitely knew I wanted to be reading this lovely new release! When I realised print copies were on hold due to the virus and the limitations in shipping books during the more intense months of lockdowns and isolated quarantines in our country, I opted for an interview and now a featured extract. I’ll definitely be reading this novel – but for now I simply want to help get the word out about its release!

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Book Spotlight | “Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey” by Abigail WilsonMasquerade at Middlecrest Abbey
by Abigail Wilson

In this new Regency romance, Elizabeth knows she must protect her heart from the charm of her new husband, Lord Torrington. She is not, however, prepared to protect her life.

When the widowed Lord Torrington agreed to spy for the crown, he never planned to impersonate a highwayman, let alone rob the wrong carriage. Stranded on the road with an unconscious young woman, he is forced to propose marriage to protect his identity and her reputation, as well as his dangerous mission.

Trapped not only by her duty to her country but also by her limited options as an unwed mother, Miss Elizabeth Cantrell and her infant son are whisked away to Middlecrest Abbey by none other than the elder brother of her son’s absent father. There she is met by Torrington’s beautiful grown daughters, a vicious murderer, and an urgent hunt for the missing intelligence that could turn the war with France. Meanwhile she must convince everyone that her marriage is a genuine love match if her new husband has any hope of uncovering the enemy.

Determined to keep her son’s true identity a secret, Elizabeth will need to remain one step ahead of her fragile heart, her uncertain future, and the relentless fiend bent on her new family’s ruin.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780785233077

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by Thomas Nelson

on 26th May, 2020

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Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov
+ #MasqueradeAtMiddlecrestAbbey and #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Abigail Wilson

Abigail Wilson

Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A registered nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the national parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.

She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children.

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Posted Monday, 1 June, 2020 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Spotlight, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Blog Book Tour featuring an #INSPY author I used to interact with via Southern Belle View Daily! | “The Fifth Avenue Story Society” by Rachel Hauck

Posted Monday, 10 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Fifth Avenue Story Society” direct from the publisher Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why this blog tour reminds me of being engaged
with the Southern Belle View Daily community of INSPY authors:

It wasn’t too long ago I was an active commenter on author’s blogs (ie. 2012) wherein I had my first taste of what the book blogosphere involved and how readers were finding ways to interact directly with authors they had either read or were dearly hoping to read ‘next’. This predates when my vocabulary involved the term “TBR” and long before my own blog was as whispered dream which readily became a reality on the 31st of March (in 2013).

Just ahead of developing Jorie Loves A Story, I discovered Southern Belle View Daily (earlier in 2013) and it was happily bookmarked through my browser’s RSS feeds reader (remember that option?). I loved visiting with the authors who were at the helm of the blog: Lisa Wingate, Rachel Hauck, Julie Cantrell, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson and Beth Webb Hart were the original ladies I interacted with whilst Eva Marie Everson, Kellie Coates Gilbert, Amy Hill Hearth, Denise Hildreth Jones, Jolina Petersheim and Nicole Seitz joined them off/on over the years.

They would host interactive forum discussions on their blog and even the occasional bookaway – I won Beth Webb Hart’s  Moon Over Edisto whilst during my first month of being a book blogger in 2013 I had the opportunity to review Lisa Wingate’s The Prayer Box which also became my first blog tour! Whilst getting Jorie Loves A Story off the ground and dealing with life as it was being lived whilst juggling my chronic migraines – I found I wasn’t able to maintain the connections I had established prior to being a book blogger on the author blogs I had frequented before launching my own blog. Therefore by the time I had the chance to return to Southern Belle View I learnt it was switching over to Facebook and that in effect knocked me out of joining them as I elected to become active on Twitter instead.

Through the years, I’ve grown attached to the series The Prayer Box began whilst I’ve had my eye on reading through all their stories and finding my favourites. Towards that end, I started by reading Kellie Coates Gilbert’s Texas Star series with A Reason to Stay. I still remember being involved with the now defunct Blogging for Books programme and finding one of Ms Tomlinson’s releases was available to request – however, I waited to long to decide to request it and it went to other readers! I learnt not to contemplate those choices too long afterwards, laughs.

As I never quite ‘let go’ of following their literary careers, I found out about The Fifth Avenue Story Society prior to the announcement of the blog tour via Prism Book Tours. I was going to fetch a copy of it from my local library when the invite came into my Inbox. Talk about a serendipitous day!I was overjoyed I could host one of the authors I knew previously but also, this would mark my first story by Ms Hauck I could finally read and I couldn’t wait! I also always see a hawk when I pronounce her name (big smiles) as it was the only way I could remember how to say it aloud! The fact as a wildlife photographer I’ve been blessed to capture hawks IRL through my lens is an added bit of serendipity.

You could say I feel like as I move closer to entering my seventh year as a book blogger this New Year 2020 – I am coming full circle! To my roots as a reader, to the foundation I set down as a blog commenter and as a writer reclaiming her pen and her inspiration to write her own stories. It is an exciting year and one I already feel has become memorable! How lovely I get to kick-off February’s Romance & Women’s Fiction reads with Ms Hauck’s new book!

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On my connection to Rachel Hauck:

I discovered Southern Belle View Daily in early 2013 during the times I engaged with the lovely ladies who were ‘behind’ SBV I came to appreciate conversing with all the Belles, including Rachel Hauck. I was a regular visitor and commenter – up til a certain point as once my blog Jorie Loves A Story launched live in August, 2013 I was not able to visit as regularly as I had previously. In the years since 2013 I have been more at a distance from directly engaging with Ms Hauck (though a few times via Twitter as I recall?) and have followed her releases from afar always hoping to start reading them. One thing which prevented me from starting to read the Belles works of Fiction is that they were not always readily available via my local libraries.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with her through Southern Belle View Daily and/or Twitter; as I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time.

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Blog Book Tour featuring an #INSPY author I used to interact with via Southern Belle View Daily! | “The Fifth Avenue Story Society” by Rachel HauckThe Fifth Avenue Story Society
by Rachel Hauck
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours

An invitation to join The Fifth Avenue Story Society gives five New York strangers a chance to rewrite their own stories.

Executive assistant Lexa is eager for a much-deserved promotion, but her boss is determined to keep her underemployed.

Literature professor Jett is dealing with a broken heart, as well as a nagging suspicion his literary idol, Gordon Phipps Roth, might be a fraud.

Uber driver Chuck just wants a second chance with his kids.

Aging widower Ed is eager to write the true story of his incredible marriage.

Coral, queen of the cosmetics industry, has broken her engagement and is on the verge of losing her great grandmother’s multimillion-dollar empire.

When all five New Yorkers receive an anonymous, mysterious invitation to the Fifth Avenue Story Society, they suspect they’re victims of a practical joke. No one knows who sent the invitations or why. No one has heard of the literary society. And no one is prepared to reveal their deepest secrets to a roomful of strangers.

Yet curiosity and loneliness bring them back week after week to the old library. And it’s there they discover the stories of their hearts, and the kind of friendship and love that heals their souls.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780310350927

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Literary Fiction


Published by Thomas Nelson

on 4th February, 2020

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 400

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Published by: Thomas Nelson (@ThomasNelson)
an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing (@HCChristianPub)

Converse via: #FifthAvenueStorySociety,  #RachelHauck & #TNZFiction
as well as #INSPYFiction and #WomensFiction

About Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pet and writes from her ivory tower.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 10 February, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Introspective Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Modern Day, Multiple POV, New York City, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Prism Book Tours, Realistic Fiction, Southern Belle View Daily

Blog Book Tour | “A Girl’s Guide to the Outback” by Jessica Kate

Posted Tuesday, 4 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “A Girl’s Guide to the Outback” direct from the publisher Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read this novel:

For the past two Summers I’ve participated in an INSPY readathon during July whilst I’ve been hosting for PRISM for nearly three full years now. I’ve seen my fellow book bloggers lamenting about the stories they’ve read about Jessica Kate (including Rissi) whilst I haven’t had the chance to sample her Contemporary Romance styling for myself. When I read the premise behind this novel I felt it was a good fit for me as a reader because I *love!* stories set in the Australian Outback!

This is partially why I was overjoyed sharing my #mustreads for 2020 during last week’s #TopTenTuesday as Janet Gover is releasing her new book “The Lawson Sisters” and she’s the Australian author who introduced me to Contemporary Australian Romances with her “Flight to Coorah Creek!” (and thus, launched the #CoorahCreek series!) I’ve been meaning to expand my search for stories set in Australia however, its been a bit slow going as my local libraries aren’t always able to request stories published elsewhere from the states until last year when my requests for UK publishers started to gain some traction. This year, I’m determined to find Canadian & Australian authors/publishers to request and see if I can read more of the fiction originating out of those countries.

I already have shared how devastating the news about the Australian bushfires have been on my own heart & soul. The news is never easy to handle on a good day, but finding out about the wildlife & the natural environs which are charred reminders of the wreck a bushfire can create in such quick-swift course is beyond heartbreaking; it is also why I started off January without the focus for reading and a mood set against blogging because my heart was elsewhere. I barely read throughout January and it is within February I am aiming to get my feet back into reading. This marks one of the first stories I’ve been able to read this New Year 2020 and I am hoping to find many throughout February which will re-jump me back into the joy I have sharing my readerly life with my dear hearted readers & visitors alike.

There is a heavy somberness reading about Australia but as its a country I’ve had mates & fond memories of friendship from the past inasmuch as my attachment to the Australian Zoo and the conservation efforts of the Irwin family; I also love Australian Literature. This is why I was eagerly excited about finding one of Jessica Kate’s novels appealling to me this New Year and I was hopeful it would be a good jumpstart towards reading more authors from this country I’ve been smitten with ever since I first saw The Man from Snowy River as a young girl who loved riding horses!

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Blog Book Tour | “A Girl’s Guide to the Outback” by Jessica KateA Girl's Guide to the Outback
by Jessica Kate
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours

How far will a girl go to win back a guy she can’t stand? This funny, sweet, and romantic story proves that opposites do attract—and that God has a sense of humor.

Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but below the surface, he’s still recovering from the blow of a failed business and insecurities he can’t shake. His coworker, start-up expert Kimberly Foster, is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but years of personal rejection have left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks sure do fly.

When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and heads home to Australia to help his sister, Jules, save her struggling farm. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. Together they strike up a deal: If Kimberly comes to work on Jules’s dairy farm and lends her business brains to their endeavor, then maybe—just maybe—Sam will reconsider his future with the church.

As Kimberly tries her hand at Australian farm life, she learns more about herself than she could’ve ever expected. Meanwhile Sam is forced to re-evaluate this spunky woman he thought he already knew. As foes slowly morph into friends, they wonder if they might be something even more. But when disaster strikes the farm, will Sam find it within himself to take a risk that could lead to love? And will Kimberly trust God with her future?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780785229612

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Romance Fiction


Published by Thomas Nelson

on 28th January, 2020

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 358

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Published by: Thomas Nelson (@ThomasNelson)
an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing (@HCChristianPub)

Converse via: #GirlsGuideToTheOutback,  #JessicaKate & #TNZFiction
as well as #ContemporaryRomance & #INSPYRomance

About Jessica Kate

Jessica Kate

Australian author Jessica Kate writes inspirational romances with wit, sass, and grit. Jessica is a screenwriting groupie, cohost of the StoryNerds vlog and podcasts, and her favorite place to be—apart from Mum and Dad’s back deck—is a theme park. She has traveled North America and Australia, and samples her favorite pasta wherever she goes—but the best (so far) is still the place around the corner from her corporate day job as a training developer. She loves watching sitcoms with her housemates and being a leader in a new church plant.

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Posted Tuesday, 4 February, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Australia, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction

Blog Book Tour | feat. the Blackbird Mountain series by Joanne Bischof, especially “Sons of Blackbird Mountain” (book one) and “Daughters of Distant Shores” (book two)

Posted Friday, 15 March, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 2 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

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.

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70 Authors Challenge Badge created by Jorie via Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Brigitte Tohm. (Creative Commons Zero)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.

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Blog Book Tour | feat. the Blackbird Mountain series by Joanne Bischof, especially “Sons of Blackbird Mountain” (book one) and “Daughters of Distant Shores” (book two)Sons of Blackbird Mountain
by Joanne Bischof
Source: Borrowed from local library

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:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780718099107

Genres: Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by Thomas Nelson

on 3rd July, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 341

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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.

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Blog Book Tour | feat. the Blackbird Mountain series by Joanne Bischof, especially “Sons of Blackbird Mountain” (book one) and “Daughters of Distant Shores” (book two)Daughters of Distant Shores
by Joanne Bischof
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours

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:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780718099121

Genres: Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by Thomas Nelson

on 12th of March, 2019

Pages: 368

Published by: Thomas Nelson (@ThomasNelson)

Formats Available: Hardback, Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

The Blackbird Mountain series:

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne BiscofDaughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof

Sons of Blackbird Mountain (book one)

Daughters of Northern Shores (book two)

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction or #HistFic and #HistRom

#INSPYRomance + #INSPY or #INSPYBooks

About Joanne Bischof

Joanne Bischof

Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 15 March, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Family Drama, Family Life, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Siblings

*SFN* | Book Review: The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead

Posted Tuesday, 5 November, 2013 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead
[Book One of The Bright Empire series]

[Book Two: The Bone House]
[Book Three: The Spirit Well]
[Book Four: The Shadow Lamp]

Published By: Thomas Nelson, 2010
Page Count: 416

Borrowed Book By: My local library’s ILL (inter-library loan) service as they did not carry it in their catalogue. What is interesting though is that they have book three “The Spirit Well” instead!  Therefore, if I find that I enjoy reading this I will ILL books two and four! I was thankful that the request went through in time for me to read this book in conjunction with SFN!

What drew me to read this story:  Is the fact that the very premise of the book acknowledges the existence of fissures in time, which I found to be a riveting opening to a book, much less a full series! And, the fact that people could ‘walk through’ these individual time fissures and experience something unlike what we generally experience was a story I wanted to read! Made possible by a discovery of a sequence of straight lines known as ‘ley lines’, which in of themselves omit an electromagnetic current! If you have been following me along with my SFN posts, you will already know that this would be of key interest, as I happen to fancy stories that involve ‘time travel’ and have recently begun to become acquainted with “The Doctor” of “Doctor Who”! Its evoking the same sense I received from watching “The Adjustment Bureau” where reality is perceptional and can be altered with the opening of a single door OR at the flick of a switch you do not see by sight. The prospect of an ordinary person ‘stumbling across’ this altered state of time, who is summoned by a person of their past is an adventure I thought was well worth taking!

Inspired to Share: When I originally settled on reading this particular story, I couldn’t help but hit the ‘play button’ on the book trailer, which was listed in the upper right corner of the author’s website! I am ever so curious about book trailers, as I have been finding this year that instead of the regular fare of trailers, we are being happily delighted by seeing more ‘mini-film’ versions!! These sort of trailers not only have bang-on accuracy as far as giving the heart and context of the story to a potential reader, but if that reader (such as I) has a fancy for motion pictures, they become an engaging platform in which one’s mind can jump-dive into the story as though they were living through the character as they would in the seat of a darkened theater watching a first-run film! This next genesis of book trailers has captured me as being the ones that endear you long-term towards the book your about to pick up, as it gives you such a riveting visual aide to help you sink easier into the setting of the world just within reach of your fingertips! The wicked part is that they took the information on the inside cover flap and turnt it into the book trailer!

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“The Skin Map” by Stephen Lawhead, Bright Empires Series #1 book trailer

by Thomas Nelson featured on the ChristianBook channel

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The backdrop of science in The Skin Map:

As I dip into the opening chapters of The Skin Map, my mind is attempting to ferret out the knowledge that I had gleamed and gained through my prior readings of the quantum realms. The very same readings as I had outlined only hours prior in my Book Showcase focused on Time Travel! Who knew then, that all of that would become a bit necessary to read a book such as this? Or, at the very least to have a bit of a working knowledge of some of the theories that are being discussed? I feel as though it were but yesterday when I read Flatland!

I liked how Cosmio (the great-grandfather) was pointing out to his (great) grandson that those who walk across the ley lines cannot tamper with the power of their transport abilities – such as when Kit unabashedly felt that he could simply walk his girlfriend through the same alley and arrive in the exact same place he would be himself. It brings up the layers of complexity that time travel involves and how multi-layered our dimensional space truly is. It also brought back to me conversations I had whilst sitting in my high school library and contemplating the ‘layers’ of both time and reality itself as it pertained to the history in which our lives are lived. It was a dialogue of elementary quantum mechanics but I never forgot how excited my classmate was for speaking about a subject I felt he should pursue in University.

I find it instinctively distinct that Kit and Cosimo are traveling in time to alternative realities that are happening in places that they can recognise but they are not on the same ‘time-frame’ of where they originated or from whence they originally ‘came’. It’s a complex theory but the author, Lawhead has an excellent way of handling the science and getting the reader caught up in the story without feeling as though an upper level of science is required to understand the working theory of how the characters are able to travel!

A curious notation about the leys in the novel is when it’s mentioned that they are ‘time sensitive’. I found this intriguing as the premise of using the leys is not to walk into a ‘different time’ per se of your living history or the history of your time, but rather to step into a parallel alternative reality. IF then the leys are in tune with time itself it would stand to question then do all alternative realities coincide with our own time? And, if they do, how is that even possible? Whereas the opening of portals occur at sunrise or sunset, which I found even more curious as when I read the novel “The Golden Hour” by Maiya Williams she used this same theory as a basis of the time travel in her story. Is there concrete evidence floating in and around this premise? Hence the reason she called traveling at sunset as “the golden hour”, as an another example of a writer putting a ‘key’ to her story in her title!

Entering the Adventure one fissure of time in a nanosecond:

Before Kit can even understand ‘where’ he is going and ‘what’ he is meant to be helping his great-grandfather achieve, he has accidentally set off a chain of events that are digging him deeper into traveling the ley lines! I am enjoying the pace of the story, as much as I am enjoying how the story is playing out for the reader! Lawhead has included a few lovely distractions and villains for good measure (of course!), which mark in my mind that this is one of those stories you’re not quite sure what is going to ‘pop out at you’ at any given moment! Part of it reminds me of “The Seeker: The Dark is Rising“, as it has elemental familiarities for me!

As Kit proceeds to accept his great-grandfather’s beliefs in the ley lines, his first venture towards full acceptance was traveling back into the 17th Century to listen to a lecturer who ended up being Cosimo’s partner and a Quester: Sir Henry Fayth. Lawhead has a pure knack for bringing to life flamboyantly secure men of a certain age who are fully contained into their own personality as to evoke a bold presence right before your eyes! I wasn’t sure whom I admired more, his great-grandfather or Sir Henry! I had the feeling that Kit still felt out of step with all of it, the quest to recover the skin map (as the title is elusive to the adventure) and the fact he is now living counter-current to a living timeline he has always known.

Ordinary frustrations of Kit Livingstone:

I nearly cackled with humour whilst walking with Kit as he makes every vein attempt to reach his girlfriend Wilhelmina at a joint shopping rendezvous point! The way in which he would put it, it’s merely a task for switching tracks (for the London tube system), hailing down a bus, crossing through a (rather infamous) park, and heading up a road to greet his dear girlfriend! Yet. Life like art isn’t always a mere ‘walk in the park’! I was seriously having trouble containing myself, as although I had come off two rather emotional Doctor Who episodes (Turn Left & Journey’s End – clearly I am not watching this series in the proper order!) how could I not stifle a bubble of a laugh over every which way to Sunday his life is being affected by a comedy of errors!? Those are the particular and precise moments in my own life where I start to see a stitching of a pattern take hold inside my mind’s eye. Were the events that for me, in those singular moments, rather disastrous really as such? Or, were they universal signs of a serendipitous ripple of coincidence that was writ to happen if only for certain paths to cross at the right ‘moment in time’? Have you naught noticed the same in your own life? People and places you might never have become acquainted with if your life hadn’t altered its course even to the smallest degree to have you arrive at a place you never had been, and yet, a purpose was met that was not of your prior knowledge?

The interaction with his long-lost great-grandfather is purely classic as far as these meetings generally go, but what I liked about it which set it a part from most meetings such as these is the manner in which his great-grandfather was delivering the ‘news of his life’! I liked how his great-grandfather (of whom he was apparently named for as they share the same name! ‘Kit’ isn’t his proper first name, Cosimo is!) counter-balanced Kit’s cocky-headed responses by a calm, collected, and deeply humourous dictation of the facts! The insertion of British phrases and slang made it altogether priceless for me! As I oft am eager to read a full-on Brit novel replete with their own stylings of vernacular!

Review of The Skin Map:

A wanton wanderer simply known as “Kit” flounders around in an ill-attempt at sorting out his life and the path he would like to follow. He never expected to take an unexpected trip to an alternative reality parallel to his own time when his great-grandfather appeared out of nowhere. The swirling of thunder, rain, and storm was actually a gateway arch into traveling along the ley lines. This sets him on a course he is not even sure he belongs, whilst learning the history and technique of this sort of travel, his gravest concern is reconnecting with Wilhelmina, of whom was lost when he recklessly attempted to bring her with him.

Wilhelmina may not have believed the far-fetched excuse that her lackluster boyfriend Kit had given her as a plausible reason for missing her shopping excursion, but finding herself lost on a desolate road made her question if he was telling her the truth. The nearly forgotten language of her grandmother (German) came in handy when she was rescued by a German-speaking man (Englebert) on his way out of the country. Her journey began the moment she accepted his offer to take her with him. What I found most incredible is that her side of the story is leading her to finding her true self as a baker and as a businesswoman. Whereas I am not as sure if she would have had as much growth in her own time as she is having in the 17th Century! Prague is beautifully brought to life through her adventure of setting up a bakery with her rescuer!

At nearly the half-way junction point, Lawhead starts to cast a curious new reality upon the infamous landmarks in England that we are all most familiar with as to having a purpose other than what it appears to be. For such an instance, Stonehenge in this novel is referenced as being a portal – a proper hub for extracting oneself through time into another dimension separate from our own. Now, I am not sure the validity of this claim, but I do know that there is more to Stonehenge than meets the eye! And, surely more than claiming that it’s a gigantic telescope! What makes the science plausible in the story is how close the quantum sciences are coming to terms with everyday reality.

Wilhelmina’s spunky spirit shines brightly when she’s describing to Englebert how to get the bakery back online by incorporating coffee! The hilarity of the situation is that she’s a woman from the 20th century attempting to explain this to a man of the 17th! And, his confusion reigns supreme! Whilst Englebert embarked on a sojourn quest to get her blasted beans, he made a discovery on the docks that could change everything! Like most men who encounter adversity, his spirit only started to brighten once he saw a turning of the tide! He was still on the fence about her plan to turn the bakery into a profit when she introduced him to the bitter coffee, of which he felt was atrocious! She calmly replied to his vexation that it’s a triumph as they can serve sweets to compliment the bitter! Spoken like a true woman!

 [This post is in-progress! Drop back to see the concluding thoughts! Alas! I need to re-ILL! Oy!]

This book review is brought to you by:

Sci-Fi November | Hosted by Rinn Reads

{SOURCES: Sci-Fi November Badge provided by Rinn Reads for participants to advert the month long event and to encourage people to follow along with those of us who are contributing! Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. The book trailer by Thomas Nelson via Christianbook.com had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

Related Articles:

Ley Line – (en.wikipedia.org)

Alfred Watkins – (en.wikipedia.org)

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 5 November, 2013 by jorielov in Alternative Reality, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Book Trailer, Philosophy, Sci-Fi November, Science Fiction, SFN Bingo, Time Travel, Treasure Hunt