Monday, January 28, 2019

Blog Tour: Only a Breath Apart - Katie McGarry

Only a Breath Apart
Katie McGarry
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Bestselling author Katie McGarry’s trademark wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance is given a new twist in the gritty YA contemporary novel, Only a Breath Apart.

Jesse Lachlin is cursed.

So the town folklore says, but while Jesse’s had his fair share of tragedy, the only curse he believes is in his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year, Scarlett Copeland.

Scarlett Copeland is psychic.

Glory Gardner tells Scarlett she has hidden psychic abilities, but Scarlett thinks Glory is delusional. What is real is Scarlett’s father’s irrational fears, controlling attitude, and the dark secrets at home. Scarlett may have a way to escape, but there’s a hitch: she’ll have to rely on the one person she used to trust, the same boy who broke her heart, Jesse Lachlin.

Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other. But as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…

I never tire of Katie McGarry books, and she is back with something that is both classic Katie and a little bit different for her.

This was a story about friendship, family, love, survival, destiny, growth, and I loved the way all these parts added up to one fantastic tale.
  • Friendship: Scarlett and Jesse's renewed friendship took center stage, and it really was a beautiful history they shared. They spent their childhood together and shared an unknown bond as victims of domestic abuse. They understood each other in a way many others could not, and I was so happy they found their way back to one another. Jesse also had a great group of friends, or rather, found family, who were not only really interesting, but fiercely loyal and protective of him. Jesse was often referred to as Peter Pan, and at one point he compared his friends to the lost boys. I would agree, that they shared some similarities, when it came to standing by each other. 
  • Social Issues: McGarry always touches upon some social issues in her books, and here, she tackled domestic abuse and the farming industry. I thought she did a great job showing us how the system can help, but also fail those in an abusive situation. I really appreciated the way she explored all sides of it, and did so with a lot of honesty. The pieces relating to farming were also very interesting, and that is something I definitely do not know much about. 
  • Family: There was a lot of family drama packed in here. The storyline concerning the abuse was difficult, it was really painful, but it was a big part of what shaped Jesse and Scarlett, and it also had a big influence on the futures they thought they could or couldn't have. The characters struggled with their love for their families, but also their distaste for the way they were and the things they let happen. Those conflicted emotions came across as quite authentic, and I couldn't help but share their heartache. However, not all the family interactions were bad. Jesse's cousin, Glory, and his uncle showed that they were firmly on his side, and they were also champions of Scarlett's. They ended up being two great people to have in their corners, and I was so happy with the way McGarry incorporated them into the story.
  • Romance: It was really important for me, that these two let their walls fall, because I needed them to be together. Their connection was beyond amazing, and they just belonged to one another. At one point, Jesse talked about how he was born to love Scarlett, and I could only nod in agreement. They supported each other, and gave each other space when necessary. They were willing to sacrifice for each other, as well, and that was a real testament to their love. 
  • Magic: This was what surprised me. This book had some magical elements woven into the plot. There was a curse, a connection to the land, and psychics. I actually enjoyed the psychic elements, especially the palm reading. I never knew much about it before, and there were some really fascinating bits included pertaining to palmistry. Though it was not as magical, I liked the whole idea of Jesse being connected to the land as a farmer. I may be a city girl, but I still root for and want to see family farms flourish. 
This book was an emotional rollercoaster. It made me happy and sad. It broke my heart, but also filled it with joy. It was classic Katie with a twist, and I enjoyed it immensely!

* ARC received in exchange for an honest review.


Evangeline fans herself. “That boy is hot.”

Hot isn’t exactly the word I would use for him. Hot somehow feels…lacking. Hot is for some boy in our gym class who has recently grown facial hair. Jess Lachlin is no boy. He has fire-red hair, a sun kissed tan from all the hours working on his land, deep green eyes and a body made to handle rough, rugged days.

I might have been ignoring Jesse for years, but I’ve seen him. Every girl in this school has gone out of her way to drive or walk along one of the country roads to watch Jesse as he works his land. Living across the street, I’ve had a front-row view. His shirt off, drenched in sweat, muscles rippling as he moves, the way he sometimes pauses in his front yard and looks across the road as if he knows I’m watching. A fluttering in my chest and then—

“Would you date him?” Evangeline asks.

“No.” Camila’s answer is swift. “And it’s not like he dates anyone. Except for his friends, the boy is a recluse.”

“Why wouldn’t you?” The kneejerk question surprises even me when it pops out of my mouth. Camila and Evangeline look at me as if those were the first words I’d ever spoken. If I could hide under the circulation desk without making this moment worse, I would.

“Besides the fact he’s cursed and anyone a Lachlin falls in love with drops dead?” Camila walks toward me and Evangeline follows. Camila watches me with more curiosity than I care for, but it’s nice that she’s moving the conversation in my direction. “Jesse’s a train wreck, and he taints anyone in his vicinity. Dating him would be a social, emotional and literal death sentence.”

I’m familiar with the curse, and it’s no truer than Glory and her prophesies. “That sounds melodramatic.”

“It’s not.” Camila has a swear-to-God seriousness to her. “Mom and Dad had Bible study at our house last night, and Pastor Hughes came. Everyone thought I was in the basement, but I went to the kitchen for something to drink, and I heard Pastor Hughes ask everyone what they knew about Jesse.” Eavesdropping. How Camila.

“Did you know that before Veronica started hanging with Jesse that she was on track to be a concert pianist?” Camila says.

“Seriously?” Evangeline tilts her head in disbelief, and I’ll admit to putting down my cell.

“Seriously. And Leo Wheeling was a star soccer player, predicted to be the first freshman to play varsity for our high school, and then he started hanging out with Jesse.”

Faint middle school memories of hearing Leo’s name over the announcements regarding soccer emerge in my mind. “Then someone said that before Nazareth Kravitz moved here, he had taken the ACT in the seventh grade and received a perfect score. He moved here, met Jesse and the rest is history.”

Nazareth sleeps through most of our classes, that is, when he bothers showing for school.

I nibble on my bottom lip as I’m not sure how much I like the Jesse-is-the-devil enthusiasm. I may share the opinion, but that doesn’t mean anyone else should.

“Of course, then there’s Jesse himself. Drinking, drugs.”

“The fights,” Evangeline pipes in.

“Don’t forget the suspensions—”

“And he’s been arrested!” Evangeline finishes Camila’s statement like the two share a brain. Her eyes sparkle like that precious piece of scandalous gossip was just too good not to spread.

“The boy is a walking disaster,” Camila continues. “Anyone who hangs out with him wants to become a loser. It doesn’t matter he’s going to be a millionaire once he sells his grandmother’s land. Anyone who spends time with Jesse is asking for hurt.”

“And death.”

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Katie is the author of the PUSHING THE LIMITS series, THUNDER ROAD series, SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME, and the upcoming YA novel, ONLY A BREATH APART. Her novels have received starred reviews, critical acclaim and have won multiple awards including being a multiple Goodreads Choice Award Finalist for YA Fiction, multiple RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award Finalist for Best YA Fiction, including a win in the category, and she was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick.

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  1. ... magic huh? There's so much to enjoy in this book, but I must admit the addition of magic is most intriguing. Domestic abuse itself is such a complex thing to tackle, but the author seems to have done wonderfully in this ecploring that.

    1. It was different for McGarry, but definitely added a little something extra to the story.

  2. I love her books for exactly for the above reasons. I'm excited to read this! And magic. How intriguing! Glad you loved it!

    1. McGarry knows how to do the drama without putting me off, and she always makes me care too much.

  3. ohh I love stories about family and friendships, especially in YA contemporaries! I love that this one has a supernatural spice :) I'm so into curses and divination and psychic elements! This is a must read! Thank you for bringing it to my attention Sam!

    1. The curse and the magic was an interesting touch, but it was really the friendship and romance shared between Jesse and Scarlett that owned me.

  4. Great review. I love books that make me laugh and cry and everything in between.
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. This book was quite emotional, but McGarry's rollercoasters aways end in just the right place and leave me super happy.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing! ~Jessica, InkSlinger PR

  6. Katie just never disappoints. I loved the connection between Jesse and Scarlett - they were so good together and so willing to be strong for each other. The fact that they had both suffered due to domestic violence/abuse was heartbreaking but I appreciated the theme of hope and overcoming that. And I really loved how Marshall proved to be such a champion for not only Jesse but Scarlett as well. Good man!

    1. You know I love when my characters share a lot of history, and these two went way back. And, YES! McGarry let characters surprise me and redeem themselves, and I guess I am a sap, because that always makes me happy.

  7. Hi Sam,
    I have heard of Katie before but it always feels like her books could be triggering for me. Nevertheless, I do like that she explores abuse in relation to a legal system that might not be attuned to what some families need. I was listening to a podcast with Jodi Picoult who was sharing her research process prior to writing a novel. I'd be curious to see what victims of domestic abuse and/or violence think of these novels. Was the research actually a good reflection of how things are/could become one day? And, what would be even more fascinating is a discussion on how these laws vary from state to state, country to country. Ah. I hope this dialogue does happen because it is needed.
    Anyway. It's great to read your thoughts, Sam, and a pleasure to meet you.

    1. I am always interesting in reading reactions from people, who are supposed to be represented in the story, though I do agree that some of the more explicit scenes could be triggering for them. I will say, McGarry's scenes are not too violent, with the focus being more oh the character's emotions versus the actual violent act, though there are some explicitly described.

  8. Fantastic review Sam and I entered the giveaway! Sophie @bewareofthereader

    1. I hope one of us wins (I entered too. Can't resist an Amazon gift card)

  9. I'm very intrigued by the magical elements that are woven into the story. I've been wanting to try one of Katie McGarry's books and I have a feeling this one may end up being my first. Great review!

    1. There was the connection to the land, but more of the magic came from Glory via fortune telling and palmistry, and it was an interesting touch.

  10. Love the review! This was one we wanted to read anyway! =) Your review makes me want to read it even more.


    1. I never pass on a McGarry book. She just gets that gritty, emotional, angsty balance right

  11. I wouldn't have expected any magical elements in there at all but it sounds like that fit into the book so well :) I am glad you could love this one. I have a Katie McGarry book on my wishlist and I want to try her writing for sure. Her writing sounds so good ^.^

    1. They were a surprise for me too, but they were an interesting addition. Which McGarry book do you have? I really enjoyed them all, and was very surprised by how much I liked her MC series.

  12. Katie McGarry books are always fun to read, I don't know how she does it but every time I seem to get hooked even when I don't expect to. I think she just manages to write characters I care about, even if the books tend to be filled with a bit more drama than I usually look for, she always makes it work. I think I'll have to put this on my reading list.

    1. No doubt, I always care for her characters, but I think it's her ability to get real and gritty and emotional without letting the book wander too far into melodrama land.