A cut above other, more by-the-numbers thrillers.


In DeBernardo’s first thriller, a psychologist works with the police to thwart a serial killer who may be stalking her.

It’s been two years since the brutal murder of Dr. Sara Chioti’s partner, the star country singer Anna Belle. The doctor is a psychological consultant for the FBI, typically paired with Special Agent Scott Steele. Her latest case, however, can’t distract her from recurring nightmares and her persistent, vibrant memories of Anna. Women are being tortured, killed and left on grotesque display, but it’s the notes the killer leaves behind that are most disturbing—especially as they come to resemble the messages being left for Sara by an unknown antagonist. DeBernardo’s novel highlights the procedural aspect of law enforcement; there are many sequences involving discussions of the ongoing investigation. These are the book’s sturdiest points, as well as the characterization of Sara and Steele; they’re intelligent, meticulous and endlessly fascinating. There’s also an imposing expression of Sara’s love for Anna. A pager code that only Anna knew and a familiar book lead the doctor to believe that perhaps her love is haunting her, or even still alive; incessant reminiscences of Anna are both endearing and heartbreaking. The serial killer, meanwhile, writes letters (appearing as chapters) addressed to “Lovely,” vividly describing his childhood with an abusive mother and his perverse reflections. He has plenty to offer to maintain tension: an M.O. that’s altered as frequently as his victims and a trail of disfigured Barbie dolls left at the cops’ front doors. Sara’s friend Kris is intended as a lighthearted reprieve from the more apprehensive moments, but she sometimes hits a sour note; her hectic behavior—such as concerning herself more with seducing the doctor’s female bodyguard than Sara’s state of mind—occasionally makes her seem more dissonant than funny. The novel is rounded out with lurid descriptions—sidestepping brain matter and pools of blood at the morgue—and a copious amount of people in peril, clever surprises and red herrings.

A cut above other, more by-the-numbers thrillers.

Pub Date: June 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1469941141

Page Count: 606

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2012

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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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