A quick look at ‘Not for Self: A Sicilian Life and Death in Marion’

Not for Self: A Sicilian Life and Death in Marion by Joseph Cacibauda

Genre: Historical fiction (see comment)

My Synopsis: This fictionalized version of real events follows Sicilian immigrant Jake Valenti to southern Illinois in the early 1920s. His life and death there are immersed in the violence related to anti-immigrant resentment, Prohibition and the Ku Klux Klan. The author introduces all of these threads and then brings them together at the climax.

Publisher: Legas

Format and Number of Pages: Paperback. About 218 pages plus notes and bibliography.

Where to Find: Amazon

How Much Read: All

Comments: With the heavy research obvious, I would describe this as creative nonfiction rather than fiction. The author is a retired teacher living in Reno.

A quick look at ‘A Chronicle of Nevada’s Great Basin’

A Chronicle of Nevada’s Great Basin by Jerry Aaron

Genre: Nonfiction, history

My Synopsis: Jerry Aaron loves Nevada and has taken photos throughout the state over the years. He hopes to infect his readers with his enthusiasm for our history. He does this by telling the stories of the past in a readable, almost conversational and by sharing many of his photos. He also includes previously unpublished photos from Jerry Fenwick’s collection along with other sources. Almost every page has at last one photo.

Publisher: Self, 2017

Format and Number of Pages: Hard cover, 127 pages, about that many photos

Where to Find: nevadasgreatbasin.com, Sundance Books, history museums throughout Nevada

How Much Read: All

Comments: Jerry Aaron and I have something in common: We both like to imagine what Nevada was like for the people who traveled through or lived here in the past. All the photos in this book make it much easier. The photos also document disappearing evidence of the past.

Bourne Morris launches latest mystery

From a Sundance Books and Music news release

redqueenrulesSundance Books and Music welcomes Reno author Bourne Morris on Wednesday, Dec. 14, for the launch of the third mystery in her Red Solaris trilogy, The Red Queen Rules. The launch party begins at 6:30 p.m. at Sundance.

Red Solaris faces serious trouble when a white supremacist group schedules an event and her university is in an uproar when students threaten to riot. Is hate speech always protected? Red must confront her own feelings about First Amendment rights versus campus safety. At the same time, Red’s beloved Detective Joe Morgan goes undercover to rescue a young girl from the dangerous world of sex trafficking. He disappears and Red wonders if she will see him again.

Morris began writing at Bennington College, where she studied with the late poet laureate Howard Nemerov. After college, she went into the New York advertising business and was hired by David Ogilvy as a writer at Ogilvy & Mather during the “Mad Men” era of the 1960s. In 1977, she was sent west to head Ogilvy’s advertising agency in Los Angeles.

In 1983, she joined the University of Nevada, Reno as a professor in journalism, where she learned about campus politics. She retired in 2009 to write fiction. The Reynolds School of Journalism recently announced an endowed scholarship in her name.


“Once again, the inquisitive and impulsive Red Solaris ricochets between ivory tower abstractions and real world mayhem. The best Red Queen mystery yet.”
— Ann Ronald, author of Friendly Fallout 1953

“Morris hits it out of the park with this third novel of her Red Queen mystery trilogy.  It is smart, fast-paced, and utterly contemporary with plot lines of disturbing developments in hate groups and higher education’s attempts to teach students how to respond peacefully yet effectively to hate speech. Red Solaris struggles to keep those she loves safe from an increasingly dangerous world, both on campus and off.”

— Don Hardy, author of Because I’d Just Hate to Disappear

Desert rat English prof to read, sign latest book

raising%20wildFrom a Sundance Books and Music news release

Award-winning Reno author Michael Branch will be reading from and signing copies of his new book, Raising Wild: Dispatches from a Home in the Wilderness, from 6:30 to 8 p.m on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Sundance Books and Music.

Branch, a professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno, is a writer, humorist, environmentalist, father, desert rat and curmudgeon who lives with his wife and two young daughters in the high desert north of Reno.

Raising Wild, his sixth book, explores environmental experience in the context of parenting in western Nevada’s rugged, high-elevation Great Basin Desert. The chapters combine humor, lyricism, natural history and reflections on raising two young daughters in an extreme desert landscape.

“Michael Branch has been an essential figure in western letters for years,” said author Robert Michael Pyle. “Now, in Raising Wild, he brings us an intimate look into one remarkable family’s life situated deeply in their place. Whether writing of antelope or antelope squirrels, scorpions or daughters, Branch sweeps smoothly between downright mordant humor and stilling insight, through depths of fresh thought all along the way.”

Branch’s other works include the Pulitzer Prize-nominated John Muir’s Last Journey: South to the Amazon and East to Africa (Island Press).

Details: 775-786-1188 or www.sundancebookstore.com

New Reno history focuses on Virginia Street bridge, Riverside Hotel

genesis-of-renoFrom a University of Nevada Press email

Back before a city of Reno existed, a log and timber bridge crossed the Truckee River. This bridge would one day connect north and south Reno as part of Virginia Street, the main thoroughfare in what is today a bustling and busy city.

Just south of the bridge was an inn and tavern where cowboys, drovers and miners could find a good meal and a good night’s rest. This tavern would evolve into the famous Riverside Hotel.

The Genesis of Reno by Jack Harpster is the remarkable story of these two iconic landmarks, and of the people, the events and the community that have played an important part in shaping their long history.

Harpster spent 43 years working in the newspaper industry in Southern California and Southern Nevada. He has published eight other books, along with dozens of essays and articles on history and biography in national and local journals and magazines. He now lives in Reno.


1 P.M., SUNDAY, OCT. 23
Book Signing
Downtown Reno Library

6:30 P.M., THURSDAY, OCT. 27
Nevada State Museum
Carson City

5:30 P.M., WEDNESDAY, DEC. 14
Writers Series: The Genesis of Reno
Nevada Historical Society


Published by University of Nevada Press
ISBN 978-1-943859-23-8

Where will you celebrate the new Harry Potter release?

Northern Nevadans will have a choice of celebrations when the new Harry Potter book is released at midnight Saturday. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne is the first new book in the series since 2007. Will the old fans come out this time, or have they moved on (grown up)? Will new fans appear?

Note that Barnes & Noble will have additional Harry Potter activities all day Sunday for those who want more after the midnight celebrations. Here are the events I know about; if you let me know about any others I’ll update this.

Grassroots Books

GrassrootsHarryPotterGrassroots Books activities start at 10 p.m. Saturday. You’re invited to dress in your House colors or as your favorite character. Don’t know your House? Try on the Sorting Hat.

Copies of the book will be released promptly at midnight. You can pre-order yours at 40 percent off the retail price by going into the store or calling (775) 828-2665.

Sundance Books and Music

The Sundance event begins at 11:30 p.m. Saturday. The store has been holding the midnight Harry Potter celebrations since the early days of the series. “Each of the midnight events has been a little different,” said Sundance owner Christine Kelly. “We’ve had all the different characters.” This year’s will include Harry Potter-themed refreshments and activities.

Barnes & Noble, Reno

Barnes & Noble’s party, which begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, will feature giveaways and activities such as a special Muggle Wall where customers can share their favorite memories of Harry Potter. They can also enter the Harry Potter Limited Edition Cover Prints Sweepstakes for a chance to win a set of seven Harry Potter Limited Edition Cover Prints, available exclusively at B&N.

Another event will begin at B&N at 9 a.m. Sunday for anyone who misses the midnight party or who has already read the book and wants to talk about it. Related events and activities will continue all day.



Tahoe’s Todd Borg releases 14th book

TahoeDarkcvrFrom a Sundance Books and Music news release

Lake Tahoe resident Todd Borg, author of the award-winning Owen McKenna Mystery series, will be reading from his latest book from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Sundance Books and Music Saturday, July 30.

Todd Borg1

Todd Borg

Tahoe Dark is the 14th book in Borg’s Tahoe Mystery Series. When Tahoe resident Jonas Montrop is kidnapped, his father pays the ransom but is then murdered. The next day, four robbers in hoodies and hockey masks take down an armored truck loaded with cash destined for a casino at Lake Tahoe. The company’s boss calls Tahoe detective Owen McKenna. As McKenna tracks the robbers, he finds two of them murdered in the grisliest of ways and uncovers evidence that implicates a young woman in all three murders.

Borg’s books have won the Ben Franklin Award for Best Mystery of the Year and been chosen by Library Journal as one of the Top 5 Mysteries of the Year.

Learn more at sundancebookstore.com/borg.

Tracy Clark to present latest novel at Sundance

From a Sundance Books and Music news release


Tracy Clark

Northern Nevada young adult novelist Tracy Clark will be reading from and signing her latest book, Mirage (HMH Books, 2016), from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at Sundance Books and Music.
Mirage is about 17-year-old Ryan Poitier Sharpe, a gutsy, outgoing girl who spends her summer days hurling herself out of planes at her parents’ skydiving center in the Mojave Desert. Fiercely independent and willing to take risks, she challenges those around her to live life fully. But after a brush with death, Ryan is severely altered—she’s not the same thrill-seeking girl she once was and seems to be teetering on the edge of psychosis. As her relationships crumble and her life unravels, Ryan must fight the girl she’s become—or lose herself forever—in this eerie and atmospheric thriller.

The author lived in a Verdi trailer park before her family moved to Southern California, where she spent her youth as a “Valley Girl.” A mother of two now living in Nevada’s scenic Carson Valley, Clark is a private pilot and irredeemable dreamer. Mirage is her fourth book. Her young adult trilogy—Scintillate, Deviate and Illuminate—has drawn critical acclaim.

More information


‘Mr. Basque’ to present tales of Nevada

From a Sundance Books and Music news release

Death After Life Douglass Cover Black Rock InstituteSundance Books and Music will host William Douglass, “Mr. Basque,” for a reading and signing from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 14. He will be presenting his new book, Death After Life: Tales of Nevada (Black Rock Institute Press).

Douglass is the grandson of famed Tonopah legend Billy Douglass. His father Jack was a pioneer in the Nevada gaming business, operating a slot route in central Nevada mining communities in the 1930s and ultimately becoming one of the original partners in Reno’s Club Cal Neva. Bill’s father was an early resident of Tonopah, and his grandparents watched the Comstock during its 1860s prime.

Although the stories in Death After Life have fictional touches, they are also autobiographical. In addition to three generations of the Douglass family, these stories borrow from firsthand experiences of trapping, sowing wild oats, hunting, fishing and collecting reptiles for paying customers while touching on long years of family responsibility and managing casinos. Death After Life has also been translated in Spanish and Basque.

A University of Chicago-trained social anthropologist in his academic training, Douglass co-founded, with Robert Laxalt, UNR’s Center for Basque Studies. He has written about two dozen books and 200 articles, mostly of the academic variety, on anthropological and historical topics. His many publications on the Basques earned him the sobriquet “Mr. Basque” as well as a number of international honors and awards.

Retired from teaching and having set aside the custody of gaming establishments, Douglass is a ranch owner. In Death Before Life he is first and foremost a storyteller, a role that allows him to reflect on his past and that of Nevada, a place so young (in terms of Euro-American settlement) and so changeable (in terms of flash-in-the-pan boom and bust cycles) that it has the fewest native-born residents in the United States.

Learn more at sundancebookstore.com/douglass.

A Joe you may not know

CrowleyI’ll always think of Joe Crowley as the UNR president, but now that he’s retired he’s able to be much more. A poet, for example.

His debut poetry collection, “Hats off to the Cap,” was released by Baobab Press April 12, and he’ll be reading selected work from it at from 7 to 8 p.m. at Sundance Books and Music Wednesday, April 27.

Crowley has authored five books and co-edited a sixth, but this is his first collection of poems. According to the Sundance news release, it opens with “poems about a childhood in Iowa, which provides the backdrop for enduring life-lessons: the feeling of home, the value of a quick wit and responses to injustice. The book ends with a meditation on retirement and what it means to be in the final chapters of one’s life. This capacious, wide-ranging book is charged with playfulness, history, deep insight, and a passion for language.”