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Staff Picks

Check out these five-star reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring books and DVDs for adults, children and teens! Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates. The book reviews on this website represent the personal opinions of the individuals who created them and do not represent any official views of the Marathon County Public Library.


Cover: 'Hello, Molly!'

"Hello, Molly!" by Molly Shannon

★★★★★ Actress Molly Shannon broke onto the national scene in the mid-1990s after joining the cast of NBC’s Saturday Night Live. During her six-year stint on the show, she introduced the world to such iconic characters as the high-kicking, jumpsuit wearing Sally O’Malley; licensed “joyologist” Helen Madden; and the awkward, clumsy, armpit-smelling Mary Katherine...

Cover: 'Neurotribes'

"Neurotribes" by Steve Silberman

★★★★★ This book is an incredibly thorough and surprisingly easy-to-read medical and social history of autism spectrum disorders.  From the early years in horrifying institutions, to 20th century efforts of autistic extinction by both Nazi Germany and America, to modern day misinformation wars versus acceptance movements, this book thoroughly and fairly...

Cover: 'How To Go Vegan'

"How To Go Vegan" by veganuary

★★★★★ Whether you’re thinking of going vegan one meal a day or you're a seasoned vegan (or somewhere in between), this has everything you need to know about veganism. Included are sections on how to go vegan in all parts of life including home items, traveling, nutrition, with your kids and more. This book lays out all the reasons a person may have for going...

Cover: 'Iron Widow'

"Iron Widow" by Xiran Jay Zhao

★★★★★ Action-packed and brimming with righteous fury, the plot of this novel will take the reader through a unique blend of Chinese mythology, modern anime themes and superhero-like action sequences. The narrator Zetian is a young, spirited powerhouse bent on destroying the unfair patriarchal systems that caused the death of her sister at the start...

Cover: 'The Song of Achilles'

"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller

★★★★★ This is a beautifully-written romantic interpretation of the tragedy of Achilles and Patroclus, this time told from Patroclus' perspective. It tells of his childhood, how he met Achilles, and their time growing up together. The classic story sees new life in the form of modern prose adorned with heaps of beautiful imagery that pays homage to Homeric...

Cover: 'Firekeeper's Daughter'

"Firekeeper's Daughter" by Angeline Boulley

★★★★★ Daunis Fontaine is an 18-year-old living in her hometown of Sault St. Marie, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. While she should be headed to the University of Michigan to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, she decides to stay home to help her mother after a series of family tragedies. Daunis is also highly connected to her Firekeeper roots: she is...

Cover: 'The Proven Winners Garden Book'

"The Proven Winners Garden Book" by Thomas Christopher, Ruth Rogers Clausen

★★★★★ This nonfiction book was a perfect fit to spark ideas for the gardening season, and I loved the format as well. There are introductory sections for beginner gardeners who need help picking a spot and deciding on what plants to use, as well as sections on soil preparation, pruning, and maintenance like pest and weed control. My favorite sections were the...

Cover: 'The Year We Learned to Fly'

"The Year We Learned to Fly" by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López

★★★★★ This is a beautiful picture book with gorgeous pictures and a wonderful and impactful message.  A young brother and sister are stuck inside their apartment when their grandmother shares with them words of wisdom to help them spark their imagination and help them deal with their emotions. When they get frustrated at being stuck inside, their...

Cover: 'Stacey's Extraordinary Words'

"Stacey's Extraordinary Words" by Stacey Abrams, Kitt Thomas

★★★★★ This is a heartwarming story for all lovers of reading, about a little girl who loves to discover new words and loves how words help her express herself. When Stacey's teacher signs her and a fellow student up for a spelling bee, Stacey's knowledge and courage are put to the test. I absolutely adored this picture book and the lessons it'll teach the...

Cover: 'New from Here'

"New from Here" by Kelly Yang

★★★★★ When COVID-19 hits Hong Kong, one family is forced to separate and span two countries in an effort to protect each other.  Based on the author’s own experience during the start of our current COVID-19 pandemic, the author tells the story of Knox and his siblings when they’re forced to travel from Hong Kong to California in a matter of days. Thinking...

Cover: 'Lost and Found Cat'

"Lost and Found Cat" by Doug Kuntz, Amy Shrodes, Sue Cornelison

★★★★★ This heartwarming and true story about the beloved cat of a refugee family is sure to tug on the heart strings of any reader.  Readers meet an Iraqi family who is forced to leave their home to the safety of another country. After a perilous journey through mountains, forests, and the Aegean Sea, the fluffy white cat called Kunkush is terrified at...

Cover: 'Love in the Library'

"Love in the Library" by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Yas Imamura

★★★★★ This picture book has readers meet Tama and George, two Japanese Americans being held in a prison camp called Minidoka. Based on the true story of the author's family being held in a similar camp after the attack on Pearl Harbor, readers follow Tama as she struggles with the unjust and cruel conditions of the camp. Working in the camp's library, she meets...

Cover: 'Friends Are Friends, Forever'

"Friends Are Friends, Forever" by Dane Liu, Lynn Scurfield

★★★★★ The beautiful cover of this new picture book instantly grabbed my attention, and I'm so glad, because this was a wonderful story about the power of friendship, the beauty of tradition, and a great celebration of the Lunar New Year. In this story we meet Dandan, who is moving away from her best friend Yueyue the next day. On their last night together, they...

Cover: 'Bathe the Cat'

"Bathe the Cat" by Alice B. McGinty, David Roberts

★★★★★ This new picture book captured my attention by the bright cover and title that made clear it'd be an entertaining read (because every cat owner knows most of them definitely do not want to be bathed!) Inside, we meet a family who's just realized Grandma is on her way, and the house is a mess. Chaos ensues as chores are dished out, and when the cat sees a...

Cover: 'Southern Vegan'

"Southern Vegan" by Lauren Hartmann

★★★★★ Just looking at the cover of this plant-based cookbook is enough to get your taste buds excited, and I wasn't disappointed once I opened it! Between tantalizing brunch items like the giant toffee cinnamon roll and the super fluffy buttermilk sheet pan pancakes to main meals like cheesy biscuit vegetable pot pies, one-pot vidalia onion pasta, and smothered...

Cover: 'Dear Little One'

"Dear Little One" by Nina Laden, Melissa Castrillon

★★★★★ This beautifully-illustrated picture book celebrates nature through the eyes of a little girl and her dog. Written as a letter from Mother Nature, this book encourages children to observe the world around them and appreciate everything the earth provides, from tiny insects to tall mountaintops. The lilting rhymes and dreamy illustrations present an...

Cover: 'Giannis'

"Giannis" by Mirin Fader

★★★★★ If you are a basketball, Milwaukee Bucks, or Giannis Antetokounmpo fan, this book is a must read.  An incredible story of hard work, sacrifice, family, and humbleness, this biography showcases Giannis's rise to the top from starting at an incredible low. You read about how Giannis and his brother shared shoes while growing up (even...

Cover: 'Crashing Through'

"Crashing Through" by Robert Kurson

★★★★★ “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”---Soren Kierkegaard. This quote embodies this suspenseful and highly insightful look in to the inspiring life of Mike May. At three years of age, May’s sight is instantly taken from him in an explosive accident. From the beginning, he doesn’t let that stop him from...

Cover: 'Vegan At Times'

"Vegan At Times" by Jessica Seinfeld

★★★★★ Looking for healthy recipes for you and the planet? Classics like flaky biscuits for breakfast, sloppy joes for lunch, bolognese for dinner, and chocolate pudding for dessert? This new cookbook is packed with all your favorite classics, along with recipes I already know will be new favorites for me, like the potato and caramelized onion tart and the peanut...

Cover: 'Little Kid, Big City!'

"Little Kid, Big City!" by Beth Beckman

★★★★★ If you could travel through London for a day, where would you go? Would you visit the London Zoo? Or peruse the toys at Hamleys? Don't forget to grab a bite to eat at Borough Market! In this fun and interactive new children's book, kids get to learn all about one of my favorite cities in a unique way. Kids can decide where they want to visit next...

Cover: 'The Killing Kind'

"The Killing Kind" by Jane Casey

★★★★★ Ingrid Lewis is no stranger to dangerous people. A barrister in London, she's defended all sorts of clients. One she will never forget? John Webster. Acquitted of a stalking charge after Ingrid defended him in court, he rapidly grew obsessed with her and destroyed everything in her life. Webster suddenly shows up just as Ingrid finally felt like she was...

Cover: 'The Dead and the Dark'

"The Dead and the Dark" by Courtney Gould

★★★★★ One chapter in and I was immediately hooked on this story about a family who move to a small town called Snakebite for their latest ghost hunting investigation. But when Logan and her dads show up, it immediately becomes clear that not everything is as it seems. Something is wrong with this town, and it's not just their extreme distrust and disrespect of...

Cover: 'Provecho'

"Provecho" by Edgar Castrejon

★★★★★ The cover filled with beautiful pictures of delicious food first pulled me to check out this new cookbook, and when I realized it was a vegan cookbook as well, it was even better!  Packed with recipes that I can't wait to try, this is not only a celebration of vegan food but also of the Mexican culture and community. Every single recipe had a...

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