In this debut children’s book, a 12-year-old boy’s journey into a fantastical world begins when he’s mysteriously guided to find a strange, glowing rock.
Jack Boomershine is a little different. A young inventor, he lives in a room “filled with gizmos and gadgets, half-worked doodads.” His best friend, Chase, is an equally misunderstood seventh-grade outcast who obsessively reads financial magazines. On a field trip to a cave, Jack gets anonymous texts on his phone that direct him away from the class. Is Chase playing a joke on him? Following a glowing light, he comes across its source—what appears to be a simple stone. But when Jack picks it up, he blacks out. Shortly after, he comes to, pockets the stone and rejoins the class, his absence unnoticed. The next day, the two boys happen upon a fortuneteller who speaks only in rhyme, though sometimes the rhyming takes precedence over meaning. Cryptically, she tells them: “Stand at the edge of a large cliff, you do. Looking down, very soon, the time for change will come for you.” True to the prophecy, the magic Jack had stumbled upon pulls him and Chase into an odd world peopled by wizards and hybrid creatures. For Jack, the journey turns out to be not just one of danger and adventure, but one of self-discovery and introspection. The well-drawn, memorable characters have equally memorable names: Oleagina and Caitiff Cankrot, and Vidalia and Pescipalius Dorfnutter. The story’s strength lies in these characters, their observations and their occasional waggish repartee, as well as the vivid descriptions and imagery. The illustrations—realistic yet infused with a dreamlike quality—would be stronger if, like the striking cover, they appeared in color instead of black and white. Also, the story can be a bit convoluted in places, and readers may have to work harder than they’d like to sort it all out. Oddly jarring among all the wizard terminology and descriptions of powers is a reference to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which may be unfamiliar to young readers.
An exciting trip through a wild, dangerous fantasy world that’s well worth it despite some bumps along the way.
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.