Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon September 26, 2012

Christopher Boone does not like large crowds, loud noises, or the color yellow.  If someone touches him, he screams.  If he sees 5 red cars in a row, he knows it will be a Super Good Day; if he sees 4 yellow cars in a row, it will be a Black Day.  One night he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, dead from a garden fork stuck in his side.  Christopher launches an investigation to find out who killed Wellington.  From this investigation, he finds out a terrible secret that disrupts his carefully planned existence and forces him to do things he never thought he could do.

This was one of the titles on NPR’s 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels list.  It really made me think about how difficult it would be to live with autism or to raise a child with the condition.  It was interesting to read how Christopher planned his days and how he coped (or didn’t cope) with things that bothered him, such as the red food coloring he added to change his food from the dreaded color yellow.  I would recommend this book to older teens or adults.

4 out of 5 stars

 

I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern September 16, 2012

The story begins as Justin confides to his dad that he’s going to propose to his girlfriend.  In subsequent chapters, we flash back to Justin’s various encounters with girls, from his second grade crush to his disastrous senior prom to his future fiance.  There are many awkward moments, disappointments, and rejections along the way.  And of course the advice and wisdom of his father.  “Son, you’re a little on the jittery side.  It’s okay.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  It don’t mean you don’t have a pair of balls, it just means you’re more choosy when you use them.  That’s not always a bad thing.”

Much like his first book, Sh*t My Dad Says, this book was funny.  Really funny.  I was laughing so hard there were tears running down my face at one point.  My favorite part was his trip to Europe during college and after a couple of drunken nights at a club he is given this diagnosis by a Spanish doctor, “Some people, they are very good at alcohol, and they go to many discos, and it is okay.  Some people, they are very bad at alcohol, and it is not good for them discos, and they are good at sitting.  You are good at sit down.”  Keeping in mind it’s heavy on the swearing, you should read this book if you’re ready to laugh.

5 out of 5 stars

 

The Giver by Lois Lowry September 13, 2012

The story begins as Jonas and his friends become Twelves.  Jonas can guess which careers will be assigned to many of his classmates, but he has no idea what will be chosen for him.  The whole community is taken by surprise when he is presented as the next Receiver of Memories.  In a town where there is no sickness, no conflict, no crime, and no hunger, there is only one person who holds the memories of these things from the past.  As Jonas takes on the memories, he realizes there’s more to life than the safety and monotony of their utopian community and must make his own choices for his future.

This was a classic I had never read and decided it was time after reading the Hunger Games and Matched series.  The Giver is thought-provoking and unsettling.  I can see why it has been challenged a number of times; it contains some controversial ideas, sure to spur discussion.   Let’s all read it and discuss.

5 out of 5 stars

Newbery Medal winner

 

 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins September 9, 2012

Spoiler alert: This doesn’t give away the ending, but you might not want to read this review if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series.

Katniss has escaped the arena alive once again, only to learn her home, District 12, has been destroyed and District 13 exists after all.  She learns she is the face of the rebellion, a role she is hesitant to fill.  With many lives in her hands, Katniss must choose a side and accept that every choice she makes will have dire consequences.  Is she willing to be the “Mockingjay” no matter the cost?

Well, I finished the series.  Mockingjay was quite suspenseful and just when you thought no one else could be killed, ten more people die.  I continued to be frustrated by Katniss and decided I prefer the more fallible Cassia from the Matched series.  I’m glad I read the series and would recommend it to teens and adults who aren’t averse to books with a heavy dose of violence.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The second book of the Hunger Games series begins with a victorious Katniss, still alive after the Hunger Games.  But many things in District 12 have changed since she left.  Her relationship with Gale is strained, there are harsher punishments for breaking the rules, and rumors of a rebellion are floating around the districts.  Katniss realizes that her actions to keep her and Peeta alive during the Hunger Games have set more in motion than she intended.  Now as she and Peeta tour the districts as the winning tributes, she must convince everyone that they are in love… or their lives and the lives of those they love may be in jeopardy.

Like the first book, Catching Fire was full of suspenseful moments and relies on Katniss’ bravery and strong personality.  At times I tired of how Katniss feels like she needs to protect absolutely everyone from everything and wished she had more vulnerable moments.

3.5 out of 5 stars

 

 

A Good American by Alex George

The story begins in 1904 with Jette and Frederick, young lovers in Hanover, Germany.  When Jette becomes pregnant out of wedlock, they flee Germany and head for America for a fresh start.  Originally set for New York, they end up in New Orleans and, by a series of events, eventually settle in Beatrice, Missouri.

The story covers three generations of Meisenheimers.  Frederick, who arrives fresh off the boat without a word of English, his son Joeseph, and his grandson, James (the narrator of the story).  It is a heart-warming story full of triumph, tragedy, and love for family, with lots of interesting characters thrown in along the way.

I’d heard good reviews and decided to give this book a try.  What a great story!  It made me laugh in some parts, tear up in others.  I liked that it had the stories of multiple generations, and I really enjoyed the narrator.  I would highly recommend this book.
5 out of 5 stars

 

Crossed by Ally Condie

This sequel to Matched tells Cassia’s and Ky’s stories in alternating chapters.  Both are doing hard labor, far away from the quiet suburb where they met.  As Cassia struggles to get back to the boy she loves, Ky struggles to survive.  With a brief cameo from Xander, Cassia’s Match, we learn only that he is still willing to fight for her and that he has a secret.

As often happens with the second book in a series, Crossed was a little slow compared to Matched.  It was more about the journey than any real action until the ending, which sets the scene for the third book.  Even though I didn’t enjoy the second book as much as the first, I was still invested in the characters and rushed to the library to get the third book in the series… that doesn’t come out until November.

4 out of 5 stars

 

 
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