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Staff Reviews: Adult fiction

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring books DVDs for adults! (For reviews of books for all ages, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates. The book reviews on this website represent the personal opinions of the individuals who created them and do not represent any official views of the Marathon County Public Library.


Cover: 'Clear My Name'

"Clear My Name" by Paula Daly

★★★★★ Tess, who runs a charity that focuses on trying to help those wrongly convicted of crimes, gets her newest case: Carrie, charged with the brutal murder of her husband’s mistress. Carrie has maintained her innocence for three years, and she wants nothing more than to be released to be with her pregnant daughter. The case brings Tess back to the hometown...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Lager Queen of Minnesota'

"The Lager Queen of Minnesota" by J. Ryan Stradal

★★★ Craft beer and microbreweries are popular everywhere these days, especially here in the Midwest. Author J. Ryan Stradal harnesses this as the focal point of his latest novel The Lager Queen of Minnesota, which follows a family of women through multiple decades, each one with ties to the beer-making industry. The book opens with Edith, a woman in her 60s...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction, fiction

Cover: 'The Turn of the Key'

"The Turn of the Key" by Ruth Ware

★★★★★ Author Ruth Ware has done it again! Easily one of my favorite authors, this utterly absorbing novel is her newest fantastic creation.  Readers meet Rowan Caine, who finds an ad for a live-in nanny position in the picturesque Scottish Highlands. Beautiful surroundings, a very generous salary, and a luxurious home make this opportunity seem too good...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Body in Question'

"The Body in Question" by Jill Ciment

★★★★★ Courtroom dramas almost always focus exclusively on the plaintiff and defendant at the heart of a trial. After all, that’s where some of the most compelling storytelling tends to reside. The Body in Question, however, switches things up by following a six-person jury assigned to a murder trial in central Florida, where a teenage girl is accused of setting...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Sense of an Ending'

"The Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes

★★★ This story is written as reminiscences of the times and adventures a group of friends shared in high school, and how their adult lives are altered by events that lead to a mystery.  Tony Webster (the narrator); his three friends Alex, Colin and Adrian; and Tony's girlfriend, Veronica, grow and change over the years.  The narration is...

Audience: adults | Genre: award-winning, fiction

Cover: 'The Art of Racing in the Rain'

"The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein

★★★★★ Enzo loves his family, and loves car racing nearly as much. It just so happens that Enzo is also a dog. This is the story of Enzo reflecting back on his family, and how he sees the world, during his last moments on Earth. Does he want thumbs just like humans? Yes. Can he bark two times to tell Denny, his owner, to drive faster? Yes...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Paris Architect'

"The Paris Architect" by Charles Belfoure

★★★★★ This story takes place in Paris in 1942 during World War II. While so many people are struggling, the wealthy entrepreneurs are building factories and need architects to design them. Lucien Bernard is one of these architects, and is offered large amounts of money to build secret hiding places for Jews. Although he struggles with the risk that he is...

Audience: adults | Genre: historical fiction, fiction

Cover: 'Waiting for Tom Hanks'

"Waiting for Tom Hanks" by Kerry Winfrey

★★★★ Aspiring screenwriter Annie Cassidy loves romantic comedies. Growing up, she would watch the films relentlessly with her mom, dissecting scenes and deriving life advice from the characters and dialogue. As an adult, Annie can quote films like Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail by heart and aspires to write movies herself. But she’s also unlucky...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, romance

Cover: 'The Girls'

"The Girls" by Emma Cline

★★★ It’s the summer of 1969, and 14 year-old Evie Boyd has a lot of time on her hands. She and her best friend, Connie, have had a falling out; the boy she has a crush on has left town; her father is now living with his new girlfriend in another city; and her mother is often absent after reentering the dating scene. Alone and feeling neglected, Evie becomes...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Red, White & Royal Blue'

"Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston

★★★★★ Alex Claremont-Diaz is like American royalty. His mom, Ellen, is the first female President of the United States and he aspires to follow in her political footsteps one day and also become prez. During his time in the White House, Alex has had a not-so-secret rivalry with Henry, the Prince of England. Alex has always thought of Henry as being spoiled,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction, romance

Cover: 'Daisy Jones & The Six'

"Daisy Jones & The Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

★★★★ Classic rock bands from the 1970s and 80s are known for great music that defined a generation. But part of what also made them famous – and perhaps even inspired some of their greatest hits – were the bands’ interpersonal relationships. Groups like Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, and Jefferson Starship were subject to infighting, firing and hiring band members,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lock Every Door'

"Lock Every Door" by Riley Sager

★★★★ One thing New York City is known for is the exorbitant cost of rent and real estate. So when twentysomething Jules loses her job and breaks up with her cheating boyfriend all in the same day, she is instantly in need of money and a place to stay. Jules answers an ad looking for someone to live rent-free at the Bartholomew – an elite, historic and...

Audience: adults | Genre: suspense, fiction

Cover: 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey

★★★★ Order and routine are the two main tenets that keep the Salem State Hospital running smoothly. Under the strict control of Nurse Ratched, members of the ward (comprised of “acutes” and “chronics”) have a set schedule, know their limitations, and stick to the rules. That is, until R.P. McMurphy arrives. McMurphy is an unruly, insubordinate inmate...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, classics

Cover: 'The Night Visitors'

"The Night Visitors" by Carol Goodman

★★★★★ Alice, desperately fleeing an abusive relationship, finds herself and 10 year-old Oren getting off a bus in the midst of a snowstorm, relying on the help of strangers to protect them. Mattie, the social worker who collects them, ends up breaking protocol and bringing them to her house in the middle of the woods instead of the local shelter. She tells them...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'I Owe You One'

"I Owe You One" by Sophie Kinsella

★★★★ Fixie Farr is the youngest of the Farr family, helps to keep their family shop a success, and lives by the family motto of "family first" to a fault. Fixie and her siblings are charged with the task of keeping the family shop in good working order when her mother takes a holiday in Spain. It should be easy, but in reality her...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'This Is How It Always Is'

"This Is How It Always Is" by Laurie Frankel

★★★★ Rosie and Penn are a happily married couple living just outside Madison with a house full of delightfully eccentric sons (four, to be exact). In hopes of having a daughter, the two decide to have one more child, which turns out to be…another boy, whom they name Claude. But around the time he starts kindergarten, Claude begins to question his gender...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Last One'

"The Last One" by Alexandra Oliva

★★★★ Imagine being a contestant of a survival type of reality television show. Now imagine a world that encounters a deadly virus that wipes out much of the Earth's population the same time you become a contestant of a survival reality show. That is the exact scenario that the author of The Last One has conjured up.  The story starts out...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Beartown'

"Beartown" by Fredrik Backman

★★★★ Team sports can be important to a small town. In the case of Beartown, a tiny, rural town in Sweden, that sport is hockey. Boys begin skating almost as soon as they can walk, and the townspeople look at the sport as a source of pride, validation and opportunity. Beartown follows around fifteen different characters, who all have ties to the town’s beloved...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Winters'

"The Winters" by Lisa Gabriele

★★★★ In this modern-day telling of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a young woman moves into a lovely estate in the Hamptons with her new fiancé. Max Winter is a wealthy politician and widower: his wife Rebekah is recently deceased. After a whirlwind romance on a boat, Max welcomes his new fianceé to his lavish estate, Asherley, and introduces her to...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Baby Teeth'

"Baby Teeth" by Zoje Stage

★★★ How would you react if your first-grader was trying to kill you? Would you try to appeal to her with unconditional love, or would you protect yourself and wish for her to disappear from your life? That’s the dilemma stay-at-home mom Suzette finds herself in in Baby Teeth. To put it mildly, Suzette has a rocky relationship with her seven year-old daughter...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, suspense

Cover: 'Elevation'

"Elevation" by Stephen King

★★★ "Elevation" was my very first Stephen King novel due to the fact that I had heard a lot of buzz surrounding this book. In this story we meet Scott Carey, who seems to be in a predicament. He keeps losing pounds on the scale; however, his body composition never changes. It seems that no matter how much he eats or wears, Scott simply cannot stop losing...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Less'

"Less" by Andrew Sean Greer

★★★ Arthur Less no longer wants to be in love. On the verge of turning 50, Less is a mildly successful author who has spent a large chunk of his adult life in relationships, only to get burned in the end. His book publisher also has passed on his most recent manuscript, putting him at a unique crossroads in his life. To avoid attending the wedding of Freddy...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Passage'

"The Passage" by Justin Cronin

★★★★★ Not *just* another zombie-vampire-apocalypse genre novel (but yes, it is also that), "The Passage" tells an epic, century-long tale of the downfall of modern civilization due to a contagion that transforms humans into bloodthirsty, fanged, nigh-indestructible creatures of the night that the author graciously (though conspicuously) tries very hard not...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, science fiction, horror, supernatural, dystopian

Cover: 'We Sold Our Souls'

"We Sold Our Souls" by Grady Hendrix

★★★★★ Kris bought her first electric guitar with her savings, never imaging that she would eventually become the guitarist for a semi-famous heavy metal band.  But on the eve of their big break, the lead singer, Terry, did something more horrible than selling out, and while he went on to achieve fame and glory, the rest of the band disappeared into...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, adult, horror, heavy metal

Cover: 'Something in the Water'

"Something in the Water" by Catherine Steadman

★★★★★ Erin, a filmmaker, and Mark, an investment banker, seem like the perfect couple with the perfect life. Newly married, they embark on a lavish honeymoon in Bora Bora. It's a perfect honeymoon until they find something ominous in the water while scuba diving. They have to decide whether to tell the truth about their discovery or keep it hidden. Their final...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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