In Ljubinic’s debut novel, a tormented man seeks solace on what he believes is an uninhabited island, only to be greeted by a host of strange characters.
Lucas is an esteemed psychologist with a dark history. In addition to constantly grappling with memories of an unstable childhood, he also faces the more recent tragedy of divorce. His overwhelming feelings of disillusionment prompt him to sail to Palmyra Atoll, a series of Northern Pacific islets, to take a break from humanity and find himself. Soon after he sets foot on Palmyra, however, his dog, Blue, finds a strange man collecting crystals in an island cave. Lucas is skeptical of the stranger, but Edmond’s humbling presence eventually wins him over. In no time, he introduces Lucas to the rest of the island’s inhabitants: a captain, an old woman and a shaman. Lucas is intrigued by them all, and he treats them as guides to help him navigate the island and pursue his quest for inner peace. Although Lucas is happy, he senses something eerie about his surroundings. The islanders’ histories don’t seem to fit together,although each is seemingly content and provides invaluable words of wisdom. Despite his wariness, Lucas allows himself to let go, to drink in life and overlook trivial discrepancies. Ljubinic’s tale of travel and soul-searching has a powerful message: The mind has the power to create the world one lives in, or as the shaman so eloquently puts it, “Webecome what we think about.” The entire book is filled with similarly inspiring dialogue; indeed, some exchanges between the characters are deeply profound. Although a work of fiction, this parable’s underlying message can be taken to heart by anyone who reads it. Perhaps as a simple reminder, the author notes in an epigram, “We sometimes need the darkness to remind us of the light.”
A fine allegorical novel that may make readers feel refreshed and ready to take life by the reins.
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.