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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: 'The Great Successor'

"The Great Successor" by Anna Fifield

★★★★★ Kim Jong Un is known the world around as the leader of North Korea. Some view him as a ruthless dictator who keeps the people of his country under harsh, suffocating control while others see him as a power-hungry – though mostly harmless – ruler who strives for more respect and standing on the international stage. In The Great Successor, journalist Anna...

Cover: 'Alice'

"Alice" by Christina Henry

★★★★★ My favorite fairy tale retellings are those that you can’t immediately identify as a retelling, and this is one of the best. Meet Alice. Alice lives in a mental institution, she has no memory of how she got there, or why. She does have memories, just bits and pieces here and there; a tea party, long ears, the large slash down the side of her face, and *...

Cover: 'Fraidyzoo'

"Fraidyzoo" by Thyra Heder

★★★★★ Be prepared to giggle and laugh your way through Fraidyzoo by Thrya Heder. The lessons throughout the book are twofold, but the creative and playful illustrations are worth the read alone! Do you look forward to visiting the zoo and seeing all of the unique animals there? Some zoos have so many animals to see, it’s hard to take them all in. From...

Cover: 'The Forever Garden'

"The Forever Garden" by Laurel Snyder

★★★★★ Have you ever kneeled down in the soil and planted a seed in a garden? When you stood up, were your knees covered in dirt? If so, you’ll fit right in reading about the friendship between a young curious girl named Laurel and her delightful neighbor Honey, who owns the house next door. In some ways Honey is continuously planting seeds throughout her garden,...

Cover: 'Death in Mud Lick'

"Death in Mud Lick" by Eric Eyre

★★★★★ This fascinating book details not only the flood of opioids into West Virginia and its impact on the state's citizens, but also shows the power of investigative journalism to bring that information to light and affect change. Journalist Eric Eyre spent years writing hundreds of stories on the opioid crisis for the Charleston Gazette-Mail newspaper...

Cover: 'The Painted Girls'

"The Painted Girls" by Cathy Marie Buchanan

★★★★★ The Painted Girls takes place in Paris in 1878 and tells the story of the Van Goethem sisters, who love to dance. The family is surviving until the father dies and the sisters are raised by their mother, a laundress with a drinking problem.  The oldest girl is Antoinette, who must take over the role of the mother. She is an extra...

Cover: 'The Book of Longings'

"The Book of Longings" by Sue Monk Kidd

★★★★★ Through an abundance of research and her own imaginings, Sue Monk Kidd weaves together a fantastic piece of historical fiction that tells the story of a young woman named Ana, who becomes the wife of Jesus. While one would think this novel would be religious in nature, it focuses more on the historical context of life in 1st century Israel and Jesus'...

Cover: 'The Vegan Travel Handbook'

"The Vegan Travel Handbook" by Lonely Planet Food

★★★★★ This was an informative travel guide full of beautiful photos and tempting vegan restaurants from around the world. I was so glad to stumble upon it! Each chapter includes a summary of the area, practicalities like when it is best to travel to that area, and useful phrases used when ordering food. It also has a synopsis on local cuisine, top restaurants in...

Cover: 'The Authenticity Project'

"The Authenticity Project" by Clare Pooley

★★★★★ Julian, a 75 year old London artist, starts a little green journal where he writes about his loneliness and his regrets. Julian leaves this journal in a neighborhood cafe and Monica happens upon it. Monica reads Julian's entry and is inclined to share her biggest fears and regrets. She then leaves it for a stranger to find. Soon enough, the little...

Cover: 'The Girl and the Dinosaur'

"The Girl and the Dinosaur" by Hollie Hughes, Sarah Massini

★★★★★ Marianne is a focused little girl who follows her own interests and dreams, even though others can’t understand her passions. She spends her days painstakingly and patiently digging for dinosaur bones on a sandy beach. Her persistence finally pays off when she discovers a whole dinosaur skeleton! But the story does not end there. It takes a fantastic...

Cover: 'The Nest That Wren Built'

"The Nest That Wren Built" by Randi Sonenshine, Anne Hunter

★★★★★ In imitation of the classic poem “The House That Jack Built” this book’s text begins: “These are the twigs, dried in the sun,/that papa collected one by one/to cradle the nest that Wren built.” The rhythmic tone continues in the text while on each page a different natural scene unfolds. More and more elements are added to the nest—even a snakeskin and...

Cover: 'Wicked Saints'

"Wicked Saints" by Emily A. Duncan

★★★★★ When I picked up Wicked Saints I thought I knew what I was getting into, boy was I wrong. This novel follows three main characters, introduced as A Girl, A Prince, and A Monster. Full of twists and surprises, this book blew me out of the water and into someplace dark and unsettling. Set amidst a war between two neighboring countries, the...

Cover: 'Things You Save In a Fire'

"Things You Save In a Fire" by Katherine Center

★★★★★ This story is about an old-school firehouse in Boston that has a few issues with the new female firefighter on staff. Not only is there a new female on the C shift, but a new rookie. With budget cuts for the fire station, only one of the newbies can stay.  Who will get to keep their job - the rookie (whose dad was a fire chief, and quite...

Cover: 'Acid for the Children'

"Acid for the Children" by Flea

★★★★★ Flea, a musician and actor best known as the bassist for the rock/funk band Red Hot Chili Peppers, has written a memoir covering his early years growing up in Australia, New York City and eventually Los Angeles. His love of literature had a positive impact on Flea's own writing abilities, and his memoir is well-written, funny, sad, moving, poetic and...

Cover: 'The Music of the Deep'

"The Music of the Deep" by Elizabeth Hall

★★★★★ Alex Turner escapes from an abusive relationship by fleeing to a small town and taking on a job with a local marine biologist, who researches the orcas that pass through the area. While the locals are attached to the local group of orcas that swim through, the town is also known for being one of the most haunted towns in Washington. The more Alex stays, the...

Cover: 'The Plant Based Diet for Beginners: 75 Delicious, Healthy Whole Food Recipes'

"The Plant Based Diet for Beginners: 75 Delicious, Healthy Whole Food Recipes" by Gabriel Miller

★★★★★ Looking for healthy and plant-based options for your next meal? Or are you interested in the reasons why many are choosing to eat more plant-based meals? This cookbook is packed with delicious recipes along with information on the the health, environmental, and ethical reasons to eat more plant-based meals.  It has all your favorites in it,...

Cover: 'BISH BASH BOSH!'

"BISH BASH BOSH!" by Henry Firth, Ian Theasby

★★★★★ Are you looking for plant-based recipes that are guaranteed to be absolutely delicious? Looking to impress others or provide for those in your life that eat plant-based, or have food allergies? This is a must read!  Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, the two behind the popular video channel and previous Bosh cookbook, bring yet another cookbook packed...

Cover: 'Long Bright River'

"Long Bright River" by Liz Moore

★★★★★ Born to drug-addicted parents, sisters Kacey and Mickey find themselves on very different paths in their adult lives. Mickey is a cop trying to help addicted women living on the streets, while Kacey is one of these women, willing to do anything for her next fix. This family drama traverses Kacey and Mickey's childhood, the bond they form being raised by...

Cover: 'Saturday'

"Saturday" by Oge Mora

★★★★★ Today will be special. Today will be splendid. Today is Saturday! Ava's mother works Sunday through Friday, so their Saturdays together are precious. Saturdays are filled with fun activities the mother-daughter duo partake in together: story time at the library, visits to the salon, and picnics in the park. When Ava and her mother have a not-so-great...

Cover: 'Our House is on Fire'

"Our House is on Fire" by Jeanette Winter

★★★★★ After learning about climate change in school, Greta couldn't eat, sleep, or think about anything else. Like any good student, Greta decided to do some research. She saw polar ice caps melting, animals' habitats changing, and wildfires running rampant in documentaries and in scientific books. Greta realized the planet - our house - is on fire and that...

Cover: 'Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao'

"Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao" by Kat Zhang

★★★★★ Amy Wu is good at a lot of things, but one thing she is not good at is creating the perfect bao, a Chinese steamed bun her family loves to make and eat. Amy, along with her little white cat, are determined to master this difficult recipe. Amy helps her dad mix and knead the dough while her mom cooks the meat filling. Then, it is time to get to assemble...

Cover: 'The Lions at Night'

"The Lions at Night" by Jessica M. Boehman

★★★★★ Take an adventure through New York City in this wordless picture book!  The famous sculpted lions outside of the New York Public Library, Patience and Fortitude, take an adventure one summer evening as they leave their usual post outside the NYPL. The lions ride the subway, visit Coney Island, and more. The black and white illustrations with pops of...

Cover: 'Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties'

"Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties" by Tom O'Neill

★★★★★ Most true crime fans like a new Charles Manson book. Often, they tell the same story. Creepy-crawly. Sharon Tate. The Family. Drugs and Helter Skelter. But so often, those books have a timeless, placeless kind of quality; the crimes shrouded in a haze of smoke and lies. Meet Tom O’Neill. As a freelance journalist, he was approached in 1989 to write an...

Cover: 'The Library of the Unwritten'

"The Library of the Unwritten" by A. J. Hackwith

★★★★★ All unfinished, unwritten books are held in Hell's library in the "Unwritten" wing (a neutral place within Hell). The books are sentient and want terribly to escape to their author, to beg to be finished. It's the job of the Head Librarian to keep them contained.  This novel is refreshing, wonderfully written, and is a great read for bibliophiles...

Cover: 'Christmas Wombat'

"Christmas Wombat" by Jackie, French

★★★★★ This book is a wonderful holiday read about a wombat who loves carrots, naps, and scratching. This love of carrots takes him on an adventure (a holiday adventure), though wombats don't celebrate holidays and have no concept of what Christmas or Santa is. The wombat finds himself face-to-face with reindeer (he names them strange creatures), who he battles...

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