Understated but quite enjoyable.



Cain’s first novel is modest but well-made YA fantasy-mystery.

Teenagers Eli and Hunter have been friends since infancy. After Eli runs across a dead man in a forest clearing near their quiet suburb of Meadowview Acres, the boys try to investigate the awful scene—only to inadvertently fall under the power of the same ancient curse that killed the man in the clearing. When the curse of the Rock of Varuupi follows them home, and fresh horrors begin to arise in their pleasant neighborhood, the boys work with their friends—tween Bug Hamilton and her surrogate big sister, Shasta Port—to uncover the history of the curse and how it can be lifted. The kid investigators are aided by a professor who tells them of curses of ancient tribes and the legends of how they might be undone, but at the same time, grisly evil invisibly stalks through their community and among their loved ones. Eli, Hunter, Bug and Shasta must race against time to neutralize the deadly curse and restore peace to Meadowview Acres. The clean, professional text is, for the most part, kept at a YA-appropriate level, though the action can be a bit dark, with gruesome moments sprinkled throughout—multiple brain hemorrhages, building fires and lots of death. (There are also a few too many mentions of Hot Slice! pizza.) The appealing characters have just enough dimensionality to follow who’s who, and the plot refreshingly focuses more on problem-solving and cooperation than on infighting among the group. Little lessons are sprinkled throughout the book, as when science teacher Mr. Just explains a bit of science: “Hydrofluoric acid is highly corrosive, it can dissolve glass with no problem. That’s why it’s stored in heavy plastic.” The novel’s epilogue would be better served as the opening chapter of the next book in the promised series, because it ends with a somewhat frustrating unresolved cliffhanger.

Understated but quite enjoyable.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989012607

Page Count: 466

Publisher: Chiot Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2014

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


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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