Marathon County Public Library

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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.


'The Deal of a Lifetime'  by  Fredrik Backman

"The Deal of a Lifetime" by Fredrik Backman

★★★★ When I saw this new book on the adult fiction shelf in the library, I judged it by physical size and the fact that it had less than 75 pages. I wondered, what could possibly be on the pages that makes it so popular? A man who loved work ahead of everything else in life, including his wife and even his own son, makes a decision with the lady in the gray...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

'The Abstinence Teacher'  by  Tom Perrotta

"The Abstinence Teacher" by Tom Perrotta

★★★★ Ruth Ramsey is a sex educator at a suburban New England high school. A divorced mother of two tween girls, Ruth has taught her classes for years with no objection from the community. After misspeaking during one of her classes, a complaint is filed against Ruth and she becomes the subject of intense public scrutiny. In order to appease those who are...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

'The  Truth As Told by Mason Buttle'  by  Leslie Connor

"The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle" by Leslie Connor

★★★★★ Mason Buttle appears to have almost all the cards stacked against him. He’s taller and bigger than all the other kids in his seventh grade class. He sweats profusely, so much so that he brings another shirt to school with him every day to change into later in the day.  He has trouble with words, writing them and reading them. He lives in a ramshackle...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Flight Attendant'  by  Chris Bohjalian

"The Flight Attendant" by Chris Bohjalian

★★★ Cassie Bowden is a seasoned flight attendant who has worked for the same airline since her early twenties. Now in her late thirties, Cassie can barely keep her life in order, having fallen into a pattern of binge drinking and hooking up with random men in the various cities she flies to. While in Dubai, Cassie’s risky lifestyle catches up with her when...

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

'Prim Improper'  by  Deirdre Sullivan

"Prim Improper" by Deirdre Sullivan

★★★★★ Meet Primrose “Prim” Leary, the quirky and charming 13-year-old star of Deirdre Sullivan’s Prim Improper.  Prim is coping with the sudden loss of her mother, and you might expect a story like this to be dark and brooding, but Prim tells her tale (in diary form) with a precocious and wittily observant voice that delves into sensitive – and even...

Audience: Children, Teens, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Wild Robot Escapes'  by  Peter Brown

"The Wild Robot Escapes" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Author Peter Brown left us with hints of impending doom for our robot friend, Roz and her family, near the end of the previous book, The Wild Robot. At the very least we were fairly certain that changes were ahead for the characters we, (okay I), had grown to love, and of course these play out in this sequel. Roz has been brought to the mainland and is...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Bob'  by  Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead

"Bob" by Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead

★★★★★ Bob’s been waiting for Livy for five, very long boring years at her grandmother’s house, exactly as she told him to do. When Livy finally returns to her grandmother’s house in Australia to stay for a while, she strangely remembers nothing about ever being at her grandmother’s house before, yet it feels like she has forgotten something very important. Then...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Hope in the Holler'  by  Lisa Lewis Tyre

"Hope in the Holler" by Lisa Lewis Tyre

★★★★★ Wavie’s mom had a plan for her after her impending death from cancer, but ending up in in Conly Hollow, her family’s Appalachian home, was never intended to be a part of it. But when her alleged aunt shows up after her mom’s death and takes her there to live, she has no choice. What Waivie gets is a filthy home with garbage strewn everywhere, in a dirt-poor...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'The Handmaid's Tale'  by  Margaret Atwood

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

★★★ In the not-too-distant future, a restrictive, invasive patriarchy has taken over and dismantled the American government. In this new society, known as Gilead, women have few roles they can play: as cooks and housekeepers, as the wives of the society’s leaders (known as Commanders), and as handmaids. Acting as surrogates for the Commanders’ wives,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Dystopian

'Hello Lighthouse'  by  Sophie Blackall

"Hello Lighthouse" by Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This beautifully illustrated children's picture book traces the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his wife in a lighthouse on a very tiny island in the middle of the sea. We see the keeper doing his daily chores such as polishing the lamp’s lens, filling the oil and trimming the wick to keep the lighthouse lamp lit. We experience the birth of their...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Leah on the Offbeat'  by  Becky Albertalli

"Leah on the Offbeat" by Becky Albertalli

★★★ In this direct sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the focus shifts from Simon to one of his best friends, Leah Burke. It’s about a year after the conclusion of Simon, and Leah and her friends are in the home stretch of their senior year. The gang experiences visiting colleges, getting ready for prom and figuring out how they’ll stay in each other’...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, LGBT

'Behold the Dreamers'  by  Imbolo Mbue

"Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo Mbue

★★★★ For years, Jende Jonga dreamed of making a life for himself and his family in the United States. A native of Cameroon, Jende has been living and working in New York City on a temporary visa for three years when his wife, Neni, and six year-old son, Liomi, immigrate to Harlem to join him. It’s 2007, and a world of opportunity opens up for the Jongas while...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Diverse

'The Witch Boy'  by  Molly Knox Ostertag

"The Witch Boy" by Molly Knox Ostertag

★★★★★ Aster wants to learn how to be a witch, but the men in his family are supposed to be shapeshifters and warriors. Aster doesn't care about those things; he just wants to learn witchcraft with the girls. He spies on them, jotting down notes and teaching himself spells. His mother warns him that what happened to his great uncle could happen to him, that his...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Tween Graphic Novel, Identity

'And She Was'  by  Jessica Verdi

"And She Was" by Jessica Verdi

★★★ 18 year-old Dara Baker is a recent high school graduate with big dreams. Living in a small town in New York with her mother, Mellie, Dara has aspired to be a pro tennis star as long as she can remember. She’s on the verge of entering her first major tournament when she finds out a shocking secret: Mellie is transgender and is actually her biological father...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, YA Fiction With Adult Appeal, LGBT

'The Changeling: A novel'  by  Victor La Valle

"The Changeling: A novel" by Victor La Valle

★★★★★ One night, Apollo Kagwa's wife, Emma, chains him to a chair, kills their infant son and disappears.  Was it postpartum depression or something much worse?  He sets out to discover whether his wife is still alive and what exactly happened to his son.  Apollo has some baggage of his own that he has to grapple with along the way,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Fiction

'Dear Girl'  by  Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal

"Dear Girl" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal

★★★★★ Written like a letter from a mother to a daughter, this children's book is one of my new favorites. I would recommend anyone to read this to the young girls in their lives; daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends. This is the perfect story to give girls permission to be themselves, love themselves, and express themselves. The story is fun and...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows'  by  Balli Kaur Jaswal

"Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows" by Balli Kaur Jaswal

★★★★ Nikki is a modern twentysomething living and working in central London. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Nikki has spent much of her adult life embracing a life of independence and feminism while distancing herself from the traditional Sikh lifestyle that the rest of her family prefers. While still figuring out a career path for herself, Nikki finds a...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

'Shadow Weaver'  by  Mercy Kate Connolly

"Shadow Weaver" by Mercy Kate Connolly

★★★★ Emmeline has never been alone. Ever since her best friend Dar, her shadow, spoke to her when she was a baby, she has always had her trusted best friend with her. With her unique gift, Emmeline is able to conjure up and weave shadows together whenever she desires. Her magical talent is threatened when it is discovered by Lady Aisling who threatens to take...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Emma in the Night'  by  Wendy Walker

"Emma in the Night" by Wendy Walker

★★★★★ Eighteen-year-old Cass stands on her mother’s doorstep, steeling herself. Her mother and the police must believe her—Emma’s life depends on it. It’s been three years since she and her older sister Emma, then age 17, disappeared. Her story—that she and Emma, who gave birth a few months after they disappeared, were held captive by a reclusive couple who had...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Granted'  by  John David Anderson

"Granted" by John David Anderson

★★★★ Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets lives an idyllic sort of life in the Haven where all the fairies have a special job to do. She is a Granter. This means that it is her job to grant the wish of one human person from one of the twelve fallen leaves (wishes) of the over five million on the large Great Tree. Unfortunately, with less world magic available less wishes...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Mrs.'  by  Caitlin Macy

"Mrs." by Caitlin Macy

★★★★ At an Upper East Side preschool in New York City, groups of gossiping mothers and nannies gather to pick up their children day after day. Among them, is the fabulous Phillipa Lye and her childhood acquaintance, Gwen Hogan. Phillipa's life seems perfect: she is married to a wealthy banker and has three beautiful children. But, Phillipa's scandalous past...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein'  by  Lita Judge

"Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein" by Lita Judge

★★★★★ Dark and beautiful watercolor illustrations bring Mary Shelley's biography to life in this captivating graphic novel. Told in verse, this was a quick read and peek into Mary Shelley's odd, dark, and intense life. Mary was barely sixteen when she left home to follow the man she loved, the married Percy Shelley. It was a daring move for a 19th century British...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Biography, Horror

'I Am a Cat'  by  Galia Bernstein

"I Am a Cat" by Galia Bernstein

★★★★★ What happens when Simon, a normal house cat, tells a group of big cats from around the world that he is just like them? They are stunned, and then laugh hysterically! Lion, Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, and Tiger each go on to tell Simon how they differ and how Simon is not "cat" enough. The lion has a mane and roars, Simon doesn't have a mane, nor can he...

Audience: Children | Genre: Picture Book, Fiction

'The Sky at Our Feet'  by  Nadia Hashimi

"The Sky at Our Feet" by Nadia Hashimi

★★★★ When two men, who do not look like customers, start talking to his mother at work in New Jersey, Jason is terrified that his mother will be sent back to Afghanistan since she is not a U.S citizen. Remaining hidden he watches the frightening scene unfold, and when he finally sees his mother riding away with these men, he knows he has to flee and try to...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Sunburn'  by  Laura Lippman

"Sunburn" by Laura Lippman

★★★★★ Polly Costello is a striking, self-possessed woman with a complicated past who left her husband and young daughter behind at the beach, claiming to need a break from the sun, but she’s really looking for a fresh start. She stops in a bar in a small Delaware town for a drink and meets Adam, an intelligent, handsome man also just passing through, and sparks...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

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