Bergers Book Reviews

The Made From Scratch Life

The Made From Scratch Life
Author: Melissa K. Norris
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Genre: Natural living / Christian
ISBN: 978-0-7369-6534-7
Pages: 208
Price: $12.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Many of us long for a simpler and more wholesome way of life, but making the appropriate changes feels too difficult. In The Made From Scratch Life, Melissa K. Norris guides us in looking at ways we can create a more natural home.

Beginning with food grown in our own vegetable garden, she shows us proper planting, harvesting and preserving techniques, along with recipes and meal-planning tips. Avoiding toxic cleaning products can be as simple as looking in the kitchen pantry, and Norris provides recipes to make our own chemical-free solutions. Raising livestock for milk, eggs, and meat is also discussed. Finally, Norris touches on our own family traditions and practices, and how these contribute to a happy home.

Throughout The Made From Scratch Life Norris shares Bible truths along with her own home-grown wisdom. Although some of these suggestions may be impossible for many city or suburban dwellers, there is plenty of good advice for every reader, as even small changes can contribute to your family’s well-being.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories

Our Teacher is a Vampire
Author: Mary Amato
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3553-1
Pages: 256
Price: $16.95

Author’s website
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Alexander H. Gory Jr. is excited to own a new blank book. He convinces his classmates to help him fill it with ideas about their teacher, the vampire. As everyone takes turns helping to write in the book, the truth about their teacher finally comes out. Then something new happens to divert their attention, and they continue to write it all down during the school year.

Although Alexander is the owner of the book, everyone is equal in making their voices heard. The group is made up of distinct personalities which comes out in their thoughts and words. A bookworm, a perfectionist, a class clown, a new kid, and others all have something important to say. But when a substitute teacher arrives, he threatens their fun with the book. Their only choice is to make him part of the team.

Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories demonstrates how much fun it is for kids to keep a shared notebook. They will see what it takes to write a good story, through the wise words of an author who writes letters to the students and encourages their efforts. Kids may have trouble identifying with one particular student since no one is a true main character, but they may naturally gravitate toward the one who most resembles their own personality. This book would be a fun read and also a great classroom resource in teaching creative writing. Teaching guides are available at the author’s website.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 25, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Big Cat

Big Cat
Author & Illustrator: Ethan Long
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Children / Reading / Cats
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3538-8
Pages: 32
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
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Big Cat lives with a little girl who thinks he’s fun. Rather than just letting him sleep, she wakes him up, dances with him, dresses him up, and gives him a hug. Using simple sentences beginning with “Big Cat can…” this I Like to Read Book introduces children to one syllable words. Humorous illustrations demonstrate Big Cat’s patience with his young playmate. This book would be an enjoyable addition to classroom libraries.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 24, 2016 Posted by | cats, children, education | Leave a comment

Level Up Your Life

Level Up Your Life
Author: Steve Kamb
Publisher: Rodale Books
Genre: Self-improvement / Fitness
ISBN: 978-1-62336-540-0
Pages: 288
Price: $19.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Life is meant to be an adventure, but far too many people simply sit on the sidelines and watch. But what if we could be the hero in our own story? Steve Kamb shows us how we can tackle challenges like a video game and learn to level up our own lives.

Although Kamb is the founder of Nerd Fitness, Level Up Your Life is only partially concerned with fitness. Mostly, it encourages us to step outside the box we’re living in, and be willing to try the new and exciting things we’ve only allowed ourselves to dream about. Travel, learning a new language, making a career change, and other fun and intimidating adventures are presented in a fresh way, with the focus on taking small steps until we master the challenge. In video games, we face small battles until we’re good enough to take on bigger foes, and life can be handled much the same way.

Without foes to thwart us, we quickly lose interest in video games. And without challenge in life, our day to day existence becomes humdrum. Level Up Your Life shows us how to bring back the sparkle and enthusiasm for living. I highly recommend this unique and fun self-improvement book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 16, 2016 Posted by | fitness, self improvement | Leave a comment

Museum Mysteries: The Case of the Haunted History Museum

The Case of the Haunted History Museum
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: Middle grade / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4342-9691-7
Pages: 128
Price: $6.95

Author’s website
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Wilson Kipper’s mom works for the Capitol City Museum of Natural City. While he’s visiting, the huge Quetzalcoatlus model crashes to the floor, and he and his friends, Clementine, Amal and Raining, witness it happening. When a ghost is suspected of haunting the museum, the four sleuths jump into action.

The museum director brings in a ghost hunting team led by a famous psychic to track down the ghost, but the kids start looking elsewhere. Since Wilson doesn’t believe in ghosts, there must be a person staging the unusual events taking place at the museum. Trying to determine who most benefited from the ghost’s appearance, they examine the clues and track down the perpetrator of the hoax.

The Case of the Haunted History Museum is part of the Museum Mysteries series. The story is reminiscent of Scooby Doo cartoons, when a band of kids gets together to thwart the bad guy. However, the cast of characters is more diversified, featuring other ethnic backgrounds. Children will enjoy solving this mystery along with Wilson and his friends.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 11, 2016 Posted by | children, mystery | Leave a comment

Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker

Cici Reno
Author: Kristina Springer
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Genre: Middle grade / Girls
ISBN: 978-1-4549-1751-9
Pages: 192
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
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Cici Reno is everyone’s go-to girl for advice. So when her best friend, Aggie, wants her crush, Drew, to notice her, Cici is right there to help. Since Aggie is shy in person, Cici suggests they attempt to chat with Drew, and Cici sets up an account.

Drew likes the girl he meets online, and soon Cici and Drew are chatting away. The plan is a huge success when Cici scores a date for Aggie. Only trouble is, Cici is starting to fall for Drew. Two best friends can’t go after the same guy, and besides, Drew doesn’t know he’s chatting with Cici. Is there any way this complicated triangle can sort itself out without someone getting hurt?

Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker is a humorous middle-grade retelling of the classic Cyrano de Bergerac, minus the big nose. Modern girls will love the chat sessions between Cici and Drew, and how Cici remains true to Aggie even when her feelings get too involved. I highly recommend this unique and enjoyable story.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 8, 2016 Posted by | girls, tween | Leave a comment

Lazy Hero Cat: The Rise of the Nap

Lazy Hero Cat - The Rise of the Nap
Author: Stanford Crow
Illustrator: Christian Paniagua
Publisher: Bliss Group Books
Genre: Children / Cats
ISBN: 978-1940021232
Pages: 70
Price: $8.99

Buy it at Amazon

Lazy Hero Cat of Egypt: Bubastis the cat is very lazy. He sleeps all day on top of the sarcophagus of Queen Nefertari, too lazy to look, listen or smell anything. So he doesn’t move at all when two tomb robbers break in to steal from the sarcophagus. But being lazy is just the right way to handle these thieves. In a comedy of errors, Bubastis manages to knock them both out, just by doing nothing. And the next day, he is hailed as a hero when the men are discovered in the tomb.

Lazy Hero Cat and the Pirates: Bubastis “Bub” the cat is back and this time he’s sunning himself on the bank of the Nile, enjoying a cozy catnap. When the river floods, he’s too lazy to notice he’s floating away. Pirates net his cat bed and bring him on board their ship to catch rats. Bub just continues to snooze, so the pirates get angry and make him walk the plank. But Bub has no intention of doing anything but sleep. Luckily for the pirates, his laziness will pay off in ways they never expected.

Lazy Hero Cat and the Dragon: Bubastis the cat is sleeping by a volcano on an island. When the volcano explodes, he flies through the air, landing in a cave inhabited by a dragon. Soon he finds himself inside the dragon’s belly along with a knight. But instead of being concerned, Bub keeps on sleeping, and as the knight pets him, he begins to purr. Dragons aren’t used to purring cats in their bellies, and soon his ongoing slumber benefits both the knight and the dragon.

Lazy Hero Cat:The Rise of the Nap is a delightfully humorous read. Kids will really enjoy these fun stories.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 6, 2016 Posted by | cats, children | Leave a comment

The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature

The Kid's Guide to Exploring Nature
By: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Educators
Illustrator: László Veres
Publisher: Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-1-889538-88-4
Pages: 120
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

A budding naturalist needs a good guidebook. Brooklyn Botanic Garden has created The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature to give kids a head-start in learning about the natural world around them.

Before they’re off and running, children are introduced to the tools they will need to begin exploring. Then they are guided on a seasonal tour of the woods, meadows, beaches and city. Kids will discover the different animals and plants they can expect to encounter, plus the seasonal activities each will display. Drawings of the natural world, some of which are number-coded to identify specific items in the scene, accompany the text.

This book was created with the city dweller in mind, and many of the photos and descriptions pertain to animals and plants kids will find there. But there is enough diversity to also educate the suburban or country child. I highly recommend this interesting and informative guide.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 5, 2016 Posted by | children, nature | Leave a comment

Graphic Classics Vol. 25: Canine / Feline Classics

Graphic Classics - Canine & Feline Classics
Authos: Ray Bradbury, P. G. Wodehouse, Algernon Blackwood, Robert E. Howard, Franz Kafka, Saki, Edward Lear, Joe R. Lansdale, Carl Sandburg, Joseph Jacobs, H. P. Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce
Editors: John Lehman, Tom Pomplun
Illustrators: Dragan Kovacevic, Neale Blanden, Milton Knight, Senthil Kumar, Evert Geradts, Hunt Emerson, Shary Flenniken, Jim McMunn, J. B. Bonivert, John Findley, Shepherd Hendrix, Randy DuBurke
Publisher: Eureka Productions
ISBN: 978-0-9825630-8-3
Pages: 144
Price: $19.95

Buy it at Amazon

If you’re looking for warm and fuzzy animal stories, you won’t find them in this book. Instead, dark tales like The Emissary, Ancient Sorceries, The Beast from the Abyss, and Dog, Cat and Baby fill these pages, along with the appropriately somber illustrations. A few cheerier tales in The Owl and the Pussycat, Ulysses and the Dogman, and What I Learn from Dogs/Cats are interspersed to lighten things up.

Teens (and adults) can augment their literary knowledge by reading these abridged classics. Illustrations are provided by several talented authors, as these stories come to life in graphic novel form.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 2, 2016 Posted by | cats, dogs, graphic novel | Leave a comment