Friday, 25 March 2011

Book Review: The Mountains Bow Down by Sibella Giorello

About the Book: 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.

My thoughts: A murder mystery that takes place on a cruise ship to Alaska? How could I not like this book?!

In all seriousness, the fact that this book took place on a cruise ship fascinated me, because we love to go on cruises (we've done 4 now). We've never gone to Alaska, but would like to someday - for now, we're sticking with the Caribbean. And I was not disappointed - her descriptive writing style brought me right back to the ship. And the descriptions of the Alaskan scenery definitely tempts me to go there someday!

I loved Raleigh the main character - she was real, refreshing and intriguing - as well as all her counterparts in the FBI. Giorello does a really nice job of fleshing out the characters.

And the plot is fantastic. It was a murder mystery and it kept me guessing till the end. I enjoyed this book immensely!

Though this is the 4th book of the Raleigh Harmon series, it definitely works as a stand alone book - however, you're likely going to want to pick up the first three after reading this one!

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Start the series fresh with this great deal! Pick up a copy of Book 1 for your Kindle or Nook for only $2.99! The Stones Roll Away is the critically acclaimed award winner that kicked off the Raleigh Harmon series.

About the Cruise Giveaway: (contest begins 3/15, no entry until then.) Sibella’s celebrating the release of The Mountains Bow Down by giving away a Cruise prize pack worth over $500.00!

One Grand Prize winner will receive:

  • A $500 gift certificate toward the cruise of their choice from Vacations To Go.
  • The entire set of the Raleigh Harmon series.

To enter go here!

Then tell your friends. And enter soon - the giveaway ends on 4/1! The winner will be announced at Sibella’s Raleigh Harmon Book Club Party on FB April 5th, 2011! Don’t miss the fun – prizes, books and gab!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

To Lent or Not to Lent - that is the question

To Lent or not to Lent - that is the question.

Well, obviously it's not the question anymore cause that would be WAY too late!

I have never observed Lent before. By that I mean that I have never sacrificed something for the 40 day period before Holy Saturday (day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday) in order to focus and prepare my heart for Easter, identifying (in a very small way!) with the sacrifice and suffering of our Saviour.

In truth, due to growing up in Evangelical Protestant churches, I hadn't really ever heard much about Lent. But there has been a growing trend to "give up something for Lent" and the more I heard about it, the more I found the idea of heart preparation and focus on Jesus to be an appealing one.

With two of our daughters having March birthdays, my own being in April, Spring Break thrown into the mix, and the fact that Easter is always at a different time each year - I find that the Easter season just sneaks up on me and is over almost as soon as it's begun.

(OK, I just about got myself on a rabbit trail there, and I so do not have time for a post that long right now, so I'll save it for another time. Look for an upcoming post titled "Easter Beats Christmas!")

But what I liked even more than giving something up for Lent, was reading in my cousin Tammi's post about purposefully taking on something new and adding deliberate acts of generosity and kindness to the observance of Lent (see Love Life Live Lent for more details on this philosophy).

Sidebar: Technically the period between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday is more than 40 days because Sundays are supposed to be a "day off" so to speak.

So, I had decided I wanted to do it, now what exactly was "it" going to be?

Well, I considered giving up desserts or something like that. But in all honesty, the pretty big side benefit to giving up desserts is losing a couple pounds and quite frankly, made that seem less than altruistic to me. So that one was out. (Note: I'm not accusing anyone else of less than pure motives, just saying that my own would be)

In the end, I decided to pretty much copy my cousin Tammi (us Tammy/i's are pretty smart after all!). I decided to give up any extra-internet use (Facebooking, blogging, surfing, etc) unless I had completed my goals for the day. I'm obviously still doing my Bible blog (as that would be part of the goals for the day!), and I do check email (need to for business, plus that is simply one way people get ahold of me, and is honestly not my time-waster). But other than that - no internet usage until goals have been accomplished.

Now you know why you haven't seen me around here or Facebook much lately!! (except when we were on our little family holiday - not many goals on those days, ha ha!) I may as well have banned myself completely - which shows that either my goals have been way too high, or I've previously been wasting way too much time on internet frivolity. Most likely it's probably a combination of the two - giving me future food for thought.

In keeping with Love Life Live Lent, I have also been doing a little something extra for somebody every day - whether it's simply putting a note in the girls lunches, bringing bread to a neighbour or inviting someone over for dinner. Not necessarily big things. But something.

And last, but certainly not least, I have also been following along with a special Lenten Bible study hosted by Nancy Leigh DeMoss on Revive Our Hearts Radio, using the 31-day devotional book The Incomparable Christ, by J. Oswald Sanders. I jumped on this one pretty late, so I still haven't received my book, but the devotionals have been fantastic even without it. I have really been enjoying this series and am so glad I decided to follow it.

So, in regards to the original question - to Lent is the answer!

Do you observe Lent? If so, what are you doing (or should I say, not doing)?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Emma's answers to some schoolwork questions about the Olympics....

Question: Think about it..... Will athletes keep breaking records forever?
Emma: I think they will! But then again, one athlete might break a record that can never again be broken! (if it does happen, then I hope it's a girl!)
(Female) Teacher: Me too! :)

Question: Give 3 reasons why Pierre de Coubertin was important to the Olympics.
Emma: 1. The Pierre dude was important to the Olympics because he thought competing in sports was better then warfare.
2. Pierre dude practicly started the Olympics.
3. Pierre dude promoted the idea of reviving the Olympics. Thanks Pierre Dude!
P.S. Pierre Dude! What a riot!

Teacher: Yes, I laughed as I read this.

So did I! :)

Saturday, 19 March 2011


It's middle of March, which in some places means it's springtime. Where I live? Not so much.

Well, I guess that's not totally true. We have had some days where the thermometre has managed to crawl above zero (celsius), but we've also had days of -40!! It is spring, it's not spring, it is spring, it's not spring - the back and forth of the weather is definitely not my favourite part of spring. And it doesn't make for fabulous road conditions either.

But what it does do, is provide a light at the end of our long winter tunnel. Though the days of wooden swing sets, slurpees and venturing outdoors jacketless seem far off, they ARE coming. And they're coming sooner today than they were a month ago.

In the meantime, I'm gonna go bake some more bread, stay warm and maybe read a book or two! :)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Book Review: A Trail of Ink by Mel Starr

About the Book: 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 where he again encounters Kate, the only woman who has tempted him to leave bachelor life behind, but Kate has another serious suitor. As Hugh's pursuit of Kate becomes more successful, mysterious accidents begin to occur. Are these accidents tied to the missing books, or to his pursuit of Kate? One of the stolen books turns up alongside the drowned body of a poor scholar. Another accident? Hugh certainly doesn t think so, but it will take all of his surgeon's skills to prove.

So begins another delightful and intriguing tale from the life of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon in the medieval. Masterfully researched by medieval scholar Mel Starr, the setting of the novel can be visited and recognized in modern-day. Enjoy more of Hugh's dry wit, romantic interests, evolving faith, and dogged determination as he pursues his third case as bailiff of Bampton.

My Thoughts: Even though this is the 3rd book of a series, it works very well as a stand alone book (I hadn't read either of the 2 previous works).

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres and this one, set as it is in Medieval times, was thoroughly enjoyable. It was a fun mystery and an easy read.

Since I enjoy reading books, I also enjoyed reading about this book mystery and particularly about John Wyclif.

I also enjoyed the style of the author's writing. It gave you the feel of being in Medieval times, and yet it was still easy to understand. An example from the very first lines of the books...

I had never seen Master John Wyclif so afflicted. He told me alter 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...

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Contest: Kregel Publishers is graciously donating a $50 gift card for the Litfuse Blog Tour Contest! Woo-hoo (thanks Kregel!) All you have to do to enter is either tweet (see TWEET THIS below) or share the book on Facebook using this link:

TWEET THIS: A Trail of Ink by Mel Star. An excellent medieval whodunit. RT for a chance to win a $50 GC to @amazon! #litfuse - (and be sure to use the hashtag #litfuse to be entered into gift certificate drawing and no need to email that you tweeted - we'll be able to track it via the hashtag.)

FACEBOOK THIS: A Trail of Ink by Mel Star. An excellent medieval whodunit. Share on your wall for a chance to win a $50 GC to @amazon! (email to let us know you 'shared'


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