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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 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: '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

Cover: 'The Bounty'

"The Bounty" by Janet Evanovich

★★★★ The hunt for gold starts at the Vatican when FBI agent Kate O’Hare and her charge, international thief Nick Fox, try to stop the theft of a Vatican artifact.  As they chase the thief through the Vatican, they are shocked to find that the thief is none other than Nick’s father, Quentin Fox.  Quentin is on the hunt to find the legendary Nazi gold...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Little Wise Wolf'

"Little Wise Wolf" by Gijs van der Hammen, Hanneke Siemensma, Laura Watkinson

★★★★★ This is a beautiful story with a gentle lesson about friendship and learning. One day, Little Wise Wolf, who is deeply ensconced in his books and research, receives a summons from the king. He sets off on a long journey to the other side of the mountains, perhaps not as prepared as he should be. The hard day’s journey makes him lose confidence in his...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Those Darn Squirrels Fly South'

"Those Darn Squirrels Fly South" by Adam Rubin

★★★★★ Those Darn Squirrels Fly South is the third book in the children’s series of Those Darn Squirrels. In this delightful children’s book we once again find Mr. Fookwire feeling grumpy and lonely as his beloved birds fly south for the winter. He would normally have the neighborhood squirrels to keep him company but they have decided to follow the...

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

Cover: 'Allergic'

"Allergic" by Megan Wagner Lloyd, Michelle Mee Nutter

★★★★ Allergic is a sweet, funny story about friendship and pets. Maggie has always wanted a pet and her parents have agreed that she can have a puppy, even with their fourth child on the way. But imagine Maggie’s disappointment when she finds out that she is severely allergic to anything with fur or feathers! She bravely tries out a fish, reptiles, and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder'

"Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder" by Joanne Fluke

★★★ Hannah is thrown into another murder investigation when her sister, Andrea is considered a suspect in the murder of Mayor Bascomb.  Before he had died, the mayor had threatened the job of Andrea’s husband, Sherriff Bill Todd. Unfortunately, Andrea was seen arguing and slapping the mayor, and now is the number one suspect. Now Hannah has stepped in to...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Dairy Queen'

"Dairy Queen" by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

★★★★★ This book was so true to life about a teen girl growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. The author writes with detail about the daily and seasonal work that always needs to be done on the farm. Throw in some unexpected happenings like illness or surgery and the daily routine changes for everyone.  DJ finds herself in charge of many chores while her...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'One Was Lost'

"One Was Lost" by Natalie D. Richards

★★★★★ In this intense young adult thriller, a small group of students are hiking on a senior field trip. When a flash flood cuts off three students from the other four, the students quickly realize this is no ordinary field trip. When they wake up dazed with their supplies missing and chilling words written on their wrists, they realize they're not alone in the...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Tale of Witchcraft'

"A Tale of Witchcraft" by Chris Colfer

★★★★★ The magical community has been accepted in the kingdoms. The faeries have been helping around the kingdoms and the people celebrate when they arrive! Now, a secret clan has resurfaced after centuries of silence called the Righteous Brotherhood. The Righteous Brotherhood has vowed to exterminate all magical life and Brystal is their first target. Meanwhile,...

Audience: tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Remote Control'

"Remote Control" by Nnedi Okorafor

★★★★★ They call her Sankofa, but that is not her name. Whispers travel ahead of her calling her the adopted daughter of Death, fearful cries that she will kill you with one touch, destroy a town with one glance. A fox follows at her heels, her only companion. Sankofa walks from city to city, searching all of Ghana for the object that was stolen from her....

Audience: adults | Genre: science fiction, fiction

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