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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: 'A Horse Called Hero'

"A Horse Called Hero" by Sam Angus

★★★★ It’s wartime and London is no longer safe so Dodo and Wolfie, along with many other children, are forced to go and live with a family in the country. Their mother is dead and their father is off fighting in the war.  Wolfie, who has dreamed of owning a horse, finds an abandoned, orphaned silver foal who is near death, names him Hero, and nurses him...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses'

"Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses" by Kimberly Dean, James Dean

★★★★★ Cool-cat Pete the Cat is back with his laid-back personality and going-with-the-flow mantra. Pete wakes up grumpy one morning and cannot seem to be happy. Pete's friend Grumpy Toad gives him a pair of magic sunglasses that make Pete see the world in a new, more positive way. Pete helps out other friends who are feeling frustrated, mad and sad with his magic...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'The Silkworm'

"The Silkworm" by Robert Galbraith

★★★★ In the second installment of the Cormoran Strike series, we again meet Strike and his assistant Robin, who are called to find a missing novelist that has wandered before. Owen Quine is a generally disliked man whose latest novel is causing an uproar before it's even published, and Strike soon discovers his disappearance will not be an easy investigation. In...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Gemini'

"Gemini" by Carol Cassella

★★★★★ Charlotte Reese, an intensive care doctor in Seattle, Washington, is on duty when a Jane Doe, the victim of a hit and run, is admitted to the ICU. As days pass, Jane's condition worsens and her identity remains a mystery. Charlotte is in control of Jane's fate, and, with the help of her boyfriend Eric, sets out to uncover Jane's past. This book is well...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Land of Love and Drowning'

"Land of Love and Drowning" by Tiphanie Yanique

★★★★★ Set in the beautiful and enchanting Virgin Islands, this is a story of love, loss, family, and magic. We begin in the early 1900s when the Bradshaw children are small and tragedy leaves them orphaned. They must face poverty and hardship together in order to survive. Their lives tangle around those of lovers, family members, children, and strangers. They...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Life After Life'

"Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson

★★★★ Ursula Todd is born in England on a cold February night in 1910, with a very unique ability, to live, die, and be born again in a continuous cycle. Ursula falls into this pattern unaware at first, then with a sort of permanent deja vu, and eventually with acceptance. It is a tale of love, loss, war, and the power to take control of one's life. This novel...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'How to Love'

"How to Love" by Katie Cotugno

★★★★ Reena has always been the good girl: straight A student, responsible job holder, and good friend. Despite her good girl status, Reena has also always been in love with bad boy Sawyer LeGrande. When Sawyer starts to take notice of her, Reena's life becomes an exhilarating and devastating roller coaster of events. The chapters alternate between Reena's...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, romance

Cover: 'The Castle Behind Thorns'

"The Castle Behind Thorns" by Merrie Haskell

★★★★★ Waking up in the fireplace ashes of an unfamiliar and very broken castle, Sand discovers that nothing lives here, except the huge, dense thorny brambles that enclose the whole exterior, making it impossible to leave. He begins mending broken objects and soon discovers Perrotte, a girl his age and heir to the castle who has awakened from the dead. They...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Son'

"The Son" by Jo Nesbø

★★★★★ Jo Nesbo, an award-winning author from Norway, has written another gripping thriller. The novel takes place in the seedy underworld of Oslo, but begins in a state-of-the-art prison. Prisoner Sony Loftus has a heroin addiction which has a steady supply, as long as he takes the fall for some gruesome murders in the area, even while he still remains a prisoner...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Goodnight Darth Vader'

"Goodnight Darth Vader" by Jeffrey Brown

★★★ Darth Vader is trying to put his twins Luke and Leia to sleep but they have the usual questions and demands of most kids at bedtime. He tells them rhyming stories about droids, wookies, Han Solo, Boba Fett and other familiar Star Wars characters. While this is not great literature, this cute book will be devoured by Star Wars fans, old and young alike, who...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, science fiction

Cover: 'Ferry Tail'

"Ferry Tail" by Katharine Kenah

★★★★ Walter, the ferry dog loves his perfect job. He greets ferry-goers, fetches the captain’s morning newspaper, tastes the cook’s food, watches babies and barks at seagulls. The captain’s cat is the only one aboard he does not like. One day he doesn’t feel needed and decides to leave and try life on the island. This sweet, simple picture book will appeal to...

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

Cover: 'The Girl with the Silver Eyes'

"The Girl with the Silver Eyes" by Willo Davis Roberts

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Katie Welker knows that she’s different in more ways than just having those unusual silver eyes which freak other people out. She can move things just by thinking about them and read the minds of cats, but what else might she be capable of.  After she discovers that her mother took a drug while she was pregnant that was later removed from...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Hate List'

"Hate List" by Jennifer Brown

★★★★ In this harrowing and eye opening novel, we are taken inside the lives of students affected by a school shooting. The main character, Valerie, is not only recovering from a gunshot wound, but dealing with the constant struggle of being the shooter's girlfriend. Shunned even by her own family afterwards, Valerie has a lot of healing, both physically and...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, tragedy

Cover: 'Lizzy Bennet's Diary'

"Lizzy Bennet's Diary" by

★★★★★ Inspired by Jane Austen’s classic novel, “Pride and Prejudice”, we can easily believe that Elizabeth Bennet just might have written this diary.  It is a fun re-imagining of Lizzy Bennet’s world through her eyes with realistic journal entries and cute drawings and captions filling each page. But it’s the realistic invitations, notes, and letters glued...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, classics

Cover: 'The Silkworm'

"The Silkworm" by Robert Galbraith

★★★★★ Writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, "Harry Potter" authoress J.K. Rowling brings us this second book about private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. As their search for missing author Owen Quine turns into a sadistic murder, perhaps as retaliation against Quine's libelous unpublished book, Strike and Robin also grow...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Art of Secrets'

"The Art of Secrets" by James Klise

★★★★ Left homeless after a fire of unknown origin destroys their apartment, Saba Khan and her family’s lives are changed forever. Fellow students at Highsmith School decide to collect items for an auction to be held at school with the proceeds to be donated to Saba’s family. But when a rare and valuable painting worth hundreds of thousands of dollars gets...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Time Traveler's Wife'

"The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger

★★★★★ This is the extraordinary love story of Clare, an artist, and Henry, a librarian and time traveler. Henry has known Clare since she was a little girl but doesn't know it until he meets her in real time where she knows who he is and is already in love with him. Discover the complexities of time travel through their love affair of the ages. You will not be...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Will Grayson, Will Grayson'

"Will Grayson, Will Grayson" by John Green

★★★★ This is a hilarious story of how two different teenage boys with the exact same name come to meet one another and change each other's lives. I listened to this book twice on audio book and both times found myself laughing out loud on my commute! Both Will Grayson's lives are at a turning point in love, relationships, and life when their paths cross. The...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Medici Boy'

"The Medici Boy" by John L'Heureux

★★★★ Set in fifteenth century Florence, this novel is written as a confession and memoir by Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant to the great artist Donatello. Luca writes about living in the infamously sinful city of Florence and about the intimate details of life in Donatello's workshop. A collision of politics, art, and forbidden passions, this is a tale full of...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Little Green Peas'

"Little Green Peas" by Keith Baker

★★★★ The peas from the alphabet sensation LMNO Peas have returned for a new adventure exploring color. From green gardens to purple mountains to the red colors of fall, the peas see color everywhere. This book is recommended for toddlers and preschoolers who will gain color knowledge and letter knowledge from the vibrant, fun illustrations.  

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader

Cover: 'The Boleyn Reckoning'

"The Boleyn Reckoning" by Laura Andersen

★★★★★ In the thrilling conclusion of this trilogy about the Boleyn King who never was, Minuette finds herself caught between the king’s increasingly obsessive love and her loyalty to her secret husband Dominic. As the backdrop to this love triangle, Catholic and Protestant factions vie for power, causing families, friendships, and political loyalties to fracture...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Allegiant'

"Allegiant" by Veronica Roth

★★★★★ The intriguing conclusion to the Divergent series, this book will be hard to put down. Tris and Four continue to search for answers and a way to put the pieces of their broken lives back together. What began with a choice that changed their lives forever continues to be a journey of choices and tough lessons in love, courage, truth, and sacrifice.  

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, dystopian, science fiction

Cover: 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane'

"The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman

★★★★★ A haunting tale of evils both real and supernatural, this story follows our narrator as he remembers the events that changed his world as a 7-year-old child. When a lodger commits suicide in the family car, evil powers are unleashed that quickly threaten his life and those of the people he loves. In order to survive, he must become brave enough to face this...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, horror, fantasy

Cover: 'A Dog Called Homeless'

"A Dog Called Homeless" by Sarah Lean

★★★★★ A year after her mother’s death, Cally sees her mother at the cemetery but no one will believe her. Worse yet, no one wants her to talk about her mother. She continues to see her mother often along with a friendly wolfhound and an elderly homeless man. She volunteers to not talk for a day at school to help raise money for a children’s hospice home and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Insurgent'

"Insurgent" by Veronica Roth

★★★★★ The second book in Veronica Roth's Divergent series continues to follow 16-year-old Tris Prior as she struggles to make sense of her world as it crumbles around her. Tris has finally embraced her divergence but must now figure out what to do about the danger it places on those closest to her. She must make peace with herself as she battles guilt, grief, and...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, dystopian

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