Happy Twelfth Night! Last year on January 5th, I shared the first edition of Christmas Story Mini Reviews. This year I’m finally getting around to sharing my thoughts on some of the Christmas stories I read in 2019!
Title links will take you to Goodreads for full book info.
A delightful Christmas novella all about fellowship and romance! I enjoyed the setting and charming history that went with it, and the awkwardly shy hero paired with the pleasant heroine who had to overcome a few things herself (loved how that was portrayed!).
It’s perfectly sweet collection of 4 Royal romances set in a quirky Christmas town! I want to visit Tinsel, too, and sample scones, stay in an inn, and visit the library. 🙂
One Royal Christmas by Melissa Tagg ~ It was royally adorable with a bookish king & a more-adventurous-than-she-realizes heroine. I especially liked the book note aspect 😉
The Reluctant Princess by Betsy St. Amant ~ Princess + celebrity charm, nostalgic traditions, sarcasm & things that define a person.
A Royal Wonderland by Liz Johnson ~ A Christmas decor competition, a reluctant prince, and a small town girl learning to overcome her regrets all make up this sweet story of the season with a SWOONY romance, apples and scones, and one well used ladder!
A Tinsel Holiday by Ashley Clark ~ The cutest “what if” a situation like the classic Roman Holiday were only the beginning? Her story plays on characters who have an established friendship and makes for a fantastic romance.
This is a darling story with a surprising amount of depth and emotion. I laughed along with the characters, related to the pain and grief in their hearts, and rejoiced in their moments of friendship and the beginnings of romance. I might have a favorite new zoo animal, too: GIRAFFES!
I am looking forward to more from Janine Rosche’s pen in 2020!
Though not 100% intended as a Christmas novel, it does take place over the Christmas season. I’m totally counting it!
I really enjoyed the audiobook of this story! I feel like I want to visit Wishing Bridge now. The cast of characters was vibrant (a broad cast, but it never felt too big), the narration was spot-on (I really like Erin!), and the endearing characters have real-life problems, emotions, and triumphs over the course of the story. I especially liked the themes of overcoming, sacrificial love, and hope. I am excited to revisit Wishing Bridge in the next book in the series!
Thank you to the publishers of Royally Yours and Christmas at the Circus for the review copies. These are my honest reviews.
Did you read any Christmas stories this year? Do you read them into January?
Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few days to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!
I have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives. Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:
Newly released as a novella on its own, Something New by Joanne Bischof is a sweet story that historical romance fans will adore. In particular, fans of Bischof’s “Blackbird Mountain” series might recognize a character or two!
After waiting four years for her best friend to return from sea, Wren Cromwell’s dream of building a life with Tate Kennedy has wilted during his unexpected absence. Then, just as suddenly as he departed the mountain of their childhood, he returns, bringing with him tales of Norway’s icy fjords and his time aboard ship on the North Sea. As spring unfurls around them, so unfolds a new hope in Wren’s heart, and a new chance at love on the horizon. But with Tate’s longing for exciting voyages still alive, will he vanish to the high seas again, or will this land he’s returned to, and Wren’s steadfast love, be enough to nurture his adventurous spirit?
From Christy and Carol Award-winning author, Joanne Bischof, comes a newly repackaged novella once featured in the historical compilation, Heirloom Brides.
A beautiful novella! Joanne Bischof’s poetic prose-like style shines (once again!) in this short little story. Romantic in its simplicity, this story of Wren and Tate carries a bountiful message of hope, dreams longed for and realized, and the power of trust and restoration. I listened to the audio presentation of this story, and it was perfection! The Appalachian accents, the sweet moments of the story, all delivered with emotion and tenderness by the narrator, Jelyne Helms.
Many thanks to the author for the audiobook access. This is my honest review.
Daughters of Northern Shores(Blackbird Mountain #2)By Joanne Bischof
Christian Historical Romance from Thomas Nelson publishers
“The Norgaard brothers and their families will steal your heart.” —Catherine West, author of Where Hope Begins
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.
I have come to expect a story from the pen of Joanne Bischof
to be one that slices straight to the heart with its truth and tenderness. Daughters of Northern Shores is no
exception. With its return of beloved characters and a message of trust at its
center, it is one I will cherish upon recalling (and REREADING!).
With a balance of poignancy and vivid life, the story unfolds as one tentatively hopeful yet confronting pain, broken trust, trials, and jealousies of life. The rift left unsettled at the end of Sons of Blackbird Mountain is brought to light with Haakon’s wanderings and, eventually, steps to mend it. And oh, what a heart-trial that is!!! His prodigal journey is aided with wisdom from beloved women and the hesitant restoration of his brotherly relationships.
While Haakon seeks his place on Blackbird Mountain, Thor and
Aven contend with fears and joys of their own. Again, Joanne Bischof handles subjects
such as Thor’s Deafness, prejudice, and even childbirth with a delicate and
reverent approach, honest when necessary and revelatory in manner with others. Reading
this story is like witnessing the lives of the Norgaard family, being a part of
their sorrows and sharing in their hope – most importantly, their trust in a
Savior to see them through even the hardest of battles.
Daughters of Northern shores is a novel to treasure and one to make you think of the impact just one person can have. It is an encouraging story that reminds the reader to hope when there is no clear path ahead. And, to hold family and friends dear, always extending grace.
Thank you to Prism Book Tours and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.
Other Books in the Series:
Sons of Blackbird Mountain(Blackbird Mountain #1)by Joanne Bischof
From the bestselling award-winning author of The Lady and the Lionheart
“Beloved author Joanne Bischof doesn’t disappoint with her latest beautifully written, heartrending tale . . . a quick favorite for historical romance readers.” —Elizabeth Byler Younts, author of The Solace of Water
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.
Praise for Sons of Blackbird Mountain:
“Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a quiet gem of a historical romance. Refreshingly real and honest in its depiction of flawed but lovable individuals, it introduces characters readers will want to meet again.” – CBA Market
“. . . the novel provides an interesting glimpse of the time period and some complex social issues among neighbors in an area still recovering from the Civil War.” – Historical Novels Review
“VERDICT Christy- and Carol Award-winning author Bischof (The Lady and the Lionheart) creates endearing characters and a heartwarming story line in this unforgettable novel about the power of family, love, and the true meaning of home. Fans of Kristy Cambron, Julie Klassen, and Susan Meissner will love this one.” – Library Journal
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.
Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! I’m changing it up a bit and separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. All of this is to celebrate their distinction and spend a few more days talking about all the wonderful entertainment of 2018.
Today is all about HISTORICAL BOOKS. While I dearly love historical fiction, I have read less of it this year. At any rate, these are the favorites from my list!
The rules: sometimes I have to make boundaries for myself when it comes to talking about books because we would all be here a long time if were able to ramble on. SO, I’m sticking to my format of last year and choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review. In no particular order…
I’m not really sure how to introduce this book and story, other than to say it left me speechless and in awe of its beauty for several weeks. Getting to read an early copy of Sons of Blackbird Mountain was a privilege I apparently needed to form a coherent review! I highly recommend this story AND author — I hope you readers get to enjoy a Joanne Bischof story soon!
When Aven Norgaard leaves Norway to serve as housekeeper to her late husband’s cousins in Appalachia, she expects lads in need of care, not three grown men—each in need of a wife and bound by a powerful brotherhood. As the men carve out a living by brewing artisan liquor, young Haakon’s pursuit tempts Aven’s lonely spirit . . . but it is his deaf brother, Thor, whose silent strength shows her the depths of real love.
Unable to speak to any woman, Thor Norgaard never anticipates Aven will befriend him, let alone treat him as her safe harbor. Though hard cider is their livelihood and his greatest talent, he fights his way to sobriety with Haakon’s help, defying the bottle for Aven’s hand—only to face a battle of the heart that tests even the strongest bonds of brotherhood.
Sons of Blackbird Mountain is an achingly beautiful story of brotherhood and romance. The quiet strength and vibrancy of the characters, especially the main viewpoints of Thor and Aven, combine with an atmospheric setting and compelling era to create a story that resonates deeply within the human heart. It is riveting, atmospheric, with a complexity of characters (especially the themes of brotherhood) — and that doesn’t begin to describe it!
Thor’s perspective is an experience in itself. With great care, Joanne has portrayed his world and experiences as a deaf individual in a nearly-tangible way. Even noting nuances and things he does differently (makes noises walking through woods, breathing patterns, realizes he doesn’t understand letter sounds, so many things). I loved that Thor’s character proves he is a man only limited in audible speech, not in emotion or presence or other capabilities. His heart, even in the middle of major personal obstacles, is on display.
I can’t help but mentally compare him to Joanne’s other A-MA-ZING and forever favorite hero Charlie Lionheart (from The Lady and the Lionheart) Thor starts out the antithesis of Charlie in so many ways, yet their similarities by story’s end are wonderful. Both are strong, selflessly sacrificing and desiring to be a help to those around them. Both love with abandon.
And oh, what a time Aven has finding her place and her belonging in this new world and with these colorful people! Her story, when fully revealed, is poignant and sorrowful in itself, making her newfound circumstances all the more important for her presence and healing.
Books and stories can lend voices to those we normally would not hear, whether muted by society, history, or otherwise silenced. Author Joanne Bischof accomplishes this feat with a lyrical, immersive, and prose-like style that is never afraid to delve deep into matters of the the heart in all their joy and despair. In this case, a fictional tale brings to life the perspective of a deaf brother and a rootless young woman whose presence forever changes the lives of three brothers.
Thank you to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for the review copy. This is my honest review.
It’s time for a new edition of First Line Fridays hosted by the Hoarding Books blog!
I just can’t resist talking about this book. Sons of Blackbird Mountainby Joanne Bischof releases in a few weeks, but I have been anticipating and subsequently reveling in its story-amazingness for a while now! Beneath this gorgeous cover is a poignant story of brothers, the bond of family, and the bittersweet and joyous facets of love.
Look for my review soon!
Blackbird Mountain, Virginia
August 27, 1890
Aven peered down at the letter again, noted the address written in Aunt Dorothe’s hand, then looked back to the wooden sign that was staked into the ground.
Your turn! Find the book closest to you and share your first line in the comments! Then, head over toHoarding Books for the linky and visit other FLF posts!