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Sons of Blackbird Mountain

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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 thre 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 place? 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.


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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 thre 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 place? 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.

30 review for Sons of Blackbird Mountain

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Tagg

    At some point, I'll find the words to capture how much I loooooved this book. But right now, I'm in too much of an exquisitely happy and awed fog. 💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗 Full review to come... And finally, weeks later after having read the book a second time (because it's just that amazing!) here's the full thing... Hold on…crazy amounts of gushing about to happen! So, full disclosure: I am a massive Joanne Bischof fan. Her Cadence of Grace series was so beautiful and surprising and put me in the mind of one of At some point, I'll find the words to capture how much I loooooved this book. But right now, I'm in too much of an exquisitely happy and awed fog. 💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗 Full review to come... And finally, weeks later after having read the book a second time (because it's just that amazing!) here's the full thing... Hold on…crazy amounts of gushing about to happen! So, full disclosure: I am a massive Joanne Bischof fan. Her Cadence of Grace series was so beautiful and surprising and put me in the mind of one of my classic faves, Christy. And her 2016 release, The Lady & the Lionheart, is one of my top five favorite books of all time. So I knew going into Sons of Blackbird Mountain that I was going to love it. I didn’t realize how much I’d love it. So much that I basically couldn’t pick up another book for days afterward and decided to reread it a second time! It. Is. Gorgeous. Of all the things to love about this story (and there are many!), the thing I just can’t get over is how fully and beautifully she places the reader inside Thor’s head. Thor is a complex character. He struggles with alcoholism and he’s Deaf. Either one of these alone would make writing from his point of view a more complicated process than usual…but together, I think it could be incredibly difficult write a fully fleshed, non-caricature portrayal of his day-to-day life. But in Bischof’s hands, it’s just effortless. And I love it…I love him! (I honestly didn’t think I could love a character as much or more than Charlie in The Lady & The Lionheart, but Thor gives him a run for his money!) I especially appreciated how Bischof handles the topic of alcoholism. I love that she doesn’t skirt around it…that she shows it in a very real and very nuanced way. And truly, I’m blown away by how layered so many of these characters are! Layered, lovable, incredibly complicated…gosh, Haakon especially. His dark streak contrasted with all the hurt and longing he’s holding inside…these are the kind of characters I want to read about! Imperfect, struggling, and yearning for redemption. Thor, Aven, Haakon, Jorgan, Peter, all of them face—and in some cases, are the instigators of—hard, harsh things. But that makes the undercurrent of grace and hope all the weightier. It's all beautifully done. Altogether, this is a story packed with poignant moments, beautiful writing (yes, I realize I’ve used the word “beautiful” like forty times in this review, but I can’t help it!), and characters I still can’t stop thinking about. The romance is perfection, the setting is vivid, and the plot is perfectly paced. I have nothing but the highest praise for Joanne Bischof’s latest…and I’ll pretty much just be over here dying of impatience until the second in the series releases next year.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Deanne Patterson

    This is the first book I've read by Joanne Bischof and what an introduction it was! I've read massive amounts of historical fiction books in my lifetime but this one is unlike any I've read before. The author takes us inside the head of the main male character, Thor. Now Thor is one of the three brothers Aven came over from Norway to take care of. She thought the brother's were children in need of care. Upon arriving from her voyage across the ocean she sees they are grown men living in rural 19 This is the first book I've read by Joanne Bischof and what an introduction it was! I've read massive amounts of historical fiction books in my lifetime but this one is unlike any I've read before. The author takes us inside the head of the main male character, Thor. Now Thor is one of the three brothers Aven came over from Norway to take care of. She thought the brother's were children in need of care. Upon arriving from her voyage across the ocean she sees they are grown men living in rural 19th century Appalachia. Thor is the complex one, his family runs a hard cider liquor business and he is an alcoholic and deaf as well. He is able to sign but not able to speak and feels alienated and alone,full of frustration about not being able to express himself fully. Alcohol changes who he is when he is under the influence and he doesn't like who he has become. He is a very complex man. The struggle is real as he battles the demons inside him to give up alcohol. Aven makes every effort she can to show Thor she cares as she sees the battles raging inside of him alcoholism,depression,loneliness,frustration and the effort to make his wants and needs known. The bond between the three brothers is touching and real. The three would do anything for each other and do. Will this broken man find wholeness and healing or will hard drink win the battle raging within him? What about Aven, two men desire to be her one and only, Thor the one who has cast his spell upon her in a quiet efficient way or Haakon, who is bold and passionate? Will her being there cause an irreparable rift between the brothers? This book goes where other Christian historical novels dare not to go. It's in your face,realistic,a breakthrough and I loved it! I have a lot of catching up as I now need to read all of the rest of this author's books! Pub Date 03 Jul 2018 I was given a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson--FICTION through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    *Update to my previous review - Still one of my all time favorite novels! I just listened to the audiobook of this wonderful story and the narrator did an outstanding job with the accents of the characters. She captured the feeling of this story beautifully!* This beautiful book cover hides a story within its pages that is even more exquisite than the artwork. The author’s writing style drew me in from the very first paragraph and I was transported back in time to watch this heartachingly tender *Update to my previous review - Still one of my all time favorite novels! I just listened to the audiobook of this wonderful story and the narrator did an outstanding job with the accents of the characters. She captured the feeling of this story beautifully!* This beautiful book cover hides a story within its pages that is even more exquisite than the artwork. The author’s writing style drew me in from the very first paragraph and I was transported back in time to watch this heartachingly tender story unfold. These characters were absolutely captivating. From the first time Aven met the Norgaard brothers and uncertainty ruled her thoughts, to the sarcastic quips that Haakon threw into conversations, to the emotions and connection that begin to build between Aven and Thor, I was caught up in this family’s story and did not want to stop reading. I loved that the main character, Thor, was deaf. Aven and Thor’s story was even more meaningful to me as I watched both of them work to overcome the barrier between them. The author tackled some weighty subjects in Sons of Blackbird Mountain and she did so with grace and a realistic touch. I loved this story from start to finish and eagerly await the second book in the series. I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. You can read this review on my blog: https://brittreadsfiction.wordpress.c... (I read an early beta copy of this novel. Wow! Loved, loved, loved this beautiful story!)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    Wow. Another amazing book by Joanne Bischof. I got this book yesterday and finished it last night. I set all of the books that I was reading aside to start this one, because you always know that you’re in for a treat with Joanne Bischof. The authors writing style is just beautiful and she has such a way with words. There are many times when reading a paragraph / sentence in her book you just have to look up for a second and say “wow”. Her books always have so much meaning to them and I have yet Wow. Another amazing book by Joanne Bischof. I got this book yesterday and finished it last night. I set all of the books that I was reading aside to start this one, because you always know that you’re in for a treat with Joanne Bischof. The authors writing style is just beautiful and she has such a way with words. There are many times when reading a paragraph / sentence in her book you just have to look up for a second and say “wow”. Her books always have so much meaning to them and I have yet to find a book of hers that I haven’t loved. I had high expectations for The Sons of Blackbird Mountain and it was just as lovely as I knew it’d be. The characters in this book were amazing and you can’t help but love them. The brotherhood that Jorgan, Thor, and Haakon had was so sweet. They definitely had their moments but they always had each others backs. They had this closeness and this bond that really just brought them all together. All of the characters in this book were a delight to read. Thor was such a unique character and I loved him from the very beginning. He went through hard times but deep down you could always see his heart. He’s kindness, love, and wanting to do the right thing. He was such a special character. The bond of the three brothers made this story that much more special and I loved reading about it all. Joanne always writes the sweetest romances and this one was just adorable. Why not have the main guy character be mute and deaf? I loved it. Thor and Aven were so sweet together. Thor taught Aven some sign language and Aven taught him to dance. It was all so sweet. It wasn’t the normal relationship you read about and I loved that. This was so special and just adorable. I absolutely loved this book. This author always has such beautiful meanings in her books and her writing is so delightful to read. I definitely recommend this one!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Cue difficult review....may be some spoilers ahead... As much as I wanted to enjoy this story, I never could connect with it. Aven was a great character, but I never really got to know her—and moreover I don’t think she knew herself. We know who she is in the moment, but we have no clue what her goals in life are or what her ultimate dreams are. It’s clear from the story that she doesn’t even know from one month to the next what she really is going to/hoping to do, other than her talent for bakin Cue difficult review....may be some spoilers ahead... As much as I wanted to enjoy this story, I never could connect with it. Aven was a great character, but I never really got to know her—and moreover I don’t think she knew herself. We know who she is in the moment, but we have no clue what her goals in life are or what her ultimate dreams are. It’s clear from the story that she doesn’t even know from one month to the next what she really is going to/hoping to do, other than her talent for baking. It’s evident that she falls for Thor, but she kisses Haakon too...I don’t understand her reasoning for kissing one guy while she is considering/drawn to two; it feels very modern and odd, in a time when kissing guys meant strong commitment or even engagement. It’s hard to express correctly, but I think the closest I can come is that Aven’s character is more reactive in that she is shaped by every circumstance and doesn’t have a lot of independent thoughts and goals—that her life is shaped more by undefined longings than by real solid dreams. Her journey from kissing one guy to marrying the other thus felt almost more like her becoming an attachment to someone who had a sense of direction than for her having actually discovered her own sense of direction. Thor’s Deafness was an excellent portrayal, and I really enjoyed reading about his love for the apple orchards and the land he worked. The drinking issue with Thor is portrayed very heavily and his drunkenness is a key part of the story. This part is all very realistic. However, I felt his recovery was not so realistic. The doctor’s attitude I could have excused for rural ignorance, but on top of that they say “oh, it all cooks out” about using the cider for baking (which it doesn’t, and which wasn’t even a concept back then; teetotalers of the day, according to books I’ve read from the 1880s, were against all forms of baked goods—breads and puddings and all—that had any sort of drink as an ingredient, because of “desensitizing folks to the flavor.”). Why not use applesauce or apple juice in the baked goods? Writing style—Bischof uses a choppy, driven prose, and that’s hard for me sometimes because instead of using regular sentence fragments, often sentences are deliberately fragmented by putting a period right in the middle for no reason at all. Also, it doesn’t pair well with historic forms of expression; they definitely would not have talked in fragments to that extent, and it interrupted the historical feel of the conversation. Setting—the apple farm itself was excellent. The scenery is rich and easy to see in the imagination. The historical setting, not so much. Seems to drift between Civil War era habits to twenties habits, so without a strong setting of history it felt fragmented. In one part it talks about the brothers’ father having fought in the war and makes it seem like they were boys, but I was thinking of it having been set in the 1890s, which would make them men in their fifties...and that was just one of my mental hiccups. Aven's attack...this wasn't just hard to read. It was also hard to make sense of, and I'm not sure how I'll feel about the next book because of it. While I didn't like that it happened, it also felt like it threw the plot off a bit and took balance out of the ending. After so much focus on the apples and the farm, it felt like this vibrant part of the setting got short-changed in book space because of what happened after it. Several large plot elements got told in a summary sort of way instead of shown in the same sort of richness other parts were described earlier in the story. This gave me a sort of sense that the story unraveled at the end instead of wrapping up much. So ultimately the book bothered me more than it pleased me, despite some great moments. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a free review copy. A favorable review was not required.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)

    Spend but ten minutes gettin’ to know Thor Norgaard and you’ll forget he silent. You’ll learn and hear things that most men don’t even know how to speak.” There is so much depth to this gorgeous story – even (especially) in the gentle subtleties that Bischof tucks inside her writing, from the way the Norgaard brothers each represent a different facet of the Viking spirit to the way the variety of apples in the orchard itself reminded me of the different dimensions to the story. As tenderly as poss Spend but ten minutes gettin’ to know Thor Norgaard and you’ll forget he silent. You’ll learn and hear things that most men don’t even know how to speak.” There is so much depth to this gorgeous story – even (especially) in the gentle subtleties that Bischof tucks inside her writing, from the way the Norgaard brothers each represent a different facet of the Viking spirit to the way the variety of apples in the orchard itself reminded me of the different dimensions to the story. As tenderly as possible, the author weaves in layers of sibling rivalry, domestic abuse, alcoholism, racism, and greed with even more tenderly drawn layers of hope, healing and courage. This is a story that does not shy away from the harshness of life or sin. But it’s also a story that boldly proclaims freedom for the captive and beauty from the ashes. The cast of engaging characters are authentically imperfect and will break your heart a little before they heal it too. Especially Thor – oh my heart. His lovable giant self, made all the more endearing by the ways he compensates for the fact that he can’t speak (or hear), won me over in the first few pages. In Thor’s case, the absence of speech or sound does not mean the absence of conversation or emotion and the way the author has so lovingly crafted his character speaks louder than any voice could. Even down to subtle details such as the cadence of his sign language, the way he doesn’t realize how loud his movements are, his breathing patterns, etc., his characterization is spot-on and we get a clearer picture of his heart in a way that we might not otherwise. Bischof’s portrayal of Thor as not only Deaf & mute but also an alcoholic sets aside everything we’ve come to expect in our heroes – and I LOVE IT. The depth of his story is all-encompassing, wrapping around you until you can barely breathe from the exquisite beauty of Grace and redemption. I could seriously go on and on and on. I haven’t even talked yet about Aven and her relationship with Thor. I haven’t mentioned Ida or Cora or Jorgen or Haaken or Peter. These characters all captured me in one way or the other, and their combined stories touched me soul-deep. Bottom Line: I called The Lady and the Lionheart “heartachingly beautiful”, and it is. But I honestly think that Sons of Blackbird Mountain is even more so. These characters, their struggles, and their healing burrow into the heart and refuse to let go. Bischof’s mastery of language, her skill in setting, and her incomparable talent in subtle symbolism are refreshing and poetic. I of course want you to read all the books, but if you can only read one book this year, make it this one! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book) first seen at Reading Is My SuperPower

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Grace

    This is Bischof's best work, by far. My review can't do this beautiful book justice, but I'll do my best. The characters. Just wow. Somehow, Bischof creates such amazing, multi-faceted, realistic characters, and has you in love with them before you even reach the end of chapter two. I loved the female MC, Aven. Her sweet spirit, compassion, kindness, and gentle heart were inspiring, and her struggles were so relatable and realistic. Thor, the male MC, is a bit rough-and-tumble but has such a swe This is Bischof's best work, by far. My review can't do this beautiful book justice, but I'll do my best. The characters. Just wow. Somehow, Bischof creates such amazing, multi-faceted, realistic characters, and has you in love with them before you even reach the end of chapter two. I loved the female MC, Aven. Her sweet spirit, compassion, kindness, and gentle heart were inspiring, and her struggles were so relatable and realistic. Thor, the male MC, is a bit rough-and-tumble but has such a sweet heart. Being deaf, he struggles to express his true self, but when he does, it's the sweetest thing. I also loved the background characters of Jorgen, Ida, Cora, and even Haakon (at times). I loved Jorgen so much, I almost wish he could have his own book . . . or at least a novella, maybe. Words cannot express just how much I absolutely adored all these characters. The story, while not action-packed, is gripping nonetheless and definitely emotion-packed. My goodness. So many emotions . . . I particularly appreciated the brother relationships; having six brothers, I can attest to the accuracy of the characters' interactions. The brother-sister relationship between Aven and Jorgen was also adorable. The portrayal of deaf life and sign language was very unique and fascinating. The subject of alcoholism is a tough subject to tackle, but Bischof did it with great grace and raw honesty. Also, the representation of the racial issues of the time, including the Ku Klux Klan, was very interesting and accurate. I was wary at first of the romance because of the hinted love triangle, but it ended up being very sweet. Joanne Bischof's writing style is as beautiful and poetic as ever. Her descriptions and dialogue are always on point. The bit of humor thrown in on occasion helped to keep things lighter without detracting from the seriousness of the story. I loved the redemption and faith elements; they were so beyond beautiful and inspiring. Overall, I greatly enjoyed Sons of Blackbird Mountain, and highly recommend it to lovers of historical fiction! Definitely up there in my top 5 favorite 2018 releases. If you haven't read it yet, you must find yourself a copy and do so! CONTENT NOTE: Recommended for ages 16+ due to mature elements. (view spoiler)[Alcoholism and addictions play a large part in the story, particularly in the first half. Also, as mentioned, racial issues and issues with the Ku Klux Klan. A few semi-passionate kisses, and vague mentions of intimacy\sleeping together between a husband and wife. There is also an attempted rape, but nothing happens beyond being roughed up. (hide spoiler)] FTC disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest thoughts and opinions.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Clark

    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 g 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. My thanks to the publisher for an ARC copy for my honest consideration.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Sons of Blackbird Mountain was amazing. The story tackles some difficult subjects (including alcoholism), but I loved the way redemption was portrayed in the book. The characters and their struggles were so real and I could feel for them. There were some heart-wrenching moments in the book that I did not see coming and were hard to read. I loved the romance story. It was so sweet and I was rooting for Aven to end up with a certain someone. ;) I liked the way ASL and deafness was handled in this bo Sons of Blackbird Mountain was amazing. The story tackles some difficult subjects (including alcoholism), but I loved the way redemption was portrayed in the book. The characters and their struggles were so real and I could feel for them. There were some heart-wrenching moments in the book that I did not see coming and were hard to read. I loved the romance story. It was so sweet and I was rooting for Aven to end up with a certain someone. ;) I liked the way ASL and deafness was handled in this book. It was eye-opening in some ways, because it was so believable, and I could feel for Thor. All in all, Sons of Blackbird Mountain was difficult for me to put down. I started and finished the book so quickly and I loved every minute of it. I cannot wait to read the next book and definitely recommend this one! *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Cox

    FTC disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest thoughts and opinions. I am terribly conflicted over this story. While I admire Ms. Bischof for tackling such a tough topic as alcoholism, the presentation was too heavy-handed for me as the entire first half of the book focused nearly solely on the addiction rather than the other plot points that had been set up within the first two or three chapters. Ho FTC disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest thoughts and opinions. I am terribly conflicted over this story. While I admire Ms. Bischof for tackling such a tough topic as alcoholism, the presentation was too heavy-handed for me as the entire first half of the book focused nearly solely on the addiction rather than the other plot points that had been set up within the first two or three chapters. However, there were incredibly sweet moments, particularly in the second half of the tale, that really drew me in. The expressiveness of the writing was beautiful and immersive (as is Ms. Bischof's trademark), yet there were times when a clutch of fragments and confusing, disjointed sentences took over, causing me to lose focus. Jorgan was amazing. He was strong, sweet, courageous, generous, manly, a good brother, and an overall sweetheart. He's the type of guy I'd love to meet in real life. If he wasn't Norwegian, he'd be a Texan cowboy with those qualities, I'm sure. Haakon, on the other hand, I pretty much despised until the final three chapters. There was not much to admire or like about this fellow, including his eyes, which were "such a startling blue that even the sky overhead seemed the wrong color." That line was awkward to me, making me wish his eyes were brown or green or even purple so we'd get a more natural analogy. Speaking of the brothers, with silent and intriguing Thor added in there, the relationships among the trio reminded me a bit of that between the brothers in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie Christmas with Holly, one of my favorites. I liked that the Ku Klux Klan was featured, though it seemed to get forgotten for a hefty chunk of the book (at least half). I don't like what the group stands for and cannot support it, but it was handled well in this book and brought an interesting aspect to the story. I was disappointed to see three expletives and one profanity. This is a Christian fiction book. Those words have zero place in its pages, in my opinion. This was very saddening to me, and cast a shadow over the redemptive messages of this story. Pulses were taken with the thumb, which is a big no-no since there is a strong pulse in the thumb, making it nearly impossible to detect the other person's pulse that one is trying to find. This was done twice. I loved how well Ms. Bischof expressed the heartache and grip of sin, as well as the struggle to pull free from it. The aspect of God helping one through such times was too lightly dipped into for my taste, but it was there a few times. There were several spots that made me uncomfortable as they were overly sensual, especially scenes that were honeymoon material. Keep it behind closed doors, please! Tobacco was used, which made it seem like a character traded one vice for another. This was a little awkward, as he never seemed to need tobacco before he kicked the other habit. A couple of mentions of obscene or expletive hand gestures were disruptive, as they were unnecessary to the plot or genre. The characters' anger and frustration were already well expressed without such inappropriate behavior. One thing that really bothered me was the claim that cooking with liquor makes it "lose its potency. Becoming delicate enough for even the littlest of children to eat." (Chapter 20; fragment used as written in the story.) Firstly, this was not a known myth during the 1800s, as far as I'm aware. Secondly, it isn't scientifically accurate. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, "Contrary to what most people believe, the entire alcohol content doesn't always evaporate or boil away before the food is served. A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Data Laboratory showed that it can take longer than two and a half hours for all the alcohol to be cooked out of food to which wine or some other alcoholic beverage has been added." Dr. Weil has also stated that "people need to avoid alcohol for various reasons, such as to guard against alcoholic relapse, to protect a fetus, or to avoid adverse reactions that might be brought on by certain medications." Therefore, the character who suffered with alcoholism in Sons of Blackbird Mountain should have steered clear of any foods that contained alcohol or, if he did choose to consume them, should have felt the effects of the alcohol within the dishes, causing his struggle against the vice to be made worse. If it weren't for the sweetness of the second half of this story, I would have dropped my rating to one or two stars. However, I did enjoy the majority of the second half, and, thanks to the final three chapters and Haakon's adjusting attitude/actions, I am willing to try the next book in the series when it comes out.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...)

    This is the first book I've read by the author, and now I'm ready to go binge-read all her other books! I felt like my heart was being tugged on as I read the story of Aven and Thor, their thoughts, struggles, triumphs, and joys. The writing is absolutely beautiful and I just sank into it, not wanting to miss one word. Aven is such a thoughtful, compassionate person, having endured harsh circumstances and heartache, and blossoms in the supportive household of the Norgaard brothers. I loved her p This is the first book I've read by the author, and now I'm ready to go binge-read all her other books! I felt like my heart was being tugged on as I read the story of Aven and Thor, their thoughts, struggles, triumphs, and joys. The writing is absolutely beautiful and I just sank into it, not wanting to miss one word. Aven is such a thoughtful, compassionate person, having endured harsh circumstances and heartache, and blossoms in the supportive household of the Norgaard brothers. I loved her perspective as she quickly bonds with the brothers and the others that live on the property, embracing them as family. The sweet romance that develops between her and Thor after a rough beginning is amazing with lovely special moments that are quiet and intense. Thor is an unforgettable character, not just because of how he has succeeded despite his disability, but how he goes through the lowest of lows in order to overcome his weakness and be worthy of Aven. His gentle nature contrasts with his powerful strength and confidence, intriguing Aven and strengthening their connection. The family goes through ups and downs with violent neighbors, sibling rivalries, a new bride for the oldest brother, and a need to innovate their livelihood to save the farm. I was completely immersed from the first page to the last, and highly recommend this book! (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emilee

    Loved the setting and the characters. Thor, the middle son, really drew me into the story. I really felt for him as he tried to communicate. It was endearing. His complicated relationship with his little brother, Haaken, also pulled me in. I would have liked to have given 5 stars but I had trouble with sentence structure or something that I can't really put my finger on. I would feel like I missed something in parts and have to go back and reread sentences or paragraphs. I also felt there was a Loved the setting and the characters. Thor, the middle son, really drew me into the story. I really felt for him as he tried to communicate. It was endearing. His complicated relationship with his little brother, Haaken, also pulled me in. I would have liked to have given 5 stars but I had trouble with sentence structure or something that I can't really put my finger on. I would feel like I missed something in parts and have to go back and reread sentences or paragraphs. I also felt there was a lot of emphasis on Thor "drying out" which I was a tad uncomfortable with. But overall I love the story. I look forward to reading the next book to see where Haaken's story leads.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel McMillan

    At times tart and sweet, poetic and soft, Bischof returns to her heart's word's homeland in 19th Century Appalachia for a tapestry of loss and love. It is a tale of old as time: the bond strengthened and tethered between strong brothers ( each vulnerable in their own way) by the arrival of a beautiful stranger. What Bischof does with this trope is turn it into an illustration of healing, restoration, forgiveness and the discovery of words--- in action and in heart. For such a poetic writer to use At times tart and sweet, poetic and soft, Bischof returns to her heart's word's homeland in 19th Century Appalachia for a tapestry of loss and love. It is a tale of old as time: the bond strengthened and tethered between strong brothers ( each vulnerable in their own way) by the arrival of a beautiful stranger. What Bischof does with this trope is turn it into an illustration of healing, restoration, forgiveness and the discovery of words--- in action and in heart. For such a poetic writer to use the absence of words to sew up the integrity and deep beauty of an inimitable character like Thor speaks to the defter symbolism she obvious craves to explore in her fiction. Readers of Lady and the Lionheart will enjoy the realization of romance while they will revel in the intelligence of an historical novel that shows rather than tell a Gospel-like message of purity and redemption. To add, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is richly set amidst the world of (painstakingly) researched cider making that will leave readers mouths watering in contest with the rich descriptions. The ending is satisfying but will leave you craving more. I would like to thank Netgalley and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to review a book I have now more than once referred to as poetic realism.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jazzy

    THIS WAS AMAZING.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Tero

    Aven was a very endearing character, whose past had been filled with heartache and pain, yet who enters the book with a hope for a bright future. This bright future is found in her cousins’ farm on Blackbird Mountain. As a shock, though, their occupation comes from the very thing that Aven detests: hard liquor, made with pride from the orchards on the Norgaard farm. Joanne weaves a heartfelt story through the lives of Aven and Thor. I must admit, my absolute top-favorite character was Jorgan. His Aven was a very endearing character, whose past had been filled with heartache and pain, yet who enters the book with a hope for a bright future. This bright future is found in her cousins’ farm on Blackbird Mountain. As a shock, though, their occupation comes from the very thing that Aven detests: hard liquor, made with pride from the orchards on the Norgaard farm. Joanne weaves a heartfelt story through the lives of Aven and Thor. I must admit, my absolute top-favorite character was Jorgan. His name, his demeaner, his big-brother relationship with Aven… he was spot-on the best character (in my opinion) and I was happy for every good plot point for him. Thor was a very intriguing character. I know some of the Deaf culture from my sister having taken ASL and been at several Deaf meetings. This was the first time I had really read it in a book—that, as well as hints of the Ku Klux Klan (which was only in the beginning of the book and seemed to fade as the story progressed). With the limited knowledge that I have of both, Joanne seemed to do a very good job depicting them. I loved the feel of most of this story—the “backwoodsman” appeal as well as rugged living. Though, toward the end, I’ll admit an event happened that made me just want to skim through the remainder of the pages, and the book lost its homey, cozy feel for me. So, yes, that “aspect” had to do with the romance portion of the book. There was one character that I was always wary of (which Aven was wary of as well—which I’ll put in that the author did a great job helping you feel what she was feeling). Every time he came on the scene, I found myself almost holding my breath, hoping that it wouldn’t go in the direction I was seeing it headed. Of course, it did go in that direction and there was what I’d consider an attempted-rape scene. I kind of skimmed those pages, because it’s not something I’d care to read. So I can’t say exactly what happened, but it was enough for me to cringe and put a word of caution out for girls who don’t like to read that much content. That, and then there are some bent-on-discreet mentions of the marriage bed and such. It just got a little too much into that, as a non-romance reader. The spiritual content was throughout the pages, but it seemed almost as if they were all baby Christians, and though they made progress physically (for example, one being free from his addiction to alcohol; which seemed very descriptive and accurate, but may also be a little more than some readers would like to read, as it covers the bulk of the center of the story), there didn’t seem to be a lot of actual God-emphasis. Kind of “reassuring pats” that God would help them handle it, cries for God’s help, and a few Scripture quotations. I can’t fault it for being spiritually shallow, I’ve just been really picky about spiritual content lately. Or maybe it’s just that this isn’t along the lines of what I needed in my spiritual walk right now. The flow of the story was a little jerky to me. I do like fragmented sentences, but in this book, some of them almost didn’t make sense and I had to reread the paragraph two times to get what the author was trying to say. As the book progressed, though, either I got used to it, or she had less. I also found a little bit of the plot to be jerky as well. That could just be me being nit-picky though, as I've not read much fiction lately. Besides the latter quarter of the book (for above-mentioned reasons), this was one that I really enjoyed and will imagine many more mature readers will enjoy it as well. *I received this book from the publisher and am happily providing my honest review*

  16. 5 out of 5

    Clara

    I had full intention of keeping control of my schedule and not read until I was done. Failed! Shamelessly! - Widowed, Aven is looking forward to traveling land and sea in order to have a new beginning through caring for her late husband’s kid cousins. Only, once she arrives at this remote place called Blackbird Mountain, she’s greeted by three very grown men. In a place where the blackbird sings, apple blossom cheerfully paint the mountains, and Norwegian culture and tales are thickly woven in the I had full intention of keeping control of my schedule and not read until I was done. Failed! Shamelessly! - Widowed, Aven is looking forward to traveling land and sea in order to have a new beginning through caring for her late husband’s kid cousins. Only, once she arrives at this remote place called Blackbird Mountain, she’s greeted by three very grown men. In a place where the blackbird sings, apple blossom cheerfully paint the mountains, and Norwegian culture and tales are thickly woven in the lives of the inhabitants, Aven will see a brotherhood that goes way beyond blood, rather a true camaraderie, faithfulness, and care. Though the oldest and probably wisest one soon engages her friendship with his kindness and eagerness for his bride’s arrival, and the deep blue eyes and playful ways of the youngest might bring a quick smile to Aven’s lips, it’s the middle brother who will beckon her attention most honestly and deeply. Despite being gruff in his ways, Thor can read people better than they might ever expect, though he's wary of letting them read him back. It might seem it would be easy and a relief to be able to ignore the world because he is deaf, but Thor longs to be much more than a silent life wondering about carrying alone his hurts and fears; he longs to be truly heard as he is and in the way he can communicate and to know the person back just as deeply. Most importantly, he longs to free himself from the shackles of his addiction to the beverage that guarantees his family's legacy and livelihood but that is also his greatest demon. Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a story about wild men not very much understood by society and who are, in spite of that, confident in their ways and principles, even if it means facing the Klan’s hostility. Three brothers who will have their lives changed in the form of an Irish lass bringing a ray of sunshine and hope, along with the threat to bring to truth their hidden secrets, agony, remorse and grudge. And so, their choices take a different meaning and weight as they are offered a sweeter life, much better than before, though, to chose it, will mean living beyond desire and selfishness, but humbly and serving, listening and comforting. Joanne Bischof's writing never ceases to satisfy. Each word comes to life through the pages and completely immerses you into the plot. As if you could smell Ida's goods being cooked, hear Cora's wise words being said, feel Dotti purring around your leg for attention, and see the most beautiful bond between brothers and the women who raised them and, now, Aven. Yep, Blackbird Mountain becomes as much home to us readers as to the young woman who came looking for a new beginning, only be offered love, protection, safety, and family <3 I am so very very happy that this is a series. Very much so. If you are wondering if Joanne Bischof surpassed herself from her phenomenal The Lady and the Lionheart, I have only one answer: I wouldn’t dare compare. Each book is unique in their own setting, special with their own story. Their individualities are to be savored fully to both produce the same experience: pure satisfaction. *many thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy through Edelweiss. This is my honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pepper Basham

    Joanne Bischof has a gift. With the same lyrical beauty and intricate detail as award-winning author Laura Frantz, Bischof has woven an exquisite story of love, jealousy, the deep ties of family, and the tenderness of patience in her newest release, Sons of Blackbird Mountain. Our hero is Deaf - a challenging endeavor for an author to try and portray authentically, but Bischof does so with grace and care. With a masterful pen and elegant characterization, the reader is ushered into a uniquely de Joanne Bischof has a gift. With the same lyrical beauty and intricate detail as award-winning author Laura Frantz, Bischof has woven an exquisite story of love, jealousy, the deep ties of family, and the tenderness of patience in her newest release, Sons of Blackbird Mountain. Our hero is Deaf - a challenging endeavor for an author to try and portray authentically, but Bischof does so with grace and care. With a masterful pen and elegant characterization, the reader is ushered into a uniquely descriptive atmosphere so that we can 'see' the frustration, desire, and gentleness of a soul who reads the world because he cannot hear it. The romance is as breathtaking as Bischof's seemingly effortless ability to create intricate word-pictures and evoke deep-set emotions through the lives of these characters and their setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (my home, sweet home). A spectacular novel!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Captivating! From the moment I started reading this story, I felt that I had been transported to 1890s Virginia. The setting and amount of details were perfect!The story dealt with several tough issues, including addiction, deafness, racial prejudice, and jealousy, and handled them in a way that I thought felt real. My heart broke for Thor with his addiction to alcohol and watching the agony he and his family suffered while trying to break free from its horrible grip. I immensely enjoyed watchin Captivating! From the moment I started reading this story, I felt that I had been transported to 1890s Virginia. The setting and amount of details were perfect!The story dealt with several tough issues, including addiction, deafness, racial prejudice, and jealousy, and handled them in a way that I thought felt real. My heart broke for Thor with his addiction to alcohol and watching the agony he and his family suffered while trying to break free from its horrible grip. I immensely enjoyed watching the love story unfold, as it was so sweet and pure. Bischof has once again proven that she is a gifted storyteller!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shantelle

    This ... this is perhaps the most beautiful book that I've read by Joanne Bischof thus far. How does she pen such lovely and tangible and heartfelt stories? Sons of Blackbird Mountain was an absolute delight, as I was sure it would be when I requested to review it! I'm certain I will never turn down a novel by this author. ^_^ In the Appalachian hills, on a three-hundred-acre farm, we venture with Aven Norgaard to meet three brothers. The oldest is a steady and compassionate presence. The middle This ... this is perhaps the most beautiful book that I've read by Joanne Bischof thus far. How does she pen such lovely and tangible and heartfelt stories? Sons of Blackbird Mountain was an absolute delight, as I was sure it would be when I requested to review it! I'm certain I will never turn down a novel by this author. ^_^ In the Appalachian hills, on a three-hundred-acre farm, we venture with Aven Norgaard to meet three brothers. The oldest is a steady and compassionate presence. The middle brother is deaf, but has so much heart and aspirations despite his silence. The youngest is the blue-eyed charmer; rash and wild. Amidst trials and tempests rising, young, widowed Aven learns to love these brothers, take her place in this new land, and hope anew. These characters were amazing. Aven. Jorgan. Thorald. Haaken. Ida. Fay. And many more. As well as the setting. The storyline. The emotion ... it was thick and real and so deep. I was moved, more than once. So many beautiful thoughts within the pages of Sons of Blackbird Mountain. I loved the little bits of wisdom shared on marriage, love, and life. I love how masculine Joanne's male characters are, and how feminine her female characters are! I feel like she portrays God's design for womanhood, manhood, and marriage so simply yet gorgeously in this book. Her writing is incredible - something about it just draws me in time and time again. She not only brings these people and this story to life, but small moments - I feel them so keenly. I become lost in her books! I love, love, loved how achingly sweet and slow and quiet the love story was. I have no words. You must read it for yourself. And Thor. He was a character I came to quite adore. His struggle. His personality. His strength. His tenderness. But truth be told, his brothers impressed themselves on my heart as well. And Aven, too! This story was sweet, tender, and summer-y ... as well as deep, intense, and heartbreaking. So many moments. Lessons learned. Victories. Hopes. So much more to come! I can hardly wait to read the second book in this series! Faith. Romance. Heartache. Hope. Family. Joanne Bischof writes historical fiction that is absolutely not to be missed! I received a copy of Sons of Blackbird Mountain from BookLookBloggers program in exchange for my honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    {3.5 stars} When I first saw this cover, I wanted to read this book, but when I read the summary I knew I must. I'm always on the look out for a unique story, and since I've had experienced with this authors writing, I knew she would describe life so well. This book is no exception. She sweeps you into the life of Thor and Aven, who both seem so different, but have ties that bind their hearts together. I dearly, dearly loved Thor and his scenes touched me so much. I could feel his deafness and sin {3.5 stars} When I first saw this cover, I wanted to read this book, but when I read the summary I knew I must. I'm always on the look out for a unique story, and since I've had experienced with this authors writing, I knew she would describe life so well. This book is no exception. She sweeps you into the life of Thor and Aven, who both seem so different, but have ties that bind their hearts together. I dearly, dearly loved Thor and his scenes touched me so much. I could feel his deafness and since I learned some sign language a few years ago, I loved trying to picture the signs he was using. His scenes are so silent, yet not! He knows people so well and his struggles and feelings are easily grasped. Aven is a sweet arrival to the family farm, and her interaction with the brothers is superb! Romance moved at the right pace, and I love the depth to the relationship. I have to say, the bit of love triangle was a bit frustrating, but I'm looking forward to seeing more of Haakon's side of the story in the next book. There are several kisses, one or two semi-detailed, but I was pleasantly surprised by how little detail there was. There is a swimming scene, where men aren't wearing any shirts, and there is a bit of awkwardness in that. There is a scene toward the end that could be disconcerting for readers (it was for me), but surprisingly written delicately and is a key point to the story. Part of the storyline involve making wine and the struggles of an alcoholic. Unfortunately, there wasn't a strong enough reminder that "strong drink is raging" and we should be filled with the spirit rather than wine. Instead, drinking in moderation was the only remedy. Spiritual content wasn't too heavy, but it was there in the life of Thor and Aven as they faced challenges each day. I would have liked to see more of Thor's spiritual journey, especially considering his struggle in certain areas. This is a series, so I was left with a few questions at the end, but the conclusion of the story is great and I loved that there is a happily-ever-after :) It is a book that will speak to readers hearts and brings to life each character in fabulous description. *I received this book to read from Thomas Nelson publishing in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own*

  21. 4 out of 5

    m a r y l i z

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH All words fail me right now. Not my favorite book of hers, but mostly that was because I read it verrrrrry slowly over the course of longer than a month, so that inhibited my ability to really engage with the story/characters. Still . . . absolutely, breathtakingly lovely. It was literally the PERFECT book for right now, as the setting was an apple orchard (which I visited just last weekend) in the mountains of Virginia (where I am currently) during the same months that I read it AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH All words fail me right now. Not my favorite book of hers, but mostly that was because I read it verrrrrry slowly over the course of longer than a month, so that inhibited my ability to really engage with the story/characters. Still . . . absolutely, breathtakingly lovely. It was literally the PERFECT book for right now, as the setting was an apple orchard (which I visited just last weekend) in the mountains of Virginia (where I am currently) during the same months that I read it. LITERALLY PERFECT, RIGHT?? Goodness gracious, I adore this book. The setting, the characters (THOR AND HIS BROTHERS AND AVEN <3), the Norwegian/Irish aspects, the themes, the writing - basically everything. Perhaps I'll write a more detailed review when I have time, but for now, all I have to see is: I love this book. (P.S. I maaaay be just a little hyped about the fact that this is a series. CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL AHHH) 4.5 stars!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Yes, I'm already rating this 5 stars! Because it's from the mind of Joanne Bischof so I know it's going to be amazing! That cover though!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carole Jarvis

    Reviewed at The Power of Words: https://bit.ly/2zkV8k6 “She’d witnessed hatred before, but never in such a precise display. Like soldiers, those men had been. Out to patrol upon this mountain. And now, somewhere out there, women were stirring from slumber after passing the night beside the cloaked men who had stood here under a half-wane moon.” Joanne Bischof is a wordsmith, a most gifted writer who, seemingly without effort, pens the most emotionally creative stories imaginable. Returning to the Reviewed at The Power of Words: https://bit.ly/2zkV8k6 “She’d witnessed hatred before, but never in such a precise display. Like soldiers, those men had been. Out to patrol upon this mountain. And now, somewhere out there, women were stirring from slumber after passing the night beside the cloaked men who had stood here under a half-wane moon.” Joanne Bischof is a wordsmith, a most gifted writer who, seemingly without effort, pens the most emotionally creative stories imaginable. Returning to the Appalachian world that first endeared me to Bischof’s novels in the Cadence of Grace series, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a haunting, poignant story of a young widow from Norway and three brothers living in the Virginia backwoods. The writing is lyrical, characters well drawn and so very realistic, the setting becomes a major character, and the story engrossing. There’s so much complexity to this story – a rivalry between the two younger sons for Aven’s affections, themes of alcoholism, racism, greed, and survival. To say this story and its characters are captivating would be putting it mildly. I read slowly, savoring every word, and didn’t want it to end. The relationship that slowly builds between Aven and Thor, who is deaf, is hard to adequately describe. Bischof has done an incredible job with Thor’s character, in the expression of his feelings, weaknesses, and difficulty in communicating. Every scene between these two touches on the emotions, and their chemistry is palpable. Faith is gently woven throughout. I loved this thought expressed by Aven … “Hate wasn’t hers to bear justly and if she tried, it would leave her wrecked upon the rocks she hoped to navigate safely around.” Very highly recommended. Sons of Blackbird Mountain goes on my “best of the best” list. I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

  24. 5 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    One of the main reasons that I decided to review this book was that it sounded different. Set in the Appalachian Mountains with a family just arrived from Norway. From the description of the book, it was clear that this was going to be a book with some historical romance but with some strong Christian themes as well. I am not put off by Christian fiction as long as it doesn’t get preachy. Over the years I’ve been really lucky with the Christian fiction books that I’ve read and they haven’t been to One of the main reasons that I decided to review this book was that it sounded different. Set in the Appalachian Mountains with a family just arrived from Norway. From the description of the book, it was clear that this was going to be a book with some historical romance but with some strong Christian themes as well. I am not put off by Christian fiction as long as it doesn’t get preachy. Over the years I’ve been really lucky with the Christian fiction books that I’ve read and they haven’t been too heavy handed. I am not familiar with this author so I felt like I was kind of taking a chance on this one, but the description of the book sounded too good to pass up. I was intrigued by the summery of this book because the main character, Thor, sounds not only physically flawed, but emotionally flawed as well. I was eager to see his transformation and how this story was going to resolve. This book was exceptionally well done. Making the main character, Thor, both deaf and an alcoholic made his character extremely complex and challenging to write. The author does an excellent job at making Thor both complex and sympathetic. The reader doesn’t necessarily feel sorry for him, but feels more that there is hope inside him. The complexity of the main characters totally kept me reading. Once I started, it was hard to put this book down. I was impressed by the lyrical nature of the authors prose. It was captivating and elegant, I absolutely loved reading some of the passages in this book. The descriptions, romance and complex characters won me over wholeheartedly. This book does have strong themes of redemption and faith as once would expect from Christian fiction, but I personally didn’t think it was preachy or too over the top for the casual Christian fiction reader like me. This book took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. It was a book that tackled difficult issues such as alcoholism and yet as this book took shape, the beauty of the romance shined through the difficult content. It was and exceptional book to read and I would highly recommend it. I am curious now about the other books by this author! I also see that this is the first in a series and I can’t wait to read more with these characters! See my full review here

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hallie Szott

    If you’re looking for a book with a story as beautiful as its cover, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is it. Set in historic Appalachia, this book brings to life a family of uniquely tempered brothers, a woman alone and far from home, the orchard that connects them, and the struggles they must endure or overcome. There is a quietness that pervades the pages as the story unfolds, hinting at strength and redemption, that blends among lyrical writing, complex characterizations, and an exquisite, I-want-to If you’re looking for a book with a story as beautiful as its cover, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is it. Set in historic Appalachia, this book brings to life a family of uniquely tempered brothers, a woman alone and far from home, the orchard that connects them, and the struggles they must endure or overcome. There is a quietness that pervades the pages as the story unfolds, hinting at strength and redemption, that blends among lyrical writing, complex characterizations, and an exquisite, I-want-to-sink-into-this-story atmosphere to make it so irresistibly page-turning. Sons of Blackbird Mountain is one book readers of historical fiction should definitely read. Right now. With it being one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, I’m happy to say it absolutely does not disappoint. A story to savor and ponder and love, I highly recommend it. This review is also posted on Book by Book. Thanks to Celebrate Lit, I received a complimentary copy of Sons of Blackbird Mountain and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    Sons of Blackbird Mountain is an utterly charming and beautiful historical novel. Set in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, it combines the complexity of brotherly relationships and finding a place to belong, with the sweet joy of finding a true love connection, despite many challenges. Aven Norgaard has faced many challenges in her short life. Having escaped from the workhouse, her husband then died. Travelling from Norway across the oceans to Appalachia, America, Aven hopes to find a home Sons of Blackbird Mountain is an utterly charming and beautiful historical novel. Set in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, it combines the complexity of brotherly relationships and finding a place to belong, with the sweet joy of finding a true love connection, despite many challenges. Aven Norgaard has faced many challenges in her short life. Having escaped from the workhouse, her husband then died. Travelling from Norway across the oceans to Appalachia, America, Aven hopes to find a home with her late husband’s relatives. Upon arriving, Aven is surprised to discover that her cousins-in-law are not the boys she expected but grown men - each with their own demons and attractions. Thor Norgaard has loved Aven from a distance for years, but having her in his house is a new and unsettling feeling. Deaf, Thor is touched that Aven seems to truly hear him, yet his relationship with his brother Haakon -already strained - is stretched further and Thor’s own battle with alcohol addiction is a challenge he must overcome if he wants to court Aven. This is the first book that I have read by Joanne Bischof. I have many of her titles on my to-read list, but Sons of Blackbird Mountain is the first I have had occasion to pick up. And I am so very glad that I did. Sons of Blackbird Mountain is so wonderfully well written. Sinking into the characters’ lives and voices was enthralling. Bischof brings the characters to life so vibrantly, as she does with the relationships between them. This book delves into the complexity of relationships both familial and romantic. The connection between Thor and Aven was incredibly heartening. Though at first communication is difficult, Aven is keen to connect with Thor. And despite Thor’s size and alcohol addiction, he is infinitely gentle and understanding with Aven. Both have faced many challenges and hurts in the past and present. Both long for connection. Both find in the other a refuge. Thor’s battle with addiction forms a large part of this book. I believe that the ongoing struggle and the harsh reality of detoxing was accurately portrayed. The brotherly relationship between Thor, Jorgan and Haakon is the other shining star of this novel. They banter, support, fight, and compete in everything. Sons of Blackbird Mountain has a bitter sweet ending. After so much hurt and turmoil it was wonderful to read of the characters’ happy endings, yet there are still journeys in progress. I can’t wait to read the next book, which I sincerely hope will be Haakon’s story of redemption. Such a hurting young man deserves his own happy ending. Honestly, I just loved this book. Combining history, family, relationships, the fight against racial prejudice and strength of character, this story touched my heart and made me smile. Joanne Bischof earned a place on my must-read list with this charming and delightful historical novel. The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own. Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Timerman

    Be ready to step back into 1890 and the beautiful hills of Virginia, and with a young woman about to meet some family for the first time. Aven Norgaard is a survivor, she was brought up in the workhouse in Ireland, rescued by way of marriage by an older man, widowed and then travels all the way from Norway to Virginia to stay with relatives of her late husband. When she arrives, she is greeted by three cousins, and she thought she was going to help tend the little ones, who are at least her age o Be ready to step back into 1890 and the beautiful hills of Virginia, and with a young woman about to meet some family for the first time. Aven Norgaard is a survivor, she was brought up in the workhouse in Ireland, rescued by way of marriage by an older man, widowed and then travels all the way from Norway to Virginia to stay with relatives of her late husband. When she arrives, she is greeted by three cousins, and she thought she was going to help tend the little ones, who are at least her age or older. Wow, what a welcome, and now two of these brothers are interested in her for a wife. She has left behind in Norway the life of being married to an alcoholic and now will she end right back in the same boat? There is so much going on in this story, life doesn’t ever seem to be idle and quiet, but once you are involved in the lives of this family you not going to be able to put the book down, and once that final cover is closed you’re going to have a sense of loss, at least I did. The book is that good, that I really wanted more. I received this book through Celebrate Lit Blog Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    First of all, Joanne Bischof where have you been all my life? I can not believe I have not read this author until now. I am glad I rectified that error and I can't wait to read more by this very talented lady. I Sooo Loved this novel. It is in my top 5 favorites for this year. I don't know where to start explaining why I loved it so much, but I will try. If you read this book, which I hope you do, you must read Joanne Bischof's explanation at the very beginning. She explains some of the text and First of all, Joanne Bischof where have you been all my life? I can not believe I have not read this author until now. I am glad I rectified that error and I can't wait to read more by this very talented lady. I Sooo Loved this novel. It is in my top 5 favorites for this year. I don't know where to start explaining why I loved it so much, but I will try. If you read this book, which I hope you do, you must read Joanne Bischof's explanation at the very beginning. She explains some of the text and why it sounds and is written different. What it is like to speak and write ASL. I believe it helps you understand and enjoy the story. I have a deaf friend, have had the opportunity to be introduced to the deaf community and I am learning ASL. Whether Ms. Bischof has personal experience or has spent a great deal of time in researching, I feel she has done an excellent job of representing the deaf community. That is one reason why I was so drawn to this story, but there are many more. She does a great job of developing her characters. There are several complex personalities. Thor, the deaf brother, to me was the most complex. He is not only deaf, but mute and struggles with alcoholism. How she was able to get inside of Thor's head and portray his life and feelings, to me is amazing. The time period is just after the war. There was still so much unrest and injustice going on, especially in the south. Not everything in this book is easy to read and I am sure some parts may have been hard for the author to write. Even though the author doesn't skirt around this and other hard issues, she brings light into the darkness. I would whole heartily recommend this wonderful book. I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing through Net Galleys. The opinion expressed in this review is completely my own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Turansky

    Joanne Bischof always has a way of transporting you to another time and place so completely you feel like her stories are real. Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a heart-tugging tale, and one I throughly enjoyed. The characters are unique and memorable and the writing is lyrical and lovely! I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy well-written historical romance.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    "Spend ten minutes getting to know Thor Norgaard and you'll forget he's silent. You'll learn and hear things that most men don't even know how to speak." Getting to know Thor Norgaard was an incredible experience. As a deaf man, his disability does not take away from his appeal or masculinity even in the slightest. In fact, it enhances it! Joanne's writing is so expressive you feel what he's feeling, see what he's seeing, hear what he's thinking. More than once I found myself holding my breath wi "Spend ten minutes getting to know Thor Norgaard and you'll forget he's silent. You'll learn and hear things that most men don't even know how to speak." Getting to know Thor Norgaard was an incredible experience. As a deaf man, his disability does not take away from his appeal or masculinity even in the slightest. In fact, it enhances it! Joanne's writing is so expressive you feel what he's feeling, see what he's seeing, hear what he's thinking. More than once I found myself holding my breath with goosebumps waiting to see what he'd do next. The story line between Thor and Aven is SO beautiful. Their love story is slow and intimate and very enjoyable to read. And their first kiss...you might need a fan! The patient way that Aven gets to know Thor and her desire to be able to communicate with him is so well written. The desire for Thor to be understood and listened to just makes you fall in love with him. Also, Joanne's ability to bring you into the world of a deaf/mute giant of a man is brilliant. I thought about how it might feel to be deaf in the situations he finds himself in, and found myself to be scared. I also loved the relationship between Thor and his brothers, Jorgan and Haakon. They each have their own personalities...sometimes they work together and sometimes the clash. Thor and Haakon have a lot to work through and it's not all resolved at the end of this book. It's a great cliff-hanger for the next book in the series, which I can't wait to read! I will highly recommend this book to everyone and anyone. Joanne Bischof is a master story teller and this book does not disappoint! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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