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Staff Reviews: fiction

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library! (For reviews in all genres, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


Cover: 'The Song of Achilles'

"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller

★★★★★ This is a beautifully-written romantic interpretation of the tragedy of Achilles and Patroclus, this time told from Patroclus' perspective. It tells of his childhood, how he met Achilles, and their time growing up together. The classic story sees new life in the form of modern prose adorned with heaps of beautiful imagery that pays homage to Homeric...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction, romance, historical fiction, tragedy, lgbt

Cover: 'New from Here'

"New from Here" by Kelly Yang

★★★★★ When COVID-19 hits Hong Kong, one family is forced to separate and span two countries in an effort to protect each other.  Based on the author’s own experience during the start of our current COVID-19 pandemic, the author tells the story of Knox and his siblings when they’re forced to travel from Hong Kong to California in a matter of days. Thinking...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Love in the Library'

"Love in the Library" by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Yas Imamura

★★★★★ This picture book has readers meet Tama and George, two Japanese Americans being held in a prison camp called Minidoka. Based on the true story of the author's family being held in a similar camp after the attack on Pearl Harbor, readers follow Tama as she struggles with the unjust and cruel conditions of the camp. Working in the camp's library, she meets...

Audience: children | Genre: children's picture book, fiction, children's books

Cover: 'Bathe the Cat'

"Bathe the Cat" by Alice B. McGinty, David Roberts

★★★★★ This new picture book captured my attention by the bright cover and title that made clear it'd be an entertaining read (because every cat owner knows most of them definitely do not want to be bathed!) Inside, we meet a family who's just realized Grandma is on her way, and the house is a mess. Chaos ensues as chores are dished out, and when the cat sees a...

Audience: children | Genre: children's picture book, fiction

Cover: 'Later'

"Later" by Stephen King

★★★★ The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine—as he discovers when an NYPD...

Audience: adults | Genre: adult fiction, fiction, suspense

Cover: 'Dear Little One'

"Dear Little One" by Nina Laden, Melissa Castrillon

★★★★★ This beautifully-illustrated picture book celebrates nature through the eyes of a little girl and her dog. Written as a letter from Mother Nature, this book encourages children to observe the world around them and appreciate everything the earth provides, from tiny insects to tall mountaintops. The lilting rhymes and dreamy illustrations present an...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, children's books, children's picture book

Cover: 'The Goody'

"The Goody" by Lauren Child

★★★★ The Goody is a story about two siblings—one is always good and the other is always bad. They have even been labelled as good and bad by their parents. Then Chirton, the good one, starts questioning whether this is really fair. Why should he have to do all the chores while his sister Myrtle gets away with anything? Suddenly, Chirton is behaving badly while...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Killing Kind'

"The Killing Kind" by Jane Casey

★★★★★ Ingrid Lewis is no stranger to dangerous people. A barrister in London, she's defended all sorts of clients. One she will never forget? John Webster. Acquitted of a stalking charge after Ingrid defended him in court, he rapidly grew obsessed with her and destroyed everything in her life. Webster suddenly shows up just as Ingrid finally felt like she was...

Audience: adults | Genre: adult fiction, fiction, suspense

Cover: 'The Lost Apothecary'

"The Lost Apothecary" by Sarah Penner

★★★★ Three women connected through time. All have one thing in common. In February of 1791, apothecary Nella meets her newest patron, 12 year-old Eliza Fanning. Nella was once a respected apothecary and healer. Now she dispenses poison to help women who desperately need to be free of the men in their lives. Eliza is intrigued with Nella and helps at the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Love Hypothesis'

"The Love Hypothesis" by Ali Hazelwood

★★★★ Olive Smith - third year Ph.D candidate - hasn’t had the time for a love life, preferring to live vicariously through cheesy rom-com's and her roommates many escapades instead. In an attempt to prove she's totally over a man, she soon finds herself living the old classic pretend boyfriend trope. Who is the lucky guy? Adam Carlsen, young...

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

Cover: 'In a Holidaze'

"In a Holidaze" by Christina Lauren

★★★★ Christmas meets “Groundhog Day” in this cute and festive holiday romance! Maelyn Jones’ Christmas holiday did not turn out how she wanted. Much to her surprise, she gets a redo on the holiday! Her career is going nowhere, her favorite place in the world is being sold and a romantic blunder during the holiday sends Maelyn into a mental meltdown. On her...

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

Cover: 'The Dead and the Dark'

"The Dead and the Dark" by Courtney Gould

★★★★★ One chapter in and I was immediately hooked on this story about a family who move to a small town called Snakebite for their latest ghost hunting investigation. But when Logan and her dads show up, it immediately becomes clear that not everything is as it seems. Something is wrong with this town, and it's not just their extreme distrust and disrespect of...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dead Even'

"Dead Even" by Annelise Ryan

★★★★ Maddie Winston, medico-legal investigator, and her homicide-detective husband, Steve Hurley have been assigned to investigate the death of a wealthy local resident. The body of Montgomery “Monty” Dixon, local realtor, is found dead in his home with a pool cue in his chest. Maddie and Steve have a list of suspects to dig through including Monty’s wife,...

Audience: adults | Genre: mystery, fiction

Cover: 'Temple Alley Summer'

"Temple Alley Summer" by Sachiko Kashiwaba, Avery Fischer Udagawa

★★★★ A complex and satisfying mystery story set in Masuda City, Japan, Temple Alley Summer is part ghost story, part folk tale.Kazuhiro Sada lives at the site of an ancient temple. A long time ago, a small Buddha statue was shared among the houses on his street. People prayed to the statue to bring back those who had died, and their loved ones would return, but...

Audience: tweens | Genre: fiction, tweens

Cover: 'House of Hollow'

"House of Hollow" by Krystal Sutherland

★★★★★ How would you live your life if you and your two sisters mysteriously vanished when you were young, only to return a month later with no memory of what happened and nothing but identical scars on your throats? Soon after returning, all their eyes turn black and their hair turns stark white, but the mystery of what happened is never found. Iris chooses...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, young adult

Cover: 'The Caiman'

"The Caiman" by María Eugenia Manrique, Ramón París, Amy Brill

★★★★★ People usually tell touching stories about dogs and cats or even birds—but an alligator?A caiman is a species of Central and South American reptile similar to an alligator. In Venezuela, José Faoro adopts an abandoned baby caiman, whose mother was probably taken by poachers. The little alligator grows up following Faoro around his jewelry and watch repair...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz'

"The Tattooist of Auschwitz" by Heather Morris

★★★★★ Do you like based on true story fiction? Do you like World War II  books? Then this is a perfect combination for you! Follow the story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, as he survives his time in Auschwitz. We learn of what he went through on his way to the concentration camp, his time there and what his life was like afterwards. Throughout...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, adult fiction

Cover: 'Malibu Rising'

"Malibu Rising" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

★★★★ It’s August 1983, and Nina Riva is just hours away from hosting the biggest party of the year at her beach house in Malibu. Known around the world as an “it girl” surfer/swimsuit model, Nina seemingly has the perfect life. She’s beautiful, she’s rich, and she’s married to a handsome tennis star. But the truth is, Nina wishes her life was different. Her...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Night Walk'

"The Night Walk" by Marie Dorleans, Polly Lawson

★★★★★ A delightful picture book translated from French, The Night Walk is about a family that rises early to go on a long walk. They walk away from their town past fields, through the woods, by a lake, and up some rocky hills. Finally, we see what they walked all that way for: the sunrise.On the journey, descriptive words awaken all the senses—a shrieking train,...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Katie the Catsitter'

"Katie the Catsitter" by Colleen A.F. Venable

★★★★★ As a cat-loving owner of three awesome cats myself, I first picked up this graphic novel because of the cat theme that clearly shines through on the cover. Readers meet Katie, who's desperate to get out of New York City and join her best friends at summer camp. The only problem is, she has no money to pay for it, so she works hard to find as many jobs as...

Audience: tweens | Genre: graphic novel, fiction

Cover: 'The Sun Down Motel'

"The Sun Down Motel" by Simone St. James

★★★★★ 35 years ago, Carly's aunt disappeared in the mysterious town of Fell. Knowing nothing about her, because her mother refused to talk about her, Carly finds herself heading to Fell shortly after her mother's death to finally try and put the pieces together surrounding her aunt's disappearance. When she sees a "help wanted" sign in the window of the Sun Down...

Audience: adults | Genre: adult fiction, fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Nickel Boys'

"The Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead

★★★★★ “Throw us in jail, and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you … But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom.”  Determined to live out the ideals of Martin Luther King in the early 1960’s Jim Crow-era south, young...

Audience: adults | Genre: historical fiction, fiction, adult fiction

Cover: 'Hostage'

"Hostage" by Clare Mackintosh

★★★★★ In this thrilling new release by one of my all time favorite authors, flight attendant Mina is forced to make an impossible decision during her job as a flight attendant on the highly-anticipated 20-hour flight from London to Sydney. Swarming with reporters and 300 other passengers, Mina isn't even supposed to be on the flight. Switching shifts with a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Just Last Night'

"Just Last Night" by Mhairi McFarlane

★★★★★ Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have that rare magic kind of friendship that started when they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, they are navigating new sets of problems, a dead end job, family you won’t speak of, being in love with one of your best friends. Eve has loved Ed since forever and no one knows. One night changes everything, Ed’s longtime...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey'

"Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey" by Erin Entrada Kelly

★★★★★ Dadhead. Buster Keaton. Betty Bigmouth. Peppina. These words will have more meaning once you have read Marisol Rainey’s story. Marisol is a girl who likes to name things like trees and refrigerators. She has a best friend named Jada and an older brother named Oz. Jada, Oz, and practically everyone else are super good at climbing trees—like the one in the...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

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