A middle-grade novel that follows the adventures of two homeless dogs.
In Feinstein’s debut, dogs can talk with one another and understand human speech. Jethro, a Labrador retriever mix, has a comfortable life as a well-cared-for stray in the town cemetery, but he’s curious about a new dog spending time in the graveyard. Fritz is a military-trained German shepherd struggling to adjust to civilian life. His grief over his late handler, who was killed in the war,has brought him to the young man’s gravesite. After the two dogs are forced to huddle together in a cemetery shed during a strong hurricane, they become friends—even though Jethro sometimes finds Fritz’s gruff personality confusing. Fritz’s well-trained nose soon sniffs out trouble brewing in town, and it falls to the dogs to save the day and prove that they’re far smarter than the humans around them. The author relates Fritz’s back story via flashbacks to his puppyhood and his time in the military, and young readers get a glimpse of what life is like for a bomb-sniffing dog. The story focuses on the animals, with humans as secondary characters—even people who are important to the dogs, such as cemetery caretaker Gus and Fritz’s handler, Tim. The touching story has a happy ending, but it’s not without some sad moments.The third-person narrator mentions a few terms that may be unfamiliar to younger readers, such as attention deficit disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. At other times, the narrator is a little too intrusive, as in the parenthetical aside: “Cell phones are commonly used to set off explosives during wartime, and they are feared greatly in Iraq.” However, the story’s near-constant action keeps things moving swiftly along.
A charming story that introduces children to warfare while also delivering a satisfying tale of canine adventure.
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.
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.