Thursday, September 13, 2012

Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof, c2012

Be Still My Soul: A Novel

Be Still My SoulNight’s chill tickled her skin. Lonnie pressed her hands together and glanced up. He was even more handsome up close. Having grown up the shy, awkward daughter of Joel Sawyer, she’d hardly spoken to any boy, let alone the one who had mothers whispering warnings in their daughter’s ears and fathers loading shotguns.

Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent—she's used to fading into the background within her family and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though they are poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith. But when handsome ladies’ man and bluegrass musician Gideon O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate. 
    Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing  Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.
    Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life. What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?

My Review 
Lonnie Sawyer prayed for peace to the One who could give it, as she approached the makeshift porch stage.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.
—Isaiah 26:3
 Why tonight of all nights must she sing in front of this crowd that would rather be waiting to hear her momma sing? Under the stars so perfect ~ Lord, help me.
♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ •♥•.¸¸.•♥•.¸ Laurie Lewis - Is the Blue Moon Still Shining?
♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ •♥•.¸¸.•♥•.¸
So! Do you know our author plays the mandolin??
Miss Joanne, I would have loved to have found one of your songs! Liked this one written by Bill Monroe's daughter, Melissa (1936-1990), though not 1901 Appalachian!

Forgetting words she was able to sing at home, "Gid" O'Riley shows his stuff on the mandolin to cover for her. After her nervous performance, her brother stays to ask questions about playing music and offers Gideon to take her home. She lives an hour away by foot up the mountain. An hour because Gideon isn't as sure-footed on the unknown paths. Lonnie points out where a fork in the trail leads to her aunt Sarah's cabin. She could have saved herself a turn in events if she had parted ways there! Instead, her father confronts her the next morning about seeing her farewell to Gideon and adding a few of his own interpretations. Before long Gideon and Lonnie go across the mountains again, but in another direction... and wed, not of their own choosing. Seems his mother bids them farewell because of being set aside by Lonnie's father in her youth, or so local talk goes.

Join their adventure as it is now, and how Jeremiah 29:11 is becoming real in their lives. I like Gideon beneath his hard protective exterior and Lonnie with her trust in the Lord. Both of them are going to find out who they really are in all they have experienced in life. Thankful for the direction and wisdom they receive from those who have been there, from older couples along the way, and their listening.

Joanne Bischof has a beautiful writing style. She portrays emotion and the scenery along the way. I love the descriptiveness. You feel like you are right there with them and want to lend a hand. Very comfortable and able to relate to Gideon and Lonnie from both sides. Wouldn't that be great if it were so in life? Hindsight is sometimes, usually, 20/20. They are real people you could meet, or be. Historical fiction is my very favorite. Learn to not repeat, or to correct where you are now.

Have you ever put your hand over part of a page so you wouldn't read ahead to find out until you got there? I don't read the back of the book, nor skip ahead, but I found myself twice covering part of a page as I read so as not to stumble on what was coming on the opposite page, spoiling the suspense. I like how the story moves into the next sequence so naturally and you are in a different place before you realize it is changing so effortlessly!
A beautiful story of human nature ~*~ hurt, despair, withheld feelings because of fear of not being received turning to growth, yearning for real life with self exposed. Learning to trust in the cadence of grace with lives redeemed.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Peter 5:10)

Buy now from Waterbrook Multnomah

  • Be Still My Soul: A Novel ~ Book 1, The Cadence of Grace series

  • Written by Joanne Bischof
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • ISBN: 9781601424211
  • Our Price: $14.99
  • Quantity:

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Be Still My Soul will be released on October 2, 2012. Also available as an eBook.

Historical Romance set in Appalachia
* Marital conflict
* Life change events
* Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Joanne Bischof

About the Author

Married to her first sweetheart, Joanne Bischof lives in the mountains of Southern California where she keeps busy making messes with their home-schooled children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, writing, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life. Be Still My Soul is her first novel. 

Author Joanne Bischof shares the behind the scenes process to her Appalachian Romance "Be Still My Soul" coming from WaterBrook Press, Oct. 2012. For more information, visit

Blue Ridge Mountains

~*~ Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah blogging for Books for sending this advance reading copy of Be Still My Soul: A Novel in exchange for a review in my own words. Thank you, Joanne Bischof, for a beautiful story of hope and redemption! ~*~

Weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning.
—Psalm 30:5

Be Still My Soul Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The night air brushed her arms, and Lonnie prayed autumn’s cool breath could whisper her off—carry her into another life. Lord, help me. She looked up at her pa and forced a tight smile. With his broad back to the moonlit sky, his scruffy face was hidden beneath the shadow of a floppy hat. Chestnut hair swirled against her cheeks, and she blinked, willing the breeze to calm her nerves.
     Joel Sawyer arched a bushy eyebrow. "Don’t see what’s gotten ya so shaken up all a sudden."
     She lifted her chin. "I ain’t shaken." Her eyes dared him to say otherwise. "I just don’t see why…" She bit her tongue at the tremble in her voice. Her thumb traced the fresh bruises on her wrist—each small dent the same size as her pa’s fingers.
     "Because your ma’s got a headache." Her pa’s growl was for her ears alone. His eyes bored into hers, even through the lie. "Can’t go lettin’ Samson down." Sour breath hit her face. "Now get on up there and sing for these people."
     Lonnie swallowed and eyed the crowd that had gathered for an evening of dancing. With the first autumn leaves blanketing the forest floor, it was sure to be the last of the summer. She’d never sung for a crowd before and, at seventeen, felt foolish when her heart pounded in her ears and her skin tingled with fear. If only Samson hadn’t asked that her ma sing this night.
     Her pa had made it clear. No wife of his was gonna snuggle up that close to Samson Brown. Over his dead body, or so he’d said. Lonnie watched her pa descend the steps, shoulders hunched.
     "Sorry about your mama’s headache," Samson whispered. He smiled and his eyes crinkled.
     Lonnie nodded, certain he knew the truth, yet fighting the urge to make a liar out of the man who’d just deposited her at the stage as if she were no more than a pawn.
Lonnie glanced to the sky, and even as night’s chill crept past her faded gingham dress, she prayed for a peace from the One who could help her through this. Her ma was the songbird. Not her. Folks were always going on about how Maggie Sawyer had the prettiest voice on any Sunday morning.
     A gray spotted dog tipped his ears when Lonnie stepped over him onto the makeshift stage. Her bare feet skirted around a pair of lanterns at the stage edge. Samson Brown, eyes twinkling, raised a banjo onto his lap. Lonnie took her place beside the trio’s mandolin player, Gideon O’Riley, and when their shoulders touched, she stepped sideways, nearly tripping as she did.
     Gideon glanced at her, his expression unreadable until amusement flitted through his green eyes. Lonnie chided herself for blushing so easily. The fiddler tilted his instrument to his chin. The creases in his blacksmith hands were stained dark as coal. He nodded and waited, bow poised. Reluctantly, Lonnie returned the nod.
     The hollow sound of his tapping boot echoed through the cracks of the porch. The bow slid across the strings slower than a cat stretching after a good, long nap. Gideon struck the strings of his mandolin, and Samson’s banjo twanged, rambling as free as a holler. Lonnie watched in awe, bewildered by their confidence.
     She clung to the shadows from the eaves overhead, but when her pa motioned for her to step into the moonlight, she scooted forward. Her bare toes reached the edge of the porch, and she glanced away from her pa’s smug stare. When the fiddle’s strings thickened in harmonies, Lonnie sang out the words. Her heart quickened, stunned by the sound of her own voice belting out a song she’d learned at her ma’s knee. She stared into the blur of faces as feet stomped and calico skirts swirled, revealing dozens of homemade petticoats and faded stockings. She forced her foot to tap in rhythm as men spun their girls around. Those without girls jigged up enough dust to make a body need a good bath.
     About to round into the third verse, the words snagged in her throat. She blinked, her mind suddenly blank. Lonnie, you know this! With his shoulders hunched, Gideon’s hands flew over the fret board, and the fiddler played louder than ever. After clearing her throat, Lonnie readied herself for the last verse.
     But Gideon sped up, leaving the rest of the band behind.
     When the crowd bellowed and cheered, Lonnie bit her lip. Gideon played faster, an impish grin lighting his face. She clapped trembling hands and glanced to the musician beside her. Shaking his head, Samson rose slowly from his chair and, still plucking the strings of his banjo, crossed the porch. He flashed a twisted smile.
     Cheers swarmed from the crowd. With slow movements, Samson reached out his boot and kicked Gideon’s stool so hard it flew out from under him. Gideon stumbled but did not fall. His hand fell from the fret board, and after throwing a glare at Samson, he grabbed the stool and sat.
      "C’mon, Gid! Lighten up a bit, would ya?" Samson yelled over the noise.
Gideon rushed in with a few last strums until only his vibrations remained, bouncing through the woods. Folks whistled and cheered so loudly Lonnie could no longer hear the pounding of her heart. Clapping along, she stepped back. Never again would her pa talk her into singing in front of folks. No sir. Her place was in the back of the crowd.
     Gideon held his mandolin over his head and bowed. As cocky as he was, Lonnie couldn’t help but smile. He walked toward her and, without hesitation, draped an arm over her shoulders. He smelled of smoke and cedar. Heat grew in the back of her neck and tingled into her cheeks. She needn’t look down to see the flame in her pa’s face as well— she knew it was there.
     When the applause mellowed, she slid away and scurried down the steps, her legs weak and head light with relief. She brushed past a nuzzling couple and ducked under a thick arm that clutched a pint of cider, finally spotting her aunt Sarah beneath a scarlet maple. Enough moonlight danced through the leaves to make the woman’s ginger bun shine. Rushing over, Lonnie clasped her cool hands, the rough skin worn and familiar.
     "Why, you’re tremblin’ som’n awful." Sarah squeezed her hand. "Don’t think for one moment you don’t belong up there. You’da made your ma proud."
     Lonnie fought to catch her breath. "That was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done in my life."
     She felt a shadow behind her. Lonnie didn’t need to glance over her shoulder when rough fingertips clutched her elbow. "We’ll be leaving now." Her pa’s voice was gruff.
     She glanced at her aunt, then peered up at him. "Mind if I stay a bit longer?"
     His eyes flinched, but then he sighed. The smell of moonshine hung thick. "Walk home with Oliver. He’s stayin’ too."
     "Yessir. Thank you, Pa." Her words seemed to fall on nothing but the breeze as he strode from the clearing. Lonnie knew her ma would be up waiting, the littlest ones already tucked into bed. With a sigh, she let the last of her worry melt into the cool night air and turned to her aunt, pleased to have her company for at least a little while longer.     
     "So…" Sarah’s whimsical voice nearly sang the single word.
     "Don’t say it." Lonnie wagged a finger with little authority, knowing full well what her aunt was itching to say. Sarah sobered, the lines around her eyes smoothing.
     But Lonnie knew her mother’s sister well. "I blush too easily," she blurted.
     A smile lifted her aunt’s round cheeks. Twice Lonnie’s age and with skin a shade paler, she was as dear a friend as Lonnie had ever had. When Sarah’s gaze moved past her, Lonnie tossed a glance over her shoulder and saw the blacksmith run a cloth over his fiddle. Samson lowered his banjo into a sack. Gideon had moved on. His shoulder was pressed to the bark of a hundred-year-old chestnut, and his arms lay folded over his chest. The girl he was wooing looked more than willing to have his undivided attention.
     "Seems like every girl in Rocky Knob wants to steal that boy’s heart." Sarah shook her head. "Don’t you pay it no never mind."
     Forcing a shrug, Lonnie tugged at a pinch of her faded dress. The fabric, different shades of blue, had seen better days. She suddenly wished she hadn’t been so eager to stay behind.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
2013, Paperback: Though My Heart Is Torn by Joanne Bischof ~ Book 2, The Cadence of Grace series


  1. Kathleen, your words are so beautiful, "A beautiful story of human nature ~*~ hurt, despair, withheld feelings because of fear of not being received turning to growth, yearning for real life with self exposed. Learning to trust in the cadence of grace with lives redeemed." Pure poetry. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing Be Still My Soul. I love hearing your thoughts and seeing all the amazing extras you put into this, the music and all. Just lovely!

    1. Thank you, Joanne. Your book story is a treasure. Kathleen

  2. I loved Joanne's book. You're right about it being a treasure ;)

  3. Enjoyed the review so much! Joanne's writing is a wonderful blessing and I get to be the one to call her daughter. As an avid reader myself, I read her books and am transported away.