Cat is the more exhilarating of the sibling protagonists, her prowess and ingenuity helping make the entire novel a worthy...

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SPIES IN OUR MIDST

In Reynolds’ thriller, a woman learns that her half sister, killed in an explosion, was not only suspected by the FBI of being a terrorist, but may have worked as a spy as well.

Tech-business owner Lindsey Carlisle is distraught when feds stop by her house and tell her that her half sister Cat and Cat’s husband, Tom, died in a home fire/explosion. But it gets worse: the FBI was monitoring Cat, under suspicion of funding terrorists. Lindsey isn’t quite sure what Cat did for a living—“I’m not at liberty to say” was her sister’s refrain—but she knows that Cat isn’t guilty of terrorism. Cat, however, was most definitely a covert agent under the employ of any number of agencies; even her best friend and former U.S. ambassador, Paul Marshfield, can’t specify which one. The story takes readers back in time, when Cat, surmising that she was being made a patsy (someone set up offshore accounts in her name), initiated a plan to find out who was trying to take her down; she started leaving clues for Lindsey, too. Reynolds’ novel begins as a mystery, as Lindsey examines her sister’s life and, with a backup of Cat’s hard drive (company employee Jason had troubleshot her laptop), access to hidden files. Lindsey is more spectator than participant, often not in any real danger—though an attempted mugging, when she’s stashing pertinent flash drives in her purse, is unsettling. Many of the details of what Cat was doing are revealed in the more exciting second half, when perspective shifts to the sister. Cat is a female 007—even carrying Bond’s gun, a Walther PPK—and, like the literary Bond, adept at stealthily keeping an eye on people. Her mission (of sorts) may have an international origin, with possible ties to her helping a couple of doctors in Tehran over 30 years ago. The two sisters’ stories come together for a sterling conclusion, with just enough unanswered questions for a potential sequel. Reynolds’ writing is accessible, though she has a tendency to overexplain, especially basic computer terms, like wireless and encryption key, which don’t need much clarification.

Cat is the more exhilarating of the sibling protagonists, her prowess and ingenuity helping make the entire novel a worthy read.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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