Marathon County Public Library

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Holiday hours: All MCPL locations will be closed by 5pm on Wed., 11/21, and closed all day Thu., 11/22.

Staff Picks

Check out these 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.


'Something in the Water'  by  Catherine Steadman

"Something in the Water" by Catherine Steadman

★★★★★ Erin, a filmmaker, and Mark, an investment banker, seem like the perfect couple with the perfect life. Newly married, they embark on a lavish honeymoon in Bora Bora. It's a perfect honeymoon until they find something ominous in the water while scuba diving. They have to decide whether to tell the truth about their discovery or keep it hidden. Their final...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Open Your Eyes'  by  Paula Daly

"Open Your Eyes" by Paula Daly

★★★★★ Jane leads a relatively normal life, taking care of two children and teaching a creative writing class (while she not-so-patiently waits for the day she is an officially published author). Her husband, Leon, is already an accomplished novelist and the main breadwinner of the family. When he's brutally attacked in their own driveway while Jane is only steps...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Saving Winslow'  by  Sharon Creech

"Saving Winslow" by Sharon Creech

★★★★★ When his father brings home a sickly, half-dead baby donkey in the middle of winter, Louie, who has not had luck keeping things alive like goldfish, worms and bugs, is determined to do whatever it takes to save it.  Suffering the loss of his brother, Gus, who recently joined the army, having a baby donkey to love helps soothe Louie's lonely heart and...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Overstory'  by  Richard Powers

"The Overstory" by Richard Powers

★★★★★ "First there was nothing. Then there was everything." So begins National Book Award-winner Richard Powers' new novel about nine interlocking characters who, in their own ways - and in ways that overlap - find themselves face to face with the natural world. Or, face to leaf, face to crown, face to root... Each character is introduced in the first...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Are You Scared, Darth Vader?'  by  Adam Rex

"Are You Scared, Darth Vader?" by Adam Rex

★★★★★ Is Darth Vader scared of anything?  This fun children's book asks just this question!  Darth Vader is asked about many Halloween-related characters, such as; vampires, ghosts, witches, wolfmen, and children.  Kids will love this Halloween-themed Darth Vader story as he interacts with all of these creatures for the first time. The...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Fitness Junkie'  by  Lucy Sykes, Jo Piazza

"Fitness Junkie" by Lucy Sykes, Jo Piazza

★★★★★ Fitness Junkie is the story of Janey Sweet and her search for a leaner body after a lifelong friend and boss told her that she could lose her job if she didn't shed 30 pounds. Janey throws herself into the ultimatum with gusto by trying all of the fad diets, strange cult-like workouts, and self-searching.  Ever hear of eating clay as a...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Contemporary Fiction

'Lethal White'  by  Robert Galbraith

"Lethal White" by Robert Galbraith

★★★★★ Robert Galbraith’s fourth Strike novel finds private detective Cormoran Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacott, hired by a high-ranking British official who is being blackmailed. The minister asks Strike to gather dirt that he could use against his blackmailers, which prompts Robin to go undercover in the House of Commons to do recon. When he dies of an...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Mystery

'I Am Still Alive'  by  Kate Alice Marshall

"I Am Still Alive" by Kate Alice Marshall

★★★★★ Jess Cooper is still alive, for now. Suffering from injuries from an accident that claimed the life of her mother, Jess is shuffled off to her only surviving relative, her father, who she hardly remembers, and who, she discovers, is living much further off-the-grid than she ever could have imagined. She hates it in the middle of nowhere and desperately...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'The Other Mother'  by  Carol Goodman

"The Other Mother" by Carol Goodman

★★★★★ In this new novel by Carol Goodman, the reader is immediately gripped by new mother Daphne’s doubt after the birth of her daughter Chloe. When she meets and strikes up a friendship with Laurel, one of the mothers in her new support group, Daphne finally feels hope and reassurance. Unfortunately, events that Daphne never could of predicted lead her to run....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Soup & Bread Cookbook'  by  Beatrice Ojakangas

"The Soup & Bread Cookbook" by Beatrice Ojakangas

★★★★★ 'Whether you love hearty stews and warm bread in the winter or cold soups in the summer, this is the book for you. This cookbook is subdivided into chapters for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter based on what fresh produce is available. The soups are impressive and sophisticated (like my favorite the apple-brie soup) but may not appeal to everyone; children...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'Jack The Ripper: The Terrible Legacy'  by  The Whitechapel Society

"Jack The Ripper: The Terrible Legacy" by The Whitechapel Society

★★★★★ Many know of the five women brutally killed by Jack the Ripper in London in 1888. However, the failure to bring the killer to justice left many unintentional victims in its wake. Conspiracies abounded about who was responsible for the crime. Numerous men were falsely accused of being Jack the Ripper. Many more were tainted by connections, however tenuous,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History, True Crime

'The Far Away Brothers'  by  Lauren Markham

"The Far Away Brothers" by Lauren Markham

★★★★★ Author Lauren Markham's deeply reported book tells the story of identical twins, the Flores brothers, who migrate from their home in El Salvador to California, not only to escape the violence of their native land but also in an effort to help their parents and siblings who stay behind in El Salvador. A mix of Markham's own firsthand accounts and...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

'She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)'  by  Ann Hood

"She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)" by Ann Hood

★★★★★ Trudy Mixer feels like she has lost control of her young life. She has been ostracized by her classmates ever since the new substitute teacher called her by her real name—Gertrude—and her best friend has left her for the future cheerleaders group. Practically the most important job of her life is running The Robert E. Quinn Junior High Beatles Fan Club (the...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering'  by  Joanna Gaines

"Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering" by Joanna Gaines

★★★★★ This is a cookbook straight out of the very real kitchen of Joanna Gaines with recipes you know that she has made many times!  I am, in general, a fan of the Gaines Family and have watched several installments of their TV show Fixer Upper.  I picked up this cookbook more out of curiosity than anything else.  These days I have found that many...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction; Cookbook

'Playing with Matches'  by  Hannah Orenstein

"Playing with Matches" by Hannah Orenstein

★★★★★ With a recent degree in journalism, 22-year-old Sasha has no job prospects in New York City. After she sees the matchmaking company Bliss is hiring, she knows the unique backstory of how her parents met will make her a standout against the competition. After landing the job, Sasha delves into the world of Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and Bliss' large database of...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Chick Lit

'The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker'  by  Matilda Woods

"The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker" by Matilda Woods

★★★★★ Alberto never really thought much about his life, but he certainly never would have imagined that his wife and children would all die of a sickness plaguing their beautiful town that left a purple mark on their necks. A master carpenter, he could not bear having them thrown into the sea as other deceased victims were, so he made wooden coffins and buried...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Last Time I Lied'  by  Riley Sager

"The Last Time I Lied" by Riley Sager

★★★★★ Emma Davis is an aspiring painter on the verge of making it big in New York City’s art scene. But what inspires her work is something that’s haunted her since she was 13 years old, during her first (and only) summer at sleepaway camp: the mysterious disappearance of her three bunkmates. Camp Nightingale, an all-girls summer camp in upstate New York, has...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Suspense, Mystery

'Caged'  by  Ellison Cooper

"Caged" by Ellison Cooper

★★★★★ In this thrilling and atmospheric new novel by Ellison Cooper, readers meet Sayer Altair, a neuroscientist who ends up being called in as a lead investigator for a brutal murder in Washington D.C. The crime committed? A young woman was left to starve in a cage. When the victim is identified as the daughter of a prominent senator, the case goes public...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Crazy Rich Asians'  by  Kevin Kwan

"Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan

★★★★★ Rachel Chu is invited by her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, to spend the summer in Asia. They will travel the continent and attend the wedding of Colin Khoo, Nick's best friend, in Singapore. Rachel accepts Nick's invitation and is thrown into the crazy, rich world of Nick's family and friends in Singapore. Money, status, and familial reputation are everything...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Just Under the Clouds'  by  Melissa Sarno

"Just Under the Clouds" by Melissa Sarno

★★★★★ Cora lives in Brooklyn and loves to climb trees. She was taught by the best, her father. Now with her father gone, her family is struggling and basically homeless, shuttling from one unsafe shelter to another. A middle schooler, Cora is responsible for looking after her younger sister, Adare, while her mother works. Adare is “special:" she was deprived of...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan BBQ Cookbook'  by  Nadine Horn

"VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan BBQ Cookbook" by Nadine Horn

★★★★★ Are you looking for healthy and delicious recipes to grill this summer? This new cookbook is a must for you! All recipes are vegan, so this cookbook is perfect for vegans, vegetarians, food allergy sufferers, or anyone who just wants some healthy alternatives this summer. Literally every recipe is fully photographed in all its delicious glory, and I just...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Cookbook

'How To Walk Away'  by  Katherine Center

"How To Walk Away" by Katherine Center

★★★★★ Margaret Jacobsen is a normal young woman with a master's degree, a serious boyfriend, and all of a great life to look forward to. That is, until one day she and her new fiance are in a horrible accident that leaves Margaret paralyzed. In an instant her life takes a dramatic turn as her career hopes and life expectations fizzle, and all that remains is...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Contemporary Fiction

'BOSH!: The Cookbook: Simple Recipes. Amazing Food. All Plants.'  by  Ian Theasby, Henry Firth

"BOSH!: The Cookbook: Simple Recipes. Amazing Food. All Plants." by Ian Theasby, Henry Firth

★★★★★ This brand new cookbook is filled with recipes from the chefs behind the online video channel Bosh, popular in the U.K. This cookbook is packed with enticing recipes, including quick recipes, big meals, bowls, sides, desserts, breakfasts, cocktails, and meals meant to impress. I couldn't stop finding recipes I'm really excited to try, and because they're...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Cookbook

'The  Truth As Told by Mason Buttle'  by  Leslie Connor

"The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle" by Leslie Connor

★★★★★ Mason Buttle appears to have almost all the cards stacked against him. He’s taller and bigger than all the other kids in his seventh grade class. He sweats profusely, so much so that he brings another shirt to school with him every day to change into later in the day.  He has trouble with words, writing them and reading them. He lives in a ramshackle...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter'  by  Suzy Hopkins,  Hallie Bateman

"What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter" by Suzy Hopkins, Hallie Bateman

★★★★★ No one is ever really ready to lose a loved one, and this book tries to help with that in it's own unique way.  As the title states, the author's mother provides preemptive advice on how to function in the event of her death. The advice walks her daughter through day-by-day instructions on what to do, days, even years, after her passing.  As...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

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