Halfway to Harmony : Reflection and Review

Halfway to Harmony places two children on an unexpected adventure! Can one boy learn to find peace after loss?

I’m happy to partner with Turn the Page Tours to feature Halfway to Harmony by Barbara O’ Connor! For more information, check out their launch post.

Halfway to Harmony: Book Information

Halfway to Harmony by Barbara O'Connor.

Halfway to Harmony by Barbara O’Connor
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Length: 240 pages
Release Date: January 12, 2021

Goodreads | Macmillan

Synopsis

A heartfelt middle-grade novel from New York Times bestselling author Barbara O’Connor about a boy whose life is upended after the loss of his older brother–timeless, classic, and whimsical.

Walter Tipple is looking foradventure. He keeps having a dream that his big brother, Tank, appears before him and says, “Let’s you and me go see my world, little man.” But Tank went to the army and never came home, and Walter doesn’t know how to see the world without him.

Then he meets Posey, the brash new girl from next door, and an eccentric man named Banjo, who’s off on a bodacious adventure of his own. What follows is a summer of taking chances, becoming braver, and making friends–and maybe Walter can learn who he wants to be without the brother he always wanted to be like.

Halfway to Harmony is an utterly charming story about change and growing up.

Halfway to Harmony: Author Information

Halfway to Harmony Author, Barbara O Connor

Barbara O’Connor’s awards include the Parents Choice Gold and Silver Award, American Library Association Notable Books, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society, School Library Journal Best Books, and Kirkus Best Books. Her books have been nominated for children’s choice awards in 38 states and voted as a state favorite by children in South Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, and South Dakota.

Barbara was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. She draws on her Southern roots to write award-winning books for children in grades 3 to 6.

She currently lives in Asheville, NC. Her latest book is Wish, a middle grade novel published by FSG.


Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Review and Reflection

I was very excited upon learning that Barbara O’ Connor is releasing a new book! My previous experience with her work is Wish, and I fell in love with it! I looked forward to reading Halfway to Harmony, since I appreciate stories centering on friendship and finding oneself.

Halfway to Harmony conveys grief and loss through the eyes of Walter Tipple. Walter is trying to move on from the loss of his brother Tank. Throughout the book, Walter experiences adventure through his experiences with Posey, a new neighbor full of spunk! In addition to helping a man seek out his hot air balloon, Walter learns the meaning of kindred spirits. Walter certainly endures quite a journey of self discovery!

Halfway to Harmony Favorites

I compiled a short list of things I appreciated about Halfway to Harmony:

  • Addressing loss with care. From the start, Walter shares with us that Tank ‘is never returning home’. Special memories are treated with care, and we’re taken through family changes in his eyes. I feel that this is a thoughtful way of addressing loss, especially to a younger audience.
  • Evolving friendships. Walter learns to trust in others through Posey. Her sassy personality guides Walter in learning to trust in himself. Through many experiences (both emotional and fun), Walter begins the long process of healing.
  • Building confidence. In addition to Walter’s grieving process, he also learns to believe in himself. For many children, this is such an arduous journey, yet Barbara O’Connor approaches Walter’s road with great care.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, Halfway to Harmony is a thoughtful and lovely middle grade story. It addresses Walter’s personal journey through loss with great care, and we embark on fun adventures along the way. I highly recommend this book!

Thank you to Turn the Page Tours and Macmillian Children’s Publishing Group for the gifted digital copy!

Giveaway!

Enter to win one (1) finished copy of Halfway to Harmony! The giveaway runs through Monday January 11-Monday January 18, 2021.
Rafflecopter Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d16/

Please click on the banner below to view the upcoming tour schedule!

Future Home of the Living God: Book Review

Future Home of the Living God : Book Information

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1539778626l/38633525.jpg

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Format: Digital (Library copy)
Release Date: November 13, 2018

Synopsis

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

Future Home of the Living God: My Review

While reading Future Home of the Living God, many emotions raced through my head. Shock. Wonder. Sorrow. Before I began reading, I went into this knowing it was compared to The Handmaid’s Tale. I can say that it’s equally shocking!

Cedar Songmaker begins her journey in this book reconnecting with her birth family. Along the way, the world is changing around her. Life is reverting backwards, as familiar food staples are vanishing. As fear runs rampant, it shifts to a persecution of women, especially those expecting. This fight for survival becomes crucial for Cedar, as she does whatever it takes to ensure the safety of both herself and her unborn child.

Characters & World Building

The characters in Future Home of the Living God are both well rounded and raw. This is an America living through crisis. Everyone is doing whatever it takes to survive. In the midst of a huge tragedy, Cedar also attempts to rebuild the bridge between herself and her birth mother. This causes an unlikely dynamic with her adoptive family!

Women in Survival Mode

There are sooo many layers to this book! Throughout the novel, Cedar speaks in the second person, relaying everything to her unborn child. She is afraid yet determined to fight in order to have a better future for her young one.

Future Home of the Living God kept me engaged from beginning to end! It was so moving to experience Cedar’s shifting emotions as she stockpiles for supplies. She feels both fear and guilt as other pregnant women face unknown destinies. Cedar is angry about her situation, and fearful about being seen. She feels constantly on edge 24/7!

Throughout her harrowing experiences, Cedar resorts to secret connections and tips for the sake of her child. It definitely gets interesting in Part 2 of the novel! Also, reading about Cedar’s bond with Sera her birth mom is very emotional! You’ll indeed feel shocked as their interactions unfold!

Recommendations

I recommend Future Home of the Living God to those who enjoy dystopian stories. If you love ‘end of the world’ tales, this is for you! If you love books with fearless women, pick this one up!

Final Thoughts on ‘Future Home…’

In conclusion, Future Home of the Living God is indeed an emotional yet powerful book. I highly recommend this riveting read!

Other Links

My review for White Ivy by Susie Yang

Blogging Resolutions | Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is a book meme hosted by Billy at Coffee Addicted Writer. Each week we answer a question about our reading habits. In addition to weekly prompts, we also connect with the book community! This week is all about blogging resolutions!

Book Blogger Hop written above a green line. 'Coffee Addicted Writer' embedded in the green line. four books are set to the right of the photo.

Do you have any New Year’s Blogging Resolutions? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

I have three blogging resolutions:

  • Post more reading blogs. While I love keeping track of my reading, I need lots of motivation posting them!
  • Share more wrap-ups. These past few months left my reading updates limited. I hope to share about my current reads again!
  • Book club sharings. Last year I joined two book clubs! This pandemic brought on a need to connect with bookish communities. Each group has different genre preferences, but I’m an eccentric reader. I enjoy meeting different people!

Finally, do you have any blogging resolutions for 2021? Share in the comments below!

Other Book Blogger Hop links:

Book Blogger Hop: Summer 2020

My Blogger Recommendations

A Special Note

Before I tend to my reading goals, I want to wish those living in the US peace and serenity. Currently, we’re living through a tumultuous time in history. I’m counting down the days until our dangerous leader departs! Until then, I hope we can all make time for self-care and strength.

New Releases: January 5, 2020

New book releases make me happy!

The following are some of the exciting books available. They’re certainly ones to check out:

New Releases. Root Magic by Eden Royce. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1593216726l/53175322.jpg
New Releases. Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1588883792l/53091994.jpg
New Releases: White Feminism by Koa Beck. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1607876250l/54238294.jpg
New Releases. Lore by Alexandra Braken. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1594222283l/53375824.jpg
Active Defense by Lynette Eason. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1593125995l/53911515.jpg
New Releases. Crown of Bones by A.K. Wilder. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1569499701l/43263361.jpg

Contact Cathleen!

Coffee & Currently Reading | January 4

Coffee & Currently Reading is a meme that shares both reading and reflection. I was inspired by my search through bookstagram. In addition to blogging, I adore browsing through bookstagram! I enjoy viewing snapshots of current and past reads from the community!

How has everyone’s Monday been? It’s weird getting back into the work routine after the holiday break! My husband and I spent the week at home…we wanted to be as safe as possible. I have one more day at home before returning to the classroom tomorrow. We have a half day all week, so I’m hoping for minimal stress!

Coffee & Currently Reading

Coffee & Currently Reading. Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich.

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich. I’m reading this book through the B2Weird book club. Every month they feature exciting SFF reads. Along with this story, members are reading The Fires of Vengence by Even Winter. While I chose not to read FOV, I loved The Rage of Dragons, Book 1 in the series. I never get tired of the selections given!

Synopsis

Louise Erdrich paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event in this dystopian novel. Twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

What books are you currently reading this week? Share in the comments down below!

Contact Cathleen!

My Bookstagram Account

January 2021 TBR | Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

I certainly hope that this year is much better than the mess we experienced in 2020. I’m highly motivated to stay productive in reading and blogging. I hope to maintain my progress!

January 2021 TBR

The following stories are on my reading list this month. I’m starting the New Year with a good blend of stories!

January 2021 TBR. Remote Control. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1587580886l/34215764._SY475_.jpg
January 2021 TBR. Future Home of the Living God. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1499188017l/34217599._SY475_.jpg
January 2021 TBR. A Woman Is No Man. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1533072101l/34313931.jpg
No Exit by Taylor Adams. LInk: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1498539883l/35522836._SY475_.jpg
January 2021 TBR. Love and Other Moods by Crystal Z Lee

What books are on your January 2021 TBR? Have you begun your reading challenges? Share down below!

I hope everyone’s New Year break was smooth and restful!

Winter

Contact Cathleen!

‘Second Chance Christmas’ by Rula Sinara: a Review

Second Chance Christmas brings two people together after family ties keep them apart. Will fate (and a special loved one) rekindle the fire?

‘Second Chance Christmas’: Book Information

Second Chance Christmas by Rula Sinara.

Second Chance Christmas by Rula Sinara
Length: 384 pages
Source: eBook
Book 3 in the Turtleback Beach series
Publisher: Harlequin Heartwarming
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 12, 2021

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Target | Kobo | BookBub

Synopsis

A beachside Christmas

Brings unexpected gifts!


A second chance. That’s what former navy SEAL Damon Woods asks for when Zuri Habib comes to Turtleback Beach with a nephew who looks just like him. After her sister’s death, Zuri believes Caden deserves to know his father—even if he did break her teenage heart. Can Damon and Zuri forgive each other and give a grieving boy the family he needs this Christmas?

Second Chance Christmas: Author Information

Second Chance Christmas Author Rula Sinara. Link: https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1382533491p8/7350913.jpg

After a childhood enriched with exotic travels and adventures (both in books and real life), USA Today and Nationally Bestselling author Rula Sinara is now settled in rural Virginia with her husband, three boys and crazy but endearing pets. When she’s not writing, she’s busy attracting wildlife to her yard, watching romantic movies (despite male protests) or researching trees on her garden wish list.

She’s a 2014 National Readers Choice Award winner and double finalist, a 2015 HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner, a 2015 Golden Quill runner up and a 2015 Book Buyer’s Best finalist.



Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

My Review

**Thank you to Prism Book Tours and Harlequin Heartwarming for the gifted digital copy of Second Chance Christmas!**

Second Chance Christmas features two people reconnecting after years of miscommunication. Zuri and Damon were high school acquaintances, yet lost touch due to flawed group dynamics. Although Damon chose Zuri’s sister, tragic circumstances steered him away from their lives.

Years later, Zuri heads to Turtleback Beach to reconnect with Damon. They face memories and regrets of the past, while coming to terms with steep losses. Along with these characters reconnecting, there are also figures from the past two books with minor roles. I haven’t read the previous two books; however, this did not deter me from the story. I loved reading about Zuri and Damon’s path as they reconnect with one another.

Engagement and Character Development

Second Chance Christmas kept me engaged from beginning to end! I loved reading about the Turtleback Beach community, as well as Zuri and Damon’s lives. While their sparks arrived a little too quickly, this was still an enjoyable book to read during the winter season. Perhaps their quick sparks were for Caden’s sake, yet I still loved their romance, and the flashbacks that ensued!

Second Chance Christmas: Conclusion

In conclusion, Second Chance Christmas is a lovely story for people who love sparks over the Christmas season! It has the journey of two people looking back on life, and how their families shape their paths today.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Blogmas Signoff

Contact Cathleen!

The Perfection in Love by Ronke Abidoye

The Perfection In Love follows a couple faced with challenges. Their love is indeed put to the test! Thank you to Prism Book Tours for providing me a digital copy!

The Perfection In Love. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1604531310l/55826362.jpg

The Perfection in Love by Ronke Abidoye
Publisher: Queen of the King Enterprises
Format: eBook
Genre: Romance
Release Date: October 30, 2020

The Perfection in Love: Synopsis

Young, attractive, successful, and tenderly in love, Henry and Oyin Wilson appear to be the perfect couple. When Oyin’s parents and Henry’s childhood friend, Olive, come to visit, everything begins to fall apart.

All they do is argue…when they speak at all.

Henry knows Oyin’s mother doesn’t approve of him. Oyin is sure that Olive is in love with Henry. The longer the visitors stay, the more they are all together, the more it all unravels.

Brimming with delightful dialogue and familiar whisperings of the still, small voice, The Perfection in Love is a touching story of true, eternal principles that govern our world-and our hearts-in these modern times.

My Review

**I received The Perfection In Love through Prism Book Tours. Thank you for the gifted copy!**

The Perfection of Love was refreshing to read! It tells the story of Henry and Oyin navigating relationship’s milestones. This couple handles the sudden roadblocks that emerge when loved ones pay a visit.

Despite the undercurrent of tension that exists between Henry and Oyin, this novel explores their journey toward understanding each other. Long term relationships are a deep commitment, as two people love one another through joys and sorrows. Through the book, we’re reminded of Henry and Oyin’s loving commitment toward one another.

In conclusion, if you would like a Contemporary Romance with lessons in love and devotion, The Perfection In Love fits perfectly!

Do you think you’ll place this exciting tale in your TBR pile? Feel free to share down below!

Blogmas Signoff

Contact Cathleen!

Have You Seen Luis Velez by Catherine Ryan Hyde | Book Review

Have You Seen Luis Velez? focuses on this question: Are we truly alone in the world? More importantly, if someone is in need, what should we do?

Have You Seen Luis Velez? | Book Information

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1551895118l/42632584._SY475_.jpg

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Length: 320 pages
Source: Hardcover
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: May 21, 2019

Synopsis

Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong. Not with his mother’s new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife. Nor at school, where he’s an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who’s introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez?

Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.

Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear. Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there’s hope if you have someone to hold on to.

My Review

Raymond is trying to figure out his place in the world. His best friend moving across the country further cements his thoughts that he’s truly alone. This changes after Mildred Gutermann enters his life, by way of chance.

Instead of dismissing Mildred’s requests in seeking Luis Velez, her former caretaker, Raymond comes to her aid. Throughout the book, his search dives into humanity’s lens. Each Luis Velez he meets is different from the other. Additionally, Raymond learns that everyone have their own life stories to tell.

Characters and Atmosphere

Have You Seen Luis Velez? is set in New York City. This is an area that is rich in diversity and personality. As we learn about Luis Velez’s life, we’re taken into an exploration into race and class. It’s a deep exploration into racial divides which could define the fate of every one of us. Although Raymond is barely an adult, he quickly learns about the unjust differences life brings to humanity.

Furthermore, Raymond is also navigating the differences within his two home environments. He has two homes with two step-parents, neither making him feel welcome. It takes Mildred’s helpful guidance to realize that patience is needed to ‘make peace with your family of origin’.

Mildred provides Raymond with valuable life lessons. What begins as regular check-ins on her well-being gradually shifts into a valuable friendship. Both Raymond and Mildred use their life experiences to guide towards a deeper understanding of one another. In spite of their age differences, they form a close bond.

'We are never so unique than we think we are.'

Writing Style & Plot

I found Catherine Ryan Hyde’s writing style easy to take in. During some points I felt that the meetups dragged on; however, this didn’t pull me away. Every emotion experienced jumps out through every page. There were many diverse characters, yet I could feel exactly what each person was living through. Each joy and sorrow was never overlooked. Also, it was memorable to walk with Raymond as he discovered each new person and family in his quest!

Intrigue and Engagement

I enjoyed Have You Seen Luis Velez? from start to finish. The characters were enjoyable, and I was constantly curious in what would happen next. Everything about Raymond and Mildred’s life journeys were memorable to read!

Have You Seen Luis Velez: Recommendations

I recommend Have You Seen Luis Velez? to those interested in both Contemporary and coming of age stories. Historical Fiction readers will also enjoy this story!

In conclusion, this book is a worthwhile read for people of all ages. Have You Seen Luis Velez? touches on humanity’s close bond with one another. Indeed, we’re never truly alone!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous Review: Please Pick Me by Reina Regina

Please Pick Me by Reina Regina: Quotes & Moodboard

Please Pick Me by Reina Regina is a powerful and emotional poetry collection. Indeed, all the things that encapsulate love (anxiety, hope, devotion) is wrapped up in this book!

Today is my tour stop on the Please Pick Me Blog tour! Thank you Shaelea and Caffiene Book Tours for allowing me to take part. For more information, click on their Launch Post!

‘Please Pick Me: Book Information

Please Pick Me by Reina Regina.

Please Pick Me by Reina Regina
Publisher: Moonchild Press Publishing
Genre: Poetry, Contemporary
Release Date: 11 November 2020

Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis

In a garden of a thousand other volumes, my little yellow book with its earnest plea and hopeful flowers on the cover sits waiting for you to pick it up. It’s got a heart it wants to give away.

These haikus, poems, and prose pieces are about:

the miracle of being wanted back by someone we want,
the desperation of hoping they’ll fight harder when they waver;
additionally, the rawness of seeking reassurance that we are loved as we are,
finally, the tenderness we feel when we’re sending love out to others.

Indeed, those moments when we are making our need to be accepted plain and praying. Please pick me.

This book was born after twenty-six years of learning that it’s okay to want to be wanted, that vulnerability is merely throwing open the gateway to honest connections, and that fighting to be loved the way you deserve is bravery and not weakness.

I hope you open it. I hope it invites you to be open too.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • Mentions of anxiety, depression, abuse, trauma, and a suicide note.

Please Pick Me: Author Information

Please Pick Me author, Reina Regina.

Reina Regina is a writer, professional tarot reader, Instagram creator, and former nurse. Additionally, she is published online as Reina Bambao on 8List, The Manila Times, Play Without Apology, and the Fully Booked First Look Club.

Reina resides in Manila, Philippines. She is the lady of the house for a doctor and two dogs. Please Pick Me is, to her great and pleasant surprise, her first book.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads

Favorite Quotes

Here are my favorite quotes for Please Pick Me. This is truly a powerful poetry collection!

Your hands, I thought were
Big enough to hold my heart—
And crush it too.

I will give them hell
as I cherish him
so joyfully and sinfully
and thoroughly…

Choosing the boy who draws is choosing happiness.

I watch you wake up
Wrapped in my flowery sheets;
I forget to breathe.

This is the part where I say I believe in fate.

These November stars
Forged in passion, birthed in storms,
Outshine all the world.

Mood Board

While reading Please Pick Me, I imagined someone seeking the perfect companion. Along with dreams of love, the fear of rejection also exists. These images closely resemble my feelings about this poetry collection:

Finally, check out Caffiene Book Tours Launch Post to see this week’s fabulous contributors!

Contact Cathleen!