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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 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

Cover: 'The War That Saved My Life'

"The War That Saved My Life" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

★★★★★ 10-year-old Ada lives with her brother Jamie and mother in a filthy, rat infested one-room flat in London. She is often abused by her mother who does not allow her to go outside because her mother is ashamed of her clubfoot. When Jamie is being shipped off with other children to the country to avoid injury from bombings during the war, Ada escapes to join...

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

Cover: 'Greenglass House'

"Greenglass House" by Kate Milford

★★★★ The old historic, creaky smugglers’ inn called Greenglass House sits high on a hill requiring guests to take a trolley type of car that gets pulled to the top. It is winter, close to the holidays, and usually free of guests so Milo, the adopted son of the innkeepers, is looking forward to a relaxing vacation. But unexpectedly the buzzer for the trolley car...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Some Luck'

"Some Luck" by Jane Smiley

★★★★★ This engrossing novel brings us into the lives of the Langdon family living on a farm in Iowa. We are swept along as their lives unfold and their world changes from the 1920s to the 1950s. We begin when Walter, a WWI veteran, and Rosanna are young newlyweds, expecting their first child. Each chapter brings with it a new year and more changes as the family...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Snowman's Story'

"Snowman's Story" by Will Hillenbrand

★★★★ Your preschool child can tell the story to you with this wordless picture book featuring a sweet snowman, cute bunny and a wandering top hat.  Bunny finds a hat and crawls inside but when bear finds it and uses it to top the snowman that he is building, he is unaware that a bunny is inside. Apparently bunny likes stories too so after the snowman reads...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Cloche and Dagger'

"Cloche and Dagger" by Jenn McKinlay

★★★★★ This is an excellent new series that takes place in London. We meet Scarlett, a woman who becomes an overnight Internet sensation when she very publicly runs into her boyfriend celebrating his anniversary with his (surprise!) wife. Fleeing to London to join her cousin and claiming her half in a hat shop store she inherited, Scarlett finds even more...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'A Snicker of Magic'

"A Snicker of Magic" by Natalie Lloyd

★★★★★ Natalie Lloyd's book is one of those rare, special books that grab you from the beginning and you don’t want to be released because the journey is quite simply, “splendiferous.” Our extremely likable narrator is Felicity Juniper Pickle, a 6th-grade girl as unique as her mother’s hometown, Midnight Gulch, where she, her mother, little sister Frannie Jo and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'City Cat'

"City Cat" by Kate Banks

★★★★★ This is an adorable picture book that features a family cat that secretly follows his family as they travel around Europe. It features landmarks in some of the greatest cities, such as London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Venice, and information at end of the book on each. As someone who's been to many of the cities featured, I thought the pictures were authentic...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'White Space'

"White Space" by Ilsa J. Bick

★★★ Blurred realities, terrifying monsters, and a protagonist who "blinks" into the lives of others set the tone for the first installment of the YA "Dark Passages" trilogy. I've never read a YA book like this before, and I really wanted to like "White Space" more than I did. Bick's story is very creative, and she is a descriptive and engaging writer, but this...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, horror

Cover: 'Close to Home'

"Close to Home" by Lisa Jackson

★★★★★ This novel is about Sarah, a single mother of two girls starting over by moving back to her family's old, run down, estate in a small town alongside the Columbia River. Planning to remodel and bring the house she grew up in back to its old glory, Sarah is unprepared for all the memories and unanswered questions surrounding her family that the remodeling...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Daring Ladies of Lowell'

"The Daring Ladies of Lowell" by Kate Alcott

★★★★★ In 1832 Massachusetts, there are not a lot of opportunities for young women. Alice is young and headstrong. She works hard on the family farm but her father controls her life and her future. Alice wants more. She moves to the mill town of Lowell where young women can find employment in the cotton mills and freedom from their families. Alice loves her new...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Sedition'

"Sedition" by Katharine Grant

★★★★ In 1794 London, four merchant class fathers who have made their way and their fortune find themselves faced with the problem of marrying off their coming of age daughters. They of course want their daughters to marry up, so they devise a plan. Their daughters will learn to play the newly invented pianoforte and then give a concert, invitation only, to the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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