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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: 'Provecho: 100 Vegan Mexican Recipes to Celebrate Culture and Community'

"Provecho: 100 Vegan Mexican Recipes to Celebrate Culture and Community" 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...

Cover: 'House of Hollow'

"House of Hollow" by Krystal Sutherland

★★★★★ How would you live your life if you and your two sisters mysteriously vanished when you were young, only to return a month later with no memory of what happened and nothing but identical scars on your throats? Soon after returning, all their eyes turn black and their hair turns stark white, but the mystery of what happened is never found. Iris chooses...

Cover: 'The Caiman'

"The Caiman" by María Eugenia Manrique, Ramón París, Amy Brill

★★★★★ People usually tell touching stories about dogs and cats or even birds—but an alligator?A caiman is a species of Central and South American reptile similar to an alligator. In Venezuela, José Faoro adopts an abandoned baby caiman, whose mother was probably taken by poachers. The little alligator grows up following Faoro around his jewelry and watch repair...

Cover: 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz'

"The Tattooist of Auschwitz" by Heather Morris

★★★★★ Do you like based on true story fiction? Do you like World War II  books? Then this is a perfect combination for you! Follow the story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, as he survives his time in Auschwitz. We learn of what he went through on his way to the concentration camp, his time there and what his life was like afterwards. Throughout...

Cover: 'The Night Walk'

"The Night Walk" by Marie Dorleans, Polly Lawson

★★★★★ A delightful picture book translated from French, The Night Walk is about a family that rises early to go on a long walk. They walk away from their town past fields, through the woods, by a lake, and up some rocky hills. Finally, we see what they walked all that way for: the sunrise.On the journey, descriptive words awaken all the senses—a shrieking train,...

Cover: 'Katie the Catsitter'

"Katie the Catsitter" by Colleen A.F. Venable

★★★★★ As a cat-loving owner of three awesome cats myself, I first picked up this graphic novel because of the cat theme that clearly shines through on the cover. Readers meet Katie, who's desperate to get out of New York City and join her best friends at summer camp. The only problem is, she has no money to pay for it, so she works hard to find as many jobs as...

Cover: 'The Sun Down Motel'

"The Sun Down Motel" by Simone St. James

★★★★★ 35 years ago, Carly's aunt disappeared in the mysterious town of Fell. Knowing nothing about her, because her mother refused to talk about her, Carly finds herself heading to Fell shortly after her mother's death to finally try and put the pieces together surrounding her aunt's disappearance. When she sees a "help wanted" sign in the window of the Sun Down...

Cover: 'Roaming America: Exploring the National Parks'

"Roaming America: Exploring the National Parks" by Renee Hahnel, Matthew Hahnel

★★★★★ The cover alone enticed me to check out this travel resource, which promises readers information on all 59 National Parks in the United States. This has some of the most beautiful travel photography I think I’ve ever seen, and just enough info on each location to spark your wanderlust! It includes suggested itineraries, recommendations and planning tips,...

Cover: 'The Nickel Boys'

"The Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead

★★★★★ “Throw us in jail, and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you … But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom.”  Determined to live out the ideals of Martin Luther King in the early 1960’s Jim Crow-era south, young...

Cover: 'Hostage'

"Hostage" by Clare Mackintosh

★★★★★ In this thrilling new release by one of my all time favorite authors, flight attendant Mina is forced to make an impossible decision during her job as a flight attendant on the highly-anticipated 20-hour flight from London to Sydney. Swarming with reporters and 300 other passengers, Mina isn't even supposed to be on the flight. Switching shifts with a...

Cover: 'Linda McCartney's Family Kitchen: Over 90 Plant-Based Recipes to Save the Planet and Nourish the Soul'

"Linda McCartney's Family Kitchen: Over 90 Plant-Based Recipes to Save the Planet and Nourish the Soul" by Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney, Stella McCartney, Mary McCartney

★★★★★ This new cookbook packs a punch with delicious recipes along with knowledge on the ethical, environmental, and health reasons behind why a plant-based diet is vitally important now more than ever. It was also a love letter and dedication from the family to the memory of Linda McCartney, which really struck me throughout the cookbook. I appreciated that this...

Cover: 'They All Saw A Cat'

"They All Saw A Cat" by Brendan Wenzel

★★★★★ With all that is going on in the world today, it is important to remember that perspectives about what is going on can be different. This book is a great example of this. They All Saw A Cat shows the different perspective or view that each animal/character within the book has when looking at the same thing. Even the cat sees itself in a different way at the...

Cover: 'Unforgettable Journeys: Slow Down and See the World'

"Unforgettable Journeys: Slow Down and See the World" by DK Eyewitness

★★★★★ In this beautifully-illustrated travel book, readers are guided through unforgettable journeys that are sure to inspire wanderlust! Trips are organized by mode of travel: on foot, by road, by bike, by water, and by rail, and then further by continent. As someone who loves (and misses travel, especially abroad), I found myself marking many trips I'd love to...

Cover: 'Just Last Night'

"Just Last Night" by Mhairi McFarlane

★★★★★ Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have that rare magic kind of friendship that started when they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, they are navigating new sets of problems, a dead end job, family you won’t speak of, being in love with one of your best friends. Eve has loved Ed since forever and no one knows. One night changes everything, Ed’s longtime...

Cover: 'Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey'

"Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey" by Erin Entrada Kelly

★★★★★ Dadhead. Buster Keaton. Betty Bigmouth. Peppina. These words will have more meaning once you have read Marisol Rainey’s story. Marisol is a girl who likes to name things like trees and refrigerators. She has a best friend named Jada and an older brother named Oz. Jada, Oz, and practically everyone else are super good at climbing trees—like the one in the...

Cover: 'Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math'

"Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math" by Jeannine Atkins

★★★★★ Jeannine Atkins has another excellent book to follow Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science. The women she focuses on this time include Katherine Johnson and Vera Rubin. Each poem is a small moment in the girls’ lives. I especially love the last lines of so many of the poems. They feel hopeful and end on an upward note. “She charts what’s known in...

Cover: 'What Happened To You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing'

"What Happened To You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing" by Bruce D. Perry, Oprah Winfrey

★★★★★ This informative resource hooked me from the very beginning, as Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Perry started to speak on their own experiences with trauma, along with the effects traumatic experiences have on the human brain. I learned just how much trauma can affect the actual biology of the brain, and how vital loving caregivers are to the actual development of...

Cover: 'Little Wise Wolf'

"Little Wise Wolf" by Gijs van der Hammen, Hanneke Siemensma, Laura Watkinson

★★★★★ This is a beautiful story with a gentle lesson about friendship and learning. One day, Little Wise Wolf, who is deeply ensconced in his books and research, receives a summons from the king. He sets off on a long journey to the other side of the mountains, perhaps not as prepared as he should be. The hard day’s journey makes him lose confidence in his...

Cover: 'Those Darn Squirrels Fly South'

"Those Darn Squirrels Fly South" by Adam Rubin

★★★★★ Those Darn Squirrels Fly South is the third book in the children’s series of Those Darn Squirrels. In this delightful children’s book we once again find Mr. Fookwire feeling grumpy and lonely as his beloved birds fly south for the winter. He would normally have the neighborhood squirrels to keep him company but they have decided to follow the...

Cover: 'Dairy Queen'

"Dairy Queen" by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

★★★★★ This book was so true to life about a teen girl growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. The author writes with detail about the daily and seasonal work that always needs to be done on the farm. Throw in some unexpected happenings like illness or surgery and the daily routine changes for everyone.  DJ finds herself in charge of many chores while her...

Cover: 'One Was Lost'

"One Was Lost" by Natalie D. Richards

★★★★★ In this intense young adult thriller, a small group of students are hiking on a senior field trip. When a flash flood cuts off three students from the other four, the students quickly realize this is no ordinary field trip. When they wake up dazed with their supplies missing and chilling words written on their wrists, they realize they're not alone in the...

Cover: 'Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man'

"Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man" by Emmanuel Acho

★★★★★ An absolute must-read for anyone committed to their anti-racist journey, Emmanuel Acho takes readers through so many important topics in this book. From whether Black or African American is the appropriate term, to white privilege, to systematic racism and reverse racism, to how to be an ally, and so many more crucial topics, I found this to be an extremely...

Cover: 'Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré'

"Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré" by Anika Aldamuy Denise, Paola Escobar

★★★★★ This was a really impactful story about the life of Pura Belpré, author, puppeteer, and librarian from Puerto Rico. Not only was this a story about the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York, this is a heartwarming story about the impact librarians have on their community. I really enjoyed learning about the life of Pura Belpré, and appreciated the...

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