A fine historical fantasy tale featuring a memorable, tenacious protagonist.


In Ray and Vannier’s debut fantasy novel, a young girl flees the hardships of 19th-century China for America, chased by a cruel Englishman who seeks to obtain a dragon.

Twelve-year-old Leung Chi-Yen, sold to a brothel eight years before, finds a means of escape during the unrest instigated by the Opium Wars. She secures passage to the United States, along with a young warrior, Tam Sin-Feng, and his master, Liu Kun, both from the all-but-destroyed Temple of the Seven Dragons. The men are protecting their temple’s last remnant: a small, mysterious box desperately sought by the nefarious Basil Malvenue, who claims to be on a mission for the queen of England. He believes the box contains a dragon egg. Once the characters reach America, the fantasy tale becomes credible, assertive historical fiction; the trio not only experiences the gold rush and the Civil War, but also meets Chinese laborers working on the First Transcontinental Railroad. Chi-Yen is also constantly challenged by Liu Kun, an alcoholic opium addict and, at one point, is even snared by a sheriff’s posse. Although the story contains little humor, Liu Kun’s perpetual inebriation is sometimes played for laughs; for example, he sleeps through a storm at sea, his body rolling with the ship. Sporadic appearances by a dragon, however, keep the fantasy element alive, including a scene in which Chi-Yen is unnerved by glowing eyes in the dark woods. Although the dragon is a stunning creature and spectacularly described—with scales that change “from pale wheat to tan to umber to the color of rich, fertile soil”—the authors make sure that the young protagonist is the most mesmerizing character here. At various points, she disguises herself as a boy by shaving the top of her head and tying her hair, boldly tells the brutal brothel manager, “You shall not beat me again,” and earns a boat ride to America by teaching her fellow passengers English.

A fine historical fantasy tale featuring a memorable, tenacious protagonist.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-1940776002

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Baaa Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2013

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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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