Blackmail, betrayal and manipulation of the highest order.

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Ambition

Award-winning author Maitland-Lewis’ (Emeralds Never Fade, 2012) new financial thriller is a dark, plummeting tale of corporate greed, civil rancor and personal vice set against a backdrop of contemporary economic woes.

George Tazoli rose from humble beginning in East LA, earned average grades in college on a football scholarship and began a career as a trader, finding his way to Forest & Vignes Bank. He’s on a track for success—“very talented, hard working, and ambitious, though somewhat of a loner” and “cocky.” He’s also dating Sam Donovan, daughter of the bank’s president and granddaughter of its chairman. When Sam’s father, Peter, a man of many vices, finds himself in a difficult situation involving hundreds of millions of dollars of nonperforming, high-risk loans and the beleaguering weight of a gambling debt—not to mention an ill-tempered, disapproving wife and scornful father—he decides to create a new, shadowy position at the bank’s New York headquarters. He decides George is the man for the job: Reporting solely to Peter, he’ll be responsible for selling off the bank’s toxic assets; the arrangement also allows Peter and his wife to get George away from their daughter, in the hope that she might find a worthier match. Sam doesn’t cooperate with her parents’ plans, though, and she escalates things with George seemingly out of rebellion and inertia more than affection. George’s assignment is soon complicated by an embezzlement scheme proposed by his cousin Draeger, who’s also in finance. Draeger may be “uncouth, loud, and the epitome of sleaze,” but he’s internationally connected. In Maitland-Lewis’ novel of bad manners, the unsympathetic characters’ actions are based on greed, lust and vanity rather than propriety or courtesy. There’s even a member of the English gentry, whom Sam meets and begins a side romance. George, on the other hand, is already seeing Draeger’s sister-in-law, whom he’s hired as an assistant. Amid all the ignobleness, readers will have difficulty finding a sympathetic character or a redeeming sentiment. Smoldering with intrigue but a bit sluggish at times, the story traces an intriguing line en route to finding out who will get away with what.

Blackmail, betrayal and manipulation of the highest order.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0983259657

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Glyd-Evans Press

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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

ISBN: 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.

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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