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review 2017-08-30 02:48
Pins and Needles
Pins and Needles - A.J. Thomas

It's been too long since I've had a new A.J. Thomas to read, and this one was worth the wait. 


Nate is a trial lawyer working in his father's law firm. He's tired of waiting for his father to see his worth and the hard work he puts into his job and sets out to start his own practice. Sean is newly disabled in an oil rig accident and the company's settlement offer is paltry at best. Nate's the first lawyer to take his case seriously. 


The law here is very well done and even the antics that go on in the second half of the book are sadly not far from the truth either, lol. It was a little obvious who the whodunit was, though Thomas does give the reader a few suspects to choose from. It was a bit of a stretch that Nate was handling this case all on his own, especially with all the time he's spending at the tattoo parlor and his other cases, even if they're minor ones, though there was at least an explanation why he was having trouble getting help. I liked that the ethics in getting involved with your client isn't ignored either. 


But what I really liked was this story took its time. The relationship isn't rushed. Sean's dealing with a lot after his injuries and just trying to walk again is a challenge. Ms. Thomas doesn't go the disgruntled paraplegic route. Sean's got struggles and pain and a lot on his plate, but he doesn't become bitter or angry or disillusioned. His kinda-dad Hawk is great too and I wish we'd gotten a little more of him. 


Nate's got his own issues, and it's neat that they're both going through somewhat similar journeys in this story, each one out to prove they're better and worthier than how they think others see them. Nate especially has to deal with a homophobic brother, and the way his parents have decided to deal with the situation is less than ideal for him. I was pleasantly surprised with where that subplot ended up going with his parents. 


I really enjoyed this one, so much so that I stayed up until 1:00 AM to finish it. I did think it got a little overstuffed in a few places and I would've liked more resolution on one or two subplots, but I did like that the epilogue didn't end with the wedding ring/proposal scene that has become cliche at this point. The ending here was much more touching and more appropriate to these characters. 


Highly recommend.

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review 2017-01-18 04:06
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird (Perennial classics) - Harper Lee

Life in the 30s in the South. The "good ole days". Yeah, riiiight.


Actually, narrating this from Scout's POV allows for a lot of innocence of childhood to shine through, and it's optimistic even Scout is making scathing observations and comments on the hypocrisies and bigotry of the times.


I originally read this in high school, like I'm sure a lot of people did, and while it made an impact then, I had largely forgotten a lot about the story aside from Boo Radley and the trial. So I was surprised by how little those actually came into the story, which mostly chronicles Scout and Jem's childhood and summers for the two years leading up to that fateful day in 1935 when Tom Robinson was put on trial. There was never a doubt what the outcome would be, but seeing Jem's hope and absolute certainty, Dill's anger at the injustice of the cross-examination and Scout's struggles to understand what all these big events around her meant in the larger picture gave it a focal point to highlight how not innocent these so-called "simpler and easier" times actually were.


I was much more uncomfortable with the casual racism on display by our protags than I was by the outright bigotry of the Ewells and others in town. I had forgotten how prevalent it was in the book.


The world needs more Atticus Finches, and more respect for our mockingbirds, in whatever form they come.

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review 2014-11-02 08:20
Rag and Bone (Henry Rios Mysteries #7) (Audiobook)
Rag and Bone - Michael Nava

Family takes center focus in this one, the final story in the Henry Rios series. Henry has been largely without family most of his life, and it's heartening to see him and his sister build a bridge between each other, as well as expanding their family in unexpected ways. The mystery revolves around the family as well, but it's not all doom and gloom as in previous books, though there are some casualties along the way. Still, this series leaves Henry, his family and his new relationship in a positive place for the most part, and I can envision happiness for these characters beyond this book. I only wish it was a little longer at the end so there isn't quite so much summarizing, and I'd like to have seen John one more time.

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review 2014-10-27 02:41
The Burning Plain (Henry Rios Mystery #6) (Audiobook)
The Burning Plain - Michael Nava

Trigger warning: This book deals with sexual assault of a minor, rape, non-con BDSM and, of course, murder; as well as homophobia both external and internal and gay bashing. Some of these things are only discussed by characters, some are done to characters on page. 


My theory of the perp was SO WRONG. Oh well, I tried. :)


This story takes up a few months after Henry's lover, Josh, dies of AIDS. Henry has multiple legal issues of his own in this book, none made easier by his grief at Josh's passing. Josh's parents are fighting him for custody of Josh's remain, and Henry thinks he's seeing Josh everyone, including in one of his clients, a male hustler. Things only get worse from their. 


This book deals heavily with hatred of gays, both by the bigoted populace at large, the cultural mores we grow up in and how that bigotry is often turned inward by the people forced to endure it on a daily basis. Henry finds himself the suspect in a murder investigation and having to deal with a bigoted cop, Detective Gaitan, who wants to hang him for the crime despite having no evidence Henry is guilty. When another suspect surfaces, Henry is hired by the man's employer, a big-time movie producer, to defend him. 


The twists in this story are numerous and it's often frustrating. It's one of those cases where you know who did it but there's no evidence and it seems the bad guy's going to get away with literal murder. There's very little to celebrate in this book and it's a difficult read - and not much easier to listen to. I doubt I'll reread this one, as well-written as it is. 


Just one more book in this series to go...

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review 2014-10-13 13:53
The Death of Friends (Henry Rios Mystery #5)
The Death of Friends - Michael Nava

Henry's friend is discovered murdered and he defends the man accused of the crime. Meanwhile, Josh's health continues to worsen. 


I admit, even though I pegged the suspect early on, there were moments when I thought I was wrong, and that Henry was wrong. Even when I figured out how the killer may have done it - which took Henry a little too long to get there, I think - I still doubted it because by that point, I'd forgotten who I originally pinned it on and Henry's deductions were just too complicated. 

(spoiler show)


This is an overall depressing book, as Henry ruminates over the life of his murdered friend, Chris, and all the lies Chris told himself and others in order to achieve the "good life". Simultaneous to this is Henry watching Josh slowly lose the fight against AIDS. But as sad as all this is, there's something endearing to me on Henry's insistence that Zach is innocent of the crime he's accused. Henry maybe worn down by life, but when he believes he's found something good, he holds onto it. 

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