Bergers Book Reviews

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

Electricity in Your Life

Author: Bo-hyun Seo
Illustrator: Sung-hwa Kwak
Publisher: Tantan Publishing
Genre: Children / Science
ISBN: 978-1-939248-16-9
Pages: 30
Price: $17.95

Buy it at Amazon

Electricity is useful in powering many everyday items. It keeps refrigerated foods fresh, rooms well lit, and televisions ready for entertainment. But how does electricity work?

Electricity in Your Life shows kids some electric powered appliances and how they receive their source of electricity. It touches on the operation of power plants and the wires that send electricity into their homes. And it shows what happens when there is a power failure and all is dark. It also explains the importance of conserving energy and how to use electricity safely.

Most kids don’t realize the importance of electricity in their lives until there is a power failure. In this interesting and informative book, they will see how their household appliances work and what happens when they unplug them. This is a great introduction to electricity for kids.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 25, 2017 Posted by | children, science | Leave a comment

Mennonite on the Edge

Author: Cynthia Yoder
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Romance
ISBN: 978-1523398898
Pages: 232
Price: $10.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

MaryJo is recently married and has just moved to New York City with her new husband, Adam. Although she seems to be settled in their tiny Manhattan apartment, she finds herself growing restless and wondering about her existence there. And when she hears upsetting news from home, her confusion grows.

Leaving her Mennonite life behind in Lancaster has suddenly taken on new importance in MaryJo’s eyes, and Adam doesn’t know what to make of it. Why is MaryJo questioning everything? Is she suddenly unhappy with him, and can their marriage survive her concerns about their fast-paced New York lifestyle?

Mennonite on the Edge is an interesting exploration of the abrupt geographical and spiritual changes this Mennonite couple experiences in uprooting themselves from their homes and families in Lancaster and moving to the big city. Unlike the traditional romance, this story begins with the courtship already completed, and now MaryJo and Adam have to learn to live with each other and find a common ground in their marriage. I really enjoyed watching them both grow through these struggles and find out what truly makes them happy.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 17, 2017 Posted by | romance | Leave a comment

Jump, Little Wood Ducks

Author: Marion Dane Bauer
Photographer: Stan Tekiela
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Nature
ISBN: 978-1-59193-585-8
Pages: 32
Price: $14.95

Buy it at Amazon

Three little ducklings are huddled together safely in their nest, high up in a tree. Mama encourages them to jump, and join her and their other siblings at the bottom. But after each plea from Mama, the three ducklings express their concern about jumping from such heights. Finally Mama says exactly the right words for the ducklings to decide to make their leap. And soon they happily follow Mama off into the world.

Jump, Little Wood Ducks is filled with up-close photographs of wood ducks in their nests, in mid-air, in the water, and on the ground below. This cute story shares a humorous look at the bravery each duck needs to have in order to make their own leap to the ground. The closing pages explain the nesting habits and other interesting facts about wood ducks. This is a fun read for home and classroom use.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 14, 2017 Posted by | nature | Leave a comment

Murder Is Chartered (A Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mystery)

Author: Diane Weiner
Publisher: Cozy Cat Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 9781946063120
Pages: 180
Price: $14.95

Buy it at Amazon

Susan Wiles is getting sleepy as she drives home on a winding mountain road, but she’s startled awake when something hits her car. That something turns out to be someone – Melissa Chadwick, the assistant principal from the charter school – and she’s dead. Susan calls her daughter, a detective, who immediately realizes her mom didn’t kill Melissa. She was already dead when she fell from the bridge above.

Several people could have wanted Melissa dead, and Susan puts on her sleuthing cap for another case. But as she gets closer to tracking down the killer, she finds her own life being threatened. Taking chances most sensible people would probably avoid, she finds herself in precarious positions, hoping to come out alive. But her persistence pays off, and justice is served.

Murder Is Chartered is part of the Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mystery series. Since this was the first book I’ve read in the series, I had a hard time keeping track of characters who must have been introduced in prior books, and I wasn’t able to discern much of their stories to date. Susan’s behavior at times became a bit too much for me to believe, and I had a hard time with her recklessness. But readers who are just looking for a lighthearted mystery series will most likely enjoy her wacky investigation.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 10, 2017 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Closed Casket

Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-06-245882-7
Pages: 320
Price: $26.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Lady Athelinda Playford has just made a curious change to her last will and testament – one that will certainly infuriate her children. But although it’s highly illogical, she is determined to carry forward with her plans. Her new beneficiary, Joseph Scotcher, is terminally ill, and may die in the very near future.

On the evening of her announcement, a murder is committed – one that makes no sense at all. And someone claims to have witnessed something she can’t possibly have seen or heard. Lady Playford anticipated foul play and had on hand Detective Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool, who rush to solve the case, as several people had both motive and means to commit this murder. When the official investigator shows up, Poirot’s inquiries are halted, but the Belgian detective doesn’t let this pompous man dictate his actions, and proceeds to unveil the murderer.

Closed Casket kept me guessing, trying to unravel this perplexing case before Poirot revealed everything. However, as Agatha Christie often did, Sophie Hannah keeps some of the important clues off the page, and it’s up to the reader to do the research for themselves. This is an interesting and engaging story, but I prefer mysteries where everything is hidden in plain sight, and the reader has a chance to solve the case, also.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 7, 2017 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Colorful Creations: Butterfly Mandalas

Author & Illustrator: Jess Volinski
Publisher: Design Originals
Genre: Art / Creativity
ISBN: 978-1-4972-0261-0
Pages: 80
Price: $9.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore, and Jess Volinski takes her Colorful Creations series to a new level of artwork. Butterfly Mandalas is filled with mystical mandalas combined with beautiful butterflies for us to fill in with crayons, markers, or colored pencils. Inspirational messages accompany this unique artwork. But in addition to these black and white line drawings, Volinski includes information on how to create a pleasing palette using the color wheel. Sample colored designs provide inspiration for our own masterpieces, and several color wheel diagrams help us choose the right colors to create mood or harmony.

Volinski’s designs begin as beautiful artwork and are just waiting for us to add our own personal touch to bring them to life. I highly recommend these adult coloring books.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 1, 2017 Posted by | art | Leave a comment