Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon December 27, 2015

Filed under: adult fiction,adult mystery,Uncategorized — Bethany @ 11:50 pm
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Night SisterIt’s 2013. Piper gets a phone call in the middle of the night. At first she’s worried it’s bad news about her very pregnant sister, Margot. But the news is about her childhood friend, Amy, whom she’s barely talked to since the summer of 1989. Amy has allegedly killed her family and then herself in her childhood home at the Tower Motel in London, Vermont. Margot called Piper to tell her about the one clue left behind, a photo scrawled with the words 29 ROOMS, a message only Margot and Piper understand.

What follows is an eerie tale that passes along the dark secrets of the Tower Motel from sisters Rose and Sylvie in 1955 to Amy, Piper, and Margot’s grisly discovery in 1989 to the horror in 2013.

This was a page-turner! The story was creepy but not terribly scary. The transitions between the different timelines were smooth and easy to follow. I was impressed with the writing and plan to check out other stories by this author. I would recommend this to adults who like mysteries. Just don’t read it alone at night.

5 out of 5 stars


The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson July 19, 2015

Filed under: adult fiction,adult mystery — Bethany @ 11:59 am
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Kind Worth KillingHave you ever had someone in your life you wish would just disappear? Ted Severson is drinking in an airport bar when he is approached by a beautiful stranger. In a drunken attempt to flirt, he tells this woman he just discovered his wife is cheating on him with the contractor building their new home. In a story reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train, the stranger, Lily, suggests he kill his wife and even volunteers to help him. At first Ted laughs off the idea as a joke, but the more he thinks about it, the more he likes the idea. As the plot thickens, it becomes apparent Ted’s wife is not the only one whose life is on the line.

Wow. This was one of those “stay up all night, have to finish my book” books. I blew through this book in two days and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. The Kind Worth Killing is a dark tale of lies, murder, and revenge. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes murder mysteries.

5 out of 5 stars


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo July 18, 2015

Filed under: fantasy,Uncategorized — Bethany @ 11:17 pm
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shadow and boneAlina Starkov has been an orphan since she was a young girl. The only person she has ever trusted, ever really cared about is Mal, a fellow orphan. Now they have grown up and their regiment is preparing to cross the dangerous, often deadly Shadow Fold. During the crossing, Mal is attacked and almost killed, but Alina calls on an unknown power to save his life. Almost instantly, her life changes. She is taken from the army to live and train with the elite Grisha in preparation to use her power to help the mysterious Darkling save their nation. As she learns to use her gift, she drifts further away from her old life and from Mal. But with great power comes great responsibility and Alina begins to wonder where her allegiance should lie.

This was my book club’s choice for the month and probably not something I would have chosen myself. I was frustrated by the obligatory romance/love triangle aspect of the story. It also had a somewhat predictable ending; knowing it is the first of a trilogy, certain things were bound to happen and not to happen. Overall, I liked it more than I thought I would. I would recommend this to teens who are looking for the next Katniss or Tris.

3 out of 5 stars


Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight June 3, 2013

Reconstructing AmeliaKate is single mother who works long hours as an attorney. Her daughter, 15-year-old Amelia, is a good student and stays out of trouble. One day Kate receives a call at work saying that her daughter has been suspended from school. A bewildered Kate takes the train to the fancy private school but mechanical problems delay her for over an hour. When she arrives at the school, it is surrounded by police cars. When she makes her way through the crowd, she is told that Amelia jumped from the roof and is dead. Kate is filled with guilt and sorrow; if only she’d paid more attention to her daughter, she might have seen this coming. After the funeral, Kate receives an anonymous text: Amelia didn’t jump. With the help of the police, Kate begins to go through her daughter’s phone, emails, and Facebook messages and uncovers even more of a mystery as she searches for the truth of what happened to her daugther.

This was a page-turner. It had everything from mother-daughter relationships to friendship to bullying to the lies parents tell to “protect” their children. I would recommend this to adults and older teens who like a little mystery with their realistic fiction.

5 out of 5 stars


The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan April 25, 2013

Tragedy PaperDuncan is about to begin his senior year at prestigious Irving School. When he finds out which room he’s been assigned, he can’t believe his bad luck. The previous tenant was Tim, an albino who graduated the year before. The gift Tim left behind for Duncan is a set of CDs that chronicle the story of Tim’s senior year, namely how he met Vanessa, Patrick’s plan, and the events that led up to a tragedy that Duncan can’t seem to forget.

The story flashes back and forth from Tim’s senior year to Duncan’s. Tim’s plan is to give Duncan content for his Tragedy Paper, a thesis assigned to all seniors. But is Duncan ready to face the truth and his part in it?

Similar to 13 Reasons Why, the main character is listening to the story of a peer and figuring out which part he played in the story. I liked the story and it flowed well; I was looking forward to times when I could read more. Unfortunately, I thought the ending fell flat and my disappointment lowered my opinion of the book.

3 out of 5 stars


Reached by Ally Condie February 21, 2013

ReachedThe wait is over. The perfect Society, which brought Cassia, Ky, and Xander together then tore them apart, is falling and they are all a part of the rebellion in one way or another. Sickness, betrayal, misplaced trust, and desperation will test them in ways they never imagined. Will love be enough?

I enjoyed the final book in the Matched trilogy. The series wasn’t violent like the Hunger Games and doesn’t have the raw emotion of Divergent. It is more introspective and a little slower paced. I definitely liked the first book the best but am glad I finished the series.

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



Divergent by Victoria Roth December 22, 2012

DivergentThe city formerly known as Chicago has been divided into five factions- Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite.  Each faction has different traits and values.  During their sixteenth year, all young adults have to choose their faction for life.  Beatrice was born Abnegation; she was raised to be selfless and to live with just the basics, no luxury.  Being selfless is difficult for her and she doesn’t feel like she belongs.  When it is her turn to choose, she makes a choice that no one is expecting, not even herself.

As a result of her decision, Beatrice, who changes her name to Tris, must endure rigorous training with life-or-death consequences.  She also must keep a secret, a secret that could cost her her life if discovered.  Tris discovers that great power comes with great responsibility.

As we end 2012, here are my rankings for young adult dystopian fictions: 1. Matched, 2. Divergent, 3. Hunger Games, 4. Delirium.  The quality I like most in both Matched and Divergent was that the main characters spent their whole lives following the rules until their rites of passage into adulthood changed their thinking.  I felt like they had character development AND the main characters weren’t annoying.  Tris had both strengths and weaknesses and seemed more human than Katniss.  I’m looking forward to the second book in the series.

5 out of 5 stars


Delirium by Lauren Oliver October 13, 2012

Lena has been waiting a long time for the procedure.  She only has 95 days to go.  Ever since the government declared love a disease and scientists created a cure, the uncureds live in danger of infection.  Lena is particularly susceptible.  Her mother died of the disease.  Now Lena must be especially careful- don’t talk to uncured males, follow the rules of the Book of Shhh, prepare for her evaluation that will put her on course to be educated and matched with a spouse chosen by the government.  All is going to plan until the day of Lena’s evaluation.  Security at the facility is breached and Lena’s evaluation is interrupted.  For a brief moment, she sees a young man watching the chaos.  A man who will disrupt her plans for a perfect, safe life.

Yes, another dystopian fiction.  This time love is the enemy.  When one becomes an adult, a procedure takes away part of the brain and prevents love- the deliria.  According to the dystopian fiction formula, Lena is at first a firm believer in the rules, then changes her mind and begins to think for herself.  The book was good, but I enjoyed Matched more.

3 out of 5 stars


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins September 9, 2012

Spoiler alert: This doesn’t give away the ending, but you might not want to read this review if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series.

Katniss has escaped the arena alive once again, only to learn her home, District 12, has been destroyed and District 13 exists after all.  She learns she is the face of the rebellion, a role she is hesitant to fill.  With many lives in her hands, Katniss must choose a side and accept that every choice she makes will have dire consequences.  Is she willing to be the “Mockingjay” no matter the cost?

Well, I finished the series.  Mockingjay was quite suspenseful and just when you thought no one else could be killed, ten more people die.  I continued to be frustrated by Katniss and decided I prefer the more fallible Cassia from the Matched series.  I’m glad I read the series and would recommend it to teens and adults who aren’t averse to books with a heavy dose of violence.

4 out of 5 stars


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