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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: '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

Cover: 'Chop Chop'

"Chop Chop" by Simon Wroe

★★★★ Fans of Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" will enjoy this fictionalized account of restaurant life in London. The protagonist stumbles into a restaurant job after he is unable to find work with his English literature degree. He is given menial kitchen tasks and christened "Monocle" by his crude coworkers. His boss is a sadistic tyrant who enjoys...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Vintage'

"Vintage" by Susan Gloss

★★★★★ The main character is a small-town girl named Violet Turner with a flair for fashion. She opens a vintage used clothing store in Madison, WI. If you are familiar with that area, you will enjoy the different descriptions about the city. She develops friendships with two women who help her in her shop and also have problems with love. Old clothes are captured...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Oh Yeah, Audrey'

"Oh Yeah, Audrey" by Tucker Shaw

★★★ This is a fun read about a teen who is obsessed with actress and legendary style icon Audrey Hepburn. Gemma started a Tumblr blog-Oh Yeah, Audrey- about the star, and virtually met several teens who share her fascination. They agree to meet in person in New York City for a weekend adventure inspired by Hepburn's famous film "Breakfast at Tiffany's," but...

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

Cover: 'The Witch's Boy'

"The Witch's Boy" by Kelly Barnhill

★★★★★ Ned and his parents live in a small village at the edge of a dark and mysterious wood. His mother is a witch and his father is a woodcutter. Ned has never been the same since the day his twin brother died and he lived. He never speaks, and if he does, it is with a terrible stutter. The villagers all make fun of him and think him useless. The only thing the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy, paranormal

Cover: 'The Invention of Wings'

"The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd

★★★★★ Sarah Grimke is just a child when she is given the ten-year-old slave girl Hetty 'Handful' Grimke as a present on her eleventh birthday. Sarah knows in this moment that she cannot be a part of the slave owning lifestyle of her southern aristocratic family. Sarah tries to free Hetty and is quickly put in her place by her powerful mother. Hetty’s equally...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Orphan Train'

"Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline

★★★★★ I finally had a chance to read this book I kept hearing about, and it did not disappoint! This novel follows Molly, a present day child in the child welfare system, as well as a girl from the past known by many names. Molly meets this woman, now Vivian, through a community service project, and as they sift through Vivian's attic, they sift through her past...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'How To Train A Train'

"How To Train A Train" by Jason Carter Eaton

★★★★★ How do you train your train? Need help? Check this book out to learn how to catch a live train, train your pet train, name your train, play with your train, and care for your new friend. All of your friends will be impressed with your knowledge of pet train behavior! There are also incredible pictures included to help illustrate different train...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Neverhome'

"Neverhome" by Laird Hunt

★★★★ Ash Thompson is not all that he appears to be. In fact, he is not a man at all, but a woman serving in the army in her husband's stead. She is surrounded by mystery and intrigue. She is brave, strong, and faithful. Through her journey she is a soldier, a legend, a woman locked up for insanity and rumors of traitorous behavior, and a puzzle. This novel is an...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Returned'

"The Returned" by Jason Mott

★★★★★ The Returned is a story about an impossible miracle and getting a second chance of life. Harold and Lucille's 8 year son Jacob died a tragic death in 1965. Years later, after they have settled into old age, Jacob appears on their doorstep alive and still 8 years old. Chaos erupts when all over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond, but the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Husband's Secret'

"The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty

★★★★★ The Husband's Secret is a fantastic read that makes you question how well you really know the people you are closest to. When Cecilia discovers a letter her husband wrote to her to be opened only after his death her whole world is changed. Within this letter, her husband reveals his deepest, darkest secret which has the potential to destroy Cecilia's whole...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The King's Curse'

"The King's Curse" by Philippa Gregory

★★★★★ Acting as a hinge between Gregory's Cousins' War series and her Tudor series, "The King's Curse" follows the life of Margaret Pole, the niece of Edward IV and Richard III. Through Margaret's eyes, we see Katherine of Aragon come to England, Anne Boleyn rise to power and her execution, and Jane Seymour give birth to the future Edward VI and die. We also...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lock In'

"Lock In" by John Scalzi

★★★★★ This fast-paced read got me thinking about what would happen if 'The Haden's Disease' actually existed. Haden's is a disease that effected the world population, starting out as a flu, continuing on to meningitis, and finally being "locked in". Only 1% get to the locked in stage, and it sounds just the name suggests. The lucky few that survived the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, science fiction

Cover: 'After I'm Gone'

"After I'm Gone" by Laura Lippman

★★★★★ On July 4, 1976, Felix Brewster flees the U.S. and an impending prison sentence, leaving his wife (Bambi), three daughters, and a mistress (Julie) behind. Julie, who had made a life for herself with the coffee shop left in her name, disappears on the 10th anniversary of Felix’s flight, leading to speculation that she left to join her lover. The speculation...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'While We Were Watching Downton Abbey'

"While We Were Watching Downton Abbey" by Wendy Wax

★★★★★ Edward, the British concierge of a historic Atlanta apartment building, launches weekly viewing parties for the first two seasons of Downton Abbey in hopes of fostering community among the residents of the building. Among these residents are three women from different backgrounds and at different life stages—Samantha Davis, married for more than 25 years to...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Raging Heat'

"Raging Heat" by Richard Castle

★★★★ Nikki Heat’s latest case starts with the remains of a man that fell from the sky and crashed into the glass façade of Hayden Planetarium. Intrigued by the case, which leads a powerful political figure, her reporter boyfriend, Jameson Rook, joins the investigation only to find threads that do not fit into Nikki’s theory. Unsettled by the friction in her...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Book of Unknown Americans'

"The Book of Unknown Americans" by Cristina Henriquez

★★★★★ Maribel Rivera is a happy, beautiful girl living with her family in Mexico when a tragic accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury changes everything. The Riveras must make the tough decision to uproot their family from their comfortable life in Mexico in order to give Maribel her best chance in an American school in Delaware. After making the 30-hour...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Anatomy of a Misfit'

"Anatomy of a Misfit" by Andrea Portes

★★★★★ This book tells us the story of Anika, a tenth grader who is experiencing high school at it's greatest. She is trying to remain in the popular hierarchy, live with a unique family situation, and is torn between two boys who are vastly different. Anika has to decide to follow the crowd or to stay true to herself as she tries to fit in. The author did an...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands'

"Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands" by Chris Bohjalian

★★★★★ This beautiful, tragic, heart-wrenching book tells the story of Emily, a teen who finds herself orphaned and homeless following a nuclear meltdown at the plant where her parents worked. Fearing that she will be blamed for the mistakes of her father, Emily runs away, assumes a new name, and struggles to survive on the streets. We sit helplessly by as she is...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Enchanted'

"The Enchanted" by Rene Denfeld

★★★★ The enchanted place is not what you might expect. In fact, it is a prison, and its story is being told by a death row inmate. We are given a front row seat to viewing what goes on in this world and we are pulled along as the lady tries to save the life of a prisoner who simply wants to die. We are also able to glimpse a little of the life of the lady, the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Euphoria'

"Euphoria" by Lily King

★★★★★ A surprising find, this novel takes us deep into the world of three young anthropologists working in the territory of New Guinea in the 1930s. When they meet by chance, their lives become intertwined in a treacherous love triangle. Beautifully written and deeply emotional, this is a tale of adventure, danger, romance, and a fierce battle to be the best in...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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