Slight poems with flashes of splendor but lacking real power.

ON A WIRE

This slim volume of poems explores the writer’s experience, using images and themes from nature.

Like the hawk on a wire in the titular poem, novice author Butler closely observes the natural world around her, often relating it to her own life. Having lived on farms in California and Oregon, as well as aboard a sailboat, Butler can draw upon an array of experiences. Several poems relate to cultivating gardens. “On My Farm” describes a tractor going through rows of lettuce, “the earth incumbent with nutrient.” In “Drops of Red,” one of the book’s more successful poems, the poet’s father is “driving the dusty green combine….The dust smells of toasted flour.” Such images are specific yet surprising: “incumbent” feels just right for moist, rich earth; “toasted” conveys the smell and feel of a hot day spent harvesting wheat. In “Traffic Dancing,” one of the few urban poems, Butler succinctly conjures the choreography of traffic: “a cotillion reel at an intersection.” In other poems, however, Butler’s metaphors are weak. The force of a metaphor comes from the surprising magnetism between two dissimilar things, but in “Honey Bees,” she compares clover honey to golden molasses—similar commodities—and then to tupelo honey, another comparable product. In “Bootjack,” she describes her favorite riding boots: “those boots are like / a second skin / protecting tender toes.” But there’s no “like” about it. Several poems have an intriguing sense of mystery, especially “Forgotten Moon,” in which an old couple sits in silence in a mountaintop house: “There is a footprint in that bog of red flowered thorns. / He’s forgotten her name but it will come / when the golden boat sinks into the sea.” The ghostly footprint leaves a haunting impression. Other poems are more puzzling than mysterious. “Traversing the Peninsula,” for instance, describes walking across the sand, where “The cold wrapped my ankles…anchoring me there.” How can she be traveling yet anchored? At times, Butler doesn’t seem to mind her words closely enough. The unsuccessful poems here simply present an image or situation, without closing the loop—there’s no tock for the opening tick. “Windswept,” for example, presents a rising autumn moon and the twilight air, then ends; “A Walk at Sunrise” describes just that, no more. Poems like these seem content at being pretty postcards.

Slight poems with flashes of splendor but lacking real power.

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1434914484

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2012

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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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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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