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Staff Reviews: Adult contemporary fiction

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring books DVDs for adults! (For reviews of books for all ages, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates. The book reviews on this website represent the personal opinions of the individuals who created them and do not represent any official views of the Marathon County Public Library.


Cover: 'The Lager Queen of Minnesota'

"The Lager Queen of Minnesota" by J. Ryan Stradal

★★★ Craft beer and microbreweries are popular everywhere these days, especially here in the Midwest. Author J. Ryan Stradal harnesses this as the focal point of his latest novel The Lager Queen of Minnesota, which follows a family of women through multiple decades, each one with ties to the beer-making industry. The book opens with Edith, a woman in her 60s...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction, fiction

Cover: 'The Body in Question'

"The Body in Question" by Jill Ciment

★★★★★ Courtroom dramas almost always focus exclusively on the plaintiff and defendant at the heart of a trial. After all, that’s where some of the most compelling storytelling tends to reside. The Body in Question, however, switches things up by following a six-person jury assigned to a murder trial in central Florida, where a teenage girl is accused of setting...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Unhoneymooners'

"The Unhoneymooners" by Christina Lauren

★★★★ Olive is the maid of honor at her twin sister's wedding and is standing up opposite Ethan, someone she could care less for. Ethan is her new brother-in-law's brother, and Olive think that it was just bad luck that paired them together. Was it fate, luck or their opposite personalities that caused Olive and Ethan to be the only ones that didn't...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Red, White & Royal Blue'

"Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston

★★★★★ Alex Claremont-Diaz is like American royalty. His mom, Ellen, is the first female President of the United States and he aspires to follow in her political footsteps one day and also become prez. During his time in the White House, Alex has had a not-so-secret rivalry with Henry, the Prince of England. Alex has always thought of Henry as being spoiled,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction, romance

Cover: 'This Is How It Always Is'

"This Is How It Always Is" by Laurie Frankel

★★★★ Rosie and Penn are a happily married couple living just outside Madison with a house full of delightfully eccentric sons (four, to be exact). In hopes of having a daughter, the two decide to have one more child, which turns out to be…another boy, whom they name Claude. But around the time he starts kindergarten, Claude begins to question his gender...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Beartown'

"Beartown" by Fredrik Backman

★★★★ Team sports can be important to a small town. In the case of Beartown, a tiny, rural town in Sweden, that sport is hockey. Boys begin skating almost as soon as they can walk, and the townspeople look at the sport as a source of pride, validation and opportunity. Beartown follows around fifteen different characters, who all have ties to the town’s beloved...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Less'

"Less" by Andrew Sean Greer

★★★ Arthur Less no longer wants to be in love. On the verge of turning 50, Less is a mildly successful author who has spent a large chunk of his adult life in relationships, only to get burned in the end. His book publisher also has passed on his most recent manuscript, putting him at a unique crossroads in his life. To avoid attending the wedding of Freddy...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Fitness Junkie'

"Fitness Junkie" by Lucy Sykes, Jo Piazza

★★★★★ Fitness Junkie is the story of Janey Sweet and her search for a leaner body after a lifelong friend and boss told her that she could lose her job if she didn't shed 30 pounds. Janey throws herself into the ultimatum with gusto by trying all of the fad diets, strange cult-like workouts, and self-searching.  Ever hear of eating clay as a...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Dietland'

"Dietland" by Sarai Walker

★★★ Plum Kettle has struggled with her weight for as long as she can remember. Now in her late 20s, she weighs over 300 pounds and has isolated herself away from most of society. But she’s formulated a plan to change her life completely: get lap band surgery, shed the weight and adopt an entirely new, more confident personae. Plum lives in New York City and...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'An American Marriage'

"An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones

★★★ Roy and Celestial have been married for just one year. As part of their first anniversary, the couple visits Roy’s parents and the small Louisiana town where he grew up. After a disagreement in their hotel room, Roy decides to give Celestial some space and go for a walk. Later that night, the police burst into their room and arrest Roy, accusing him of rape...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'My Oxford Year'

"My Oxford Year" by Julia Whelan

★★★ American Ella Duran has won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University for one year.  This has been a lifelong dream of hers that she has realized at the age of 24.  In addition to being a student there, she is also a key political advisor to key candidates back in the U.S.  Her expectations of Oxford are surpassed and more as she...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction

Cover: 'All We Ever Wanted'

"All We Ever Wanted" by Emily Giffin

★★★★ In the Nashville's wealthy neighborhood of Belle Meade, Nina finds her family at the center of a scandal. Nina was raised in a middle class household, with a strong sense of character and doing the right thing. When she married Kirk, she was introduced to a lavish and wealthy lifestyle where money means everything. It is what their son, Finch, has always...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Deal of a Lifetime'

"The Deal of a Lifetime" by Fredrik Backman

★★★★ When I saw this new book on the adult fiction shelf in the library, I judged it by physical size and the fact that it had less than 75 pages. I wondered, what could possibly be on the pages that makes it so popular? A man who loved work ahead of everything else in life, including his wife and even his own son, makes a decision with the lady in the gray...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'How To Walk Away'

"How To Walk Away" by Katherine Center

★★★★★ Margaret Jacobsen is a normal young woman with a master's degree, a serious boyfriend, and all of a great life to look forward to. That is, until one day she and her new fiance are in a horrible accident that leaves Margaret paralyzed. In an instant her life takes a dramatic turn as her career hopes and life expectations fizzle, and all that remains is...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Abstinence Teacher'

"The Abstinence Teacher" by Tom Perrotta

★★★★ Ruth Ramsey is a sex educator at a suburban New England high school. A divorced mother of two tween girls, Ruth has taught her classes for years with no objection from the community. After misspeaking during one of her classes, a complaint is filed against Ruth and she becomes the subject of intense public scrutiny. In order to appease those who are...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Flight Attendant'

"The Flight Attendant" by Chris Bohjalian

★★★ Cassie Bowden is a seasoned flight attendant who has worked for the same airline since her early twenties. Now in her late thirties, Cassie can barely keep her life in order, having fallen into a pattern of binge drinking and hooking up with random men in the various cities she flies to. While in Dubai, Cassie’s risky lifestyle catches up with her when...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows'

"Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows" by Balli Kaur Jaswal

★★★★ Nikki is a modern twentysomething living and working in central London. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Nikki has spent much of her adult life embracing a life of independence and feminism while distancing herself from the traditional Sikh lifestyle that the rest of her family prefers. While still figuring out a career path for herself, Nikki finds a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Good As Gone'

"Good As Gone" by Amy Gentry

★★★ When she was just 13 years old, Julie Whitaker was abducted from her bedroom at knifepoint. The kidnapping was witnessed by Julie’s younger sister, Jane, who watched in horror from the interior of her closet. The abduction, which was never solved, left the Whitaker family in shambles, forever changing the dynamic between Jane; her father, Tom; and mother,...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction, fiction, mystery, suspense

Cover: 'Little Fires Everywhere'

"Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng

★★★★ Almost every member of the Richardson family has something going for them. The family, headed up by matriarch Elena, lives in the wealthy and picture-perfect Cleveland suburb of Shaker, where people’s lives are practically planned out for them before they’re born. One day, the family wakes to find their home on fire. A fire that is, without a doubt,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Final Girls'

"Final Girls" by Riley Sager

★★★★ Quincy Carpenter lives in New York City and is the curator of her own popular baking blog. But 10 years ago, she was the lone survivor of a brutal serial slaying in the middle of the woods, known as the Pine Cottage Murders. Though the rest of her college friends were stabbed to death by a deranged mental patient, Quincy survived and was branded by the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery, thriller, suspense, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Mrs. Fletcher'

"Mrs. Fletcher" by Tom Perrotta

★★★★★ Eve Fletcher is a 40-something divorcee whose life is at a crossroads. Her only child, Brendan, has just left for his freshman year of college, leaving Eve to figure out what to do now that she's on her own. Late one night, she receives a sexually explicit text from an anonymous number, which initially startles Eve but later intrigues...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Young Jane Young'

"Young Jane Young" by Gabrielle Zevin

★★★★★ Aviva Grossman is a political intern in Florida. When she has an affair with her married boss, she feels the wrath from society as "the other woman." Unable to find work anywhere due to the scandal, Aviva reinvents herself as Jane Young far away in Maine. Years later, Jane decides to run for mayor of her small town. However, the past comes to light and...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine'

"Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman

★★★★★ Eleanor Oliphant is not your typical 30-year-old. She has never missed a day of work, she sticks to a strict schedule, and she has a mysterious burn on her face that she never wants to talk about. Eleanor is completely fine; neither sad, nor happy, and she is fine with that. Eleanor avoids social interactions and has no friends, until Raymond, her...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Big Little Lies'

"Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty

★★★★★ Mayhem. Madness. Murder. This is not how the annual trivia night fundraiser at Perriwee Public School was supposed to go, culminating in the death of one of the school's parents. But as the story unfolds, we find that appearances can be deceiving in this small, seemingly perfect oceanside community, and that boiling tensions will eventually erupt. ...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery, contemporary fiction