Bergers Book Reviews

Karma’s a Killer (A Downward Dog Mystery #3)

Karma's a Killer
Author: Tracy Weber
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Genre: Cozy Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-7387-4210-6
Pages: 288
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
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While working at a fundraiser for the local animal shelter, Kate overhears two animal rights protesters arguing. The following day she finds out that one of the women, Raven, has been murdered – the other, Dharma, is the prime suspect. Now Kate has no choice but to help Dharma, who claims to be her estranged mother.

What appears to have been a random protest turns out to have deeper meaning, as Kate discovers Raven had ties to the local community. Her motives for targeting the animal shelter created problems for someone, who obviously wanted her dead. Investigating the murder puts Kate in danger, as her property is vandalized and her dog, Bella, is targeted. And when her live-in boyfriend is called out of town, Kate needs to rely on her very-pregnant-with-twins best friend for assistance. Kate needs to solve this case quickly, before she becomes another victim.

In the midst of her investigation, Kate also needs to know what happened all those years ago when her mother left the family. Although she initially wants to turn her back on Dharma, she listens to her story with an open mind, hoping to find answers to some of the mysteries in her own life.

Yoga Can Be Murder is an enjoyable cozy mystery and I look forward to seeing more of this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 18, 2017 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Finding God in the Ruins

Author: Matt Bays
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-0-7814-1383-1
Pages: 256
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Matt Bays had a very difficult childhood, suffering abuse by his own family members. When, as an adult, he suddenly finds himself unable to cope with life, he turns to substances to dull the pain. But as a church pastor, he knows this can’t go on, and finally finds a competent therapist to help him deal with his past.

As Bays works through the painful memories, he relives the feeling of being abandoned by God, the very One he expected to protect him from the abuse. His feelings lead him to search the scriptures for others who also felt abandoned, and he finds solace in some of David’s psalms. But first he needs to come to terms with his own expectations of God, trying to determine if God might have actually been with him throughout his troubled childhood.

Reading in many ways more like a journal than a spiritual self-help book, Finding God in the Ruins offers hope to others who have suffered from traumatic experiences. At times Bays expresses his anger with God, reminding us that God can handle our anger better than we think He can. But ultimately, he reinforces the truth that God is always with us, even when we go through trying times. We may never know why we suffer, but God never leaves us alone, and that’s good news we can all relate to.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 13, 2017 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

The Red Car That Tyler Wanted

Author & Illustrator: Mary A. Kurban, Ed.D.
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-692-67003-3
Pages: 20
Price: $7.99

Buy it at Amazon

Tyler sees a little red car in the window of the store, and he wants it very much. His mom tells him that if he’s a very good little rabbit, he will receive it for his birthday. Tyler is exceptionally good. He finishes his milk and carrot, picks up his toys, and folds his clothes neatly before going to bed. After weeks and weeks of very good behavior, his birthday arrives. True to her word, his mom gives him his treasured red car.

A birthday party is planned for later in the day, and until his friends arrive, Tyler plays with his new red car. It’s just perfect and he loves playing with it. But when his guests finally arrive, Tyler has a problem. His mom only purchased party favors for six guests, and one of his friends brought his little brother. When his six friends receive their toys to play with, the uninvited little rabbit begins to cry. Tyler responds in a completely unexpected and heartwarming way, showing everyone that friends mean much more than things.

Tyler models an incredible generosity in not only sharing his toys, but his most treasured possession. Through his actions, he learns that giving is much more enjoyable than receiving. Kids and moms will adore Tyler.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Mom’s Choice Award Winner Honoring Excellence

January 11, 2017 Posted by | animals, children | Leave a comment

Mom’s Dresses

Author & Illustrator: Mónica Carretero
Publisher: Cuento de Luz
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-84-16147-74-8
Pages: 36
Price: $16.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Mom has quite the collection of dresses, and each comes with its own adventure. A checkerboard dress sends a young girl on horseback to rescue a pawn. Mom’s long, flowing blue dress reminds her of the ocean, and she’s sailing a ship among mermaids and seagulls. The flowered dress is a great big field that she runs through, picking flowers and decorating her hair.

This mom and her daughter have a close bond and they share their love of her unique dresses. Each day she wears a new one, and her daughter’s imagination takes her off on another adventure. The final pages of this book include a dress-up doll along with cut-out clothes to dress her in. Girls can enjoy making up their own adventures along with the main character.

Mom’s Dresses is a fun read for girls who enjoy dreaming and letting their imaginations run wild.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 29, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Smithsonian Readers: Endless Explorations Level 4

Endless Explorations
Authors: Brenda Scott-Royce, Stephen Binns, Emily Rose Oachs, Kaitlyn DiPerna
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Genre: Children / Science
ISBN: 978-1-62686-454-2
Pages: 192
Price: $14.95

Buy it at Amazon

Science, history, and nature are interesting for kids, and Smithsonian Readers capitalizes on this desire to learn more about these topics. Endless Explorations covers predators, world wonders, space exploration, natural disasters, ocean habitats, and flight. Beautiful photos fill each page, bringing the text alive and making it more engaging. Each section closes with a multiple choice quiz to determine reading comprehension.

The Smithsonian Readers series is designed for early, developing, engage and fluent readers. In this level 4 book, kids will read extended sentences and complex words in a variety of factual texts to challenge fluent readers.

Smithsonian Readers: Endless Explorations Level 4 is sure to generate some curiosity and enthusiasm in the home and classroom. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 20, 2016 Posted by | children, education, nature, science | Leave a comment

Finding Calcutta: Memoirs of a Photographer

Finding Calcutta
Author: Marie Bissell Constantin
Publisher: Lulu
Genre: Memoir
ISBN: 978-1-4834-5478-8
Pages: 128
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
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Marie Bissell Constantin took the photograph of Saint Teresa of Calcutta that was unveiled at her beatification ceremony. One of may Constantin took, this one best captured the heart and soul of this great Saint. During three visits to Calcutta while discerning a possible vocation, Constantin had the opportunity to see Saint Teresa in action.

Opening with an anecdote from her school days, Constantin shares a moment in the convent and the life changes that came about as a result of her daily interaction with one of the Sisters. Having other religious relatives sparked her curiosity, and she spent many years attempting to determine if she shared a similar calling. These searches led her to Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity.

In addition to stories of her own volunteer service, Constantin shares some of the horrible treatment suffered by religious sisters as they work among the poor and marginalized in society. As they face persecution and the horrors of war, the habit is sometimes a shield and other times a target.

Although this memoir was written for family, those who admire this wonderful Saint will enjoy seeing snippets of her in real life, and not just as the woman who carried the dying home with her. Those who are attempting to discern their own vocations will also find Constantin’s honesty refreshing and may gain some insights in reading the author’s struggles. I highly recommend Finding Calcutta.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 13, 2016 Posted by | Christian, memoir, Saints | Leave a comment


Author: Dawn Casey
Illustrator: Amanda Hall
Publisher: Good Books
Genre: Children / Christmas / Russia
ISBN: 978-1-68099-188-8
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99

Buy it at Amazon

Babushka is very busy cooking and cleaning in her tiny cottage. One day three men visit her home, telling of their wonderful journey as they’re led by a star to find a newborn baby. They invite Babushka to come with them, but first she must clean up after their visit. After they’re gone, she reconsiders, as she sees the star shining brightly. She packs up lots of handmade toys, clothing, and baked goods and heads out to follow them.

The snow has covered their footprints, and Babushka wanders with her cat through the frozen landscape. As she travels, she comes across people who need the good things she’s carrying, and she gives them away joyously. Babushka hasn’t found the Christ child, but she spreads the Light of Love throughout the land.

Babushka is a traditional Russian Christmas tale retold in this charming book filled with bright and beautiful illustrations. Children will delight in this magical story.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 5, 2016 Posted by | children, holiday | Leave a comment

Jesus Is Born

Jesus Is Born
Author: Sophie Piper
Illustrator: Anne Yvonne Gilbert
Publisher: Good Books
Genre: Children / Christmas
ISBN: 978-1-68099-187-1
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99

Buy it at Amazon

Christian parents enjoy sharing the story of the first Christmas with their children. Reading directly from the Bible would be a nice way to do this, but the story is not told in its entirety in any of the Gospels. Jesus Is Born highlights important passages from both Luke and Matthew, so that children can read the whole story.

Beginning with the Gospel of Luke, the text opens with the Angel Gabriel’s request from God that Mary should carry his Son. Carefully avoiding the sensitive subject of virginity, Mary simply states that she can’t be a mother if she’s not married. Then children read about the census decree and Joseph’s need to return to Bethlehem along with Mary. Angels appear to the shepherds announcing the birth of their Savior and they hurry to see Jesus in the manger. The story then shifts to the Gospel of Matthew, as we read of the Magi visiting King Herod before finding Jesus in Bethlehem. King Herod’s horrifying decision to slaughter the innocent babies is briefly mentioned, as Joseph leads the Holy Family away to safety. Throughout this story, we’re reminded that Jesus will bring God’s blessing to the world.

Jesus Is Born faithfully follows biblical texts with very little embellishment and the illustrations are incredibly beautiful and lifelike. Children will enjoy reading this special story over and over again as they anticipate celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas morning.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 1, 2016 Posted by | children, holiday | Leave a comment

Cricket Media – Babybug, Ladybug, Spider, and Cricket magazines

Cricket Media has been providing high-quality, ad-free reading materials to children since 1973. Targeted toward four age groups, these magazines are a fun read for kids.

double-the-givingDuring this holiday season, Cricket Media is teaming up with Libraries Without Borders and the Parent-Child Home Program to provide magazines to children who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to read them. For every gift subscription purchased, one will be donated.






BABYBUG (ages 6 mos.-3) is for babies who love to be read to – and for adults who love to read to them. A parents’ reading guide is provided to get the most out of each issue.







LADYBUG (ages 3-6) contains fun fiction, non-fiction, poetry, puzzles, and songs. Small secondary characters provide entertainment at the bottom of the pages.







SPIDER (ages 6-9) contains fiction and non-fiction geared toward a slightly older audience, poetry, puzzles and lots of humor. The secondary characters at the bottom of the pages have a more involved storyline.







CRICKET (ages 9-14) includes fiction, non-fiction, comic strips, poetry,
do-it-yourself projects, puzzles and contests, as well as lots of reader interaction.




Holiday Celebration

All purchases totaling $75.00 or more at Cricket Media will earn a free copy of A Cricket Holiday Celebration, offering a cornucopia of holiday stories, songs, poems, and recipes drawn from more than 40 years of award-winning Cricket Media publications.




Reviewer: Alice Berger

November 28, 2016 Posted by | children, magazine | Leave a comment

Christmas Quiet: Receiving the Gift of His Presence: A 25-Day Devotional Coloring Book

Author: Maisie Sparks
Illustrator: Lauren Younis
Publisher: FaithWords
Genre: Christian / Christmas
ISBN: 978-1-4555-7108-6
Pages: 112
Price: $12.99

Author’s website
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The hustle and bustle of the holiday season sometimes makes it difficult to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Taking a few minutes out of our hectic days can restore the sense of anticipation that Advent asks of us. Christmas Quiet provides a meaningful reflection for the 25 days leading up to Christmas, along with an accompanying coloring page.

For the Israelites, the hope of the Messiah began in the Garden of Eden, which is where this devotional begins. We visit with Mary, Anna, Simeon, the wise men, and the shepherds as we see snippets of the Christmas story throughout its pages. But we also read of impatiently waiting in line, dealing with holiday pain and grief, and wishing for wonderful gifts. Ultimately, though, we are guided to long for the true gift of Christmas – God’s gift of his only son, Jesus.

Each of the coloring pages contains a message relating to the devotional text, along with small pictures and doodles. In slowing down to fill them with color, we can absorb the message and ponder it in our own hearts, just as Mary did. Christmas Quiet presents a beautiful opportunity to slow down and savor this most wonderful of seasons, as we anticipate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Christian, holiday | Leave a comment