An amusing story stretched too thin.

READ REVIEW

PEMBROKE

THE ADVENTURES OF ARTHUR BACTERIUM AND PATTY VIRUS

A microbiological adventure centered on a little boy bacterium and a girl virus living in a young human boy’s fluffy, four-legged best friend.

With his first book for children, Lyen (Alma’s Journey, 2012) takes young readers inside the digestive system of a dog named Pembroke, where the microbes lead very humanlike lives. Arthur Bacterium meets Patty Virus when she walks into his class at school. Despite her being different from Arthur’s bacteria classmates, Arthur is kind and welcoming, and the two become fast friends. In Pembroke’s colon, where Arthur and his parents live, most of the microbes are “good bacteria” living in symbiosis with the canine. The bacteria fear viruses since they can make Pembroke sick by infecting and destroying other cells (like them), but Patty is a Nelson virus, a good strain that Arthur’s father Louie, a professor of virology, says descends from the viruses that lived in Lord Admiral Nelson, who died during the Battle of Trafalgar. Excessive or bizarre factual additions like this frequently reveal the overly elaborate nature of the authorial conceit and can occasionally be a source of conflict or error in the novel. The professor suggests that Patty and Arthur leave the colon and cautiously investigate different areas of Pembroke’s anatomy, so the pair set out in a kayak filled with supplies along the “Great Brown River.” After a thorough tour of the intestine, they muster the courage to visit, through various veins, arteries and channels, the stomach, the liver—or “Hepatic Mountain,” which is particularly well-described—the pancreas, circulatory and cardiovascular systems, the brain and even “The Great Expanse” outside the pup. Although exhilarating, the idea of Patty knowing how to return the two microscopic organisms back to Pembroke’s digestive track is a bit too implausible, as is her knowledge of human affairs and the generally convoluted depiction of the relationships among bacteria, viruses and organ systems. The book is most illuminating and charming when it stays within the metaphor, describing the personal roles and experiences of Arthur, his friends and family. The glossary helps with understanding the microbiology terms, but the story is unnecessarily complicated and long, and there are frequent unsavory descriptions of fecal gases, smells and fluids.

An amusing story stretched too thin.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475958553

Page Count: 180

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2012

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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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