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Blood Mountain

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A trope-y mystery thriller enlivened by the setting and most of all by Jodi Luna who left academia to work as a game warden in New Mexico. There's rich people, there's a bear, there's a murder, and most of all there's a blizzard. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. It's a fast paced and entertaining read which will grab ou and keep you turning the pages.

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Jodi Luna was raised in New Mexico and has returned as a game warden following the death of her husband on the East Coast where she was a professor. Her fifteen-year-old daughter Mila sounds like a typical teenager.

Her new supervisor assigns her a job requested by the governor as a favor that is clearly no request. Billionaire Teddy Evans and his wife invited his brothers and a sister and their spouses to hunt elk on his ranch compound, then splits leaving the guiding up to Jodi.

Of course, the siblings feel ridiculously entitled and obnoxious. The wife just wants Jodi to help organize the hunt and keep them from killing each other.

Oops.

The property is massive, beautiful, and there’s a treacherous storm brewing. There is also a property that straddles the ingress/egress road to the ranch compound owned by a woman been there longer than dirt and has a pet bear. They don’t want her there.

Jodi seems pretty intelligent but makes a few questionable decisions and tends to be grating.

The storyline keeps a good pace, pushes some disbelief, throws in twists and add complexity. It’s entertaining.

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Blood Mountain
Alisa Lynn Valdes
April 16, 2024

Jodi Luna returns in another story from the Northern sector of New Mexico. She is game warden for the area in and around Gato Montes.The towns are small unless you count the political areas of Sante Fe and Albuquerque. Her job requires her to patrol the mountainous areas of Rio Trucas County. For her weekend off she had planned on enjoying her time at home with her daughter, Mila. As for the evening she had a date with Lyle Daggett, a local manager of a large ranch. Great plans until she met with her boss, Sean Brady, state head of Fish and Wildlife. He had a message from the governor, Jodi was expected to attend a bash at the home of Teddy and Claudia Evans. They own an old 600,000 acre ranch in theSangre Jesus mountains. They would like her to be present for the family elk hunt. Although she attempted to turn down the offer, Brady gave her trouble over an issue that arose recently with the department.
Blood Mountain will be published by Thomas & Mercer on April 16, 2024. I was able to read the ARC of Blood Mountain via NetGalley. This is the second novel in the Jodi Luna series by Alisa Lynn Valdes. This wild and wooly adventure is a great tale of New Mexican small town life as well as some heritage thrown into the mix. When in the mountain areas of this state there is no WIFI, large hotels or fun shopping. When the blizzards blow snow and the wind becomes hazardous, travel is not an option. I have enjoyed this series and hope Valdez gives us more escapades in the New Mexican mountainous outback. Enjoy this one!

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ageism, blizzards, closed-circle-mystery, elitism, entitled-attitude, family, family-drama, family-dynamics, fiction, game-warden, Latinx, misogyny, mystery, New-Mexico, political-corruption, politicians, politics, read, rural, siblings, suspense, thriller, unpleasant-victims, unputdownable, wealthy*****

Since when is an over forty woman over the hill? In the tiny minds of men who need to step on others to be able to look themselves in the mirror. Rant over. Game Warden Jodi Luna left her professorship at an East Coast university to return to home and a messy family history. Her new law enforcement boss is as clueless as the high rollers she is supposed to babysit at a campground. Then comes the nasty blizzard in the mountains and the deaths. Great story that caught me by the nose until I finished it!
I requested and received a free temporary EARC from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley. Thanks
According to Goodreads Expected publication October 16, 2024 but according to Thomas & Mercer Pub Date 16 Apr 2024 via NetGalley. Go figure.
#JodiLunaNovelBk2

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Blood Mountain is the second thriller featuring New Mexico game warden Jodi Luna. Jodi is ordered to supervise an elk hunt taking place at the ranch of billionaire couple Claudia and Teddy Evans, who have recently bought an enormous amount of land in NM. Also on the hunt are Teddy's three ultra-wealthy (and horrible) siblings and their spouses.
This is a quick-paced and easy read, with a lot of my favorite thriller tropes (dysfunctional rich people, snowstorm isolation, locked room mystery). As with the first book, it's nice to have a female protagonist who is strong, independent, and hard-working. It is the second in the series but could easily be read as a standalone novel. For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. My only criticism is that it was very heavy on religion/Catholicism, which will not resonate with all readers, and the ending seemed very abrupt. However, I am still looking forward to a third installment.
Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

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A poet turned game warden is fine with animals….it’s people who cause her problems.

Jodi Luna, who was raised and has deep family roots in Rio Truchas County, NM, had established a life and career on the East Coast. When her husband died in a tragic accident in full view of their young daughter Mila, Jodi decided to make changes in their lives. Coming back to the more simple and peaceful area where she was raised seemed like the right idea. But she is running into the same type of office politics in her new career that she had encountered in academia. After her new, less-than-competent supervisor issues her a written warning which could well lead her to lose her job, she feels that she has little choice but to do the “favor” her boss requests on behalf of the governor. Jodi is to spend the weekend at the Sangre Monte Ranch, a ridiculously large ranch compound owned by billionaire Teddy Evans and his actress wife Claudia. The couple is hosting Teddy’s family, two brothers and a sister with their spouses, and have promised them an elk hunt, but Teddy has been called out of town and Claudia needs someone to organize the hunt and keep the (spoiled and obnoxious) siblings in line. Jodi brings along her daughter (who has been showing recent signs of rebellion) and since Mila is sort of dating the Evans’ son Sterling, two East Coast-raised kids finding it hard to be accepted by the locals, it is the logical thing to do. It is also only the first decision that Jodi will make and regret during the weekend. The Evans siblings are at odds with one another, and the ranch’s nearest neighbor is making threats against them as they try to convince her to sell her family land. There are bears on the prowl, then a dangerous snow storm moves in and both takes out their electricity and keeps them trapped on the ranch. And then the deaths begin. Can Jodi figure out what it happening and who is behind it before anyone else, including her own daughter, has to die?
Blood Mountain is the second in this series by author Alisa Lynn Valdés, but reads perfectly well as a standalone novel. There are plenty of quirky characters, including Jodi herself who may have some anger management issues and a problem with men who are controlling, and is dealing both with a daughter entering the minefield that is teenaged life as well as getting to know a second daughter to whom she had given birth as a teenager and whom she had been forced to give up at birth. Add in a wealthy family who do not treat one another, or anyone for that matter, very well, who have promised not to tap into the oil under the land they have bought up from local families to form their compound but may be breaking those promises, and an elderly woman who is the only one to stand in the Evans’ way (but wields a bow and arrow with a great deal of precision and happens to have a pet bear). The area and way of life in this corner of New Mexico, as well as the challenges that confront the local residents as wealthy outsiders start to move in and make changes, are well described, and the many conflicts….tradition vs innovation, teenager vs parent, wealthy outsiders vs ordinary residents, and human vs animal…are all woven into the story. The mystery is a bit of a locked room sort, with a finite group of people as suspects, and red herrings and plot twists sprinkled throughout, all unfolding at a fairly brisk place. Blood Mountain is an entertaining read with a strong female protagonist, and those who have enjoyed the author’s earlier books as well as fans of authors like Vanessa Lillie, Nevada Barr and C J Box should add this to their TBR pile. Many thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for allowing me access to an early copy of the novel.

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This was actually the book that inspired me to read the series from the start. I really liked the first one and was excited to pick up this second installment. I like Jodi, a widow who left her career as a college professor and her home in MA, with her teenage daughter, Mila. Jodi goes back home to New Mexico, where she becomes a Game Warden in the forests and national parks of New Mexico, north of Santa Fe. I highly suggest that you start the series from the beginning to get the background info for this installment. There are scenes in this installment that make reference to the first installment, but not enough that, I think, to get the full understand the scene. JMHO

The book summary is pretty vague regarding the various storylines, so I do want to elaborate just a little on that. The primary storyline has Jodi playing hunting guide to a rich family of hunters at the behest of her boss (and subsequently his boss the Governor) after he wrote her up for caring more about animals than humans on her last case (the previous installment). Gee, what a strange and bizarre attitude! A game warden caring more about the animals being killed by poachers than who the poacher’s friends are. Without getting into the nitty gritty details of the previous installment or any spoilers, suffice it to say that Jodi’s boss (and subsequently the Governor) are money-grubbing, @$$-kissing, jerks!!!

There are secondary storylines too like Lyle, a local Ranch Manager, who wants to make he and Jodi’s situationship something less casual because Lyle, also a widow, is crazy in love with Jodi. There is also the burgeoning relationship between Jodi and Ashley, who I don’t want to say too much more about because it would be a spoiler for those who want to read the first installment. There is also the friction between Jodi and her daughter, Mila, some of which results from Mila’s trauma from the last installment (you really need to read the first installment). Jodi isn’t sure about how to address and deal with it, especially now that Mila is dating Sterling, Claudia Evans’s son, who are both from the rich family of hunters.

The story flips back and forth between Jodi and pretty much every other character in the book getting a chapter or two from their perspective. Most of the story revolves around Jodi’s assignment with the Evans family in their atrocious mountain “cabin”. Call me crazy, but I don’t consider humungous, multi-level, mansions as “cabins”, but whatever. As for the Evans family? Without getting into the nitty gritty details, suffice it to say that they are a bunch of entitled, obnoxious, despicable, rich jerks.

By the halfway point, the horrendous blizzard that has hit the mountain has extinguished any hope of bagging an elk but does happen to reveal a murder scene. This has Jodi switching from hunting guide to homicide inspector and when her crazy-@$$%&, bad@$$ goddess emerges and takes over to kick @$$!. WHOO HOO!!! LOVE JODI!!! Oh, and the blizzard has Jodi, Mila and the entire Evans family and their guests and staff stranded at the “cabin”. The best part though (without getting into any spoilers)? Suffice it to say, Mila is a chip off the old block and Jodi raised that girl right!!! LOVE MILA!!!

This was a great story that was filled with a cast of characters that I not only loved, but ones that I also loved to hate. For me, characterization is the most important element of the story. Without great characters, it doesn’t matter how interesting story or the writing is. JMHO Anyway, the pacing was really good too and the storyline and writing flowed really well. However, that final scene has me concerned about the next installment. I’m sitting here looking at a nearly perfect rating making it an easy 5star rating for me. I want to thank NetGalley and Thomas Mercer for sending me this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

#NetGalley #ThomasMercer #BloodMountain

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A decent take on a survival thriller with the snowed in with a killer trope. First 100 pages or so are world building and introducing an ensemble cast of characters, which the author does very well. I remembered everyone's name and details of their personality and appearance. I requested this book from net galley based on the synopsis before seeing it is book 2 in a series. There was some mentions of events from book one but I felt this entry stands alone pretty well.

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WARNING: it's time for another unscheduled stop of the unpopular opinion train!!

I still can't believe this happened to be honest. I highly enjoyed my time with the first book of the series, Hollow Beasts, last year, and I've been looking forward to continue the series ever since. I loved the fact that the main character is a game warden and the New Mexico wilderness made for such a great backdrop. Add the fact that I love a good bout of bad weather in my thrillers, and I fully expected to have a similar experience with Blood Mountain. Sadly, it just wasn't ment to be... And I struggled considerably to find the motivation to finish this sequel. Why? I'll try to explain below.

There is no doubt that the premise hit the mark for me, and Jodi Luna being a game warden instead of your regular police officer gives this series a refreshing angle. The New Mexico setting also made for the perfect backdrop for this story, especially with the remote setting of the lodge during most of the plot and the blizzard isolating the characters even further. The wilderness setting is probably one of the main reasons I kept reading, as it set such an ominous atmosphere... And I loved that it played such an active role in the plot.

I think a big part of where it went wrong for me has a lot to do with the characters. The already known characters are mostly great of course, but I absolutely despised the whole Evans family. They almost felt like caricatures of the typical rich, white and arrogant family, and I truly started to resent having to spend time with them. I love a good Latin representation, but Blood Mountain was just too political for me with basically all the rich white characters being villains and the locals/Latin characters being victims/heroes. It lacked nuance and was too much based on stereotypes... And seriously, how despicable do you have to make the bad guys?! It just felt wrong. Also, the identity of the killer wasn't credible AT ALL and mostly felt like the author needed another excuse to talk politics and criticize the system. Ugh.

I felt like we didn't get to spend proper quality time with Jodi and the other likeable characters at all, and instead we had to spend most of our time with the Evans family. Just when you think you can't hate a family more, yet another revolting fact is revealed... Like I said, they felt more like caricatures than anything. Some of the plot twists were rather farfetched, and the ending itself seemed quite rushed. Likewise, some of the actions of certain characters just aren't credible, because they are supposed to know better... And then I'm not even talking about the many Bible quotes that were a turn off, the cheating angle, the misogyny and the racism.

I was SO convinced I was going to love my time with Blood Mountain, but instead it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Too political, highly despicable characters, too many major pet peeves and no credible suspect or satisfying ending; sadly this sequel wasn't for me, and I'm not sure I will be continuing this series if this is the direction it is going to take in the future.

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I liked this second installment in the Jodi Luna series but the first one was by and far better. I will still read the next release.

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After reading the first book in this series, I was excited to find the second. I was not disappointed. I have lived in New Mexico for seven years, after living in several largely populated states. New Mexico has more cows than people and this book describes the Land of Enchantment perfectly. The characters are exactly how I would describe my neighbors. The story drew me in immediately and was one I couldn’t put down until it was finished. I look forward to reading more about the game warden, her monk brother, sheriff daughter, and the vast state these books are set in.

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From poetry professor to game warden is quite a jump in terms of careers but in New Mexico, Jodi Luna has made precisely that change.

Still reeling from the loss of her husband, she is struggling to be open to her new relationship, and she is still adjusting to the major shift in her professional choices. A 40-something woman, she also has a teenage daughter named Mila, who takes after her mother in terms of courage and grit.

When Jodi is instructed to lead an elk hunt for a wealthy family to which her friend Claudia belongs, she heads off to the mountain lodge where family members have gathered. But there is a lot of tension in the air and the bickering is not helped by the deteriorating weather conditions. With the blizzard that follows, the end result is a locked room mystery of sorts.

Because after folks go missing and someone turns up dead, Jodi must face the distinct possibility that the killing is not being done by a bear but an ill-intentioned human from within the fractious group...

The treatment of some characters and certain of the behaviours in this story do reflect prejudice and border on a little stereotypical, but perhaps that is simply a reflection of the reality of such attitudes when it comes to power, wealth and privilege.

This is an entertaining story, which by and large holds the reader's attention. The book examines themes of conservation, social justice, and the unfortunate effects of too much money. The strongest point is probably The authenticity and diversity of the characters portrayed, including the Goat Woman.

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I mostly liked this book. I didn’t like how the warden and other Hispanic and women are treated. There is some foul language. I did feel the Jodi is short-sighted not to suspect Sterling just because he is a kid and her daughter liked him. #BloodMountain #NetGalley

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Treacherous weather and duplicitous intentions are front and center in Blood Mountain, where if the major snowstorm doesn’t kill you, a family member or a large animal might cause your demise instead. Alisa Lynn Valdes has crafted a tension-filled, blood pressure increasing, enchanting mystery that will keep you guessing until the shocking reveal.

New Mexico game warden Jodi Luna has been ordered by her boss to lead an elk hunt on the enormous ranch of a wealthy family, one member of which is a woman Jodi has become friendly with. When she arrives, she is thrust into a complicated situation with bickering siblings and an incoming blizzard that leaves them stranded in the lodge. Then one of the family members goes missing and is later found murdered. Jodi, as the sole law enforcement officer on site, must brave the elements and the warring family to determine the motive and figure out which one of the handful of suspects could have perpetrated the crime.

This book is high on drama and contains quite a bit of intrigue that goes beyond the murder investigation. Loud and obnoxious siblings fighting like cats and dogs. Environmental conservation issues. Teenagers thinking they know more than adults. Dynamics of rich vs. poor. A daughter trying to find her place in a family after being united with her birth mother. And a woman referred to as the Goat Lady who shoots homemade arrows at people, keeps a black bear as a pet, and speaks almost exclusively in bible verses. So while this book has a compelling crime and a twisting, turning, suspenseful investigation, the characters are the driving force behind making this story pop.

Blood Mountain is an engaging and gripping tale that succeeds in moving this budding series forward with a positive step in character development while also setting the stage for future installments. A thriller that will entertain crime novel enthusiasts with a predisposition for the outdoors, animals and family drama.

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This story combined two of my favorite things- a taught thriller with an unusual setting in the wilds and snow. I enjoyed the fact that there was plenty of character building and story along with the mystery. Great job. Will read more by this author.

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Bogged down by the details.......

I had high hopes for Blood Mountain after reading the first novel in this Jodi Luna Series. Hollow Beasts #1 showed promise of good things to come. That didn't exactly happen here. Blood Mountain suffered from the Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda Syndrome.

We meet back up with New Mexico Game Warden, Jodi Luna, with a different assignment this time. She's a forty-six year old woman with a teenage daughter starting a new career and returning to the home front in New Mexico. Sean Brady, the new head of New Mexico Fish and Wildlife, has issues with Jodi from the get-go.

New assignment: Oversee an elk hunt in the vast acreage of the Sange Monte Ranch owned by billionaire Teddy Evans and his actress wife Claudia. They're having problems with Dona Lourdes Lavato, also known as the Goat Woman, who will not sell her land. The Evans Clan must pass through her ranch in order to get to theirs. Lavato also has a pet bear named Charlie.

So far so good. Blood Mountain started layin' bricks for a good read. Until things went sliding down that mountain. Jodi brings her fifteen year old daughter, Mila, who has been carved out as a bad ass with rock climbing and gun toting talents well beyond her years. Then we have a horrendous snow storm. Nobody bothered to check the weather app for hunting that week.

All the Evans Clan shows up. Alisa Lynn Valdes couldn't help herself with injecting the privileged stereotypical rich folks with bad behavior like the white supremacists in the last one. At the core of this novel is a landslide of issues that we're faced with every day. Day in and day out. Here's a small suggestion: Readers read fiction for escapism. Give us some haardcore crime, serial killers, and just plain murder without all these issues attached. Just sayin'. And the murderer in this one was beyond the pale. All I can say is to check this one out for yourselves, dear readers.I may just have a cocklebur under my saddle.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Thomas & Mercer and to Alisa Lynn Valdes for the opportunity.

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"Blood Mountain" is the second installment in the Jodi Luna series but is easily read as a standalone. A game warden is assigned to supervise a wealthy family's hunting trip and soon finds herself entangled in their drama.

This book opens with the discovery of a dead body, but readers need to slog through about 25 chapters of family drama before getting to the murder teased in the opening paragraphs. The eventual thrills are bogged down by one-dimensional villains and heavy-handed political references.

All in all, I was disappointed and won't be reading other books in the series.

Thank you Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for sending me an advanced copy of this book for review consideration.

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Blood Mountain is an excellent second book to the series. Jodi is a spitfire and I love her grit. I loved the vivid descriptions of nature and the love for natural resources and wildlife. Look forward to reading more.

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I started this book a few days ago, and stopped reading for the holidays. When I came back to the story, I realized I have lost interest in the story and no longer wish to read it. I do think readers will like this story, as the writing was good and the characters seemed interesting enough.

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