Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review and Give-away for Restless in the Grave by Dana Stabenow


Review and Give-away! Happy Valentine's Day! I know, it might seem sort of weird to have a give-away for a murder mystery on Valentine's Day, but I am in LOVE with Liam Campbell. I am also in love with Dana Stabenow's newest book, Restless in the Grave. So actually, this is the perfect give-away from Penelope! Just leave a comment after the review, and you'll be entered. Give-away is open for a week, and the winner can choose either ebook or print book!

And away we go......

Review for Restless in the Grave by Dana Stabenow

First up, let me just say that Stabenow must be sweating bullets. Folks have been chomping at the bit for this book for a long, long time. Which means expectations are up. Which means, as an author, that you're worried about not living up to those expectations. As we all know, readers are a tough bunch. This book takes two of her larger-than-life characters, Alaskan state trooper Liam (from the Liam Campbell Series) and private investigator Kate (from the Kate Shugak Series) and puts them into one extraordinary book. Not only did this book meet my expectations, it surpassed them. In grand fashion. This book has the perfect balance of setting, characters, suspense, wit, gravity, and I-didn't-see-that-one-coming surprises. Plural. Because Stabenow heaps on the surprises at the end of this tale. Some are tragic, if not inevitable. And some are intriguing. And some catapult Kate into 007, Ms. Bad-Ass Heroine territory.

I love cozy mysteries...they're quick, light, and easy to digest. Some romantic suspense and straight up mysteries are too disturbing for me to read. And often, I find that the authors focus too much on the storyline, and not enough on the characters. The characters make the book. Period. No matter how clever the mystery is, if the characters don't have enough meat on their bones, the book is flat.

Stabenow's books are pure magic. Not only are her storylines clever, complex and chock full of cool tidbits (ranging from the Alaskan fishing industry, historical and cultural details, background about flying and airplanes, etc), but she makes the Alaskan setting come to life. And she should. She lives there. Everything about it is crystal clear....the funky people, the difficult economy, the brutal weather, the spectacular wildlife. Stabenow is in love with Alaska, and every word of her stories brings this fact to life. But the best part of her books, for me, showcases her talent with inventing real, gritty, complex characters. Kate is a ballsy bad-ass, but she is still a conflicted woman struggling with day-to-day problems. Liam is the most swoon-ilicious Alaskan state trooper ever....hot, hunky, sexy, loyal to his family. But also finely nuanced with many shades of gray. Stabenow is a master at creating real characters. And this is what propels her books to the top o' the mystery heap for me.

I was curious about how successful she would be mixing Kate and Liam together into one book. Would I be satisfied? Honestly, I could read 4,000 books about Liam and it wouldn't be enough, but I thought she did a pretty damned good job incorporating both Kate and Liam into this story. I would have liked a bit more Liam, of course....it's been too long since we had a Liam story, and I was ravenous. But, this was enough to satisfy my appetite. And watching Moses bully Kate into her yoga poses was brilliant. Seeing a character from Liam's world butt his way into Kate's world was spine-tingling cool. Even as Stabenow put this book on a path toward tragedy.

The ending of this book is the best ending I've read, probably ever. When I thought the book was over, she added on one more surprise. Then, another. Then, another. One was shocking and tragic. One was paranormal and intriguing. And one had the promise for a future romance. Honest to God, I couldn't stop smiling after I finished this book.

My expectations were high. And Restless in the Grave blew them right out of the water. Out of the frigid, icy Alaskan waters.

Grade: A

Planning my trip to Alaska and hoping to meet some beardy state troopers,
Penelope


Don't forget to leave a comment and enter the give-away! Happy Valentine's Day, chickies! :^)

ETA: Don't forget to include a link or email address if you want to enter the contest!

41 comments:

Susan said...

I have heard of Stabenow's books but never actually got my hands on one. Sounds like that may be a good thing if I have an entire series (or two!) worth of books to enjoy. Thanks for the review and the giveaway. Happy Valentine's Day!!

Anonymous said...

Penny here I am [Michelle_Reads_to_Relax]-- per your GR recommendation. Happy Valentine's Day and for the Stabenow rec. Haven't read her but marked the first in the KS series as a TBR. Have a lovely day!

Oddmonster said...

I have Stabenow's first Kate book on my shelves, itching to be read, and I'll definitely be moving it up the ranks of the TBR pile now. Good review!

Karen said...

I have enjoyed all of Dana's previous books (and the short stories I have found so far). I can't wait to get me hands on the latest. I absolutely agree with your comments about the importance of character to a mystery. Dana's characters are so vivid that I feel like I have met them in real life (or certainly wish I could). And the way she makes Alaska come alive? I just want to go back (having had one short, cruise-style visit).

Pippa said...

Great website! Glad to know of it. I have read Dana Stabenow's 17 Kate Shugak novels in the past 2? months and am now on to Liam Campbell, all in time for Restless in the Grave. Don't cha think a little romance spices up a fine mystery read? :-)B

a-neg said...

I can't wait to get my hands on this book! I have every Liam and all but 2 Kate's, my favorites.

Linda said...

I've been waiting for this impatiently... What a treat to have Kate and Liam together. I'm a little worried about the tragedy business, but we all survived the last one along with Kate, so I guess I can take it if she can.

Penelope said...

Hi Susan! I would read the Liam Campbell series first, then read this one. And maybe a Kate Shugak or two!

Penelope said...

Hi Michelle! You will love these books!

Penelope said...

Hi Oddmonster....I liked the Liam books a bit better than the first Kate book I read....but both of them are among the best mysteries I've read. The perfect balance of suspense and character arcs. And a nice dose of romance, too!

Penelope said...

Hi Karen...yes, Dana's books are addictive, aren't they? You are so lucky to have already done an Alaskan cruise. Alaska is on my bucket list, but I haven't gotten there yet. Looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

Love Dana!

Penelope said...

Hi Pippa! The way I originally got hooked on romance novels was by reading mysteries with romance in them. I especially loved The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizbeth Peters. I love the romantic storyline in the Liam books.....swoonilicious!

Penelope said...

Hey a-neg....you won't be disappointed. This book is fantastic!

Penelope said...

Linda....the tragedy is really sad, but also inevitable. You could see it coming a long time ago. But it doesn't overshadow the rest of this book....I still finished the story feeling optimistic and excited for the next addition to the series.

Penelope said...

Hi Anonymous....I love Dana, too! Don't forget...if you want to be entered in the contest, shoot me an email and let me know your email address just in case you win.

penelope DOT romance AT gmail DOT com

Kathleen said...

stoly
I have read everything that Dana has written (Unless a wee bit of her writing has eluded me).
Yes I love her characters.....Her style of writing.
I began "Restless in the Grave" Last night....As opposed to devouring it, (As one would a plate of beef Strogonoff, I am savouring it as one would, a creme filled Chocolate Covered, Home Made Cream Puff.
Yes, I want to run through the book, but I know now, Danas books are delicious<3

Anonymous said...

I have read all of Stabenow's books -- several of them more than once. Can't wait for the new one!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Awesome contest! Good luck gals.

Off topic, have you seen the new Velveeta Cheesy Skillets with David S. Lee? He is such a cutie!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

PS Not an entry :)

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Sounds like an amazing read. Must go stare at the book on Amazon!

Penelope said...

@Kathleen....make it last! It is wonderful!

@anon....This is one of the best she's ever written.

@Juju....he is adorable....I agree!

@Julia....read the whole Liam series...you will love them!
http://www.goodreads.com/series/49547-liam-campbell

Casey Wyatt said...

Happy Valentine's Day Penny! Have a wonderful day!

lemonverbenalady said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Penny! A wire-hired weenie dog won the hound group last night at Westminster. Going for Best in Show tonight on USA! Never know when they may win! Have a lovely day! xxoo Nancy

Penelope said...

@Casey....you, too! Hope you have something fun planned for the holiday.

@Nancy...I know! Wooooo hoo! I figure the chances that the dachshund will win Best in Show is probably 10 million to one, but a girl can always hope!

Sherry said...

This sounds like a wonderful book to read. I've never read any of her books yet.

Sunny said...

I've read all of Liam's series and all of Kate's, and I am not only one of Dana's biggest fans, but also one of her absolute bestest... I'm at the age where my mind is suffering from "Some-timer's" -- sometimes I remember stuff, sometimes I don't -- therefore, I regularly re-read all of the Liam and Kate books, cause they're like new to me! AND I've bought all of both series for all 3 of my sisters! LOVE you, Dana!

Penelope said...

Sherry....If you like mysteries with romantic elements, I highly recommend Stabenow's books. The stories are engaging and the reader gets really invested in the characters' lives and romantic interests. They are the perfect cross-over for me of mystery with romance.

Penelope said...

Hi Sunny! I love re-reading favorite books, too. I will def. be re-reading this one soon!

Unknown said...

I am a 'new' Stabenow fan. I am going to meet Dana at a signing tomorrow. I can hardly wait to get this book. I agree: characters are everything for me when reading. jisweek@gmail.com (entry for drawing)

Poodlebugz said...

I love this series--these people feel like family, and I laugh with them, fuss at them (in my head), and cry with them accordingly.

Each of Dana Stabenow's books are a pleasure to read, and every time I crack one open, I am immediately back in, reading all the way through non-stop, neglecting work and home, until the end...and then I am mad that it's over!

Read these books!

Penelope said...

Hi "unknown"....How was the signing? I am sooo jealous....I would love to go to a Dana Stabenow signing...I don't think she heads out to Boston very often!

Penelope said...

Hi Poodlebugz! The best authors make you feel like you are part of their fictitious family. This one is very intense...hope you like it!

ayac said...

I have yet to read Stabenow's Liam series; but I have kept up with her Kate.
Thank you for the review.

(on library wait list :) )

http://missingpatches.blogspot.com/

Penelope said...

Hi ayac! You HAVE to read Liam! Soooooo good! And there aren't too many books in the series, so it's a quick read. Thanks for entering the contest!

Pippa said...

Hi, Penny,
The Amelia Peabody series is on my to read pile! Do you like the #1 Woman's Detective Agency? I have seen the DVDs but want to read the books, now (I know, doing it the other way around from what's best). I have read through a lot of your website, but do you somewhere have your list of top ten favorite reads ever? I know this can be an evolving list.
Enjoy your week! Pippa

Cris said...

I am a huge fan of Dana Stabenow and, despite living in a British city (as far removed from Alaskan life as I think it is possible to get without sand beneath my toes and fruit in my drink) find myself transported with every turn of a page. Her characters are loveable, infuriating and real - like family in so many ways - and the settings envelop you as a reader. There are many comments on here from people who are yet to delve into Stabenow's world: her first Liam and Kate books are both available for FREE on kindle. There is no excuse to miss out (just be prepared to spend A LOT of time in virtual Alaska as you buy the rest. Like a drug, I am addicted. Please give me my next fix!

Penelope said...

Hi Pippa! I haven't read the #1 Women's Detective Agency.

I do not have a top 10 recommendations list yet. That is a great idea, although it will be TOUGH to pick them. I'll have to work on that one! Good project for this week!

Penelope said...

Cris-- I am addicted, too! And it's a great addiction...I agree w/ everything you said about Stabenow's books...being transported to Alaska is an incredible adventure. I cannot get enough of these books.

Thanks for the heads-up about the freebies. Here are the links....

http://www.amazon.com/Cold-Murder-Kate-Shugak-ebook/dp/B004S87M92/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329782356&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Sure-Death-Liam-Campbell-ebook/dp/B004HIM7CK/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Penelope said...

Oops....here is the first Liam book...

http://www.amazon.com/Fire-Ice-Liam-Campbell-ebook/dp/B004HIM7BG/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Penelope said...

The give-away is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone for entering. The winner is A-NEG!!!!!! Congrats to you. Please email me and let me know if you would like a print copy or ebook, and what your address is.

penelope DOT romance AT gmail DOT com

Congrats! :^)