Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes April 22, 2014

Filed under: drama,mystery — Bethany @ 8:57 pm
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NaturalsSeventeen-year-old Cassie works at a cafe and amuses herself by guessing what each customer will order. She’s always right; she is a natural at reading people. One day at the cafe, an unusual customer gives her a message. The FBI wants to use Cassie’s talent for a greater purpose. She is brought into a special program for talented teenagers to solve cold cases, crimes by serial killers that were never solved.

Cassie moves into a house with the other Naturals. Soon she is training to review and solve old cases. But her entry into the program has attracted attention. Soon she is in danger and her only hope is that the Naturals’ talents are enough to save her.

This was a unique premise for a book. I liked the characters, their witty banter, and the bits of teenage drama and romance mixed into the story. The ending was surprising and was a bit of a stretch. This book is the first in what will be a series about the Naturals. Recommended for teens who like crime drama.

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich May 6, 2012

Filed under: adult mystery,humor,mystery — Bethany @ 6:20 pm
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Vinnie Plum, owner of the bail bonds office where Stephanie works, is in trouble.  He gambled and scammed the wrong guy and now mobster Bobby Sunflower is mad.  When Vinnie disappears, Stephanie, Lula, and Connie realize that they rely on him for a job.  No matter how many dumb mistakes he made, they need him back.  Armed with an Uzi, stink bombs, and a wild plan, the women of the bail bonds office are to the rescue.  Of course, things never go exactly to plan…

Another entertaining chapter of the Stephanie Plum saga complete with fried chicken, doughnuts, and explosions.  This one wasn’t quite as good as previous books in the series, but it made me laugh out loud and was a light read during my lunch breaks.

4 out of 5 stars

 

The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee June 1, 2011

Filed under: historical fiction,mystery — Bethany @ 10:36 pm
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Mary Quinn is a twelve-year-old orphan sentenced to death for being a thief when she is rescued by a woman posing as a prison guard.  Five years later Mary is an educated young woman about to be afforded another opportunity by Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls.  She learns that the school is a cover for the Agency- a group of female undercover investigators.  Mary accepts the offer to join the Agency and is whisked off to the Thorald household in London.  She poses as a companion for the Thorald’s daughter, Angelica, and is tasked with watching and listening for information about the family’s business.  Mary quickly learns that solving a mystery isn’t as easy as it seems.

I liked that Mary is a strong female character in Victorian London, a time when women were meant to be seen and not heard.  She is stubborn and opinionated but also knows when to keep her mouth shut.  I enjoyed the banter between Mary and James and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

 

Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road by Kate Klise May 22, 2011

Ignatius B. Grumply needs a place with peace and quiet to end his writer’s block and write his next bestselling book.  He chooses a Victorian mansion in Ghastly, Illinois and has his lawyer sign the paperwork on his behalf.  When he moves in, he realizes this isn’t the sanctuary he was seeking.  There is an eleven-year-old boy and a cat living on the third floor and someone (the boy, right?) who slams doors, cooks dinner, and plays the piano.

The realtor informs Mr. Grumply that the boy and the cat come with the house, and the boy’s parents will come back for him when he stops talking nonsense about his friend, Olive, the ghost.   Will Olive and the boy be able to convince Grumply there is such thing as a ghost?  Will Grumply ever write his bestselling book?

This book had a fun format- it is a self-proclaimed epistolary graphic novel.  The characters communicate by writing letters back and forth.  There are other graphics that add to the storyline including portraits of the characters and newspaper articles.  The characters also have clever names like the realtor, Anita Sale.  This is a quick, entertaining read.

 

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead April 12, 2011

Cryptic notes, an absent best friend, sandwiches, and time travel.  These are all pieces of 12-year-old Miranda’s story.  Her mother is chosen to play on the $20,000 Pyramid game show right around the time Miranda gets the first mysterious note.  Her best friend Sal stops hanging out with her right around the time he is beaten up by the boy in the green Army jacket who knows a lot about time travel.  Throw in a lunch hour job at a sandwich shop and homeless man on the street corner and all that’s left is to figure out how the pieces fit together.

When You Reach Me handily blends realistic fiction with science fiction.  The characters were well done and the story, although a little far-fetched at the end, was enjoyable.  Recommended reading for upper elementary through adults.

Newbery Medal winner

 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman March 4, 2011

A baby wanders out the open front door, away from his family that has just been murdered in their home.  He toddles into an old, abandoned graveyard, away from the killer.  A dark, shadowy figure keeps the killer away; the wispy figures the graveyard vote to keep the baby there, safe from harm.  And so Nobody Owens grows up in the graveyard and spent his days learning about history from those who were there and ghostly skills like Fading and Dreamwalking.  As he gets older, he learns lessons about the dangers of the outside, specifically the killer who continues to search for the boy who got away.

An interesting tale of a boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard.  There are a few spooky parts, but overall the story is endearing; the ghosts love and protect Bod as their own child.  Highly recommended for upper elementary or middle school.  Good book for boys.

Newbery Medal Winner

 

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell March 2, 2011

Emmy is always trying to be good.  Not that it does her any good.  Even though she has straight A’s on her report card and does everything her nanny, Miss Barmy, says, no matter how bizarre, her parents are always away on trips and her classmates act like she doesn’t even exist.   When the Rat, the talking class pet that only she can hear, tells her she should try being bad to get some attention, she thinks about it.  Emmy skips ballet and stumbles upon an antique store called The Antique Rat.  Inside, hidden in the back room, she makes a surprising discovery.  When this draws the attention of the sinister Professor Vole and the mean class Rat shows up at her bedroom window, Emmy begins to realize the strange things going on in her life might be connected.

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat is an awesome, unique story filled with mystery and fantasy. Emmy is clever and brave, the Rat is arrogant and witty, and Miss Barmy is just plain evil.  Highly recommended for girls and boys in 3rd grade and up.

 

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool February 26, 2011

After a childhood spent moving from place to place and nowhere to call her own, Abilene Tucker rolls off the train into the tiny town of Manifest.  Her father sent her to his childhood home with nothing but a flour sack of her few possessions and a letter stating she was to be in the care of Pastor Howard for the summer.  The sign at the edge of town says Manifest is “a town with a past.”  The more Abilene learns about her new home, the more she realizes this is true.  From Hattie Mae, the reporter around town, to Shady, the pastor/bartender, to Miss Sadie, the local diviner, Abilene learns about the Manifest of 1918 and how it shaped the town and the people of the Manifest she comes to know during the summer of 1936.

Abilene is a strong little girl who learns about friendship, trust, and  learns how and the choices people make that can affect an entire town.  Abilene really grows as a character and the story is well done.

Newbery Medal winner

 

Acceleration by Graham McNamee November 9, 2010

Filed under: mystery,suspense — Bethany @ 8:28 pm
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Duncan’s summer job is anything but exciting.  He’s working in the Lost and Found at the Toronto subway, a place he refers to as “The Dungeon”.  Then one day, while looking for something to do, he discovers a book with a worn leather cover.  The book is a diary documenting details about three women.  What they look like, their daily schedules, their conversations on the subway are all there.  Duncan has discovered the confessions of a stalker, potentially a serial killer.  When the police disregard the diary, Duncan sets out to find the writer before it’s too late.

 

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Filed under: horror,mystery — Bethany @ 8:18 pm
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Coraline is bored.  Coraline is so bored that she’ll do anything.  She and her parents have just moved into a apartment.  Below them are two old ladies that are of questionable mental state.  Above them is an old man that keeps talking about his circus mice.  Coraline likes to go exploring, especially outside.  But one day it is raining.  She is so bored, that she counts all of the doors and windows in her apartment.  There are 21 windows and 14 doors.  Out of these 14 doors, 13 open and close like normal doors.  But the fourteenth door – the big, carved, brown wooden door – is locked.  She asks her mother where this door goes.  Her mother tells here that it goes nowhere, and unlocks it so Coraline can see that behind the door is a brick wall.  That night, though, Coraline is lying awake in her bed when she hears a “creak”.  Then she sees a shadow in the hall, a black shape that looks like a person.  When she turns on the light, there’s nothing there.  The next day, Coraline is still bored.  When her mother leaves her at home alone, Coraline decides to take another look at that mysterious door.  She climbs up on a chair and takes down the key ring.  There is a cold iron key that must go to that door.  She listens for her mother.  She’s alone, so she puts the key into the keyhole and it turns.  She stops again.  Still alone.  She slowly turns the doorknob and opens the door.  Instead of bricks, there is a dark hallway that smells like something very old.  She carefully walks down the hallway, until she sees something very familiar.  The carpet is the same carpet in her hallway.  The wallpaper is the same is her wallpaper.  The picture hanging in the hall is the same picture that hangs in her hall.  She looks around, confused.  She couldn’t have gotten turned around in a hallway.  Then she hears someone call her name.  It’s her mother – only it’s not.  The person standing there looks like her mother, only her skin is white as paper, she is very tall and very thin, and her fingernails are dark red, long, curved, and very sharp.  And one more thing – instead of eyes, she has big, gleaming black buttons.  “Coraline, we’ve been waiting for you for a long time.”

 

 
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