Review: Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and Their Adventures in the American Southwest by Lesley Poling-Kempes

Adventures in the American Southwest

Ladies of the Canyons by Lesley Poling-Kempes
Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and Their Adventures in the American Southwest 
by Lesley Poling-Kempes (Goodreads Author) 
Maria Norcia Santillanes's review 
Nov 12, 15  ·  edit

Read in November 2015 — I own a copy

I enjoyed this book and delighted in learning the history of these ladies and of the incredible lives they lived. It's also a story of place and a story of southwestern arts. In its way, it proves a historical truth about the ladies past, and current for whom the West and New Mexico, in particular, is a strong draw. Poling-Kempes is an excellent writer and I've enjoyed quite a few of her books. This book is well-written, obviously well-researched and a real page turner, a historical work that reads like fiction. 

"Saddles and Mats" Women's Only 4-day retreat in Bandera, Texas Thanksgiving week

Allison Kara, who studied at the Kripalu School of Yoga, will be conducting a Yoga Retreat with The Sugar and Spice Ranch in Bandera, TX. The ranch boss, Leigh McCourt offers a slew of programs including Mother/Daughter Horseback getaways. Check out this new retreat.

Photo credit: The Sugar and Spice Ranch
Taken from Miss Leigh's Facebook page, Allison talks about this exciting event and her intention of being real and true.
"(The) Yoga Retreat with The Sugar and Spice Ranch, is a "Saddles and Mats" Women's Only 4-day retreat in Bandera, Texas Thanksgiving week when the kiddos are on break.
If you find yourself splitting holiday breaks and wanting to get away but not be alone - this could be for you OR if you have a super supportive family that recognizes your need to be YOU while being a mother and a partner - this could be for you too.
The intention I will be setting for this retreat is focusing on what is real and true for me at this time, this stage in my life and to connect with other gals that find themselves on a parallel journey. Make that intention your own, or if my intention doesn't resonate with you - set your own(!), it's all about being real and true - no stories to box us in.
Yoga, horseback riding with a Texas backdrop? Perfect.
Morning and Evening Yoga sessions daily, you will be partnered up with a horse for the duration of the retreat, be pampered with optional spa services, fed with delicious home-cooked food, have cozy accommodations in a bunkhouse, beautiful scenery, a chance to connect with nature and an amazing horse, and a break to focus on you.
More details to come - please check out the Sugar & Spice and IM me with any questions and to see if this retreat would be a good fit for you.
The Ranch accommodates 8 and Leigh, the Owner of the ranch, will be putting it on her site shortly. I would love to see some familiar faces staring back at me from their mats (and their horses), and so I'm putting it here first. I have been to the Sugar & Spice Ranch as a guest, and I am looking forward to going back to teach.
Please share this post - and spread the word!"

Contact The Sugar & Spice Ranch at (830) 460-8487 Monday – Sunday: 8 AM – 5 PM for more information on this event and others.


884 Rikki Drive
Bandera, Texas 78003
What do people say about the ranch?
“I’m not much of a horse person, but my wife and daughter have been to Sugar and Spice several times and absolute love it. So, they took me over Labor Day weekend and now I’m a fan too. It’s a rustic experience to be sure, but comfortable and homey. The owner Leigh and her daughters really made me feel like family and, despite my lack of riding experience I felt very at ease with my horse Willow. The food was excellent as well. If you want a real working ranch experience with great folks, this is the place to go.” — (Austin, Texas)

Cover reveal of LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE by Kristy Woodson Harvey #actsoflove @kristywharvey

Well friends, Kristy Woodson Harvey author of Dear Carolina has done it again. Her new book Lies and Other Acts of Love releases on April 5, 2016, but today we have a sneak preview of the beautiful book cover. I think it's swoon worthy fabulous!

and on the back cover you'll find a nice tease:
Dear Carolina was praised as “Southern fiction at its best.”* Now author Kristy Woodson Harvey presents a new novel about what it really means to tell the truth . . .After sixty years of marriage and five daughters, Lynn “Lovey” White knows that all of us, from time to time, need to use our little white lies.Her granddaughter, Annabelle, on the other hand, is as truthful as they come. She always does the right thing—that is, until she dumps her hedge fund manager fiancĂ© and marries a musician she has known for three days. After all, her grandparents, who fell in love at first sight, have shared a lifetime of happiness, even through her grandfather’s declining health.But when Annabelle’s world starts to collapse around her, she discovers that nothing about her picture-perfect family is as it seems. And Lovey has to decide whether one more lie will make or break the ones she loves . . .

To celebrate the LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE cover reveal, we are giving away three wonderful bundles of books penned by Tall Poppy Writers! Enter below to win! 

Book Bundle 1
THE DOG YEAR, Ann Wertz Garvin; 
VINTAGE, Susan Gloss; 
DEAR CAROLINA, Kristy Woodson Harvey; 

Book Bundle 2
CLOSE TO DESTINY, Adria Cimino; 
LEMONGRASS HOPE, Amy Impellizzeri; 
KEEP THE ENDS LOOSE, Molly Duncan Campbell; 
ROME IN LOVE, Anita Hughes; 

Book Bundle 3
WAKING UP JOY, Tina Ann Forkner; 
ENTANGLEMENT, Katie Rose Guest Prya;
DEAR CAROLINA, Kristy Woodson Harvey

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway

“LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE by Kristy Woodson Harvey is a richly detailed, intergenerational tale of love, loss, and loyalty. Harvey pulls the reader into the hearts and souls of her characters.” 
-- Heather Gudenkauf 
~ New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence

To pre-order Kristy's new book follow the link of your choice:

LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE releases 4.5.16 from Berkley/Penguin Random House. Currently available for pre-order at your local bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Here is a list of Bloggers participating in this reveal and giveaway. Stop by and give them some love! Tell them Whiskey Tales sent you.

Participating Bloggers:

 LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE will grab you by the heartstrings and pull hard. A perfect story about the lies we tell and the secrets we keep-- all in the name of love.” 
– Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, 
authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life 


Ladies of the Canyon by Lesley Poling-Kempes

I am looking forward to this read. I expect her writing will be excellent as always.

Guest Post by Kristy Woodson Harvey, Author of Dear Carolina ... @kristywharvey

“Characters with rich, complicated lives…
beautifully shows how a family comes to be.”
New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas
 (about Dear Carolina)

For several weeks, I have been sharing the news about the soon to release book Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey. If you read my review of her book, you'll know I was head over heels about the story and her writing. You can only guess how delighted I was that she agreed to write a guest post for Whiskey Tales even with her crazy, busy schedule. So, without any further introduction let's hear from Kristy.
Kristy Woodson Harvey
     One of the most nerve-racking things about putting your book out into the
world is wondering if people are going to “get it.” You worked for months on this
manuscript, and you’ve put so much of your heart and soul into it, and now you’re
launching it into the world. That wondering if people will get it is, probably in a
larger sense, connected to that paramount question: Are people going to like it? (I’m
a bit of a people pleaser, so I always have that question in mind!)
     Maria was one of the first people to review Dear Carolina, and, when I saw
that her post was live, my heart dropped into my stomach. I felt those nervous
butterflies and a surge of adrenaline.  This, after almost two years of writing, editing
and waiting for publication, was the moment of truth.
     Then I clicked on the link. And then I started reading. I realized quickly that
she had enjoyed the book, which, of course, was a tremendous relief. Because your
editor and the other people at the publishing house can like it all they want to, but,
until it’s in the world, that fear is going to be there that it isn’t going to resonate with
     But, as I continued reading, I realized that Maria not only liked the book but
that she also got it. 
     You see, I don’t write in chronological order. Quite frankly, I don’t write in
any order at all! I write what pops into my head, usually the most emotionally
wrought scenes of the book, and then I puzzle piece it together in the ways that
make the most sense. 
     The very first scene of Dear Carolina that I wrote was the one where Jodi is
sitting on the beach, trying to come to terms with this decision that she has to make.
And the very first lines I wrote of Dear Carolina were the ones that Maria picked out:
“I don’t know the theory of relativity or the speed of light or any of that other math.
But I knew right well, watching the moon rise over the water that night that, no
matter what them smart scholars say, love is the hardest equation.”

For me, those two lines are the heart of the book, its emotional core. Because
this story isn’t just a story about two mothers and their daughter; it’s a story about
the ways we create our families. It’s a story about how we meet our partners in life
and the best friends that are there for us no matter what. Dear Carolina is a book
about love, in any form, and, no matter what relationship that love pertains to, it
isn’t always of the sweet, sticky, Hallmark-card variety. It tends to get tricky from
time to time.
     Which leads into the other essential line that Maria also chose to use in her
review: “You can never have too many people who love you.”
It may be one of the simplest lines in the book, and, on its own, it doesn’t
seem like much. But, today especially, I think it’s an important thing to remember.
With blended families and stepparents and grandparents, in some families there can
be a huge number of people vying for the attention of you, your spouse, or especially
your child. But, as Khaki reminds us, even if it can be complicated, all that means is
that more people love us. And, while the details might be complex, at its core, it’s
really just more love.
     Thank you so much for loving this book, Maria, for championing it, and, most
of all, for “getting it.” I’ll never forget the relief I felt when I clicked on that link and
realized that, no matter what happened, someone out there felt as connected to Dear 
Carolina as I did! Thank you so much for having me today and allowing me to share
with your wonderful readers. It was a privilege!
~~~ # ~~~

Kristy, Thank you for the gracious compliment. I am incredibly excited to learn you are working on your second book due out April 2016, and I am looking forward to another great read.

"Southern to the bone and full of engaging characters,
 Dear Carolina is a strikingly beautiful story of love and sacrifice. 
Kristy Woodson Harvey’s debut novel captures your heart 
and doesn’t let go; her keen insights into a mother’s love 
will stay with you long after the last page."
--Kim Boykin, author of Palmetto Moon

"Kristy Woodson Harvey holds a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in English from East Carolina University. She writes about interior design and loves connecting with readers. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three-year-old son. Dear Carolina is her first novel."

"Dear Carolina is like the Southern women within it’s pages 
and those who will love this book, sweet as sweet tea on the outside 
and strong as steel on the inside. The dialect of the south 
is so entwined in these pages the reader is  
transported to a place where women and children
 are treasured and family rules all. Kristy Harvey is a natural."
Ann Garvin, Author of On Maggie’s Watch and The Dog Year

You can learn more about Kristy and her work as an Author and a Designer by visiting her website where you can also pre-order Dear Carolina that is set to release May 5, 2015. As well, all the usual places including Barnes & Noble and Amazon, but if you are so inclined, I suggest purchasing at and supporting a local independent bookstore in your neighborhood.

Read my review of Kristy's book here!

You can connect with Kristy on Facebook at and Twitter at @kristywharvey

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: May 5th, 2015 by Berkley
ISBN 0425279987 (ISBN13: 9780425279984)

What's new in this growing TBR

Pretty soon, my mailbox should be exploding with new books just in time for the warmer days to appear. I don't know about you, but I'm still looking around corners for some lemonade and popsicle warmth. Spring is certainly taking it's time this year.

A few of the books will be coming with a lagniappe, a small gift for pre-ordering. How thoughtful and yes, a nice marketing strategy! I find pre-ordering to be very convenient so for me a small gift is a gracious addition. And since I like to see favorite authors when they are in my neck of the woods, I know that many times pre-ordering will give the publisher that push that sets an author on tour. How about you, do you pre-order books or wait until they are available for purchase?

Seems my first book arrival should be here soon. Everything is looking pretty peachy, I'd say!

Available April 21

"Where is Kent Heyward? The twenty-three-year-old heiress from one of Charleston’s oldest families vanished a month ago. When her father hires private investigator Liz Talbot, Liz suspects the most difficult part of her job will be convincing the patriarch his daughter tired of his overbearing nature and left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes. 

But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Rivers and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk.

Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Rivers, the closer Liz dances to her own grave."


"The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gonenow explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret." 

"It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country."


"Greer Hennessy is a struggling movie location scout. Her last location shoot ended in disaster when a film crew destroyed property on an avocado grove. And Greer ended up with the blame.

Now Greer has been given one more chance—a shot at finding the perfect undiscovered beach town for a big budget movie. She zeroes in on a sleepy Florida panhandle town. There’s one motel, a marina, a long stretch of pristine beach and an old fishing pier with a community casino—which will be perfect for the film’s climax—when the bad guys blow it up in an all-out assault on the townspeople.

Greer slips into town and is ecstatic to find the last unspoilt patch of the Florida gulf coast. She takes a room at the only motel in town, and starts working her charm. However, she finds a formidable obstacle in the town mayor, Eben Thinadeaux. Eben is a born-again environmentalist who’s seen huge damage done to the town by a huge paper company. The bay has only recently been re-born, a fishing industry has sprung up, and Eben has no intention of letting anybody screw with his town again. The only problem is that he finds Greer way too attractive for his own good, and knows that her motivation is in direct conflict with his.

Will true love find a foothold in this small beach town before it’s too late and disaster strikes?  Told with Mary Kay Andrews inimitable wit and charm, Beach Town is this year’s summer beach read!"

Book Three of the LOWCOUNTRY SUMMER TRILOGY -- out May 19

Book Three of the LOWCOUNTRY SUMMER TRILOGY -- out May 19

"In the powerful and heartwarming conclusion to her bestsellingLowcountry Summer trilogy, New York Times author Mary Alice Monroe brings her readers back to the charm and sultry beauty of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, to reveal how the pull of family bonds and true love is as strong and steady as the tides."

"It is summer’s end and Sea Breeze, the family’s beloved estate on Sullivan’s Island, must be sold. It is an emotional time of transition as Mamaw and the three sisters each must face loss and find a new place in the world.

Harper, the youngest sister, arrived at Sea Breeze intending to stay only a weekend, but a rift with her wealthy, influential mother left her without direction or a home. During this remarkable summer, free from her mother’s tyranny and with the help of her half sisters, Harper discovered her talents and independent spirit. 

But summer is ending, and the fate of Sea Breeze hinges on Harper’s courage to decide the course of her own life. To do so she must release her insecurities and recognize her newfound strengths. She must accept love fully into her life—the love of Mamaw, Carson, and Dora, the love of Sea Breeze and the lowcountry, and most of all, the love of a Wounded Warrior who has claimed her heart."

"The third book in Mary Alice Monroe’s trilogy that brims with “stories that touch the mind and heart of her readers” (Huffington Post)The Summer’s End follows three half sisters bound by love for their grandmother and the timeless beauty and traditions of the lowcountry."

Of course I can't forget to suggest a few others that I've read that just tug at my heartstrings since the writing and the stories are so beautiful. I think you'll love these two books:

Due out on May 5th. Read my review here.
You can learn more about Kristy and her work as an Author and a Designer by visiting her website where you can also pre-order Dear Carolina - See more at: 

Available now. Read my review here.
All of Amy's books can be purchased directly from her website where all books are signed by her - See more at: 

All of these books can be found on the authors website or at all the usual places including Barnes & Noble and Amazon, but if you are so inclined, I suggest purchasing at and supporting a local independent bookstore in your neighborhood. 

What books are in your 'to be read' stack?

Happy birthday Barbara Kingsolver

“She kept swimming out into life because she hadn't yet found a rock to stand on.”

― Barbara KingsolverAnimal Dreams


“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, 'There now, hang on, you'll get over it.' Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.” 

― Barbara KingsolverThe Bean Trees

Sweetgrass Lowcountry Weddings by Charmayne

Lovely, refreshing, and visually stunning are just a few of the descriptions a Charleston Lowcountry wedding evokes. It's a gracious location rich in tradition, perfect for that very special day and, of course, holds the allure of that sweet, slow, southern feel of the sea island culture.

A popular trend for the past few years that does not appear to be going away anytime soon has been to add a bit of unique, local flair to your wedding with Sweetgrass Baskets. Include locally crafted, handmade Sweetgrass Baskets to your tables, and as lovely favors for your guests to keep. Delightful as a ring bearer tray, flower girl basket or as beautiful holders for your table flowers, sweetgrass baskets make for an authentic Lowcountry experience and cherished remembrance.

Handmade Sweetgrass Palmetto Roses by Charmayne Nezz Art LLC
"Tradition holds that during the War Between the States, 
Southern Ladies would give their true love a palmetto rose 
to keep them safe from harm and like her love for him, was everlasting. 
Today the Palmetto Rose is still a keepsake symbolizing everlasting love."

Charmayne Nesbitt is one of the very talented "basket ladies" who has been sewing baskets in the Lowcountry tradition, preserving the history and educating about the art of sweetgrass basketry. Since she sewed her very first basket, Charmayne has honed her craft and has become sought after for her careful detail and polished finish of her work.

Photo: Handmade Old Fashioned Sweetgrass Basket by Charmayne Nezz Art LLC
Charmayne will help you to set the right mood with her wedding packages including table baskets, flower holders, Palmetto Roses, and wedding keepsakes. Of course, she will be happy to work with you to customize the perfect package for your special day!

"Also called the Everlasting Rose or the Charleston Love Rose, 
the Sweetgrass Palmetto Rose makes a lovely and lasting bouquet 
and adorned on the groom and groomsmen, they are fabulous boutonnieres."

Photo: Handmade wedding favor by Charmayne Nezz Art LLC
"Coiled basketry is one of the oldest African crafts in America, 
appearing in South Carolina during the late 17th century." 

Each of Charmayne's pieces is made by her hand with all the care and love that comes with preserving a piece of history.

Photo: Handmade by Charmayne Nezz Art LLC

For inquiries/orders, please call 843-412-0567 or 843-336-4383 or email Charmayne at and visit her website at .

Handmade with care requires time, and some orders may require a 30-60 day notice.

You can visit her basket stand in Mount Pleasant located at the intersection of 2966 Hwy 17 N. and Muhlenbergia Drive. (Front entrance to Gregorie Ferry Landing Apartments)

Photo: Nezz Art LLC

Anne Neilson Fine Art

I just spent two cups of morning coffee looking at the very beautiful artwork of Anne Neilson of Anne Neilson Fine Art in Charlotte. I think that's a morning well spent. We all love pretty don't we?

This image belongs to and is of Anne Neilson's original artwork called "A Greater Joy."
For more information, click to go to her website

She shares her inspirations and stories that create her art. This image is of the cover of Strokes of Compassion.
This image belongs to and is of Anne Neilson's art book called "Strokes of Compassion." 
For more information, click to go to her website
She has several gorgeous art books and is making beautiful journals which will be due out very soon but can be pre-ordered on her website. She has four different images, but this one is my favorite.

This image belongs to and is of Anne Neilson's art journal called "Light of My Presence Journal."
For more information, click to go to her website 

Garden Inspirations by Charlotte Moss

This book because we all love pretty gardens and pretty books.

Expected publication: April 28th, 2015 by Rizzoli (first published April 14th, 2015)


Let's make this recipe for what seems to be a delightfully refreshing cocktail from the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits



1  1/2 cups Tequila
1 cup citrus juice (mixture of freshly squeezed lime, orange, lemon & tangerine juices)
3/4 cup (or more) soda water
Ice cubes

1.  Combine all the ingredients in a pitcher and stir.
2.  Pour into cocktail glasses and serve over ice.

Photo from

Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey ... @kristywharvey #BookReview

Dear Carolina is an ambitious first book for a young Author indeed, and a book well done. Two mothers different by circumstance, holding space for each other with similar heart, one a biological mother, the other the adoptive mother each tell a love story to their child. This young author has written a story of families coming together in support of each other; it's a story of pain, heartbreak, renewals and love. Written in beautiful southern voice, it is lyrical.

"You can never have too many people who love you." 
~Khaki from Dear Carolina by @kristywharvey 

There have been times when I've been asked to read an advance copy and give an honest review but find myself uninterested in the story or writing. In those rare times, I'll simply decline to publish the review; this time was quite different. Immediately taken with this story from the very first few pages, I found myself wishing I could keep reading instead of working.

 The strength of the women, the richness of the characters traveling this story is beautiful, and it's lovely and it's brave. It is a book well worth reading for the writing and the story.

"But I knew right well, 
watching the moon rise that night, 
that no matter what them smart scholars say, 
love is the hardest equation." 
~Jodi from Dear Carolina by @kristywharvey 

I enjoyed Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I'd recommend to anyone who believes family doesn't just mean blood relations. Tweet this

About the Author
"Kristy Woodson Harvey holds a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in English from East Carolina University. She writes about interior design and loves connecting with readers. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three-year-old son. Dear Carolina is her first novel."

There's more
You can learn more about Kristy and her work as an Author and a Designer by visiting her website where you can also pre-order Dear Carolina that is set to release May 5, 2015. As well, all the usual places including Barnes & Noble and Amazon, but if you are so inclined, I suggest purchasing at and supporting a local independent bookstore in your neighborhood.

Get it now!

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