Bergers Book Reviews

The Moonstone

The Moonstone
Author: Wilkie Collins
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Genre: Mystery / Audiobook
ISBN: 978-184-379-797-5
Running time: 22:27:34 (17 CDs)
Price: $98.98

Naxos Audio
Buy it at Amazon

Rachel Verinder inherits the Moonstone – a beautiful yellow diamond – on her eighteenth birthday. But before she can begin to enjoy it, it disappears. Did the three Indians hovering about the property have anything to do with it? Did the servants take it? Or was it one of the guests at the birthday party?

Sergeant Cuff is brought in from Scotland Yard to investigate, but the mystery remains. Finally, the people associated with the disappearance are asked to write a summary of the events as they saw them, in the hope that something will come of their collective remembrance. Their stories are what make up the text of this narrative.

While The Moonstone is considered the first English detective story, there is so much more to this tale than solving the crime. The narrators share their own opinions and thoughts on the theft, as well as their personal philosophies of life. This audio version is more like listening to them sharing their story over a cup of tea, and the cast has done a magnificent job of bringing the novel to life. This is no stuffy old classic, and I laughed out loud on several occasions at the humorous commentary. I highly recommend this audio book for all who love a great story.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 18, 2014 Posted by | audio book, mystery | Leave a comment

Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress

Build Your Own Website
Author: Nate Cooper
Illustrator: Kim Gee
Publisher: No Starch Press
Genre: Computers / Internet
ISBN: 978-1-59327-522-8
Pages: 264
Price: $19.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Building your own website doesn’t have to be intimidating! With Nate Cooper’s help (along with the Web Guru, Glinda the Good Witch of CSS, and Wendy the WordPress Maven), Kim and her dog Tofu show beginners exactly how it’s done.

Rather than overwhelming the reader all at once, each of these helpful guides show the essentials of the tool he or she is demonstrating in a fun and friendly comic strip environment. Hands-on learning opportunities are provided, letting the reader learn each step by actually building a website along with Kim. Once the basics of each tool have been well covered, additional code is provided for the reader to play with and make their own.

One of the unfortunate drawbacks of technology is the fact it changes so quickly. Some of the screen shots at WordPress have changed since the book was published, but these minor changes shouldn’t affect the user’s ability to follow along.

If you’ve ever thought about setting up your own website, there is no time like the present to go for it. With Build Your Own Website at your side, you can’t go wrong.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 17, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Death Spiral

Death Spiral
Author: Janie Chodosh
Publisher: Poisoned Pencil
Genre: YA Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-9293-4500-7
Pages: 312
Price: $10.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

When Faith Flores finds her mother dead from what appears to be a heroine overdose, she can’t believe it. Her mom had been clean for weeks, and Faith insists that something else must have happened. A stranger had visited them the same day she died – a man who appeared to be threatening her mother – and Faith suspects foul play.

Once settled in at her Aunt T’s place, she never expects to hear from one of her mother’s junkie friends. But when Melinda tells her about the clinical trial she and Faith’s mom had participated in, Faith has to look into it. And what she finds out will ultimately lead her to the truth.

Growing up as the daughter of a heroin addict living in a run-down section of Philadelphia, Faith has few friends. As her investigation develops, she’s forced to let her best friend and love interest in on it, allowing them to see the parts of herself she normally keeps hidden.

Death Spiral is a wild ride from start to finish and I couldn’t put it down. Faith is fearless in facing dangerous situations head-on, giving little thought to personal safety as she attempts to clear her mother’s name. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this Faith Flores Science Mystery series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 16, 2014 Posted by | mystery, teen | Leave a comment

A Year on the Farm

A Year on the Farm
Author: Holly Dufek
Illustrator: Paul E. Nunn
Publisher: Octane Press
Genre: Children / Farming
ISBN: 9781937747565
Pages: 32
Price: $14.99

Octane Press Website
Buy it at Amazon

Casey enjoys her life on the farm. Each season brings new challenges and tasks, and Casey and her team of farm equipment tackle them with determination. Whether planting in the spring, caring for growing crops in the summer, harvesting in the fall, or repairing equipment and caring for livestock in the winter, weather can always play havoc with the farmer’s plans. Casey shows us the best way to handle whatever chores need to be done.

A Year on the Farm showcases Cash IH farm equipment in a fun and educational way. Kids will enjoy reading about Casey’s responsibilities on the farm, sharing in the team’s efforts for a job well done. Farming can be a rough life, but the right equipment makes each job a little easier and more efficient. Kids who dream of being farmers someday will love this book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 12, 2014 Posted by | children, farming | Leave a comment

A Very, Very Noisy Tractor

A Very Very Noisy Tractor
Author: Mar Pavón
Illustrator: Nívola Uyá
Publisher: Cuento de Luz
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-84-15619-65-9
Pages: 28
Price: $16.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

A lady with an enormous beehive hairdo, thick eyeglasses, and a bright blue raincoat is chugging down the road on her tractor. As she passes the various people in the town, each calls out a warning that someone with her clothing or features shouldn’t drive tractors.

When she gets home and sits down to dinner with her family, her daughter announces she wants to drive a tractor just like her mom. But her mother has some wise words for her, reminding her exactly why she drives such a very noisy tractor.

A Very, Very Noisy Tractor is a whimsical story with a deep message. On the surface, it’s a simple story about an unusual woman driving a tractor. But this woman is unafraid to be unique, despite the silly things people tell her. In fact, she deliberately drowns their words out. In reading this book, kids will see that it’s okay to be themselves, and that they are allowed and even encouraged to tune out anyone who thinks differently. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 11, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

When Mercy Rains (The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy – Book 1)

When Mercy Rains
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Genre: Christian Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-307-73131-9
Pages: 352
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Suzanne Zimmerman left her Old Order Mennonite home in Kansas in disgrace at the age of seventeen. Sent away to secretly have her baby and then return, she heads off to Indiana. But once she gets there, her circumstances change, and she decides to make Indianapolis her home, not returning to Kansas as planned. Twenty years later, after becoming a nurse and raising her daughter, Alexa, Suzanne receives a letter asking her to come back to Kansas to take care of her ailing mother.

The threat of exposing her secrets and facing all the hurts from the past nearly keep Suzanne from going. But when Alexa begs to meet the family she’s never known, Suzanne relents. Facing her family will be hard enough, but how can she expect to handle seeing her first love, Paul, once again?

In this first book of the Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy, Suzanne must face up to the past that everyone has long buried. Although there will be harsh words and hurt feelings, forgiveness only comes once the secrets are out in the open. When Mercy Rains shows us a family that has been torn apart by deception and is in desperate need of reconciliation. But with love and tenderness, wounds are healed and hearts mended. I highly recommend this uplifting and inspiring novel.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

Christmas Redemption

Christmas Redemption
Author: Saundra Staats McLemore
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Christian Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-61252-689-8
Pages: 160
Price: $9.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

It’s December of 1967, and Cecilia, Gloria and Loretta are all unmarried and pregnant. Cecilia has run away with her boyfriend to California to enjoy the summer of love. Gloria has anticipated her wedding night with her fiance before he is sent to Vietnam. And Loretta was raped at a party. All three wonder if they should have an abortion or consider adoption, and all spend time at Christmas Hotel, hoping to find peace and consolation.

During their stay there, they come to know the owners of the hotel – the Wrights, a Christian couple who believe in celebrating Jesus Christ’s birth every day. The three become friends, sharing their experiences and working through their problems together. Each must come to terms with what has happened, turning to God and the Wrights for support and encouragement. And each must decide if what they are carrying inside them is truly a baby deserving of life.

Christmas Redemption contains a strong pro-life message with Biblical verses supporting it. Strong on solid Christian preaching rather than plot, the story leans heavily toward Baptist teaching. I would have preferred to see the characters representing other Christian faiths, rather than strictly Baptist, so the story would have appealed to a wider audience. But if you’re looking for a nice Christmas story with a feel-good ending, Christmas Redemption would be a great choice.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 7, 2014 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

Graphic Classics Vol. 24: Native American Classics

Native American Classics
Authors & Illustrators: Various
Publisher: Eureka Productions
Genre: Historical & Literary Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-9825630-6-9
Pages: 144
Price: $17.95

Graphic Classics website
Buy it at Amazon

This volume of graphic classics includes stories, poems and myths of the Native Americans. Some, like The Story of Itksikamahidish and the Wild Potato and The Stolen White Girl are fun and amusing, while others like The Soft-Hearted Sioux and The Cattle Thief are quite disturbing. The native people suffered at the hands of white men, and these stories don’t shy away from this grim reality.

For complete details of the content of this book, please see the website above. Graphic Classics Vol. 24: Native American Classics follows in the tradition of the previous volumes. The illustrations are nicely done and fit the theme of each story well. Anyone interested in Native American legends and myths will enjoy this book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 2, 2014 Posted by | graphic novel, history, literary | Leave a comment

Albatross of Kaua’i (The Story of Kaloakulua)

Albatross of Kaua'i
Author & Illustrator: Susan Dierker
Publisher: Done by Dogs Publishing
Genre: Nature / Birds
ISBN: 978-0-9832386-2-1
Pages: 32
Price: $20.00

Buy it here

This spring, many people tuned in to Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s birdcam to watch a baby albatross, Kaloakulua (KK), grow up. From the day she hatched to the day she flew out to sea, a camera followed her movements. Albatross of Kaua’i tells her story while teaching some new Hawaiian words along the way.

Susan Dierker, one of the camera operators, has compiled this book containing the narrative of KK’s birth and development, along with digitally altered photos designed for children. But the video footage that accompanies this book will become a treasured possession for those who watched KK grow up. Nearly an hour long, this DVD shares the memorable moments of her first five months that viewers shared with her.

If you enjoyed watching KK this spring, you will absolutely love this book and DVD. And if you missed out on watching the birdcam live, you can still enjoy the highlights. I highly recommend Albatross of Kaua’i for all bird lovers.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 1, 2014 Posted by | animals, birds, nature | Leave a comment

When, When, When Will it be Christmas?

When, When, When Will it be Christmas?
Author & Illustrator: Cathy MacLennan
Publisher: Boxer Books
Genre: Children / Christmas
ISBN: 978-1-907152-27-6
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

Red birdies, white mice, kittens and reindeer are all helping to get ready for Christmas. There are lights, presents, stories, songs and a spectacular Christmas show. But when, when, when will it be Christmas? Finally, it’s Christmas Eve, and the children are snuggled in bed, stockings hung beside them. Will this be the best Christmas ever?

Repetitive phrases and color naming make this a great Christmas book to read aloud with little ones, who can join in on the refrain of, “When, When, When Will it be Christmas? Soon, soon.” Impatient children can vent their frustration along with the narrator in wishing Christmas was right now.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

November 26, 2014 Posted by | children, holiday | Leave a comment

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