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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 2017-04-22 17:37
My Review of The Tumor
THE TUMOR A Non-Legal Thriller - John Grisham

The Tumor by John Grisham is more like a hospital brochure on focused ultrasound. Focused ultrasound is a new treatment for a lot of tumorous cancers. Focused ultrasound is in its infancy, so  there is a great need to inform people of this new treatment. This brochure was very informative and gives new hope for people who suffer from cancerous tumors.

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review 2016-10-28 08:03
The Whistler
The Whistler - John Grisham
Narrator:  Cassandra Campbell 
Publisher:   Random House Audio 
Publication Date: 10/25/2016
Format: Audio
My Rating: 5 Stars ++

OUTSTANDING!  Following John Grisham’s great intro prequel, Witness to a Trial, a perfect set up to the highly anticipated, THE WHISTLER What is not to LOVE?


First and foremost, the “King” of modern legal thrillers. Grisham is back full throttle! 29 books #1 bestsellers

Indian Casinos: Unregulated, lots of cash and plenty who want a piece of it: Treasure Key, Florida Panhandle near Pensacola

A Whistle-blower: Love them! Exposing the unethical and powerful. Always danger and intrigue. Who is The Whistler?

• Setting: State of Florida My Sunshine State

Lacy Stoltz: Age 36, Single, sexy, smart strong female investigative lead for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct

Hugo Hatch: Male investigator partner: Funny, family man, former football star, married to Verna; 4 children,

• Themes: Corruption, Murder, Bribery, Gambling, Conspiracy, Money Laundering, Racketeering/RICO; Legal, Suspense, Humor, Crime; a little Romance

Honorable Claudia McDover: Age 56, The most female corrupt judge in America

• The Coast Mafia: Always a clever name for the bad guys

• Vonn Dubose: Ubervillain Mob Kingpin Gangster

Greg Myers: Codename, "Randy." (formerly Ramsey Mix) Lawyer, ex-con, a Jimmy Buffet type who lives on a boat, with one client. Reminds me of TV Series/Amazon Trial/Goliath Billy McBride (Billy Bob Thornton).

Last, but not least: Audiobook Narrator: Cassandra Campbell:Award-winning performance! She is without a doubt my favorite narrator with a wide range of voices. Top Audio Performance of 2016. Listen PRH Audio.


From the State of Florida, the book takes us from the coast: East, west, north, south, to the Florida Keys.

Picking up from Witness to a Trial, where we saw an innocent man convicted, a murder, a corrupt judge, a casino, and tribal land, as we move to the opening of THE WHISTLER, when a complaint is filed with the Florida Board Judicial Conduct in Tallahassee, Florida.

Overseeing judicial ethics and assigned to the investigative case is Lacy Stoltz and Hugo Hatch. Lacy single, and Hugo married, they are a funny duo and friends both at work and outside work.

They are on a road trip from Tallahassee to the east coast in St. Augustine, FL to meet with the informant. He has one client, a mysterious whistle-blower. Their boss says this could be big.

However, Greg has a shady past, and they are not sure if he is on the good side, or bad. If they can trust him. He wants to meet them in a remote area near the Tappacola reservation late at night, adding to the mystery and suspense.

There is a corrupt judge and she is tied into the casino with her monthly cash bribes. Of course, they have to get the goods and all the players involved for proof. There are real estate developments, land, and golf courses tied to corruption, among off-shore holdings.

Claudia also has a partner and the two women are quite loaded and know how to travel in style (and shop). The novel, as well as the prequel, revolves around a tract of Native American land that has welcomed gambling and can operate outside the Florida law. Acting outside the law, indeed. In America, Indians don’t pay taxes on casino profits. The Tappacola didn’t want to share.

To make things more interesting, the small Tappacola tribe has welcomed a group of mobsters, known as the Coast Mafia, to indulge in unlimited development in tribal land in exchange for a share of the casino’s profits.

Of course, anytime there is corruption, bribery, and coverups, the villains have to maintain their secret. Anyone coming close to the truth, they have the need to eliminate and coverup. Hence, the identity of a whistle-blower needs to be protected.

However, Lacy and Hugo have no idea how far this corruption goes, the elaborate crime scheme and conspiracy, and the danger they are placed in- the more they dive into the investigation. They do not even carry guns. Who knew their job would be so dangerous?


There is murder, and the Native American on death row, a gangster having anyone killed who gets in the way, and a crooked judge who looks the other way, keeping her hand out for monthly cash.

A high-stakes legal crime thriller of good versus evil, with a well-developed cast of characters. We get to see the down and dirty, greedy, rich getting richer, and eliminating anyone who gets in their way. An unfair judicial system portrayed brilliantly.

When the FBI get involved, Lacy has a little romance with one of the agents, even though she is cautious. Grisham has more female leads in this novel than usual, which was a nice change. Of course, also included female leads in Gray Mountain, landing on my Top Books of 2014.

What a great book! I can see this one as a hot movie. Grisham takes on top topics and unravels the complex web of deceit. Wow, Claudia was cold and evil and she loved her money and power.

As a former Florida whistle-blower myself (SOX 2002), making history; the Sunshine state has their share of dirty officials, corporations, developers, and politicians, in real life as well as fiction. speaking from experience.

Lacy, the heroine is a great character, and hope we hear more from her in the future. Loved the cover, reminding me of my two years in Key Largo, where I worked and resided selling real estate at a waterfront condo hotel with a yacht club.

Grisham shines with THE WHISTLER! What interesting topics- from well-researched Indian casino operations, with all the intense legal drama and judicial corruption, and no one does it better!

Buy the audiobook , Grisham/Campbell, perfect duo for The Whistler, for my Top Books of 2016 List.






Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/03/17/TheWhistler
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review 2016-10-26 21:11
Conflict of Interest
Conflict of Interest (A Casey Cort Novel Book 4) - Aime Austin,Sylvie Fox
Casey Cort #4
ASIN: B01IQ534U8
Publisher: Penner Media
Publication Date: 10/18/2016
Format: Kindle 
My Rating: 4 Stars 


On the heels of Aime Austin’s (Fox) In Plain Sight (2015) with one of my favorite female lawyers (sleuth), and a quick rewind of Casey Cort’s early life in a recent novella, Common Pleas Lawyer (2016), she finds herself front and center in yet another high-profile controversial racial battle, in her latest installment, CONFLICT OF INTEREST (Casey Cort #4) which could be ripped from today’s real-world news headlines.

There is a lot going on here!


"Casey is in Cleveland which has seen its share of economic collapse, political corruption, and urban renewal. In many ways, the city is at a crossroads. In Conflict of Interest,Casey confronts one of this country's most controversial issues, police shootings."

Having read all the books in the Casey Cort series they are full of adventure, action-packed legal scenes, cop procedures, suspense, mystery, tons of humor, creative plotlines, and very real characters.

Austin's (Fox) knowledge of the criminal justice system and the courtroom is apparent throughout her writing, as is her understanding of how the media influences public opinion of high-profile trials, and the actions of those involved.

Cort, the protagonist of Austin’s (Fox) rambunctious fourth legal thriller is in the "middle of controversy" which always has a way of finding her. She never had a desire to be in the public eye, yet she finds herself caught in the middle of both sides of the law, in her career as well as her personal life. She had assumed she would eventually get married, have kids and maybe work part-time. None of this was what she had planned for her life.

In the previous book, Casey was involved in a case defending a sex-trafficking ring leader, Jarrod Carter (Sledge Hammer) and became involved helping some innocent young girls. Afterward, she had her fill of criminal law which was a contributing factor to the demise of her love relationship with sexy U.S. Attorney Miles Siegel. (love him). He questioned her morals.

After an uplifting year of pro bono adoption work under her belt, she was hoping to start a practice free of the emotional turmoil and problems of criminal defense and divorce.Anything, but simple!

Presently, she is trying to make it on her own with her faithful assistant, her friend Lulu, and of course her adorable gay neighbor friends, Greg and Jason. Miles (her ex-boyfriend) is back once again for some rekindled love action (yeah, if she does not screw it up again). Appears she "needs" his expertise in more than one way.

Set in Cleveland, Ohio, December 28, 2005. We move intoConflict of Interest, where we meet some new characters told from different POVs.

Marc Baldwin, a white cop, married to Jen, with two children, on the beat for twenty years, gets a tip about suspected drug activity near a restaurant alley in the Flats area. He is a little cocky. His partner in the squad car. He checks out the location and sees a suspicious black man approaching in the alley with a sweatshirt and hood up, and he does not stop. It looks like he is coming toward him, reaching for a weapon and Marc, the cop shoots him.

Troy Duncan, the victim; a black young chef with a promising future, a fiancé, and two children. He works at a restaurant Spencer’s for the owner, Spencer Milburn. Troy is really the one who is the foundation of the restaurant and keeps it running, and the doors open. From cooking, prepping, menu planning, food ordering, to stretching their budget and innovative marketing ideas. He has talent. He had worked hard at the upscale bistro, even though his boss does not seem to be doing his part.

The New Year holidays were approaching and his boss tells him he can leave as they are closing early due to lack of business. However, Troy being the efficient one stays to clean up, planning menus and cleans his knives. It is winter and cold outside. He leaves out the back door to head home to his family to catch the bus. When he is shot by a cop in the alley.


The Flats, area where the restaurant is located:

"The White folks would think they were getting something exotic. Black folks would feel at home. Seemed like the perfect compromise for this area smack dab in the middle of Cleveland’s so-called revitalization. Light some bridges, build a light rail and bam, you had gentrification."

Troy lives with Lynell (last eight years), and they have two children: Ellison and Zora. He is still legally married to his childhood friend, Campbell (story here) and they have never got a divorce. He is close to his parents and loving supportive family.

Troy winds up in the hospital. Everyone thinks he is a drug dealer ignoring a cop’s orders, when he was totally innocent- without a weapon. Marc gets put on leave during the investigation. He needs an attorney since the union is representing his partner. Was the shooting necessary to defend his life? Was using his weapon a good idea, in light of the perceived threat? Was what he did, reasonable?

However, at the hospital, Troy is treated like a common criminal. He is black. No one is taking care of him properly and dismissing him and his health. He is taken into custody- meaning jail or prison. His family is devastated. He is seriously injured and will be in a wheelchair the rest of his life. Who will take care of his family?

Told From different POV Augustus, Marc, Troy, and Casey.

Augustus (Gus) Duncan, is the older father of Troy and wife Myrtle. They are not even allowed to see him. Why are they treating Troy like a criminal, when he is the one who was shot by a cop? Arrest, Charges, Jail. Troy needs a lawyer. He is the victim. An unarmed black man. Panic set in. Both he and Myrtle had escaped the South, but they had not escaped racial injustice.

A high profile case, Vernon Dinwiddie takes Duncan's case. It is now the first of the year, January 2006. The media, riots, and a divided city. Marc hires Casey Cort. Troy is paralyzed. Due to a conflict of interest, the union was taking care of Darlene Webb, his partner and cannot take him on. (a conflict of interest is an ongoing theme throughout the thriller).

Casey does not want to get back into criminal law. She takes the case. A civil lawsuit, but if he has possible criminal actions, then he can get another attorney. High profile Reverend Emery Wilkinson is leading a protest, of the way the city is handling the Troy Duncan shooting. Now she finds herself on the wrong side - she is not popular.

On a personal note, Lulu wants Casey to start dating, but she does not have the time nor the effort to go through the emotions. (funny stories here) on the dating scene.

Things turn worse for Troy. The charges change. Marc is not upfront about his past. Casey is blindsided. There are circumstances. The hospital, jail, and the staff are not attentive to Troy’s needs. A death. A broken system. A black man shot at the hands of a white police officer. Housed in a jail infirmary that had no provision for caring for him. Instead of getting the medication he needed he was denied care until he became critical until it was too late. Who is to blame? What about Marc’s past?

A town of black and white. Reverend Wilkinson and Mayor Gates would be looking for a scapegoat. Murder, Manslaughter, Assault with a deadly weapon. Three felonies. The badge cannot protect. Times have changed. A political grandstand. Gus and his family want revenge or at least justice.

In the midst, of the drama, Casey turns to her ex-boyfriend Miles for help with the case. By his calculations, he was on the right side of the law; she was on the wrong side. He had not had room for any wrong in his life. Here she is in common pleas; he in the US Attorney’s office. The moral compass. Miles was also black, was a cop before he was a prosecutor. However, even though they butt heads, the chemistry is still there. (Sizzle)! Miles may want to try again; however, is Casey up for the effort?


Casey uses her creative sleuthing and her legal expertise to gather critical information. When things are not always black and white. Will the investigation bring other items to the surface? Also, a city of the verge of a riot and her future career. Will the town find peace and will justice be served?

A non-stop ride, marked by legal and moral gray areas, a great suspense novel with an extra dose of humor and a lot of clever twists. One of my favorite legal series! Loving the new branding to differentiate Fox’s writing of women’s fictions and her legal thrillers now Aime Austin (pen name). Whether it is Aime or Sylvie, they both know how to shake up a courtroom with enough real-life expertise to keep legal fans coming back for more, Casey Cort.

The real magic of Austin’s (Fox) writing is her dynamic, richly textured characters which come alive on the page, and the visceral, often gritty settings they frequent, with modern real life topics, mixed with the perfect personal dynamics and lots of wit.

Always an adventure, Casey is witty and smart, (often, poor judgment), good instincts. She reminds me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum (Stephanie/Lula/Ranger/Joe Morelli), similar to Casey/Miles/Tom/Lulu. Does Casey or Stephanie really want, a relationship, or just like the thought of one?

Gus was a great addition and loved his wife Myrtle; from a different generational viewpoint -a nice touch. I am a huge fan of Miles, so hope they can stay together and give it a shot.

On a serious note, fans of Jodi Picoult’s, Great Small Things will enjoy the racial conflict with the highly charged topics, different points of view, and lawyer (s) caught in the middle.

A side note: As we left off with In Plain Sight (a cliffhanger) was expecting to pick up with these characters. Hopefully, Austin will pick up with a continuation, (HINT) in future books. There were too many characters left with unresolved issues and unanswered questions. I am positive they will resurface again in the future.

After all, if Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum is coming up on her 23rd Turbo Twenty-Three installment next month, then surely Casey Cort has at least 20+ more books to come. (I truly am invested in these characters). Can you tell?


Looking forward to Casey Cort #5 THE RIGHT TO LIFE, Coming March 1, 2017. 


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Conflict-of-Interest/cmoa/573bd20f0cf20a8824de09cd
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