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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: 'Love,Ish'

"Love,Ish" by Karen Rivers

★★★★★ Twelve-year-old Miscah “Ish” Love is a smart, self-aware, young girl with big dreams. She wants to be one of the first people to live on Mars. Together with Tig, her BFF (Best Friend Forever), they researched and planned everything together, even applied online, but now Tig is DTM, Dead To Me (her), because he moved away and she hasn't heard from him....

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Study in Charlotte'

"A Study in Charlotte" by Brittany Cavallaro

★★★★★ Jamie, a descendant of John Watson, is still adjusting to life at his new boarding school and recovering from a recent and disastrous encounter with Charlotte Holmes (descendent of Sherlock Holmes) when the pair become prime suspects in the death of a fellow student. It seems someone is intent on framing the duo, but who could it possibly be? They weren’t...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Cat's Cradle'

"Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut

★★★★ A young impressionable writer two sets out to interview the children of Felix Hoennikker, a brilliant scientist credited with inventing the atomic bomb. A believer in the Caribbean religion of Bokonon, the writer believes that God, fate and the universe will guide his life, introducing him to the people he is supposed to meet, sending him to the places he...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, science fiction, satire, dystopian

Cover: 'The Widow's House'

"The Widow's House" by Carol Goodman

★★★★★ Jess and Claire Martin move away from their bustling Brooklyn life in hopes that their marriage and Jess's writing career are rekindled. Due to their dwindling budget they end up in their old college town, taking on a caretaker's job in a large house owned by one of their old writing professors. Soon, it's not Jess's writing career that's rekindled. Between...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Goldfish Boy'

"The Goldfish Boy" by Lisa Thompson

★★★★★ Matthew Corbin is the “Goldfish Boy;" at least that’s what his cul-de-sac neighbors call him. In the safety of the upstairs window in his room, he watches and records his neighbors' comings and goings. Between that and all the compulsive hand and body washing, obsessing about germs and his supply of plastic gloves, and feeling responsible for his baby...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Scar Island'

"Scar Island" by Dan Gemeinhart

★★★★★ No one wants to end up on Scar Island, no one. Believing his crime to be so terrible, Jonathan Grimsby feels he deserves whatever punishment or bad treatment he is given at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys on this tiny, stony, awful spot in the black sea. Finding a crew of would-be gnarly pirates as the adults in charge, life is constant...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'My Happy Life'

"My Happy Life" by Rose Lagercrantz, Eva Eriksson, Julia Marshall

★★★★★ This book opens as Dani tries to fall asleep by counting all the times in her life she has been happy. Along with those happy times, she remembers some not so happy. Her mother died when she was very young and she lives with her father. Then, in her first year of school, her best friend moves away! But Dani stays positive. Lagercrantz excellently captures...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Race the Night'

"Race the Night" by Kirsten Hubbard

★★★★★ Has the world really ended? Is there really only pollution, drought and this desert ranch and a few chosen special kids and teachers left? Twelve-year-old Eider has nagging doubts and is plagued by memories of another world with her sister in it. At night she takes forbidden exploratory trips beyond the closely monitored fence and collects prohibitive...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Train I Ride'

"Train I Ride" by Paul Mosier

★★★★ Twelve-year-old Ryder is a wounded, but resourceful girl without a home, who is worried about her dwindling pool of relatives and looming foster care. This time she’s being sent from California by train to a relative in Chicago she doesn’t know. She was living with an uncaring grandmother after her drug-addicted mother could no longer care for her. On her...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

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

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