Despite its heavy-handed titular metaphor, this novel succeeds in injecting fun and adventure into the psychology of...


Mirror World

In Calicchia’s debut YA fantasy novel, two sisters fight to destroy a powerful dark angel with the ability to taint humans’ views of themselves.

Despite her spirited disposition and kung fu know-how, 17-year-old Cailyssa Larkin doesn’t like the person she sees in the mirror—and she’s destroyed several mirrors because of it. She has three good friends and a plucky younger sister, Terry, who all attend the same high school she does, but otherwise, Cailyssa is an outsider there. One day, while she and her friends are at the mall, Cailyssa spots Daemon, her sullen, gothic heartthrob, sitting alone at a food-court table. Daemon invites her to meet him later at her peculiar Uncle Spencer’s mirror-filled house, a location forbidden by her parents. She manages to leave home that evening on the pretext of going to the mall, but her parents force her to bring Terry along. When the sisters arrive at the house, they find Daemon curiously dressed in medieval garb. In the largest of the mirrors, Uncle Spencer unveils a terrifying vision to Cailyssa: an apocalyptic near-future world ruled by hatred and self-loathing. Using the same mirror as a portal, Cailyssa enters Mirror World, a Tolkien-esque realm under the pall of fallen angel Lord Speculus, who can influence what people see when they look at themselves in mirrors. After an attack from the dark lord, Cailyssa convenes with Terry, Daemon, and Uncle Spencer at the Larkin family castle, where she discovers supernatural abilities and a surprising family history. In the safety of the castle, she begins to plot a strategy to destroy Speculus and keep him from spreading his terror to Earth. Cailyssa’s spunky narration is winning enough to freshen up this novel’s familiar fantasy and YA genre trappings despite its occasional shifts from first- to third-person. The final battle’s sustained, palpable peril also staves off predictability. However, Daemon fares poorly as a love interest due in part to his clunky, chauvinistic, antiquated-sounding diction (“I was angry because I was disgusted with your behavior. You were acting like a traipse!”). His depiction appropriates some of the eerier aspects of Twilight’s Edward Cullen—Daemon watches Cailyssa while she sleeps, for example—which may make it hard for some readers to root for the inevitable romance.  

Despite its heavy-handed titular metaphor, this novel succeeds in injecting fun and adventure into the psychology of self-perception.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9861020-0-4

Page Count: 404

Publisher: Psychangel Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet