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 He also includes previously unpublished photos from Jerry Fenwick’s collection along with other sources.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.

A quick look at ‘Letters from My Father’s Murderer’

41IXeTQc8qL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness by Laurie A. Coombs

Genre: Memoir, Christian

My Synopsis: A Nevada woman comes to believe she should forgive the man who murdered her father and corresponds with him.

Publisher: Kregel Digital Editions

Format and Number of Pages: E-book, 232 pages

Where to Find: Amazon

How Much Read: 37%

Comments: I really wanted to read the letters, but by the time I’d read more than a third of the book, I’d seen only a couple of them. Most of it up to that point was about the author’s soul searching and the development of her religious beliefs.

A quick look at ‘Royal Flush’

royal flushRoyal Flush: Five Fold Love Book One by Cassidy Carson

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Self

My Synopsis: (From first few chapters) In a modern life, the hero is a patient being cared for by the heroine. Sometime in the past, he seems to be manipulated in a game called “Royal Flush.” There’s a much better synopsis at Amazon!

Format: E-book

Where to Find: Amazon

How Much Read: First few chapters

Comments: Time travel is not for me, but I know many love it. This book is free on Amazon through Monday.

A quick look at ‘Write, If You Live to Get There’

Updated “Where to find” Nov. 16, 2014

Write, If You Live to Get There, compiled and edited by Mary K. Sonntag and Mary Jo Sonntag


Genre: Nonfiction, history

My Synopsis: Letters written among descendants of Elisha and Mary (Meachem) Phillips from 1842 to 1862. Some remained back east (Vermont and Pennsylvania), and some moved to Illinois and Kansas. Some came out west and settled in northern California, notably in the Placerville area and at Phillips Station about 20 miles south of Lake Tahoe near Highway 50. A couple hundred of these letters were saved in a chest until the Sonntags, mother and daughter, transcribed and published them “to contribute to the historical record.”

Publisher: Word Association Publishers, 2013

Format and Number of Pages: Paperback, 434 pages

Where to Find: Write If You Live to Get There and Amazon.com. Also check in the gift shop of the Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum in South  Lake Tahoe.

How Much Read: Most

Quotes (with spelling, capitalization and punctuation or lack of it from original letters):

June 28, 1868, Aden Church Phillips in Slippery Ford, Calif., to his sister Mary Phillips in Pennsylvania (the only mention of Reno I saw):
“The Pacific Rail Road is across the mountian [sic] and the cars are running to a place cawled Reno, which is only twenty miles from Virginia City, Nevada.”

April 12, 1869, Jane Davis Waterman in Vermont to her half-sister Lydia Davis Phillips in Illinois:
“give my love to your dear children how bad they will feel to have you go to Kansas and leave them Dear sister write it you live to get there”

A quick look at ‘The River and the Railroad’

riverrailroadThe River and the Railroad: An Archaeological History of Reno by Mary Ringhoff and Edward J. Stoner

Genre: Nonfiction

My Synopsis: History of Reno and details of the archaeological study of the railroad trench excavation.

Publisher: University of Nevada Press, 2011

Format and Number of Pages: Hardback, 189 pages including notes and index

Where to Find: University of Nevada Press

How Much Read: Most

Comments: This is not light reading. Instead, it’s a scholarly presentation of Reno’s history, specifically in the area of the downtown railroad trench. It’s well researched, and I will keep this book to use as a reference. There are few photos, all black and white and mostly of the artifacts and dig sites. I wanted to go back through the Neal Cobb–Jerry Fenwick photo book while I was reading it.

“These are the layers that compose the Daylight site, a rare place containing evidence of more than 5,000 years of human activity. The site lay untouched beneath the Central Pacific Railroad tracks for 136 year until it was discovered in 2004.”

“Before the railroad came through, Reno’s location-to-be within the Truckee Meadows was fairly unremarkable and was definitely not urban. The area was home to members of the Washoe and Paiute tribes, ranchers, homesteaders, and entrepreneurs who operated small river crossings and supply stations for emigrants headed to California.”

“Reno’s history has changed dramatically in the past sixty years, and many of the buildings and features that provide connections with history have been obliterated.”

A quick look at ‘Hope Knocks Twice’

HopeHope Knocks Twice: An Emma Parks CPS Novel by J T Hume

Genre: Women’s contemporary

My Synopsis: Emma Parks, the main character, is a new CPS (Childrens Protective Services) worker. The structure of the book is her first week on the job. Accompanying her supervisor, she becomes involved with her co-workers, the people whose cases they follow and others in the system. Although each of her cases is a story in itself, the main story is about Emma’s developing confidence and the relationships she forms with her crusty supervisor and an irresistible police officer.

Publisher: Self

Format and Number of Pages: Kindle, 164 pages

Where to Find: Amazon.com

How Much Read: All

Comments: The setting is intended to be any city, but I did recognize a case from Carson City at the end.

A quick look at ‘Flipka’

FlipkaFlipka by J T Twissel

Genre: Mystery

My Synopsis: In the 1970s, a Las Vegas casino magnate’s daughter is a resident of a reformatory at a former fort in eastern Nevada. He sends up Flipka, a no-longer-practicing psychoanalyst whose real name is Fi Butters, to find out what happened to a counselor who disappeared and whether his daughter and the other girls had anything to do with it. Butters quickly learns they have been going into an old mine shaft, and the clues pile up from there. She keeps running into a couple of men who seem to be cowboys one time, scientists another and FBI agents still another. A horny old biplane pilot and a professor researching a book turn out to more helpful than an unenthusiastic ex-cop the casino magnate has sent to accompany her. They spend several days in Ely and visit a cathouse nearby, but everything leads back to the old mine.

Publisher: Booktrope, 2013

Format and Number of Pages: Kindle, paperback, 192 pages

Where to Find: Amazon

How Much Read: All

Comments: Flipka, the name of the main character, is “a Russian term of endearment meaning difficult broad.” The author grew up in Reno, and Nevadans will recognize the local color.

A quick look at ‘Tahoe Chase’

Tahoe Chase by Todd Borg

TChase100Genre: Mystery

My Synopsis: We know the former ski racer’s wife was thrown over the railing of the deck of their Lake Tahoe home, but the police think she fell by herself. Her husband hires Owen McKenna to investigate.

Publisher: Thriller Press, 2013

Format and Number of Pages: Kindle, paperback, 351 pages

Where to Find: See the list of local bookstores on the author’s site.

How Much Read: 2%

Comments: As of today it has 807 reviews on Amazon. Borg’s latest book, Tahoe Ghost Boat, has just been released.

A quick look at ‘Bending Willow’

Bending WillowBending Willow by Jacci Turner

Genre: Middle grade

My Synopsis: Two sisters who have been living in Reno with their grandmother have to make a quick decision when they discover she has died. They don’t want to return to the shelter they had to go to when their mother and her latest husband died, so they head for Idaho to find the older sister’s father. Knowing they have to head east on I-80, they stow away on a bus headed to Burning Man. From there they find a ride to Wells, where they find another ride north into Idaho. That’s when the good fortune they found at Burning Man is replaced by reality. All works out at the end, though.

Publisher: Lucky Bat Books, 2013

Format and Number of Pages: Paperback, 146 pages; Kindle

Where to Find: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo

How Much Read: All

Comments: This is another genre I don’t normally read, but I got hooked on this story when the author posted the first chapter for free. By the end of the chapter I cared about the girls and wanted to know what happened next. When I read the whole book, I had chills at the end (the happy kind). This book is first in a series and is followed by Stretching Willow and Finding Willow (just out).