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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: 'Spirit Hunters'

"Spirit Hunters" by Ellen Oh

★★★★★ Harper Raine is sure that there is something really wrong with the old Gothic house that her family is moving into, beyond the repairs and renovations that her parents are making. She can sense it, and a neighborhood girl who becomes her friend confirms that it is rumored to be haunted. And then there’s Billy, a boy her four-year-old brother Michael...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: 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: 'Dead Woman Walking'

"Dead Woman Walking" by Sharon Bolton

★★★★★ In this gripping new novel, readers meet the lone survivor of a hot air balloon accident. Right before the balloon was ripped out of the sky, those inside witnessed a brutal crime. Knowing she exposed her face to the killer on the ground, the lone survivor stumbles from the scene of the accident, trying to stay alive. But is she really running to a safe...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Apprentice Witch'

"The Apprentice Witch" by James Nicol

★★★★★ Sneaking out of her grandmother’s house early in the morning, young Arianwyn Gribble believes she is ready to become a full-fledged witch and take the Civil Witchcraft Authority’s evaluation and receive an assignment to serve her community. But then she loses her focus during the exam, the evaluation gauge supposedly malfunctions, and she is disappointingly...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Windfall'

"The Windfall" by Diksha Basu

★★★★★ In East Delhi, the Jha's are accustomed to their middle class life in their apartment complex. Their only son, Rupak, is in America studying for his MBA, and Mr. and Mrs. Jha are content despite their small kitchen and nosy neighbors. When Mr. Jha sells his website for an exorbitant amount of money, the Jha's find themselves moving up not...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming'

"The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming" by J. Anderson Coats

★★★★ Jane’s father was killed in the Civil War leaving her stern stepmother, brother and herself almost penniless. Like many other war widows and their families seeking new husbands and a prosperous life they board a ship to the west. Jane’s main job, since her father’s death and on the ship, is running after and caring for her little brother Jer. But she has...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'There's Someone Inside Your House'

"There's Someone Inside Your House" by Stephanie Perkins

★★★ Makani Young is still getting used to her new school and her new life in rural Nebraska when a sudden string of grotesque slayings rocks the community. Some of the most well-liked and talented students at the high school are turning up murdered in incredibly bloody and gruesome displays - including the lead in the fall musical and the star of the football...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, suspense

Cover: 'Forever, or a Long, Long Time'

"Forever, or a Long, Long Time" by Caela Carter

★★★★★ How can Flora ever believe in forever? After being shuttled from foster home to foster home longer than she or her brother Julian can even remember, how can she trust her new mother (who she calls Person because there have been way too many mothers) after they are adopted and promised a forever home. Carrying scars from their past, Flora has trouble getting...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Revival, Volume One: You're Among Friends'

"Revival, Volume One: You're Among Friends" by Tim Seeley

★★★★ The day is January 2 and it's the dead of winter. It seems to be just another ordinary day in Marathon County, Wisconsin, that is, until everyone who passed away on January 1 suddenly comes back to life. Soon, all of Marathon County finds itself under a strict quarantine imposed by the federal government and tensions begin to run high. "Revival" focuses...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, graphic novel, thriller, paranormal

Cover: 'Beyond the Bright Blue Sea'

"Beyond the Bright Blue Sea" by Lauren Wolk

★★★★★ Home for twelve-year-old Crow, as far as she has ever known, is desolate Elizabeth Island, Massachusetts, with Osh who found her as a baby adrift in a boat at sea, and Miss Maggie, the kind neighbor who lives across the sandbar.  Crow is happy with her life, but she yearns to know where she came from and who her parents are. After witnessing a fire on...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'One For Sorrow: A Ghost Story'

"One For Sorrow: A Ghost Story" by Mary Downing Hahn

★★★★★ Shy, timid, Annie Browne probably would have had a hard time making new friends anyway, but arriving as the new girl at the finest school in the city makes it even more intimidating. Unfortunately, just as she arrives, a friendless, unlikable girl at school, Elsie Schneider, grabs her for her friend. Trouble is, Elsie wants exclusive rights to Annie and she...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Salt Line'

"The Salt Line" by Holly Goddard Jones

★★★★★ In this future version of the United States, a deadly tick-borne disease has driven the population to live in regional zones. These safe areas are separated from the out-of-zone area by bands of scorched earth and large, vibrating walls—the salt lines. Life in-zone is dominated by technology and the digital world, and it’s a regimented but safe existence....

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Eliza and Her Monsters'

"Eliza and Her Monsters" by Francesca Zappia

★★★★★ In real life, Eliza strives for invisibility at school, where she’s known for being quiet, awkward, and (in the eyes of her classmates) a freak, and at home, where she’s the unathletic anomaly. In the digital world, she’s Lady Constellation, the creator of a wildly popular webcomic, Monstrous Sea, and her two best friends (Max and Emmy) are the keepers or...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore'

"Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore" by Matthew J. Sullivan

★★★★ After a haunting past, Lydia lives a quiet life as a bookstore clerk. When she finds a favorite patron dead in the stacks, holding a photo of Lydia as a child in his hand, Lydia's life spirals out control. With her past suddenly coming closer into focus, Lydia is forced to confront memories she shares with no one else. Who was the frequent bookstore patron...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Great Treehouse War'

"The Great Treehouse War" by Lisa Graff

★★★★★ If Winnie’s parents weren't acting so obsessively strange, and so hung up on spending exactly the same amount of time with her, the great treehouse war, as it was being called by the media, probably would not have happened.  When Winnie Malladi-Maradi’s  parents divorce and decide to share time with her equally,  they also decide that since...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Sputnik's Guide to Life On Earth'

"Sputnik's Guide to Life On Earth" by Frank Cottrell Boyce

★★★★★ Sent to a live with a foster family in the country the summer after his grandad could no longer care for Prez or himself, the only thing Prez Mellows can focus on is finding and being together with his grandad again. Enter Sputnik, an alien, who appears to be a dog (with leather helmet and pilot goggles) to everyone except Prez, who declares that he has...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Breakdown'

"The Breakdown" by B.A. Paris

★★★★★ Stuck driving home late during a dangerous storm, Cass makes a pivotal decision to drive through the woods in order to get home sooner. When she sees someone stopped alongside the road, but they make no effort to flag her down, Cass drives on. The next morning, she finds out the woman from the woods was brutally murdered. Racked with guilt, Cass's life...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here'

"Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here" by Anna Breslaw

★★★★ Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Epstein is crushed when her favorite television show, Lycanthrope High, is cancelled. A popular author of fanfic related to the series, she mourns the loss of a creative outlet as much as the series itself. Her online fanfic friends encourage her to get a life “IRL” (in real life) and to expand the scope of her creative writing....

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Lying Game'

"The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware

★★★★ Would you drop everything and travel hours with your baby if an old friend texted you, "I need you," after decades of silence? Four friends are reunited after just those three words, years after they were all expelled from a boarding school. Isa, Thea, and Fatima join Kate in a town where they left behind horrible rumors, hurt, and lies. It's not the safest...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Cafe by the Sea'

"The Cafe by the Sea" by Jenny Colgan

★★★★ What do you do when you're forced to return to a place you ran away from during the hardest time in your life? Years before, Flora had fled the small Scottish island where she was born, vowing never to return. Instead she's been living in London, trying to ignore that fact that she's in love with her boss. When she's sent by said boss back to her tiny...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Persons Unknown'

"Persons Unknown" by Susie Steiner

★★★★★ Motivated by a desire to protect adopted twelve-year-old son Fly from potentially bad influences (and the frequent friskings he was subject to as a hoodie-clad black youth) and to find a better work-life balance as she anticipates the birth of her child, Mannon Bradshaw has moved back to Cambridgeshire with Fly, her sister Ellie, and Ellie’s toddler son,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Moo'

"Moo" by Sharon Creech

★★★★★ Almost on a whim Reena, her little brother Luke, and her parents move to Maine. They trade the bustling, big city life for a quiet harbor town with hills and valleys where they’re free to bike, hike and pick blueberries. But when their parents suddenly ‘volunteer” them to help an eccentric elderly neighbor with her animals, they really don’t know what to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Posted'

"Posted" by John David Anderson

★★★★ Putting post-it-notes on, and in each other’s lockers seemed like a good way for Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench to communicate with each other after cell phones were banned at Branton Middle School, until suddenly it escalates into a whole school war, and some of the notes get nasty. In the middle of this mess, Rose, an odd, new girl at...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lincoln in the Bardo'

"Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders

★★★★★ Lincoln in the Bardo finds its inspiration in a brief moment in history—a February night in 1862 when President Lincoln visited the grave of his recently deceased eleven-year-old son, Willie—and transforms it into a complex reflection on grief, loss, uncertainty, and regret. Young Willie finds himself in the bardo, a state between the death of his physical...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Slade House'

"Slade House" by David Mitchell

★★★★ David Mitchell is well known for his intricate plotlines and storytelling, especially in novels like “The Bone Clocks” and “Cloud Atlas.”  In “Slade House,” Mitchell brings his brand of storytelling to the haunted house genre.  Opening in 1979, the novel tells the linked story of mysterious disappearances that happen in an alleyway.  Every...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, literary, haunted house

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