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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: 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl'

"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" by Jesse Andrews

★★★★★ Greg Gaines is a high school senior who has mastered the art of blending into the social woodwork at school. He’s friendly with the many cliques and social strata while being careful not to appear allied to any single faction. His limited experience with girls in junior high was unsuccessful, so he’s given up on dating during high school. His only friend—...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, ya fiction with adult appeal

Cover: '14th Deadly Sin'

"14th Deadly Sin" by James Patterson, Maxine Paetro

★★★★ The latest book in the popular Women's Murder Club series finds LAPD Detective Lindsay Boxer trying to solve a series of crimes that hits a little too close to home. Robberies and murders are being committed by a group of men who wear masks and LAPD uniforms. As panic among the public sets in, Lindsay is left to determine whether these criminals are really...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Beneath the Bonfire'

"Beneath the Bonfire" by Nickolas Butler

★★★★ Nickolas Butler, author of "Shotgun Lovesongs," returns with a beautiful and memorable collection of short stories. Like the characters in his debut novel, Butler introduces readers to realistic characters who could be a neighbor, friend, or family member. If you enjoyed his debut novel, make sure to add this book to your summer reading list.

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'God Help the Child'

"God Help the Child" by Toni Morrison

★★★★★ Deeply thought provoking, Morrison weaves a tale that takes us deep into the understanding that childhood shapes who we are. Bride, a beautiful, successful, vibrant young woman has it all, but is left seeking more when she cannot escape the scars of her past. Booker, the man she loves is also caught up with his own demons. Their secrets will tear them apart...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Rebel Queen'

"Rebel Queen" by Michelle Moran

★★★★ Set in India during British occupation, this historical novel follows Sita, a young woman chosen to serve the queen of Jhansi, known as Rani Lakshmi. Sita is an intelligent and strong female character, devoted to her younger sister and her position to guard the queen as a member of the Durga Dal. Rani Lakshmi is eventually called the Rebel Queen after a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'The Tale of Halcyon Crane'

"The Tale of Halcyon Crane" by Wendy Webb

★★★★ I happily stumbled upon this atmospheric novel and immediately couldn't put it down. We meet Hallie, a woman who receives a very mysterious and unbelievable letter from a woman who claims to be her long-lost mother. When Hallie confronts her beloved father, days before he dies, she learns the letter is no lie. What she grew up believing is, and she travels...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Truth About Twinkie Pie'

"The Truth About Twinkie Pie" by The Truth About Twinkie Pie

★★★★★ 12-year–old Gigi lives with her sister Didi who is a hairstylist in a trailer park. When Didi wins one million dollars in a cooking contest she is able to help realize the big dreams she has for Gigi by moving to Long Island and enrolling her in an upscale high school. Gigi, who hates her name and asks the new kids at school to call her Leia, becomes...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Red Queen'

"Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard

★★★★ Looking for a new dystopian series? Give this excellent debut novel a try! Mare Barrow is a thief living in a village with the rest of her family, born into poverty because of the color of her blood. The Reds are a lower caste than the aristocratic Silvers, who have superhero-esque abilities in addition to silver blood. Mare is offered a chance to work...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, dystopian, ya fiction with adult appeal

Cover: 'Hausfrau'

"Hausfrau" by Jill Alexander Essbaum

★★★★★ This haunting debut explores the world of an emotionally fragile housewife. Anna is an American living with her Swiss husband, Bruno, and three children in Zurich, Switzerland. Bruno works as a banker and Anna is responsible for the home and children. While she has lived in the country for 9 years, Anna has never learned the language. She has no real...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Orion and the Dark'

"Orion and the Dark" by Emma Yarlett

★★★★★ This adorable picture book is about a little boy named Orion who is afraid of everything, especially the dark! He tries and tries to find ways to not be afraid but nothing works. One night, he decides to tell the dark to go away. When the dark slips through his window and invites him to have an adventure, Orion learns that he doesn't need to be afraid with...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, read-alouds

Cover: 'Illusions of Fate'

"Illusions of Fate" by Kiersten White

★★★★★ This title was recommended to me as "Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series" and it certainly lives up to the comparison. Jessamin travels to the aristocratic country of Albion in pursuit of an education. As an islander from the nearby country of Melei, she is considered a lower caste than the fair-skinned residents of Albion, and...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'A Court of Thorns and Roses'

"A Court of Thorns and Roses" by Sarah J. Maas

★★★ A new fantasy series from Sarah J. Maas is sure to delight her fans, but this New Adult novel isn't perfect. If you are not familiar with the New Adult genre, expect the same emotional highs and lows from YA, but with more sex and violence, although not on the level with "A Game of Thrones." The protagonist Feyre is a young woman who is forced to leave her...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, ya fiction with adult appeal

Cover: 'Cat & Bunny'

"Cat & Bunny" by Mary Lundquist

★★★★★ This adorable book tells the story of Cat and Bunny, two of the very best of friends. Cat and Bunny are inseparable. That is until the day that they are playing in the park and the other kids ask to join their game. Bunny says yes but Cat doesn't want to share her friend. Cat storms off and ends up alone until she meets a kitten and starts a new game....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader, picture book

Cover: 'I Love Dogs!'

"I Love Dogs!" by Sue Stainton

★★★★★ This rollicking book is filled with the exuberant joy of a boy who loves dogs. While spending the day at the park, the boy meets every type of dog imaginable. There are dogs that are spotty, dotty, wrinkly, crinkly... and many, many more! Will this little boy ever find the perfect dog for him? I highly recommend this book for all dog-loving kids!  

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, read-alouds

Cover: 'Pete the Cat and the New Guy'

"Pete the Cat and the New Guy" by Kimberly Dean, James Dean

★★★★★ Pete the Cat is easily one of my favorite children's book characters. In this story, Pete meets Gus the Platypus and tries to help him fit into his new neighborhood. When Gus has a hard time trying out everyone's favorite activities, Pete tries to cheer him up. What they learn is that Gus has a special talent that is unique to him that he can share with his...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, easy reader

Cover: 'Spots in a Box'

"Spots in a Box" by Helen Ward

★★★★★ This fun book is about a guinea fowl who doesn't have any spots. When he orders them in the mail, they arrive as something quite unexpected. As he explores the unexpected assortment of spots, he comes to realize that not all spots are created equal just like no two individuals are exactly alike. What he discovers is that it is more important to be happy...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, read-alouds

Cover: 'Smick!'

"Smick!" by Doreen Cronin

★★★★★ This adorable book of few words is perfect to share with beginning readers and older kids too. Smick is irresistibly cute as he does what dogs do, chases, fetches, and looks huggable. Smick is happy when a stick shows up, but how will he react when a chick appears? Actions, rhymes, and wordplay make this a fun and quick read that will help kids discover the...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, easy reader

Cover: 'Goodnight Football'

"Goodnight Football" by Michael Dahl, Christina E. Forshay

★★★★★ This bedtime story will bring back sweet memories of football season. Told in rhyme, it follows a little boy as he attends a Friday night game with his family. From concessions, to the players, to the roar of the crowd, you'll remember why we love this game so much, and the satisfaction we feel as our team wins and we head home to snuggle into bed. This is...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader, picture book

Cover: 'The League of Beastly Dreadfuls'

"The League of Beastly Dreadfuls" by Holly Grant

★★★★ Eleven-year-old Anastasia McCrumpet is snatched from her school library by two tiny “ancient” ladies claiming to be her great aunties; only she doesn’t have any great aunts. She is told that her parents have suffered an unfortunate vacuum cleaner accident. They take her, not to a hospital, but to a dreary Victorian home in the middle of nowhere that used to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, action adventure

Cover: 'The Silver Witch'

"The Silver Witch" by Paula Brackston

★★★★ I couldn't help but immediately get sucked into the setting and characters in this novel. Set in Wales, a country I've always loved since visiting it in person, this beautiful landscape has many secrets. Tilda, a woman who just tragically lost her husband after they bought a lakeside cottage, feels an immediate affinity for the mysterious place. She vows to...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'In the Shadow of Blackbirds'

"In the Shadow of Blackbirds" by Cat Winters

★★★★★ This powerful debut from Cat Winters is unforgettable! Set in 1918 during the peak of the Spanish influenza pandemic, the story follows Mary Shelley Black, who moves to San Diego after her father's arrest. Mary Shelley moves in with her widowed aunt, who is fascinated by séances and a local spirit photographer. Mary Shelley struggles with the constant fear...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, award-winning, morris award winner, ya fiction with adult appeal

Cover: 'If I Ever Get Out of Here'

"If I Ever Get Out of Here" by Eric Gansworth

★★★★★ Lewis Blake is a seventh-grader in 1976, and, as the only Native American student in his track for the second year in a row, he feels like he has a special force field that isolates him from his classmates. This year, there’s a new kid named George, and Lewis hopes this is his chance for a real friend. Being friends with someone off the “rez” is not going...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Cure for Dreaming'

"The Cure for Dreaming" by Cat Winters

★★★★ Morris Award Finalist Cat Winters follows her debut novel with this unique and terrifying story about a teenage girl who discovers she can see frightening images after undergoing hypnosis. Set in 1900 in Portland, Oregon, “The Cure for Dreaming” is the story of Olivia Mead, an outspoken proponent of the right to vote for women. Her father decides to have a...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Ms. Rapscott's Girls'

"Ms. Rapscott's Girls" by Elise Primavera

★★★★ There are a lot of extraordinary things about the Great Rapscott School for Girls. The students arrive by air in E-Z open tab boxes, they are hand-picked from homes where the girls' parents are so busy they scarcely notice they’re gone, the school is located in a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere, and the curriculum focuses on getting lost on purpose. The...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, action adventure

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