First Line Friday: Christmas at the Circus

Welcome to First Line Friday’s hosted by Hoarding Books.

Today I am excited to be featuring Christmas at the Circus by Joanne Bishof. Pour yourself a hot drink and snuggle up with this heartwarming Christmas story! Enjoy a heartwarming visit with Charlie, Ella and Holland Lionheart for their first Christmas.

ChristmasAtTheCircus

December, 1890

          Ella Lionheart hefted a jar of flour onto the work surface, placing it with a cloud of dust to rival that of the high-flying aerialist and their grand landings in the center ring.

 

Pick-up your copy for only .99c!

Christmas at the Circus

Now it’s your turn!

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. To see what First Lines others are sharing this week head over to Hoarding Books.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

 

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

Two worlds collide when the circus comes to Victorian-era Virginia.

Synopsis:

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.

As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

  The Lady and the Lionheart

My Thoughts:

No question about it, this book deserves all the stars! I didn’t just read this story, I lived it. Joanne Bischof created a vivid masterpiece, a world that I didn’t want to leave. This story lingered in my imagination and heart days after I finished the last page.

I fell in love with the characters. Even the secondary characters, and yes, even the lions! Each had a special role and each held a piece of my heart. You couldn’t convince me that it wasn’t real, so don’t even try, my heart wouldn’t believe you!

If you haven’t yet picked up this book, you need to run to your nearest library or bookstore and settle in for a delightful story that will hold you captive long past the final chapter! If you fall into the category of “I read it a year or so ago” then it may be time to dust it off and read it again! You can be sure that this story holds a place of honor on my keeper shelf and will be pulled out again for future enjoyment.

(I purchased a copy of this book for my own collection. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

Favorite Quote:

About the Author:

Joanne-BischofA Christy and Carol Award-winning author, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She was honored to receive the SDCWG Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon Writer’s conference. Her 2014 novella This Quiet Sky broke precedent as the first self-released title to final for the Christy Awards. To Get to You, her 2015 release, was the second. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from Romantic Times Book Reviews among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children and is currently working on a new 2-book series for Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian (releasing 2018).

Webpage // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest //

  The Lady and the Lionheart

 

Daughters of Northern Shores (Blackbird Mountain #2) by Joanne Bischof

Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts:

Book hangovers are real my friends, and this story has left a lasting impression. I finished reading it (much to my dismay, as I didn’t want it to end) a couple days ago and have been trying to gather my thoughts into a coherent manner in which to do this fantastic story justice with my words. An impossible task!

This story picks up right where we left off and primarily follows Haakon. If summed up in one line, I’d have to say that it is Haakon’s redemption story. From heartache to abundant grace we see a beautiful story unfold. One that reminds us that we all sin and fall short, and are in desperate need of grace.

I enjoyed every moment spent with the dynamic characters of this story. Picking up the book was like stepping through a time portal and entering the world flawless depicted on the pages. If you haven’t yet, you will want to be sure and read Sons of Blackbird Mountain. Both of these stories will completely weave themselves around your heart!

(I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

About the Author:

Joanne-BischofA Christy and Carol Award-winning author, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She was honored to receive the SDCWG Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon Writer’s conference. Her 2014 novella This Quiet Sky broke precedent as the first self-released title to final for the Christy Awards. To Get to You, her 2015 release, was the second. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from Romantic Times Book Reviews among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children and is currently working on a new 2-book series for Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian (releasing 2018).

Webpage // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest //

Daughters of Northern Shores (Blackbird Mountain #2)

  Sons of Blackbird Mountain (Blackbird Mountain #1)

 

July 2018 – Month in Review

What books have you read during the month of July? I’ve had the pleasure of reading some wonderful stories this past month! Join me as we take a look back at the bookish fun we enjoyed in July.

Clicking on the link will take you to the blog post for that book, interview or reveal.

Books Reviewed:

SonsOfBlackbirdMountain Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

TeachMeToLove Teach me to Love by Kari Trumbo

TheRaveling The Raveling by Tamara Leigh

WhatTheHeartHolds What the Heart Holds by Kari Trumbo

RiverToRedemption  River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart

AStrangerOnMyLand  A Stranger on my Land by Sandra Merville Hart

ADefenseOfHonor  A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter

TheRoadToMagnoliaGlen The Road to Magnolia Glen by Pam Hillman

JaneByTheBook  Jane By the Book by Pepper Basham

TheReckoningAtGossamerPond The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

APerfectWeakness  A Perfect Weakness by Jennifer A. Davids

ThePatriotBride  The Patriot Bride by Kimberely Woodhouse

 

Book Tour:

TheLastSummer  The Last Summer by Brandy Bruce

 

Author Interview:

PhotoFunia-1532360528   Jaime Jo Wright – The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond

 

I’d love to hear from you:

Have you read any of the books I reviewed this month? If so, did you have a favorite?
What book(s) are you looking forward to reading in August?

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First Line Fridays: Sons of Blackbird Mountain

Welcome to First Line Friday’s hosted by Hoarding Books.

Today I’m excited to be featuring Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof. This book was just released this week, and it is one that you won’t want to miss out on reading! CLICK HERE to read my review.

 

SonsOfBlackbirdMountain

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 wooded sign that was staked to the ground. The location matched, but with the Virginia summer sun overhead and the shores of Norway but a memory, she was suddenly having a hard time putting one foot in front of the other.

 

I couldn’t stop with just one line! I felt you needed two lines to really give you a good start! Has Aven found the correct address? What surprises lay in store?

 

Now it’s your turn!

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. To see what First Lines others are sharing this week head over to Hoarding Books.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain (Blackbird Mountain #1) by Joanne Bischof

A Tale of Family, Brotherhood, and the Healing Power of Love

Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts:

This deeply poignant story is sure to touch your heart. The characters lingered in my thoughts days after I finished reading the story. Every page is filled with emotion and lyrical phrasing that is sure to draw you in and take hold of your imagination and senses.

These characters are intense and multifaceted. They easily found their way into my heart. The story deals with very difficult situations, and addictions. It isn’t always easy to have a front-row seat and to watch characters that you have grown to care about going through difficult times. However, life is just like that. People you care about go through difficult times, and make choices that you may not always agree with. In the end, it is more important that we walk along-side, offer support, and point them to Jesus. He is the only one who can direct their path and give them true peace.

This is a beautiful story of grace, healing, and forgiveness. I wasn’t ready for the end of the story to arrive and I eagerly look forward to the next story in the Blackbird Mountain series.

(I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

Favorite Quote:

About the Author:

Joanne-BischofA Christy and Carol Award-winning author, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She was honored to receive the SDCWG Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon Writer’s conference. Her 2014 novella This Quiet Sky broke precedent as the first self-released title to final for the Christy Awards. To Get to You, her 2015 release, was the second. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from Romantic Times Book Reviews among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children and is currently working on a new 2-book series for Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian (releasing 2018).

Webpage // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest //

  Sons of Blackbird Mountain