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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: '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

Cover: 'The Scavengers'

"The Scavengers" by Michael Perry

★★★★ Don't miss Wisconsin author Michael's Perry's foray into children's fiction, even if you are a grown up! This dystopian chapter book follows twelve-year-old Maggie, (who later renames herself Ford Falcon) her life living outside of the Bubble Cities, and her quest to find her parents after they mysteriously disappear. Despite the futuristic, sci-fi plot,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Moonpenny Island'

"Moonpenny Island" by Tricia Springstubb, Gilbert Ford

★★★★ The only eleven year-olds on the small island, Flor and her best friend and soulmate, Sylvie, share everything and lead an idyllic life. At the end of the summer, however, suddenly everything changes. Sylvie is mysteriously sent to the mainland to school, Flor’s mother disappears supposedly to take care of her mother, her sister Cecilia is harboring what...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Magician's Lie'

"The Magician's Lie" by Greer Macallister

★★★★★ When I saw the comment that this book was compared to a cross between "Water For Elephants" and "The Night Circus", I knew that I had to read it. It did not disappoint! The Amazing Arden is a rarity, a female illusionist whose signature illusion has become the act of sawing a man in half. On one fated night in Waterloo, Iowa, Arden suddenly changes her...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Good Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story'

"Good Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story" by Mariam Gates, Sara Jane Hinder

★★★★★ You don't have to be a yogi to love this book. This pose-by-pose bedtime story takes children through gentle yoga poses and focuses their breathing while telling the story about the world getting ready for bed. Complete with beautiful illustrations, this book can be enjoyed by the whole family. Following the story, there is a complete list of the yoga poses...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, health

Cover: 'Hero'

"Hero" by Sarah Lean

★★★★★ Leo has a great imagination. He dreams and playacts at being a brave, heroic gladiator; he even has a homemade gladiator’s hat. In real life it appears that everyone else has something to be proud of except him. When Leo does something he knows is wrong to impress some kids at school, lies about it and is called a hero for saving a neighbor's dog, he...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Roller Girl'

"Roller Girl" by Victoria Jamieson

★★★★★ In this graphic novel, written by a derby girl herself, twelve-year-old Astrid discovers the world of roller derby. When Astrid's mom takes her and her best friend Nicole to a match, Astrid falls in love with the crazy outfits, eccentric nicknames, and fierceness of the sport. Astrid decides to sign-up for summer derby camp, expecting Nicole to sign-up as...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, award-winning, newbery award winner

Cover: 'One Witch at a Time'

"One Witch at a Time" by Stacy DeKeyser

★★★★ Loosely based on the fairytale “Jack and the Beanstalk”, the trouble begins when 13 year old Rudi is sent to market with Susanna to trade dairy products for meat and grain and possibly sell a cow. Susanna, in an effort to help him, sells one of his cows for some allegedly magic beans. It turns out that the beans were stolen from a witch in the neighboring...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Darkest Part of the Forest'

"The Darkest Part of the Forest" by Holly Black

★★★★★ This young adult novel takes us deep into the world of Faerie. Hazel and her brother Ben live in the town of Fairfold where humans and Folk live side by side in an uneasy form of peace. In the woods lies a horned boy in a glass coffin. Tourists come to gawk and debunk him as a myth and the locals adore him. His grove has become the party hangout for...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Texts from Jane Eyre'

"Texts from Jane Eyre" by Mallory Ortberg

★★★★★ If you are looking for a funny, witty, quick read, this book may be for you. Mallory Ortberg, co-creator of the website The Toast, has taken our favorite literary characters, authors, and heroes and created hilarious text message conversations from their perspective. From Scarlett O'Hara to Edgar Allan Poe and from Plato to The Hunger Games, this book is...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Inside the O'Briens'

"Inside the O'Briens" by Lisa Genova

★★★★★ Joe O'Brien is a tough, respected, Boston police officer, born and raised into a tough Irish Catholic family in Charlestown. He is the proud father of four and a husband to his beautiful wife Rosie. When Joe starts to experience some odd quirks in his memory, mood, and physical health, he attributes it to middle age and the stress of his job. As things...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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