Witty and engaging, this short novel will provide readers a dose of hilarity and a quick cure for the workaday blues.

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ROOM FOUR

The laugh-out-loud tale of how a hapless accountant endures a three-day coma in the company of another soul in limbo, observing the gritty, often bizarre goings-on of an inner-city emergency room.

It’s just after Christmas, and Alan Fries is confused: Why are nurses wearing antlers hovering over him, and why, instead of watching the Bears–Vikings game, is he hanging out in the ER with an 87-year-old crank named Jerry? Apparently in limbo while awaiting resuscitation or a signed death certificate, the oddball pair become dead flies on the walls in St. Augustine’s—aka Holy Tino’s—an aging Chicago hospital with grave financial issues and a staff of embattled but good-hearted nurses and doctors. This cast of characters could top the Nielsen ratings in a TV sitcom: the doctor who leaves his sperm sample in the fridge, the veteran nurse putting the kibosh on an intern’s crush and the ever-plentiful nutcases who file through the ER’s sliding doors. The flirtations, the combative patients and the increasing suspicions about the hospital CEO all come peppered with Jerry’s curmudgeon commentary and Alan’s naïve curiosity regarding such ephemera as why he can’t activate the paper towel dispenser and whether he should have a bucket or an “unbucket” list. Author Knauss, who practices emergency medicine when not penning novels, structures the narrative on a framework of expertise that gives the story both legitimacy and depth. He also wisely weaves in strands of seriocomic contemplation as Alan regularly ponders his life choices and his treatment of his wife, Laura. He misses her, although strangely, he doesn’t spend time in Room 4, where she waits anxiously with his best friend. Nor does he seem interested in the progress of his tube-ridden, comatose body. But such questions aside, Alan's and Jerry’s repartee and observations are a gas to read, and the subplot that arises about halfway through adds to the sense of purpose that Alan felt was previously lacking in his life. He even plans for the future—provided he recovers.

Witty and engaging, this short novel will provide readers a dose of hilarity and a quick cure for the workaday blues.

Pub Date: April 5, 2012

ISBN: 9781477572436

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 25, 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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