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Marathon County Public Library

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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: 'The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans'

"The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans" by JoAnna Carl

★★★★ When a house in the neighborhood goes up for sale, Lee and Joe decide to team up with Lee’s aunt and uncle to flip the Bailey’s house for profit. A local developer, “Spud” Dirk has the same idea and swoops in with a higher offer on the house. Lee, who was not excited about flipping the house anyway, is happy to concentrate on managing the family business,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Home Before Dark'

"Home Before Dark" by Riley Sager

★★★★★ 25 years ago, Maggie and her parents fled their sprawling Victorian estate, Baneberry Hall, in the middle of the night. They claimed their house was haunted and, fearing for their lives, left all of their belongings inside. Driven by their harrowing experience, Maggie's father wrote a novel chronicling everything that allegedly happened inside the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Home Before Dark'

"Home Before Dark" by Riley Sager

★★★★ Maggie Holt’s philosophy is “every house has a story to tell and a secret to share.” And the 30 year-old contractor and home designer should know, having lived in one of the most notorious houses in the world – Baneberry Hall. When Maggie was just five years old, she and her parents fled Baneberry Hall in the middle of the night after having lived in the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, suspense, horror

Cover: '500 Miles From You'

"500 Miles From You" by Jenny Colgan

★★★★ This newest installment in the Scottish Bookshop series introduces readers to Lissie, an overworked nurse in London who witnesses a truly traumatic event. Suffering from PTSD afterwards and finding no relief as time goes on, she is encouraged by her supervisor to swap places with a nurse in a quiet Scottish town, hoping it will be the rest and recovery...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dead Ringer'

"Dead Ringer" by Annelise Ryan

★★★★ Another dead body has been found in Sorenson, Wisconsin, which means that Mattie and her husband, Steve Hurley, have a new case to solve.  The body of a Jane Doe, a drug addict, was found on the side of the road. However, the drugs did not kill her. She was stabbed multiple times in a specific pattern. When the autopsy reveals flower petals in one...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Chaotic Good'

"Chaotic Good" by Whiteny Gardner

★★★★ All Cameron wants to do is design clothes. She can knit socks, deconstruct a sweater and sew a straight hem. Designing clothes and costumes for superhero movies is her dream job. But when she visits the local comic shop in her new town, she’s shocked at the way she’s treated when she enters. All she wants is some reference pictures to help her create her...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, ya fiction with adult appeal

Cover: 'Howards End'

"Howards End" by E.M. Forster

★★★★★ Howards End is set in the early Edwardian era in England. The plot centers around two middle-class families: the Wilcoxes and the Schlegels. After the death of his first wife, Henry Wilcox marries Margaret Schlegel to the amazement of both their families. The two seem unsuited in age and interests. Margaret, an independent-minded woman, wants to help Henry...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Coconut Layer Cake Murder'

"Coconut Layer Cake Murder" by Joanne Fluke

★★★★ Hannah Swensen is back in her latest adventure!  Hannah is on vacation when she is called back to Minnesota to help her sister Michelle’s boyfriend, Lonnie, who has been accused of murder. Detective Lonnie Murphy had spent a night out with his high-school friends, only for one of them to end up dead. Unfortunately, Lonnie only remembers part of...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Bones of Faerie'

"Bones of Faerie" by Janni Lee Simner

★★★ Folklore and post-apocalyptic fiction collide in "Bones of Faerie," a young adult novel by Janni Lee Simner. Liza is a teenage girl who lives in a world greatly affected by a war that took place several years before she was born. This war was between the world as we know it and Faerie, a realm where magic is commonplace and nature supersedes technology...

Audience: children, teens, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'We Ride Upon Sticks'

"We Ride Upon Sticks" by Quan Barry

★★★★★ The year is 1989. The hair is big, Janet Jackson rules the radio, and practically every teen is decked out in Jordache and Z. Cavaricci. For the young women on the Danvers High School field hockey team, their senior year is expected to bring another year of disappointment, consistent with their track record of losing big-time. But after one of the girls,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'I Don't Like Rain!'

"I Don't Like Rain!" by Sarah Dillard

★★★★★ Have you ever gotten caught outside in a rainstorm? Was it when you were walking home or when you were about to play with your friends? The Bunny in I Don’t Like the Rain! gets caught in a wet cold downpour just as he and his woodland friends were going to play with a found pine cone! At first he thinks the drip, drip, drops of water are fun; but being...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Before We Were Yours'

"Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate

★★★★★ Although the characters in this book are fictional, it is based on actual stories from survivors from the Tennessee Children's Home Society. Georgia Tann was the manager of this notorious organization who had doctors and lawyers in her back pocket. They were paid to tell new mothers that their baby had died. Mothers were told that...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Love Story of Missy Carmichael'

"The Love Story of Missy Carmichael" by Beth Morey

★★★★ Missy Carmichael is admittedly depressed. She spends nearly every day alone inside her London home, rarely venturing out and almost never engaging with strangers. She’s estranged from her daughter, and her son lives across the globe in Australia, leaving her with virtually no social connections whatsoever. While at the park one day, Missy meets Sylvie, a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Sun Down Motel'

"The Sun Down Motel" by Simone St. James

★★★★ Are you a fan of mysteries that grab hold and won’t let go? Do ghosts and the paranormal intrigue you? Carly Kirk has always been fascinated with the macabre and strange. The disappearance of her aunt before she was born has always been a sensitive subject in her family. In 1982 when her aunt Viv was 20 years old she disappeared without a trace while...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Happy Right Now'

"Happy Right Now" by Julie Berry

★★★★★ Everyone has a range of emotions that they go through on a daily basis. Sometimes, an event or an object triggers that emotion, and other times that person feels that emotion for no reason at all. Happy Right Now looks at what makes an individual happy and choosing to be happy. Chores and the "worry monkey" are things that don't typically make people...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'The Buddy Bench'

"The Buddy Bench" by Patty Brozo

★★★★★ Has there ever been a time where you have felt left out or forgotten in group activities, such as recess? This book focuses on that issue. For a variety of reasons, some of the kids at this school feel left out when it comes to recess. They watch as their classmates play with kites or throw a ball, having fun without them. The students who are watching just...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Home in the Woods'

"Home in the Woods" by Eliza Wheeler

★★★★★ Do you have a big family with lots of siblings? Growing up, Marvel did! She had seven siblings and her Mum. Who is Marvel? She’s the main character and also the grandmother of Eliza Wheeler, the author and illustrator of this book. This story was inspired by Marvel’s childhood experience of finding a new home with her family and learning together, how to...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Alice'

"Alice" by Christina Henry

★★★★★ My favorite fairy tale retellings are those that you can’t immediately identify as a retelling, and this is one of the best. Meet Alice. Alice lives in a mental institution, she has no memory of how she got there, or why. She does have memories, just bits and pieces here and there; a tea party, long ears, the large slash down the side of her face, and *...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Hey Grandude!'

"Hey Grandude!" by Paul McCartney

★★★★★ On gray rainy days, don’t you wish you were exploring warm tropical beaches under the hot sun? Out on a trail ride with a real cowboy? Or instantly surrounded by snowcapped mountains, taking in the sights and sounds from on top of a hill of lush wildflowers? Well, good news! You can! That is, if you happen to have a Grandfather named “Grandude” and he...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Fraidyzoo'

"Fraidyzoo" by Thyra Heder

★★★★★ Be prepared to giggle and laugh your way through Fraidyzoo by Thrya Heder. The lessons throughout the book are twofold, but the creative and playful illustrations are worth the read alone! Do you look forward to visiting the zoo and seeing all of the unique animals there? Some zoos have so many animals to see, it’s hard to take them all in. From...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Forever Garden'

"The Forever Garden" by Laurel Snyder

★★★★★ Have you ever kneeled down in the soil and planted a seed in a garden? When you stood up, were your knees covered in dirt? If so, you’ll fit right in reading about the friendship between a young curious girl named Laurel and her delightful neighbor Honey, who owns the house next door. In some ways Honey is continuously planting seeds throughout her garden,...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Painted Girls'

"The Painted Girls" by Cathy Marie Buchanan

★★★★★ The Painted Girls takes place in Paris in 1878 and tells the story of the Van Goethem sisters, who love to dance. The family is surviving until the father dies and the sisters are raised by their mother, a laundress with a drinking problem.  The oldest girl is Antoinette, who must take over the role of the mother. She is an extra...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lost & Found'

"Lost & Found" by Jacqueline Sheehan

★★★★ For the person who has ever had - or has - a dog that you love, this book is for you. The story starts as Rocky's husband has a major heart attack in their bathroom. She tried to save him with CPR, but fails. Now, Rocky needs to put together her life, alone. That is, until she moves to Peak Island off of Maine. The story tells of a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Greenwood'

"Greenwood" by Michael Christie

★★★★ Author Michael Christie's novel tells the story of four generations of the Greenwood family, whose lives all revolve around trees: Jake, a guide through one of the last old-growth forests to survive the Great Withering; her father Liam, a carpenter who grew up wandering the wilds of Canada with his mother Willow, a dedicated but non-violent eco-warrior...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Boxitects'

"Boxitects" by Kim Smith

★★★★ Meg loves to create and build, and boxes are her favorite medium. From tiny house to marvelous castles, she loves her self-appointed role as "Boxitect." Her mom is very proud of her skills and decides Meg should expand them by attending Maker School. There, she meets other kids who also love to create things out of various items such as blankets, tin-...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

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