A richly descriptive tale of grief and gratitude.

Eleven Sundays

A repetitive but beautifully written debut novel about a college graduate’s self-discovery.

When Annie turns 25, her life seems to be in order. Her live-in boyfriend, Max, opens a yoga studio; her career as a Web designer in San Francisco is thriving; and her mother, back in the Midwest, seems to be just fine. But when things in Annie’s life start to fall apart—with watershed moments often presented in sparse detail—she finds herself paralyzed. Instead of flying home to be with her family, she watches TV and doses herself with “sleepytime medicine.” This choice doesn’t quite match the intensity of Annie’s grief, though. Equally odd is Annie’s decision to keep the bad news a secret from her best friend, Prita, as well as from everyone at work. Instead of turning to friends and colleagues, she finds solace in a B&B in rural Drake’s Valley, Calif. Annie and Max initially planned to go to the valley together; now Annie drives to the countryside alone. She finds great comfort in the place, a Victorian house run by a taciturn woman known as “the souplady.” As the lady serves her soup, she tells Annie that it “Feeds the body, warms the soul.” Between the delectable soup and the refreshing sleep she enjoys, Annie soon establishes a routine of weekly visits to the B&B. Walking in the clear air with her camera in hand, she recalls her love of photography—a convenient time to remember it, since her Web design job isn’t going so well. Scenes of Annie at the Web design firm create a number of dull tangents: There are entire play-by-plays of presentations to clients, and the muddled antagonism between her and co-worker Josh is never really explained. The writing is strongest, however, when Annie observes the natural world, as when she sees a jackrabbit’s ears, their “transparent pink flesh big as the teardrop heads of badminton racquets.” In the valley, three young boys—Ky, JJ and Newt—develop their own fascination with the souplady, whom they call the Bonelady. They spy on her and insist that she makes her broth with human bones. Ultimately, their curiosity and mischievousness create another void in Annie’s life.

A richly descriptive tale of grief and gratitude.

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1480299375

Page Count: 384

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.



A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012


Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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