I’ve gotten a lot of reading done during the month of November, but I haven’t really posted many reviews so far. I guess it’s because I didn’t really have many November ARCs and decided to focus more on backlist reads rather than getting a jump on my December ARCs. Even though most of these are older books, I still wanted to share a few thoughts on each one, especially for anyone else who might still have these titles on their TBR. These are really off-the-cuff, nothing fancy, just my gut reaction to each book.
Hands Up Goodreads
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. All opinions are my own.
Hands Up by Stephen Clark deals with the all-too-relevant topic of young black men being shot by white police officers. According to the officers involved in the shooting at the center of Hands Up, the shooting was the result of a routine traffic stop gone tragically wrong. Their statements suggest that the young black man they pulled over abruptly became violent and attacked one of them, and that he was then shot in self-defense. The bulk of the story deals with the fall out on all sides, as the victim’s family seeks justice and as further investigations into the incident reveal that things aren’t nearly so clear cut as the officers would have everyone believe.
In many ways this novel reminded me of Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, but where it differs and brings something new to the table is that the story is presented not just from the victim’s loved ones, but it is also presented from the point of view of the officer who pulled the trigger. That unique perspective gives a lot of insight as to not only what is going through his mind, but it also gives us a glimpse into how things are handled from the law enforcement side of this kind of incident. There was one romantic encounter that I wasn’t really sold on, but overall this was a very compelling read that explores not just the shooting itself, but also the search for truth, the fight for justice, and the desire for revenge. Hands Up also digs deeper and exposes the cover ups, abuse of power, and especially the underlying racism that is still unfortunately all too prevalent in our society. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, powerful and timely novel that will leave you with so much to think about, I definitely recommend Hands Up. 3.5 STARS
King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) Goodreads
Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019. It actually came out in January and I bought a copy as soon as it came out, but then I got nervous about the possibility of it not living up to all of the hype so I set it aside. It took me until November to work up the nerve to pick up the book and now I feel dumb for putting it off because of course it lived up to the hype for me. It was wonderful! I love that this duology focuses on Nikolai Lantsov from the Grishaverse trilogy. He was a beloved character who took a dark and tragic turn in the original trilogy so it was great to be able to continue with his journey and see if he could overcome the obstacles that now face him. While I adored Nikolai just as much in this book as I did when we met him in the earlier books, a surprise favorite character this time around ended up being Zoya, one of the Grishas that I wasn’t especially fond of before. I love how Bardugo fleshed out her character more in this book so that her strengths really shine through and compliment Nikolai. It becomes easy to see why he trusts her so inherently. I found the pacing a little slow in a couple of spots, but overall it was just a fantastic read. I also loved all of the shoutouts to characters like Kaz and the gang from Bardugo’s Six of Crows novels. Reading King of Scars felt like coming home to one of my favorite fantasy worlds. and I look forward to the second book. 4.5 STARS
Evvie Drake Starts Over Goodreads
I picked up Linda Holmes’ latest novel Evvie Drake Starts Over after reading so many rave reviews from my fellow bloggers. I’m so glad I did too because this truly was just a delightful read in every way. I adored everything about Evvie and found her very relatable. I also felt tremendous sympathy for her as she is trying to start her life anew as a widow under the watchful eyes of her friends and neighbors. Gotta love those small town settings! I also loved Dean right away too. He’s charming and kind, and he’s also a professional baseball pitcher whose career has basically tanked because he suddenly and inexplicably couldn’t pitch anymore. Looking for someplace remote where he can retreat and regroup, Dean finds his way to the town where Evvie lives. The two cross paths when Evvie’s best friend Andy suggests that Evvie should rent a room to Dean. I absolutely loved the chemistry between Evvie and Dean from the moment they meet each other. They are sweet and funny together, and I also liked their vulnerability as they are both working through things in their personal lives. If you’re looking for a wonderful, heartfelt read that explores relatable themes such as friendship, grief, overcoming adversity, and most importantly, love, Evvie Drake Starts Over is a must-read. 4.5 STARS
The Start of Me and You (The Start of Me and You, #1) Goodreads
Emery Lord is one of my favorite contemporary authors so when I saw she has a new book, The Map from Here to There, coming out in January, I immediately requested an ARC. I didn’t realize until after my request was accepted that it’s actually the second book in a series and I hadn’t read the first book yet. Oops! Anyway, I set out to remedy that right away and snagged a copy of The Start of Me and You, the first book in the series. I hardly even know where to start with how much I loved this book. It truly has everything I love in my contemporary reads all rolled into one practically flawless story. I adored Paige and her circle of friends. Nobody does female friendships as well as Emery Lord and she really hits it out of the park with this group. I also love a good coming of age story and that’s what we get with Paige as she is trying to rediscover who she is and not be defined by tragic events from her past. There is also a sweet romance that rounds the story out really nicely. The relationship develops in such a natural way that even someone like me who is sometimes iffy when it comes to romance was totally on board with it. As if all of that wasn’t enough, there is also so much nerdy goodness to love. There’s Quizbowl, great scenes that take place in AP English class, and best of all, plenty of fun Pride and Prejudice references for all of the Austen fans out there. As you can imagine, I devoured The Start of Me and You in just a couple of sittings and now can’t wait to continue Paige’s story in the second book. 4.5 STARS