Bergers Book Reviews

Phantom Limb

Phantom Limb
Author: Dennis Palumbo
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0254-4
Pages: 336
Price: $24.95

Author’s website
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Lisa Harland, the wife of one of Pittsburgh’s richest tycoons, shows up at Daniel Rinaldi’s office, intending to commit suicide by 7:00 that evening. But Rinaldi doesn’t anticipate Lisa being kidnapped right from under his nose as she’s leaving his office. Her husband immediately summons the FBI and police, and Rinaldi is included as the last one to see her before she was snatched.

But the kidnappers are playing hardball with the authorities, and the violence escalates. Money is their primary aim, but Rinaldi senses they may also be looking for some kind of revenge. And until he understands what motivates them, no one is safe.

Phantom Limb is a fast-paced mystery-thriller, in the same mold as the previous Daniel Rinaldi mysteries. Rinaldi and the supporting characters are well-developed for a mystery, and the intricate plot made this a book I couldn’t put down. I highly recommend this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 16, 2014 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Clucky and the Magic Kettle

Clucky and the Magic Kettle
Author: Mar Pavón
Illustrator: Mónica Carretero
Publisher: Cuento de Luz
Genre: Children
ISBN: 9788415619444
Pages: 30
Price: $15.95

Buy it at Amazon

Clucky, the mother hen, takes her three chicks to school every day. But, while learning to read and write, the chicks hear ugly things about themselves and others. As they bring these words home to repeat to Clucky, she reminds them to get that nonsense out of their heads.

After a while, Clucky uses a bit of her magic to create a bubbling brew full of the mean and nasty things others have said. Then she recycles it, turning it into love, support and gratitude instead.

Kids face harsh criticism and gossip every day at school, and it’s important for them to realize they don’t have to believe everything they hear or participate in those conversations. Clucky and the Magic Kettle shows kids that they can transform the ugly into the beautiful, making life more enjoyable for everyone.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 15, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Bitopia

Bitopia
Title: Bitopia
Author: Ari Magnusson
Publisher: Olivander Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-9848610-5-7
Pages: 240
Price: $9.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Stewart is on the run from a gang of bullies when he discovers an open manhole. Scrambling inside, he’s safe, for the moment. But when he finally escapes out the other side, he finds himself in a whole new world – a world of children hiding in a walled city to keep themselves safe from the Venators.

One child – the Princeps – holds the key to the city in a book called the Comlat. Inside, she claims, is a prophecy about the city’s Forebears who were defeated after three battles with the Venators. But Stewart doesn’t believe in prophecies, and he thinks the Forebears went home after defeating the Venators. A daring attempt to discover the truth leads to his expulsion from the city, and an unexpected chance to prove his theory correct.

What Stewart discovers is the key to understanding and defeating the powers these bullies have over the children. Once he knows what they need to do, the Venators have no power over the city, and everyone is finally free.

Understanding Bullying
Title: Understanding Bullying and Ways to Make It Stop!
Author: Ari Magnusson
Publisher: Olivander Press
Genre: Teacher guide
ISBN: 978-0984861095
Pages: 126
Price: $14.99

Buy it at Amazon

This accompanying discussion guide is meant to be used with Bitopia in schools. They are designed to empower children to understand what bullies are doing to them, and how to handle bullying situations by themselves, without relying on adult interference. While the guide suggests kids may want to ask an adult for help, it discourages adults from stepping in without being asked.

Bullying occurs at all ages, not just in childhood, and teaching kids to rely solely on adult intervention makes them powerless to deal with bullying later in life. By providing them with the tools to deal with the problem on their own, they will be able to handle it any time it happens, without waiting to be rescued.

I highly recommend Bitopia and Understanding Bullying and Ways to Make It Stop! for classroom use.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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

Adventures with Buster

Adventures with Buster
Author: London Lake Pickett
Illustrator: Lynda Farrington Wilson
Publisher: Self
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-615-70668-9
Pages: 35
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Buster is a service dog who helps guide the author, who is nearly blind. In Adventures with Buster, kids learn about how service dogs are trained and how they help the people they serve.

We meet Buster in Florida, where Pickett and he spend several weeks getting used to each other. Then it’s time for him to come home to North Carolina and an unexpected snowfall. And soon after, they take a trip to Arizona together. Travel by plane doesn’t upset Buster one bit, and he takes good care of Pickett. But along the way, she is surprised by some of Buster’s adventures.

In Adventures with Buster kids will be treated to a glimpse of life with a service dog and join in the fun of his adventures. This is a nice read for all ages.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 10, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

ABC’s / ABC is for Circus

ABC's
Author & Illustrator: Charley Harper
Publisher: AMMO Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-162326003-3
Pages: 62
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

Charley Harper is known for seeing nature in a different way, drawing animals with geometric shapes and lines to create fanciful images. In ABC’s, kids will see these unique and unusual pictures representing each of the letters of the alphabet.

ABC is for Circus
Author & Illustrator: Patrick Hruby
Publisher: AMMO Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-162326006-4
Pages: 56
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

The circus is colorful, and so are these ABC’s. Geometric shapes in vibrant hues contrast with black and white, representing many of the things kids would see at the circus, as they spell out the alphabet.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 8, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

My First Baking Book / My First Juices & Smoothies

My First Baking Book
Author: Becky Johnson
Publisher: Hamlyn
Genre: Children / Cooking
ISBN: 978-0-600-62966-5
Pages: 128
Price: $9.99

Buy it at Amazon

Baking is so enjoyable, especially when putting silly faces and sprinkles on cupcakes and cookies. Created to be a hands-on experience, these recipes allow kids to have fun in the kitchen. Parental guidance and assistance is essential, since recipes may contain many ingredients or have hard preparation steps.

My First Juices and Smoothies
Author: Amanda Cross
Publisher: Hamlyn
Genre: Children / Cooking
ISBN: 978-0-600-62967-2
Pages: 128
Price: $9.99

Buy it at Amazon

Yummy recipes for juices consisting of: all fruits; fruits & vegetables; and fruits, veggies and dairy/non-dairy milk or yogurt to make smoothies. This book is designed to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies in a way that tastes great and is easy to consume.

Snapshots of the drinks and snacks, as well as the kids enjoying them, accompany the recipes in these vibrant and colorful books.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 5, 2014 Posted by | children, cooking | Leave a comment

That Night

That Night
Author & Illustrator: S.E. Flynn
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-43896-699-1
Pages: 24
Price: $11.95

Buy it at AuthorHouse
Buy it at Amazon

That night, up on the roof, one old calico cat spotted three furry heads poking out of the chimney, and three wet noses sniffing the sweet midnight air. As they creep through the neighborhood, intent on mischief and fun, only the calico cat sees their antics.

That Night shares the adventures of three nocturnal animals as they play hide and seek, romp in the playground, and chase grasshoppers. Adorable watercolor illustrations show them in partial silhouette, adding to the enjoyment of the story, as children can try to guess what they are. They are are finally revealed to be raccoons at the end.

Any child who has wondered what goes on at night will smile at the antics of these cute critters. And maybe they will even dream of a nighttime adventure of their own. That Night would be a wonderful addition to any child’s book collection.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 4, 2014 Posted by | animals, children | Leave a comment

Destined for Doon

Destined for Doon
Author: Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon
Publisher: Blink
Genre: Fantasy / Romance
ISBN: 978-0-310-74233-3
Pages: 352
Price: $17.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

In this sequel to Doon, Kenna has returned to her life in the theater, and now she’s missing the prince she left behind. She has only now realized that they had a true Calling, and Duncan is her soul mate. So when he suddenly arrives to bring her back to Doon, she heads back willingly, hoping for another chance. But Duncan is harboring illusions that Kenna is already spoken for, and won’t listen to any explanations.

Meanwhile, Veronica is attempting to stop the witch’s evil spell, which has created a zombie fungus that threatens to overtake Doon. She and Kenna have defeated the witch once before, and she needs her best friend’s help once again. Can Kenna help Vee save Doon, and can she salvage the relationship she once had with Duncan, before time runs out?

Filled with drama and suspense, Destined for Doon picks up right where Doon left off. Complicated relationships take center stage, as both Vee and Kenna struggle to make things right with their Doonian princes. And of course, good must triumph over evil. My one complaint about this story is that it ends in a cliff-hanger that felt completely out of place. But otherwise, this is a great read.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 3, 2014 Posted by | fantasy, romance, teen | Leave a comment

Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets

Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets
Author: J.A. Buckle
Publisher: Switch Press
Genre: Teen
ISBN: 978-1-63079-000-4
Pages: 224
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

Josh is nearly 17, a metal head, and a nerd by his standards. He has a pet ferret, a mom and sister, and a couple of unusual friends, but no girlfriend – yet. Six months before the big birthday, he sets some lofty goals, but “real life” is getting in the way of achieving them.

In the journal his mother gave him as a release valve, Josh records his everyday thoughts and feelings. Girls, work, guitars, friends, and ferrets are all covered in some manner, as well as his regret at never having met his really cool and handsome dad. But life is going to throw Josh some big surprises he never expects.

Turning 17 means facing demons from the past, and requires an extra dose of courage and strength. Growing up isn’t easy, and guys will relate to Josh’s struggles in trying to get his life going in the right direction. Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets is a great coming of age story from a guy’s perspective, although girls will also enjoy reading Josh’s private journal. I highly recommend this entertaining and lighthearted book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 2, 2014 Posted by | teen | Leave a comment

Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matters

Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matters
Author: Howard Binkow
Illustrator: Taillefer Long
Publisher: Thunderbolt Publishing
Genre: Children
ISBN: 9780982616598
Pages: 32
Price: $15.00

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Howard B. Wigglebottom and his friends are competing in the Pup Scouts Good Manners Competition in five days. Their skills need a lot of improvement, so Howard hires Ms. Owlee as the team’s coach. She reminds them that they need to think, “I care,” and good manners will come naturally. After practicing their new skills, the team does well in the competition. But more importantly, they have learned how to be polite to others.

Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matters is suitable for classroom use, with discussion topics presented at the conclusion. Although this is more of a lesson than an actual story, kids will giggle over the animals’ bad manners in the beginning, and learn from their new and better behavior.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 28, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

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