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Review: Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry

ECHOES BETWEEN US
Katie McGarry
Publication date: January 14, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Tor Teen and Netgalley
4.25 Stars

GOODREADS  *  AMAZON







S Y N O P S I S

Echoes Between Us is bestselling author Katie McGarry’s breakout teen contemporary novel about a girl with everything to lose and the boy who will do anything to save her.
Veronica sees ghosts—more specifically, her mother’s ghost, thanks to the blinding migraines that consume her whole life and keep Veronica on the fringes. But the haunting afterimages make her wonder if there is something more going on….
Golden boy Sawyer is handsome and popular, a state champion swimmer, but this All-American is hiding an adrenaline addiction that could kill him. Drawn to each other after a chance meeting, can they help each other battle the demons that haunt their every step or will they push their luck too far and risk losing it all…including their lives?

M Y   T H O U G H T S

I’m sure I say it with her every new release, but when it comes to YA, Katie McGarry is my #1 go-to author. She writes the kind of stories that I love and I’m always ready and waiting for each new novel. In Echoes Between Us, Katie delivers a story with her trademarks: relatable characters facing real-life challenges, romance, and an emotional connection.

Life hasn’t been easy for seventeen-year-old Veronica since the death of her mother six months ago. Her father is a truck driver who is gone for days at a time and her best friend Leo, who she is also secretly in love with, is leaving for college. Veronica also has a brain tumor… like the one that killed her mother. The tumor causes debilitating headaches that seem to be getting worse, but she keeps that information from her father. She also doesn’t share with him that she sees and communicates with her mother’s ghost.

From outward appearances, Sawyer is the golden boy. Handsome, popular, a star athlete. But Sawyer is being crushed by the pressure he feels at home. Since his parent’s divorce six years ago he has felt increasingly responsible for not just his six-year-old sister but also his mother. Her drinking has gone from letting loose on the weekends to almost every night. Between her interference in his life, his resentment of his father, and pressure at school, Sawyer feels like he’s walking a tightrope. The only relief he finds is the adrenaline rush from cliff jumping but he finds himself craving that high more and more.

Veronica and Sawyer were an unlikely pair – the girl who marched to the beat of her own drum and who was considered “weird” by the kids at school and the boy who, from the outside, had it all. But they both felt a lack of control over their lives. In Sawyer, Veronica had someone who saw beyond the tumor and the quirks and appreciated her for the bold and fearless girl she was. And in Veronica, Sawyer found someone who accepted him for who he was, who cared about what he wanted, and supported him without judgment. They truly brought out the best in each other.

The friend groups played a big role and those who have read McGarry’s Only a Breath Apart will remember Jesse, Scarlet, Leo and Nazareth (side note: we seriously need a book about Nazareth). Veronica and Sawyer did not run in the same circles and their friends definitely started off as wary and judgmental of one another. I loved seeing the slow acceptance as they started to know and trust each other and were actually supportive of each other during times of need.

Katie did an amazing job of blending the paranormal elements (Veronica sees ghosts), the spiritual aspect (Veronica’s friend Glory is something of a psychic who believes in angels and an afterlife) and skepticism (Sawyer is convinced there is a logical explanation for any “phenomenon”). McGarry tackles some weighty issues in Echoes Between Us and, as usual, handles them with such a light, respectful hand. There are addiction issues, learning disorders, faith, grief, mortality, discussion of sexuality, and more. There is a big focus on acceptance, in many forms, and I loved how Katie wove that deftly throughout the story.

By the end of the story, I was in love with these characters and my heart ached for their struggles. Both Sawyer and Veronica had to have such inner strength to face their challenges and overcome them. Katie made these characters feel utterly realistic and I shed some tears as I was swept into their story. Once again, Katie McGarry has delivered an emotional and compelling story that is sure to be among my favorite books of the year.


Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.

WWW Wednesday #73 | January 22, 2020


WWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.
Just answer three questions and share what you're reading.


Winter has arrived in Florida! It dipped into the 30's last night and the windchill is in the 20's. I know, I know, all you people in the north are thinking: Oh how cute, this southern girl actually thinks that's cold. ­čśä And yeah, I do! But you know what? I love it! It won't last long - by Friday it will be back into the 70's - so I'm enjoying it while I can.


WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

    

 I'm only about 15% into Heartland but I'm already loving being back in this world. I'm so excited to get Dylan and Chastity's story. And - even though I'm not usually a fan of covers with shirtless men - this one totally works for me. Yummy cover model, I love the faded bit of the Vermont outdoors on the bottom third, and hand-lettered look of the title is perfect.

I just started the audio of The Family Upstairs yesterday and I'm slowly getting getting pulled in. I'm still trying to work out how these people are connected and how they're going to come together, but I'm enjoying the process of getting there. :)


WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
 Once I really got into Echoes Between Us it was hard to put down. Katie McGarry always writes characters that are dealing with tough situations that forces them to grow. Veronica and Sawyer were no exception and I loved their stories. 

We Own Tonight was amazingly good! I seriously loved this one from start to finish. The main characters, their story, the emotion... it just all worked for me. I love that I started the year with discovering a new author. And thankfully she has quite a backlist for me to work my way through. :)


WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'LL READ NEXT?

   

 Not sure what I'll feel like reading next but there are some strong possibilities.

What are you currently reading?
I wanna know! :)

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent TBR Additions

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.


This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic: 
Most Recent TBR Additions

This week's topic is actually most recent additions to my bookshelf but I typically share that every week in my Sunday Post and I don't want to rehash here again. So instead I'm going to share what I've added recently to my TBR. 


THE LIFE THAT MATTERED (Life Duet #1)
Jewel E. Ann

The son of a French Olympic skier and a Malaysian fashion designer, Ronin Alexander has lived the life of a nomad, traveling the world to find his next adventure.

Life takes a dramatic turn when he meets Evelyn, a beautiful scientist who owns a bath shop in Aspen, Colorado. They defy all the rules of relationships, falling hard and quickly in love.

Their world intertwines with Evelyn’s two best friends, the Governor and his soon-to-be wife. The four become close—very close.

When tragedy strikes, things from their pasts are unveiled—unimaginable truths and the grim realization that life will never be the same.

Jewel E. Ann steps into another dimension with this mind-bending thriller, a provocative story that pushes boundaries and tests the true meaning of love.



IN FIVE YEARS
Rebecca Serle

When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.

But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.

After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.


A BEGINNING AT THE END
Mike Chen

Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs.

In postapocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past—until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on—even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again.

Krista, Moira, Rob and Sunny are brought together by circumstance, and their lives begin to twine together. But when reports of another outbreak throw the fragile society into panic, the friends are forced to finally face everything that came before—and everything they still stand to lose.

Because sometimes having one person is enough to keep the world going.


YOU WERE THERE TOO
Colleen Oakley

Acclaimed author Colleen Oakley delivers a heart-wrenching and unforgettable love story about a woman who must choose between the man she loves and the man fate has chosen for her in a novel that reminds us that the best life is one led by the heart.

Mia Graydon's life looks picket-fence perfect; she has the house, her loving husband, and dreams of starting a family. But she has other dreams too — unexplained, recurring ones starring the same man. Still, she doesn’t think much of them, until a relocation to small-town Pennsylvania brings her face to face with the stranger she has been dreaming about for years. And this man harbors a jaw-dropping secret of his own—he's been dreaming of her too.

Determined to understand, Mia and this not-so-stranger search for answers. But when diving into their pasts begins to unravel her life in the present, Mia emerges with a single question—what if?


THE THINGS WE CANNOT SAY
Kelly Rimmer

In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.

Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative that weaves together two women’s stories into a tapestry of perseverance, loyalty, love and honor. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.


CREDENCE
Penelope Douglas

Tiernan de Haas doesn’t care about anything anymore. The only child of a film producer and his starlet wife, she’s grown up with wealth and privilege but not love or guidance. Shipped off to boarding schools from an early age, it was still impossible to escape the loneliness and carve out a life of her own. The shadow of her parents’ fame followed her everywhere.

And when they suddenly pass away, she knows she should be devastated. But has anything really changed? She’s always been alone, hasn’t she?

Jake Van der Berg, her father’s stepbrother and her only living relative, assumes guardianship of Tiernan who is still two months shy of eighteen. Sent to live with him and his two sons, Noah and Kaleb, in the mountains of Colorado, Tiernan soon learns that these men now have a say in what she chooses to care and not care about anymore. As the three of them take her under their wing, teach her to work and survive in the remote woods far away from the rest of the world, she slowly finds her place among them.

And as a part of them.

She also realizes that lines blur and rules become easy to break when no one else is watching.

One of them has her.

The other one wants her.

But he…

He’s going to keep her.


YES NO MAYBE SO
Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

YES
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

NO
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

MAYBE SO
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.


THE LAST TRAIN TO LONDON
Meg Waite Clayton

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from Vienna’s streets to its intricate underground tunnels. Stephan’s best friend and companion is the brilliant ┼Żofie-Helene, a Christian girl whose mother edits a progressive, anti-Nazi newspaper. But the two adolescents’ carefree innocence is shattered when the Nazis’ take control.

There is hope in the darkness, though. Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance, risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. It is a mission that becomes even more dangerous after the Anschluss—Hitler’s annexation of Austria—as, across Europe, countries close their borders to the growing number of refugees desperate to escape.

Tante Truus, as she is known, is determined to save as many children as she can. After Britain passes a measure to take in at-risk child refugees from the German Reich, she dares to approach Adolf Eichmann, the man who would later help devise the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” in a race against time to bring children like Stephan, his young brother Walter, and ┼Żofie-Helene on a perilous journey to an uncertain future abroad.


THE AFFAIR
J.L. Berg

There are some paths in your life you’re never meant to take.
Yet, by some twist of fate, you find yourself on the forbidden road all the same.


Those are the words I stumble upon when I unearth a hidden journal that once belonged to my grandmother.

A hidden journal that details a heartbreaking affair with her husband’s brother. It’s a family secret I’m unprepared to deal with, especially when my own life begins to parallel hers.

Sawyer Gallagher was never on my radar. The moment I met his younger brother, I was taken. Done for. Love-drunk.

But, some things aren't meant to last and at the age of thirty-three, I find myself divorced, penniless and living with my parents. When Sawyer stops by our family’s antique store, asking for a job, I figure: Why the heck not? Life can’t get much worse.

It doesn’t take long to realize just how different the Gallagher brothers are. Sawyer is kind, supportive, and, oh, did I mention sexy as hell?

In a small town like ours, I can’t help but ask myself…
Can I fall for my former brother-in-law?
Or is this just history repeating itself?
 


RUNAWAY ROAD
Devney Perry

Londyn McCormack didn’t have a typical childhood. She ran away from home at sixteen, escaping parents more interested in drugs than their daughter. She doesn’t have loving siblings or an adorable pet. Her only family is the five other runaway kids who shared her junkyard home.

Life pulled them all in separate directions, taking her to Boston. For a short time, she thought she’d found something permanent. But after a devastating divorce, she’s running away again, this time to find a lost friend.
She’s driving across the country in her convertible. As a teenager, the rusty car was her shelter. As an adult, it’s her ride to freedom.

Except one flat tire derails her trip. Her life collides with Brooks Cohen. They walked away from the first crash. The second might destroy them both.
 



Are any of these on your TBR?
What's your most recent TBR addition?


The Sunday Post #191


The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news - a post to recap the past week on your blog, 
showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is
coming up on your blog in the week ahead. You can find the info here:

  • Hello from Past Tanya! I'm out of town this weekend so I'm actually writing this on Friday. Look at me being all organized and blogging ahead! :) 
  • I'm in Beaufort, South Carolina this weekend enjoying a little R&R. My mom recently mentioned wanting to visit Beaufort so we decided to make it happen. We'll do a little sightseeing, a little shopping, have some yummy meals (I hope), stay at a lovely inn, and head home sometime Sunday. And the 3 hour drive should give me some good reading time. :)
  • The Husband and I did a lot of eating out this this past week so I need to sit down and plan some menus and hit the grocery store on Monday. I don't relish coming home and hitting the kitchen after a long day at the office so I need to sort out some quick and easy dinners. 
  • Ready for the most romantic proposal ever? This guy took it to the next level by animating himself and his girlfriend and proposing with her favorite movie, Sleeping Beauty. He set the bar high! You can read the story behind the video/proposal here.

  • The January Of Books giveaway hop is still going strong so don't forget to enter if you haven't already.  
  • This week's 80's music fix is from Alphaville. I just love this remix version of Forever Young. Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 14
Top Ten Tuesday:
Best New (To Me) Authors of 2019

Wednesday, January 15
WWW Wednesday #72

Friday, January 17
Review: Blitzed by Alexa Martin


WHAT I COMPLETED IN THE LAST WEEK:

  


These audio books were my first experiences with both of these authors. Only Ever You was a good read but I had a few quibbles with the narrative. I felt like the character's feelings and motivations weren't always made clear so it sometimes seemed like they felt one way but acted another. I don't know... it's hard to explain but I just felt like things weren't always as clear as they should have been. Still, like I said, it was a really good story and I enjoyed it. We Own Tonight was a big hit for me! I absolutely loved it and Corinne Michaels has a new fan. I am so excited to read more from her!

WHAT I'M CURRENTLY READING: 
    
   


I'm a little over 40% into Echoes Between Us and now that I have the hardcover I expect to get through it much faster. I didn't know when I started it that there was a connection to McGarry's last release, Only a Breath Apart, and it's been fun to revisit some familiar characters. And I'm loving the connection that is slowing forming between Veronica and Sawyer. Katie just never disappoints.


PHYSICAL BOOKS:


I've been 100% in the mood for physical books lately and I think that's part of the reason I was initially making little headway with Echoes Between Us. I had an eARC and was reading so slowly. By Wednesday I'd had enough and since the book was released this week I asked The Husband to stop at Barnes & Noble on the way home from the office and pick me up a copy (he passes the bookstore on his way home; I don't). I snagged a copy of The Lucky Heart on eBay for a few dollars and it arrived this week. I haven't bought anything off eBay in years but for some weird reason I was browsing books on there last week. And, lastly, I took advantage of a pre-order offer for Love Lettering back in December and it arrived this week. The book is signed and personalized and came with some gorgeous postcards with original artwork based on the book and a small sealed note that is related somehow.

KINDLE BOOKS:


eARC FOR REVIEW:






How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share? 
I'd love to hear about it!

Review: Blitzed by Alexa Martin

BLITZED
Alexa Martin
Publication date: December 3, 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Playbook #3
Format: eARC
Source: Berkley and Netgalley
3.25 Stars

GOODREADS  *  AMAZON






S Y N O P S I S

Brynn Larson owes a lot to reality television and professional athletes. Her bar hit new heights of success after becoming a local haunt for the Denver Mustangs players and their WAGs. But although she’s grateful, that doesn’t mean she’s crazy. And that’s exactly what she would be to ever consider dating a professional athlete. Even if it’s Maxwell Lewis, whose shy smile makes her wonder what going on behind those beautiful brown eyes.

Maxwell knew from the moment he met Brynn that she was going to change his life. It was only a matter of time. But when he finally makes a move, fate conspires against him and everything goes wrong. Now he has to show her that their potential is real. Too bad for him, Brynn isn’t fooled by his glamorous NFL life, and when ghosts from both their pasts make a sudden reappearance, she must decide who she can trust. But when the person she’s most afraid of is herself, navigating life’s tackles is harder than anticipated.


M Y   T H O U G H T S

Having loved both Intercepted and Fumbled, I had been eagerly awaiting Alexa Martin’s next entry in the Playbook series. Brynn was a secondary character that featured prominently in the earlier books, so I was excited to get her story. Unfortunately, I found myself wishing Brynn would return to the background and that another character would be front and center.

Brynn is the owner of HERS, a woman-centric bar whose success has skyrocketed with the regular patronage of professional athletes and as the setting of a reality show featuring their wives and girlfriends. Max is a professional football player and, while he may be a beast on the field, outside of the game he is quiet, reserved and humble. And very much smitten with Brynn. What ensues is the stumbling beginnings of a relationship between Brynn and Max, despite baggage from the past – both his and hers.

Right off the bat I felt confused by Brynn’s character. I really enjoyed her in the previous two books; strong and capable, and acting as both friend and mentor to the main characters. But in Blitzed, those qualities I admired were nowhere to be found. This Brynn was insecure, immature, flighty and petty. (At one point she actually thought, "If only I had the emotional maturity of an actual adult woman." My feelings exactly, Brynn!) I couldn’t believe this woman had the wherewithal to be a successful entrepreneur and businesswoman. The complete change in who she appeared to be in the earlier books left me feeling like I didn’t want to know this Brynn at all. But what really sunk this ship for me was Brynn’s decision to trust a virtual stranger over someone she knew and trusted. Never mind that what this person said was totally contrary to what she knew. No matter that she had already been warned that this person was up to no good and should be avoided. It made no sense. It made me angry at Brynn for acting so capriciously and it made me angry with the author for using such an illogical plot device to create conflict and unnecessary drama. By the time that happened (at the 90% mark), I was ready to chuck the book at the wall in disgust and frustration.

The saving grace in Blitzed was Max. When we meet him in the opening scene, he has a surprising outburst but it’s quickly obvious that it was completely out of character. Because Max is  kind and respectful. He is an elite athlete, successful and affluent, but handles it with humility and maturity. When it came to Brynn, he didn’t play games and he treated her with such respect and care. The fact that he got unfair accusations in return (without ever being given the benefit of doubt) made me ragey on his behalf because everything he had presented to Brynn previously screamed that he was a stand-up kind of guy.

While Blitzed was something of a letdown for me, I am still such a fan of the series as a whole. Intercepted and Fumbled were among my favorite reads of 2019 and I'm excited to see what's next from Alexa Martin. 

Disclosure: I received a a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.