Deep research and empathy for her rounded characters make this Western stand out.

SCALP MOUNTAIN

Family dramas propel this spare, anti-romantic Western.

The title may be slightly misleading: While this Western takes place in the mountainous West Texas region, the emphasis is mostly on the “scalp” part. As a Texas Ranger explains to a friend’s Baltimore-born wife, when it comes to scalping, “Sister, we all do it. The rangers do it, the feuding folks do it to each other, to white folks just like them, the feathered folks all do it, I know for a fact the Comanch onest scalped a white man’s dog.” Robb’s debut doesn’t graphically describe the violence promised by this statement, but it doesn’t paper over it with any romantic notions either. There’s more here of Cormac McCarthy than Zane Gray, especially in the character of Colum McNeal, with his fierce temper and dream of settling down to breed horses. Unfortunately for that dream, McNeal is hunted by an Apache who blames him for the death of his son; and by a man who may have been hired by McNeal’s father after Colum was involved in a family tragedy. The issue of parents and sons is emphasized by Colum’s more-than-friendly interest in his friend’s wife, who is raising an adopted Apache child, the last surviving son of the Apache hunting Colum. The kidnapping and effort to rescue this child dominate the second half of the book, giving the novel a propulsive plot that some of the earlier chapters lack. But the occasionally episodic structure allows Robb to dip in and out of characters’ heads to give their points of view: No one is a villain in their own mind, and every character here has a tale to tell—often violent, potentially redemptive, at least sympathetically told. Occasional slips may bump the reader out of the story, such as when a character refers to a “hale” of bullets, rather than a “hail”; or when a horse’s “bridle” becomes a “bridal.” Perhaps the addition of a map might also help readers unfamiliar with this territory.

Deep research and empathy for her rounded characters make this Western stand out.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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