Refreshingly optimistic YA with divine inspiration.

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THE DIVINE ONE

In Mani’s debut novel about cliques and finding one’s place, a mysterious stranger brings love to a lonely teenage girl, but there’s a celestial twist.

At home, beautiful but modest Delilah Simms tries to emotionally support her mother, Susan, still wrapped in grief over the death of Darcy, Delilah’s sister. The girls’ father, Joe, lives elsewhere and is still in touch, but he’s no useful support to Delilah, who tries to avoid conflict at home (her mother lashes out and believes she can still speak to Darcy). And at her high school in Queens, New York, the “Imitators” (bossed by Rachael, the meanest mean girl) call her “little piggy.” Charlotte, Delilah’s former best friend, is in the heckling pack, but Delilah can’t understand why. Mani’s gracefully written, fast-paced story shows the teen as she seeks refuge in walks, running laps on the track, and visits to the congenial neighborhood coffee shop. Life changes when two men at the track frighten her, though River, a handsome college student she saw in the coffee shop, tries to warn them off. When the guys bash River with a brick, Delilah drives them off with the bloodstained weapon. River refuses an ambulance, so she takes him to her nearby home. Can she trust this man, who has the most heavenly blue eyes she’s ever seen? Should she invite him into her life? Her heart cries “Yes,” but when she overhears him talking (on the phone she thinks) to an unseen presence in her house, she’s not sure. Their innocently chaste romance leads her to understand that there are things existing in heaven and on Earth that she never suspected, including guardian angels and voices from the grave. While characters struggle to move beyond stereotypes—clueless parents, mean girls, bad girls, etc.—Mani’s refreshingly optimistic fiction shows the teen years as more than discontent and angst. Suspicious coincidences and unforeseen consequences ultimately enrich Delilah’s life, and thanks to a Ouija board (and a little help from heaven), there’s a happy ending on the horizon as characters gain insight and forgive themselves and others.

Refreshingly optimistic YA with divine inspiration.

Pub Date: June 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495802157

Page Count: 238

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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

ISBN: 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.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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