A welcome foray into the Vegas PI genre, hopefully the first of many.

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THE BLACK CHIP

Ex-PI Noly Boots must race against time and circumstances to rescue his girlfriend and her daughter from an assortment of Vegas gamblers, lowlifes and psychos.

Like any ex-PI worth his salt, Noel Butowski—better known as Noly Boots—carries scars both emotional and physical. He was in a coma for three months after being shot by a double-crossing client, and the $20 million payout for that case left the client’s lunatic heirs with a yen for revenge. He’s kinda-sorta broken up with his girlfriend, Sarah, a casino dealer with a preteen daughter, Kacy, because commitment could mean collateral. But when Sarah’s brother, Joey, a senior programmer at the Platinum Palace Casino, conspires with his banker girlfriend to skim close to $3 million from the casino’s proceeds, Joey ends up dead. Sarah and Kacy are kidnapped in an attempt by Joey’s mob creditor to regain the MacGuffin—a black casino chip full of computer files. And that makes Noly mad. Debut novelist Land has a background in screenwriting and, for better and worse in this Chandler-esque thriller, it shows. Noly’s former clients, the van Leesles, bear more than a passing resemblance to the decadent Sternwoods of The Big Sleep, as do the twists and turns of the plot, with Sarah and Kacy passed off from one set of bad guys to another as each group tries to outwit steely, determined Noly. The tight plot is well-paced and the action is tense, if bloody. There are sadistic enforcers, whores with hearts of gold, good friends and bad betrayers, hostile FBI agents, exasperated cops, and in 11-year-old Kacy, one tough cookie. Yet the novel sometimes turns clunky in the actual descriptions of action, places and people, which sometimes read like background information rather than words to be read for their own pleasure. The strongest, most gripping relationship in the novel is between Noly and Kacy, the tough-as-nails PI and his kick-ass kid partner.

A welcome foray into the Vegas PI genre, hopefully the first of many.

Pub Date: May 9, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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

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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