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120 Days

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Barbara Blake is a bright, young, attractive, and ambitious defense attorney. Alejandro Soto, an inmate already serving two life sentences for the brutal murder of a drug dealer and the man’s mother, is on trial for a third murder, one he did not commit but that could well result in the Death Penalty. When Blake and Soto meet in the San Cristobal, California courtroom, they begin a 120-day journey that will invariably alter both of their lives. Together, they spiral ever more deeply into the dark heart of a quintessentially American story of sex and love, truth and lies, justice and prejudice, crime and punishment, and, ultimately, life and death.

328 pages, Paperback

Published May 21, 2019

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About the author

Ronald L. Ruiz

11 books13 followers
Ronald L. Ruiz is the author of a memoir, A Lawyer (2012), and seven novels— Happy Birthday Jesús (1994), Giuseppe Rocco (1998), The Big Bear (2003), Jesusita (2015), Life Long (2017), 120 Days (2019) and Lost and Found (2021). Born and raised in Fresno, California, Ron was educated at St. Mary's College, California, University of California, Berkeley, and University of San Francisco. He practiced law from 1966 to 2003 as a Deputy District Attorney, a criminal defense attorney, and a Deputy Public Defender. He was appointed to the California Agriculture Labor Relations Board by Governor Jerry Brown in 1974 and later served as the District Attorney of Santa Cruz County, California.

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Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews
Profile Image for Lauren.
187 reviews16 followers
December 19, 2022
This book seems to follow the misadventures of defense attorney Barbara Blake. We learn all about her rise to the top of her field and witness her swift fall when she crosses the line by falling for her defendant. Many of the characters are written with hypercritical and fault-finding attitudes. I feel like while the storyline was a good concept but a lot was missing in the from the story to lead to making such extreme decisions.
Profile Image for Asher.
64 reviews8 followers
May 30, 2019
120 Days by Ronald L. Ruiz is a crime thriller that revolves around a brilliant California attorney named Barbara Blake, who is on a meteoric rise as a public defender, with rapid promotions and lucrative job offers that could set her financially for life. Her professional and personal life are, however, at polar opposites of one another, the latter showcasing two failed marriages and enough backstory to overwhelm even the thickest case file. Of course, the thickest case file belongs to a new client named Alejandro Soto, a double-lifer now facing the death penalty. She caught his attention with a courtroom stare, after which he fervently sought her out to represent him. With his life hanging in the balance, Blake's own professional and personal life converge over the course of 120 Days.

Ronald L.Ruiz definitely knows how to write a legal thriller. Blake and Soto are phenomenal characters who, through subtle action on her part and gritty interaction on his, become alive within the first two chapters. 120 Days is impossible to put down. This truly is a character-driven story with the added bonus of a plot that could, without question, stand on its own two legs. The aspects of prison life and courtroom drama feel authentic and exciting, but its the personal relationship that develops that takes this novel to a five-star level. There is a human element here that is only found in top-tiered crime fiction, and this book is lavished with it. I adore all of the major bestselling authors of this genre and have finally found a new favorite that, in my opinion, belongs in the same league. Highly recommended.

Review written for Readers' Favorite.
483 reviews10 followers
August 23, 2019
I could not put this incredible book down that centers around two very different characters. We have Barbara – an ambitious and intelligent woman who is incredibly smart and powerful in court but her personal life is quite different. She struggles with relationships and love – she has had failed marriages and she seems to have resigned herself to not meeting ‘the one’. Then we have Alejandro – a convicted murder serving two life sentences. Someone that you start off not having much sympathy for but as the story unfolds, we see a whole new side of his character. Yes, he is flawed and committed awful acts, but he has this different side of him that was created because of his upbringing.

The two characters meet in a courtroom and this begins a 120 day spiraling journey that we are left guessing constantly at where they are going. Barbara tries to feel no compassion or attraction to this man, especially a man who could jeopardize her whole career. But as we learn more about Alejandro, you sympathize with his story and you can feel the attraction and love these two have that could destroy both of them.

Their love is definitely forbidden and could destroy so much and we are left on the edge of our seats throughout the whole novel, wondering will they be caught, what future could these two have? While the ending was fantastic and suited the story, my heart was a bit sore!

This is a fantastic read – full of raw emotions, heartache, pain and forgiveness. I loved every moment of this story!
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 1 book123 followers
September 5, 2019
Having already read Life Long, a previous novel by Ronald L.Ruiz, I knew this was going to be an intense novel. While Life Long dealt with mental illness, 120 Days deals with the justice system and how it's never black and white even when we think it is.

Barbara Blake is a bright and very talented defense attorney who is asked to represent Alejandro Soto who is currently serving two life sentences for murder in one of the toughest jails in California. Barbara is taken with Alejandro because unlike other inmates, the prison and solitary confinement don't seem to have broken him even after eight years. But now there is another charge of murder against Alejandro that could result in the Death Penalty. As Barbara and Alejandro spend time together working on his case, they get to know each other in ways that no one ever has. The layers of their lives are slowly unpeeled with brutal honesty, and we get a picture of these two souls who are drawn to each other like a magnet.

This novel felt like a freight train that slowly and meticulously gets moving and picks up speed quickly until it comes to a shattering crash. As I read and felt the intense emotions of these characters I felt it could not end well but hoped nonetheless that it would. That's where the writing of Ronald L. Ruiz shines. He makes his readers live through the lives of people in impossible situations, exposes the flaws in our society and justice system, and shows how the human heart can thrive on love and hope, no matter how dire a situation. Ruiz is also not afraid to build characters that are real, very human, and flawed throwing them in risky and volatile situations and circumstances.

There is sadness to this realistic fiction but it serves as a paradigm shift in situations where we would not be as open-minded or compassionate. 120 Days is an unforgettable story with characters that will live long after you turn the last page.

NOTE: This is not a clean read. There is a lot of profanity (especially f-bombs) and crude language in this book, mainly throughout the prison scenes. I get it, but it can still be jarring if you don't like profanity. There is also an explicit sex scene.
Profile Image for Jessica.
505 reviews1 follower
August 22, 2019
What a captivating story to read

This book is so long to read. I always like to read books that has so many pages. This story is so captivating to read. It is gut wrenching, an eye-opening and above all such a great read. I enjoyed reading this book. There are times that I have upset stomach due to abuse from his family and all the way to the jail.

It is a wide opener for me to read especially what is life being in a jail. This book seems like a real story. The author did a phenomenal job writing this story.

There is forbidden love affair. Love is love whatever the circumstances are. Justices always not prevail and lead to forsaken incidents. This book is a must read.
Profile Image for Angela Thompson.
393 reviews10 followers
August 8, 2019
120 Days Takes a Realistic Look at Society and Justice. This novel struck a chord quickly. Barbara expressed in the very early chapters as she defended an accused child molester, that, no matter how well she defended her client, the jurors were bound by society's views to convict him. Prejudices, societal pressures, misconceptions make it difficult or even impossible for the unbiased interpretation of facts. This theme carries through the novel and offers a thought-provoking journey for readers as they move through a legal thriller that exposes realities that most fail to see or are unwilling to admit.

Readers will Connect Deeply to Ruiz' Characters. My reality is far removed from Alejandro Soto's: a convicted murderer facing new charges--claiming innocence. In spite of that, I found myself fully connected to Soto and Blake as their relationship grew and the storyline developed. Ruiz doesn't shield the darkness and broken pieces of his characters. Neither character is perfect--but, readers will grow to see them in different lights--and root for love, hope, and redemption.

120 Day is a Page Turner. While courtroom dramas are not action-packed adventures, this novel is still a page-turner. Readers will be drawn to follow the characters and their stories to resolution. Ruiz' character and plot development keep the story moving evenly and strongly from beginning to end.

Would I Recommend 120 Days by Ronald L. Ruiz? 120 Days offers a thought-provoking, real-world look at the realities of society impacting our justice system. If you enjoy crime fiction with social commentary, realism--and strong characters--I highly recommend this author and both 120 Days and Life Long.

I received a copy of this book from the author or publisher for use in a blog review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for gwendalyn _books_.
888 reviews31 followers
August 8, 2019

This book was received as an ARC from the publisher and Author, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own


Book Title:  120 Days

Author: Ronald L. Ruiz
Adult Fiction, 318 pages

Publisher:  Amika Press

Release date:   May 22, 2019

Genre: #Legal thriller, #crime fiction, #literary fiction

TW:There are two explicit scenes and some language

A Riveting Read ...Emotionally Detailed
Ronald L. Ruiz's Book 120 Days Is a courtroom drama and legal thriller.
Creative phenomenal characters and a a fast paced entertaining book. This a riveting read with emotional details, difficult conditions of Mexican immigrants.
California attorney on the rise, named Barbara Blake, And Alejandro Soto, a double-lifer now facing the death penalty Alejandro Soto, life is hanging in the balance, Blake's own professional and personal come merge over the course of 120 Days.
This is a complex story that is definitely character driven, the authors ability to create emotional empathy for the criminal, Alejandro. This is just another example of the storytellers ultimate writing ability to illicit your response and trigger the ultimate reader response.
What really stood out for me was a social commentary on the American justice system and society as a whole. This is was such emotional and intimately brilliant read of a controversial topic that weaves together an engaging and critical aspect of our justice system.
This is a must read, with a critical message that goes beyond a surface response.
Profile Image for Leila.
560 reviews8 followers
August 12, 2019
This was definitely a book that is different than most genres I read and I have to say – I was impressed and found that I really enjoyed the read.

It was a longer read than I am used to, but I found the story to be accurate (I asked some detention officers about certain details of the story which come to find out; were fairly accurate – an important piece if you ask me!)

Alejandro’s life story really gripped me, yet I did find myself cautiously aware of what he was saying and did have my doubts on all that he was telling.

The way the story played out… I mean, I can imagine something like this occurring in real life. The story very well could have been real life.

The story kept me intrigued by Alejandro – his life, his lifestyle, his past – as well as what was brewing between Barbara and Alejandro.

This was a great fiction read. It wasn’t necessarily romance; it wasn’t figuring out who did what; it was just a sit back and read and enjoy type of book!
Profile Image for Sarah Koz.
279 reviews8 followers
September 9, 2019
Maria Beltran, Readers’ Favorite: “Controversial crime fiction novel that is very difficult to put down.… Unique love story that ultimately spirals into a matter of life and death.… Ruiz is a great storyteller and he has a unique eye for details. His 120 Days is a social commentary on the American justice system and society as a whole, told from a vantage point with a generous dose of empathy so it becomes easy to feel for Barbara Blake and Alejandro Soto, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet.”

K.C. Finn, Readers’ Favorite: “The tangled lives of Barbara Blake and Alejandro Soto will keep you enthralled from the very first page through to the bitter end of their intriguing and deeply dramatic journey.… The details of the courtroom come to life in what is clearly a well-researched and critical adaptation from real-life procedures. Something that really grabbed me was the depth of character development in Alejandro, a flawed soul whom we might feel predisposed to dislike, and it’s these unique moments of turning prejudice on its head that make 120 Days such a special read.”
October 1, 2019

This book was entertaining and well written but not one of my favorites. Barbara, the lawyer, is driven and a bit selfish. The story progresses thru some less than believable incidents and then ends abruptly. It just wasn’t fun or terribly enjoyable a read for me.
Profile Image for Bob Boone.
Author 24 books4 followers
June 6, 2019
Divine Zape, Readers’ Favorite: “Ruiz…combines courtroom drama with the art of storytelling to keep readers on the edge of their seats. The narrative begins in the courtroom and the drama is intense with intelligently crafted interrogations that introduce readers to the key characters and the conflict. While Alejandro is a criminal, the reader can’t help developing compassion for him, thanks to the author’s gift of infusing the characters with humanity. The relationship between Barbara Blake and her client takes the story beyond the contractual level, probing the hearts of the characters and exploring those feelings and sentiments that are intimately linked to our humanity. Ruiz…captures details in a brilliant way without losing focus on the critical elements of the story. The social commentaries combine with the sophistication of the setting—social and judicial—and the complexity of the conflict to offer a reading experience that is gripping and utterly enjoyable. You will be racing through the pages, wanting to know how the story ends.”
Profile Image for Jay Amberg.
Author 16 books48 followers
June 6, 2019
Christian Sia, Readers’ Favorite: “The characters are sophisticated and emotionally rich and readers will want to see how the connection between Soto and his lawyer plays out. The story has great emotional depth and reality, including the difficult conditions of Mexican immigrants captured with finesse and commentaries that elicit emotion…a riveting and engrossing read.”
Profile Image for Amika Press.
42 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2019
Kirkus Reviews: “The author adeptly captures the grim reality of prison life…Ruiz artfully develops Alejandro into a complex character—both a victim and murderer, neither a hero nor villain, and a man who takes solace in the company of great literature while in prison. Barbara, too, is a captivating figure—twice divorced, she rose from the ashes of romantic failure to become a brilliant lawyer, and her ‘unique style of cross-examination,’ part rhetorical concision and part savage mortification, is thrilling to behold. In addition, the author writes in crisply evocative prose, both poignant and lucid.… There’s much to admire in this deeply intelligent novel… A thoughtful exploration of life amid urban blight and in prison.”
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews

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