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La Llorona: The Crying Woman
By Rudolfo Anaya. University of New Mexico Press. 39 pp. $19.95.
When Maya is born with a sun-shaped birthmark on her shoulder, the priest proclaims she will never die because she is a child of the sun. Angered, Father Time/ Señor Tiempo vows to harm her. Maya flees to the jungle and has children, but is later tricked by Señor Tiempo who drowns them. Afterwards, Maya wanders the lakeside mournfully crying, “Mis niños, mis niños.” A classic Mexican folktale presented with beautiful illustrations by Amy Córdova. []

La Sociedad: Guardians of Hispanic Culture Along the Rio Grande
By Jose Rivera. University of New Mexico Press. 212 pp. Index. $35.00.
The society of the title is, officially, La Sociedad Proteccion Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos. One of hundreds of such societies, it has more than 60 local units known as concilios (lodges). Rivera explains why such groups formed (to protect small, Hispanic farmers) and how they functioned (not unlike the Grange Movement in the U. S. Midwest). Now modified and aiming at protecting Hispanic culture rather than farmer’s rights, the future seems in doubt as older members die and younger potential members are busy with the other distractions and attractions of modern society. []

Last Dust to Settle, The
By Jim England-Kennedy. CreateSpace. 302 pp. $12.96.

Border wars novel.
Last Gunfight, The: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral - And How It Changed the American West
By Jeff Guinn. Simon & Schuster. 392 pp. Index. $27.00.
Skeptics who doubt the need for yet another recounting of the 1881 gunfight that pitted the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday against the Clantons and the McLaurys will need to reassess their views. Guinn, the bestselling author of "Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde", plumbs a sprawling array of sources to weave a compelling narrative of flesh-and-blood human beings inexorably drawn into an iconic confrontation on the cold, windswept streets of Tombstone, AZ. In his deft hands, this often-told story takes on new depth and meaning as it unfolds against the backdrop of frontier settlement, community development and territorial politics. []
Let’s get the facts straight. The shootout was on Fremont Street, not in the O.K. Corral and it was far from being Wyatt Earp’s last gunfight. We learn that he rarely stayed long in one place and was focused on hoped for wealth and fame. What he attained was notoriety as a part time sheriff, gunslinger, a womanizer, and a gambler. The fracas at the so-called corral, was only the beginning since he spent the rest of the time in Tombstone seeking revenge against enemies and avoiding arrest for misdeeds. It wasn’t long before he left town for California where he spent the rest of his life trying to write a memoir. Writers still won’t let him die. []

Last Narco, The: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo, the World's Most Wanted Drug Lord
By Malcolm Beith. Grove Press. 261 pp. Index. $24.00.
Beginning with a dramatic 2001 escape from a central Mexico prison, Beith traces the mushrooming folk legend of Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera ("El Chapo") and explains the spreading influence of drug cartels into the border regions of the United States and beyond. Based on a myriad of interviews and newspaper accounts, Beith offers a terrifying chronicle of corruption and violence, the final chapter of which is yet to be written. []

Lessons from a Desperado Poet: How to find Your Way When You Don't Have a Map, How to Win the Game When You Don't Know the Rules, and When Someone Says it Can't be Done, What They Really Mean is They Can't Do It.
By Baxter Black. TwoDot . 232 pp. Index. $22.95.
If you don’t know who Baxter Black is, you must not be listening to NPR. Known as the Cowboy Poet, his poetry (humorous, sly, and sometimes outrageous) takes a backseat in this delightful survey of his rules for becoming a success. Not “regional” in any sense, the words here are educational, laugh-out-loud funny and, yes, inspirational. A couple of examples: “Accounting people are like freemasons or rappers: they have their own secret language, rules, and handshake. Don't let it worry you. They don't understand what you are doing either” and “You’ve got to be able to recognize a dead horse when you see it and put down the reins” and, about sales by mail-order, “For a mailing to be effective and efficient, it must be kept as current as your parole officer’s cell phone number!” []
Although this isn’t particularly a Southwest book, cowboy poet Baxter Black has many fans here who will enjoy this funny self-help book that tells how to find your way through life when you don’t have a map. He lives in a hand-shake business world and his homespun philosophy is plain spoken, as it should be. Along the way he shares 118 life lessons that will warm your heart and brighten your smile. []

Levis & Lace: Arizona Women Who Made History
By Jan Cleere. Rio Nuevo. 196 pp. $14.95.
Arizona has had its share of fascinating, pioneering women, and here we meet 35 of them in short biographies that should spur us to look further. They include artists like potter Nampeyo and writer Katie Lee, teachers like Rebecca Dallis and Maria Urquides, businesswomen like Ada Bass, Nellie Cashman, and Louisa Wetherill, healers Florence Yount and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, and judge Lorna Lockwood. Each and all reveal much about our state and its progress. A fun, fine read whether you are an old-time Arizonan or newcomer. []
Cleere includes photos, when available, so we modern readers can get a sense of what these woman, not all heroines, were like. That famous Apache “warrioress” Lozen is here, and 150 years later, Maria Urquides. Somewhere in between, chronologically, is perhaps the most famous Arizona woman, the Hopi potter Nampeyo. Nice tributes make easy reading. Only 30-some here, so there’s lots of room for another book, or two, Jan. []

Light in the Desert: Photographs from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert
By Tony O'Brien. Museum of New Mexico Press. 112 pp. $50.00.
More than 100 black and white images, many of them in a large horizontal format permitted by the book’s 10x13" size, deliver a powerful sense of the peace and, yes, austerity, of the lives of the resident monks. Located in New Mexico not far from Chama, which many people think of as Georgia O’Keeffe country, the monastery became O’Brien’s home for a year of recovery after his imprisonment in Afghanistan while on assignment for Life Magazine. []

Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border
By Rachel St. John. Princeton University Press. 284 pp. Index. $29.95.
Harvard professor Rachel St. John draws extensively upon archival and published history to draw a portrait of the complexities of the U.S. border with Mexico. Along the way she discusses political relations between our two countries, analyzes events and policies, and draws thoughtful conclusions. She greatly helps to explain how we got to borderland mess we’re now in and why the fence is a greater issue for some Americans than for others. []

Love-Sick Skunk, The
By Joe Hayes. Cinco Puntos Press. $16.95.
Top Pick
This very funny picture book by popular children’s storyteller Joe Hayes relates what happens to a boy who refuses to give up his favorite old, tattered, holey, black-and-white sneakers. The trouble starts when he goes camping with a friend. Left outside the tent, the sneakers attract a skunk that falls in love with them. A rival skunk boyfriend comes along and, in a fit of jealousy, sprays the old shoes. In the stinky aftermath of the encounter between skunks and shoes, the boy finally agrees to wear the new pair of sneakers that his mom bought. A delight!

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Lucky Stiff
By Deborah Coonts. Forge Books. 368 pp. $24.99.
If you like stories set in Las Vegas with wisecracks for punch lines Coonts’ second novel, after 2010's “Wanna Get Lucky?”, might be just the thing for that next long airplane ride. When a semi-trailer loaded with a million honey bees overturns in front of her casino (she’s the Head of Customer Relations) on The Strip, it’s just the beginning of bad things that include a dead odds-maker in the hotel's shark tank. Card players sometimes say "Read 'em and weep" but here it's "Read 'em and laugh, or perhaps groan." []

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