Monday, April 10, 2017

Outlaws & Outcasts: The Lost Cemetery of Las Vegas, New Mexico, by Ellen S. Rippel

This week’s featured Southwest book is Outlaws & Outcasts: The Lost Cemetery of Las Vegas, New Mexico, by Ellen S. Rippel:

Outlaws and Outcasts. They lay undisturbed and forgotten for almost a century--until a backhoe driver digging for gravel made a gruesome discovery. A hastily-assembled group of students, guided by an intellectually curious professor, had only one week to document the unearthing of the large, 19th century graveyard. Who was buried in those unmarked graves? What had they done to be cast out from society?

Filled with stories of early outlaws and fascinating historical insights, Outlaws and Outcasts chronicles a spellbinding and little-known saga from New Mexico. For those who love history, archaeology, or quirky stories from the Land of Enchantment, this book is an intriguing summary of what occurred in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1972. Outlaws and Outcasts: The Lost Cemetery of Las Vegas, New Mexico recounts the accidental unearthing of graves in a gravel pit. Included in the narrative are examinations of historical burial practices and customs, and a search through the scarce literature on events specific to the existence of the cemetery.

A coffin handle, pictured in the book
Review: This is a well-written and enjoyable account of an unusual piece of New Mexico history. In many ways, it raises more questions than it answers, as we have no way to know for sure who the dead are or why they were buried there. But pondering the question is great fun. The lively anecdotes and fascinating facts about burial practices, archaeology techniques, and local customs add to the charm. Whether you enjoy Southwest history, spooky tales, quirky facts, or just good storytelling, this book does the job. Black-and-white photos of some of the uncovered objects make the stories that much more real.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Pot Thief Murder Mysteries by J. Michael Orenduff

This week’s featured Southwest book series is the Pot Thief Murder Mysteries by J. Michael Orenduff. The series starts with The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras and I believe there are now seven books.

I can’t find a website for Michael, but here’s his Amazon page, and a description of the first book:

“A dealer of ancient Native American pottery, Hubert Schuze has spent years combing the public lands of New Mexico, digging for artwork that would otherwise remain buried. According to the US government, Hubie is a thief—but no act of Congress could stop him from doing what he loves. For decades, Hubie has worn the title of pot thief proudly. Outright burglary, though, is another story.

“But an offer of $25,000 to lift a rare pot from a local museum proves too tempting for Hubie to refuse. When he sees how tightly the relic is guarded, he changes his mind, but the pot goes missing anyway. Soon a federal agent suspects that Hubie is the culprit. After things take a turn for the serious, Hubie knows he must find the real thief quickly, or risk cracking something more fragile than any pot—his skull.”

These books will introduce you to the Santa Fe art world and provide insight into archaeology and Southwestern ancient culture, while capturing the "Wild West" spirit that still permeates so many new Mexican citizens.

Here’s an interview with Michael. Peek: “I set my books in New Mexico because I love writing about the Land of Enchantment. My main character owns a pottery shop in Old Town Albuquerque where he sells ancient Native American pottery, some of which he acquires by illegally digging it up.” 

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Warbonnet #Mystery Series by Robert Kresge

This week’s featured Southwest book series is The Warbonnet Mystery Series by Robert Kresge. The series is set in Wyoming in the 1870s and begins with Murder For Greenhorns. The books blend history and an ongoing romance with the mystery plots.

Robert is “a former CIA senior intelligence analyst and founding member of the Counterterrorist Center.” Wow! With that background, you might expect modern thrillers from him. But he says, "A life in intelligence work has taught me an important lesson:  History matters.  Life is sculpted from the raw materials of people, place, and time acted upon by the forces of personality, culture, and ideas.  I enjoy looking back at crucial points in history to reexamine the interplay of these elements.”

Here’s a review from Ann Hillerman, author of the award-winning Leaphorn and Chee Navajo mysteries, including Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock With Wings

Over the Brink, the latest installment in the captivating Warbonnet mysteries, takes the reader away from the Wyoming landscape the author describes so beautifully to the well-tended lawns of New England. School teacher Kate Shaw has returned to her parents’ tree-filled, tradition-bound small town. Marshal Monday Malone follows her there, and also visits burgeoning Chicago, both rendered so vividly that the reader steps right into the late 19th century. The well-paced romantic tension between the two escalates as they struggle to discover why several young women have been discovered bruised and dead, and why their bodies remain unclaimed. This entertaining and well-written novel is a fine addition to Robert Kresge’s worthy series. Bravo.”

Robert is also the author of Saving Lincoln: “In the closing days of the Civil War, Beth Wendland, a burnt-out Union spy in Richmond, stumbles across a Confederate plot to send a wagon bomb to blow up the White House and kill President Lincoln while he’s meeting with his generals. Abandoned by her political masters, Beth must evade Rebel soldiers and the bomb’s mastermind to deliver the information to Washington before the conspirators can launch their deadly attack. Assisted by the Federal officer who loves her, Beth risks more than her life to snuff out the burning fuse of the world’s first vehicle bomb and prevent disaster on the eve of victory.”

Historical Novels Review says: “Robert Kresge will astonish audiences with his Civil War novel. He maintains balance between the realms of reality and fiction to complement his imagined tale. Saving Lincoln is a plausibly animated historical novel. Highly recommended.” 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Sasha Solomon #Mystery series by Pari Noskin Taichert

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to feature some book series set in the Southwest – contemporary and historical, fiction and nonfiction. First up is the Sasha Solomon Mystery series by Pari Noskin Taichert. From the book description:

Sasha Solomon - A quirky protagonist with a gently antagonistic aura.

Cozy mystery character Sasha Solomon lives in Albuquerque and works throughout New Mexico as a public relations consultant. As she travels, she keeps finding bodies – dead ones.

Kris says: These books give a humorous look at some of the less glamorous small towns in New Mexico. (It's not all Santa Fe and Taos guys.)

The books are:

  1. The Clovis Incident
  2. The Belen Hitch
  3. The Socorro Blast
Here’s an interview with Pari from shortly after the first book came out. It offers some interesting insight into her series.

Pari is also the author of Stung (writing as Pari Noskin):

Introducing a new, fun and thought-provoking series from Agatha-award finalist Pari Noskin. From the book description:

Meet Darnda Jones, one of the stars of television’s popular Psychic 911. She’s made a name for herself because of a special skill: Darnda can communicate with nonhumans. Now she works as a natural pest controller to the rich and famous. Think of her as the Pied Piper of the insect, animal and plant world. In all, things couldn’t be better.

Who knew that working at a high-society wedding in one of Houston’s toniest suburbs could change all that with a single, well placed bullet?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! How are you celebrating? If you want to send someone a cute and healthy Facebook message, check out these Valentines from St. Luke's Health System

If you want something a little spicier, check out the fantastic (and sexy) photos from Michael Stokes. Yowsa!

Whatever else you do on Valentine's Day, I hope you'll have some time to enjoy a good book. (An excellent plan for every day, or at least a few times a week!) If you'd like to grab some free books and possibly check out new authors, stop by the Valentine's Day Romance Reads Extravaganza:

To show our love and appreciation for you, our readers,
we are offering 14 fun, flirty, fabulous FREE Romance Reads.

All you have to do to claim your free books is click on the links below.
But HURRY, giveaway ends on Valentine’s Day!!

You'll find a variety of romantic settings, from beaches to prairies to mountains, plus sub genres including historical, paranormal, and contemporary, and a variety of heat levels.

I'm giving away The Mad Monk's Treasure. If you don't already have a copy, you can go directly to that Instafreebie giveaway here.

Or if you prefer, it's also at BookFunnel. (If you have trouble, just tap the Help Me link at the top of the book download page and their support team will help!)

Of course you are under no obligation, but if you do read and enjoy any of these books, honest reviews are always appreciated.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

#RomanticTravel – Romance and Relaxation in Truth or Consequences

My husband and I always spend our anniversary weekend in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Although T or C is small, it has several good restaurants and many spa services. We like to stay at the Fire Water Lodge, where each room has its own tub fed by geothermal hot mineral water. Each room is different, and you can see the specifics for each room on their website. Fire Water is one of the more funky/less expensive lodges. You can also find high-end luxury lodging.

There’s not a ton to do in T or C – which is part of what makes it relaxing. You can wander the small town and poke around used bookstores and art galleries. Nearby Elephant Butte provides three short hiking trails as well as a ten-mile trail along the lake, if you’re feeling ambitious. You can also sit on the beach, fly a kite, watch birds, or fish. At night, be sure to look up at the sky – we prefer to do this from our Jacuzzi tub – at a dark sky filled with stars.

We were just there at the beginning of February and temperatures hit 70 degrees, so this is a great winter getaway. The temperature drops at night, making an outdoor hot tub delightful.

For more Southwest travel, check out the Labels for posts on different parts of the state.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure is available free on Instafreebie or Book Funnel

A legendary treasure hunt in the dramatic – and deadly – New Mexico desert....

The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends – a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider.

When Erin, a shy history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is Drew, the handsome helicopter pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch, really a hero, or one of the enemy?

Erin isn’t sure she can trust Drew with her heart, but she’ll need his help to track down the treasure. She heads into the New Mexico wilderness with her brainy best friend Camie and a feisty orange cat. The wilderness holds its own dangers, from wild animals to sudden storms. Plus, the sinister men hunting Erin are determined to follow her all the way to the treasure, no matter where the twisted trail leads. Erin won’t give up an important historical find without a fight, but is she ready to risk her life—and her heart?

“The story has it all—action, romance, danger, intrigue, lost treasure, not to mention a sizzling relationship....”

“The action never stopped .... It was adventure and romance at its best.”

“I couldn’t put this book down. You’ll love it.”

Fans of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, and Terry Odell will enjoy these stories of love in the wild, from a New Mexico Book Award-winning author.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure is the first Southwest Treasure Hunters book, followed by The Dead Man’s Treasure and The Skeleton Canyon Treasure. Each novel stands alone and is complete, with no cliffhangers. This contemporary romantic suspense series mixes action and adventure with sweet romance. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

#Holiday #Romance and #Recipe Exchange with Brenda Sparks

Welcome Brenda Sparks with a holiday #recipe and an excerpt of her #romance novel

Festive Holiday Punch

Make a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld.

1/3 cup white sugar
1 quart cranberry juice
2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
3 tablespoons almond extract
1 (2 liter) bottle Lemon/Lime soft drink such as Sprite
1 pint of cranberries
Vodka (optional)

In a large container, mix together sugar, cranberry juice, pineapple juice and almond extract. Refrigerate for 1 day.

To serve, pour juice mixture into a punch bowl. Stir in Lemon/Lime soft drink.

Garnish with cranberries

To make an alcohol version stir in vodka to desired taste

Alpha Lover (Book 3 in the Alpha Council Chronicles series)

A Paranormal Romance by Brenda Sparks 

Starved for blood, vampire, Nicholai Peterhof is greatly relieved when two tourists, in Russia for the Christmas holiday, decide to grace his restaurant, but one sip from the pretty brunette and his world is forever turned upside down. Juliette Staint-John is everything he could have asked for in a heartmate; pretty, smart, built with curves in all the right places…and totally unavailable.

Juliette doesn’t want anything to do with the handsome, young-looking Nicholai. As if their differences aren’t enough, the acute grief over the loss of loved ones keeps her heart guarded. He may be her fantasy, but that’s all he can ever be.

To get past Juliette’s defenses and in order to keep her safe, Nicholai must prove himself worthy of her love and trust. Unbeknownst to the couple, her personal demons are not the only ones threatening their relationship. Hiding virtually unseen by the vampires, Demon Royalty plots to destroy not only the couple but the entire vampire breed. Luckily, Nicholai will do anything for Juliette—even if it means sacrificing himself.


Julie’s gaze swept the landscape. The moon’s rays glittered on the snowy bows. The birch trees stood with their trunks painted white to match their limbs. Thick pine branches held fast under the weight of the new fallen snow, making them appear as if they wore white blankets made of virginal cotton about each limb. Sparkling mounds cluttered the ground between the trees, hiding the forest’s treasures beneath.

Save the sound of the hooves pounding on the ground, they journeyed through the silent night to a clearing in the trees. Nicholai clicked to his stallion, and with a flick of the reins, the steed increased into a rolling canter up a steep incline. Julie’s thighs pushed against the sides of the horse as she tried to match the new rhythm.

Nicholai’s breath warmed her ear when he spoke. “Not too much further. It’s right up ahead.”

“What’s up ahead?” Just as the words left Julie’s mouth, they crested over the ridge.

The frozen valley below took her breath away. A glaciate waterfall stood still as a statue against the rocky terrain. The cascading water, stopped as if by magic, reflected the moon’s soft rays and cast tiny prisms on the snow below.

Julie’s breath hitched in her throat. She took in the serene beauty of the land as they cruised at a slow trot. Debris rolled under Kedar’s hoofs. It created a hollow rattle in the night, barely audible to Juliette.

When they reached the valley, Nicholai pulled up the stallion and handed the reins to Julie. She patted the horse’s steaming neck as her lover dismounted with a fluid grace. He turned, grabbed Kedar’s reins, then reached up for Julie. Her thick coat seemed to melt as his strong hands clasped around her waist. She put her hands on his shoulders, and the bulge of muscle under his coat played under her fingers when he helped her down. A thrill went through her body.

Her breath frosted the air in a white plume. The lovers held each other, his hands about her waist, hers resting on his shoulders. Quiet as the moon above, they stared deeply into each other’s eyes. Nicholai captured her lips in a gentle caress that welcomed her to this special place.

Buy Links:

Born in Virginia, Brenda Sparks now resides in the Sunshine State.  Balancing her professional commitment to the local school district with her writing is challenging at times, but writing suspenseful paranormal romances is a passion that won’t be denied. Her idea of a perfect day is one spent in front of a computer with a hot cup of coffee, her fingers flying over the keys to send her characters off on their latest adventure.  Brenda loves to connect with readers.  Please visit her online or stop by her website to say hi.

Author Links:
Facebook Fan Page
Twitter : @brenda_sparks