Hardened Hearts

“Hardened Hearts” is a collection of short stories about love. However, it’s not a normal take on love and the effect it has on the characters in a story. These stories, each with a different author, take on a darker aspect when it comes to love.

This different aspect of love is what makes this book, and the stories it contains unique. The way the authors portrayed love made the story jump to life off the pages. The stories also contained magical elements with a little bit of reality mixed in. The style has a way to awaken the imagination of the reader.

What made the book unique, also made the book a little bit harder for me to get through. The powerful stories are out of my normal reading range, and the darkness was a bit more difficult for me to get through. I found it better to sit, enjoy a story at a time, rather than trying to read as much as possible in a sitting. It was definitely a step, though nearly a jump, outside of my reading comfort zone.

“Hardened Hearts” is a bit difficult for me to review, but I am thankful I took the time to read something so different. This book seems like it is meant for somebody who may like darker tales than myself.

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The Thirteenth Tale

“The Thirteenth Tale” was my blind date, for a blind date with a book from theĀ 2018 Reading Challenge. I’m honestly not sure I could’ve found a better book for myself, not only as a reader, but in general for Valentine’s Day and the season of love.

What sets “The Thirteenth Tale” apart is the uniqueness of its story. This is a book that highlights the love of reading, the desire to tell a story and an aspect of the life of a reader. Basically, it’s a book about reading. Who knew something like this was out there?

The writing was stunning; bringing a relatable story completely to life in the reader’s mind. The words have a way of flowing, bringing a sort of smoothness to the reading; adding to the already beautiful story. It was an appealing, and attractive writing style. Which, who doesn’t want that in a blind date?

“The Thirteenth Tale” is a unique book that deserves to have the story speak for itself. With captivating writing it is sure to attract readers and non-readers alike. This is a book that is hard to describe without talking about how it makes a person feel when reading it.

Startup

“Startup” is the perfect book if a reader is looking for a laugh out loud worthy, entertaining, pick-me-up sort of read. With a present day setting, all social media involvement included, it’s hard to resist putting down such a delightful read.

Doree Shafrir’s talent is on display with a style of writing that is sure to win all readers over. She brings characters to life, not forgetting a single ridiculous moment in their lives. She includes a little bit of everything in the book from humor to blackmail to marriage problems to the power of Twitter to how times have changed with technology. Doree Shafrir’s writing is nothing short of spectacular.

The story takes place in a New York turned Silicon Valley type with all the startup companies catering to developing another apps that people might use, or to help improve their life. Accompanying this are the journalists who are out there to write about all the happenings. Things are looking pretty standard for journalists until one of them happens to find what they think will be a big story. As this journalist gets deeper into the story, blackmail comes to play, hook ups are discovered in the office environment, and of course one person tries not to crack under pressure.

The writing brings the story and characters to life, leaving the reader no choice but to literally laugh out loud at some of the events in the book. Some of the events may even leave the reader in disbelief at what the characters are doing. This is quality entertainment at its finest.

Anybody who picks up “Startup” won’t be disappointed, and it is certain to brighten up their mood.

1984

“1984” is a thought-provoking book that will have the reader fully immersed in the story. This is where they will stay, in awe and wonder, until that final page is turned. The ending is no exception to the power that this book holds.

George Orwell reflects the potential of power and control of a governing agency well through his writing. He created a world that is unlike any other, and, contains relevance to life today. The lesson that can be applied is different for every reader.

The world contained in “1984” appears to be simplistic on the outside. However, as the reader gets further into the story they will discover the truth. There is more to the story than what is lying on the surface. This seems especially true as different parts of the governing agency are revealed to the reader. Each may appear to have one purpose, but there a lot of double meanings contained within the writing.

“1984” is a book about power. The power is contained within the story for the reader to discover in this new world. Power is also on display as it becomes apparent that this is a book that will stay with the reader. I personally think this is what makes some of the best books truly amazing, and this is no exception. While the ending contains the potential for mixed emotions, “1984” is without exception a powerful book I think more people should read.

The Circle

“The Circle” is an incredible book, that will hit the reader right to the core. It is amazing, powerful, and incredibly relevant to life in today’s world. It is a story that revolves around technology, and how it impacts life, and our interactions with people.

This is a book with a story that is all about technology, big companies and their impact on society. It’s an idea that is powerful, scary, and thought intriguing. In this case, it involves a company called the Circle. While the idea behind the company started out logical, semi-simple and helpful, as it grew it became something else altogether.

The main character Mae, is quite the individual. After getting hired by the Circle she feels incredibly lucky for the opportunity to work for the company, even in a beginner level position. After all, employees move up quickly in the system so she probably won’t be there long. Working at The Circle was a bit of an adjustment for Mae, the expectations were a little different than her previous job. After the adjustment period, and lessons learned, she came to realize what life at The Circle meant and started to excel. She found her place and everything felt right.

As the reader gets to know Mae during the story, and watch her grow as an employee they may notice conflicts she has with herself. At first the conflict is obvious, she is used to her previous way of life and is confused and taken aback by what her new company expects of her. She thinks her behavior is acceptable, The Circle doesn’t. They bring it up with her and the reader can feel the confusion she has about why this is a problem and how she can fix it. As her character grows the reader can see a change in her viewpoint. She thinks this is all ok and how it should be and is unable to understand why others in her life don’t seem to share her viewpoint.

The ideas The Circle had as the company grew could be considered rather disturbing, depending on the reader’s views. The main goal, they want to know everything, literally everything, taking mystery and guessing away from life. But, that’s not enough, they want the ability to track everything as well, bringing the concept full circle. In this world, secrets and a private life are something of the past. What the Circle sets out to do will leave the reader in disbelief, and possibly even appalled at the company’s behavior.

If you take the time to read this book, I ask if you could think about what it would be like to live in this sort of world. Can you imagine the impact that it would have on your life? Would your life be completely changed? How would you feel about a company that did the sort of things the Circle did? These are just some of the things that came to my mind as I read the book. It’s the type of book that gets a reader to think, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

2018 Reading Challenge

With a new year upon us, I thought I would take the opportunity to try out something different for my reading, and the Splash of Books blog. In 2018 I would like to complete a reading challenge that I made for myself, and I invite you to join me. I chose a reading challenge to help expand my reading, while still also allowing me to pick and choose my book based on my mood.

During the latter part of 2017 I tried to base my books on a theme each month. It mostly worked out, and I followed through for a few months. Then, I realized that I had no clue what to pick when a new month arrived, or I couldn’t figure out what genre or theme I would be willing to read for a whole month. This helped me realize I am more of a mood reader, along with a few mini Instagram conversations.

A few years past I tried to complete a reading challenge, and failed. Although, in my defense life got in the way that year and I had some major life decisions that limited the books, or library books available to me at a given time. This hindered my ability to complete the challenge, but I would like to give it another shot. This time I am looking to succeed and hopefully branch out some of my reading, while also knocking some books off of my growing TBR pile.

Enough about that, let’s get to the good part of the actual list itself. Here goes:

  1. A book that should’ve been read in high school
  2. A classic book
  3. A book published this year
  4. A book that has been sitting on the TBR pile the longest
  5. A book recommended by a friend
  6. A new author you’ve been meaning to check out
  7. A blind date for Valentine’s day
  8. A book by a Michigan author (or state you live in)
  9. A book most commonly mentioned on social media
  10. A book for personal development or growth
  11. A book for guilty pleasure
  12. An award winning/highly rated book
  13. A book that intimidates you
  14. A book that is out of this world
  15. A book with a cover in your favorite color
  16. A book you judge by the cover
  17. A book written by a famous actor/actress
  18. A scary book or mystery for Halloween
  19. An Orpah’s Book Club list pick

While the categories in this challenge are broad, I designed it this way for a reason. If I added to many limitations restricting what books fall into the category, I don’t think I would be as likely to complete it. Also, I don’t want to hinder any other readers from joining me either.

I would love for you to join me in this adventure. Or, if you would rather just follow along on the blog and Instagram as I embark on this adventure with the new year.

Last Christmas in Paris

“Last Christmas in Paris” was a delightfully simple yet heart-warming read. This was just the sort of book to read this time of year to get me in the spirit of love, hope and a little holiday cheer. There are only a few characters in the story, and that’s all it needs to keep the story alive and prospering for the reader.

One of the best aspects of the book, is how it reflects the time period the story takes place in. It’s amazing and beautiful how the author reflected so much through the letters. There is so much emotion felt within the writing, containing the power to draw the reader in further. Hazel Gaynor has the power to make the reader wonder why we don’t do things like that as much anymore.

“Last Christmas in Paris” is all about beauty within the story. The setting of the book is beautiful. There is love mixed with tragedy, reminiscing on the favorite moments of life, and snow in Paris. It’s too perfect to not read during the holidays. I only hope that you enjoy the book as much as I did.

Middlesex

“Middlesex” is a beautifully written story following the life and history of Calliope Stephanides, showcasing what makes this character different. It’s no wonder this book is on Oprah’s Book Club list. It’s strikingly different, smoothly written and catches the reader with its captivating story line. This is a book with the power to make the reader think twice on judging a person by their appearances.

This is the type of story that attracts the reader, and has the power to change the way they think. To the reader it may feel like this is a story about a person looking at their past and family history for explanation; while also looking for signs of how they become their current self. It’s almost a journey of self-discovery, harsh truths included. The reader may even be left to wonder how they might feel if they read an actual classic (if they haven’t already).

The conflict in “Middlesex” is mostly centralized around the main character. There is the conflict they have with themselves and with their parents. It appears that Calliope doesn’t blame her parents for their actions, or the confusion as she grew up. However, this all seemed to play a major role in the story and character development, especially the conflict the Calliope has with herself. It makes one think, are moments from the past little pieces that show the truth of who we really are?

When the back cover of this book is closed it’s hard to describe the feeling it will give the reader. “Middlesex” has the potential to make the reader feel smarter, more sophisticated or more cultured. There is something mysterious and beautiful awaiting the reader in the pages.

If I had a list of books under the title of must read or instant recommendation this would be included. Even though it’s hard to put into words how this book made me feel, this is one I think more people should read. It’s a book that as much as it’s about the story, it’s also about how it makes the reader feel.

Behold the Dreamers

“Behold the Dreamers” is an inspirational, heart-warming read. It’s a story that follows the lives of two immigrants and their son during their time in America. They came to America seeking a better life for themselves and finding their true home in the process. No matter the struggle, they kept their relationship together and would compromise to help out each other.

This book is beautifully written. And it’s no wonder why it’s on Oprah’s book club picks list. It highlights life in America, and how it’s different for everybody who lives here. In this case it’s a pair of immigrants who work hard for what they have, not taking anything for granted.

One thing this book might highlight for the reader is the power of money. Just because somebody has money, and fancy things, doesn’t mean they’re happy. (But I think we can agree money can buy books, and book are happiness.) Some of the characters featured in the story were well off, but once the shell was shattered, the reader was able to see what was hiding. Behind the shell is a family that doesn’t always get along, and an unhappy marriage in disarray. While they put on a show to everybody else, the truth was something different altogether.

This book may serve as a reminder to the reader to not take things for granted and that hard work and dedication pays off. It may also show the reader the power of home and what it means to each person. All they need to do is read, and enjoy the story that awaits them behind a beautiful cover.

The Child

“The Child” is a well-written mystery crime novel that follows three women who are all associated with a mysterious skeleton that shows up at a building site when its uncovered. The one women is a journalist who catches a mention of it in the paper and takes it upon herself to make sure the story is heard, and of course to help find answers. Another, is a women who still suffers from the mysterious disappearance of her baby over 20 years later. Finally, there is a women who is a writer. How she fits into the story is a mystery to the reader until the crime is solved.

In true mystery fashion, Fiona Barton does an excellent job keeping the reader guessing at who the true suspect is. The clues are slowly revealed as the reader is able to get to know the characters. Even as clues are revealed, the reader may get the feeling that there are puzzle pieces missing. This helps make the story gripping, leading the reader eager to keep turning the page.

Through the talent of Fiona Barton the reader can get a sense of the tenacity behind the journalist, her desire to have the answers, and help out those who have been suffering for a number of years. This takes the journalist to unexpected places and down a trip that goes back a number of years, with unexpected findings.

Anybody who reads this book won’t be left disappointed with the story. This is the sort of book with a little spooky in the mystery that makes it perfect for Halloween, or just whenever the mood may strike the reader. The writing, it’s style, everything about the book is great.