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.

Buddy’s Tail

Buddy’s Tail by K. Anne Russell

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Buddy Boutonniere, a big-hearted standard Poodle, subsists in the bare backyard of a tract home in the desert city of Yucca Dunes. MacKenzie, a Border Collie, and Javier, a Chihuahua, provide Buddy with companionship and bring him food when his neglectful owners forget to provide for him. When Buddy’s owners decide to move, Buddy meets a wonderful lady who visits his house with prospective buyers. The poodle’s humans try to sell their dog and Buddy goes through a series of unsuitable living situations. The final family returns Buddy to the tract home not realizing the owners are away. Buddy dies, but is brought back to life by Sonny, the Good Shepherd. Sonny grants Buddy’s wish to go live with the wonderful lady, in return for his promise to go with Sonny when he comes back for him. Buddy has a happy life with the lady and her dog, Skootch. Years later, Sonny comes for Buddy. True to his word, Buddy goes without complaint. Sonny takes Buddy to Haven, the canine paradise, where he is reunited with MacKenzie. Their only responsibility is to help guide other dogs to Haven. Buddy excels at guiding, but on a mission to bring back a bomb dog from Afghanistan, Buddy breaks the rules and helps a human, the dog’s Marine partner. Buddy is dragged before a tribunal, where MacKenzie defends him. With the help of the marine and a little girl, MacKenzie convinces the judges that Buddy is not an offender, but a hero.”

I was really excited to read this book. I’m always looking for good books for my 9 yr.-old to read. As I’ve stated in the past, he’s read all the “Fablehaven” and all the “Harry Potter” books and loved them. I do not read the back cover summary before I read a book, and therefore, I was not prepared for the storyline of this book. I do not know if I would have read it if I had known beforehand what would happen. After finishing the book I read a lot of reviews on Amazon.com and was taken back. Most of the reviewers loved the book and think it is great for children. I, on the other hand, have a very different opinion. I will not be letting my 9 yr.-old read this book. It seems silly, since he has read some pretty scary and dark books and I was fine with it, but this is different. This book disturbed me, as an adult. The only reason I finished the book was because I was reviewing it.

Ms. Russell’s writing is good. I like her style of writing. There are some confusing parts because each chapter jumps from time to different time, and different dog, but you eventually figure out what is going on. It’s the content of the book that I didn’t like. It is fiction, but it is “too close to home.” Buddy is very neglected by his owners. I don’t like animal cruelty and it is good to teach your children about responsibility with animals, but watching an animal die because of neglect is disturbing. Also, the whole bit with the Hummer man is awful, to say the least. This cruel man, who drives a Hummer, kills one of the dogs’ friends and seemed to enjoy it. So all these dogs hate this man. In the book they chase after him barking every time he drives by. Then in the story, you read about this Hummer man who hits a little girl with his car and drives away, leaving her critically injured. This Hummer man also ends up killing another one of the dogs later in the story. It’s difficult to read because it is so upsetting. 

After MacKenzie dies, because the Hummer man hit her, she goes to Haven, which is canine paradise. She guides other dogs to Haven when they pass. Buddy eventually passes and also becomes a guide dog. Ok, I’m Christian and I believe in Heaven and life after death, but how do you discuss this book without bringing that up? I have my degree in elementary education and I’m very aware of the separation between church and state. What if there is a child in the class who doesn’t believe in Heaven? This book is fiction, as I said, but it is so “real.” It’s not like discussing a fantasy “Heaven,” if that makes sense. In Haven Buddy has to go and get a bomb dog who dies in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb explodes under his vehicle. Ok, I know this is on the news a lot, but that doesn’t mean I let my 9 yr.-old watch it! Why would I want him to read about it? He’s only nine. He doesn’t need to worry about soldiers and their dogs dying in Afghanistan yet. Someday he will, but not yet. And that scene was particularly disturbing for me to read.

The morals of the story are good: be kind to and responsible with animals, loyalty, friendship, helping each other. They are all good lessons to learn, but I do not feel the means to accomplishing this is the correct way. In my family we have had pets die, and it’s devastating to children. Even the 1 in. long fish who dies brings out a flood of tears. Reading about these terrible deaths would not help, I don’t think, to lessen my children’s sadness when a pet dies. I think it just puts disquieting images in their heads and makes them worry about things they don’t need to worry about yet. The book states it is for children 9 and up, but it was too much for me. I would not recommend it for 9 yr.-olds.

Rating: PG-13 (Awful doggy deaths, animal cruelty and neglect, a hit-and-run accident, a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan that kills a Marine and his dog)

Recommendation: High School and up, maybe. It may be hard for a high school sophomore to handle. Really, this is just too much. I wanted to stop reading after the hit-and-run accident which left a little girl in critical condition in the hospital. Had I not been reviewing the book I would not have finished. The book does state for 9 yr.-olds and up, but I would strongly suggest waiting. I really hope it does not find its way into 4th grade classrooms. I don’t think the beneficial lessons learned are worth the painful images in the delivery method.

Summer Fit

Summer Fit (www.summerfitlearning.com)

(Summary taken from the back book cover.) “Keeping brains thinking & bodies active during school breaks is entertaining and engaging with Summer Fit workbooks and online games and activities. Created by educators, fitness trainers, and parents, Summer Fit activities focus on key areas of child development, including academics, physical fitness, and core values. Right now it might feel like a million years away, but the first day of the new school year will be soon upon us. With Summer Fit, your child will take a seat better prepared to handle the mental, physical and social challenges of the new school year.”

I have the K-1 Summer Fit book and I’m very impressed. You may not know it, but I have my degree in elementary education, so I was very interested in these books. Last summer I drove my kids crazy because every day they had 20 minutes of reading and 20 minutes of homework. I spent a lot of time on the Internet searching for the correct math problems and reading activities for my kids to do. They learned a lot and did great, but it took a lot of effort on my part. This book makes it easy! All I have to do is buy a book (I haven’t seen the older books so I’m hoping I won’t have to supplement.).

This is a great idea. Why didn’t I think of it??? The summer is broken down into weeks and then days. There is a page for each day of summer (I haven’t counted, but it’s got to be really close.). On this page there are some brain activities like math problems or reading activities. There are also some physical activities. The kids not only have to exercise their brains but their bodies as well. There are cardio and strength exercises that switch off. There are lots of ideas and there are more online as well. Then each week there is a value. The first one in this book is Honesty. There is a picture of Abraham Lincoln and it discusses his nickname “Honest Abe.” It talks about how honesty is important and why. I hope the values are the same in each book so it will be easier to discuss with my kids all at once, but I’m not sure. For each week there is a certificate to complete when the child finishes the weekly activities and there is an incentive. The incentive could be whatever you want. It could be a treat, but it could also be a trip to a local museum or a picnic at the park, or a family game of kickball in the backyard. I love this! There are also a lot of activities, games, and more challenging work pages online.

As a teacher I would definitely recommend these books to parents, and as a parent I am so glad that I don’t have to do all the work this summer! I love that it is not just for the brain, but for the body as well, and I love that it allows me to have fun with the kids while they are learning. I have the K-1 book but now I need the 2-3 and the 3-4 books as well!

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!

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.

Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

(Summary taken from the back of the book) “So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten…her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant–the sinister Mrs. Danvers–still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca…for the secrets of Manderley.”

WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK (AND WANT TO)!
I haven’t read a classic novel in awhile, and I have missed the beautiful language. I love Du Maurier’s style of writing. I enjoy the attention to detail and how it just pulls you in. Her characters come to life and pull you in. However, with all of this, I didn’t love the book. OK, well, I really liked it at first. Mr. de Winter intrigued me as much as he intrigued everyone else in the book. I cheered as much as anyone when she got to leave Mrs. Van Hopper. At the same time, I thought he was a complete jerk. He didn’t tell her he loved her, he didn’t get down on one knee, and he didn’t kiss her when he proposed. And, he didn’t do anything to prepare her for life at Manderley. He didn’t buy her any new clothes, he didn’t tell her where the Morning Room was, and he left her alone with Mrs. Danvers all day. And this girl (I don’t think it’s a good sign when I don’t even know the main character’s name.) drove me crazy! She wouldn’t stand up for herself and change the handwriting on the desk labels, or put the flowers where she wanted them. The worst part though (STOP reading if you don’t want to know the ending….) was that she still loved him after she found out that he murdered his first wife. She practically didn’t care! Maybe I could see still loving him (????) but once I got over that shock I came to the end. What???  They drive up and find their house is burning to the ground, and that is how it ends??? I immediately reread the first two chapters and didn’t find any answers. How long after the fire did they go to this hotel? How long had they been there? Had they traveled around or just found one place? Why didn’t they rebuild? Why didn’t they want to live in a house instead of a hotel? What happened to the staff, were they okay? Needless to say, I didn’t love the ending. I did enjoy the beginning and middle of the book, and I enjoyed the classic style, but I didn’t like the storyline at all.

Rating: PG-13 (Some profanity, a murder scene)

Recommendation: High School and up. It’s a strange book. Reading about how someone murders his wife is not pleasant.

Worlds of the Crystal Moon #1 World of Grayham

Worlds of the Crystal Moon #1 World of Grayham by Phillip “BIG DOG” Jones

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Fellow soul…I have been commissioned to deliver grave news. You are dead–a tragedy of a celestial war responsible for destroying the cosmos. Your soul has been without a body for more than 10,000 seasons and your spirit has been placed inside an eternal tome. This book is filled with mythical creatures and, like us, they are anxious to live again. While we wait, there are devious gods living on Ancients Sovereign. They are power hungry and seek to abolish free will. Their desire: control the new worlds created after The Great Destruction of Everything Known. With the theft of the Crystal Moon, chaos is imminent. Because of the Mischievous One’s malevolence, the worlds which are to be our new homes may not survive. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope. Three beings have been spared the devastation. They are about to begin an epic journey to save our only chance at rebirth. Their failure to reunite the pieces of the Crystal Moon will be be our sentence to an everlasting nothingness. Allow me, your spirited storyteller, to share everything I know to be fact. Welcome to chaos. Welcome to the World of Grayham.”

Wow, where to begin??  I was walking through Costco one day and I saw an author doing a book signing. I couldn’t pass that up, right? So I stopped and talked to him. It happened to be Phillip “BIG DOG” Jones. Now, first off, his name just comes across as arrogant and self-consumed, but the book looked interesting and so I had him sign a book for me. He told me that he had published the book previously as an unedited first draft in hardcover and had gotten feedback from the readers and this was now the edited version and coming out first in paperback. Great! Love paperback! Browsing through the book I really liked the full color photos of the characters and places at the beginning. It is helpful to have pictures of the characters and a correct way to pronounce their names.

This book is 592 pages long. It’s long, and it’s not an easy read like a “Harry Potter” or even an ” Eragon.” This book is heavier like a “Lord of the Rings,” and there is a lot of information to take in and keep track of, therefore it takes a long time to read. As you can tell, I haven’t posted in a long time, and that is why, I have been reading a very long book. This book is fantasy and brings in magic, romance, action, adventure, mystery, and lots of mythical creatures. It took me awhile to figure out who everyone was and why they were there, but in the end it came together. Overall I liked it. Jones’ writing is not of the same caliber as J.K. Rowling or Christopher Paolini, but it is good. Once you figure out what is going on (about the middle of the book) it gets better and the storyline picks up. I really like some of the characters and some of the character development is really good, but others not so much. There is a lot of gore and death in this book. The gruesome descriptions of how people die did not appeal to me. The character George likes to torture and kill people, and it’s not pretty. He also uses lots of “colorful” language, which I also didn’t love. He is a confusing character because he pretends to have a soft lovable side that I don’t find at all believable. I like Sam and Shalee, but Shalee speaks in a southern accent and sometimes it’s hard to figure out what she is saying. When Shalee becomes a sorceress her magic stick gives her moments of “satisfaction” when she accomplishes her goal, and I found it awkward. Luckily it stops after while. It’s also hard to get used to talking animals and a talking book, but it works alright.

Overall I did like it and I have ordered the next one. I like that the next one is already out and in paperback. That is definitely a bonus. I would recommend it with the above warnings. It is entertaining but I can’t say it’s my favorite book. I will read the next one but I’ll most like read a few other books in between.

Rating: PG-13 (There are some really gruesome deaths, and quite a bit of profanity when George speaks. There are murders and assassinations as well. There are also some “physical intimacy” scenes before marriage and after marriage.)

Recommendation: High school and up. With all the above I don’t think it’s appropriate for early teens.

I would recommend it if you’re okay with the above warnings. It is interesting and entertaining and there are some good twists that keep you reading.