“You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are? Anchor chains, plane motors & train whistles”
George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life
My favorite sounds are a little different than George’s. Children’s giggles, bird song, worship music. You probably have yet another list of favorites.
How many people actually favor complete silence?
So much of our communication is done using our voices, even to the tone of voice used. Not being able to hear cuts us off from that and removes a link to the world around us.
I have watched my dad who can only hear out of one ear, sitting in a room filled with family, their conversations filling the air. While he has a faint smile on his face at seeing those he loves around him, there is a bit of a lost look on his face, a yearning to hear what is being said.
Daughters of Northern Shores
Series: Blackbird Mountain #2
Published by Thomas Nelson
Publication Date March 12, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Action/Adventure, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Virginia, Norway Main Character Ages: 25-34
Written for: Adults
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.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
Also in this series: Sons of Blackbird Mountain
Daughters of Northern Shores is a riveting continuation of the story of the Norgaard family of Blackbird Mountain that was difficult to put down. Spanning almost a year in time, though the greater part of the story takes place on Blackbird Mountain, it also brings the reader to Norway and on an ocean voyage aboard an ice ship.
I was again swept away as author Joanne Bischof poured out her heart on these pages with tender and hopeful melancholy. I was nearly brought to tears many times throughout the story, both for sadness and for joy. The beautiful prose wrapped around my heart and caused me to experience each characters’ emotions, their pains, their fears, and their dreams. The biting of the Northern winds caused me to shiver; the fragrance of the apple orchards caused my tummy to rumble.
If you have not read Sons of Blackbird Mountain, you should read that before continuing this review as there are spoilers for that book here. There are no spoilers for this story in the review.
I am amazed at how one who is not Deaf so capably made me feel like I had an inkling of the kind of isolation Thor would have experienced in his deafness, despite the way his family did all they could to include him. And yet Thor is not one to be pitied. His strength of character and the love Aven has for him warm my heart.
The prodigal journey Haakon traveled as he ran away from the sure wrath of his brothers after his atrocious behavior and the certain revenge to be sought by the Sorrel family for the destruction he wrought on their property had him squandering his life and living in a way that would cause such grief to his family. And yet in his self-imposed isolation, he had a friend who was a steady, Christian influence in his life. Unlike the Prodigal Son, he returns, not out of the need for physical fulfillment but for forgiveness. And unlike the Prodigal, he has no father to return to who will welcome him with open arms; only the brother whose wife he wronged in such a terrible way.
Daughters of Northern Shores is a story of changed lives, of love of family, of good versus evil, and of forgiveness. Though I classify it as a romance, it is so much more. What is often thought of as romance finds very little place here.
The confrontation with the Sorrels is narrated in great detail. The author’s description of the events of that terrible night contained in such great detail I felt like I was watching a movie. And yet despite the bullets, knives, and other weapons, it was not overly violent or bloody.
I loved learning more about the ice trade and the ways and places the ice was transported. Having read enough period novels to know that the English had ice in the summer, I always wondered how they got it. I was surprised to learn some of the other places the ice traveled.
This is a must-read book and is already on my list of candidates for Best of 2019!
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A Heroine and Her Home
by Joanne Bischof
Having grown up within a workhouse in Ireland in the late 1800’s, Aven Norgaard, one of the heroines of the Blackbird Mountain novels, has never known open spanses and freedom. Now, having voyaged to rural Virginia, she’s discovered a whole new world of wonders. While her days in this new and rugged land are far from easy, they’re rich with blessings that she savors with her whole heart. And now as the bride of one of the men of this mountain, a Deaf cider-maker by name of Thor Norgaard, she’s discovering all new facets of life only once dreamed of.
So what does this new life look like for a young wife in a remote and wild land? While trials, struggles, and even dangers are still part of the bargain, here are a few of her favorite pieces of this place she calls home.
The woods – from the soaring pines, to the soft undergrowth, she’s now able to traverse through wilds that are so different than the chilly stone walls and dim corridors she was raised within. Birds call from branches, and squirrels dart about. Wind rustles the leaves as a sound she only once dreamed of. All of it, a treasure to a heart that was once parched for such.
A family – having been orphaned at a young age, to suddenly be immersed into a large and vibrant family is an all new part of the adventure. Now Aven’s days are filled with community and friendship, and with a few brothers-in-law in the mix, she’s learning the adventurous side of community—complete with laughable moments. Not to mention . . . savoring sweet fellowship with the women who raised them.
The treehouse – never had she climbed up into a treehouse before, and even if she had, it would have paled in comparison to the Norgaard brothers’ childhood hideout with its tattered white flag, Nordic names carved into the sturdy wood, and its soaring height. For her to sit there alongside her beloved Thor, makes the daring climb all the more worth it.
Provision – from a shed that’s brimming with old bolts of cloth, to jars of buttons and pins, Aven has all she’s longed for at her fingertips to create and stitch for those she loves. Having slaved over a needle within the workhouse for years, her skills now have a place to be used in delight and gratitude.
A safe haven – though many blessings abound, life is not always easy. The wilderness holds dangers, and provisions, at times, might grow lean. Sickness and heartache will always come knocking, but with the Lord as her guide, and along with the courageous and wise husband at her side, Aven rests in the assurance that God’s plan for them will be the right one.
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I hope sharing these little pieces of Aven’s life within the Blackbird Mountain series is an encouragement to you today. Maybe together, we can think of five things that we are thankful for about our own homes. What blessings might abound for you today, wherever today finds you?
One winner will receive a print copy of Daughters of Northern Shores and a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan custom tote bag (book and bag shown are examples, not actual prize)
Ends March 20, 2019