A quick look at ‘Viral Nation’

viral-nation-coverViral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

Genre: Young adult, science fiction

My Synopsis: A virus wipes out most of the U.S. population before a suppressant is found for it. Each state gathers its surviving citizens into one walled city to give them the suppressant each day. Nevada, which has only 15-20,000 survivors, brings them all into Reno. The story starts 16 years later with teen survivors Clover and her brother West. The Company (founded by the suppressant creators) and the government run everything. Most of the residents work for one or the other after they finish school; they are paid in ration coupons. West works on a cantaloupe farm for the government but hopes to get a job as a guard for the Company. Clover hopes to go to the Academy but instead is “drafted” to be a time traveler. One of her trips to the future reveals her brother is in danger and leads them to a group of runaway foster kids in the present. They all begin to learn what has really been going on.

Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin)

Format and Number of Pages: Paperback, 315 pages

Where to Find: Sundance Books, Barnes & Noble, online, etc.

How Much Read: All

Comments: I don’t read either YA or science fiction, but I bought and read the book because I like the author on Twitter. Some of the things that kept me reading: Clover’s autism, which is an important part of the plot; presidential quotes, most of which I’d never heard before; and scenes of Reno and Lake Tahoe in a dystopian future. The Company office building and the bazaar where the workers exchange their coupons for their rations are in former casinos across from each other on Virginia Street. Children orphaned by the virus had been moved into foster homes set up in a gated community built just before the housing bust and never lived in. The runaway foster kids live unnoticed in a vacant casino hotel a distance from downtown. Bears are a concern for anyone going outside the wall.

The book raises and answers many questions, leaving new ones unanswered at the end. The story continues in the second book in the series, Rebel Nation, which has just been released. Grimes will sign and read it at Sundance Books and Music next Sunday, July 6, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

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Artown to have book events

Here are some of the book-related events I’ve found so far in the Artown 2014 schedule. They are all free.

  • July 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Art, History and Literature Family Festival. Kids’ art stations, tours of the mansion, storytelling. The Lake Mansion, 250 Court St.
  • July 19, 10 a.m.-noon: Memoir workshop with Paula Riley, Grassroots Books, 660 E. Grove St. Reservations recommended.
  • July 19, 1-5 p.m.: Open house, LeRue Press, 280 Greg St. #10.
  • July 19, 5-9 p.m.:  A Literary Crawl, presented by Nevada Humanities. Meet authors on a literary walking tour through Midtown and downtown. Sundance Books and Music, 121 California Ave.

For contact information and a full schedule, visit the RenoIsArtown website.

A quick look at ‘Scintillate’

Scintillate by Tracy Clark

scintillate-Cover-webGenre: Young adult, paranormal

My Synopsis: High school student Cora Sandoval begins seeing auras around people and realizes she is the only one with a silver one. About the same time, she and Finn, an Irish exchange student, become close. She keeps seeing a frightening stranger and learns that having a silver aura is somehow dangerous. She ends up traveling to Ireland, where she learns what the silver aura means along with what happened to her mother when she was five.

Publisher: Entangled Teen, Feb. 4, 2014

Format and Number of Pages: Paperback, 295 pages (Kindle version also available)

Where to Find: Major bookstores and sites, Sundance Books, Grassroots Books, Shelby’s Book Shoppe

How Much I Read: All

Comments: Not being a YA reader, I read it just because the author’s tweets (@TracyClark_TLC) made me excited about it. And I did enjoy it. It’s well written and edited. I thought the pace was just right. I have to say I did not like the ending; to me it was too dark. This is the first book in The Light Key Trilogy, so I’m hoping the next book will put the characters back on a lighter course.

A quick look at ‘Survival Arts of the Primitive Paiutes’

Survival Arts of the Primitive Paiutes by Margaret M. Wheat

Have you ever looked around an undeveloped portion of Northern Nevada (in other words, desert) and asked how anyone could ever “live off the land” here? I have. I know explorers and pioneers did find Native Americans living here in the early to mid 1800s. I bought this book to learn how they did it.

Genre: Nonfiction, Native American studies

My Synopsis: Part I describes the ways Paiutes lived in Northern Nevada before the whites arrived, and Part II describes the next 100 years. Part I has a few black and white photos of the scenery, and Part II has black and white photos of modern Paiutes demonstrating various techniques. The remaining three-quarters of the book gives even more detailed descriptions (with lots of black and white photos) of harvesting pine nuts; making boats, duck decoys, cordage, harpoons, arrows, traps, pelts, and cradleboards; fishing; working with willow; and building shelters.

Publisher: University of Nevada Pages, 1967

Format and Number of Pages: Paperback, 117 pages

Where to Find: University of Nevada Press, Amazon.com, + ?

How Much Read: Skimmed

Comments: This book thoroughly answered my question. In fact, it would not be a bad survival guide.

A quick look at ‘Duties Faithfully Executed’

I’m starting what will be an occasional feature: a quick look at a book I’ve read by a local author or about this area. As much as I enjoy writing real reviews, doing them well requires a lot more time than I have.

Every clever name I’ve thought of for this series seems to have been used already, so I’m still working on that. (I thought “In lieu of a review” was unique, but it wasn’t!) I didn’t want to wait any longer, though, because the first book I’m featuring is going to be available free on Amazon.com Friday, June 13. Here goes.

Duties Faithfully Executed by J T Hume

Genre: Political fiction

My Synopsis: Bruce Carson is a wounded Afghanistan veteran who becomes involved in state and then national politics. Opportunities come his way but are jeopardized by his flaws. One of those opportunities is marriage to a hot woman who also happens to be intelligent and a member of an ultra-rich family.

Publisher: Self

Format and Number of Pages: Kindle, 176 pages

Where to Find: Amazon.com

How Much I Read: All

Comments: J T Hume is a pen name. I’ve never fought in Afghanistan or waged a presidential campaign, but the author almost convinced me he had in the first few chapters. I thought the book was going to have a political or philosophical message, but the story turned out to more about the man, his career and his marriage.

Author to read, sign ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls’ at Sundance

From a Sundance Books and Music news release

let's explore_largeBest-selling humorist David Sedaris will celebrate the paperback release of Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls with a talk and book signing at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 26, at Sundance Books and Music, 121 California Ave., Reno. The event will be free and open to the public.

Sedaris will address the audience from Sundance Books and Music’s front porch at 6:30 p.m. His talk will be followed by book signing and a parking lot party. Sedaris fans are encouraged to hang out, grab a bite to eat from one of Reno’s local food trucks, and visit with friends as well as getting their books signed.

Sundance is expecting an enthusiastic turn out but promises Sedaris will sign books and shake hands until he’s made his way through the entire line.  

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls and other Sedaris titles will be available for purchase at the event. Those who would like to avoid standing in line to make book purchases can pre-order and pick up their books from Sundance Books and Music ahead of time.

David Sedaris

With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves he is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.

He is the author of Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice, as well as collections of personal essays, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames and his most recent book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, each of which became an immediate bestseller. He is the author of the NYT-bestselling collection of fables entitled Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary (with illustrations by Ian Falconer).

Sedaris’s pieces appear regularly in The New Yorker and have twice been included in The Best American Essays.  There are seven million copies of his books in print, and they have been translated into 25 languages.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

A guy walks into a bar car and…

From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved.

Sedaris remembers his father’s dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy.

With Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris shows once again why his work has been called “hilarious, elegant, and surprisingly moving” (Washington Post).

Learn more at www.sundancebookstore.com.

This event is made possible through a partnership with Nevada Humanities and with support from the Nightingale Family Foundation.

New book on Searchlight casino is International Book Awards winner

From an Andy Martello news release

kingcasinosThe King of Casinos: Willie Martello and the El Rey Club has been awarded the top prize in the biography category of the 2014 International Book Awards. This year’s contest boasted over 1,200 entries in a wide variety of categories.

“I thought it was a joke,” said Andy Martello, the book’s author. “This such a huge honor and a rare treat for a first-time author. I’m still in shock.”

The King of Casinos details the history of a little-known but highly influential casino called the El Rey Club, which was located in Searchlight, Nevada, between 1946 and 1962. The casino and one-time brothel was owned by maverick Las Vegas gambler Willie Martello (no relation to Andy) and offered gourmet meals, world class entertainment, free flights from California to Searchlight, and amenities now considered to be well ahead of its time.

“Willie Martello was trying out ideas in Searchlight during the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s that weren’t attempted in nearby Las Vegas until the ’80s and ’90s,” according to the author. “A lot happened there, too. Francis Coppola’s first movie was made there, the Rat Pack hung out there, Senator Harry Reid learned to swim in the pool built at the El Rey Club.”

The book was released in January and has sold in five countries. It immediately began making waves by attracting the endorsements of celebrities and bestselling authors such as Antiques Roadshow host Mark L. Walberg, Pawn Stars expert Mark Hall-Patton and New York Times bestselling author Robert Graysmith (Zodiac, Auto Focus).

Celebrity support aside, the book was very much a product of the people’s demand for this unreal but true story. Readers of Andy Martello’s blog became aware of his research eight years ago and drove him to finish the book, contributing to his online fundraiser to raise funds for photo licensing and publishing costs.

“I received donations from three different countries through online crowd-sourcing. I wasn’t expecting more than a couple of people to support the book. Instead, people from around the world were insisting this fascinating story be told,” said Martello. “This really is so much more than a local history book. It clearly has international appeal.”

The King of Casinos is available at Amazon, andymartello.com and select stores throughout Nevada and California.