Monday, December 31, 2018

My Pick for Favorite Fiction of 2018 - A Book Review, with Insight for Writers

As many books as I've read and enjoyed in 2018, none have touched me as profoundly as Joanne Bischof's Sons of Blackbird Mountain. In fact, I just finished the ARC of Book Tow on my Kindle, and OH. MY. GOODNESS The combo should be a movie. So good. You really want to read both to go the full circle of the story. Book two is available for pre-order.

Read book one now! Book two releases March 12, 2019.

Ms. Bischof's story of a young Irish woman finding a new beginning in the home of three Norwegian brothers, who live on a farm in the wilds of Appalachia, is perfectly plotted and beautifully written. Set in the 1890s, every character grabs you with a depth of feeling and personality in a truly unique story--especially the three Norgaard men. (Okay, they rather reminded me quite a lot of my three rough and tumble sons who also farm together and whose birth order and personalities coincide almost bizarrely with these characters. Maybe I was biased the moment the Norgaards started cleaning their guns on the kitchen table and one of them climbed up on the high beam to have a look-see down his rifle sight at the Klan approaching their mountaintop home.)

I heard rumblings all around social media about this story before I finally go it on my TBR list, but I'm so glad I finally did. There are so many nuances to this story that will touch you deeply, from the mounting conflict between the main characters as well as outsiders, to the beautiful and tender love story, to the realism and rich history... If you haven't gotten hold of this one yet, add it to your list!


As I mentioned above, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is perfectly plotted. Ms. Bischof does an exceptional job of illuminating back story in a way that advances the plot and character development yet never dumps information on the reader. She also takes us deep into the characters' points-of-view by consistently showing without telling. The way she presents the POV of a deaf-mute is artistic.

Read it, highlight it, take notes to see how it's done. If you want to develop your own voice and writing style, it's imperative to read good writing. Ms. Bischof is the kind of writer whose works you want to have on your shelf or Kindle just to study the craft well done.

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