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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 Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story'

"The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story" by R. J. Palacio

★★★★★ This is a fantastic addition to the book Wonder, the incredible story about Auggie Pullman, a young boy with a unique face. In Wonder, readers had a glimpse into the viewpoints of several characters in Auggie's world, except for the bully himself: Julian. Now readers finally get a chance to experience Julian's point of view, and learn why he hated Auggie so...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Girls Like Us'

"Girls Like Us" by Gail Giles

★★★★★ "Girls Like Us" introduces us to Quincy and Biddy, two special education students (or as they refer to themselves, “Speddies”) as they graduate from high school and start life in the real world. Their high school advisor pairs them as roommates in a small apartment above the garage of their new employer and landlady. Quincy and Biddy could not engage with...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, differing abilities, schneider family award winner

Cover: 'Rain Reign'

"Rain Reign" by Ann M. Martin

★★★★★ The likable narrator of this book, fifth-grader Rose Howard, sees homonyms everywhere and obsessively collects them. Her mother is gone (she doesn't know exactly where) so she lives with her impatient father, is strict about her own (and everyone’s) rules, and has a diagnosis: high functioning autism or Aspergers. When her beloved adopted dog, Rain,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, differing abilities

Cover: 'Christmas at Tiffany's'

"Christmas at Tiffany's" by Karen Swan

★★★★★ Once in a while a novel comes along that completely takes you by surprise, taking you on a momentous journey along with the characters that leaves you sitting in stunned, happy silence after you read the last words. This brilliant, heartwarming novel was one I almost missed, because I admittedly shun novels that even mention Christmas in the title. I needn'...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, holiday

Cover: 'My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories'

"My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories" by Stephanie Perkins

★★★★★ This compilation of twelve holiday stories written by well-known young adult authors will not disappoint this holiday season! Authors such Rainbow Rowell, Holly Black and David Levithan will make you love the winter season even more. Each of the stories is very different and carries its authors' distinct voice, therefore making each story a true delight....

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, short stories, holiday

Cover: 'The Good Luck of Right Now'

"The Good Luck of Right Now" by Matthew Quick

★★★★★ Bartholomew Neil's world has centered on his mother for 38 years. When she dies suddenly, Bartholomew is left alone to try to figure out what to do with his life. When he finds a form letter from Richard Gere in his mother's dresser, he begins to write very detailed and intimate letters to the actor about his life. We follow along as Bartholomew struggles...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Longest Ride'

"The Longest Ride" by Nicholas Sparks

★★★★★ Two love stories, one that is three quarters of a century in the making and one that is brand new are told side by side in this beautifully written novel. When Ira is trapped in his car following an accident in a remote area, he recounts the stories of his life with his one true love, his wife Ruth. He describes their story as it unfolds decade after decade...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, romance

Cover: 'The Thickety: A Path Begins'

"The Thickety: A Path Begins" by J. A. White, Andrea Offermann

★★★★★ Witchcraft and magic are denounced as evil, feared and banned on this island colony that is surrounded by a strange forbidden forest with feared creatures known as the Dark Wood or Thickety.  At only 5 years old Kara along with her newborn brother Taff witness the hanging death of their mother who was proclaimed a witch and their lives radically change...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances'

"Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances" by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

★★★★★ Young adult readers rejoice! Three of our favorite authors have gotten together to write about the sweetness of love in the middle of a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. We have the pleasure of reading about three separate but connected couples who live in the same town, through the same blizzard, and the same joys of young love. This is such a fun book for the...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, romance, holiday

Cover: 'Circle of Stones'

"Circle of Stones" by Catherine Fisher

★★★ Sulis, a teenage girl being handed off to another set of new foster parents, arrives in Bath, England, ready to leave the past behind her. Within minutes, she is already nervously looking over her shoulders at every opportunity. Linked with her story is that of Zac, the assistant to the man who aims to invent the world's first circular street, King's Circus...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'A Midwinter's Tail'

"A Midwinter's Tail" by Sofie Kelly

★★★★★ In this cozy new mystery in one of my favorite series, Kathleen, the head librarian of a small Minnesota town, is gearing up for a fundraising event and the holiday season. What starts out as a great fundraising event turns into two people sent to the emergency room and one dead body. As Kathleen tries to leave the detective work to her detective boyfriend...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery, holiday

Cover: 'The Missing Pieces of Me'

"The Missing Pieces of Me" by Jean Van Leeuwen

★★★★★ Weezie (Grace Louise) lives with her mother and step brother Jackson and step sister Ruth Ann in a trailer court and dreams of finding a father she knows nothing about. Still grieving after the recent death of her grandmother who loved and understood her, she desperately tries to please her overworked mother who often calls her a bad girl and whom it seems...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Forbidden Library'

"The Forbidden Library" by Django Wexler

★★★★★ After overhearing an insect-like black fairy in the kitchen arguing with her father, Alice is informed that her father is dead and she is ordered to go and live with Geryon, an unknown uncle who has a massive library which she is forbidden to enter and also not to read any books inside it. Ashes, a talking cat who admits to being only half a cat, sneaks her...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Hook's Revenge'

"Hook's Revenge" by Heidi Schulz

★★★★★ Jocelyn has piracy and adventure in her blood so why did her grandfather send her to an all-too-pink finishing school for girls? Because she is the daughter of the notorious pirate Captain James Hook, that’s why. After receiving a posthumous letter from her father requesting her to avenge his death and destroy the infamous crocodile that took his life,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Shopaholic to the Stars'

"Shopaholic to the Stars" by

★★★★ The latest book in the Shopaholic series finds Becky and her family in Hollywood. Her husband Luke is there to manage the career of famous young actress, Sage Seymour, while Becky has her heart set on becoming the next big celebrity stylist. In typical Becky fashion, things become complicated and hilarious when Becky joins the team of Sage's rival, hires a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Egg & Spoon'

"Egg & Spoon" by Gregory Maguire

★★★★★ From the bestselling author of "Wicked" comes an enchanting new tale of mistaken identity, unlikely friendships, adventure, and magic set in 1905 czarist Russia. When the private train of Ekaterina Ivanovna de Robichaux is stranded in a peasant village she meets Elena Rudina, a girl who has lost her father, cares for her very sick mother, and longs to find...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Mortal Heart'

"Mortal Heart" by Robin LaFevers

★★★★ In this final installment of the His Fair Assassin trilogy, readers finally learn more about Annith, a young woman who is trained as an assassin in 15th century Brittany. Annith and the other members of the convent, Ismae and Sybella, serve Mortain, the god of death, and also use their skills to protect the young Duchess of Brittany. Unlike Ismae and...

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

Cover: 'The Wishing Tide'

"The Wishing Tide" by Barbara Davis

★★★★ In this atmospheric novel set along the North Carolina coast, Lane Kramer moves away from her ex-husband and memories of a miscarriage to a quaint inn she decides to run. During the off season and in the middle of a violent storm, a professor stumbles upon Lane's inn asking to stay. What Lane doesn't realize is that Michael has arrived under false pretenses...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Station Eleven'

"Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel

★★★★★ This book has been on several recommended reading lists for very good reasons. It is excellent! Set in the near future, we enter a post-apocalyptic world that was destroyed by a worldwide pandemic. The main characters are all linked by a famous actor from the past and their stories are followed through the years after disaster hits. The story is written so...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Still Life With Bread Crumbs'

"Still Life With Bread Crumbs" by Anna Quindlen

★★★★★ Rebecca Winter, a once world-famous photographer, finds herself at a crossroads. She is stuck in a rut. With the stress of caring for aging parents, helping her adult son financially, and maintaining the New York lifestyle to which she is accustomed, Rebecca is broke. Her art is no longer selling and she is not sure if it ever will again. On top of her...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Burned'

"Burned" by Thomas Enger

★★★★ Author Thomas Enger bases this first murder-mystery novel in the series in Oslo, Norway. Fans of Scandinavian authors and their style will be very pleased with this offering by Enger. E-Reporter, Henning Juul, starts back to work after a long absence. He is scarred both physically and emotionally, but a slow, easy start back into his job is not in the cards...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Wonder of All Things'

"The Wonder of All Things" by Jason Mott

★★★★★ An ordinary day turns tragic as the local air show ends in a fiery crash. 13-year-old Ava and her best friend Wash are trapped underneath the rubble of the observation tower. When Ava discovers that Wash is mortally wounded she does the impossible and heals him. In the age of technology, the whole thing is caught on video and quickly goes viral sending the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Book of Night Women'

"The Book of Night Women" by Marlon James

★★★★★ This captivating novel pulls us deep into the world of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. We begin when she is just a child born of a too young mother who didn't survive her birth, and the white slave driver. Lilith has been afforded a certain amount of protection as a child but quickly learns what...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Ten Eggs in a Nest'

"Ten Eggs in a Nest" by Marilyn Sadler, Michael Fleming

★★★★★ Gwen, the hen, has laid her eggs but tells the soon-to-be father, Red Rooster, that it is bad luck to count your eggs before they hatch. Soon one egg hatches and proud Red Rooster goes to Worm World to buy a worm for his new chick. When he gets back, however, more chicks hatch requiring Red Rooster to make several trips back and forth to Worm World to buy...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader, read-alouds

Cover: 'Naked!'

"Naked!" by Michael Ian Black

★★★★★ This wonderful, enjoyable read-aloud celebrates the joys of being naked—naked, naked, naked. The wide-mouthed boy in this picture book eats (several) cookies-naked, slides down the stairs-naked, and dreams of going to school, doing the hokey pokey, and playing on the playground-naked. Children will easily identify with this sometimes-caped crusader and his...

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

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