Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell August 16, 2013

Instructions for a HeatwaveThere’s a heatwave going on in London in July 1976. Gretta’s husband gets up bright and early to go for the paper like he does every morning. When he doesn’t come back, she gets worried. Eventually the children, now adults with lives of their own, are called in to help. The brother is on the brink of divorce, the two sisters haven’t spoken to each other for years. In the midst of a family crisis, secrets are revealed that may hold clues to their father’s whereabouts and bring the family back together or tear them apart.

This was a quick read and a solid realistic fiction about families and their secrets. I would recommend this to adults who like family dramas.

4 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.





11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass August 28, 2011

Friends Amanda and Leo have celebrated their birthdays together since they learned to walk.  Now it is time for them to turn 11, but this time they will be celebrating separately.  Amanda and Leo haven’t spoken for a year after Amanda overheard Leo say something she can’t forget.

Amanda just wants her birthday to be over.  She doesn’t want to wear the itchy costume her mother picked out and see that everyone has chosen to go to Leo’s party instead.  But when Amanda wakes up the next morning, it is her birthday all over again.  Will this miserable day ever end?

This was a cute, quick read about friendship and second chances.  It was a little cheesy in parts, but you were rooting for things to work out between Amanda and Leo.  I would recommend this to middle school girls.


Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer April 19, 2011

Filed under: ages 9-12,humor — Bethany @ 11:12 pm
Tags: , , ,

Will thinks life is hard with four brothers, but things are about to get a lot harder.  His parents decide he and his older brother need something to do during the summer- a (gulp) educational hobby.  Marty and Will are sent to the public library.  Their parents think the librarian is a nice older lady, but kids know the truth.  She is known as Spud Murphy, named for the gas-powered spud gun she keeps under her desk to shoot soggy potatoes at anyone who makes trouble.  Will the boys survive a summer surrounded by nothing but books under the watchful eye of Spud Murphy?

This was a great book about boys being forced to spend their summer at the library only to discover they like reading and the terrifying librarian is not so bad after all.  This book is funny and imaginative enough to interest the reluctant reader and would be especially appealing to boys.


Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows April 14, 2011

Filed under: humor,realistic fiction — Bethany @ 10:03 pm
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“No thanks,” was Bean’s reply when her mom suggested she befriend the girl next door.  To Bean, Ivy seemed way too boring.  Always sitting by herself, reading books and wearing dresses.  Then, when a practical joke on Bean’s older sister goes wrong, Ivy comes to the rescue and the girls realize they aren’t so different after all.

A fun read about two spunky seven-year-old girls, perfect for those beginning to read chapter books.


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