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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; follow us for the latest updates.

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

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