City of Glass

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments Book Three) by Cassandra Clare

(Summary taken from inside the book jacket) “To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters–never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.  As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her new found powers to help save the Glass City–whatever the cost?”

I was so excited to read this book–and it definitely met my high expectations. It was a little predictable, but I didn’t care. This book actually took longer for me to get into than the first two did, but once they got to Idris I was, once again, hooked. I did get a small whiff of “Twilight” in this book, which was a little disappointing. Clary started to sound like Bella for a minute, whining and confused between best friend and who she really wanted to be with, which is gross since it’s her brother. In the end, though, she found her strength and independence and got over it. It’s a fast easy read, which is always fun. I think Ms. Clare’s writing style is captivating and it always puts me right in the action. There is suspense, action, romance, betrayal, fighting, long lost friends, new found alliances, and lots more. If you have read the first two you will definitely want to read this one! I really enjoyed it. Bring on Book Four!!

Rating: PG-13 (language, violence, homosexual relationships, kissing, innuendos with almost “physical intimacy” scenes)

Recommendation: High school seniors and up.

City of Ashes

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments Book Two) by Cassandra Clare

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal.  But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go–especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil–and also her father. To complicate matters, someone in New York city is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings–and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?”

I was really excited to read this book and it did not disappoint. It kept up the high-paced action and drama of the first book and added a few twists and turns. There were some things that really surprised me and some things I wondered about. A few questions were answered, but more are asked. There is no closure and you’re left hanging once again. I really like Ms. Clare’s style of writing except that sometimes she’ll end a paragraph and then start the next paragraph at a completely different place. I had to go back a couple of times to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, but that is just how she writes. So there are some transition issues but overall it’s a fast and easy read. It is, once again, quite violent. There are some graphic scenes and quite a few deaths. There is love, betrayal, fighting, friendship, and magic. The characters are well developed and I like her descriptions a lot. I really feel like I’m in the middle of the action. There are some “physical intimacy” innuendos, with some kissing, but they never actually do anything more than kiss. I’m hooked for sure, so look forward to my review of the next book soon (hopefully).

Rating: PG-13 Violence, gory deaths, fighting, “physical intimacy” innuendos, kissing. There are also the homosexual characters (Once again, I know and love people who are homosexual–it just kind of feels forced, like a statement rather than a storyline, in this particular book.) and some innuendos from them. There is also language in this book as well.

Recommendation: I’m sticking with high school seniors and up.

I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next one!

City of Bones

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments Book One) by Cassandra Clare

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons–and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….”

I didn’t know what to expect with this book. I do not usually read the summary beforehand so I did not expect it to be about werewolves, demons, Shadowhunters, etc. I don’t know why. Anyway, the book immediately captured my attention. I have read a lot of good books lately, but none of them have really grabbed me. I’ll read at night and that is usually it. This book, however, grabbed me enough in the first page to keep me reading. I read all the next day and then every second I could after that. (My house and children suffered, but….oh well. It was only one day, right??) I really liked the characters in this book. They were all believable. Ms. Clare did a very good job with the character development. I really liked Clary. I liked her a lot more than I liked Bella in “Twilight.” She is a strong, independent character and doesn’t just whine or need a man all the time. I liked Jace as well. I felt a connection to Simon because he seems kind of nerdy, and that is what I was in school. I was not into Dungeons and Dragons, but I was nerdy.

I liked the plot and thought it was well done. There is a twist at the end, and I did somewhat anticipate it, but there was still some doubt in mind. I liked Ms. Clare’s style of writing. It was fast-paced from the beginning and really kept me reading. There were some “lazy” writer moments, like when she just stops a paragraph mid-thought and then puts two or three spaces in between the next paragraph, which may or may not continue where the last paragraph ended. This didn’t really bother me in reading it. There was also an unresolved question I had with a fight scene. The main characters are fighting a demon and are in trouble. They can’t get out because the door is locked, but then someone comes and busts open the door from the outside. Huh??? How did that happen? Anyway, it still didn’t slow down my reading.

I did not like the language in the book. For a young adult book it had a lot of language in it. A lot more than I expected. There is also a homosexual character in the book. I thought it seemed out of place and awkward. Don’t take me wrong, I have people I know and love that are homosexual, but in this particular book I thought it seemed forced. It seemed more like a statement than a part of the storyline.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read number two!

Rating: PG-13 (almost an R) There is a lot of language in this book. There is also the homosexual character, violence (killing demons), and death.

Recommendation: High School Seniors and up. I know, it’s kind of harsh, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for children any younger. I wouldn’t want my 13 or 14 year-old (if I had one) reading it.

Unbelievable Adventures of a WWII German War Bride

Unbelievable Adventures of a WWII German War Bride: Collection of Acts of Kindness in War and Peace by Ingeborg M. Johnston

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “‘Unbelievable Adventures of a WWII German War Bride’ by Ingeborg M. Johnston is a gripping, heroic, and at times humorous memoir of one girl’s survival in war-torn Berlin and the extraordinary life she created for herself and her family in post-war America. From nursing wounded German officers to making fools of Russian soldiers, to talking her way through situations that would have resulted in prison for many, Johnston’s courage and chutzpah will leave you wide-eyed with amazement. How could one young woman break all the rules, take on Germany’s top industrial leaders…and win? How does one young woman marry an American and make a life in a country that was recently the enemy…and immediately become an important part of her new community? This is the story of hope and dreams, of courage and risk-taking, of falling in love and following her heart, a bigger-than-life story that cannot be missed.”

Ms. Johnston is an amazing woman! She has lived a life full of adventures and a wide variety of experiences. She is an inspiration to all. She is a good story teller and vividly brings her life to life on each page. I especially enjoyed her descriptions of what it was like growing up in Berlin and then what it was like during the war. Her tale of leaving Germany is nothing short of miraculous and I was amazed at her courage and bravery. After arriving in America her “adventures” continue. She may not have considered all of them adventures as she was living them, but she has lived her life to the fullest and has tried to find the good in everything she has experienced. I enjoyed this book, though, at times, I felt like an intruder into some intimate family details. For example, learning about her daughters and one of her daughter’s divorce made me feel a little uncomfortable because it is so personal, but she must have given her permission. She also tells where her daughters live now, and that too, made me feel uncomfortable. Overall, though, I learned a lot about how to live and enjoy life, and how to make the most of bad situations. I love that she took combat training on a T-34 at age 79! What a great example she is! And I love her theme of always finding ways to perform acts of kindness.

Rating: PG-13 (Some WWII war descriptions)

Recommendation: High school and up. I think the parts of her during the war would be great to read to a high school classroom learning about WWII. I recommend this book to all who need an inspirational story and who would like to learn how to live life to the fullest.

The Compliment Quotient

The Compliment Quotient by Monica Strobel

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Learn how developing the one, simple practice of giving compliments boosts your joy, and sustains and enlivens all of your relationships–especially with yourself. You can achieve: a greater sense of well-being and joy in your daily life , deeper connections with your loved ones, more positive impact in the world, and rekindled romance.”

I really liked this book. Ms. Strobel’s style is simple and easy to read, yet it is packed with information. I really like the idea that just adding more compliments in your day can change the atmosphere of your home (or wherever you are). It seems so simple, but according to her you can achieve a lot with just that one thing. Ms. Strobel gives many examples in the book, which I liked, and thought it made the book more personal. I liked the breakdown of the book, and that she not only said to do it, but showed you how to do it. It is broken down into relationships as well, which is great because I don’t compliment my husband the way I do my son or my father. Ms. Strobel just makes it seem so easy! My one complaint (if you can call it that) is that it is written more towards women. I like that it is geared more toward me, but at the same time I think it would be great for men to read as well.

I have been trying to add more compliments into my day and it is harder than it seems. When you walk into the kids rooms and they are messy, then you walk down the stairs and trip on toys, and then you go to the door and find shoes everywhere, it is hard to find compliments, but when I have held back my complaints and complimented instead it has changed my attitude. I have a long way to go, but I really like the idea.

Rating: PG-13 (No language, she does talk about husband and wife relationships, including “physical intimacy.” It is clean, just helping to enhance that relationship.

Recommendation: Married and up (just because it does talk about that relationship between husband and wife). I think it would be great to discuss with children and teach them about compliments and how to give them, but I wouldn’t have them read the book until they are older.

The Inch Principle

The Inch Principle by John T. Condry and Paul E. Carpenter

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Each year, John Condry and Paul Carpenter teach thousands of people to manage, motivate, and communicate more effectively. The Inch Principle compresses their training into 21 Million Dollar Inches of Management. Together these 21 inches will increase your ability to confront any management challenge with confidence. If you want to achieve anything big, challenging, magnificent, or unprecedented apply these 21 Million Dollar Inches of Management.”

I am a stay at home mom. I do have my degree in elementary education, and I did teach, but I haven’t taught since my first son was born. I am NOT in the business world at all. I help with PTA and in my kids’ classes, and I help with tutoring at the school, but I’m not in charge of anything and all I have to manage is my family. This book was advertised as being helpful to anyone in any situation, not just business (see above: “If you want to achieve anything big, challenging, magnificent, or unprecedented apply these 21 Million Dollar Inches of Management.”) It was an easy read, I understood everything and how it would help in business mangement, but I did have trouble relating it to me. My husband is a manager at his work and I recommended it to him because he deals with these issues every day. He always talks about being in meetings all day, and there is a principle for that, etc. I think for people in business it is a great book and will help a lot. There are a few of the principles that I could maybe see using as a PTA president or even maybe a teacher with a class, but all the examples in the book relate to business. I think if the authors had wanted it to relate to a larger audience they would have added examples to fit other situations, and they did not.

So, this is a business book. There is a lot of information in it, and I think it will help those in managing positions, and also those who want to move up the corporate ladder. If you are in the business world I would recommend reading it. It doesn’t take very long and I think it could have some long term and short term benefits.

Rating: G (It’s clean!)

Recommendation: High School and up. It would be really good for a high school business class, and for anyone who owns a business or works at one.

Miracle Pill

Miracle Pill by Tres Prier Hatch

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Television and restaurant chef Tres Hatch lost 110 pounds without dieting. This bonafide “foodie” shares the ’10 Truths’ she learned during the process of changing herself from a person who battled her weight to someone in harmony with her body–without sacrificing her love for yummy food.”

Since I just reviewed “Turbocharged” I was interested to see the difference in the two books. And, wow, what a difference! They are completely different! “Turbocharged” asks you to give up grains, dairy, and sweets for the rest of your life. I knew I couldn’t do that. “Miracle Pill” teaches moderation and compensation. Ms. Hatch has a fun style of writing. It is very easy to read and understand, and it is filled with personal anecdotes. I really like the concept of this book. Ms. Hatch teaches a lifestyle and thought change. If you want to eat Thanksgiving dinner, she says, then go ahead. Then the next day cut out sweets and carbs and eat mostly fruit and veggies. If you want a bagel for breakfast, go ahead, but then maybe don’t have a roll at dinner. She teaches you to look at the food you eat and recognize what you still need to eat (more whole grains, more fruit, more veggies) or what you have had enough of (I don’t need to eat another grain because I had toast at breakfast, etc.). I like it because it is more me. I can do this. I can add more fruits and veggies (which I did say I could also do after I read “Turbocharged”) to the meals I make, and I can help my family be more healthy. Her focus is being healthy for the rest of your life.

Ms. Hatch also has a great idea with exercise. Moderation. She says all you need is moderate exercise 5 days a week, for 30-50 minutes. She walks and then will add a short jog in the middle of her walk. She asks you to make sure that your exercise program is something you will be able to do until you are 80!!

I really like that this book is easy to follow and do. She gives a lot of examples and even has some good recipes at the back of the book. She makes this more into a workbook giving places to fill in answers and write goals and steps down. It’s not just about losing weight, it’s about being healthy. And, she even suggests you have one treat a day!!! That’s the best part! I think this is more my style and will definitely be implementing this in my life and with my family.

Rating: G It’s family friendly and clean!

Recommendation: Late middle school and up, unless the entire family is reading it and implementing it together. I don’t like stressing younger kids out about their weight, unless they are truly obese and need to take efforts now. This book isn’t just about weight though, it is about being healthy. It is great for the entire family to do together!

The Liquid City

The Liquid City by Curtis J. Hopfenbeck

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Shadoe Kilbourne is the consummate intellectual assassin, with an impressive arsenal of both wit and weaponry at his disposal. As Seattle’s most successful nightclub owner and restaurateur; he is also a man of great resource, humor and humanity. His lethal charms and deadly ideologies are a devastating double-edged sword; brandished at will to put the bad guys in their place and get the good girls back to his. Driven by vengeance, derived from a painful and poignant past we can only speculate on, his ties to the highest echelons and lowest corridors of humanity also make him him the perfect middleman for those who seek to solicit his fervor and favor in the hunt for his brand of justice, both inside and outside of the law.”

Mr. Hopfenbeck definitely has a very large vocabulary! This book is full of “big” words, and it is very refreshing. At first I thought maybe he was just showing off, but as the book goes on I realized that they fit the character well. I was skeptical because I thought the words might seem forced, but I got pulled into the story and enjoyed the writing a lot. The main character, Shadoe Kilbourne, is very hard to get a handle on. My feelings on him changed from page to page and sometimes from paragraph to paragraph. Do I love him because of his charity and generosity or do I hate him because of his brutality? Do I like him because he is likable and fun or do I dislike him because he is telling three women at the same time that he loves them? His trusty side-kicks are humorous, yet brutal as well, but the three of them together are hilarious. I love the banter back and forth and I really enjoyed the tennis ball bouncing scene.

The characters in this book are all different and interesting. They have good depth and are well portrayed. I enjoy Mr. Hopfenbeck’s writing style, and even though there are some cliches and a few corny references to the Utah culture, I enjoyed this book. It does have language in it along with some brutal deaths and violence. The topics discussed are serious and sobering: drugs, alcohol, human trafficking, prostitution, and gang violence are only some of them. The book does not make light of these issues at all, but does try to show the seriousness of them and shows how Mr. Kilbourne and his associates try to combat them. I would not recommend that anyone follows their lead, but I guess they get the job done. Despite the heaviness of the topic, Mr. Hopfenbeck does a good job of throwing in some humor and love as well.

Rating: R (Remember this does not follow the movie ratings, it just means that younger readers should not read it.) For the above stated reasons: drugs, alcohol, prostitution, human trafficking, gang violence, death, shootings, domestic violence.

Recommendation: 18 and up. I don’t want to be discussing what a mercenary is with my 15 year-old boy. I wouldn’t want him to get any ideas. And I don’t want to be discussing human trafficking or prostitution with him either. (Or a daughter of the same age.)

I would recommend this book with the above cautions. I am not one for violence but I did get pulled into the story and I love it when the good guys (is that what they are?) win. I look forward to hearing more from Shadoe Kilbourne and his associates Deity, Gio, Koda, and Rama.

Uglies

 Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license–for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world–and it isn’t pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.”

This book has a very interesting concept. If everyone is pretty then no one can be made fun of, and everyone is more equal, right? Everyone should have the same opportunity for job choice, everyone should marry, and everyone should have friends. Well, it seems like that on the surface, but when Tally starts looking she SEES things differently. It does make you think more about how you live and if there is a different way to do things that you just aren’t seeing. The characters are believable, except the whole premise is hard to get used to.  I found myself pulling for Tally in both directions. I wanted her to get her dream, but I also wanted her to see that her dream may not be for the best. I didn’t like the political message portrayed: that WE are killing the earth with our metal buildings. Some of it was okay, like recycling newspapers, but Mr. Westerfeld definitely has a political agenda and I don’t like that in fantasy books.  Some of it is predictable, but some things did take me by surprise.  I did find it interesting that this was written by a man. A lot of it deals with being pretty and feelings, and it did seem like it would come more from a woman, but, that’s just a side thought.

Overall, I thought this book was okay. I still haven’t decided if I want to read the rest of the series, and that may say a lot. There were no “physical intimacy” scenes, except for some teenage kissing, and I can’t remember any language. There may have been one or two words, but not enough for me to remember.  There is some violence, and there are some deaths. I do know people that liked it, and I do know people that do not recommend it, and I think I’m somewhere in the middle. It did make me think, and that may be the goal.

Rating: PG-13 (There is some teenage kissing, some violence, and maybe a couple of words. There are a couple of deaths.)

Recommendation: High School and up. It may be somewhat clean, but the premise is definitely one for older readers. I think it may get lost on younger readers.

The 5 Laws That Determine All of Life’s Outcomes

The 5 Laws That Determine All of Life’s Outcomes by Brett Harward

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Success is predictable. This book is about the laws that govern successful outcomes–including making more money, finding fulfillment and increasing self esteem, improving health and connections with others. The 5 Laws control our outcomes in life, whether we know what they are or not. These laws control our speed and trajectory in life and most importantly how we deal with others. This book outlines in practical terms how those who are extraordinarily successful apply these laws differently than those who are merely average or above average.”

When I heard about this book I knew I needed to read it because I’m all for doing things more efficiently and seeing better results. I know I have issues with this. I am the one always saying how busy I am. I feel like I run myself ragged and then have nothing to show for it. Needless to say, I will take all the help I can get in this area. This book is easy to read and follow, and has lots of good examples of how to implement Mr. Harward’s recommendations. The 5 Laws seem to be common-sense solutions and just take a shift in how you  think in order to implement. A lot of it seems to be attitude related. I like how the 5 Laws cover every aspect of your life, not just business issues. There are a lot of examples in the book, and they range from running a business to strengthening your marriage, so it should be something everyone could relate to. I didn’t have much time to spend working on each “Law” as I read, so I will need to go back and take more time with each principle in order to feel more comfortable implementing them, but I think it will actually help me (hooray!). As I stated earlier, I am the one always feeling busy yet having nothing to show for it. I am constantly asking my friends how to find that perfect balance in life. Mr. Harward discusses this specifically in the book, and that was good, but I wanted more. He states that “the perfect balance so many of us long for is an illusion.” What??? He goes on to explain, but because this is “MY” issue, I wanted more of an explanation of how to do this. How do we go deeper and into greater depth? How do we measure things NOT according to time? I will definitely need to explore this topic more because if I could figure this out it would be a great day! If I heard of one of Mr. Harward’s seminars being held near me I would go for sure. I think this book has the power to help people in every walk of life, and I thank Mr. Harward for taking the time to put his ideas on paper and for using his talents to help others realize their potential.

Rating: G (Very clean)

Recommendation: High School and up, just because I don’t think Jr. High kids would care about it. I do think though, as a mom, that I could teach some of the principles to my children, and as a family we could use these “Laws” to help our family and strengthen our relationships.