Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

Allegiant by Veronica Roth April 27, 2014

AllegiantIn the final book of the Divergent trilogy, Tris and the others are now living in a factionless society. Some people want to return to the factions, others do not. Much violence and unrest exists in their formerly orderly society. When Tris, Four, and others are chosen for a special mission, they learn the shocking truth of how their society came to be and where it will go from here. Chapters are narrated alternately by Tris and Four, and as before, sometimes they agree, sometimes they are at odds with each other. When no one knows who to trust, every decision is life and death.

There were a lot of people unhappy with the ending of the Divergent trilogy. I wasn’t one of them. I was surprised by the ending, but I was pleased that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and devoid of all conflict like the last Twilight book. I also appreciated that while Tris was concerned about Four’s well-being, she also did her own thing and wasn’t shy about disagreeing with him when she thought he was wrong. In the end, Divergent continues to be my favorite of all of the dystopian series I’ve read.

4 out of 5 stars


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



The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen July 15, 2012

Jessica is a runner.  She loves the feeling of the wind in her hair and the way it makes her feel alive.  But after an accident, Jessica wakes up to realize she’ll never run again.  Everyone keeps telling her that it’ll be okay, that things will get better.  But she can’t imagine how her life can ever go back to normal when she’s missing the foot she always took for granted.

This was a moving story of a track star whose life changes forever when an accident results in a below knee amputation.  I felt Jessica’s pain and frustration as she struggles with her new reality.  Her depression and negativity seemed realistic; her strong support system and inner strength are inspirational.

5 out of 5 stars

2012-2013 Golden Sower nominee



Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know By the Time She’s 30 by Pamela Redmond Satran and the Editors of Glamour May 24, 2012

Fifteen years ago, Glamour magazine published a list of 30 things a woman should have and know by the time she’s 30.  The list was so popular, it went viral before going viral was even a thing.  This book expands upon the list by including stories, observations, and comments on each item on the list by celebrities, authors, and other well-known women.

Since I just turned 30 myself, I decided to see how I fared with the items on the list.  Some were meaningful, some were kind of silly.  None were really inspirational to me.  I especially had a hard time relating to the stories by celebrities such as Taylor Swift- she’s not even close to 30.  I can see why people enjoyed the list, but this book just wasn’t my thing.

2 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


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


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?


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart August 28, 2011

Frankie “Bunny Rabbit” Landau-Banks attends Alabaster preparatory school.  During her freshman year, her sister, Zada, watched out for her and introduced her to all the right people.  Now Frankie is a sophomore and her sister is away at college.  Luckily for Frankie, who was formerly invisible, she developed over the summer into a curvy, attractive young woman.  She has a crush on popular senior, Matthew Livingston.  After a bike accident where Matthew comes to her rescue, she is thrilled when he invites her to a party.  On the invitations, she notices a peculiar symbol, a basset hound.  She is reminded of talks with her father and his wealthy friends, alumni of Alabaster.  They constantly dropped hints about a secret society, The Loyalty of the Basset Hounds.

As Frankie finds out more about the Basset Hounds, she wants to be a part of it.  She wants to be included in her boyfriend’s life, instead of being seen as the adorable girlfriend who tags along.  She begins to do some digging, some planning.  This innocent girl is about to become a criminal mastermind.

This was a Printz honor book and a National Book Award honor book.  It was funny, smart, and entertaining.  Highly recommended for older teens and adults.


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.


Spy Goddess by Michael P. Spradlin November 9, 2010

Filed under: futuristic tech fiction,sci fi/fantasy — Bethany @ 8:36 pm
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Rachel Buchanan was never really a delinquent, she was just misunderstood.  The judge didn’t see it that way, though.  That’s how Rachel ended up at Blackthorn academy.  Blackthorn wasn’t like a regular high school; it had classes like code theory and microelectronics, and the headmaster, Mr. Kim, knew Rachel’s life story from the minute she walked through the door.  Then the FBI showed up and Mr. Kim disappeared.  Rachel begins to realize that doing time might not be her only reason for being at Blackthorn.


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