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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: 'Catch Me'

"Catch Me" by Lisa Gardner

★★★★★ The sixth Detective D.D. Warren novel by Lisa Gardner, CATCH ME, opens to find a woman named Charlene Rosalind Carter Grant who believes, after the murder of her two best friends, that she will be next to die in exactly four days. Counting down the hours until her death, Charlene finds Detective Warren at the crime scene of a murdered pedophile and pleads...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Kind of Cruel'

"Kind of Cruel" by Sophie Hannah

★★★★ In Hannah's latest book featuring detectives Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse, frazled mom Amber Hewerdine visits a hypnotherapist to cure her chronic insomnia, but doubts anything will really happen. Under hypnosis, Amber hears herself say the phrase, "Kind, Cruel, Kind of Cruel," but she has no idea what it means. Little does she know, a chain of...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Superworm'

"Superworm" by Julia Donaldson

★★★★★ “Hip, hip hooray for SUPERWORM”, repeatedly chant the animals and insects in the forest as their hero Superworm saves them from many disasters.   But in the midst of their happiness the evil wizard lizard captures Superworm with his servant crow and puts an evil spell on him, forcing him to find treasure in the soil.  Will his friends rescue him,...

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

Cover: 'Sharp Objects'

"Sharp Objects" by Gillian Flynn

★★★★★ When Camille's boss assigns her to cover the story of an unsettling murder in her hometown, she is hesitant about her homecoming. Camille will have to face her overbearing, hypochondriac mother and her half-sister, Amma, who Camille knows little about. Even more unsettling, when Camille arrives to her Missouri hometown, another murder occurs under the same...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The 5th Wave'

"The 5th Wave" by Rick Yancey

★★★★★ In this fast paced teen dystopian novel, aliens have invaded and Cassie, one of earth's last surviving humans, must fight the odds to rescue her little brother, Sam. Cassie has remained on the run, trusting only herself, since her parents were killed, until she meets Evan Walker. The mysterious Evan may be Cassie's only hope for survival, but is he really...

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

Cover: 'A Tale of Two Castles'

"A Tale of Two Castles" by Gail Carson Levine

★★★★★ Twelve year old Elodie is forced to leave her family and her island home of Lahnt, to sail to the town of Two Castles and begin a new life.  Stuck in Two Castles without any money to immediately follow her dream of being an actor, she is transported into the lair of a brilliant dragon, Meenore, who offers to employ her as his paid assistant, even...

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

Cover: 'Fangirl'

"Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell

★★★★★ Cath and Wren are identical twins entering their freshman year of college. Wren jumps into the party scene while Cath dives into her favorite hobby: writing fanfiction about the literary phenomenon Simon Snow. Wren and Cath used to write it together, but Wren is slowly drifting apart from her twin, wanting to make her own identity apart from Cath. Feeling...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, realistic

Cover: 'Sisterland'

"Sisterland" by Curtis Sittenfeld

★★★★★ Whatever direction life carries us, we cannot escape our family of origin no matter how hard we might try.  Kate and Violet are identical twin sisters with psychic abilities, living very different lives. Kate, married with two children, tries to ignore her “senses” and live a somewhat normal life, while her single sister, Vi flaunts hers, even...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws!'

"If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws!" by Kim Norman

★★★★ Go on an adventure and find out all the fun things you can do in the snow! The book follows the rhythm of the children's song "If You're Happy and You Know It," so the book can be sung to the classic tune. Go skiing, sledding, and drink cocoa with a walrus, caribou, polar bear and other arctic creatures. Recommended for preschool children and families....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'The False Prince'

"The False Prince" by Jennifer A. Nielsen

★★★★ Sage, an orphan boy in the land of Carthya, is mysteriously bought by nobleman Conner, along with three other boys. As they start on their journey to Conner's estate, Conner reveals a plot to prevent civil war in Carthya. He wants to make one of the chosen boys into a false prince to replace the missing Prince Jaron to keep the other regents and noblemen...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Looking for Alaska'

"Looking for Alaska" by John Green

★★★★ This story follows the main character, Miles, a.k.a.  “Pudge “ as he leaves his public school in Florida and travels to Culver Creek, a boarding school in Alabama.  He is on a quest to seek his “Great Perhaps,” or his greatest journey that could be if only he just tries.  He is paired with the roommate, who goes by  “The Colonel,” and...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, romance, tragedy, award-winning, printz award winner

Cover: 'Out of the Easy'

"Out of the Easy" by Ruta Sepetys

★★★★★ We can’t choose the families that we are born into but we can choose our destiny. Born to a prostitute mother and an unknown father, and living in a brothel with her mother in the French Quarter, Josie Moraine appears to have the cards stacked against her. While cleaning rooms at a brothel, working at a bookstore, and being tangled up in a murder...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'What Does the Fox Say?'

"What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis

★★★★★ Dog goes woof and cat goes meow, but what does the fox say? If you loved the YouTube sensation "What Does the Fox Say?" you will love the children's picture book version! The book is filled with the zany lyrics to the popular song and kooky illustrations of the animals mentioned. Recommended for children and adults who are fans of the song, or anyone...

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

Cover: 'Starry Night'

"Starry Night" by Debbie Macomber

★★ When I first read the back of this book it sounded great. Karrie is a reporter for a news paper. Finn is an author he lives in Alaska, know one really knows anything about him and he likes it that way. Karrie is unhappy with her job and makes a deal with her boss to be the only reporter to get an interview with Finn Dalton. If she can land the interview,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, romance, chick lit, holiday

Cover: 'Rescue'

"Rescue" by Anita Shreve

★★★★★ Anita Shreve, a well known author who wrote "A Pilots Wife," has done it again with her book "Rescue." Did you ever dream your life out completely, right down to land you where going to buy in your own town? Did your dreams ever spiral out of control and you had to be the strong one? Webster, a young paramedic, had his life all figured out and was saving...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Santa Claus and The Three Bears'

"Santa Claus and The Three Bears" by Maria Modugno

★★★★★ The three bears weren't expecting company when they went for a walk on Christmas Eve. But who should appear but the merry old gentleman himself - Santa Claus! Santa tries out the Christmas pudding, the chairs and then the beds. Find out what happens when the three bears come home from their walk. Wonderful pictures and whimsical prose make for a lovely...

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

Cover: 'Just what kind of mother are you?'

"Just what kind of mother are you?" by

★★★★ In Paula Daly's debut novel, we are introduced to Kate, an overwhelmed and overworked mother of three, who in the chaos of daily life not only forgets that her daughter's best friend was supposed to sleepover, but wakes up the next day to find that she is missing. After a young girl had recently been kidnapped and seen walking back into town with telltale...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Fangirl'

"Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell

★★★★★ Cath and Wren are identical twins entering their freshman year of college. Wren jumps into the party scene while Cath dives into her favorite hobby: writing fanfiction about the literary phenomenon Simon Snow. Wren and Cath used to write it together, but Wren is slowly drifting apart from her twin, wanting to make her own identity apart from Cath. Feeling...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, realistic

Cover: 'Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy'

"Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy" by Elizabeth Kiem

★★★★ Marina's mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union's star ballerina in 1986. When Sveta has visions of a horrific USSR secret, she mysteriously goes missing. Marina and her father flee to Brooklyn to escape the KGB, the Soviet Union's secret police. Marina and her father must adapt to life in Brooklyn without Sveta, but Marina's father can't let her disappearance...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Handbook for Dragon Slayers'

"Handbook for Dragon Slayers" by Merrie Haskell

★★★★ 13-year-old Tilda is not your average fairytale princess. Born with a twisted foot, she knows that people in her kingdom don't respect her and she's bored with being a princess. Her boredom, however, comes to an abrupt halt when her evil cousin steals the throne. She is suddenly thrust into a once-in-a-lifetime adventure -- complete with magical horses --...

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

Cover: 'The Illusion of Separateness'

"The Illusion of Separateness" by Simon Van Booy

★★★★ "The Illusion of Separateness" by Simon Van Booy is a novel that weaves together six characters from all over the world, spans from the years 1930-2010, and shows that no matter how separate these characters appear to be from one another they have more in common than it seems. The novel tells the stories of Martin -- a retirement home employee who never...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Curiosity Thrilled the Cat'

"Curiosity Thrilled the Cat" by Sofie Kelly

★★★★ Being a library assistant, I initially picked up "Curiosity Thrilled the Cat" because the main character, Kathleen, is a librarian that moves to a small Minnesotan town after her life in Boston throws her a curveball. Add in two adorable cats that remind me of my own, and I was hooked. This cozy mystery is packed with characters you instantly love,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

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