A respectable first effort, likely to appeal to fans of Greek myth and students of classical antiquity, but one that labors...


Thrace and the Centaur


Bender’s debut novel is an epic youngadult fantasy that incorporates classical lore, intonations and references into an ode to the lasting greatness of Greek myth.

The not-quite-but-almost-16-year-old Thrace is a high school sophomore, an unknowing son of Ares, God of War, and quite possibly a prophesied savior known as the “Seed of Destruction.” Together with his best friend, Parker, and a helpful oread named Anthia, Thrace is drawn into an epic quest by the machinations of the goddess Aphrodite and the despotic plots of Ares, Slaughterer of Men and self-proclaimed ruler of everything. Thrace’s extended immortal family, however, is not making it easy, as the other sons of Ares—including both those from classical mythology, like Phobos and Deimius, and those of Bender’s own invention, like Cresphontes—take an instant disliking to him. With the other gods of Olympus bound in slumber, it is up to Thrace; his newfound mentor, the centaur Sophos; and Thrace’s friends to escape Ares’ plots, rescue Thrace’s mother from the enchantments of Aphrodite and discover, if they can, just what the prophecy about the Seed of Destruction might mean for them and the world. While the characters are engaging and the plot moves at a swift pace, one of the book’s strongest parts is also its Achilles’ heel: the sheer weight of classical myth and lore that Bender infuses into the story. On one hand, it reads very much like a translated Greek epic poem, but on the other, many of the frequent metaphors are made unwieldy by endless allusions to Greek myth. Thrace’s adventures are also very mythic in nature, and the variations on ancient tales that Bender weaves into Thrace’s tale are just similar enough to their root material to be recognizable without being mere retreads.

A respectable first effort, likely to appeal to fans of Greek myth and students of classical antiquity, but one that labors under the weight of history as much as it draws from it.

Pub Date: March 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615956466

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Cresphontes LLC

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2014

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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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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.


Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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