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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: 'Every Day'

"Every Day" by David Levithan

★★★★ Meet A, a 16-year-old who wakes up every day in a new body. Life has always been this way for A where every day brings a new family, school, town and even gender. A wakes up in the body of Justin, where he meets his girlfriend Rhiannon and instantly falls for her. Read how A struggles with wanting to stay with Rhiannon every day and not being able to...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well'

"Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well" by Nancy Atherton

★★★★ If you're looking for a cozy mystery set in the English countryside with a cast of likeable characters and an ending that will make you smile, this is your next read! In the 19th Aunt Dimity mystery, Lori Shepard and the tight-knit village of Finch are burying one of the townsfolk when they meet Jack MacBride, the surprise nephew of the gentleman who passed...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'My Brother's Shadow'

"My Brother's Shadow" by Tom Avery

★★★★ Eleven-year-old Kaia is frozen in time, a horrendous, unimaginable time; the day she found her brother Moses in his bloody bed, dead.  Her mother, who has lost her job, numbs herself with booze, Kaia with not talking, withdrawing from everyone at school where she’s known as "the freak", not even daring to read any books at a higher reading level than...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Secret Place'

"The Secret Place" by Tana French

★★★★★ Tana French is my favorite mystery author, so I highly recommend the fifth book in her Dublin Murder Squad series! St. Kilda's, a boarding school for girls outside of Dublin, has a bulletin board called "The Secret Place" where the girls can express their deepest secrets anonymously. It is usually a place for gossip and rumors, but one day a photo shows up...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Good Girl'

"The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica

★★★★ If you were a fan of the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl", this is the perfect book for you! Colin Thatcher is paid to abduct Mia Dennett, the free spirited daughter of a prominent Chicago judge, and hand her over to his employers. However, once Mia is in his custody, he has a change of heart and decides to hide Mia in a secluded Minnesota...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Cuckoo's Calling'

"The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith

★★★★★ I usually don't read many crime or mystery novels but I thought I would try this one since it was written by J.K Rowling. To my surprise, it was an excellent read about a beautiful, mega-celebrity named Lulu Landry, also known as Cuckoo. After Lulu falls off her balcony to her death, the police quickly rule it a suicide. However, months later, the private...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Orfeo'

"Orfeo" by Richard Powers

★★ Composer Peter Els has become a fugitive from Homeland Security. A philosophical, retired composer, Peter has been conducting chemistry experiments in his garage to find the true essence of music in the elements of earth. Chemistry was his second love, his first being a dreamy music student by the name of Clara, who urged Peter to pursue his talent for...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'A Man Called Ove'

"A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman

★★★★★ Ove is not an easy man to love. At age 59, he has lost his job because he is "outdated." He is cranky, opinionated, and gruff. On the other hand, Ove is someone that you can't help but like. He uses his thick emotional wall to hide great personal loss. When new neighbors with little respect for Ove's personal boundaries move in, his whole world begins to...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Tailing a Tabby'

"Tailing a Tabby" by Laurie Cass

★★★★★ In the second installment of the Bookmobile Cat series, we again meet librarian Minnie Hamilton and her lovable cat Eddie. On one of their bookmobile runs across the Michigan countryside, they are flagged down by a woman whose husband is having a stroke. When the man is accused of murder days later, Minnie can't help but delve into investigation mode with...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Under the Wide and Starry Sky'

"Under the Wide and Starry Sky" by Nancy Horan

★★★★★ This novel recounts the epic and unconventional love story of Scottish literary master, Robert Louis Stevenson and American divorcee, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. Fanny heads to Europe with her children to escape an unfaithful and miserable marriage and to develop her skills as an artist. In 1875 she meets Lois in the south of France. She thinks he is too...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Museum of Extraordinary Things'

"The Museum of Extraordinary Things" by Alice Hoffman

★★★★★ Set in New York in the early 1900s, this fascinating novel explores the world inside a museum of oddities. Professor Sardie fills his museum with human miracles and wonders at the beginning of each season in hopes of attracting the crowds that flood the city from spring to fall. Competition is fierce among summer attractions and his desperation for a star...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dragon on Trial'

"Dragon on Trial" by Tui T. Sutherland, Kari Sutherland

★★★ After rescuing a griffin in the first book, ”The Menagerie”, Logan is officially accepted as a member of the secret menagerie that cares for mythical creatures. This time the crisis involves the disappearance and presumed murder of Pelly, the goose who lays the golden eggs. Snatch, a dragon in the menagerie, is blamed, but Logan and his friend Zoe are sure...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Her Fearful Symmetry'

"Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger

★★★★★ "Her Fearful Symmetry" is a great read for those interested in the supernatural. Two American twin sisters inherit their aunt's apartment in London after she passes away, but is she really gone? When the twins move to London to live in the apartment that is also right next to a famous cemetery, they begin to experience supernatural events and start to...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, supernatural, fantasy

Cover: 'Lending a Paw'

"Lending a Paw" by Laurie Cass

★★★★★ Based in the beautiful town of Chilson, Michigan, Minnie Hamilton is the assistant director of the local library who just made possible the start of bookmobile service. In this first novel of a cozy new series, Minnie is adopted by a stray tabby cat who sneaks into the bookmobile with her, and from there the adventure begins. On the very first bookmobile...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Book of Life'

"The Book of Life" by Deborah Harkness

★★★ In the final installment of the All Souls trilogy, Matthew and Diana return from Elizabethan England to further dig up the origins of witches, daemons, and vampires. They need to find the alchemical manuscript known as Ashmole 762, or the Book of Life, to uncover these secrets. They must find the manuscript before it gets in the wrong hands, namely, Matthew...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, supernatural, fantasy, historical fiction

Cover: 'The Story of Land and Sea'

"The Story of Land and Sea" by Katy Simpson Smith

★★★★★ Set in coastal North Carolina during the American Revolution, this novel follows Tabitha, a little girl who loves her father's stories from his days as a pirate, and her mother Helen, who died giving birth to Tabitha years before. Using eloquent, meticulous, and at times biblical prose, the author explores loss, the love between parent and child, and what...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Forget Me'

"Forget Me" by K. A. Harrington

★★★★★ Morgan's boyfriend, Flynn, died in a hit-and-run accident three months ago. To finally get some closure, Morgan's best friend Toni suggests she upload one last photo of him online. When Morgan posts the photo, the face-recognition software asks if she wants to tag a boy in the town over named Evan Murphy. Morgan is in shock: Evan and Flynn are dead ringers...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Landline'

"Landline" by Rainbow Rowell

★★★★ Georgie has a big decision to make before Christmas--work on her dream TV script for a one-time pitch, or go with her husband, Neal, and their daughters to Omaha. Georgie decides to work on the TV script and stay in LA, much to Neal's dismay. Neal is so furious he won't even pick up his phone to talk to her. Georgie soon discovers a landline phone in her...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, chick lit

Cover: 'Visions'

"Visions" by Kelley Armstrong

★★★★★ In the second installment of the Cainsville series, we again meet Olivia, a woman who found out that she was the daughter of two of the most notorious serial killers known at the time. "Visions" opens with Olivia finding the body of a woman dressed to look like her in her car, only to go missing minutes later. The mystery only escalates from there, as...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Midnight Library'

"The Midnight Library" by Kazuno Kohara

★★★★ Imagine a library open only at night, frequented by owls, tortoises, wolves, squirrels and other animals and you have the premise for this simple picture book. Because the tortoise is slowly reading his book at the library, the little girl librarian suggests that he get a library card to check out his book and continue reading it at home. The woodcut...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Summer Girls'

"The Summer Girls" by Mary Alice Monroe

★★★★ What a satisfying summer read! This is the first book in a trilogy that follows the lives of three half-sisters and their grandmother, who lives in the coastal South Carolina island, Sullivan Island. All of the girls have been drawn back to their grandmother's house for the summer after long periods of time living their separate lives. The girls come...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Chu's First Day of School'

"Chu's First Day of School" by Neil Gaiman, Adam Rex

★★★★ Like many children, Chu is nervous about his first day of school. He has the usual concerns and questions; what will happen in school, will they like him. Once he gets there, he discovers that he has to introduce himself to the other children by saying his name and one thing that he loves to do. That’s when he becomes very quiet and is reluctant to share,...

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

Cover: 'The Bees'

"The Bees" by Laline Paull

★★★★★ When I first picked up this book, I was intrigued by the idea of a book that had honeybees as the characters. I wondered if it was possible to make this work. What I discovered was not only does this work, but the book was so captivating that I couldn't put it down! We are drawn into the life of the hive as Flora 717 emerges from her cell in the Arrivals...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'My Teacher Is a Monster!'

"My Teacher Is a Monster!" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Author and illustrator Peter Brown gives us another humorous read-aloud with “My Teacher Is a MONSTER!”. Bobby has a familiar problem: a teacher, Ms. Kirby, who is the bane of his existence. She reminds him to follow school rules by saying things like “no recess for children who throw paper airplanes in class”. In short, he thinks she is a monster.  ...

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

Cover: 'The Lover's Dictionary'

"The Lover's Dictionary" by David Levithan

★★★★ Have you ever thought of describing and defining your relationships through one word descriptions? This very creative author has done just that. He uses words, like a dictionary, in order to tell the story of a relationship between two people. It really is remarkable that this format works, and I was a little skeptical starting this book that I would not...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, romance

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