Bergers Book Reviews

Ours for a Season

Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Amish fiction
ISBN: 978-0-7352-9008-2
Pages: 352
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Marty Hirschler is devastated that she and Anthony will never have children. Bitterness and misery fill her days, as she watches the women in her community raising their own families. So when her best friend, Brooke, offers her and Anthony the chance to get away for a while, she is anxious to go.

Anthony doesn’t know what to do to help Marty heal from her pain. His construction business is booming, causing him to spend weeks away from her, and their marriage is suffering. When Brooke asks him to work on a special project for her, and Marty wants to go, Anthony accepts.

Brooke was not raised Mennonite, but she developed a lasting friendship with Marty when they were children, despite their differences. Now Brooke is involved in one of her biggest business deals ever, while also battling a serious medical condition. She needs Marty more than ever.

Ours for a Season brings them all together as they work toward completing this building project as a team. And as the work progresses, their plans for the project – and their own lives – are transformed. I highly recommend this wonderfully well-written and moving novel.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Amish fiction, romance | Leave a comment

Ara the Star Engineer

Author: Komal Singh
Illustrator: Ipek Konak
Genre: Children / STEM
ISBN: 978-1-989025-05-5
Pages: 40
Price: $15.95

Buy it at Amazon

Ara is named after a seven-star constellation, and she’d love to know how many stars there are in the sky. With her faithful companion robot, DeeDee, she visits Innovation Plex for help in solving her problem.

First, she visits Kripa, the prolific problem solver, and discovers she needs a plan to program DeeDee to count stars. Next, she meets Parisa, the intrepid innovator, who helps her build an algorithm. Diane, the code commander, teaches Ara how to build her own code. And finally, Marian, the tenacious troubleshooter, upgrades DeeDee’s hardware, so she has enough memory to count all the stars.

Using courage, creativity, code, and collaboration, Ara succeeds in programming DeeDee to count all the stars in the universe. She sets a terrific example for all girls (and boys) who see their futures in technology, as she works through her problem in a logical and systematic manner. Ara the Star Engineer is a fun read with a great message.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 21, 2019 Posted by | children, girls, mathematics, science | Leave a comment

The Writer’s Roadmap

Author: Leigh Shulman
Publisher: The Future is Red
Genre: Writing
ISBN: 978-0-9996973-0-6
Pages: 106
Price: $12.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Building the perfect writing life may seem out of reach – but it can be done, if you have the right plan. Leigh Shulman is living the life of her dreams, and she wants to share her secrets with other writers.

Using what she calls the OGSM, she guides writers through a step-by-step method of planning their ideal writing life. First, the Objective defines, in one sentence, what an ideal writing life looks like. Then Goals are the dream projects that support it. Strategy is the itemized list of things that need to be accomplished. And Measures provide feedback on whether the Strategies are working.

At each step in building the writer’s own OGSM, Shulman asks probing questions designed for thoughtful rumination. Blank pages provided in the book are a perfect place to make note of these answers.

Shulman acknowledges the realities of work, family, and other time constraints that keep writers away from the page. But this OGSM process allows for all aspects of a writer’s life – not just writing. She also has created a writing group called The Workshop where writers can network and continue to learn from each other. I highly recommend The Writer’s Roadmap to all writers who want a better focus in their writing life.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 15, 2019 Posted by | creativity, writing | Leave a comment

The Christmas Remedy

Author: Cindy Woodsmall & Erin Woodsmall
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Amish fiction / Romance
ISBN: 978-0-7352-9104-1
Pages: 208
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Holly Zook is not a traditional Amish girl. She’s determined to bring better health care to her Amish community, after seeing how their neglect has affected the quality of their lives. But this choice might cause her to sacrifice her own happiness in the process. Rather than choosing marriage and family, she’s pursuing a nursing degree. And now, the pharmacy Holly works for that caters to the Amish community is threatened.

Joshua Smucker was captivated by Holly’s charm when they met many years ago, but Holly abruptly ended any attempt he might have made to court her. After meeting her once again at the pharmacy, he understands why Holly chose the path she followed, but was this her only choice? If her bishop was enlightened enough to let her get her degree, might he also be willing to let her work once she married?

This delightful Amish romance-mystery takes place during the Christmas season, but could easily be read at any time of the year. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 11, 2019 Posted by | Amish fiction, holiday, romance | Leave a comment

The Middle School Rules of Brian Urlacher

Author: Sean Jensen
Publisher: Broadstreet Publishing Group
Genre: Middle grade / Sports / Football
ISBN: 978-1-4245-4979-5
Pages: 176
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Just because an NFL player has made it to the pros, it doesn’t mean he’s forgotten how he got there. In this unique biography, Sean Jensen captures some of the memorable moments of Brian Urlacher’s Middle School career.

This children’s story reads like a novel, as the timeline progresses through Urlacher’s Middle School years. Touching on basketball and football games, along with family and friendships, it shows us a snippet of this great linebacker’s life. Good sportsmanship and fair play is highlighted in a non-preachy manner.

The Middle School Rules of Brian Urlacher is part of a series of books sharing the Middle School years of sports figures. Chicago Bears fans will enjoy this look at Brian Urlacher’s Middle School career.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 27, 2018 Posted by | sports, tween | Leave a comment

A Holiday by Gaslight

Author: Mimi Matthews
Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press
Genre: Victorian Romance
ISBN: 978-0-9990364-7-1
Pages: 172
Price: $8.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Sophie Appersett needs to marry well in order to help her family. When the affluent merchant, Edward “Ned” Sharpe, chooses to court her, she readily agrees, despite the difference in their class. But their courtship leaves much to be desired.

After making a decision she comes to regret, Sophie finally speaks frankly to Ned. Giving him one last chance, she tells him what she needs in a relationship, and hopes he’ll see the light. And as her family hosts their traditional Christmas gathering, wonderful surprises await them all.

A Holiday by Gaslight is a delightful Victorian holiday romance. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 20, 2018 Posted by | romance | Leave a comment

The Dumbbell Workout Handbook: Weight Loss

Author: Michael Volkmar
Publisher: Hatherleigh Press
Genre: Fitness
ISBN: 978-1-57826-754-5
Pages: 144
Price: $15.00

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

A customized dumbbell workout is a great way to gain muscle and lose fat. In The Dumbbell Workout Handbook, Michael Volkmar provides several different workouts in varying levels of difficulty that are designed for weight loss.

The opening pages provide information about dumbbells and how they are effective in strength training. Mobility warm-ups are shown as essential to be performed before any of the fat burning workouts. Then all of the exercises in these workouts are listed.

While I’m not a workout guru, I expected to see photos or diagrams of the various exercises in this book. Instead, the reader receives just a list of the names of the workouts, with no explanations or pictures. If he’s not already familiar with these exercise names, he would have to do the research to find out how to do them.

If you’re already a pro at strength training with dumbbells, this book will provide your own customized weight loss workout. But if you will need to look up every exercise, this is probably not the best book for you.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 18, 2018 Posted by | fitness | Leave a comment

Amish Wisdom: Lined Journal

Created & Published by: The editors of Quiet Fox Designs
Genre: Journal
ISBN: 978-1-64178-027-8
Pages: 144
Price: $9.99

Buy it at Amazon

This hardcover lined journal contains full-page snapshots of Amish life including horses, buggies, fields, and head coverings. Each two-page spread has a Pennsylvania Dutch design located in the corner, plus witty advice and practical wisdom sayings at the bottom of the pages.

Amish Wisdom: Lined Journal is the perfect journal for recording prayer intentions and gratitude lists, as well as day-to-day thoughts. This beautiful book would also make a great gift for the Amish fiction reader.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 12, 2018 Posted by | journal | Leave a comment

Hidden Critters

Author: Stan Tekiela
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Animals / Nature / Children
ISBN: 978-1-59193-812-5
Pages: 48
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

The ability to blend in with its surroundings can mean the difference between life and death for many animals. In Hidden Critters, Stan Tekiela shows kids some of these animals that survive by hiding.

Tekiela is a gifted nature photographer who has captured images of the animals in hiding and in plain sight, so kids can see them in their natural settings. In the first picture, kids need to try to find the hidden animal. The second picture shows it in plain view. Closing pages provide fun facts about each of the animals featured: burrowing owl, gray wolf, southern flying squirrel, American alligator, brown creeper, short-tailed weasel, bullfrog, praying mantis, white-tailed deer, and polar bear. A key to the hidden critter pages is also included, showing exactly where to spot these animals.

Nature lovers of all ages will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it for home and classroom.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 7, 2018 Posted by | animals, children, nature | Leave a comment

Inspire Catholic Bible NLT

Created by Tyndale
Genre: Catholic NLT Bible / Creative Journaling
ISBN: 978-1-4964-3657-3
Pages: 1740
Price: $49.99

Buy it at Amazon

The Inspire Catholic Bible NLT is a hardcover Bible with a built-in elastic band that wraps around the cover when not in use. It also comes packaged in a sturdy open-ended box that can be used for storage. The Nihil Obstat & Imprimatur appear in the first pages, authorizing this Bible for Catholic use. The deuterocanonical books are arranged in the ordinary sequence found in Catholic Bibles, not grouped together between the Old Testament and New Testament.

For those unfamiliar with the New Living Translation, here are comparisons of three Catholic translations of Ps 23:1:
NRSVCE: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
NABRE: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
NLT: The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.

The Lord’s prayer in Matt 6:9-13 is translated as: Our father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

Margins are 2″ wide on the outside edge, and while many are left blank for the reader to makes notes and decorate, many are also filled in with designs suitable for coloring. Pages are thin and delicate, and will stick together because of the beautiful printed edging. They’re also not suitable for painting or magic markers, since those would most likely bleed through. A perfect companion to this Bible would be Complete Guide to Bible Journaling which provides a set of templates to use when decorating.

To see a sample of the book of Esther, click on the Website link above and scroll down to preview the interior. More information about the Inspire line of Bibles is also provided there. I was really impressed by the quality and beauty of the Inspire Catholic Bible NLT, and I’m looking forward to using it for many years to come.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 6, 2018 Posted by | Catholic | Leave a comment