An engaging, if occasionally disjointed, memoir.

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Bula Pops!

A MEMOIR OF A SON’S PEACE CORPS SERVICE IN THE FIJI ISLANDS

A proud father shares correspondence with his son, who served in the Peace Corps in Fiji.

In May 2007, New Jerseyite Michael J. Blahut III departed for Fiji, where he would spend just over two years in the provincial Cuvu Village teaching such skills as computer literacy and environmental awareness. This book consists of the emails and online chats he shared with his father while he was away, as well as his father’s recollections of his own trip to Fiji to visit his son. Michael opens each message to his father with “Bula Pops!” (“Bula” is a Fijian greeting) and offers detailed firsthand accounts of his day-to-day experiences living in Cuvu. Michael lived near the village chief and was expected to consult with him regarding community requests and inform him of any environmental concerns. One key issue was pollution, particularly the manner in which the locals disposed of waste, so Michael instructed the community on waste management and how to build composting toilets. He got to know the people of Cuvu socially and described their culture and customs—from the ceremonial consumption of the intoxicating Kava beverage, to the British-influenced tradition of “tea-time,” when everyone stopped work for tea and snacks. Michael displays an intimate knowledge of Fiji and is also acutely aware of his status as an outsider there. He eloquently discusses what it’s like to be an American serving abroad and the delicate nature of advising without imposing. Michael’s father’s recollections of his Fiji trip are rather staid compared to Michael’s fluid email prose. However, some readers may find the presentation of the emails a bit too choppy and may wish that this fascinating content had been reworked and edited into a more traditional memoir about service and island life. Nevertheless, this book will likely prove enlightening, particularly for readers considering joining the Peace Corps or visiting Fiji.

An engaging, if occasionally disjointed, memoir. 

Pub Date: March 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-1460210949

Page Count: 184

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2013

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

NO REMORSE

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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