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review 2017-07-15 03:53
HUSH by Tal Bauer (My VERY first book review – yaaay!!!)



I need to preface this review by telling you that I am a _crazy_ Tal Bauer fan. My love of his writing began when the bff texted me: “Oh. My. GOD. You _have_ to read this series called The Executive Office!” Okay, I may have paraphrased a little, but that’s essentially what she said. And so I did. And… Oh. My. GAWD! You _have_ to read his Executive Office series, but this review isn’t about those books so I won’t gush about them overmuch. 


I recently found out that Mr. Bauer has only been writing professionally for 18 months. Whaaat? Shut the front door, not possible, and yet he’s the one who said it so it must be true.


Tal’s attention to detail and fact floor me. The massive amount time he has spent researching is what breathes life into Hush and his other books.  His knowledge on a wide array of the subjects he writes about is truly impressive. And knowing that he does a deep dive into those areas he’s unsure about, in order to make the stories he writes authentic, only make the books that much more real. Both The Executive Office series and Hush could be ripped out of multiple headlines in today’s media. He tackles politics, prejudice, racism, climate change, intolerance and persecution head on in a thoughtful and factual manner. 


Take Hush, the book this review is about, it came out on July 13, 2017 and the story captivates you from the very first sentence.


The book is about Tom Brewer, a _deeply_ closeted 40-something year old US Federal court judge who is a recent appointment to the Washington bench. Tom’s closet was built from past events that impacted him profoundly and caused him to lock that part of himself away for the past twenty-five years. He has channeled all his passion into law, cutting himself off from his community and isolating himself from everyone but his beloved basset hound, Etta Mae, in the process.  


But the changing social landscape of the world and an unexpected friendship with co-worker U.S. Marshal Mike Lucciano, as well as a supernova heat of attraction, slowly coax him out of his closet one terrifying and painful step at a time. And you do _feel_ his pain, his fear, and his anxiety with every word Tal puts to paper. But it will make you hurt sooo good.  Tom and Mike will rip your heart out, toss it into a wood chipper, gather up the shredded pieces, and then make you whole again.


Mr. Bauer not only lets you see one of the most terrifying chapters in LGBTQ history through Tom’s eyes but he makes you realize how profoundly, and rapidly, the world has changed as he shows you the same world through slightly younger man Mike’s eyes. He makes you see how much just a few short years can impact and change the world. Tom and Mike come from different places in the struggle for LGBTQ rights and somehow manage find common ground in the slow burn of mutual attraction and flared passion; they celebrate together the joy and colours of Pride as Tom takes his first brave steps into outing himself to the world and then…


Tom’s world turns on its axis, and he and Mike are thrust headlong into events that neither of them could have dreamed of in their worst nightmares, an assassination attempt on American soil in Tom's judicial district. Their newly formed romance is threatened by events beyond their control; but not just their love is in danger of being destroyed, Tom’s life may be on the line as well as he is thrust into the international spotlight and forced into a role that he never thought he’d find himself in, trial judge for the most important case of his career, one that could have global reprecussions.


How far will Mike go to keep the man he loves safe? Will Tom allow his newly found courage to wither and die before it had chance to flourish, chasing him into his Narnian-deep closet once again? Will the world, which teeters on the knife edge of war, tip over to chaos or back into peace?  If the first half of the book was a slow seduction, the second half is a nail-biting car chase that leaves you breathless and constantly second guessing yourself, and the author, with all the twists and turns that come at you.


Tal Bauer compliments the main characters with fully fleshed-out secondary characters (and Etta Mae) who will make you fall in love with them, sympathize with their plights or hate and despise them completely.  They fill out the book, add more life  and vibrancy to it's pages and play pivotal roles in the story of Tom and Mike. From cover to cover, Hush will leave you feeling punch-drunk, like you’ve survived the most amazing thrill ride you could possibly imagine; breathless, shaken, exhilarated and wanting more.


 And yet, despite the political and legal backdrop and all the thriller aspects of this story, at the very heart of it, this book is about relationships; about accepting oneself, opening up to love, to the possibility of happily ever after and being unafraid and proud to live one's life. THAT message is what makes it such a profound read. Everything else? Icing on the delicious cake. 


I cannot recommend Hush enough. Go, buy and read it ASAP! You’ll thank me.


(I also suggest you have a fresh box of tissues next to you because this book hits you right in the feels. All the feels!)


      5/5  hearts from me! 


Also, I want to thank Jamie from Alpha Book Club (https://www.facebook.com/Alphabookclub/) for running the Advanced Reader Copy contest that let me start the book 2 days early! I needed the extra reading time :D


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review 2017-06-27 08:54
Compelling Evidence
Compelling Evidence - Steve Martini

This book was another one that started out slow for me.  I felt like he was pulling out all the big words he knew to stick in the first few chapters and the legal lingo was a bit much. I struggled through the first part but then got hooked as soon as someone died (of course) and then it really started moving for me and I wanted everyone to go away and let me read. Unfortunately, it was not a time I could be antisocial.  I did, however, spend one really late night sitting on the floor in a hotel bathroom so I could finish this book. It was good and I was surprised by the ending.  


This is the first book in a series and in the first few chapters, I wasn't thinking I'd be reading any more of his books but I quickly changed my mind. I am already looking for the next one in the series. Too bad this copy of the book didn't make it back to Fairbanks, Alaska. It had a little bathtub accident in Anchorage but it did enjoy Denali National Park. 

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review 2017-05-31 19:52
Sometimes things just don't go how you expect them to...
Legal Artistry - Andrew Grey


It seems that what started out as being good in premise...failed for me in the execution...


I've been wanting to read this one for a while. I liked the blurb, it definitely intrigued me and I like Andrew Grey, so quite honestly I thought things were golden with this one. 


'Legal Artistry' had all the making of an awesome romantic/mystery/thriller story. I mean come on stolen Nazi treasure, a lawyer who falls in love with his client, brothers on opposing sides of a court case that had international ramifications...potential so much potential...and then fail.


In summary this story is about one man's struggle to recover stolen artwork that is his families heritage.  When Dieter's grandmother dies and leaves everything to him. He discovers that he should own several pieces of artwork that were stolen from his family by the Nazi's and in turn became the property of the Austrian government. Turning to a family friend for legal help brings Gerald Young into Dieter's life and together they begin to unravel the mystery of how Dieter's heritage came to be in a museum in Austria. Sounds good right?


So why the fail? Where did it happen? Let's start with the court case because truthfully in some ways it was my favorite part of the story but I was left feeling more than a little disappointed and skeptical about things because of the fact that part way through I had the thought that 'if I was a lawyer this would be my dream case not only because yes, it would make a lawyer's career but mostly because I'm pretty sure every lawyer who has ever passed the bar would agree that they could only hope and pray for the evidence they need to win their case to fall into their laps with the ease that it did in this story. I mean it bordered on magical how easily things came together for this case.  


Add on to that, the fact that while Gerald Young is totally on top of this case and knows the case inside out, he is facing his brother, Angus, as opposing counsel...his brother, who is suppose to be the star of the family law firm but really only came off as being a bully. Who does't really bother to prepare for court, he just figures he can steamroller his way over anything...so this totally resolved the mystery of why Gerald didn't work for the family law firm for me and toss in every lawyers dream judge, fair, impartial...see what I mean? Sometimes...things are just too good to be true.


However, what really did me in on this one was Dieter or more accurately Dieter along with his and Gerald's relationship. I'm usually ok...even good at times with MCs who are kind and sweet and basically seem to still have their rose colored glasses on...I don't mind a bit of naivete in my characters because hey there are people like this n the world so, it's nice to have them appear in a story from time to time. But Dieter...well his level of naivete was just too much. I just couldn't buy it. Him and his delicate, tender feelings...nope, sorry one can still retain some innocence and naivete and be a grown up and for me that just wasn't him, nope, Dieter felt more like someone who was silly and immature and at times simply clueless than he did a sweet young man who'a a bit naive.


Oh and the sex, let's not forget about the sex...because there was sooooo much of it and at times if felt more like it was impeding that story the enhancing it...It just didn't work. My least favorite thing here was Dieter and his whole "I'm the client and if I want to kiss my lawyer, I will." are you f*ing kidding me? Wrong on so many levels this was wrong.


Ok, last thing on the list of what went wrong...the narration. Again I thought I was safe. John Solo was the narrator on this and for me usually does an ok job as long as there aren't any children involved...oh, lordie my ship has sunk. The first part of the story takes place in Dieter's childhood...need I say more? But hey, it's only a few minutes and then we move to the adult years so it'll be ok from here...right? No, so many of these voices were much closer in how they sounded than what I've come to expect from this narrator and they all seemed to have a superior, pretentious quality to them that just...I'm sorry but they irritated the hell out of me and maybe this was just me, so let's leave this part on my shoulders. 


Whether it was me or not at the end of it all this one did not work well for me. I want to give the second book a shot and hopefully things will be better...but maybe I'll just read the book and skip the audio, whatever...the one thing I know for sure is what I got with this one ended up not being what I was expecting it just didn't work for me so I'm moving on to the next one.



An audiobook of 'Legal Artistry' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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