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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: 'Big Little Lies'

"Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty

★★★★★ Mayhem. Madness. Murder. This is not how the annual trivia night fundraiser at Perriwee Public School was supposed to go, culminating in the death of one of the school's parents. But as the story unfolds, we find that appearances can be deceiving in this small, seemingly perfect oceanside community, and that boiling tensions will eventually erupt. ...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'With Love from the Inside'

"With Love from the Inside" by Angela Pisel

★★★★ Grace Bradshaw is on death row for the murder of her infant son, William. When William was months old, he was always ill until he finally had a seizure and died. The investigation into William's death found traces of windshield wiper fluid in his bottle. Grace was diagnosed with Munchausen by Proxy and was found guilty for her son's death. Sophie,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery, thriller

Cover: 'Her Every Fear'

"Her Every Fear" by Peter Swanson

★★★★★ Kate Priddy is no stranger to anxiety and fear. After suffering a traumatic kidnapping in her past, the world around her becomes even more terrifying. When a chance arises to leave her cramped London apartment for a spacious, fancy apartment in Boston, Kate reluctantly makes the journey to a temporary change in surroundings. The day after she arrives,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery, thriller

Cover: 'The Twilight Wife'

"The Twilight Wife" by A.J. Banner

★★★★ What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and suddenly didn't remember anything from the past few years? What if you didn't know your husband, your friends, yourself? Kyra suffers memory loss from a diving accident, and depends deeply on her husband, even though she suddenly barely knows who he is. When Kyra starts seeing visions, she doesn't know whether...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery, thriller

Cover: 'I See You'

"I See You" by Claire Macintosh

★★★★★ In another fantastic novel by an author who quickly became one of my favorites, readers meet Zoe Walker, who is quickly pulled into a living nightmare after seeing her picture in a classified ad on her morning commute. Each day brings a new advertisement, and soon it's clear Zoe's every movement may be watched and other women are in danger along with her....

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery, thriller

Cover: 'The Round House'

"The Round House" by Louise Erdrich

★★★★★ In the summer of 1988, life on a small North Dakota reservation changes dramatically for 13-year-old Joe Coutts and his father, Bazil, after they discover Joe’s mother, Geraldine, injured and incommunicative behind the wheel of her car.  Geraldine has been brutally raped, and in the aftermath Joe is forced to grow up quickly as he tries to manage his...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dark Matter'

"Dark Matter" by Blake Crouch

★★★★★ It was family dinner night when Jason left to put in an appearance at a party at the neighborhood bar for his former college roommate Ryan, who had been granted a prestigious academic award for his research in neuroscience. Had Jason decided to forego fatherhood after the surprise pregnancy of his then girlfriend (now wife) Daniela, he may have been the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Beautiful Blue World'

"Beautiful Blue World" by Suzanne LaFleur

★★★★ Even though Sofarende, where twelve-year-old Mathilde lives, is at war, and there are bombings and sirens and constant food shortages, she is content. After all, she has her family and her best friend Megs by her side.  But when the army offers money and safety to families whose children help in the war effort under very strict rules and secrecy, Megs...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Regulars'

"The Regulars" by Georgia Clark

★★★★ Evie, Willow, and Krista are three twenty-somethings living in New York City. All three can be described as "regular" physically: average height and not strikingly beautiful. Krista runs into Penny, a girl from an improv class, who is totally transformed. Penny is taller, skinnier, and more beautiful than Krista remembers. Penny shares her secret with...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Hike'

"The Hike" by Drew Magary

★★★★ Ben is an average thirtysomething family man who embarks on what he believes will be a short hike in rural Pennsylvania. Ben quickly becomes lost when he is pursued by knife-wielding, Rottweiler-faced maniacs and falls deeper into the woods. With no choice but to move forward on the path he's found himself on, Ben soon finds himself farther away...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Small Great Things'

"Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult

★★★★★ Ruth Jefferson has spent twenty years of her life working as a nurse in the labor and delivery ward of a hospital. With years of experience and little to no complaints about her care as a nurse, Ruth is puzzled as to why Davis Bauer's parents don't want her to touch their newborn. Ruth finds a pink Post-It on Davis Bauer's file that states no African...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Heartless'

"Heartless" by Marissa Meyer

★★★★★ Do you like Alice in Wonderland? Want to know how the Queen of Hearts got to be the way she is? Then this is the story for you! The author of the Lunar Chronicles does it again by bringing a different view of a fairytale to life. This story follows the life of a young woman named Catherine, who lives in the land of Hearts and is the daughter of...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Secret Horses of Briar Hill'

"The Secret Horses of Briar Hill" by Megan Shepherd

★★★★★ Emmaline May lives at Briar Hill, a makeshift hospital in a home that a princess used to live in. She was sent there instead of to a family living in the country during the war because she has the “stillwaters” (tuberculosis). She has a secret that she keeps from almost everyone; only she can see winged horses living in the hospital's mirrors. Entering the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Wolf Hollow'

"Wolf Hollow" by Lauren Wolk

★★★★★ Turning twelve years old is not always the milestone that separates a person’s life between childhood and adulthood, but in the aftermath of the wars, it’s what happened to Annabelle. Her quiet, comfortable small town life is quickly changed by a nasty girl, Betty Glengary, the new girl in school who chooses to bully Annabelle. A reclusive World War I...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Before Morning'

"Before Morning" by Joyce Sidman, Beth Krommes

★★★★★ In this beautiful picture book it really is all about the stunning muted scratch-board art by Caldecott award-winning artist Beth Krommes. Spare lyrical text by Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman almost sings to us as we get lost in intricate pictures displaying a beautiful overnight snowfall which slowly transforms the morning into a beautiful world of...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Nine Open Arms'

"Nine Open Arms" by Benny Lindelauf

★★★★★ “Is it true that some stories only just manage to be born? Or do these stories always seek their own path into the world, and do they always, eventually, find a way of being told?” What first attracted me to this book was the cover art—a brick house on a deserted road with no front door, combined inside the jacket with a mysterious bed in a field and a...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lucy Rescued'

"Lucy Rescued" by Harriet Ziefert

Lucy, a small white dog, is adopted from an animal shelter just in time. But adjusting to her new home and family is tough on her and her new family.  Lucy can’t seem to stop howling; she howls all day and night. In this sweet, simply but beautifully illustrated story, we follow Lucy and her family on their journey to love, understanding and acceptance...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, pets

Cover: 'No Such Thing As Dragons'

"No Such Thing As Dragons" by Philip Reeve

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Ansel, a mute boy, is sold by his father to Brock, a self-proclaimed dragon slayer who needs someone who will keep his secrets safe. They travel town to town on horseback searching for food and shelter in exchange for protecting villagers from dragons. In Drachenberg, his master accepts a quest to climb the steep mountain and rid the village...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Breaking Stalin's Nose'

"Breaking Stalin's Nose" by Eugene Yelchin

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Sasha Zaichik has prepared to become a member of the Soviet Young Pioneers since he was 6 years old.  Just as he is almost ready to realize his dream, his world and his family seemingly collapse, as he discovers that everything that he believed growing up in the Communist Soviet Union was a lie. This simply-told but powerful historical...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, newbery award winner, award-winning

Cover: 'Someone Like You'

"Someone Like You" by Barbara Bretton

Two sisters struggle to come together when their formerly famous mom suffers a stroke and burns down her house, but their own issues with intimacy get in everyone’s way. Bretton’s book shows promise, but the story ends almost before it begins with a too convenient and hurried ending.  

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Brahms Deception'

"The Brahms Deception" by Louise Marley

“The Brahms Deception” is a music history meets sci-fi thriller novel. When a musicologist travels back in time to unravel a mystery that has haunted musicians for centuries, her rival must find a way to undo the damage she creates. The book has an unexpected and interesting premise and well-developed -- if slightly stereotypical -- characters. The average...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, science fiction, music

Cover: 'Furthermore'

"Furthermore" by Tahereh Mafi

★★★★★ Ferenwood is a community of sharp, bright colors, predictable, common magic, and adventure. Unfortunately Alice Alexis Queensmeadow doesn’t quite fit in. She’s stark white except for her ginger colored eyes, she doesn’t appear to be very good at magic, and her hopes for an adventurous life have been smashed by the disastrous results from her Surrender...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Foxheart'

"Foxheart" by Claire Legrand

★★★★★ Quicksilver is not your ordinary heroine. Left on the steps of Saint Martta’s convent when she was three-years-old, presumably nameless, with an unusual mane of gray hair, she is continuously taunted with names like pig and witch. Saved by a kind yellow dog she names Fox, who becomes her partner, she steals in order to survive in the dangerous Star Lands...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Most Magical Girl'

"A Most Magical Girl" by Karen Foxlee

★★★★★ Suddenly thrust by her mother into the care of two unknown aunts who have an old, dusty magic shop full of broomsticks, wands, and magic potions, Annabel Grey is more than a little confused. Raised in Victorian England as a prim and proper young lady with a beautiful wardrobe and set of manners, this is nothing like the life she has known. While she is...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

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