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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: 'Frogkisser!'

"Frogkisser!" by Garth Nix

★★★★★ Anya is a princess in a tough situation but with quite a gift. She is the Frogkisser. When Rikard, her evil, power-hungry, sorcerer stepfather takes over the kingdom of Trallonia and begins transforming people that get in his way into frogs, lizards and other critters, Anya discovers she has a magic gift all her own. With some magic lip balm and the...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Oddity'

"Oddity" by Sarah Cannon

★★★★★ Any book that starts out with fifth graders defending themselves against leopards (again) during a safety drill promises to be fun.  Oddity is a small town that's...well...odd.  Except to Ada Roundtree and her friends and family who have spent their whole lives there.  When Ada's sister Pearl disappears after "winning" the town sweepstakes,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'NERVE'

"NERVE" by Jeanne Ryan

★★★ Vee is used to living her life behind-the-scenes. As part of her high school’s drama department, she prefers to stick to doing costumes and makeup rather than stepping into the spotlight like her best friend, Sydney. But after Vee sees her crush flirting with Sydney, she decides to do something drastic to get the guy’s attention and to step outside her...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, suspense

Cover: 'Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda'

"Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" by Becky Albertalli

★★★★ Simon is just a typical, well-adjusted teenager. He does well in school, has a stable and supportive family and has a great group of friends. There's just one thing the people in Simon's life don't know about him: he's gay. After another young man at Simon's school comes out of the closet on a social media site, he and Simon begin emailing back and...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction, romance, lgbt

Cover: 'Moxie'

"Moxie" by Jennifer Mathieu

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Vivian plans to keep her head down and avoid making any waves as she rides out her last two years of high school in her small town Texas high school. However, after seeing the new girl face humiliation after a sexist incident in class, she finds inspiration in her mother’s “My Misspent Youth” box, which is filled with Riot Grrrl materials....

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Goldeline'

"Goldeline" by Jimmy Cajoleas

★★★★★ Goldeline is called ghost girl because of her long, flowing white hair, making her a frightening distraction for the robbing bandits she helps in the magical Hinterlands, and who are the only "family" she has known since her momma was accused by the Preacher of being a witch and burned at the stake. However, during one of their jobs she discovers a young...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lucky Broken Girl'

"Lucky Broken Girl" by Ruth Behar

★★★★★ Ruthie Mizahi is the “lucky broken girl,” at least that’s what they call her after the multiple car accident in which she survived but several other people died. Being new in America from Cuba, she learned just enough English to graduate from the fifth grade "dumb class” at school, and just received her very own dream pair of go-go boots. Now she has to lie...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Just Like Jackie'

"Just Like Jackie" by Lindsey Stoddard

★★★★★ Robinson (Robbie) has finally had enough taunting from the fifth grade school bully, Alex, punches him in the nose, and ends up in the principal’s office with her grandfather. She knows her grandfather will be angry with her for not doing what Jackie Robinson, her namesake, would have done--nothing. She helps her grandfather in his auto repair shop, with...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial'

"E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" by Jim Thomas

★★★★ For fans of the classic 80’s movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, this timeless story is now in the form of a uniquely-illustrated children’s book! This book is a direct adaptation of the film and is aimed at young readers, with a few minor changes from the movie. The story tells the tale of young Elliot, who discovers what he thinks to be a goblin living...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, movies

Cover: 'The Wife Between Us'

"The Wife Between Us" by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

★★★★★ Vanessa can’t believe that her ex-husband Richard is remarrying so quickly! She thought her replacement was going to be a short term fling, but news of their impending wedding has her in a tailspin. She’s barely holding it together as it is—she’s living in her aunt’s spare room, living off commissions as a saleswoman in a swanky department store (where she...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Far From the Tree'

"Far From the Tree" by Robin Benway

★★★★ What exactly is a family? Are they your biological relatives? The people who raised you? Or are they the people you choose to surround yourself with every day? Far From the Tree explores the idea of family in all its forms as it follows three siblings who reconnect as teenagers after being given up for adoption in infancy. There's 17 year-old...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction, young adult, ya fiction with adult appeal, award-winning

Cover: 'Elizabeth and Zenobia'

"Elizabeth and Zenobia" by Jessica Miller

★★★★★ Elizabeth is not too happy about moving with her father to Witheringe Manor, her emotionally distant father’s creepy, spooky childhood home, but at least she has her best friend and fearless companion, Zenobia with her, even if her father thinks she is far too old for an imaginary friend. Zenobia believes there is a spirit presence in the house and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Orphan Island'

"Orphan Island" by Laurel Snyder

★★★★★ Jinny knows that the Changing will happen sometime soon, and her best friend, Deen, the eldest, will be whisked away in a self-propelled green boat and a new young child will be deposited to join the eight left on the island. Then Jinny will be the new "Eldest" and it will be her job to take care of and teach the brand new youngest child, Ess...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Stars Beneath Our Feet'

"The Stars Beneath Our Feet" by David Barclay Moore

★★★★★ Building epic cities with large garbage bags full of LEGO blocks is how twelve-year-old Lolly channels his anger and his voice since the death of his older brother Jermaine, the only real person he could talk to. When his buildings outgrow his mother’s apartment (and her patience) he spends time hiding in a storage closet at the St. Nick community center...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Renegades'

"Renegades" by Marissa Meyer

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Nova’s world is ruled by the Renegades, a group of Prodigies (humans that possess a special ability/superpower), who used their abilities to defeat Ace Anarchy and his Prodigy compatriots who were responsible for creating fear and destruction during the Age of Anarchy. Despite Renegade promises to protect them, Nova’s parents and sister...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The War I Finally Won'

"The War I Finally Won" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

★★★★★ Continuing eleven-year-old Ada's story from “The War That Saved My Life,” this book begins with hospitalization and surgical correction for Ada’s clubfoot, which she has mixed feelings about especially since it is funded by stern Lady Thornton. The external (and Ada's internal) war rages on, changing their lives in many ways, taking the life of their "Mam"...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Sing, Unburied, Sing'

"Sing, Unburied, Sing" by Jesmyn Ward

★★★★★ Thirteen-year-old JoJo is eager to prove himself as a man in the eyes of his grandfather, Pap, whom he considers his true father figure. Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, who thrives on his nurturing attention, live with their African-American grandparents, who have raised them in their rural Mississippi home in the absence of their incarcerated white...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Whichwood'

"Whichwood" by Tahereh Mafi

★★★★★ Since the death of her beloved mother and the disappearance of her heartbroken father, thirteen-year-old Laylee is the only remaining mordeshoor in Whichwood, and she is quite literally working her fingers to the bone. Her job is to wash the bodies and souls of dead people in the village, and with a bit of magic only people in her occupation possess, send...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Uncommon Type'

"Uncommon Type" by Tom Hanks

★★★★★ Tom Hanks is an avid collector of typewriters, is obsessed with space travel and (who knew?) is a writer. This is what I learned while reading the collection of short stories, Uncommon Type, authored by Tom Hanks. That’s right, America’s favorite Hollywood star has broken into a new medium. As a fan of Hanks the actor, it took me a couple stories to lose...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, short stories

Cover: 'Home Alone'

"Home Alone" by Jason Rekulak

★★★★★ Home Alone is a classic holiday film that's widely loved and appreciated. It's a film that pops up like clockwork every December and never gets old, no matter how many times you watch it (at least in my experience!) If you and your kids are fans of Home Alone as much as I am, you can now experience the film in the form of an eye-catching illustrated...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, holiday, movies, movie tie-ins

Cover: 'Spill Zone'

"Spill Zone" by Scott Westerfeld

★★★★★ In the early 70’s the Soviet science fiction authors, Arkady and Boris Sturgatsky, wrote ”Roadside Picnic” about the changes in the environment in places around the world after what is assumed to be an alien visitation. They wrote about a changed world, where artifacts from these locations displayed unusual and bizarre properties and effects, and the ways...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction, graphic novel, science fiction

Cover: 'The Song From Somewhere Else'

"The Song From Somewhere Else" by A.F. Harrold

★★★★★ If it hadn’t been for the disappearance of Quintilius Minimus, her cat, Francesca’s (Frank’s) unlikely friendship with Nick Underbridge, the unusually tall, awkward, different, smelly boy from school, would probably have never happened. And if the other boys from her school weren't taunting and bullying her while she was at the playground posting posters...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Manhattan Beach'

"Manhattan Beach" by Jennifer Egan

★★★★★ Anna Kerrigan is an observant twelve-year-old who enjoys going with her father, Eddie, on his visits for his work, unaware that he works as a bagman for an Irish gangster. She knows something is different when they visit the home of Dexter Styles, a nightclub owner with syndicate ties and a society marriage, for the first and only time at Manhattan Beach....

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Wishtree'

"Wishtree" by Katherine Applegate

★★★★ Red, the unusual narrator of this story, has heard practically everything from the generations of people that have visited him and shared their hopes, dreams and definitely lots of wishes. But still he stays silent, until one day when Samar and Stephen, two very lonely children from two very different families wish for a friend, he has to find a way to...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Nest'

"The Nest" by Kenneth Oppel

★★★★ This tale is told from the perspective of Steven, a tween with OCD. His anxiety acts up again after the birth of his brother Theo, who his parents worry may have mental or other disabilities. I was immediately hooked by the creepy details which sounded like the makings for an episode of Doctor Who. Steven’s recurring nightmare is of a figure standing...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

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