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.”

Virginia City poet Griffin to read, sign memoir

From a Sundance Books and Music news release

AnthemCover2_1A book reading and signing with Shaun T. Griffin, author of his memoir Anthem for a Burnished Land, will be held at Sundance Books and Music at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 30.

Griffin is one of the West’s highly admired poets, and his book reveals his brilliance as a memoirist and reporter of life on the rim of the Great Basin, one of the continent’s emptiest, most beautiful and most threatened places.

The vivid memoir of Griffin’s life in Virginia City is both an account of making a home in a historical monument replete with colorful characters, confused tourists and spectacular scenic beauty, and the narrative of his and his wife’s efforts to bring about social change where poverty was considered best left unseen and funds to support services were scarce.

Anthem for a Burnished Land (Southern Utah University Press, 2016) is an engaging account of life in one of America’s most storied places, full of powerful insights into the town’s past and present and often-moving stories about its varied residents.

Griffin is the co-founder and director of Community Chest, a rural social-justice agency serving children and families in northwestern Nevada since 1991. For over 20 years he has taught a poetry workshop at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center and publishes a journal of the resulting work, Razor Wire.

His latest books include This Is What the Desert Surrenders, New and Selected Poems and From Sorrow’s Well: The Poetry of Hayden Carruth. He received the Rosemary McMillan Lifetime Achievement in Art Award in 2006, awarded by the Sierra Arts Foundation, and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1995.

Learn more at http://www.sundancebookstore.com/griffin.

Author returned to Vietnam to search for answers

From a Sundance Books and Music news release

ArchercvrSundance Books will host a book reading and signing with Michael Archer, author of The Long Goodbye: Khe Sanh Revisited (Hellgate Press, 2016) from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 26.

The book is about Tom Mahoney, unquestionably the most popular member of his platoon, known for his quick smile, courage and composure under fire, and a perpetual concern for the safety of his fellow Marines. It was with anxious fury that his buddies fought the remainder of the day to recover his body from under the effective gunfire of a well-hidden team. As darkness began to fall, making it impossible to continue the fight, they reluctantly left their friend behind—never forgotten and always wondering what had led to his mysterious walk into oblivion.

The Long Goodbye is the story of how Michael Archer, driven by loyalty and devotion, returned to Vietnam to discover what had happened to his friend and bring him home.

Archer grew up in northern California and served as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. He lives in Reno and, in addition to his writing, is a staff member with the Senate Committee on Finance at the Nevada State Legislature.

His books include A Patch of Ground: Khe Sanh Remembered, an acclaimed first-person account of the infamous 77-day siege of that American combat base; A Man of His Word: The Life and Times of Nevada’s Senator William J. Raggio, about one of Nevada’s most courageous, honorable, and admired citizens; and The Long Goodbye: Khe Sanh Revisited.

Learn more at http://www.sundancebookstore.com/archer.

Animals and wagon trains

A newly released nonfiction book from the University of Nevada Press gives its full attention to the animals used by the people in wagon trains.

Well, the news release for Success Depends on the Animals: Emigrants, Livestock, and Wild Animals on the Overland Trails, 1840-1869 doesn’t actually use the term “wagon trains,” but I’m using it as shorthand.

The book, written by Diana L. Ahmad, “explores the relationships and encounters that these emigrants had with animals, both wild and domestic, as they traveled the Overland Trail.” They “were accompanied by thousands of work animals such as horses, oxen, mules, and cattle. These travelers also brought dogs and other companion animals, and along the way confronted unknown wild animals.”

The news release says Ahmad’s study is “the first to explore how these emigrants became dependent upon the animals that traveled with them, and how, for some, this dependence influenced a new way of thinking about the human-animal bond.”

I’ve always been interested in wagon trains for some reason, and I’ve always felt sorry for the oxen. In the books I’ve read, they didn’t always make it to Oregon or California. And, of course, the emigrants ate many of the wild animals they encountered along the trail. I guess that would be a kind of bond.

The author used primary sources such as journals, diaries and newspaper accounts to explore the topic, which is of value whether her intended readers are academics or amateur historians like me.

Ahmad received her PhD at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is a University of Missouri Curators’ Teaching Professor of History at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, where she specializes in the history of the American West, the Pacific and Modern East Asia. She also is the author of The Opium Debate and Chinese Exclusion Laws in the Nineteenth-Century American West.


$31.95 / cloth / 144 pages / print ISBN: 978-0-87417-997-2/ ebook ISBN: 978-1-943859-10-8

Old West story from a College of Southern Nevada prof

From a University of Nevada Press news release

GamblersApprentcvrThe Gambler’s Apprentice by H. Lee Barnes (University of Nevada Press, 2016) tells the story of a teenage boy growing up in Texas during desperate times. Willy, wise and capable beyond his years, learns the gambler’s trade and experiences adventures that demand quick wits—and sometimes violent actions.

Barnes crafts a multi-layered story, full of Old West motifs such as cattle-rustling and gunfights along with more modern twists. Starting with a cattle-rustling scheme involving his father, Willy embarks on a life of crime early, eventually landing in a Laredo jail for shooting a man. During his incarceration he meets Sonny Archer, an itinerant gambler, who teaches Willy how to be a cardsharp. Upon his release, Willy roams the country, honing his new talent and getting into more trouble. During his time in New Orleans, Willy even winds up in a confrontation with an Italian crime ring.

While all these adventures mold Willy into a clever card player and a masterful fortune hunter, his grand ambition to be a professional gambler is thwarted when the influenza epidemic strikes. Willy is forced to return home to his family’s Texas ranch, where he faces the most challenging test of his young life and begins to prove that he is far more than simply an apprentice.

Barnes is an award-winning short-story writer and author of three previous novels, three short-story collections and two nonfiction books. He was inducted into the Nevada Writer’s Hall of Fame in 2009, and in 2013 he received an award for excellence in the arts from the Vietnam Veterans of America for his writings on Vietnam. Barnes teaches English and creative writing at the College of Southern Nevada.


$27.95 / cloth / 304 pages

5 reasons I don’t review books here

starI’m nice. I read. I know how desperate most authors are for book reviews. I know how hard it is to get readers—anyone—to write them.

So I should review books here, right? Wrong. And here’s why.

I know the authors, or feel as if I do.
And some of them know me. We’re friends. Friends are supportive, not judgmental.

I don’t want to make authors cry.
While authors say they want reviews, they don’t just want reviews. They expect five-star reviews, and many are crushed when they get anything less. It makes me uncomfortable because I don’t always give five-star reviews.

Not every book is good, and I have to be honest.
Sure, I could find something positive to say about any book, and I could ignore flaws. I won’t, though. I write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads under my own name, and my credibility is important to me. If I give fewer than five stars, I try to provide an explanation or constructive criticism (the things I don’t like might make the book more attractive to someone else). If I don’t like anything about the book, I stop reading it and refrain from reviewing it.

I can’t read every Northern Nevada book.
I don’t review books without reading them, and there’s no way I would have time to read every book published by Northern Nevada authors, set in Northern Nevada or about Northern Nevada.

Actually, I’m being polite. The truth is I don’t find every genre or topic interesting. I’m sorry.

I’ve been burned.
Two people (that I know of) plagiarized a review I posted here. I’m sure they were desperate for reviews, but I had put a lot of time into my review and resented the theft.

What I try to do here is gather and share information about Northern Nevada books. Although I rarely review them, I post news releases about them. When I get a free copy of a Northern Nevada book (or buy it for myself), I write a “Quick Look”—a summary without a rating. If nothing else, that gives the name and title another place to turn up in a Google search.

But I’m not resolving to write more reviews in 2016.

It’s not too late to buy books for Christmas

ChristmasNVRelax—you still have time to buy books for Christmas without paying shipping fees or worrying that they won’t arrive in time. These options are for—

  1. Family and friends who have Kindles or Nooks (or the free reading Kindle app on their computers or smartphones). Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have e-book gift-giving options; just look for the “Give/buy as gift” button. If providing the recipient’s email address is a problem, Amazon will let you use your own. (I’m thinking you could print out the email and put it in a card or stocking . . . )
  2. Family and friends who live around here. For these, I’m talking about our local bookstores, They can’t always compete with the online booksellers on price, but they are here for you when you absolutely have to have a tangible gift for someone to open at Christmas and you haven’t bought it yet. (Remember that!)

Sorry, you’re on your own with e-book-phobic, out-of-town family and friends. Even when you pay extra for shipping, delivery by Christmas Eve is not guaranteed.

Favorite locally owned bookstores are Sundance Books and Music and Grassroots. If you’re willing to patronize a chain store, we have Barnes & Noble, of course. But did you know Costco sells local books? And—if you’re like me both a procrastinator and a cheapskate—you never know what like-new used books you’ll find at  Sundance and Grassroots as well as most of the local thrift stores.