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.

T-Rex Virus

T-Rex Virus by Tom Forest

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “A small hunk of ferrous rock from an ancient asteroid which has roamed the cosmos for eons falls to earth. Discovered by a university paleontologist, a long dormant enzyme impregnated within the galactic stone is revitalized by accident in a university laboratory. A deadly virus erupts from the small boulder, taking the lives of the laboratory team within days. Members of the U.S. Army biological warfare operations staff from Fort Detrick, Maryland seize the extra-terrestrial ore. During transportation to a U.S. Government weapons research facility, the rock and its escorts disappear. Now, an off shore megalomanic pharmaceutical giant possess[es] the deadly diseased rock, and the only known antidote. Driven by greed of billions in profit, he won’t give up the cure until the virus becomes widespread. FBI agent Dale Fox hits the ground running in pursuit to recover the geode, and the medicinal remedy for the viral infection that now affects hundreds of thousands of people. Battling an elite team of killers within the pharmaceutical company, he has very little time to succeed, since he too has contracted the terminal virus!”

I didn’t know what to expect with this book. It has been awhile since I’ve read this genre, but I do enjoy a good action thriller. My boys love dinosaurs so I thought I’d give it a shot. I liked it. It was definitely action-packed. There was some language, which I expected for this genre. It’s not over-used, though, so that is good. I liked the characters, especially Dale, Sean, and Sullivan. I also liked the paleontologists. I happened to talk to a real paleontologist a couple of weeks ago and he said they had actually discovered a full T-Rex skeleton and would be displaying it by the end of the year in a new nearby museum. Consequently, it did feel kind of real when she discovered the T-Rex skeleton. It provides an interesting take on what happened to the dinosaurs millions of years ago. The writing is good: I did find a few typos, and at times it was predictable, but overall I thought it was good. There were some good twists and some humor. Mr. Forest definitely knows a lot about the subject. There is a glossary at the beginning and I needed it. A lot. I got confused with all the different acronyms and military/FBI terminology.  There are also some confusing transitions. It was full of action and would make a good screenplay for a movie. I was disappointed that I figured out the cure less than mid-way through the book, and it was a bit corny for me. Every time I read the foreshadowing I would laugh, thinking “No way, he wouldn’t really do that, right?” But he did. Even with this disappointment, I did find it very entertaining and will read more by this author. Mr. Forest brought it all together in the end and his creativity and knowledge made for a fun, action-packed adventure.

Rating: PG-13 (Language, death, fighting)

Recommendation: High School and up. There is a lot of death in this book between the virus and the fighting, and it is probably too much for children younger than high school. I think high school boys will really enjoy this book. It’s a great example of doing research for your book, and knowing a lot about the subject matter.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’d never met, a native of Guernsey, the British island once occupied by the Nazis. He’d come across her name on the flyleaf of a secondhand volume by Charles Lamb. Perhaps she could tell him where he might find more books by this author. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends, all members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the-moment way: as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans. Juliet begins a remarkable´╗┐ correspondence with the Society’s charming, deeply human members, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Through their letters she learns about their island, their taste in books, and the powerful, transformative impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds there will change her forever.”
I really liked this book. I was wary at first because it is written in letter-style, which can be choppy and difficult to follow, but Ms. Shaffer and Ms. Barrows pulled it off very well. They write in a fun, light, happy tone, even though there are some hard things discussed. The war was hard on these people, and they talk of their sufferings, which is good for me to remember, but it is difficult to hear. I fell in love with these characters, just as Juliet did, and I just felt as if I were right there with her meeting them. It’s fun to see how Juliet “grows up” as the book progresses, and how she begins to see things from a different light. This book is rich with life experiences: how to cope with difficult situations, how to adapt to what life brings you, and that the people in our lives are more important than any thing we may possess. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It is a fun, easy read that teaches what matters most in life.
Rating: PG-13 (War-time experiences, death, minor language, and a gruesome explanation of what occurred in the concentration camps.)
Recommendation: High School and up. The deaths and experiences described in the concentration camps were really hard to read, and probably shouldn’t be read by younger readers.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years–from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding–that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives–the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness–are inextricable from the history playing out around them.”

Oh, where do I even start with this book? It’s awful. Well, like “Kite Runner,” the writing is amazing, but the events that unfold are awful. I wanted so much to just put it down and stay in my ignorance, but I couldn’t. I could not put it down. The things that happen to these two women are beyond my imagination. If one or two of those things happened to me I think I would crawl into a little ball and disappear mentally, yet these women found some (albeit small) joy in each other and the children. I kept thinking that it couldn’t get worse, and then it would. It was extremely disturbing at times. It took me awhile to read it because I’d have to put it down and walk away until I could regain my composure. I still have haunting images in my head. I just kept thinking over and over how blessed I am. I have a wonderful husband who treats me with love and respect. He also treats all of our children with love and respect. I have a college education. I may wear whatever I want and go anywhere I want to. I love listening to music and do it often. I worship in the church I want to. My children were born in a very clean hospital with anything that might be needed readily available. If I want a drink of water all I have to do is turn on a faucet. The list could go on and on. I am so blessed. I am so blessed.

This book is not for the faint of heart. It is VERY hard to read. There is violence, war, profanity, rape, torture, death. And why did I read it? It is very well written and it just draws you in. I felt as if I were reading Mr. Hosseini’s diary. I love his writing, yet I despise it. Although it is awful, I am glad I read it. I’m glad to be reminded of my blessings, and I’m glad to be reminded that the world is not at peace. There are evil people out there who don’t care about anything except themselves. It’s a hard lesson to learn. I am so blessed. If you liked “Kite Runner” I would recommend this book. His writing is truly amazing, it is just extremely difficult to read because of all the events that occur. I would not recommend this book if any of the above mentioned things are too disturbing to you.

Rating: R (Remember this does not necessarily follow the movie ratings, it is just my way of saying that children and young adults should NOT read this book.) War, violence, “physical intimacy,” rape, profanity, death, murder.

Recommendation: College and up. Maybe a really mature high school senior, but I would suggest mom or dad read it first to see. It was hard for me as an adult to take it all in and not be overwhelmed, and in fact, there were times that I did have to put it down and walk away because I was so disturbed.

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir’s father’s servant, is a Hazara, member of a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them.  When the Soviets invade and he and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.”

This book is amazing. It’s tragic and at times traumatic, but so well written. When I finished the book I felt as if I had just read Mr. Hosseini’s diary. He grabs your attention at the very beginning and draws you into this story that pulls at your heart strings, makes you angry, makes you cry, and makes you very glad to have grown up in the United States of America. The plot has twists and turns and even though you may think you know what is going to happen, it still doesn’t happen exactly as you thought. Mr. Hosseini’s character development is right on. I felt so attached to these characters. His words just come to life on the page.

The events in the story are very difficult to read. I had to put the book down a few times and walk away because I was so traumatized. Even after putting the book down I couldn’t get the images out of my head. It was really hard, but I kept going back. I was so involved I had to finish. I don’t know how much is true about Afghanistan, like dates of invasions and if the Soviets or the Taliban did the things in the stories, but it sure makes you see world events in a different light. It puts a more personal side to events that happen around the world. I would recommend reading this book if you think you can handle the events that take place. It is so well written and there is a wonderful lesson to be learned. There are some happy moments in the book and the main character, Amir, learns a great lesson and learns to overcome his weaknesses. That is something we can all relate to and hope to achieve. I enjoyed learning more about Afghanistan and the way of life there, and some of their traditons.

Rating: R (Remember this does not follow the movie ratings. It is my way of saying this is NOT for children or young adults.) There is a rape scene and there are descriptions alluding to other sexual abuse. There is a horrible death by stoning scene. There are also war-time events that take place that are not for younger readers. There is also a lot of language.

Recommendation: College and up, in my opinion. Maybe a really mature high school senior could handle it, but I don’t think I’d go younger than that. It’s an amazing book, but very difficult to read because of the events that take place.