Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares May 1, 2014

Here and NowThe author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series is back with a YA book in a completely different genre: science fiction with elements of dystopian future. Seventeen-year-old Prenna immigrated to New York four years ago. She did not come from another country; she came from another time. Prenna and her community were living in the 2090s, a time plagued with a lethal blood disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Everyone lived in fear of being bitten until things were so bad that they knew they had to get out. Those who were strong enough traveled to the year 2010 and settled down around New York. The community had to stick together and follow very strict rules about what they needed to do to fit in and what they couldn’t do to risk harming the “time natives” they were living amongst. Prenna pushes the limits with Ethan, a boy from school who seems to know her better than anyone, even though she’s tried to do her best to keep her distance. When she is given information by someone she thought was a crazy homeless man, his story shocks her and causes her to question everything she’s been told for the past four years. Could this man be telling the truth? And how does Ethan fit into the equation?

This was a very interesting story. It is certainly different from other books by this author. Like many time travel imaginings, this story addressed how seemingly innocent actions by those who have traveled back in time can have dire consequences in the future. It also touches on the implications of our current use of fossil fuels and their effect on the the environment in the future. I would recommend this book to older teens or adults who would appreciate the story and the message behind it.

5 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


Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce August 15, 2012

Shortly before her 16th birthday, Tara Martin fights with her boyfriend, Richie.  She wants to be alone, so she takes a walk in the woods.  She was never seen again.  Twenty years later, on Christmas Day, Tara’s parents hear a knock at the door.  It is Tara.  She is dirty and disheveled but appears not to have aged at all.  When she tries to explain to her brother, Peter, the truth about where she has been, he doesn’t believe her.  No one does.  Will things ever be the same between Tara and the people she left behind?

This book was fantasy mixed with realistic fiction, fairy tale .  You will find yourself imagining yourself in each character’s place.  Would you believe the unbelievable?

5 out of 5 stars


11/22/63 by Stephen King December 21, 2011

What would you do if you could go back in time and save someone’s life?  That is the decision high school English teacher Jake Epping must make.  One spring day, he gets a call from Al, the local diner owner.  Al is dying and needs to show someone a secret before it’s too late.  Al’s diner contains a portal to the past, a specific day in 1958.  He wants Jake to do what Al cannot:  go back in time and prevent JFK from being assassinated. But the past does not want to be changed; it will stop Jake at any cost.

This one of the best books I have ever read.  It had everything- history, romance, suspense, and time travel.  Once I started reading, it was hard to tear myself away.  I wasn’t enamored with the ending, but I’m not sure it could have ended any other way.  Highly recommended.


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.


When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead April 12, 2011

Cryptic notes, an absent best friend, sandwiches, and time travel.  These are all pieces of 12-year-old Miranda’s story.  Her mother is chosen to play on the $20,000 Pyramid game show right around the time Miranda gets the first mysterious note.  Her best friend Sal stops hanging out with her right around the time he is beaten up by the boy in the green Army jacket who knows a lot about time travel.  Throw in a lunch hour job at a sandwich shop and homeless man on the street corner and all that’s left is to figure out how the pieces fit together.

When You Reach Me handily blends realistic fiction with science fiction.  The characters were well done and the story, although a little far-fetched at the end, was enjoyable.  Recommended reading for upper elementary through adults.

Newbery Medal winner


Twilight: The Mediator by Meg Cabot November 9, 2010

Suze Simon is a normal teenage girl… kind of.  She goes to school, is embarrassed by her parents, and gets excited about dances.  The only thing different about Suze is that she’s a mediator.  She can communicate with the dead and see ghosts.  She’s not alone; her classmate Paul is also a mediator, but he always seems to be doing more harm than good.  And then there’s Jesse- Suze’s boyfriend.  There’s just one catch- Jesse is a ghost of a man that was killed in the 1800s.  Everything is going as normal as it goes for a mediator until Paul makes a threat to do something that Suze couldn’t even imagine.  Paul find out that he can travel back in time and change things in the past.  Things like Jesse being killed.  Which would mean that Suze and Jesse would have never met.  Suddenly, Suze has to decide – does she allow the man she loves to have the life he’s always longed for or keep him anchored forever in half-life at her side.


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