Tries too hard to be transgressive, but a fast-paced, entertaining read nonetheless.


One action-packed day in the life of a bunch of misfits and losers.

“Things could always be worse,” thinks one man in the opening pages of Hefter’s humorous, energetic debut novel. That’s certainly true for the motley cast of characters, most of whom start out at what appears to be rock bottom only to find out that there’s further to fall. Jonah, whose tale of woe kicks things off, is a self-loathing schlub “hurdling toward 30” with an emotionally distant girlfriend who is far out of his league and a crappy job as a personal assistant to a so-called spiritual leader. Skye and Kassie, meanwhile, are best friends who’ve taken jobs as topless maids to pay the rent on their dumpy studio apartment. Each of these luckless but likable failures wants something more out of life, but they can’t quite figure out how to make it happen. Virtually everyone else the trio encounters over the course of the following 24 hours is creepy, violent or just unpleasant. R.J. Bloom, Jonah’s hypocritical, sadomasochistic boss, may destroy the one thing that Jonah values in life. Base Ghost, a drug-dealing, junkie cop, hunts down Kassie and Skye after he hires them to clean his apartment and they double-cross him. Dirt Koharski, Jonah’s drinking buddy, revels in broadcasting tales of his unusual sexual practices. Many events are simply bizarre for the sake of being bizarre: A woman dies after accidentally drinking facial cleanser, a man suffers a gruesome death while masturbating in the bathtub. Darkly funny and often crude, the novel owes an obvious debt to movies like Pulp Fiction, both in the interlocking stories it tells and its ironic celebration of violence. Everything happens in short, kinetic bursts, not surprising since Hefter’s background is in writing for film and television. The breakneck speed means it’s occasionally hard to get a handle on any one character or storyline before the novel veers off in another direction. Yet Hefter capably brings the various threads together in the end.

Tries too hard to be transgressive, but a fast-paced, entertaining read nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0983693932

Page Count: 195

Publisher: Cerro Chato

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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