A strange, lyrical novel about the spiritual lives of an ordinary small-town family.

CENTRALIA

FAMILY, FREEDOM, FAITH

Two brothers struggle to find meaning in their lives in a small Pacific Northwest town.

Set in Centralia, Wash., Sheesley’s striking debut novel follows the life of the Moore family over the course of a half-century. Episodic in structure, the book highlights brothers Dollar and Creek as they grow from childhood to young adulthood to old age, though it also covers the lives of their parents, friends and neighbors. Dollar is a quiet, thoughtful boy who loves nature and is obsessed with eagles. He and his best friend, Elle Crane, remain in an innocent, dreamy world well into their teenage years, and he struggles to find direction. As an adult, he’s immature, believing that his life has gone awry through no fault of his own. His older brother, Creek, is more aggressive and socially adept as a boy, a popular soccer player who has no trouble finding a girlfriend and sometimes bullies weaker classmates. But a tragic accident and a youthful heartbreak set him on a more reflective path. In their 20s, both brothers find themselves lost and unsatisfied, but only Creek is able to claim the autonomy that will help him establish a purposeful life. The book defies easy categorization; its drama is primarily emotional and revolves around everyday dilemmas. Yet it never becomes lost in abstractions. The characters’ psychological and spiritual development shows in their actions, written in understated, memorable visual language. The novel, however, isn’t polished, the 1950s and 1960s sections are occasionally unconvincing, and the writing needs additional copy editing. The opening chapter, from the point of view of Creek’s grandson, is less compelling than the story that follows. Some readers might be frustrated by the absence of neat conclusions or easily digestible moral lessons. But at its best moments, Sheesley’s nuanced portrayal of the inner lives of his characters is reminiscent of such classics as Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.

A strange, lyrical novel about the spiritual lives of an ordinary small-town family.

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615646961

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Peter Sheesley

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2012

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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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