A fast-paced adventure tale of the Wild West with a strong female sleuth.

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DEATH IN GRAN QUIVERA

A debut historical novel follows young homesteaders who investigate a wave of violent crimes in 19th-century New Mexico.

Elliot begins her tale with Iragene Jones discovering intruders departing from her property and a severed scalp they left behind, presumably as a threat. Disgusted by the long blonde locks that have been separated from their owner, Iragene resolves to uncover the identities of the criminals. Shockingly independent for the era in which she lives, she sets off on her own, visiting various neighbors and questioning them about any odd occurrences. After conversing with a few locals about unexpected deaths and strange cattle diseases, Iragene begins to realize there is a larger, nefarious plot at play. When she stops at the family home of her love interest, Alejandro Gallegos, he insists on joining her in the probe. Alejandro and Iragene grow closer during their travels and fact-finding, much to the dismay of his mother, who cannot abide her son’s affection for someone with such a self-reliant nature, and a white woman to boot. When Alejandro and Iragene finally reach the sheriff’s office to discuss the worrisome incidents they have unearthed, the official is blasé, uninterested in the concerns of a Mexican man and a single white woman. Iragene and Alejandro realize that they must solve the mysterious crime wave on their own or fall victim to its consequences. Elliot deftly creates one obstacle after another for Iragene and Alejandro as they inch toward finding the cause of the strange affairs in their town. Although several events are recounted multiple times throughout the narrative, the superfluous repetition does not prevent this action-packed story from building suspense. The book is also rife with historical details about the lives of homesteaders in 1800s New Mexico, with a focus especially on the difficult race relations permeating the area in the aftermath of the Civil War. A testament to the benefits of perseverance and fortitude, this engaging novel also examines intolerance and its consequences.   

A fast-paced adventure tale of the Wild West with a strong female sleuth. 

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Torrid

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2017

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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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