Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

The Round House by Louise Erdrich July 11, 2013

Round HouseDuring the summer of 1988, a woman is attacked and raped on a reservation in North Dakota. She slips into a deep depression, refusing to leave her bed. Her husband and her son, Joe, try to fix things by searching for her attacker. Thirteen-year-old Joe is forced to grow up quickly that summer. His father, a tribal judge, now treats him like an adult, and Joe, with the help of his friends, tries to find the attacker and serve justice.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Joe’s coming-of-age story was both captivating and heartbreaking. Highly recommended for adults.

5 out of 5 stars


Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce August 15, 2012

Shortly before her 16th birthday, Tara Martin fights with her boyfriend, Richie.  She wants to be alone, so she takes a walk in the woods.  She was never seen again.  Twenty years later, on Christmas Day, Tara’s parents hear a knock at the door.  It is Tara.  She is dirty and disheveled but appears not to have aged at all.  When she tries to explain to her brother, Peter, the truth about where she has been, he doesn’t believe her.  No one does.  Will things ever be the same between Tara and the people she left behind?

This book was fantasy mixed with realistic fiction, fairy tale .  You will find yourself imagining yourself in each character’s place.  Would you believe the unbelievable?

5 out of 5 stars


AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller June 12, 2012

Filed under: adult adventure,adult non-fiction — Bethany @ 10:56 am
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In 2003, David Miller (trail name AWOL) left his unsatisfying job as a software engineer to hike the Appalachian Trail.  His wife and three daughters at home, he hiked alone the 2,172 miles from Georgia to Maine.  Part journal, part travel guide, Miller’s story tells of the pain, the joy, and the friendship he encounters along the way.

After reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, I was ready to learn more about the reality of hiking the Appalachian Trail.  The day-to-day accounts of the distance he traveled, the shelters he slept in, the equipment he used, and the towns he visited gave a realistic look at what it is like to thru-hike this trail.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is considering a long-distance hike or would like to read a well-written account of AWOL’s experiences on the AT.

5 out of 5 stars


Wild by Cheryl Strayed May 3, 2012

In her devastation after her young mother’s death, Cheryl’s life falls apart.  Her family scatters, her marriage ends, and everything she used to believe is lost.  While running an errand at the hardware store, she runs across a book that will change her life.  The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume I: California sticks in her mind until she makes a decision: she’s going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  Shortly afterward, she straps on her heavy backpack for an 1,100 mile journey through the Mojave Desert in California to the northern border of Oregon.  She has no experience as a long-distance hiker and encounters many wild animals, extreme weather conditions, and hardships on the way to healing her broken spirit.

This book was well done and really held my interest.  I don’t think I would attempt a trip like the one she describes, but it made for a great story.  It’s similar in subject to Eat, Pray, Love, but better.  I would recommend this for any adults who like to read memoirs, books about travel, or stories about life journeys.

5 out of 5 stars


Swamplandia! by Karen Russell February 27, 2012

Filed under: adult adventure,adult drama — Bethany @ 10:33 pm
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Visit Swamplandia!  See the amazing Hilola Bigtree wrestle alligators!  Visit the museum!  Tour the swamp!  The Bigtree family’s lives revolve around the tourist attraction they run and call home.  When the star of the show and mother of three, Hilola, dies after a short bout with cancer, Swamplandia! loses its draw.  When a huge amusement park on the mainland further threatens their business, the family has to cope with the changes.

This book was on many lists as one of the best books of 2011.  I had a hard time getting into it and an even harder time finishing it.  The setting was unique.  The characters were quirky but not endearing; I didn’t really care about any of them.  The book was jam-packed with metaphors and adjectives to the point of being arduous.  I did not enjoy the book and cannot recommend it to others.



Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen December 8, 2010

Filed under: adult adventure,adult fiction,adult historical fiction — Bethany @ 5:24 am

As Jacob Jankowski prepares to graduate from Cornell’s prestigious veterinary school, he receives news that turns his life inside out.  Reeling from the news of his parents’ deaths, he jumps a train and sets forth on an adventure that will change the course of his life.  Jacob joins Benzini Bros. Most Spectacular Show on Earth to discover the danger and excitement circus life has to offer.

Water for Elephants will leave readers breathless with anticipation, balling their fists with anger, and tearing up with sympathy at the ruthless management, the grossly mistreated animals, and the rough but empathetic workers.  The plot and descriptions constantly reinforce the fact that the Depression-era circus was an entirely different animal than anything we know today.


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