Bergers Book Reviews

The Wee Musketeers

The Wee Musketeers
Author: Robert Bresloff
Publisher: Pumpkinhead Productions
Genre: Children / Adventure / Classics
ISBN: 978-1482393514
Pages: 216
Price: $8.95

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Three boys pretend to be the Three Musketeers, but they’re missing the leader of the group. So when Bobby’s grandfather discovers a portal into the book, they can’t wait to join him in Paris in 1626. What they don’t realize is that by appearing and taking part in the adventure, they could possibly mess up the whole book.

D’Artagnan must make a secret journey while attempting to hide from Cardinal Richelieu’s men, and he has a few extra passengers along for the ride. Misadventures await them on their trip, and the story begins to unravel. But with Grandpa Max making sure they don’t stray too far from the text, they complete their mission without too much mishap.

Fans of The Three Musketeers will probably enjoy this book more than the casual reader, who might not always follow along with the action. The three boys are pretty much indistinguishable from each other, and it’s hard to keep track of who’s who. No character really jumps out as the hero, other than maybe Grandpa Max, and kids may find it hard to relate to anyone. The plot is relatively simple, following the original story with a few side trips along the way. Since I don’t know the original classic, I can’t say for certain where those deviations were, but it would have been nice to see more creative detours that brought out the characters’ personalities.

The text of The Wee Musketeers is free of grammatical errors and typos usually found in self-published works, and the author appears to know this classic well. But this book might be better suited as a companion work for studying the original, rather than as a stand-alone story.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 7, 2015 Posted by | adventure, children, classics | Leave a comment

Wade Boss: Hybrid Hunter

Wade Boss
Author: Marcus MacGregor
Publisher: Saddle Sore Entertainment
Genre: Teen
ISBN: 9781475239669
Pages: 242
Price: $9.99

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Wade Boss has a successful business working with exotic animals in Hollywood. So when a tiger is running loose, the police naturally call him in to help capture it. But what Wade finds is a hybrid tiger-lizard which is quickly picked up by the Genetic Anomalies Task Center – a division of Homeland Security.

Soon Wade finds himself caught up in the race to capture these hybrids, who keep appearing all over the country, before they seriously injure or kill people. The goal is to capture them alive, not kill them, but these missions test his skill in handling unpredictable and dangerous animals. While he’s caught up in his new volunteer job, his own business is suffering, and his love life is in shambles.

Wade Boss presents himself as one of the good guys. He cares about his animals and claims he generally wants to do the right thing. But his cavalier attitude toward his staff and the woman in his life make the reader wonder what really motivates him. When another attractive girl suddenly appears, he conveniently forgets he’s involved and schedules a date with the new lady. I found him arrogant and I really didn’t like him much.

The plot is also a bit of a mystery to me. Wade runs off several times chasing hybrids, but there is absolutely no reason given as to why they’re even out there. At the end of the book, a “bad guy” is identified, but that’s about all. Wade Boss is all about action and very short on substance.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 31, 2015 Posted by | adventure, teen | Leave a comment

Demons and Thieves

Demons and Thieves
Author: Lynda Berger
Publisher: Fuluji’s Publishing Ltd
Genre: Adventure / Fantasy
ISBN: 9780957374300
Pages: 268
Price: £6.99

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Tad Bailey can’t take much more. After another fight between his parents, he runs from his home, wondering if things can get any worse. When he discovers a mysterious gate leading to another world, he’s offered a chance at happiness. He doesn’t know it, but he’s been living in the Shadows, and now he has the opportunity to get out.

All he has to do is find three Keys in Shiladu before time expires. If he doesn’t succeed, he’ll be stuck there forever. While he’s there, demons prey on his vulnerabilities, another visitor tries to steal his Keys, and a permanent resident of Shiladu upsets the time continuum, making Tad the scapegoat. Seeking the Keys is his ultimate goal, but he’s even more concerned with making it out of Shiladu alive.

Demons and Thieves is an exciting fantasy and adventure novel that grabbed my interest from the very beginning. Tad faces dangerous situations that he needs to escape from, and he never knows what lurks behind the next corner. Evil comes at him from every direction, keeping the reader hooked to find out what happens next. I enjoyed this story very much, and I look forward to reading the next two books in this Seven Keys Trilogy.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

November 17, 2014 Posted by | adventure, fantasy, teen | Leave a comment

Pipper’s Secret Ingredient

Pipper's Secret Ingredient
Author: Jane Murphy & Allison Fingerhuth
Illustrator: Neal Sharp
Publisher: Mutt Media
Genre: Adventure
ISBN: 978-0-615-38808-3
Pages: 145
Price: $16.95

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Pipper’s food blog is popular, and her readers expect her to dish up some tasty morsels. But Pipper is stumped, and doesn’t know what her next topic should be. When she meets with her friends, she stumbles on the idea of finding the “secret ingredient” to the best biscuit. They help her make arrangements, and off she goes on a trip around the world.

Unbeknownst to her, Bull Bogus of Bogus Biscuits has sent out a spy, hot on her tail. Bumbles follows diligently behind, leaving chaos in his wake. But Pipper has been warned about Bumbles, and she’s watching for him. Pipper meets some interesting characters and samples some wonderful food along the way. And when she finally discovers the secret ingredient, her friends agree. Her blog is a success, as is her newest enterprise.

Pipper’s Secret Ingredient blends adventure, friendship, and food in delightful proportions. Kids will enjoy Pipper’s travels, while cheering for her to outsmart Bumbles. And everyone will agree that the secret ingredient is perfect, and well worth the search. I highly recommend this entertaining adventure.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 8, 2013 Posted by | adventure, cooking, dogs | Leave a comment

The Curse of Yama

Author: KF Ridley
Publisher: TreasureLine Publishing
Genre: Tween / Adventure
ISBN: 978-1617520518
Pages: 166
Price: $7.50

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Chloe Walker’s father is suffering from the ancient curse of Yama, and she feels she’s the only one who can save him. With her new Indian friend, Sotol, and his loyal elephant, Goesha, she heads into the jungle in search of the cure. But danger follows, as they feel Yama’s evil presence around them.

Dad is running out of time, and they have to set off at night – the most dangerous time of all to be in the jungle. On their journey, they run into an evil poacher, face the trap Yama has left for them, and attempt to return home by way of a rope bridge suspended over a canyon. Will they survive to bring the cure to Chloe’s father?

Although I could sympathize with Chloe’s dilemma, I had a hard time understanding why she would just dash off into the jungle with Sotol, without telling anyone. Others at the camp knew the jungle much better, and she would be safer if she asked for assistance. I also found her repeated concerns for her father’s life to be a distraction in this adventure. Rather than reasoning her way out of predicaments, Chloe relied on others to get her out of them, which made the danger seem less real.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 14, 2012 Posted by | adventure, tween | Leave a comment

Monkey Magic: The Great Wall Mystery

Author: Grant S. Clark
Publisher: Monsoon Books
Genre: Children / Animals
ISBN: 978-981-08-6132-2
Pages: 160
Price: $9.95

Author’s website

The mysterious appearance of a group of monkeys at the Great Wall of China has scientists baffled. These monkeys are not native to China, so where did they come from? And why are they there?

Monkey Magic worked before for 11-year old Romy, allowing her to communicate with orangutans in The Curse of Mukada. Now she uses it to discover the monkeys’ story, but what they tell her isn’t pleasant. She will need all her wits to help them, while also keeping herself out of danger. Her new friend, Pei, shares part of her adventure, as well as some intercultural humor. And when she learns of the possibility of using Monkey Magic whenever she wants, Romy is determined to know more.

Monkey Magic: The Great Wall Mystery shows us how human greed hurts wild animals, and why we need to take immediate action to try to protect them. I highly recommend this delightful, magical tale with a great environmental message.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 30, 2011 Posted by | adventure, animals, children, mystery, nature, tween | Leave a comment

Saltwater Taffy

Author: Eric Delabarre
Illustrator: R.C. Nason
Publisher: Seven Publishing
Genre: Adventure
ISBN: 978-0-9723578-0-7
Pages: 272
Price: $15.95

Author’s website
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A pirate’s treasure is hidden somewhere in Port Townsend, Washington. When the annual clue to the Keys to Lafitte is announced, this time Scott and his friends think they have a shot at finding it.

Old Man Sheesley has already solved the first two clues left behind by Jacques Pierre Lafitte. Now there are only two remaining. But solving the puzzle could turn out to be the most dangerous thing these five friends will do. In addition to treasure hunting, they learn a lot about themselves, what friendship means, and how some of their weaknessess hold them back from being the best they can be.

Saltwater Taffy is a coming-of-age adventure that will thrill the reader with its fast-paced excitement. But any kid who reads this well-written novel will also come away with a sense that he is more than he thinks he is, and maybe even has the ability to stretch himself beyond his wildest dreams. Positive, uplifting and a great read – I highly recommend this book!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 30, 2011 Posted by | adventure | Leave a comment

Terra Tempo: Ice Age Cataclysm!

Author: David Shapiro
Illustrator: Christopher Herndon
Color: Erica Melville
Publisher: Craigmore Creations
Genre: Children / History / Adventure
ISBN: 978-0-9844422-1-8
Pages: 143
Price: $14.99

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Jenna and Caleb are told not to go into Uncle Al’s desk, but when they find it unlocked, they can’t resist nosing around. Uncle Al is studying the Missoula Floods, which took place during the ice age. An interactive map and travel journal offer them an unexpected opportunity to travel back in time to see it in person.

With Ari, who joins them the next day, they make the journey back to the ice age, and immediately face a preshistoric beast intent on devouring them for dinner. But a friendly thunderbird answers their call for help, and offers them taxi service. As they fly over the area, they see many extinct animals, as well as the effects of the flooding. An ice explosion, waterfalls, and whirlpools are just some of the unique sights they see.

The ice age isn’t something most people know much about, yet this time in earth’s history contributed the most to our modern-day landscape. Terra Tempo explores this era in an interesting and informative way that kids will enjoy. Time travel, adventure and the graphic novel format of this book make it an easy and fun read.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 19, 2011 Posted by | adventure, children, history | 1 Comment

Two Little Savages: The Adventures of Two Boys Who Lived as American Indians

Author & Illustrator: Ernest Thompson Seton
Publisher: Axios Press
Genre: Children / Adventure
ISBN: 978-1-60419-033-5
Pages: 313
Price: $18.00

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Most boys have dreamed about spending a week or two camping out, surviving on what they can forage. If they’re fortunate enough to live near the woods, and they have indulgent parents, they may be able to live out their fantasy. But if they’re city dwellers, they may have to read about it instead.

Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946), who founded the Boy Scouts of America, penned this work sharing the adventures of two boys who experienced their dream of living as Native Americans for three weeks. In it, they build a teepee shelter, hunt, learn about the animals around them, and solidify their friendship.

Yan and Sam try to do everything the way the Native Americans would do it. Teepee construction, making their own arrows, and crafting a drum are all done as authentically as possible. With no Native people around to help, they rely on Caleb, a man who seems to know quite a bit about their methods.

Boys probably would not be too upset by animals being killed in this story, but the more sensitive might be turned off. Some of the animal antics don’t ring quite true, and it seems as if the author used some exaggeration to create more drama. But overall, this is a great read for all boys who crave outdoor adventures.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 15, 2011 Posted by | adventure, boys, children | Leave a comment

The Silent Sphinx

Author: Michael Khort
Publisher: Excursion Press
Genre: Adventure
ISBN: 978-0982632505
Pages: 244
Price: $9.49

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Robby is on a field trip with his fifth-grade class when he sees the black sphinx for the first time. Along with his teacher, Mr. Reynolds, they talk to a mysterious stranger, who has sinister plans for them. They soon find themselves on a journey to Egypt, in search of the lost tomb of the pharaoh Setmesses.

Mr. Reynolds holds an important clue the Greek smuggler, Straticus, has been looking for all his life. Now the teacher and student are key players in this dangerous quest. Can they find the missing tomb before Straticus determines they’re irrelevant and decides to eliminate them?

As an avid student of ancient Egypt, I was fascinated by the turn of events in this story, leading to this unknown tomb. It’s always fun to imagine how it would feel to make such a discovery, and this aspect of the story didn’t disappoint. But I did have questions about why Straticus would decide to take these two people with him. It seems it would have been simpler to just steal the necessary fragment from Mr. Reynolds and go without them.

While the fast-paced adventure and fascinating discovery in The Silent Sphinx would appeal to a reader of Robby’s age, Robby himself was not a very admirable character. He played such a small part in the story, being more of a spectator than a participant, and he showed very little courage. Kids prefer to read about strong main characters who become major players in adventure, not just sitting on the sidelines watching the adults handle things for them.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 31, 2010 Posted by | adventure, tween | Leave a comment