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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: 'Crazy Rich Asians'

"Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan

★★★★★ Rachel Chu is invited by her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, to spend the summer in Asia. They will travel the continent and attend the wedding of Colin Khoo, Nick's best friend, in Singapore. Rachel accepts Nick's invitation and is thrown into the crazy, rich world of Nick's family and friends in Singapore. Money, status, and familial reputation are everything...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost'

"Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

★★★★ Nine-year–old Roxie loves her quirky, Uncle Dangerfoot,  so when he arrives from London and she discovers that she is going to go on vacation with him,  and her BFF Norman can come along, she is ecstatic. However, when they arrive at their destination, Windswept House near the ocean, they discover that the Hooligans—Helvetica, Simon, Freddy and...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Immortalists'

"The Immortalists" by Chloe Benjamin

★★★★ In the summer of 1969, siblings Varya, Daniel, Klara and Simon visit a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell people the day that they will die. The siblings, just children at the time, each receive their prediction separately. Some share their supposed death date with each other while some choose to keep the information to themselves. The book...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Just Under the Clouds'

"Just Under the Clouds" by Melissa Sarno

★★★★★ Cora lives in Brooklyn and loves to climb trees. She was taught by the best, her father. Now with her father gone, her family is struggling and basically homeless, shuttling from one unsafe shelter to another. A middle schooler, Cora is responsible for looking after her younger sister, Adare, while her mother works. Adare is “special:" she was deprived of...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: 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: '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  Truth As Told by Mason Buttle'

"The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle" by Leslie Connor

★★★★★ Mason Buttle appears to have almost all the cards stacked against him. He’s taller and bigger than all the other kids in his seventh grade class. He sweats profusely, so much so that he brings another shirt to school with him every day to change into later in the day.  He has trouble with words, writing them and reading them. He lives in a ramshackle...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: 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: 'Prim Improper'

"Prim Improper" by Deirdre Sullivan

★★★★★ Meet Primrose “Prim” Leary, the quirky and charming 13-year-old star of Deirdre Sullivan’s Prim Improper.  Prim is coping with the sudden loss of her mother, and you might expect a story like this to be dark and brooding, but Prim tells her tale (in diary form) with a precocious and wittily observant voice that delves into sensitive – and even...

Audience: children, teens, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Wild Robot Escapes'

"The Wild Robot Escapes" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Author Peter Brown left us with hints of impending doom for our robot friend, Roz and her family, near the end of the previous book, The Wild Robot. At the very least we were fairly certain that changes were ahead for the characters we, (okay I), had grown to love, and of course these play out in this sequel. Roz has been brought to the mainland and is...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Bob'

"Bob" by Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead

★★★★★ Bob’s been waiting for Livy for five, very long boring years at her grandmother’s house, exactly as she told him to do. When Livy finally returns to her grandmother’s house in Australia to stay for a while, she strangely remembers nothing about ever being at her grandmother’s house before, yet it feels like she has forgotten something very important. Then...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Hope in the Holler'

"Hope in the Holler" by Lisa Lewis Tyre

★★★★★ Wavie’s mom had a plan for her after her impending death from cancer, but ending up in in Conly Hollow, her family’s Appalachian home, was never intended to be a part of it. But when her alleged aunt shows up after her mom’s death and takes her there to live, she has no choice. What Waivie gets is a filthy home with garbage strewn everywhere, in a dirt-poor...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Handmaid's Tale'

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

★★★ In the not-too-distant future, a restrictive, invasive patriarchy has taken over and dismantled the American government. In this new society, known as Gilead, women have few roles they can play: as cooks and housekeepers, as the wives of the society’s leaders (known as Commanders), and as handmaids. Acting as surrogates for the Commanders’ wives,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, dystopian

Cover: 'Hello Lighthouse'

"Hello Lighthouse" by Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This beautifully illustrated children's picture book traces the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his wife in a lighthouse on a very tiny island in the middle of the sea. We see the keeper doing his daily chores such as polishing the lamp’s lens, filling the oil and trimming the wick to keep the lighthouse lamp lit. We experience the birth of their...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Leah on the Offbeat'

"Leah on the Offbeat" by Becky Albertalli

★★★ In this direct sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the focus shifts from Simon to one of his best friends, Leah Burke. It’s about a year after the conclusion of Simon, and Leah and her friends are in the home stretch of their senior year. The gang experiences visiting colleges, getting ready for prom and figuring out how they’ll stay in each other’...

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

Cover: 'Behold the Dreamers'

"Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo Mbue

★★★★ For years, Jende Jonga dreamed of making a life for himself and his family in the United States. A native of Cameroon, Jende has been living and working in New York City on a temporary visa for three years when his wife, Neni, and six year-old son, Liomi, immigrate to Harlem to join him. It’s 2007, and a world of opportunity opens up for the Jongas while...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction, diverse

Cover: 'The Witch Boy'

"The Witch Boy" by Molly Knox Ostertag

★★★★★ Aster wants to learn how to be a witch, but the men in his family are supposed to be shapeshifters and warriors. Aster doesn't care about those things; he just wants to learn witchcraft with the girls. He spies on them, jotting down notes and teaching himself spells. His mother warns him that what happened to his great uncle could happen to him, that his...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, graphic novel, identity

Cover: 'And She Was'

"And She Was" by Jessica Verdi

★★★ 18 year-old Dara Baker is a recent high school graduate with big dreams. Living in a small town in New York with her mother, Mellie, Dara has aspired to be a pro tennis star as long as she can remember. She’s on the verge of entering her first major tournament when she finds out a shocking secret: Mellie is transgender and is actually her biological father...

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

Cover: 'Dear Girl'

"Dear Girl" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal

★★★★★ Written like a letter from a mother to a daughter, this children's book is one of my new favorites. I would recommend anyone to read this to the young girls in their lives; daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends. This is the perfect story to give girls permission to be themselves, love themselves, and express themselves. The story is fun and...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

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: 'Shadow Weaver'

"Shadow Weaver" by Mercy Kate Connolly

★★★★ Emmeline has never been alone. Ever since her best friend Dar, her shadow, spoke to her when she was a baby, she has always had her trusted best friend with her. With her unique gift, Emmeline is able to conjure up and weave shadows together whenever she desires. Her magical talent is threatened when it is discovered by Lady Aisling who threatens to take...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Emma in the Night'

"Emma in the Night" by Wendy Walker

★★★★★ Eighteen-year-old Cass stands on her mother’s doorstep, steeling herself. Her mother and the police must believe her—Emma’s life depends on it. It’s been three years since she and her older sister Emma, then age 17, disappeared. Her story—that she and Emma, who gave birth a few months after they disappeared, were held captive by a reclusive couple who had...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Granted'

"Granted" by John David Anderson

★★★★ Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets lives an idyllic sort of life in the Haven where all the fairies have a special job to do. She is a Granter. This means that it is her job to grant the wish of one human person from one of the twelve fallen leaves (wishes) of the over five million on the large Great Tree. Unfortunately, with less world magic available less wishes...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Mrs.'

"Mrs." by Caitlin Macy

★★★★ At an Upper East Side preschool in New York City, groups of gossiping mothers and nannies gather to pick up their children day after day. Among them, is the fabulous Phillipa Lye and her childhood acquaintance, Gwen Hogan. Phillipa's life seems perfect: she is married to a wealthy banker and has three beautiful children. But, Phillipa's scandalous past...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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