Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters March 11, 2016

Steep and Thorny WayThe story begins as Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and a black man, sets out with a small handgun hidden under her skirt to kill her father’s murderer. It’s almost too easy- Joe Adder is naked, bathing in the small pond behind the shed where he’s been hiding out since getting out of prison. But before she can pull the trigger, Joe tells her he’s innocent… and the true killer is closer to her than she might think. Hanalee needs answers and finds surprising friends and foes along the way. The Steep and Thorny Way is an atmospheric tale of racism, fear, intolerance, and friendship set in rural Oregon in the early 1920s.

This is my third Cat Winters book, and it’s been my favorite so far. Her books have all featured a strong female character who defies social norms and are historical fiction with a spooky supernatural twist. This book tackles some big issues (bigotry, the KKK, eugenics, homosexuality) in an interesting and engaging way. I appreciate historical background and author’s note at the end; they added context and acted as a springboard for further research on the subject. I also appreciated that story was romance-free. Yay, no stupid love triangles! I could see this as a good book club choice- lots of good discussion points. I would recommend this to teens and adults.

5 out of 5 stars

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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

 

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

 

Allegiant by Veronica Roth April 27, 2014

AllegiantIn the final book of the Divergent trilogy, Tris and the others are now living in a factionless society. Some people want to return to the factions, others do not. Much violence and unrest exists in their formerly orderly society. When Tris, Four, and others are chosen for a special mission, they learn the shocking truth of how their society came to be and where it will go from here. Chapters are narrated alternately by Tris and Four, and as before, sometimes they agree, sometimes they are at odds with each other. When no one knows who to trust, every decision is life and death.

There were a lot of people unhappy with the ending of the Divergent trilogy. I wasn’t one of them. I was surprised by the ending, but I was pleased that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and devoid of all conflict like the last Twilight book. I also appreciated that while Tris was concerned about Four’s well-being, she also did her own thing and wasn’t shy about disagreeing with him when she thought he was wrong. In the end, Divergent continues to be my favorite of all of the dystopian series I’ve read.

4 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

 

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes April 22, 2014

Filed under: drama,mystery — Bethany @ 8:57 pm
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NaturalsSeventeen-year-old Cassie works at a cafe and amuses herself by guessing what each customer will order. She’s always right; she is a natural at reading people. One day at the cafe, an unusual customer gives her a message. The FBI wants to use Cassie’s talent for a greater purpose. She is brought into a special program for talented teenagers to solve cold cases, crimes by serial killers that were never solved.

Cassie moves into a house with the other Naturals. Soon she is training to review and solve old cases. But her entry into the program has attracted attention. Soon she is in danger and her only hope is that the Naturals’ talents are enough to save her.

This was a unique premise for a book. I liked the characters, their witty banter, and the bits of teenage drama and romance mixed into the story. The ending was surprising and was a bit of a stretch. This book is the first in what will be a series about the Naturals. Recommended for teens who like crime drama.

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

 
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