Cover Image: The Echo of Old Books

The Echo of Old Books

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Member Reviews

A love letter to books and book lovers. I loved Ashlyn's passion for rare books and the author's unique research and obvious fascination with them. The story is bound together in such an intricate and readable way.

The whiff of magic realism in Ashlyn's discovery of a person through the touch of a page will appeal to all who have every felt connected to the past through a shared word.

Highly recommended for lovers of Evie Woods and Heather Webber

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I was pleasantly surprised by this book. When i first started it, i thought i might not like it, but just like the other Barbara Davis I have read it was SO very good. the characters span across time. Secrets you never see coming are revealed.

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Such an unusual love story with a poignant storyline. All of the characters draw you in and are beautifully flawed and special. Added to the explanation of the original America First this book kept me up all night needing to know where Belle would finally face life. Absolutely wonderful.

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I loved half of this book and half the characters right away but struggled with two of the other characters, and it's probably not how everyone else who read this book felt. In the end, though, I was glad I pushed through and finished it, because it was a fantastic story and I didn't expect it to end the way it did.

So the idea of being able to get vibes off used books was intriguing and would be a superpower or gift I'd love to have. The idea of the two books was clever, too, to be able to see both sides of the story, and yet neither was the exact truth. I had guessed part of the plot, but not in its entirety, so it was that much more enjoyable when I was surprised.

Ashlyn and Belle were both very strong women; both faced a lot of heartache and loneliness in their lives and both came out the other side even stronger.

I think this would be a great book for a book club. I have enjoyed several of the author's other books, and will be sure to read the others that are on my ever-growing TBR pile.

Thank you, NetGalley, for the chance to read and review this book. All opinions are mine and freely expressed.

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I have mixed feelings about this book.
I absolutely love the idea of book focused psychometry. I was drawn to Ashlyn and her unique power of being able to feel the emotions that previous owners have left on their books. The idea of energy so strong that it lingers on objects has always fascinated me. I was incredibly disappointed that this subject was hardly touched on after its initial use that led Ashyln to finding the mysterious books.
I liked that this was a historical novel set in the 1980s with flashbacks to the 40s and 50s. I liked that it tried to tell a story about going against the grain of powerful families. I just wish it had been done differently.
I was not all that interested in the books she found and the people who wrote them until the very end. One mystery book would tell the story from one of their perspectives and then the same story would be told by the other. Reading Belle and Hemi's sections of the novel grew tedious.
I excepted much more from a book that promised to be a mystery solved using psychometry. I naively expected a mystery? This did not deliver. Clues were strategically placed for Ashlyn to use and then never mentioned again. She was handed all the answers instead of finding them herself and even then she didn't use the ones she had.

(Please note: this Author is not to be confused with Author Barbara Sheklin Davis.)

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The talent and scope of Barbara Davis's writing never ceases to amaze me. This story is a masterpiece of originality in plot and characters, exquisitely crafted, that must be read with care and savoured. Trust me!

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This was an a world war II novel that kept me turning pages because I wanted to find out what happened next.

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The Echo of Old Books is beautifully crafted, flowing seamlessly between 1941 pre-war NY and 1984 NH. Ashlyn, a book binder and book shop owner in NH, discovers a mysterious book without an author, and then its mate, another authorless book penned as a response. As Ashlyn reads the histories unfurling in the books she reaches out to Ethan, the son of the late owner of the books. Together, Ashlyn & Ethan finish the books and track down Belle, one of the two main "characters" from the books. Along the way they discover healing and so much more. A good read!!

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When I read the description of this story I knew I needed to read it immediately. A book about books and a book within a book?? How could I resist??

I immediately connected with Ashlyn and found her psychometry so interesting.

“Books are like people, Ashlyn. They absorb what's in the air around them. Smoke, Grease, Mold Spores. Why note feelings? They’re as real as all those other things. There’s nothing more personal than a book, especially one that’s become an important part of someone’s life”
Her eyes had gone wide, “Books have feelings?”
“Books are feelings, “ he replied simply, “They exist to make us feel. To connect us to what’s inside, sometimes to things we didn’t even know are there. It only makes sense that some of what we feel when we’re reading would…rub off.”

I also really loved her love of books and inscriptions. Do you ever go to used books stores and randomly pick up books to see if there is an inscription inside? Have you ever bought a used book because of the inscription? I have!

This book is mysterious and captivating and romantic. I really enjoyed reading it

4.5 stars

Thank you @netgalley and @amazonpublishing #lakeunionpublishing

Do you gift books with inscriptions?

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You know when you read the first sentence of a new book and its just perfect. And so is the next one, and the next. Then you've read a wonderful paragraph, and you know you've found a winner? This was that for me. A wonderfully written story in a story, a layering of love stories with multiple POVs. All of which are written which such distinguished voices, that it made me take pause. It was just done so so well. So was the romance, the falling in love, the rawness and honesty. It felt so authentic and relatable, mature and written well, not juvenile or overly done, that it made me reminisce about my own personal love story.

Sometimes with multi POVs you have a preference for one or the other but I truly loved both sides of Hemi and Belle's story, and Ashlyn's journey while discovering the books. I enjoyed the back and forth, getting to know each character. I found Helene's story particularly touching and memorable. As a mother I sometimes feel myself drawn to stories about how children remember their mothers. It makes me reflect on how I see mine, and how every decision I make, word that I say, can have a fundamental impact on my little one.

It goes without saying that I love books about books and I particularly enjoyed the bookish quotes by Ashley (and other authors) at the start of every chapter. Something I did not like - but is so common in romance - is the miscommunication trope. BUT I feel like it ended as it should. And the very slight hint of magic is very subtle, and woven in very quietly. A wonderful wonderful book - I whole heartedly recommend.

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Thank you NetGalley, Publishers, and Barbara Davis for gifting me a copy of The Echo of Old Books in return for my honest opinion.

3/5 stars

Rare-book dealer Ashlyn Greer’s affinity for books extends beyond the intoxicating scent of old paper, ink, and leather. She can feel the echoes of the books’ previous owners—an emotional fingerprint only she can read. When Ashlyn discovers a pair of beautifully bound volumes that appear to have never been published, her gift quickly becomes an obsession. Not only is each inscribed with a startling incrimination, but the authors, Hemi and Belle, tell conflicting sides of a tragic romance.

With no trace of how these mysterious books came into the world, Ashlyn is caught up in a decades-old literary mystery, beckoned by two hearts in ruins, whoever they were, wherever they were. Determined to learn the truth behind the doomed lovers’ tale, she reads on, following a trail of broken promises and seemingly unforgivable betrayals. The more Ashlyn learns about Hemi and Belle, the nearer she comes to bringing closure to their love story—and to the unfinished chapters of her own life.

This was a wonderful story that covered a topic that I hadn't read about before. It was fascinating reading about the fascist movement & Anti-Semitism in the United States. It was a topic that I had not come across yet in my reading. I also loved the aspect of the different books or journals/different voices. It added a new aspect to the dual timeline/dual voices novel.

There was so much to this book that there was almost too much at points. There was so much information packed in that I had to put the book down to process it. I don't really enjoy that in a book, but that is a me thing not a fault of the book. This is also a very long book, and with all the information packed in, it made it feel even longer.

If you like longer books, chocked full of information then this is the book for you!

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Ashlyn Greer has a special gift. She can read the echos left by readers from books they have read. She owns a warm and cozy bookstore called An Unlikely Story. She collects old books, used books those cast aside and reads the echoes. If the echoes are to strong with emotions she puts them up for display and not in the hands of readers. Ashlyn comes across 2 books, Regretting Belle & Forever & Other Lies, that have strong echoes of love lost, betrayal and sadness. Along the way she contacts the owner of the 2 used books, Ethan Hilliard, who will help her understand the echoes of the books and the lives of the authors. A great read of finding new love, family and rekindling lost love. Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for allowing me to read this.

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This book ended up being so delightful! Bookstore and bindery owner, Ashlyn, has a special gift where she can experience the feelings and emotions that readers have left on books. Some are stronger than others. Through a series of events, she comes across a set of books with no author or publisher information listed and finds herself tracking down the authors of this unfinished love story. Really interesting concept for a story and I very much enjoyed it!

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I'm not sure what I expected this book to be, but I know that I wanted to see more of Ashlyn's powers. I thought it would be more about the connection of a reader to the books they pick up, and less about one particular story. I did enjoy following Hemi and Belle's story and I enjoyed watching Ashlyn's relationship with Ethan develop, but I think Ashlyn's "powers" were a bit of a weak tie-in given that the story is largely just about the sets of characters and not so much about the connection to these strange books themselves. Both concepts work great seperately, and it ended up being a great read, but don't expect any fantasy/sci-fi elements going into this.

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This was a tedious book to read, though the plot was interesting. The threads rather flew around everywhere. The concept was amazing but the execution could have been better.

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A dual timeline book with historical elements and a touch of magic. Mysterious, fact filled and romantic. You'll love the characters! Part of the story is told by two mysterious books that unravel a mystery and a love story. A great book, well written and fun!

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I wanted to like this book, I really did. I could not get into the story though, and the characters felt flat to me. I tried but I just could not continue. This was a DNF for me.

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The Echo of Old Books was a dual timeline historical fiction that I loved. In the more update time you have Ashlyn who is a rare book seller who finds two beautifully bound volumes of unpublished stories and conflicting narratives, as such her curiosity becomes peaked. The second timeline is set in 1942 before the US joined WW2 and it is about Hemi and Belle, their romance and the tragic conclusion. Ashlyn then embarks on a journey that intertwines her own life with Hemi & Belle in the hopes of finding out what happened all those years ago.
I loved so much about this book, the characters, the storyline but I especially loved the beautiful conclusion to this story. I will definitely be picking up more from Barbara Davis.

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Barbara Davis immerses us in a rare book store owner's experience with the books in a carton of old books from which she discovers two books which give off vibes of the lives of those portrayed. Ashlyn is obsessed with finding the protagonists as she reads through their experiences. In the process she endeavor to right the wrongs of the past and unite the star crossed lovers. Excellent dip into remembrance of the past as it influences today. Read The Echo of Old Books.

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The publisher’s blurb made this book sound like it would be right up my alley, as the saying goes. Sadly, it wasn’t. I’m not even sure what the problem was, but I never felt much connection to any of the main characters.

We have a rare book store owner, Ashlyn, who not only sells rare books but restores them. Her story is set in 1984 in New Hampshire. Then we have the two who are the heart of the story, two people with nicknames, Belle and Hemi (short for Hemingway, because he’s a writer). Their story mainly takes place in New York City in 1941, right before America is attacked and joins the raging world war. And lastly, we have Ethan, whose connection at first is that he donated boxes of his father’s stuff and Ashlyn discovered two intriguing books among his donations. I liked Ethan best of all, for some reason, but there wasn’t much “there” there, for him in this book.

Belle and Hemi (we do later learn their actual names) each wrote a short book detailing their side of the story, an apparently ill-fated love affair. Hemi’s book is called “Regretting Belle” and Belle’s is called “Forever, And Other Lies.” We get to read these two books in pieces, as Ashlyn and Ethan read them, so there’s a double “book within a book.”

Belle was the “poor little rich girl”, being forced to toe the line for her family, engaged to someone she barely can stand. Hemi is a reporter who somehow gains entrance to a function where Belle is - and their story takes off from there. I found it interesting and disturbing to read about all the anti-Semitism among this group of people and their relationship with Charles Lindbergh and other America First plotters - but I wasn’t surprised.

I really enjoyed The Keeper of Happy Endings by this author, but this one, I only finished to find out how it ended, not because I was entranced by it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read an advance readers copy of this book, although I was rather late to it. All opinions are my own.

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