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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: 'An Abundance of Katherines'

"An Abundance of Katherines" by John Green

★★★★★ Colin Singleton is a highly intelligent child prodigy who finds himself repeatedly dumped by girls named Katherine. While on a road trip with his best friend, Colin seeks to prove a theorem that will help predict the future of any relationship. A wild boar, ten thousand dollars in cash, and other escapades add to the adventure of this coming-of-age tale....

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, award-winning, printz award winner

Cover: 'Batman: Earth One, Volume 1'

"Batman: Earth One, Volume 1" by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, Brad Anderson, Rob Leigh

★★★★★ "Batman: Earth One" goes back the beginning of the Batman saga, revisiting and recasting the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents and his eventual development into Batman. While the story remains basically unchanged, the brilliance here is in the details. Writer, Geoff Johns, creates a Gotham riddled with crime and hamstrung by political corruption on all levels...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction, graphic novel, superheroes, action adventure

Cover: 'The Girl on the Train'

"The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins

★★★★★ If you are looking for a book like "Gone Girl", this debut psychological thriller is the book for you! Rachel takes the same commuter train every day, passing by the same houses and imaging the lives of the people inside. One day Rachel notices something is wrong in one of the houses and reports the incident to the police. She cannot get what she saw out of...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Dear Daughter'

"Dear Daughter" by Elizabeth Little

★★★★★ Teenage Janie Jenkins is a LA celebutante - famous for nothing but her looks, her money, and her connections. Her life is perfect...until she is arrested for her mother's murder and sentenced to prison. Ten year later, Janie is released due to a technicality, but the entire world, including Janie herself, still thinks she is guilty. In this action packed...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Night Diver'

"Night Diver" by Elizabeth Lowell

★★★★★ The last thing that Kate wants is to leave her safety zone and reenter the world of the family treasure diving business, the same world that stole her parents from her when she was just 17. Unfortunately, her family is in trouble and desperately needs her help. Suspected of stealing the treasure they are commissioned to recover for the British government,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Blue on Blue'

"Blue on Blue" by Dianne White, Beth Krommes

★★★★★ This beautifully illustrated picture book portrays an ordinary stormy, rainy day in the country that looks wonderfully extraordinary. The scratchboard illustrations with added watercolor paint by 2009 Caldecott Medal winner, Beth Krommes, are the real stars here. With repetitive, spare, dreamy words and illustrations we see a day unfolding--wash being hung...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'That Part Was True'

"That Part Was True" by Deborah McKinlay

★★★★★ Eve Petworth and Jackson Cooper are strangers. They have never met and live in different countries. However, when Eve writes a letter to Jackson to compliment one of his books, a sudden friendship is developed between them over their mutual love of cooking and good food. Their correspondence continues as Jackson searches for direction in his art and meaning...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Hug Machine'

"Hug Machine" by Scott Campbell

★★★★★ "Whoa! Here I come! I am the Hug Machine!" starts this wonderful book about a little boy who hugs everything. He hugs people, animals, and even a fire hydrant and mailbox! He hugs hard things, soft things, square things and long things. But, can he hug a spiky porcupine or a humongous whale? The Hug Machine will do anything to give a hug. With simple and...

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

Cover: 'Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress'

"Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress" by Christine Baldacchino, Isabelle Malenfant

★★★★★ Morris Micklewhite loves painting, dreaming of great adventures and wearing the tangerine dress in the dress-up center at school. He loves the way it crinkles and swishes when he walks and the color reminds him of tigers, the sun and his mother's hair. But the other boys and some of the girls tell him "boys don't wear dresses" and exclude him from their...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Rebel Belle'

"Rebel Belle" by Rachel Hawkins

★★★★ If you enjoy YA books with a strong female protagonist, give Rebel Belle a chance. Seventeen-year-old Harper is an overachieving, popular teenager at a private school in Alabama, until she witnesses a deadly fight at a school dance. Suddenly, Harper is given magical powers, including superhero strength from a dying Paladin, and a quest to protect an Oracle...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Strange Library'

"The Strange Library" by Haruki Murakami, Ted Goossen

★★★★ In this fantasy from Japanese author Haruki Murakami, several people are imprisoned in a terrifying library, and must work together to escape. The illustrations and unique design of the book add to the reader's enjoyment, and help readers visualize the library and the characters imprisoned within its walls. It's a quick read, but Murakami still manages to...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend'

"The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend" by Dan Santat

★★★★★ On an island far away, imaginary friends are born. Beekle is one of them, waiting to be chosen by a child and transported to the real world. Rather than waiting, Beekle does the unimaginable and sets sail to the real world. He finds that the real world is strange and uncomfortable, until he meets his perfect friend. Then the world is colorful , fun, and not...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, award-winning, caldecott award winner, picture book

Cover: 'My Cousin's Keeper'

"My Cousin's Keeper" by Simon French

★★★★ At his dad’s birthday party nine-year old Kieran meets his cousin Bon whom he has never even heard of before. Bon appears to be very different from him and he doesn’t really like him.  Bon wears his blond hair in a long ponytail, wears old, tattered clothes and touches all of Kieran’s things without asking.   Two years later, Kieran sees Bon at...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Stella by Starlight'

"Stella by Starlight" by Sharon M. Draper

★★★★ It is midnight when 11 year-old Stella Mills and her eight year-old brother Jojo witness the burning of a cross by members of the Ku Klux Klan not far from their house. It’s 1932 in Bumblebee, North Carolina and news of the active Klan so close by means their parents need to alert all their African-American neighbors. Stella is practicing to be a good...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Hero Complex'

"Hero Complex" by Margaux Froley

★★★★★ Devon is back at school following the holiday break, but she hasn’t been able to extricate herself from the repercussions of her first case. That task might be easier if she hadn’t been knocked out cold in the sole security blind spot on a yacht on New Year’s Eve. Devon is convinced it was no accident, but the lack of evidence to support her claim brings an...

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

Cover: 'Mobile Library'

"Mobile Library" by David Whitehouse

★★★★★ This was a randomly chosen novel that quickly turned into one I couldn't put down! Bobby Nusku spends his time carefully cataloging everything in his house while waiting for his mother's return. He wants her to know every detail of the changes made since she left. He collects hair from the carpet, pieces of her clothing, and even tries to recreate the scent...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Escape Theory'

"Escape Theory" by Margaux Froley

★★★★★ Devon Mackintosh, a scholarship student at an elite boarding school on the California coast, never really felt like she fit in. Now a junior with her sights on Stanford’s psychology program, she starts her duties as a peer counselor. These duties are far more challenging than she anticipated when one of the most popular guys at school, Jason Hutchinson (“...

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

Cover: 'The Dressmaker'

"The Dressmaker" by Kate Alcott

★★★★★ Tess longs to escape a life of servitude. She knows that her talent should make her more than just a maid, but her beautiful dressmaking skills go unappreciated and unrewarded by her current employer. On impulse, she grabs her few belongings and runs for the docks where she has heard there are jobs available on a fancy new ship that is about to set sail....

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Big Bad Detective Agency'

"Big Bad Detective Agency" by Bruce Hale

★★★★ Things were going well in Fairylandia for a reformed Wolfgang, a.k.a. the “Big Bad Wolf”, until the Three Little Pigs’ houses were vandalized and he is accused.  Arrested and released, he reluctantly teams up with Ferkel, the fourth little pig, and as the new “Big Bad Detective Agency” they set off to find the perpetrator. Things get really funny when...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, humor

Cover: 'I Was Here'

"I Was Here" by Gayle Forman

★★★★★ Cody has a best friend who decides to commit suicide, seemingly out of nowhere. She goes on a journey of discovery to learn what drove her friend to such a decision while also meeting many others who are also affected by the same loss. What Cody learns about deciding to exist in her new world is the beautiful revelation of this wonderful book. The author of...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken'

"The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken" by Doreen Cronin

★★★★ The Chicken Squad is a group of four hilarious chicks who are out to solve crime. When a blue jay, the weird blue chicken, flies in saying his house has been kidnapped, the Chicken Squad embarks on a journey to figure out who took the birdhouse and why. Filled with funny characters and an entertaining plot, this book is a great beginning chapter book for...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, board book, humor

Cover: 'Absolutely Almost'

"Absolutely Almost" by Lisa Graff

★★★★ Ten-year-old Albie’s life is a tangled one and the short, episodic chapters in this tween book mimic this.  He is adjusting to a new public school and a new nanny, Calista (whom he’s certain he does not need). Private prep school did not work out and his dad is not happy about it. Albie’s life is full of “almosts”—he almost passes his spelling tests,...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Beyond the Laughing Sky'

"Beyond the Laughing Sky" by Michelle Cuevas

★★★★ In this rather unusual tale a young couple, whose house is perched in a large pecan tree, discover a baby in a cracked egg from a bird’s nest on the sidewalk.  This human-looking baby has feathers for hair and no mouth or nose but in its place a beak. His adopted parents, sister, and the small community of Goosepimple adapt to life with him, but as he...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Pegasus'

"Pegasus" by Danielle Steel

★★★★★ Nicolas von Bingen and Alex von Hemmerle live in a world we can only imagine. As titled members of the German aristocracy, they are free to spend their time hunting, training horses, enjoying their friends and family, and living the good life. Their world of privilege comes to a screeching halt as Hitler rises in power. Nicolas discovers an old family...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'First Frost'

"First Frost" by Sarah Addison Allen

★★★★★ In this enchanting novel we meet the Waverly family, an odd but close knit family in Bascom, North Carolina, who are gifted with mysterious and magical talents. Among a few, Claire can make food that affects the emotions of others while her niece knows where people and things belong. At the heart of this novel is the love of two sisters who are fighting to...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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