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Archive for March, 2011

The Mountains Bow Down by Sibella GiorelloI will start with my own take on this publication and then follow those observations with the remarks prepared and compiled for this blog tour.

Aside from having a great title, The Mountains Bow Down by Sibella Giorello is a great read.  I couldn’t even get out of the first chapter without “connecting” with the book and the protagonist, Raleigh Harmon.  There was a definite feeling of longing and understanding when presented with both her surroundings and the thoughts in her head.

As the first chapter moved along, the emotions that we all hope for in books and/or movies were all there!  I was excited, thrilled, disappointed, angry, irritated, worried, and more — just in the first chapter.  The author’s phraseology was really great stuff, and the writing is a lot more colorful than the bulk of publications I have seen recently.  Since the location of our story is based in Alaska, I think I’ll go as far as calling it an aurora borealis of word choice!  That might be an overstatement but not by much.  Read on and you’ll see what I mean!

Most of my dog-earring of pages was due to fun and/or fascinating phrases or word selections.  I had to suppress a giggle at the bald man whose “mustache made him look like a vandalized pumpkin.”  I got such a visual!  In addition, Sibella’s use of personification throughout this story had quite an impact.

We all know that we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but nobody ever said anything to me about word choice.  I love that Sibella even used her gift of personification in her title.  There are people and events that can move mountains but needing to read about what makes “The Mountains Bow Down” is an enticing way to lead your readers into a story.

There is an aviary of birds that this author uses as her helpers to impact her readers.  “A raven crossed the sky, following the eagle’s retreat, and the oily blackbird cawed happily at our misfortune.”  I like that writing tool!

We cannot ignore that this is Christian writing.  The protagonist leans on her internal prayers and struggles often.

“Unable to speak, I headed for the elevators and kept my head down, sending up more desperate prayers for forgiveness, wondering when God would get as tired of me as I was.”

Don’t we all wonder that same thing from time to time?  How does He tolerate us?  Sometimes I wonder about myself, to be sure!

I also liked the way she referred to the medical examiner who had no gumption as an “invertebrate” and a lack-luster Federal Building as an “aesthetic crime.”  Hmmm… I think our Federal Building could be called that, too — I will have to think on that one!

There were dramatic moments that were blessed with emotional, thought-provoking quotes as well.  When Raleigh Harmon’s mother becomes unstable and starts behaving like an irrational nut case,  Raleigh holds her mother and shares the event saying, “I squeezed tighter, wondering that I had never held someone so close yet felt so far away.”  The story is just as tightly woven.  It is page-turning and fast moving in parts; then it slows in spots where the reader can savor the scenery and, in some cases, the moronic behavior of characters that need to be slapped! Yeah, they are that annoying!  Good job, Sibella!

The Mountains Bow Down is a Raleigh Harmon novel and part of a series.  The Mountains Bow Down is the fourth in that series but it is the first I have read.  It stands alone quite nicely and there is little to no impact on the effectiveness of the storyline.  The understanding of the characters and their various traits and/or instabilities fall into place as the text propels, or sails calmly, forward.

I have The Stones Cry Out (A Raleigh Harmon Novel) on my Kindle!  That is the first in the series.   It should be interesting to see where that one goes!  Go check it out, it is only $2.99 and an award-winning publication!  What a sweet deal!  You will, of course, also find the hard copy and even an audio CD on Amazon!  Not every book is available in an audio format!

Apparently both Amazon and the publisher figured out that this one is a keeper!  So have I!  As promised, what follows is the collection of write-ups for the Blog Tour.

About the Book and about the Author:

“Giorello won the Christy Award for this series’ debut (The Stones Cry Out). Each entry has proven better than the one before, and the latest installment is no exception. Crisp writing, fast-paced action, and beautiful descriptions of Alaskan landscapes make this an essential read for fans of Irene Hannon.” —Library Journal

Sibella Giorello has also received two Pulitzer Prize nominations.

To celebrate the book’s release Sibella is pulling out all the stops! She’s giving away a cruise during The Mountains Bow Down Cruise Giveaway and wrapping up the giveaway and blog tour with a Raleigh Harmon Book Club Party on Facebook!  See below for details.

About The Mountains Bow Down: Everything’s going to work out. Time away always makes things better . . ..

That’s what FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon believes as she boards a cruise to Alaska. A land of mountains and gems and minerals, The Last Frontier is a dream destination for this forensic geologist who’s hoping to leave behind a hectic work schedule and an engagement drained of romance.

But when a passenger goes missing and winds up dead, Raleigh’s vacation suddenly gets lost at sea. The ship’s security chief tries to rule the death a suicide, but Raleigh’s forensics background points to a much darker conclusion: Somewhere onboard, a ruthless murderer walks free.

Engulfed by one of her toughest cases yet, Raleigh requests assistance from the FBI and receives her nemesis-perpetual ladies man Special Agent Jack Stephanson. As the cruise ship sails through the Inside Passage, Raleigh has five days to solve a high-profile murder, provide consultation for a movie filming onboard, and figure out her increasingly complicated feelings for Jack-who might not be such a jerk after all.

And that’s only her work life. Family offers even more challenges. Joined on the cruise by her mother and aunt, Raleigh watches helplessly as disturbing rifts splinter her family.

Like the scenery that surrounds the cruise ship, Raleigh discovers a situation so steep and so complex that even the mountains might bow down.

About Sibella Giorello: Sibella grew up in Alaska and majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College. After riding a motorcycle across the country, she worked as a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. She now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons. Find out more about Sibella and her other books at her website. www.sibellagiorello.com

That was a great write-up!  Avid blog readers will appreciate Sibella’s website too!

NOTE: FTC regulation requires bloggers to disclose whether or not they have been given free products in exchange for a review.  I received a copy of the book at no charge.  This page helps to explain this requirement further.

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Logo for Sunday Salon

What’s the Sunday Salon?  Um, yeah, me too!  I wanted to figure this out and understand so I followed the links and found the original.  Now I get it!

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library’s vast reading room. It’s filled with people–students and faculty and strangers who’ve wandered in. They’re seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they’re all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they’ll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon’s literary intake….

That’s what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it’s all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week’s Salon get together–at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones–and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another’s blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one’s earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. See below for how to join the Salon.

I can do that!  I wanna talk story too???

Last weekend I wanted so much to print out Straight Talk from the Editor by W. Terry Whalin and my printer wouldn’t work.  No matter what I did, it wouldn’t tell me why it would do nothing except give me unexplained error messages!    “Why won’t you print???”  Grrr!

So, off to OfficeMax for a new and different brand!  Well, there goes a nice chunk of change that I cannot afford to spend on such things.  We all need a functioning printer!  Money I don’t have.

It was a little more nerve-wracking since a trip to my Kaiser clinic for a CT scan the afternoon before is going to cost me who knows how much!  Money I don’t have.

I got my printer, I got it installed and it works very nicely.  I got my Whalin document printed and stayed up later than usual reading and marking it on Saturday night.  On Sunday morning I was feeling a little more educated, a little happier, and I really wanted to do the Sunday Salon thing for the first time!  As luck would have it I really didn’t get it moving before I had to leave for Church.  Shucks!

Then, I got a call from our Church’s landlord on Sunday after service.  “We did not receive your rent check.”  GASP!  As soon as I heard those words I knew exactly where the check was — in my bag.  I forgot!  So, Sunday afternoon I was on the road to their office to take them their check.  Late rent comes with a penalty.  My stupidity, my fault, and therefore, my bill.  My new printer was cheaper than the penalty!  Money I don’t have.

On my way back to town I was on the freeway and out of gas!  OMG!  Pull off by the airport to Chevron.  $3.97 a gallon???  WTH???  Almost 17 gallons to fill my little darling.  Do the math.  Money I don’t have.

Today it’s Sunday again and our turn to take snacks for coffee hour.  Lenten food is expensive because it’s healthy.  I’ve leaned on my Costco membership for shrimp and my Safeway and some farmer’s markets for veggies.  I’m not buying anything else.  I refuse!

This Sunday, I have tried to get through some readings so that I can talk about them, if I want to.  I’ve also finished reading Mr. Whalin’s ebook and have marked it nicely for future reference.  I like that Mr. Whalin is so willing to share his knowledge!  It reminds me of how the Internet used to be — when people would share and teach you things without any expected return.  They did it just because they wanted to, and to show off their expertise!  The Internet was wonderful then!  It still is but now it costs money for so many things that used to be free.

I love my new printer, I love my Kindle, I have a good medical provider, I have a wonderful Church, I have irreplaceable friends, my car is dependable, my husband is dependable, you’re all dependable.  Hey, guess what???  I’m rich!

Have a happy and Blessed Sunday!

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A Trail of Ink by Mel Starr

A Trail of Ink: The Third Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon (Hugh De Singleton 3)

I have recently found that an author really needs to make a connection with me through at least one of their characters — quickly.  For lack of a better way to put it, I need to “feel” them and understand where their fictional minds are.  Sometimes a connection like that is obvious and sometimes not so much.

For A Trail of Ink, the publisher’s/Amazon’s write-up said:

“An excellent medieval whodunit by the author of The Unquiet Bones and A Corpse at St Andrew’s Chapel

Some valuable books have been stolen from Master John Wyclif, the well known scholar and Bible translator. He calls upon his friend and former pupil, Hugh de Singleton, to investigate. Hugh’s investigation leads him to Oxford where he again encounters Kate, the only woman who has tempted him to leave bachelor life behind, but Kate has another serious suitor.

That’s all well and good but in the case of Hugh de Singleton, I was worried because I couldn’t help thinking him to be a real wimp.  To those who are more familiar with this character, you need to keep in mind that this was my first experience with Hugh.  I have not read either one of the first two books in this chronicle.  Suddenly something happened that I did not expect — I found myself cheering for Hugh and really angered by some of the other characters and the nonsense that surrounded him.  Extreme emotional response!  Now we’re talking!

Another thing that people may not realize, is that nerds, like Hugh and me, can feel the real drama of having your intellectual property stolen!  I marked the following quote and, coincidentally, so did the publisher.

“I had never seen Master John Wyclif so afflicted.  He told me later that it was as onerous to plunder a bachelor scholar’s books as to steal another man’s wife.  I had, at the time, no way to assess the accuracy of that opinion, for I had no wife and few books.”

That, my friends, is the drama!  That one quote sets the major premise of the storyline of this whodunit.  Hugh being the dutiful servant to man and God that he was, finds a way to help this poor scholar with his search for a thief while trying to answer his own need for a wife.

I will admit that the language put me off at first.  Once I was able to accept that we were thrown into a different time period and manyof the characters were a bit haughty and somewhat self-righteous, I remembered the genre and then I was fine with it.  The use of dialect enabled me to further relate to some of the other characters as what I affectionately call, blue collars.  It worked for me that way.  Nicely.

The author made it easy for a reader to tune in more fully by using the different styles of dialect to indicate the social rank of the his various characters.  I’ve never really experienced this type of literary device or tool to this degree — the author did a fine job.  I am amazed that Mr. Starr has mastered the flavor of this time and culture so well.  I can’t help but admire this in a historian!

Following Hugh de Singleton’s thoughts was an interesting psychological journey as well.  Quotes are always fun, especially when you can relate to the character’s mindset.

Here’s an observation:

“…swineherds had driven their hogs into the forest for pannaging.  The pigs might regret their appetite on Martinmas.  Pigs are much like men.  Or perhaps men are like pigs: we think little of what today’s pleasure may cost tomorrow.”

Then there are passages that left me thinking right along with Hugh’s deep thoughts.

“No friend knew of my plight, and those who put me in this place would not tell them.  No, this was not true.  There was a friend who knew of my affliction.  I knelt in the rotten rushes covering the dirt floor of the cell and called upon the Lord Christ to free me from my unjust captors.  Perhaps, I hoped, He had already noted my misfortune and set  a plan in motion for my freedom.  But it would o do no harm to remind Him of my trouble in case other matters had captured His attention.  An unwelcome thought came to mind.  If the Lord Christ loved and served me only so much as I loved and served Him, where then might I be?”

Good question!  Haven’t we all thought this at one time or another?  Perhaps we should not, be we do!

It is also fun to learn new, weird things.  I like words that are unusual.  Even though I will probably never use them.   What on earth is a gaoler? Gaol is the British word for jail.  Guess what?  Mr. Starr knew this would happen to some of us so he included a little glossary.  Um, Gaol was not in the Glossary so I had to look it up.  I appreciate having a glossary for the word oddities.

I’m not going to supply any spoilers.  Suffice it to say that the book surprised me into liking it and now I want to read the other two.  This was a fun read and is definitely one to add to your to-be-read list!

FTC regulation is requiring bloggers to disclose whether or not they’ve been given free products in exchange for a review.  I also need to tell you that I was told to be honest in my opinion.  It would take a lot more than $15.99 to get me to sing a writer’s praises unless I meant it.  I probably just wouldn’t do it.  So, the FTC needs to get over it!  There, I’ve disclosed the secret of my reading!  Pffft!  As you can see, my opinion doesn’t stop with the book.

For more about this blog tour, check out the Facebook link to see what others are saying!  Mahalo to LitFuse for making this possible!

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