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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: 'Sundial'

"Sundial" by Catriona Ward

★★★★★ This book was intense. A gripping psychological horror centered on Rob, her tense marriage and her relationship with her daughter, Callie. Callie is unsettling; she collects bones, whispers to an imaginary friend, and Rob can't help but suspect she was involved when her youngest daughter falls ill. Maybe a girls trip to Sundial the family compound deep in...

Cover: 'The Dead Romantics'

"The Dead Romantics" by Ashley Poston

★★★★★ Florence Day is a writer with a problem - she ghostwrites romance novels for a well-known author but has stopped believing in love. Oh, and she also sees ghosts. After the passing of her father, Florence returns home after 10 years. The family business is a funeral home, so Florence is no stranger to death, though it's a little tougher when it's her father...

Cover: 'Africa, Amazing Africa'

"Africa, Amazing Africa" by Atinuke, Mouni Feddag

★★★★★ The colorful Africa, Amazing Africa by Atinuke is a fun way to get familiar with African geography. Atinuke and Mouni Feddag present each African country with a short description and illustrations. Southern, eastern, western, central, and northern countries are grouped regionally with a hand-drawn map for reference. The wording is concise and...

Cover: 'BOSH! on a Budget'

"BOSH! on a Budget" by Ian Theasby, Henry Firth

★★★★★ This new vegan cookbook is all about delicious food that won't break your budget. It is packed full of tantalizing recipes for breakfast meals, soups, salads, light meals, food to share with others, comfort food and, of course, dessert items. There's a hash brown breakfast pizza and blueberry pancakes that are calling my name, along with mushroom stroganoff...

Cover: 'The House Across the Lake'

"The House Across the Lake" by Riley Sager

★★★★★ Casey Fletcher is barely keeping it together. She’s a famous actress whose career and life have been in a downward spiral since her husband tragically drowned the previous summer. In the time since her husband passed away, Casey has turned to drinking heavily and having meaningless hookups, which culminated in a public meltdown that was covered thoroughly...

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: 'Yours Cruelly, Elvira'

"Yours Cruelly, Elvira" by Cassandra Peterson

★★★★★ You probably don’t know the name “Cassandra Peterson” yet she’s likely someone you’ve seen numerous times over the last several decades on TV, in movies or in advertisements, especially around Halloween. Peterson is better known as her alter ego Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She first rose to fame in the early 1980s after adopting her stage personae and...

Cover: 'I Like This, You Like That'

"I Like This, You Like That" by Linda Ashman, Eve Coy

★★★★★ This sweet picture book teaches children that they can still be friends with someone even if they don’t agree on everything. Throughout the story, two young friends find they don’t seem to like any of the same things. One likes cold days and one likes hot days; one likes being messy and one likes being neat. Instead of being sad about it, though, they...

Cover: 'California Girls'

"California Girls" by Susan Mallery

★★★★★ This book is a total "chick flick" in book form!   This is the story of three sisters, who happen to have life-changing moments around the same time.  And let's not forget their mom, who really wants to become a Grandma in the worse possible way. After all, with three daughters, how could I not have a grandchild already?, she...

Cover: 'From Below'

"From Below" by Darcy Coates

★★★★★ What happened to the famous Arcadia, its passengers and its crew? How could such a grand ship vanish completely without a single trace?  60 years later, Cove and her diving crew are about to find out. When the wreck is finally discovered, Cove and her crew are excited to hopefully find out the cause of the mysterious shipwreck and its disappearance...

Cover: 'Marshmallow Clouds'

"Marshmallow Clouds" by Ted Kooser, Connie Wanek, Richard Jones

★★★★★ A collaboration between distinguished poets Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek is definitely a book to be read and reread! These are gentle poems that have a calming effect. While these poems are short and use simple words, they also contain numerous similes and metaphors for readers to consider and enjoy. A harp is “a great golden moth.” A book’s a sandwich, a...

Cover: 'The Nesting'

"The Nesting" by C.J. Cooke

★★★★★ What would you do if you had no where to go, and the opportunity of a lifetime landed in the seat next to you? Lexi finds herself in just such a position, riding around the train after devastating life events leave her homeless and jobless. When the opportunity to nanny for two young girls in Norway lands in her lap, she knows she has to take it. What...

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...

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