Bergers Book Reviews

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

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

Author’s website
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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
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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
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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

Alphabetics: An Aesthetically Awesome Alliterated Alphabet Anthology

Authors: Patrick & Traci Concepción
Illustrator: Dawid Ryski
Publisher: Die Gestalten Verlag
Genre: Children / Literary
ISBN: 978-3-89955-728-2
Pages: 64
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

A is for apple, B is for BORING… Ho-hum. This is NOT that book. In fact, I’m not really sure this is a children’s book at all. Featuring characters like Atticus the altriuisic astronaut and Zooey the zonked zombie, this book has fun with alliterations. Retro-modern illustrations accompany these unusual descriptions.

A glossary is included for those who may need a little assistance in following along, since not all of us know that Zig-Zag is a French based brand of rolling papers and a Contaflex was a camera popular from the 1930s to the 1960s. Literary parents will find this book a pleasure to read to their children, and may even “borrow” it permanently. Alphabetics is a unique and enjoyable alphabet book that both parents and kids will love.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 6, 2015 Posted by | children, literary | Leave a comment

Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship and Fashion Disasters (Desperate Diva Diaries Series)

Catie Conrad - Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters
Author: Angie Spady
Illustrator: Channing Everidge
Publisher: B&H Kids
Genre: Middle-grade girls / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4336-8460-9
Pages: 304
Price: $12.99

Author’s website
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Catie Conrad’s father, a journalist, has given her blank diaries to record her thoughts. Catie would rather have sketch pads for drawing her fashion designs, but she decides to give the diaries a try. Sixth grade has brought its share of challenges, and she discovers it helps to write about them.

Her brother Jeremy, aka the Germ, and his pet skunk are driving her crazy. The school dance has been announced, and both she and her nemesis, the ultra popular Miranda Maroni, seek the attention of the same boy. And the art contest has her stressed and determined to enter her very best fashion design. Her father has the worst timing in deciding to take the family on a mission trip to an Indian reservation just before the dance and the contest deadline. Catie will need a lot of prayer to get through the year!

Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship and Fashion Disasters is printed as if handwritten in a notebook, with lots of sketches throughout. Middle-grade girls will relate to the drama of Catie’s life, and will be inspired by the way she tackles her problems, as friends, family and faith strengthen her. Although this is a Christian book, it doesn’t come across preachy, and girls will find Catie very real in her thoughts and struggles. I highly recommend this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 4, 2015 Posted by | Christian, tween | Leave a comment

The Best Part of the Day

The Best Part of the Day
Author: Sarah Ban Breathnach
Illustrator: Wendy Edelson
Publisher: Regnery Kids
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-62157-252-7
Pages: 40
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
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Twenty years ago, Simple Abundance reminded women that if they wanted to be truly happy, they needed to be grateful for all the good things in their lives. Now, in this children’s version, kids are asked to do the same thing.

Winter, spring, summer and fall – all the seasons of the year share their bounty with us. Was the best part of the day picking pumpkins, building a snowman, tending a garden, or jumping in the pool? At the end of the day, it’s nice to review the joys experienced and be grateful for them all.

In this rhyming book with watercolor illustrations of a happy family, Sarah Ban Breathnach shares the principles of Simple Abundance with kids. Rather than writing down five good things in a gratitude journal, they can simply share their blessings with their parents before bed and go to sleep with a smile. The Best Part of the Day provides a beautiful way to end the day.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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

My Kiss Won’t Miss

My Kiss Won't Miss
Author: Lesley Dahlseng
Illustrator: Mirela Tufan
Publisher: WhetWord Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-615-98704-0
Pages: 32
Price: $17.99

Author’s website
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Bedtime draws near, but the child is not ready for sleep. Although he may be hiding, his mother searches high and low. And if she can’t find him, she’ll blow a kiss that won’t miss.

In rhyming verse, children are shown hiding in a myriad of places in nature. They are boys and girls of all races, allowing for all kids to see themselves in this book. In every scene, their mother keeps looking for them, intending to catch them for a goodnight kiss. And when the child is finally tucked into bed, she promises a kiss from God, and His kiss certainly won’t miss!

A mother’s love is so special, as is the love of God. In My Kiss Won’t Miss, kids are reminded of this love that never ends. This book would be a perfect bedtime read, accompanied by snuggles and a kiss goodnight.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 23, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

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


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