Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

Insurgent by Veronica Roth January 29, 2013

InsurgentIn the aftermath of destruction, Tris is struggling to reconcile what she did, where she came from, and where she’s going. Everyone must decide who to trust and as they slowly discover where loyalties lie.  Tris’ feelings of guilt make it hard for her to concentrate on survival, while others decide whether she’s a leader or a traitor. Values, beliefs, and relationships are put to the test in the second book of the Divergent series.

As often happens to the second book in a trilogy, this book seemed to drag on and frustrated me over and over. I will read the next book when it comes out and hope that it renews my enjoyment of the series.

3 out of 5 stars



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


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins April 30, 2012

The day starts out like a normal day- hunting and gathering with Gale, trading their goods on the black market, and taking the rest home for dinner.  But today is special- it’s the day of the Hunger Games.  The place formerly known at the United States is now Panem, divided into the capitol and 12 districts.  Each year one boy and one girl from each district must fight to the death in the Hunger Games.  At the ceremony, when the names from their district are called, Katniss is horrified to hear her sister’s name called.  Katniss does the only thing she can do- volunteer to take her sister’s place.  She is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her family- even if it means the end of her own life.

Wow, what a suspenseful read!  I can see why so many people liked it.  Other than Katniss’ constant thoughts about her own selflessness that annoyed me after awhile, it was an interesting, fast-paced story with likable characters.  It makes the reader think about life, death, the hierarchy of society, and how far you would go to protect a loved one.  Highly recommended for teens or adults.

5 out of 5 stars


11/22/63 by Stephen King December 21, 2011

What would you do if you could go back in time and save someone’s life?  That is the decision high school English teacher Jake Epping must make.  One spring day, he gets a call from Al, the local diner owner.  Al is dying and needs to show someone a secret before it’s too late.  Al’s diner contains a portal to the past, a specific day in 1958.  He wants Jake to do what Al cannot:  go back in time and prevent JFK from being assassinated. But the past does not want to be changed; it will stop Jake at any cost.

This one of the best books I have ever read.  It had everything- history, romance, suspense, and time travel.  Once I started reading, it was hard to tear myself away.  I wasn’t enamored with the ending, but I’m not sure it could have ended any other way.  Highly recommended.


Trapped by Michael Northrop

Early dismissal for a snow day is always a good thing, right?  High school sophomore Scotty and his friends wait for a ride as more and more snow falls, thinking a 4-wheel drive truck has to be better at navigating the snow than a school bus.  Eventually they realize that no one is coming for them.  At first, things are okay.  There are seven people left in the school, one of whom is a hot freshman girl.  They spend the night in the school and it’s like a weird sleepover.  But when the power goes out, the heat turns off, and they realize there’s a lot snow and no one knows where they are, they know they’re in trouble.  As the cold, dark days stretch on, they are forced to make a life or death decision.

Although a little far fetched (18 feet of snow), this was a fast-paced, suspenseful story.  The narrator is a teenage boy and the voice is authentic.  I would recommend this to teen boys who want a quick read and like survival stories.


Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride June 28, 2011

Sam, officially Samhain Corvus LaCroix, is a college-dropout turned fry cook at Plumpy’s.  After a break-time game of potato hockey ending in a broken taillight, he gets his first look at Douglas Montgomery.  After being attacked in the Plumpy’s parking lot, he gets his second look.  You see, like Douglas, Sam is a necromancer.  Douglas is powerful and evil; Sam is clueless about his paranormal powers.  Suddenly, Sam has to deal with Douglas’s basement, a hot werewolf girl, and Ashley the Harbinger.  Sam is about to get a lesson in necromancy.

Have you been looking for the next Twilight?  Perhaps a tale of teenagers with paranormal powers… that’s well written and clever?  Look no more.  Sam has a smart mouth, good friends, and a powerful enemy.  Will he figure out what powers he has and how to use them to save the day before it’s too late?  Includes an ending that could nicely segue into a sequel.

William C. Morris Debut Award finalist


Stolen Children by Peg Kehret May 13, 2011

Filed under: ages 10-14,drama,suspense — Bethany @ 9:22 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When 14-year-old Amy takes a last-minute babysitting job, she thinks it will be an easy afternoon.  She drifts off by the pool only to wake up and realize little Kendra is missing.  When the kidnappers come back, they take Amy with them.  Amy and Kendra are taken to a hidden cabin in the woods and Amy must keep them safe and, most importantly, alive .

The kidnappers make a DVD of the girls each day to send to the families.  The kidnappers use the DVDs to ensure a ransom, but Amy realizes this is her chance to send clues to her mother, her friend Jorja, and the police.  Will Amy be able outsmart the kidnappers and lead the police to them in time?

Many of the ideas in this book were far-fetched, but I liked Amy’s quick thinking and cool head under pressure.  She had very clever ideas to plant clues in the DVDs.  If I ever had a child and she was kidnapped, I would want Amy to be there.

2010-2011 Golden Sower Award winner


Fakie by Tony Varrato

Alex and his mother left town in the middle of the night as they had so many times before.  This time they were headed south.  In the car, they talked about their new identities.  Alex decided he would be a skateboarder this time.

Things weren’t always like this.  Before Alex saw a brutal murder, before a man he put in jail wanted him dead, before he and his mother had to keep running to stay alive, life was normal.

Although many of the ideas in the book were far-fetched, Fakie had a fast-paced, suspenseful, and interesting plot.  Combined with its short length (142 pages), I would recommend it to boys, especially reluctant readers.

Golden Sower Honor Book


Invisible by Pete Hautman November 9, 2010

Filed under: disturbed fiction,suspense — Bethany @ 9:43 pm
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“Andy and I had some bad luck with fires when we were kids.  We’re more careful now.”

Doug is a little strange- some people call him a freak; his mom calls him disturbed.  Andy is popular, athletic, and the object of female affection.  Doug and Andy are best friends.  They’ve had a lot of good times together.  Except at the old Tuttle house.  But Doug doesn’t really want to get into that right now.

There are more important things for Doug to think about.  Like Melissa Haverman or the model railroad set he’s been working on for almost three years.  Yes, there are many more important things to think about than the past.


Godless by Pete Hautman

When Jason Bock is punched in the face below the town’s water tower, he has an epiphany.  Rather than being forced into his parents’ boring old religion, he’ll create his own.  Jason, aka His Kahunaness, recruits his best friend Shin, the cute girl from his church group Magda, and the town bully Henry to become “Chutengodians”.  They worship their new god, the town water tower.  Things are all fun until their first worship high atop the dome of the water tower where things become dangerous and almost deadly.  Jason then has to deal with the burden of controlling his new religion before it destroys its followers.


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