Bergers Book Reviews

My Friend Merlin

My Friend Merlin
Author: Joanne Lécuyer
Illustrator: Rich Lauzon
Publisher: Topsy Books
Genre: Children / Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-927353-44-8
Pages: 121
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
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Merlin needs to speak to Prince Arthur regarding King Uther’s decree against magic, since he knows Arthur will listen to reason. So when Merlin sees him passing by, alone, he intercepts him. As they journey together through the kingdom, Merlin shows Arthur a little about magic and introduces him to a dragon.

The dragon’s sister needs to be rescued, and Merlin invites Arthur to accompany him. But in the process, he will need to use magic. When Arthur sees how magic can be used for good, he knows he’ll need to confront his father. But will Arthur, Merlin, and the other magical folks suffer as a result?

My Friend Merlin introduces the friendship between Arthur and Merlin, as they work to change the fate of magic in the kingdom. This fun and lighthearted fantasy will entertain kids while introducing them to Arthurian legend.

Bergers Book Reviews spent some time chatting with Joanne Lécuyer. Please be sure to read what she has to say!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 3, 2016 Posted by | children, fantasy | Leave a comment

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions: Gorilla Tactics

Gorilla Tactics
Author: Sheila Grau
Illustrator: Joe Sutphin
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Fantasy / Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-1-4197-1371-2
Pages: 304
Price: $14.95

Buy it at Amazon

Runt Higgins needs to know where he came from when he was dropped at Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions. He’s been cursed to die on his sixteenth birthday and needs to find out how to break the curse. One of his professors has been searching for the Great Library, and now Runt knows where he may find some answers. But Runt isn’t the only one who wants access to this mysterious place.

Dr. Critchlore is being threatened with a minion school takeover, so he devises a scheme to foil this dastardly plan. He decides to hold a fashion show, throwing the school into chaos for two weeks. At every attempt to do the right thing, Runt finds himself in trouble in his classes, with his classmates, and with his headmaster, as the clock continues to tick on the curse. Will Runt save the school and himself before time runs out?

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions is similar to Hogwarts, but with monsters training to serve Evil Overlords instead of wizards learning to manage their powers. Ogres, giants, imps, and zombies, as well as other living and undead beings populate this unique university, where being evil is not only good – it’s expected. Runt and his friends are really cool characters with lots of personality, and kids will relate well to them. I absolutely loved this book, and I can’t wait for the next book in this series.

June 7, 2016 Posted by | fantasy, tween | Leave a comment

The Crystal Navigator

>The Crystal Navigator
Author: Nancy Kunhardt Lodge
Publisher: Wilwahren Press
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 978-0-9960885-3-4
Pages: 200
Price: $21.99

Author’s website
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Lucy Nightingale has had an awful experience giving an oral report, and now she’s facing an even more difficult assignment. She needs to study five paintings and discover something unique about the personalities of the artists. After consulting with her best friend, Sam, she decides to contact her Wise One for help. She’s surprised to find out his name is Wilbur, and he’s a Corgi dog.

Wilbur has a magical adventure in store for Lucy, and they set out for a trip back in time. Wilbur wants Lucy to meet the artists themselves and talk with them about their paintings. Soon they’re visiting Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Jacopo Pontormo, and Vincent van Gogh. But their trip through time is fraught with danger when the crystal navigator develops a virus, and they end up in some unexpected places. As Wilbur’s strength fades along with the navigator, Lucy has to rely on her own wits and resourcefulness to get home safely.

The Crystal Navigator is a sweet fantasy about a girl who calls on her own imagination to take her to new places. Lucy doesn’t know that she has the power to control her own destiny until she returns and realizes what she’s been able to accomplish. Kids will cheer for her efforts and wish her well on her journey.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 17, 2016 Posted by | fantasy, tween | Leave a comment

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions

Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions
Author: Sheila Grau
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Fantasy / Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-1-4197-1370-5
Pages: 288
Price: $15.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Runt Higgins is a third-year student at Dr. Critchlore’s school for minions, and the runt of the litter – of werewolves. Trouble is, he hasn’t morphed since he was seven, and he has no memory of the event. Dr. Critchlore’s school is in desperate trouble, and Runt believes someone is attempting sabotage against it. Unfortunately, there are several likely suspects, since quite a few people at the school have a reason to dislike Dr. Critchlore.

Runt is a nice guy who absolutely loves the school, and he will do anything he can to save it. Putting aside his own Junior Henchman aspirations, he risks everything to try to prevent destructive attempts on the school, along with his loyal friends. But Runt’s attempts end up causing him grief, as he gets into trouble over and over again, causing him to believe he must be cursed.

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions is similar to Hogwarts, but with monsters training to serve Evil Overlords instead of wizards learning to manage their powers. Ogres, giants, imps, and zombies, as well as other living and undead beings populate this unique university, where being evil is not only good – it’s expected. Runt and his friends are really cool characters with lots of personality, and kids will relate well to them. I absolutely loved this book, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

November 10, 2015 Posted by | fantasy, tween | 1 Comment

The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB

The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB
Author: Adam Shaughnessy
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Middle-grade / Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-61620-498-3
Pages: 272
Price: $16.95

Author’s website
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Prudence Potts finds a mysterious note in her room one morning. The daughter of a deceased police detective, Prudence loves mysteries, and is curious about the message it contains. That same day, she meets a mysterious man named Mister Fox in the Winterhaven House Norse museum. And as punishment for various misdeeds against her dour teacher, she is assigned to read a Norse legend with her new classmate, ABE.

What could any of these events have to do with each other? Well, as it turns out, plenty! There are strange things happening in town, and Prudence, ABE, and Mister Fox find themselves right in the middle of them. Although Prudence and ABE don’t quite know what they’re dealing with, they will need to save everyone from an outside force that threatens them. But is Mister Fox friend or foe?

It’s impossible to say very much about this fantastical weaving of Norse mythology with the real world, without giving too much away. The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB is reminiscent of classics I enjoyed by Roald Dahl when I was a child. I highly recommend it, and look forward to reading more of this new series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 29, 2015 Posted by | fantasy, tween | Leave a comment

The Witch, the Cat and the Water Dragon

The Witch, the Cat and the Water Dragon
Author: Joanne Lécuyer
Illustrator: Brooke Alexander
Publisher: Topsy Books
Genre: Fantasy / Children
ISBN: 978-1-927353-34-9
Pages: 79
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

In The Witch, the Cat and the Egg, a young witch named Juliane is entrusted with the care of a very special egg. Now the egg has hatched into the majestic water dragon, Tarak.

Just as Juliane is about to return Tarak to his mother, a stranger desires to be led through the forest. As guide, Juliane leads him inside, but this stranger has evil intentions. Juliane and her friends will need to work together to stop him. Good thing Tarak shows up just in the nick of time.

The Witch, the Cat and the Water Dragon is a sweet story demonstrating the power of goodness to overcome adversity. Without resorting to any unkindness, these friends defeat the intruder and save the forest from his actions. Children will enjoy this unique, magical series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Bergers Book Reviews spent some time chatting with Joanne Lécuyer. Please be sure to read what she has to say!

September 2, 2015 Posted by | children, fantasy | 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

Author’s website
Buy it at Bookstore.co.uk

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

Destined for Doon

Destined for Doon
Author: Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon
Publisher: Blink
Genre: Fantasy / Romance
ISBN: 978-0-310-74233-3
Pages: 352
Price: $17.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

In this sequel to Doon, Kenna has returned to her life in the theater, and now she’s missing the prince she left behind. She has only now realized that they had a true Calling, and Duncan is her soul mate. So when he suddenly arrives to bring her back to Doon, she heads back willingly, hoping for another chance. But Duncan is harboring illusions that Kenna is already spoken for, and won’t listen to any explanations.

Meanwhile, Veronica is attempting to stop the witch’s evil spell, which has created a zombie fungus that threatens to overtake Doon. She and Kenna have defeated the witch once before, and she needs her best friend’s help once again. Can Kenna help Vee save Doon, and can she salvage the relationship she once had with Duncan, before time runs out?

Filled with drama and suspense, Destined for Doon picks up right where Doon left off. Complicated relationships take center stage, as both Vee and Kenna struggle to make things right with their Doonian princes. And of course, good must triumph over evil. My one complaint about this story is that it ends in a cliff-hanger that felt completely out of place. But otherwise, this is a great read.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 3, 2014 Posted by | fantasy, romance, teen | Leave a comment

Doon

Doon
Authors: Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon
Publisher: Blink Books
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
ISBN: 978-0-310-74230-2
Pages: 400
Price: $17.99

Author’s website
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When Veronica begins seeing visions of a kilt-wearing teen boy, she wonders if she’s imagining him. But when he follows her to Scotland, she’s sure there must be something more to his appearances. After being transported to the magical kingdom of Doon, she finally comes face to face with him – as the formidable Prince Jamie. But after practically begging Veronica to come to him, he now rejects her, declaring that she and her best friend, McKenna, are in cahoots with the witch.

Thanks to the intervention of Jamie’s brother, Duncan, who is sweet on McKenna, the girls avoid a long stay in the dungeon, and begin to explore this new world. They have only a short time before they will be able to go back home, and they try to make the most of it. But will they both find true love before they’re forced to leave?

Doon is inspired by Brigadoon, and is more romance than fantasy. Although this story takes place in a magical world, it feels more down-to-earth as the girls discover modern plumbing and pizzas. Although Veronica and Jamie have a turbulent relationship, one hopes they can sort through their differences and work things out. But the reader may very well end up swooning over Duncan’s sweet and tender ways with McKenna. This is an enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 15, 2014 Posted by | fantasy, romance, teen | 2 Comments

The Crystal Scepter

The Crystal Scepter
Author: C.S. Lakin
Publisher: Living Ink Books
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 978-089957-893-4
Pages: 376
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Pythius, the wicked young king of Paladya, is looking for immortality. When he hears of the crystal scepter which grants the kings of Elysiel an unusually long life, he makes up his mind that he has to have it. But Pythius has no idea of the terrible consequences of his actions.

In a small fishing village, a boy named Perthin grows up, unaware of the true identity of his parents. Through a prophesy, Perthin’s destiny is inextricably linked to Pythius. Seeking to save his village from a sea monster, he sets off on a hero’s journey.

Pythius is an evil man, and much of the story is told from his perspective. This made it difficult for me to get through the opening chapters, since I find it hard to relate to villains. I was also surprised at how simple Perthin’s quest appeared to be. A journey that took Pythius months was accomplished in moments by Perthin, and with so much support that he was in almost no danger. Perthin and the reader know the outcome is certain.

Good wins out over evil, and all loose ends are tied up nicely, with a “feel-good” ending. But I personally would have enjoyed The Crystal Scepter more if Pythius was a smaller character and Perthin faced more danger.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 7, 2014 Posted by | fantasy | Leave a comment