Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Mountains Bow Down by Sibella Giorello

About Sibella: Sibella Giorello 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

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.

Margie's comments: I was first introduced to Sibella Giorello and her character Raleigh when I was proofreading for Thomas Nelson and they asked me to work on The Clouds Roll Away. And I fell in love with the author's storytelling ability and with Raleigh. So it wasn't hard to accept the invitation to blog on The Mountains Bow Down. I've never been to Alaska, but after being on the cruise with Raleigh and her family and Jack . . . The author's description of the scenery is vivid, and I've now moved that trip up higher on my bucket list. However, it was the mystery that Raleigh had forced upon her that kept me reading. The characters Sibella has created for this series are very real, dealing with some very heavy issues that I can identify with only too closely at times, and lovable. I felt as thought I was on that cruise ship and knew each of the characters who played a part in the story. While it is the fourth book in the series, it doesn't require you to have read the first three books in order to enjoy and understand the story and the characters. This is a compelling mystery that hooked me on page one. And left me sad the book was done when the cruise docked back in Seattle. Thankfully it looks like there will be more stories to come in the Raleigh Harmon series. I, for one, am very glad.

Interview with the Author:

What was it like writing a book set in your in the state where you were born?               
You know that saying, "You can't go home again"? Maybe it's true but you can sure visit. And I found the same things that impressed me as a kid still bowled me over. Above all, the land. Alaska is so big and beautiful you can't help but feel insignificant. Some people don’t like that – I love it. That land reminds me that life is special and short and spectacular, more spectacular than anything man can create. To explore that landscape through the eyes of Raleigh Harmon -- a southern geologist -- was double-fun.

What was your inspiration for the story?
Old women! My grandmothers and Agatha Christie.
       My grandmothers were Alaska pioneers who told me stories night and day about life in the Last Frontier before statehood.
      Agatha Christie came into it because I try to challenge myself with every book in this series. This time it was an homage to Agatha. I wanted to see if a forensic geologist could solve a murder aboard a cruise ship with the clock ticking.
     As usual, Raleigh performed far beyond par, finding mineral evidence in everything from dust to precious gems -- in only five days.

How are your books different from other suspense/mystery novels?
There are so many good mystery/suspense novels out there. I can only explain my motivation: Way back when, I wanted to read a certain kind of book, but couldn't find it.
     I didn't want to "get inside the mind of a killer." I didn't want a bleak worldview. But I didn't want everything tied up in a bow, either. I was sick of Christians in novels depicted as twisted weirdos. At the same time, I didn't want to be preached at.
   So I started writing a gritty crime mystery with a brave and searching young woman. She was not dysfunctional but she sure could mess up her own life.  She also had a passion to see justice served. And she was honest – Raleigh's so honest it's sometimes heart-breaking.
What do you hope the reader takes away?
The characters. And the place.
    When readers close the book, I hope these characters are still alive in their imaginations. And I hope readers are intrigued by Alaska. Our modern world is bursting with cutting-edge technology and gray urban landscapes, high-speed everything. But there’s Alaska, the glimmering jewel in America’s crown.

What was special to you about this story?
The story is a posthumous gift to my grandmothers. The two women who gave me such a passion for stories – written, told, whispered over tea, howled at over wine. And I think they would appreciate Raleigh Harmon’s hardships, because their lives were often so difficult.

You've written a book around the forensic pathology of rocks. Aren't rocks just rocks?  
Look closely. There are more than 5,000 known minerals on earth. And every rock tells a story, from its creation to erosion to deposition. Every rock is its own adventure story, told by the surface marks, the contents, and where it winds up.
    And of course for Raleigh, rocks and minerals provide clues for so many crimes.

How similar are you and Raleigh Harmon?
She's a southerner; I'm an Alaskan. She's a real scientist; I hyperventilate doing simple math. She's single; I'm happily married with two homeschooled kids. She eats almost nothing but junk food; I'm a health nut who avoids dairy, wheat, and sugar.
      But both of us bristle under dumb authority. Neither of us waits for directions. And we can't get through a single day without asking God for help.
What's next for Raleigh?
     "The Stars Shine Bright" comes out in 2012.
     It's about time Raleigh figures out her relationship with DeMott Fielding -- is she going to marry this guy or not? And what about Jack Stephanson, where does he fit into the equation?
     Then her mother's mental illness, and another disciplinary issue with the FBI because once again Raleigh stepped over the line on the cruise to Alaska . . . . You get the idea. Raleigh's life is never dull.
    So stay tuned.

Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Mountains-Down-Raleigh-Harmon-Novel/dp/1595545352/ref=sprightly-20
BIG NEWS: Sibella would love for you to share this great deal on your blog!

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 Cry Out is the critically acclaimed award winner that kicked off the Raleigh Harmon series. http://www.amazon.com/Stones-Raleigh-Harmon-Novel-ebook/dp/B004QGYURS/ref=sprightly-20

About The Mountains Bow Down CRUISE Giveaway:

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! http://wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/104339

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 <http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=131732776898350> on FB April 5th, 2011! Don’t miss the fun – prizes, books and gab!

About the Facebook Party: Join Sibella and fans of the Raleigh Harmon series on April 5th at 5:00 pm PST (6 MST, 7 CST & 8 EST) for a Facebook Book Club Party <http://wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/104339> . Sibella will be giving away some fun prizes, testing your trivia skills and hosting a book chat about the Raleigh Harmon books. Please RSVP  and if you have questions you'd like to chat about - leave them on the Event page <http://wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/104339> .

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