Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani July 11, 2013

Yonahlossee Riding CampThe story begins as fifteen-year-old Thea Atwell’s father drops her off at the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. Thea has been sent away from the only home she has ever known, a perfect swath of Florida land, her pony, Sasi, and her twin brother, Sam. The year is 1930 and the county is in the midst of the Great Depression; however, the Atwell family’s citrus farms continue to be prosperous and Thea finds herself around other girls from wealthy families where social status is of the utmost importance. As Thea navigates the complicated social structure and feels abandoned by her family, she takes an intense interest in the headmaster’s family and tries to forget the terrible situation that caused her expulsion from her family and home.

I loved this book. It was full of drama, passion, bits of history, family struggles, sexual awakening, and the emotional roller coaster of being a teenager. The story of why Thea was sent away is told in flashbacks – a plot device I enjoy  if it’s done well. The story has some mature content; I would recommend to older teens or adults.

5 out of 5 stars


Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason June 20, 2013

Filed under: adult fiction,adult mystery — Bethany @ 4:35 pm
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Three Graves FullJason Getty does not stand out in any way. He’s quiet with average looks and gets along with most people. Until a year ago when he killed a man who had pushed him too far- the man who is now buried in his backyard, away from prying eyes. But when a landscaping company uncovers two other bodies in Jason’s yard, people he had no idea existed, he knows it’s time for him to take action to protect himself. What happens next draws all kinds of people together for an unexpected climax filled with misunderstandings and a little dark humor.

I first head about this book in Library Journal and thought it sounded like a good summer read. It wasn’t as funny or as good as I thought it would be. I didn’t really care about any of the characters and found a few parts confusing and a few others boring. Good, not great.

3 out of 5 stars



The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver August 18, 2012

The story begins in 1959 with the Price family on a plane, dressed in all of the clothes they own, with various household necessities in their pockets.  When they arrive in the Belgian Congo for their mission, they realize that they were woefully unprepared for the life that awaited them.  The family adjusts to beds surrounded by mosquito nets, weekly quinine pills, poisonous snakes in the doorway, and boiling every drop of water before they can use it.  Reverend Price becomes more and more engulfed in his mission to bring Jesus Christ to the village, growing more frustrated and extreme with each passing day.  His four daughters figure out what he refuses to see- the people do things differently in the Congo because that’s what it takes to survive.  The story is told from the mother’s and each girl’s point of view in alternating chapters.  The political, spiritual, and familial unrest changes each family member’s life forever.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  On one hand, it was amazing to read about life in the Congo and how it changed everyone in the Price family in such a profound way.  On the other hand, reading it was an arduous task.  I started and stopped reading it several times; it was very long and the last quarter of the book dragged on.  Kingsolver definitely has strong feelings about  the political upheaval that took place in that region; presumably, her opinions were woven into character Leah’s story.  It also caused me to ruminate on my feelings about religion and Christian missions.  Overall, I’m glad I read the book.  The Price family has haunted me since I finished and will continue to do so for some time to come.





The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart June 7, 2012

Filed under: adult fiction — Bethany @ 5:58 pm
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Balthazar Jones and his wife, Hebe, live in present-day London in a tower at a popular tourist attraction.  After the death of their young son, they have only the company of their 181-year-old pet tortoise, Mrs. Cook.  One day Balthazar Jones is visited by a man from the palace and put in charge of the royal menagerie, a variety of animals gifted to the queen by other countries.  There are challenges from day one, from a truck full of penguins that go missing to a Komodo dragon on the loose.  Balthazar must protect the menagerie in addition to dealing with problems at home.  Will it be more than he can handle?

This is the first of the three nominees I’ve read for this year’s One Book, One Lincoln.  The book was interesting, but it’s not something I would have chosen on my own.  My favorite parts were Hebe Jones and Valerie Jennings’ experiences in the London Underground Lost Property Office.  It sounds like an awesome job.  I’ll  have to read all three books before deciding which one I like best.

4 out of 5 stars


Oh, Daddy! by Bob Shea March 5, 2012

A young hippo has to show his dad how to do everything, including how to get dressed, how to get in the car, and how to give big hugs.

This one was very popular in Toddler Time.  I used it for the theme Getting Dressed, but it would work for a number of other themes as well.  I liked how it showed the little hippo doing things by himself.  The illustrations were wonderful.



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.



Bear’s New Friend by Karma Wilson December 21, 2011

Filed under: children's picture books — Bethany @ 11:58 am
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Bear hears noises coming from the woods but can’t figure out who is making them.

This is a cute story with talking animals and a shy owl that is scared to come out and play.


My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza

Filed under: children's picture books — Bethany @ 11:56 am
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Pig visits a hungry fox and tricks him into giving him a bath, making him a huge meal, and giving him a massage.

This was a funny book about a clever, manipulative pig that outsmarts a fox.


A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker

Filed under: children's picture books — Bethany @ 11:53 am
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Bear doesn’t like to have any visitors, but mouse keeps showing up in unexpected places.

This is a cute story about a mouse that sneaks around and surprises a bear while he makes breakfast.  Not surprisingly, they become friends at the end.


Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson November 13, 2011

“Being of sound mind, I do hereby leave to Hattie Inez Brooks my claim and the house and its contents, as well as one steadfast horse named Plug and a contemptible cow known as Violet.  Postscript: Bring warm clothes and a cat.”

In 1917, shortly after her friend Charlie leaves for war, 16-year-old Hattie receives a letter.  The letter is from a long-lost uncle that is dying and leaving his homestead in Montana to her.  Hattie, whose mother and father died when she was young, has long thought of herself as Hattie Here-nor-There.  She finally has a purpose, a place where she belongs.  She is not prepared for the life of a homesteader, but she learns as she goes with the help of her neighbors, the Muellers.

Homesteading life is not easy- blizzards, sickness, fires, and loss make it hard to go on.  The war wages on in Europe and hardships trickle back to the U.S.  Will Hattie be able to prove up in time?  Will her friend Charlie make it back from war?  If he does, will be the same person he was when he left?


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