A thought exercise delivered in a unique format that provokes more questions than answers.

AKA Shakespeare


In screenplay format, four characters debate the real identity of Shakespeare, using Bayesian statistics to justify their conclusions.

English professor Beatrice and mystery novelist Claudia learn about statistical analysis and, under the guidance of statistician Martin and engineer/entrepreneur James, use quantitative methods to investigate the likelihood that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by a man from Stratford. The book is divided into scenes, each focused on a single aspect of Shakespeare’s identity, although the characters use the name Shake*Speare (“The asterisk should remind us that we are dealing with someone whose identity we have not yet decided”) to minimize the bias for or against their candidates: the Stratfordian William Shakespeare, the Earl of Oxford, or some unidentified person or group. For each question—Was Shake*Speare educated? Did he visit Italy? Is there a hidden message in the sonnets’ dedication?—Beatrice and Claudia produce probability matrices to evaluate the factor. (The reader is invited to complete the same matrices and submit their guesses at the companion website.) The frequent criticisms of Bill Bryson’s The World As a Stage (2007) may leave readers wondering if this book is intended as a reply; if so, it’s a curious decision, since Bryson’s brief pop-history is hardly an authority on Shakespeare studies. This book’s characters are determined to keep an open mind about the authorship question, which gives them plenty of discussion fodder but may be off-putting to anyone who sees no cause for dispute. The screenplay format is an unusual choice, but it works well with the content, despite some stilted dialogue: “Well, of course, I am not a betting person, so I am not used to thinking about probabilities.” Readers may also take issue with the characters’ methodology, as they jump from one “admittedly wild conjecture” to another. A more serious shortcoming is the book’s failure to acknowledge the limitations of probability. Like a hitter’s batting average, the odds Beatrice and Claudia calculate for each Shake*Speare candidate might be useful if this were an experiment that could be repeated numerous times, but they reveal little about a single event in the past.

A thought exercise delivered in a unique format that provokes more questions than answers.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0984261413

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Exoscience Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2013

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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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