A mesmerizing character study of a complicated man, a convincing portrait of an arranged marriage and a seamlessly authentic...




In the first novel of Ross’ trilogy, a 19th-century pioneer couple struggles to carve out a life on the remote central California coast.

Living in an isolated stretch of the Big Sur coastline in the late 1800s, Zande Allan sends for a wife to help him produce the sons he needs to run his growing cattle ranch. But from the moment Hannah Martin steps off the train in Monterey, he’s disappointed: Hannah’s older than her advertised 25 years, plain and soft; she’s a sheltered girl from the Midwest with no idea how to get by on a rustic ranch as a “proper” wife. While Zande fights to increase his landholdings and stock in the inhospitable—but beautiful—Big Sur area he loves, Hannah proves to be more than a match for his hardworking, hardscrabble life. Now, if only Zande can overcome his misplaced pride that keeps them from becoming true partners. First published in 1942, Ross’ novel is more than a pioneer romance. Ross lived on her homestead in the Big Sur area from 1923 until her death in 1959, and her novel has the realism of a documentary. As a character, Zande isn’t sugarcoated; relentlessly honest, he’s true to the mores of the time and his surroundings. He’s chauvinist, racist, brutal and ruthless. But, determined and tough, he’s also faithful to his own strict moral code. Like the feral grizzly bear he battles in the book, Zande is fascinating to watch. Ross’ writing isn’t the typical language of romance novels, either: Her prose is simple and spare. Zande’s rough dialect, for instance, is essential to his complex character. Hannah is equally compelling; resourceful, proud and as steadfast as Zande, she likewise struggles with the everyday challenges of living in a land with no roads, no schools and no close neighbors, amid constant threats to their survival.

A mesmerizing character study of a complicated man, a convincing portrait of an arranged marriage and a seamlessly authentic glimpse into the hard life of the coast’s pioneer ranchers.

Pub Date: April 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1938924002

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Coast Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 25, 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


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.



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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