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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: '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

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

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