Bergers Book Reviews

Louis Beside Himself

Louis Beside Himself
Author: Anna Fienberg
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genre: Middle grade fiction
ISBN: 978-1-74237-994-4
Pages: 246
Price: $8.99

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Louis loves words more than anything. Unfortunately, his dad thinks he should put down his thesaurus and start building up his body. So when a burglar breaks into his home one evening, and he isn’t able to use any of the wrestling moves he’s supposed to know, he feels like an utter failure.

Things go from bad to worse. His two best friends suddenly find what makes them happiest and pursue their new interests with joy, leaving Louis to ponder his miserable fate alone. Words – and his voice – have let him down, and he doesn’t know what to do. But when he realizes he needs to act quickly to help a new friend, and it will involve speaking up in her defense, he turns to his words once again.

Louis Beside Himself is a quirky and fun coming of age novel. Kids will relate to Louis worrying about meeting his father’s expectations and feeling inadequate when facing difficult situations. And when Louis finally manages to do something very, very right, the reader will cheer for his efforts. I highly recommend this uplifting and enjoyable book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 23, 2015 Posted by | tween | Leave a comment

The Not So Wicked, Wicked Witch!

The Not So Wicked, Wicked Witch
Author: Amy Purser Carter
Illustrator: Sarah E. Markham
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4327-3781-8
Pages: 24
Price: $15.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

One witch just can’t seem to be as wicked as she knows she should be. So on Halloween night, you won’t find her out causing mayhem. Instead, she stays home and bakes cookies for the children.

The Not So Wicked, Wicked Witch! paints a nice picture of a good witch who doesn’t do any evil deeds. But that’s as far as this book goes. There is no actual story. I would have preferred to see some kind of plot, in order for this book to hold children’s attention.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 21, 2015 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Muzzled

Muzzled
Author: Eileen Brady
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0184-4
Pages: 250
Price: $24.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Kate Turner, D.V.M., is out making house calls when she arrives at the home of the Langthornes. Expecting to check on one of their champion Cavalier King Charles spaniels, she is shocked to find the couple seated in their chairs, apparently shot while enjoying their tea.

Although the initial determination is murder-suicide, several pieces of the puzzle don’t seem to fit. Dr. Kate is unpleasantly reminded on several occasions that as a newcomer to town and the one who found the bodies, she’s being considered a suspect. And as she tries to clear her name, she learns that almost everyone had a reason to hate the Langthornes.

Muzzled is the first in the new Kate Turner, D.V.M. mystery series. Animal lovers will be amused by the antics of pet owners and their companions, and cozy mystery fans will appreciate this well-crafted whodunit. I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to seeing more of this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 16, 2015 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Elephantastic!

Elephantastic!
Author: Michael Engler
Illustrator: Joëlle Tourlonias
Publisher: Peter Pauper Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4413-0841-2
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99

Buy it at Amazon

Andrew is busy working on a treasure map when his mother asks him to bring a package upstairs to his neighbor. But instead, he opens it, thinking it’s for him. Inside is a stuffed elephant named Timbo, who instantly becomes his friend. They travel all over the world together, seeing interesting new things and having great adventures. But soon the fun ends, when Andrew’s mother tells him the elephant belongs to Louise.

With great sadness, he gives his new best friend to the girl upstairs. But he is in for a big surprise when she comes to visit him only a little while later. Timbo misses him, and she suggests that maybe the three of them can travel together from now on.

Elepahantastic! is full of fun and adventure. Using only his imagination, Andrew can talk to Timbo and travel to foreign places. And when Louise joins them, the joy is multiplied.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 13, 2015 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Panthers Play for Keeps (Pru Marlowe Pet Mystery #4)

Panthers Play for Keeps
Author: Clea Simon
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-5905-8870-3
Pages: 250
Price: $24.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Pru Marlowe has an unique gift – the ability to communicate with animals. But animals don’t communicate the way humans do, in complete sentences and thoughts. Instead they convey feelings and impressions, which are often confusing and misunderstood.

While training a service dog, Pru discovers a woman’s body in the woods. The dog conveys a mixture of feelings that Pru is at a loss to interpret. But when the police decide the woman had been mauled by a big cat – and none had been seen in the area for over a century – Pru is puzzled. In speaking to the animals, the police, and the people involved with the woman, the story becomes even more disturbing. If a big cat really was responsible, how did it get there? And where was it now?

Panthers Play for Keeps is the fourth book in the Pru Marlowe mystery series. Unlike some other animal mysteries, Pru’s conversations are believable and add an interesting dimension to the story. I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to more in this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 7, 2015 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Wade Boss: Hybrid Hunter

Wade Boss
Author: Marcus MacGregor
Publisher: Saddle Sore Entertainment
Genre: Teen
ISBN: 9781475239669
Pages: 242
Price: $9.99

Author’s website
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Wade Boss has a successful business working with exotic animals in Hollywood. So when a tiger is running loose, the police naturally call him in to help capture it. But what Wade finds is a hybrid tiger-lizard which is quickly picked up by the Genetic Anomalies Task Center – a division of Homeland Security.

Soon Wade finds himself caught up in the race to capture these hybrids, who keep appearing all over the country, before they seriously injure or kill people. The goal is to capture them alive, not kill them, but these missions test his skill in handling unpredictable and dangerous animals. While he’s caught up in his new volunteer job, his own business is suffering, and his love life is in shambles.

Wade Boss presents himself as one of the good guys. He cares about his animals and claims he generally wants to do the right thing. But his cavalier attitude toward his staff and the woman in his life make the reader wonder what really motivates him. When another attractive girl suddenly appears, he conveniently forgets he’s involved and schedules a date with the new lady. I found him arrogant and I really didn’t like him much.

The plot is also a bit of a mystery to me. Wade runs off several times chasing hybrids, but there is absolutely no reason given as to why they’re even out there. At the end of the book, a “bad guy” is identified, but that’s about all. Wade Boss is all about action and very short on substance.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 31, 2015 Posted by | adventure, teen | Leave a comment

Passenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson’s Flight from Slavery

Passenger on the Pearl
Author: Winifred Conkling
Publisher: Algonquin
Genre: History / Slavery
ISBN: 978-1-61620-196-8
Pages: 176
Price: $17.95

Author’s website
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In 1848, a schooner called the Pearl attempted to smuggle 70 slaves out of Washington D.C. Emily Edmonson and five of her siblings were on board when it was captured a day later. Passenger on the Pearl shares Emily’s story, as well as the rest of her family’s attempts to find freedom.

Emily was lucky to have been treated fairly well, but she experienced the horrors of seeing fellow slaves beaten and molested. Husbands and wives, as well as their children, could be separated and sold, without any thought to the devastation done to the families. But the purchase price for freedom was well outside the means of most slaves, and it remained only a dream. Emily had the support of her family, who did everything they could to come up with the ransom, and was finally set free.

Fascinating sidebars about important people and events during this turbulent time in United States history provide a background for the family’s story. Many photos and explanations of slave practices at the time are also included. It’s sad to remember that our great nation once treated a large segment of its population so barbarically, but as young adults read about Emily Edmonson and her family, they are reminded of this truth and can avoid making the same mistakes.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 29, 2015 Posted by | history, teen | Leave a comment

Dorothy: A Different Kind of Friend

Dorothy
Author: Roberto Aliaga
Illustrator: Mar Blanco
Publisher: Cuento de Luz
Genre: Children
ISBN: 9788415619819
Pages: 28
Price: $16.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

It’s hard to have a friend who’s not like everyone else. Dorothy is very big and has bad manners, and the others don’t like her. But even though she’s different, Dorothy is this little girl’s best friend. Taunts and meanness don’t deter her from spending time with Dorothy, and nothing they can say makes her see her best friend as anything but wonderful.

It’s refreshing to see a child so sure of herself that she sees only the good in her friend, and doesn’t let the others sway her opinion. We could all use more supportive people like her in our lives! Dorothy: A Different Kind of Friend sets a great example of devoted friendship and unconditional acceptance. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dying for the Past

Dying for the Past
Author: TJ O’Connor
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-7387-4206-9
Pages: 408
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Detective Oliver “Tuck” Tucker is no longer among the living. Being a ghost has certain advantages, though, like being able to instantly transport from place to place, and even back in time. When a man is murdered at his wife’s charity ball, Tuck is back on the case along with his police partners.

As Tuck digs deeper into the mystery, he discovers that he and his family play a part in the drama. Other ghosts assist him in his search for “the book,” which someone is desperate to find, even if it means killing those who stand in the way. Fans of ghost hunting TV shows will enjoy references to paranormal equipment which picks up Tuck’s presence, to the astonishment of those operating it. And Tuck’s ability to communicate with the living continues to grow. But one can’t help feeling his sadness in knowing he will never be able to hold his wife in his arms again.

Dying for the Past is the second book in the Gumshoe Ghost Mystery series. Like the first book, Dying to Know, this is a fast-paced read that pulls the reader in and doesn’t let up. Tuck is a great character, and one can really relate to his plight. I’m really enjoying this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 18, 2015 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

This Little Prayer of Mine

This Little Prayer of Mine
Author: Anthony DeStefano
Illustrator: Mark Elliott
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Genre: Children / Christian
ISBN: 978-0736958615
Pages: 32
Price: 14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Little ones find it easy to talk to God, but they might not always know what to say. This Little Prayer of Mine gives them some ideas in rhyming verse. This simple children’s prayer asks God for help when they feel scared, a smile when sad, wisdom and direction in making decisions, forgiveness for bad behavior, and comfort when feeling lonely. They also thank God for the good things in life and ask for the desire to share their good fortune with others.

While it’s good to learn formal prayers, children can also simply pray from the heart, turning to God as a father and a source of never-ending love. This sweet prayer book would be nice to read at bedtime.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 15, 2015 Posted by | children, Christian | Leave a comment

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