Bergers Book Reviews

The Lost Letter


Author: Mimi Matthews
Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press
Genre: Victorian Romance
ISBN: 978-0-9990364-1-9
Pages: 206
Price: $2.99 (Kindle)

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Sylvia Stafford has accepted her reduced circumstances and enjoys her new position as a governess. Life has dealt the society beauty some cruel blows, but she’s a strong woman and has chosen to make the best of things.

Colonel Sebastian Conrad is Sylvia’s one true love, but circumstances drove them apart years ago. Now he’s injured and living alone, convinced that Sylvia spurned his attentions. When his meddling sister insists Sylvia visit the home to cheer him up, he’s not at all pleased.

The Lost Letter is a sweet Victorian romance with a delightful array of twists. Unlike the simpering Victorian heroines of the past, Sylvia is spunky, with a mind of her own and the daring to take matters into her own hands. And Sebastian is the kind of hero who can melt a woman’s heart. I really enjoyed this novel and I look forward to seeing many more Victorian romances from this talented author.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 16, 2017 Posted by | romance | Leave a comment

Maurice the Unbeastly


Author: Amy Dixon
Illustrator: Karl James Mountford
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4549-1953-7
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

Maurice’s parents are concerned that he’s much too civilized, so they enroll him in the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts. But no matter how hard he tries, Maurice simply can’t seem to fit in. He’s convinced he will be a gargantuan failure.

But one day a mysterious creature arrives in the classroom, and none of the other students know what to do. Drawing on his own natural abilities, Maurice catches the creature and subdues it, immediately earning the respect of everyone in the school.

Maurice is different from the other students, and he believes his differences are bad. But when he discovers his hidden talent, he realizes that being different is okay, and he’s grateful. Children will love Maurice the Unbeastly.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 10, 2017 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

The Ringmaster’s Wife


Author: Kristy Cambron
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-7180-4154-0
Pages: 368
Price: $15.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Lady Rosamund Easling of Yorkshire, England has a secret passion – riding bareback on her Arabian mare. So when Colin Keary arrives with the intention of purchasing her beloved horse, Rosamund is understandably upset. But what she doesn’t expect is Colin’s enticing invitation to run off to America and join the circus.

Mable Burton is living the simple farm life in Ohio, but the excitement of the city is calling her. A chance meeting in Chicago introduces her to John Ringling, but they won’t meet again until several years later in Atlantic City. John has never forgotten her, and they are soon married. Now she, too, is joined to the circus, but only peripherally.

The Ringmaster’s Wife alternates between these two women’s perspectives, as a circus season progresses. Rosamund’s career begins on a shaky note, but as she gains confidence, she has to handle the rivalry that develops between her and the former star. Mable is a strong and steady force in Rosamund’s life, as she cheers for the young lady to be successful. And Colin is an enigma to Rosamund, as she tries to determine if he is interested in her as a woman or simply a circus performer.

Faith and courage in the midst of overwhelming circumstances are the hallmark themes in this beautifully written historical novel. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 6, 2017 Posted by | fiction, history | Leave a comment

The Listening Day Vol. 1


Author: Paul J. Pastor
Publisher: Zeal Books
Genre: Christian / Meditation
ISBN: 978-0-9970669-6-8
Pages: 112
Price: $8.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

God’s voice comes to us through sacred Scripture, but many of us long to hear Him speak directly to us in our circumstances. Drawing on Bible quotes, Paul J. Pastor provides a simulated dialogue between God and the reader in a series of meditations.

These one page meditations resemble prayer, where the reader asks God questions and God responds. But rather than the harsh responses many expect, God reassures us of his love and care. Visiting topics such as pain and suffering, sin and repentance, relationships, and many others, Pastor shares the words God might say to us. The reader can enjoy them sequentially, or thumb through the book for the topic that speaks to him most in that moment.

In The Listening Day, God’s perspective is limited by our human understanding, as interpreted by Pastor. But these words are powerful and full of meaning for all of us. I highly recommend this innovative and inspirational meditation book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 2, 2017 Posted by | Christian, meditation | Leave a comment

It’s Good to Be Kind


Author: Lauren DuBois Rosemond
Illustrator: Marco Cutrone
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 978-1541040540
Pages: 32
Price: $9.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Leonard the Lion has just celebrated his first birthday by opening a magical box. Inside is a crown, a cape, and instructions for how he should behave, now that he has become King. Rather than using his powers to hurt, he’s instructed to help others instead.

Lex the Leopard watches closely as Leonard changes his ways, going about his business in the jungle. Leonard is now kind to all the animals he meets, helping them whenever he is able. Lex is puzzled until Leonard explains the power of the cape.

It’s Good to Be Kind shows kids kindness in action. Leonard is not only the King of the jungle, but he’s also becoming very popular as he helps his friends. Leonard has learned it’s good to be King, but it’s even better to be kind. And by the power of example, Lex has learned this lesson, also. This cute story has a great message without being preachy.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 26, 2017 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Mary Had a Little Jam: And Other Silly Rhymes


Author: Bruce Lansky
Illustrator: Stephen Carpenter
Publisher: Meadowbrook Press
ISBN: 978-1-4814-9278-2
Pages: 80
Price: $8.95

Buy it at Amazon

Old nursery rhymes have met their match, as Bruce Lansky and other talented poets give them a totally modern spin. Humorous illustrations accompany these creative and silly poems. This new edition has been kid-tested, and only the most giggle-worthy poems are included.

The original edition of Mary Had a Little Jam sold over 800,000 copies, making it the most popular book of funny, contemporary nursery rhymes in the English language. Kids are sure to love this expanded version.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 19, 2017 Posted by | children, humor | Leave a comment

Max and Bird


Author & Illustrator: Ed Vere
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4926-3558-1
Pages: 32
Price: $17.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Max, a black kitten, meets Bird, and would like to be friends. Bird is very young and doesn’t know how to fly, but Max thinks Bird might be fun to chase and will make a tasty snack. Bird thinks otherwise, and decides Max can help him learn to fly before chasing him. Max agrees and they begin to research the art of flying.

Finally, Bird achieves his goal with Max’s full support and encouragement. And in the process of teaching Bird to fly, Max realizes that it simply wouldn’t be very nice to eat Bird, now that they are good friends.

Max and Bird are adorably illustrated in a minimalistic style with big, bold eyes and expressive appearances that kids will love. This cute story will appeal to everyone, and parents won’t get tired of reading it over and over again, as it quickly becomes a family favorite.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 14, 2017 Posted by | birds, cats, children | Leave a comment

Created for Connection: The “Hold Me Tight” Guide for Christian Couples


Authors: Dr. Sue Johnson with Kenneth Sanderfer
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Christian / Marriage
ISBN: 978-0-316-30741-3
Pages: 336
Price: $26.00

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Couples in thriving marriages have learned how to communicate in ways that are loving and constructive. Rather than tearing each other down in arguments, they know how to address issues without attacking the other person. But for many of us, this skill isn’t something we know intuitively – we need to learn how to communicate with our partner.

In Created for Connection, Dr. Sue Johnson explores the conversations a couple can have that are designed to bring them closer together, rather than pulling them apart. When troubled times arrive – and they always do – these conversations will guide the couple through them in a way that will not only leave their relationship intact, but also strengthen it. In recognizing old communication patterns that aren’t working, they can then move to sharing their old hurts and expressing forgiveness, bringing them closer. Physical intimacy is also a key form of communication in keeping marriages healthy and vibrant.

Johnson provides numerous examples of couples’ conversations that take place over a variety of difficulties, and the reader gets a good sense of how to apply these ideas to his or her own situation. Even if your marriage is not struggling, this book can help you make it even better. I highly recommend Created for Connection.

September 8, 2017 Posted by | Christian, marriage | Leave a comment

Stories on the Journey: A Homilitic Biography (Cycle B Homilies)


Author: Rev. Peter G. Jankowski
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Catholic / Christian
ISBN: 978-1544933160
Pages: 344
Price: $12.95

St. Patrick’s Church of Joliet, IL
Buy it at Amazon

Cycle B Homilies picks up in the second year of Catholic Church readings, and follows the Cycle A Homilies published last year. Following in the same pattern, each of the homilies includes the designated Sunday title, as well as the scripture readings for that Sunday’s Mass in Cycle B. Father Pete expands on the Gospel readings each week, sharing stories of his own experiences as priest, as well as his interactions with parishioners. These homilies are warmly written and encouraging in style, sometimes challenging his listeners to respond to the words of Jesus and what He demands of us. But they’re also down-to-earth and meant for the average reader who doesn’t have a theology degree.

Father Pete has no interest in portraying himself as perfect, and willingly shares his faults and foibles with the reader. I found myself chuckling at some of these stories, as I learned a bit about his service to his Parish and the surrounding community, and I will enjoy reading them during each Cycle B year. This is part of a planned four-volume series, which includes Cycles A, B & C, as well as special homilies. Proceeds from the sales of Stories on the Journey will benefit St. Patrick’s Church.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, Christian | Leave a comment

Bass Fishing, Brown Dogs & Curveballs


Author: Jerry McKinnis
Publisher: JEM Publishing
Genre: Memoir / Fishing
ISBN: 978-0996253505
Pages: 354
Price: $20.00 (autographed if purchased through author’s website)

Author’s website

If you know anything about bass fishing, or at least grew up watching fishing shows on ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network), you know about the very affable fishing enthusiast and television host, Jerry McKinnis. His outdoor fishing show, The Fishin’ Hole, ran for over 40 years and has the longest running tenure of any program ever on ESPN.

Fortunately for all of his fans, Mr. McKinnis decided to write an autobiography of sorts complete with sage advice, humor, and fishing stories that most of us could only ever dream about. As Jerry states on the book cover, “this is a book about fishing but it is not a fishing book.” In other words, Jerry tells us at the outset that “you can read every word on all of these pages and not improve as a fisherman one single bit.” You will, however, thoroughly enjoy learning about this gentle man’s life and adventures and maybe learn something about your own in the process.

You see, for as genuine a fellow as he appeared on TV, that is exactly how he is in the book. You can just hear his voice and calm, pleasant demeanor come through with every word. It’s like he’s sitting right next to you, sharing a cup of coffee over a nice warm fire, and you’re listening to a man who indeed was (and is) one of the most overlooked role models for our time.

Jerry’s recollections range from how he dallied with playing professional baseball as a young man, to becoming a bass fishing guide in Arkansas, and finally establishing one of the most successful fishing programs and television production companies ever.

Along the way we learn about the multitude of entertaining personalities that touched and inspired him on his life journey. Jerry’s stories are also filled with enriched insight, and the reward is that he teaches us some hard lessons he learned…in the hope of inspiring us to create our own life adventures.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Mr. McKinnis or knew that he was a major personality on ESPN for over four decades. You will still enjoy the down-home warmth his stories exude. And if you are an avid fisherman, well then, this book is just the icing on the cake. I give it my highest recommendation.

Reviewer: Gene Berger

August 30, 2017 Posted by | memoir, nature | Leave a comment