Marathon County Public Library

learning • community • ideas • information

Holiday hours: All MCPL locations will be closed Sat.-Mon., 5/27-5/29.

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.


'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber

"Caraval" by Stephanie Garber

★★★★★ Scarlett Dragna has dreamed of attending the mysterious Caraval, an annual, multi-night, and itinerant event in which the audience participates in the magical spectacle and competes for a prize. She’s written to Master Legend, the mysterious creator of the event over the course of seven years. Soon to be married to a man whom she’s never met (but sees as...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'As Brave As You' by Jason Reynolds

"As Brave As You" by Jason Reynolds

★★★★★ Eleven-year-old Genie is nervous to be spending a whole month of his summer vacation (with his older brother, Ernie, Jr.) at his paternal grandparents’ house. Not only is this Brooklyn native unprepared for life in the country (no cell signal or internet?!), it’s the first time his family has seen his grandparents in ten years, and there’s a lot of...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Passion of Dolssa' by Julie Berry

"The Passion of Dolssa" by Julie Berry

★★★★★ Dolssa de Stigata is a young noblewoman of eighteen who draws the attention of church authorities when they learn that she is telling family members and friends of the bond she shares with her beloved Lord. Sentenced to death along with her mother, she is mysteriously freed before she is to be dragged into the flames and begins a life on the run hiding from...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Love,Ish' by Karen Rivers

"Love,Ish" by Karen Rivers

★★★★★ Twelve-year-old Miscah “Ish” Love is a smart, self-aware, young girl with big dreams. She wants to be one of the first people to live on Mars. Together with Tig, her BFF (Best Friend Forever), they researched and planned everything together, even applied online, but now Tig is DTM, Dead To Me (her), because he moved away and she hasn't heard from him....

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Cat's Cradle' by Kurt Vonnegut

"Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut

★★★★ A young impressionable writer two sets out to interview the children of Felix Hoennikker, a brilliant scientist credited with inventing the atomic bomb. A believer in the Caribbean religion of Bokonon, the writer believes that God, fate and the universe will guide his life, introducing him to the people he is supposed to meet, sending him to the places he...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Satire, Dystopian

'The Widow's House' by Carol Goodman

"The Widow's House" by Carol Goodman

★★★★★ Jess and Claire Martin move away from their bustling Brooklyn life in hopes that their marriage and Jess's writing career are rekindled. Due to their dwindling budget they end up in their old college town, taking on a caretaker's job in a large house owned by one of their old writing professors. Soon, it's not Jess's writing career that's rekindled. Between...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Goldfish Boy' by Lisa Thompson

"The Goldfish Boy" by Lisa Thompson

★★★★★ Matthew Corbin is the “Goldfish Boy;" at least that’s what his cul-de-sac neighbors call him. In the safety of the upstairs window in his room, he watches and records his neighbors' comings and goings. Between that and all the compulsive hand and body washing, obsessing about germs and his supply of plastic gloves, and feeling responsible for his baby...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Scar Island' by Dan Gemeinhart

"Scar Island" by Dan Gemeinhart

★★★★★ No one wants to end up on Scar Island, no one. Believing his crime to be so terrible, Jonathan Grimsby feels he deserves whatever punishment or bad treatment he is given at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys on this tiny, stony, awful spot in the black sea. Finding a crew of would-be gnarly pirates as the adults in charge, life is constant...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'My Happy Life' by Rose Lagercrantz, Eva Eriksson, Julia Marshall

"My Happy Life" by Rose Lagercrantz, Eva Eriksson, Julia Marshall

★★★★★ This book opens as Dani tries to fall asleep by counting all the times in her life she has been happy. Along with those happy times, she remembers some not so happy. Her mother died when she was very young and she lives with her father. Then, in her first year of school, her best friend moves away! But Dani stays positive. Lagercrantz excellently captures...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Race the Night' by Kirsten Hubbard

"Race the Night" by Kirsten Hubbard

★★★★★ Has the world really ended? Is there really only pollution, drought and this desert ranch and a few chosen special kids and teachers left? Twelve-year-old Eider has nagging doubts and is plagued by memories of another world with her sister in it. At night she takes forbidden exploratory trips beyond the closely monitored fence and collects prohibitive...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Train I Ride' by Paul Mosier

"Train I Ride" by Paul Mosier

★★★★ Twelve-year-old Ryder is a wounded, but resourceful girl without a home, who is worried about her dwindling pool of relatives and looming foster care. This time she’s being sent from California by train to a relative in Chicago she doesn’t know. She was living with an uncaring grandmother after her drug-addicted mother could no longer care for her. On her...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Big Little Lies' by Liane Moriarty

"Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty

★★★★★ Mayhem. Madness. Murder. This is not how the annual trivia night fundraiser at Perriwee Public School was supposed to go, culminating in the death of one of the school's parents. But as the story unfolds, we find that appearances can be deceiving in this small, seemingly perfect oceanside community, and that boiling tensions will eventually erupt. ...

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

'The Round House' by Louise Erdrich

"The Round House" by Louise Erdrich

★★★★★ In the summer of 1988, life on a small North Dakota reservation changes dramatically for 13-year-old Joe Coutts and his father, Bazil, after they discover Joe’s mother, Geraldine, injured and incommunicative behind the wheel of her car.  Geraldine has been brutally raped, and in the aftermath Joe is forced to grow up quickly as he tries to manage his...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Dark Matter' by Blake Crouch

"Dark Matter" by Blake Crouch

★★★★★ It was family dinner night when Jason left to put in an appearance at a party at the neighborhood bar for his former college roommate Ryan, who had been granted a prestigious academic award for his research in neuroscience. Had Jason decided to forego fatherhood after the surprise pregnancy of his then girlfriend (now wife) Daniela, he may have been the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Beautiful Blue World' by Suzanne LaFleur

"Beautiful Blue World" by Suzanne LaFleur

★★★★ Even though Sofarende, where twelve-year-old Mathilde lives, is at war, and there are bombings and sirens and constant food shortages, she is content. After all, she has her family and her best friend Megs by her side.  But when the army offers money and safety to families whose children help in the war effort under very strict rules and secrecy, Megs...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'The Regulars' by Georgia Clark

"The Regulars" by Georgia Clark

★★★★ Evie, Willow, and Krista are three twenty-somethings living in New York City. All three can be described as "regular" physically: average height and not strikingly beautiful. Krista runs into Penny, a girl from an improv class, who is totally transformed. Penny is taller, skinnier, and more beautiful than Krista remembers. Penny shares her secret with...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Hike' by Drew Magary

"The Hike" by Drew Magary

★★★★ Ben is an average thirtysomething family man who embarks on what he believes will be a short hike in rural Pennsylvania. Ben quickly becomes lost when he is pursued by knife-wielding, Rottweiler-faced maniacs and falls deeper into the woods. With no choice but to move forward on the path he's found himself on, Ben soon finds himself farther away...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

'Small Great Things' by Jodi Picoult

"Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult

★★★★★ Ruth Jefferson has spent twenty years of her life working as a nurse in the labor and delivery ward of a hospital. With years of experience and little to no complaints about her care as a nurse, Ruth is puzzled as to why Davis Bauer's parents don't want her to touch their newborn. Ruth finds a pink Post-It on Davis Bauer's file that states no African...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Secret Horses of Briar Hill' by Megan Shepherd

"The Secret Horses of Briar Hill" by Megan Shepherd

★★★★★ Emmaline May lives at Briar Hill, a makeshift hospital in a home that a princess used to live in. She was sent there instead of to a family living in the country during the war because she has the “stillwaters” (tuberculosis). She has a secret that she keeps from almost everyone; only she can see winged horses living in the hospital's mirrors. Entering the...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Wolf Hollow' by Lauren Wolk

"Wolf Hollow" by Lauren Wolk

★★★★★ Turning twelve years old is not always the milestone that separates a person’s life between childhood and adulthood, but in the aftermath of the wars, it’s what happened to Annabelle. Her quiet, comfortable small town life is quickly changed by a nasty girl, Betty Glengary, the new girl in school who chooses to bully Annabelle. A reclusive World War I...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Before Morning' by Joyce Sidman, Beth Krommes

"Before Morning" by Joyce Sidman, Beth Krommes

★★★★★ In this beautiful picture book it really is all about the stunning muted scratch-board art by Caldecott award-winning artist Beth Krommes. Spare lyrical text by Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman almost sings to us as we get lost in intricate pictures displaying a beautiful overnight snowfall which slowly transforms the morning into a beautiful world of...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Nine Open Arms' by Benny Lindelauf

"Nine Open Arms" by Benny Lindelauf

★★★★★ “Is it true that some stories only just manage to be born? Or do these stories always seek their own path into the world, and do they always, eventually, find a way of being told?” What first attracted me to this book was the cover art—a brick house on a deserted road with no front door, combined inside the jacket with a mysterious bed in a field and a...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Lucy Rescued' by Harriet Ziefert

"Lucy Rescued" by Harriet Ziefert

Lucy, a small white dog, is adopted from an animal shelter just in time. But adjusting to her new home and family is tough on her and her new family.  Lucy can’t seem to stop howling; she howls all day and night. In this sweet, simply but beautifully illustrated story, we follow Lucy and her family on their journey to love, understanding and acceptance...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Pets

'Porch Lights' by Dorothea Benton Frank

"Porch Lights" by Dorothea Benton Frank

★★★★ This is a great read for hurricane season.  Even devastating things in life can be worked out when family comes together.  Jackie and her son Charlie build a new life with help from Sullivan's Island.  

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'No Such Thing As Dragons' by Philip Reeve

"No Such Thing As Dragons" by Philip Reeve

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Ansel, a mute boy, is sold by his father to Brock, a self-proclaimed dragon slayer who needs someone who will keep his secrets safe.   They travel town to town on horseback searching for food and shelter in exchange for protecting villagers from dragons.  In Drachenberg, his master accepts a quest to climb the steep mountain and rid...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Pages