In a futuristic dystopia, three childhood friends in a small village are made privy to the deceit of the Temple City elders and the existence of an outside world.

Happy-go-lucky childhood friends Nathaniel Rush, Orah Weber and Thomas Bradford of Little Pond have only recently celebrated their coming of age. Despite living in a tightly controlled village where dreaming is strictly forbidden, Nathaniel dares to dream of knights and bravery. Little Pond revolves around farming, but the group spends most of its time at the Not Tree, a secluded treehouse in the woods. Moreover, all three are constantly aware of the tension between being labeled a “dreamer of dreams” and the fear of receiving a “teaching” to help keep the “darkness”—essentially man’s ability to think for himself—away. When Thomas is taken for a teaching, he returns stone-faced, with an empty look that hints at the horrors unveiled by the Big Brother–like elders in Temple City. Upon glancing at Thomas’ drained facial features, Orah says, “It remains to be seen whether what’s been taken from him returns or is gone forever.” While Litwak spends the first part of the text highlighting the simple, almost primitive lifestyle of Little Pond, the narrative assumes a frenetic, action-packed pace as Orah’s own teaching triggers a series of events that tests the friends’ pact of friendship and sacrifice. They encounter Samuel, the “first keeper,” guardian of the keep—an area where magical devices have allegedly been stored for millennia—who tells Nathaniel, “There once was an age of wonder, a time of magic and strife.” On their dangerous quest to find the storied keep, Nathaniel, Orah and Thomas learn the truth about the darkness: It’s the advanced, creative thinking that underscored societies of the past, so why are the elders intent on preventing it? Ignorance has allowed peace, but is it bliss? Despite a somewhat tedious beginning, the superb storyline and continually developing characters illuminate this engaging, futuristic tale. Perhaps most intriguing is the craftiness with which Litwack portrays today’s technological devices as magical emblems of darkness and evil. For instance, in the keep, Orah discovers telescopes and man’s visit to the moon, which leaves her in shock and disbelief regarding the existence of such an advanced, “magical” universe.

A must-read page turner.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-1771150149

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 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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