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Literary Las Vegas: Valerie L. Diamond

Valerie L. Diamond left a job in banking and took up exotic dancing to help pay her family’s debts after her mother’s death. After retiring from the dancing life at 45, Diamond was inspired to write as a way to shed light on the industry.

Literary Las Vegas: Matthew Kadish

Las Vegas author Matthew Kadish published his novel “Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet” to the Amazon Kindle store with the intention of making it available to family and friends who had been bugging him to read it. He went on vacation and returned home to find he had sold more than 1,000 copies and debuted on five of Amazon’s top 100 lists. The author is now at work on the second book in the series, “The Secret Army.” The sci-fi adventure follows teen slacker Jack Finnegan, whose average life is interrupted by an alien invasion. The secret to defeating the attacking force is an ancient spacecraft that can be flown only by Earthmen. For more information on the author, visit

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Literary Las Vegas: Eric James Miller

When things go wrong near the apartment complex at 399 Broadway, people attribute it to the rough neighborhood or the sour economy. What they don’t know is the neighborhood carries a curse from a “lustrous summer centuries before any European dared name the place Santa Monica Bay,” writes local author Eric James Miller in his novel “For Rent: Dangerous Paradise,“ the first in his planned For Rent mystery series.

Literary Las Vegas: David G. Schwartz

Atlantic City native David G. Schwartz has a Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of California, Los Angeles, and has hands-on experience in the gaming industry. Since since 2001 Schwartz has been at UNLV, where he serves as the director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research. The professor, speaker and consultant is also the author of several books on the gaming industry including his newest “Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas: How Jay Sarno Won a Casino Empire, Lost It, and Inspired Modern Las Vegas.” Sarno, the father of Caesars Palace and Circus Circus and mentor to Steve Wynn, set out to turn casinos into gambers’ paradises. “But today’s Las Vegas is uncomfortable with Sarno, despite the drama of his story and his enduring legacy,” Schwartz writes. “Why? He committed the only unpardonable sin in that corner of America: he was honest about his weaknesses. Jay Sarno pushed everything Las Vegas stands for to its farthest extremes; he shows what happens when too much of a good thing turns bad. For this, he has been cast out from the pantheon.”

Book Briefs for Jan. 21-27, 2014

Literary highlights this week include a launch party for Andy Martello’s new book “The King of Casinos: Willie Martello and the El Rey Club” at En Fuego Cigars & Lounge and a Black Mountain Institute-sponsored conversation scheduled with biblical scholars Karen King, Bart Ehrman and Mark Jordan titled “Does it Matter if Jesus Was Married?” Also there’s advance news on Mac King’s upcoming Magical Literacy Tour.

Literary Las Vegas: Frank August Romano

When American Coin was seized and closed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board for allegedly rigging programs in 1989, company partner Frank August Romano’s life was forever changed. He details his fall from grace and the journey to recovering from financial and professional loss in the book “American Coin: A True Story of Betrayal, Gambling, and Murder in Las Vegas.” Romano wrote the book in an effort to set the record straight. In it, he shares his account of the scandal and the fallout of the investigation including the events surrounding the murder of Larry Volk, a slot technician who confessed to programming gaming machines to cheat players.

‘True Story’ is a great teen read if you can slip past the slang

Oh, it’s nice to see Seven McKnight again. In “True Story,” we get a chance to catch up on where she’s been and who she’s dating, and we get to spend some time with her friends, too. That’s fun — if you can understand what’s being said in the conversations between the characters. Like other books in this series, Simone uses lots of slang in this book which, while it makes the story authentic, also can make it hard to grasp. On the flipside, there’s enough humor in this book and the characters are appealing enough to make a reader want to stick around and, happily, the confusion eventually takes care of itself.

Book Briefs for Jan. 14-20, 2014

Upcoming literary highlights include a signing by “Treasure of the Soul” author Chrystal Hallam and an event with Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and author Norm Clarke talking about Las Vegas, celebrities and more at 11 a.m. Jan. 15 at the Winchester Cultural Center.

Book Briefs for Jan. 7-13, 2014

Upcoming literary highlights include Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and author Norm Clarke talking about Las Vegas, celebrities and more at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 10 at the Gibson Library, 100 W. Lake Mead Parkway, and Bella Capo signing copies of her biography “La Bella Mafia” from 1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 11 at the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, the Mob Museum, 300 Stewart Ave.

Literary Las Vegas: Robert Fejer

Robert Fejer was born in Hermosa Beach, Calif., and now lives in Henderson with his wife, Kathy, and daughter, MaryElizabeth. Fejer traveled the world as a technician in the entertainment industry. Many of his productions were tied to children’s theater. His love for children’s entertainment led him to write “Adventures of the Ant,” a picture book featuring illustrations by Yangtian Li.

“Crazy about Basketball!” bounces kids through the game in rhyme

Using verse to speak to young athletes, Lesynski highlights the excitement of the game and all its facets to kids for can’t get enough hoops. I liked the way author Loris Lesynski moves between spectator and player POVs here (for kids who are one or the other), and the action-packed cartoon drawings by Gerry Rasmussen just add to the enjoyment.