Marathon County Public Library

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Staff Reviews: Fiction

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


'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial' by Jim Thomas

"E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" by Jim Thomas

★★★★ For fans of the classic 80’s movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, this timeless story is now in the form of a uniquely-illustrated children’s book! This book is a direct adaptation of the film and is aimed at young readers, with a few minor changes from the movie. The story tells the tale of young Elliot, who discovers what he thinks to be a goblin living...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Movies

'The Wife Between Us' by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

"The Wife Between Us" by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

★★★★★ Vanessa can’t believe that her ex-husband Richard is remarrying so quickly! She thought her replacement was going to be a short term fling, but news of their impending wedding has her in a tailspin. She’s barely holding it together as it is—she’s living in her aunt’s spare room, living off commissions as a saleswoman in a swanky department store (where she...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Far From the Tree' by Robin Benway

"Far From the Tree" by Robin Benway

★★★★ What exactly is a family? Are they your biological relatives? The people who raised you? Or are they the people you choose to surround yourself with every day? Far From the Tree explores the idea of family in all its forms as it follows three siblings who reconnect as teenagers after being given up for adoption in infancy. There's 17 year-old...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult, YA Fiction With Adult Appeal, Award-Winning

'Elizabeth and Zenobia' by Jessica Miller

"Elizabeth and Zenobia" by Jessica Miller

★★★★★ Elizabeth is not too happy about moving with her father to Witheringe Manor, her emotionally distant father’s creepy, spooky childhood home, but at least she has her best friend and fearless companion, Zenobia with her, even if her father thinks she is far too old for an imaginary friend. Zenobia believes there is a spirit presence in the house and...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Orphan Island' by Laurel Snyder

"Orphan Island" by Laurel Snyder

★★★★★ Jinny knows that the Changing will happen sometime soon, and her best friend, Deen, the eldest, will be whisked away in a self-propelled green boat and a new young child will be deposited to join the eight left on the island. Then Jinny will be the new "Eldest" and it will be her job to take care of and teach the brand new youngest child, Ess...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Stars Beneath Our Feet' by David Barclay Moore

"The Stars Beneath Our Feet" by David Barclay Moore

★★★★★ Building epic cities with large garbage bags full of LEGO blocks is how twelve-year-old Lolly channels his anger and his voice since the death of his older brother Jermaine, the only real person he could talk to. When his buildings outgrow his mother’s apartment (and her patience) he spends time hiding in a storage closet at the St. Nick community center...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Renegades' by Marissa Meyer

"Renegades" by Marissa Meyer

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Nova’s world is ruled by the Renegades, a group of Prodigies (humans that possess a special ability/superpower), who used their abilities to defeat Ace Anarchy and his Prodigy compatriots who were responsible for creating fear and destruction during the Age of Anarchy. Despite Renegade promises to protect them, Nova’s parents and sister...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'The War I Finally Won' by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

"The War I Finally Won" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

★★★★★ Continuing eleven-year-old Ada's story from “The War That Saved My Life,” this book begins with hospitalization and surgical correction for Ada’s clubfoot, which she has mixed feelings about especially since it is funded by stern Lady Thornton. The external (and Ada's internal) war rages on, changing their lives in many ways, taking the life of their "Mam"...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Sing, Unburied, Sing' by Jesmyn Ward

"Sing, Unburied, Sing" by Jesmyn Ward

★★★★★ Thirteen-year-old JoJo is eager to prove himself as a man in the eyes of his grandfather, Pap, whom he considers his true father figure. Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, who thrives on his nurturing attention, live with their African-American grandparents, who have raised them in their rural Mississippi home in the absence of their incarcerated white...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Whichwood' by Tahereh Mafi

"Whichwood" by Tahereh Mafi

★★★★★ Since the death of her beloved mother and the disappearance of her heartbroken father, thirteen-year-old Laylee is the only remaining mordeshoor in Whichwood, and she is quite literally working her fingers to the bone. Her job is to wash the bodies and souls of dead people in the village, and with a bit of magic only people in her occupation possess, send...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Uncommon Type' by Tom Hanks

"Uncommon Type" by Tom Hanks

★★★★★ Tom Hanks is an avid collector of typewriters, is obsessed with space travel and (who knew?) is a writer. This is what I learned while reading the collection of short stories, Uncommon Type, authored by Tom Hanks. That’s right, America’s favorite Hollywood star has broken into a new medium. As a fan of Hanks the actor, it took me a couple stories to lose...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Short Stories

'Home Alone' by Jason Rekulak

"Home Alone" by Jason Rekulak

★★★★★ Home Alone is a classic holiday film that's widely loved and appreciated. It's a film that pops up like clockwork every December and never gets old, no matter how many times you watch it (at least in my experience!) If you and your kids are fans of Home Alone as much as I am, you can now experience the film in the form of an eye-catching illustrated...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Holiday, Movies, Movie Tie-ins

'Spill Zone' by Scott Westerfeld

"Spill Zone" by Scott Westerfeld

★★★★★ In the early 70’s the Soviet science fiction authors, Arkady and Boris Sturgatsky, wrote ”Roadside Picnic” about the changes in the environment in places around the world after what is assumed to be an alien visitation. They wrote about a changed world, where artifacts from these locations displayed unusual and bizarre properties and effects, and the ways...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novels, Science Fiction

'The Song From Somewhere Else' by A.F. Harrold

"The Song From Somewhere Else" by A.F. Harrold

★★★★★ If it hadn’t been for the disappearance of Quintilius Minimus, her cat, Francesca’s (Frank’s) unlikely friendship with Nick Underbridge, the unusually tall, awkward, different, smelly boy from school, would probably have never happened. And if the other boys from her school weren't taunting and bullying her while she was at the playground posting posters...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Manhattan Beach' by Jennifer Egan

"Manhattan Beach" by Jennifer Egan

★★★★★ Anna Kerrigan is an observant twelve-year-old who enjoys going with her father, Eddie, on his visits for his work, unaware that he works as a bagman for an Irish gangster. She knows something is different when they visit the home of Dexter Styles, a nightclub owner with syndicate ties and a society marriage, for the first and only time at Manhattan Beach....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Wishtree' by Katherine Applegate

"Wishtree" by Katherine Applegate

★★★★ Red, the unusual narrator of this story, has heard practically everything from the generations of people that have visited him and shared their hopes, dreams and definitely lots of wishes. But still he stays silent, until one day when Samar and Stephen, two very lonely children from two very different families wish for a friend, he has to find a way to...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'The Nest' by Kenneth Oppel

"The Nest" by Kenneth Oppel

★★★★ This tale is told from the perspective of Steven, a tween with OCD. His anxiety acts up again after the birth of his brother Theo, who his parents worry may have mental or other disabilities. I was immediately hooked by the creepy details which sounded like the makings for an episode of Doctor Who. Steven’s recurring nightmare is of a figure standing...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Little Fires Everywhere' by Celeste Ng

"Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng

★★★★ Almost every member of the Richardson family has something going for them. The family, headed up by matriarch Elena, lives in the wealthy and picture-perfect Cleveland suburb of Shaker, where people’s lives are practically planned out for them before they’re born. One day, the family wakes to find their home on fire. A fire that is, without a doubt,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

'The Girl with the Ghost Machine' by Lauren DeStefano

"The Girl with the Ghost Machine" by Lauren DeStefano

★★★★ Emmaline’s father misses her mother so much after her premature death that he builds a ghost machine to bring her back. But in the two years he spends tinkering with it night and day, it still won’t work properly. Emmaline, frustrated by the way the machine has consumed her father’s life, attempts to break the machine by pouring her cup of tea into it. Then...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'A House Without Mirrors' by Mårten Sandén, Karin Altenberg

"A House Without Mirrors" by Mårten Sandén, Karin Altenberg

★★★★ After the death of her baby brother, Thomasine is staying with her cousins at her Great Aunt Henrietta’s house. The curious thing is that there are no mirrors hanging anywhere in this sprawling old manor. Then Thomasine’s five-year-old cousin Signe, who hardly ever speaks, comes out from the wardrobe where the mirrors are all hidden away, suddenly...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Magpie Murders' by Anthony Horowitz

"Magpie Murders" by Anthony Horowitz

★★★★★ With this book you get two mysteries to solve—one is a classic whodunit (Magpie Murders) that brings to mind Agatha Christie, and the other is a modern day mystery surrounding its author and manuscript. Susan Ryeland is an editor at a small publishing house whose fortunes were built on the success of prickly author Alan Conway’s Atticus Pünd series, and she...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Final Girls' by Riley Sager

"Final Girls" by Riley Sager

★★★★ Quincy Carpenter lives in New York City and is the curator of her own popular baking blog. But 10 years ago, she was the lone survivor of a brutal serial slaying in the middle of the woods, known as the Pine Cottage Murders. Though the rest of her college friends were stabbed to death by a deranged mental patient, Quincy survived and was branded by the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Contemporary Fiction

'Tumble & Blue' by Cassie Beasley

"Tumble & Blue" by Cassie Beasley

★★★★★ Dumped on the porch of his grandmother’s house in the middle of nowheresville by his father (who supposedly is working some things out), Blue Montgomery feels even more cursed. The whole Montgomery family is the victim of a curse originated many generations ago, supposedly by an ancestor's encounter with a legendary golden alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Jane, Unlimited' by Kristin Cashore

"Jane, Unlimited" by Kristin Cashore

★★★★★ Eighteen-year-old Jane is adrift. After the recent death of her beloved Aunt Magnolia, who raised the orphaned Jane, she dropped out of college and is working at the campus bookshop when she gets an unexpected invitation. Her former tutor, Kiran Thrash, invites her to the spring gala at her family’s island estate, Tu Reviens. Jane might not have accepted...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Spirit Hunters' by Ellen Oh

"Spirit Hunters" by Ellen Oh

★★★★★ Harper Raine is sure that there is something really wrong with the old Gothic house that her family is moving into, beyond the repairs and renovations that her parents are making. She can sense it, and a neighborhood girl who becomes her friend confirms that it is rumored to be haunted. And then there’s Billy, a boy her four-year-old brother Michael...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

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