Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff April 26, 2014

Picture Me GoneMila and her dad were ready to take the trip from London to upstate New York to visit dad’s childhood friend Matthew when they got the news. Matthew is missing, gone without a trace from his home and family. Mila and her dad decide to make the trip anyway. Mila, who has always had the ability to observe and read people and situations, thinks she can solve the mystery of Matthew’s whereabouts. When they arrive, she is shocked to find Matthew has left behind a sad wife, a sweet baby, and a beloved retriever. She and her dad take the dog and follow their instincts to track down Matthew. They find many surprises about Matthew along the way. Just as Mila thinks she has things figured out, she uncovers a betrayal by the person she thought she knew best.

This was a quiet, interesting story. It is a children’s book, but I would recommend it to an emotionally mature middle school or high school student. Mila is an introspective character, both naive about human nature and mature for her age. A thought-provoking read.

4 out of 5 stars


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan April 23, 2013

Mr PenumbrasClay Jannon is a young, out-of-work web designer in San Francisco. During his job search, he stumbles upon Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. His ability to climb the ladder to reach the large, cryptic books near the ceiling get him a job there. Clay works the overnight shift and only sees a few customers a night, if he’s lucky. The customers are an odd bunch; they work in the middle of the night on a secret project Clay is not allowed to know. After awhile, he decides to work on a project to keep his programming skills sharp. He designs a virtual 3-D model of the store. When he meets a cute girl who happens to be a genius, his 3-D model becomes very sophisticated with the help of equipment at her employer, Google. What they reveal sets in a motion a series of events filled with danger, mystery, and intrigue.

This was a bizarre, interesting story of books, the effects of technology, and secret society. I liked the characters and the mystery kept me reading. I would recommend this to young adults who can appreciate what technology lends to the story.

4 out of 5 stars


I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern September 16, 2012

The story begins as Justin confides to his dad that he’s going to propose to his girlfriend.  In subsequent chapters, we flash back to Justin’s various encounters with girls, from his second grade crush to his disastrous senior prom to his future fiance.  There are many awkward moments, disappointments, and rejections along the way.  And of course the advice and wisdom of his father.  “Son, you’re a little on the jittery side.  It’s okay.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  It don’t mean you don’t have a pair of balls, it just means you’re more choosy when you use them.  That’s not always a bad thing.”

Much like his first book, Sh*t My Dad Says, this book was funny.  Really funny.  I was laughing so hard there were tears running down my face at one point.  My favorite part was his trip to Europe during college and after a couple of drunken nights at a club he is given this diagnosis by a Spanish doctor, “Some people, they are very good at alcohol, and they go to many discos, and it is okay.  Some people, they are very bad at alcohol, and it is not good for them discos, and they are good at sitting.  You are good at sit down.”  Keeping in mind it’s heavy on the swearing, you should read this book if you’re ready to laugh.

5 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


Paper Towns by John Green April 10, 2012

Quentin remembers his first real adventure with his neighbor (and crush) Margo Roth Spiegelman.  They were nine, riding their bikes around the neighborhood park, when they found a dead man.  Quentin wanted to go home and tell his parents.  Margo went back, looking for clues and interrogating the neighbors.

Flash forward to the present.  Quentin and Margo, no longer real friends, are high school seniors with just a few weeks left of school.  Both are set to go to college.  One night, when Quentin is about to go to sleep, Margo shows up at his bedroom window dressed like a ninja.  After a wild night of revenge, Margo disappears.  And Quentin might be the only one who can find the clues she left behind and find her before it’s too late.

John Green is a great writer.  His characters are witty and intelligent with an adventurous streak.  And of course, Paper Towns includes a road trip.  I would recommend this book to upper high school students and adults.  It’s a great read.

5 out of 5 stars


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green March 31, 2012

Hazel’s lungs suck at being lungs.  Even though a miracle drug has kept her alive for the past few years, she knows a long life is not going to happen for her.  Then a welcome distraction comes into the cancer support group her parents maker her attend.  Enter Augustus Waters, a good-looking guy with a prosthetic leg and a crooked smile.  Hazel and Augustus have an instant connection.  But the perks for Cancer Kids don’t last forever.

Be prepared- this is a tear jerker.  It’s an excellent book, as we’ve come to expect from author John Green.  Intelligent, witty characters with a sense of humor and, of course, a road trip.  Just don’t expect a happy ending.


Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson March 10, 2012

The last thing Amy Curry wants to do is get in a car.  Her dad died and her mother moved from their home in California to Connecticut.  Amy is the last one to leave their childhood home, but she can’t bear to get behind the wheel and drive the family car where it needs to go.  Her mother comes up with what she believes to be the perfect plan- her friend’s nineteen-year-old son, Roger, will drive Amy across the country.  Roger, on his way to Philadelphia to stay with his father for the summer, is unexpectedly cute and has some emotional baggage of his own.  What’s a girl to do?

Once on the road, Amy and Roger decide to stray from her mother’s carefully planned itinerary and take an epic detour.  They drive the Loneliest Road in America, cross the Kansas Plains, and visit Graceland.  Along the way, Amy gains an unexpected friend to help her let go of the past and get closer to the person she used to be.

Finally, a good book!  The last few books I read were not great, so I was excited to have a quick, enjoyable read in my hands.  Amy and Roger were both likable characters, there was good character development, and the plot was fun yet believable.  There was only one part near the end that didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the book.  I would recommend this to teen girls looking for light drama, romance, and/or adventure by road trip.


Red Glass by Laura Resau September 26, 2011

In the middle of the night, Sophie and her family receive a phone call that will change their lives.  Pablo, a six-year-old Mexican boy is in the hospital with dehydration; he is the only survivor of a group trying to cross the border into Arizona.  For some reason, he has Sophie’s stepfather’s card in his pocket.  The family cares for the little boy until one day he reveals where he came from.

Shortly after this revelation, Pablo, Sophie, her aunt Dika (a refugee from the war in Bosnia), Dika’s boyfriend, Mr. Lorenzo, and his teenage son, Angel, set off in a van across Mexico to the small village of Pablo’s birth.  Sophie has always been afraid of everything and this journey has the potential to go very wrong.  She could get food poisoning, they could be in an accident, they could be arrested, or, worst of all, Pablo could decide to stay with his family instead of coming back with her.

When an accident happens, Mr. Lorenzo and Angel need Sophie’s help.  Will she be able to overcome her fears and face danger to save the people she loves?

Red Glass was a heartwarming story of a teenage girl who has always worried about everything overcoming her fears and seeing herself how others see her.  It has love, trust, adventure, and danger.  Bad movie plots had me expecting the worst, but Sophie’s journey contained conflict without being too scary or traumatic.  I will recommend this to middle and high school girls.


As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins June 10, 2011

Filed under: realistic fiction — Bethany @ 10:16 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

The story begins with Ry chasing a train, falling down a hill.  Ignoring the conductor’s warning, he had left the train for just a minute to make a phone call.  He was supposed to go to summer camp, but instead he’s stranded in Montana with one boot and a nearly dead cell phone.  When a stranger offers to help him, Ry can’t think of another option.  It is here the real adventure begins.

Much like the show Lost, this book kept my interest but created many questions it never answered.  All in all, I enjoyed Ry’s journey on rails, roads, air, and sea .  But I was left wondering what was up with the cryptic letter canceling camp?  Why was Grandpa in a hotel room at one point?  Why was Del talking to himself?  Also, I’ll be happier imagining that Beth reenters Ry’s life at some point.

Although the main character is a teenager, the content is appropriate even for a middle schooler.  This a fun read, as long as you don’t overthink the plot.


Savvy by Ingrid Law May 13, 2011

Mibs (short for Mississippi) is about to turn 13.  For the Beaumonts, turning 13 is a big deal, but not because they are teenagers.  This is the day the savvy is revealed.  Her brother caused a massive hurricane on his 13th and the family was never the same.

The day before Mibs’ birthday, they find out their father has been in a major car accident and is in a coma in Salina, Kansas.  When the younger kids are left behind with the preacher’s wife, Mibs realizes her savvy could be just the thing to save her father’s life.

The Beaumont and the preacher’s kids stow away on a pink Bible bus and set out on an unexpected journey that will change all of their lives.  Will they make it in time for Mibs to save Poppa?

I didn’t love this book.  It was a decent coming-of-age story about a girl who realizes she is no longer a child with some magic thrown in.  Being a Nebraska native, I wasn’t a fan of portrayal of Nebraskans either.  (I’ve never told anyone to “get frittered.”)

2009 Newbery Honor Book

2010-2011 Golden Sower Honor Book


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