Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist December 17, 2015

We Should Hang OutJosh Sundquist’s story begins when he is 25 years old and realizes he has never had a girlfriend. Sure, he came close. In 8th grade, he went out with a girl from his youth group for 23 whole hours. In high school, he spent the whole summer hanging out with a girl that he never worked up the nerve to kiss. There was a disastrous prom date and a failed attempt to declare his intentions on a canoe. As he looks back through his love life, he doesn’t understand where things went wrong. In attempt to figure out the fatal flaw in his date-ablility, Josh tracks down the girls who got away and asked them what happened. Their answers lead to a surprising revelation.

Highlights of the book:

  • Josh’s discussion with his extremely conservative Christian parents about him transitioning from home school to public school. My favorite line in the book: “It was a well-known fact among Christian homeschoolers that public schools were bastions of gangs, drugs, teen pregnancy, rap music, pop culture, secular humanism, witchcraft, and body piercings.”
  • A golf date that resulted in him trying to correct his prosthetic foot that had gotten turned in the wrong direction.
  • The aforementioned failed attempt to declare his intentions on a canoe in the middle of a lake.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read. I finished it within a few hours. I laughed out loud many times. Even though he struck out a lot, his confidence and his continuous efforts to get out and try again were admirable. I can see why he became a motivational speaker; he has the ability to turn a perceived failure into a story his audience can relate to or at least sympathize with and turn it into a learning experience.

I would recommend this book paired with Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw. Both touch on overcoming adversity using humorous and relatable life stories.

5 out of 5 stars


Winger by Andrew Smith April 24, 2014

WingerRyan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old high school junior at a fancy boarding school in Oregon. This year he’s been transferred to O-Hall, the residence hall for the troublemakers. If his roommate Chas doesn’t kill him, it will be a miracle. Ryan Dean just hopes he can make his smoking hot friend Annie realize he’s not a little boy first. Annie, his friend Joey, and rugby are best things about this year, the year he becomes his own man.

I can’t write a review that does this book justice. It’s that awesome. Sure, it’s filled with swear words and Ryan Dean spends almost all of his time talking about or thinking about sex with every female he sees. But it’s also so funny, endearing, and heart breaking. Read it and love it.

5 out of 5 stars


Almost Super by Marion Jensen April 22, 2014

Filed under: ages 9-12,humor — Bethany @ 8:15 pm
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Almost SuperIt’s a leap year, February 29 to be exact. Rafter and Benny Bailey are gathered with their family in the living room. On this day on a leap year, at 4:23 pm, every member of the Bailey family over the age of 12  gets his or her super power. Rafter is hoping for super strength like his grandpa. Benny wants super speed. When the moment finally arrives, they both get their powers. The problem? Their powers are really, really lame. Benny can pop his innie belly button into an outie. Rafter can light a match on any polyester surface. How are they going to help the family fight the villainous Johnson family with powers like that?

This book was super cute and funny. The descriptions of the super powers, the battles of good versus evil, and the humor make it a good recommendation for boys (and girls) in upper elementary or middle school. The underlying themes of friendship and the vulnerability kids feel at that age make it a book adults will like for kids.

5 out of 5 stars


Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan August 14, 2013

Filed under: adult memoir,adult non-fiction — Bethany @ 9:50 am
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Dad Is FatJim Gaffigan, comedian famous for his Hot Pockets routine, has written a book about being a father. He and his wife have five young children in a two-bedroom New York City apartment. He talks about the different aspects of raising children, especially in a big city.

This book had its laugh-out-loud moments, but overall it wasn’t as funny as I’d hoped. It also had some sentimental parts about how special it is to have children. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had kids of my own.

3 out of 5 stars


Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich July 11, 2013

Filed under: adult fiction — Bethany @ 11:54 am
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Explosive EighteenStephanie is on her way back from a Hawaiian vacation with a man snoring loud enough to shake the plane out of the sky and a seatmate who doesn’t return after their stop in L.A. When she gets back to Trenton, everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii- why does she have a ring tan line and why did she come back alone? Stephanie doesn’t want to talk about it- it’s complicated.

She soon learns that her seatmate from the plane was found in a trashcan and the photo she found in her carry-on is very important to several people. Too bad she threw it away. Now she’s got fake FBI guys, real FBI guys, jealous girlfriends, and all the regular characters after her. Explosions, relationship drama, and FTA’s on the run ensue.

This was a typical fun, crazy Stephanie Plum adventure. Lula and Grandma Mazur are hilarious and I craved junk food for the next week.

4 out of 5 stars


When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris July 10, 2013

Filed under: adult memoir — Bethany @ 5:37 pm
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When You Are EngulfedA collection of witty essays by humor writer David Sedaris. Stories include his time living in France, using LP album covers to scare away birds terrorizing him, his adventure to Tokyo to quite smoking, and his avoidance of the bulkhead in an airplane at any cost, including the wrath of his seatmate.

I tried to read a David Sedaris book several years ago and couldn’t get into it. I discovered the key to my enjoyment of his work is to listen to the audiobook. Sedaris reads his own books, and his voice telling the stories makes all the difference. I laughed out loud so many times during the book. I even rewound the book to listen to parts again. Other people have said this isn’t his best book, but I enjoyed it as my first.

5 out of 5 stars


A Good American by Alex George September 9, 2012

The story begins in 1904 with Jette and Frederick, young lovers in Hanover, Germany.  When Jette becomes pregnant out of wedlock, they flee Germany and head for America for a fresh start.  Originally set for New York, they end up in New Orleans and, by a series of events, eventually settle in Beatrice, Missouri.

The story covers three generations of Meisenheimers.  Frederick, who arrives fresh off the boat without a word of English, his son Joeseph, and his grandson, James (the narrator of the story).  It is a heart-warming story full of triumph, tragedy, and love for family, with lots of interesting characters thrown in along the way.

I’d heard good reviews and decided to give this book a try.  What a great story!  It made me laugh in some parts, tear up in others.  I liked that it had the stories of multiple generations, and I really enjoyed the narrator.  I would highly recommend this book.
5 out of 5 stars


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


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


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.



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