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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: '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

Cover: 'Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein'

"Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein" by Lita Judge

★★★★★ Dark and beautiful watercolor illustrations bring Mary Shelley's biography to life in this captivating graphic novel. Told in verse, this was a quick read and peek into Mary Shelley's odd, dark, and intense life. Mary was barely sixteen when she left home to follow the man she loved, the married Percy Shelley. It was a daring move for a 19th century British...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, biography, horror

Cover: 'I Am a Cat'

"I Am a Cat" by Galia Bernstein

★★★★★ What happens when Simon, a normal house cat, tells a group of big cats from around the world that he is just like them? They are stunned, and then laugh hysterically! Lion, Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, and Tiger each go on to tell Simon how they differ and how Simon is not "cat" enough. The lion has a mane and roars, Simon doesn't have a mane, nor can he...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book, fiction

Cover: 'The Sky at Our Feet'

"The Sky at Our Feet" by Nadia Hashimi

★★★★ When two men, who do not look like customers, start talking to his mother at work in New Jersey, Jason is terrified that his mother will be sent back to Afghanistan since she is not a U.S citizen. Remaining hidden he watches the frightening scene unfold, and when he finally sees his mother riding away with these men, he knows he has to flee and try to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Sunburn'

"Sunburn" by Laura Lippman

★★★★★ Polly Costello is a striking, self-possessed woman with a complicated past who left her husband and young daughter behind at the beach, claiming to need a break from the sun, but she’s really looking for a fresh start. She stops in a bar in a small Delaware town for a drink and meets Adam, an intelligent, handsome man also just passing through, and sparks...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Glass Town Game'

"The Glass Town Game" by Catherynne M. Valente

★★★★★ What happens when four children follow a man made entirely out of book and magazine pages onto a train headed for Glass Town? An adventure, of course! Only these aren’t just any children, they are the Brontës—Branwell, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—and the world they find themselves in is all their own creation. Glass Town and Gondal are at war, just like...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Upside of Unrequited'

"The Upside of Unrequited" by Becky Albertalli

★★★ Molly and Cassie are 17 year-old fraternal twins who have always been extremely close. But ever since Cassie started dating her girlfriend, Mina, the two sisters have started drifting apart. Molly feels like she’s being left behind and longs for a boyfriend to share her life with and spend time with. The thing is, Molly has had 25 crushes so far in her...

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

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: '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

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