Marathon County Public Library

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Staff Reviews

Check out these book reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring reviews of fiction and nonfiction for adults, children and teens! These book reviews also are published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


'Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis ' by Robert D. Putnam

"Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis " by Robert D. Putnam

★★★★★ Americans like to believe that anyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity for a fair start in life through education and hard work. This book explores the “opportunity gap” that exists between children of “working- class” parents (defined as those with whose education did not go beyond high school) and children of “upper-middle-class” parents (...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Hike' by Drew Magary

"The Hike" by Drew Magary

★★★★ Ben is an average thirtysomething family man who embarks on what he believes will be a short hike in rural Pennsylvania. Ben quickly becomes lost when he is pursued by knife-wielding, Rottweiler-faced maniacs and falls deeper into the woods. With no choice but to move forward on the path he's found himself on, Ben soon finds himself farther away...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

'Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America' by Jill Leovy

"Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America" by Jill Leovy

★★★★★ This work of narrative journalism explores the complex issues contributing to the homicide rate in Los Angeles, focusing on the black-on-black homicide rate in South Central LA. The book is informed and inspired by Leovy’s experiences reporting on homicide for The Los Angeles Times, during which time she was an embedded reporter in the Seventy-seventh...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Princess Diarist' by Carrie Fisher

"The Princess Diarist" by Carrie Fisher

★★★ Nearly everyone knows Carrie Fisher for her portrayal of Princess Leia Organa in the "Star Wars" film series. Being so strongly associated with this iconic character is something Fisher has struggled with virtually from the beginning of her career until she learned to embrace her alter ego later in life. The double-edged sword of a dilemma is the basis...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Celebrities

'Small Great Things' by Jodi Picoult

"Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult

★★★★★ Ruth Jefferson has spent twenty years of her life working as a nurse in the labor and delivery ward of a hospital. With years of experience and little to no complaints about her care as a nurse, Ruth is puzzled as to why Davis Bauer's parents don't want her to touch their newborn. Ruth finds a pink Post-It on Davis Bauer's file that states no African...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Secret Horses of Briar Hill' by Megan Shepherd

"The Secret Horses of Briar Hill" by Megan Shepherd

★★★★★ Emmaline May lives at Briar Hill, a makeshift hospital in a home that a princess used to live in. She was sent there instead of to a family living in the country during the war because she has the “stillwaters” (tuberculosis). She has a secret that she keeps from almost everyone; only she can see winged horses living in the hospital's mirrors. Entering the...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Why Not Me?' by Mindy Kaling

"Why Not Me?" by Mindy Kaling

★★★ As someone who was thoroughly entertained by actress Mindy Kaling's first memoir "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" I really looked forward to what she had to say in this follow-up. While this book didn’t quite match the humor and substance of its predecessor, it was still enjoyable to read. Known as the star of TV's "The Mindy Project" and for...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Humor, Celebrities

'Wolf Hollow' by Lauren Wolk

"Wolf Hollow" by Lauren Wolk

★★★★★ Turning twelve years old is not always the milestone that separates a person’s life between childhood and adulthood, but in the aftermath of the wars, it’s what happened to Annabelle. Her quiet, comfortable small town life is quickly changed by a nasty girl, Betty Glengary, the new girl in school who chooses to bully Annabelle. A reclusive World War I...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo' by Amy Schumer

"The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo" by Amy Schumer

★★★★ Celebrity memoirs almost always seem to promise to "bare it all" and give the reader an uncensored look at the star's life, but most only half-heartedly keep that promise. Amy Schumer, however, is not one of those stars. In her debut book, Schumer (perhaps best known for her Comedy Central sketch series or her semi-autobiographical comedy film "...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Celebrities, Humor

'Before Morning' by Joyce Sidman, Beth Krommes

"Before Morning" by Joyce Sidman, Beth Krommes

★★★★★ In this beautiful picture book it really is all about the stunning muted scratch-board art by Caldecott award-winning artist Beth Krommes. Spare lyrical text by Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman almost sings to us as we get lost in intricate pictures displaying a beautiful overnight snowfall which slowly transforms the morning into a beautiful world of...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Nine Open Arms' by Benny Lindelauf

"Nine Open Arms" by Benny Lindelauf

★★★★★ “Is it true that some stories only just manage to be born? Or do these stories always seek their own path into the world, and do they always, eventually, find a way of being told?” What first attracted me to this book was the cover art—a brick house on a deserted road with no front door, combined inside the jacket with a mysterious bed in a field and a...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Girl Waits With Gun' by Amy Stewart

"Girl Waits With Gun" by Amy Stewart

★★★★★ Constance Kopp and her two sisters (Norma and Fluerette) live quiet, isolated lives on their small farm in New Jersey. Their peaceful life comes to an abrupt halt when their buggy is struck and overturned by an automobile while on a routine trip into Paterson. Constance, a tall and formidable woman, politely demands the contact information for the driver (...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Historical Fiction

'Heartless' by Marissa Meyer

"Heartless" by Marissa Meyer

★★★★ Everyone knows the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland to be a mad tyrant. But, how did Catherine, the future Queen of Hearts, become so heartless? Cath has no desire to marry the awkward and timid King of Hearts. Instead, she wants to open a bakeshop and spend her days baking macaroons and cakes for the Kingdom of Hearts. Her parents,...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction With Adult Appeal

'Lucy Rescued' by Harriet Ziefert

"Lucy Rescued" by Harriet Ziefert

Lucy , a small white dog, is adopted from an animal shelter just in time.   But adjusting to her new home and family is tough on her and her new family.  Lucy can’t seem to stop howling; she howls all day and night.  In this sweet, simply but beautifully illustrated story, we follow Lucy and her family on their journey to love, understanding...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Pets

'Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films' by Andrew Antoniades, Mike Siegel

"Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films" by Andrew Antoniades, Mike Siegel

A complex and enigmatic individual, Steve McQueen became a screen legend playing anti-authoritarian loners.  Authors Antoniades and Siegel combine talents to produce this weighty and wonderful account of the life and film career of McQueen. The book is an entertaining tribute to the King of Cool, featuring over 1,000 color and black and white...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Celebrities

'Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill' by Barry Singer

"Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill" by Barry Singer

Of all the major political figures of the 20th Century, Winston Churchill certainly lived life to the fullest. A master of the English language, prolific author and lover of cigars and fine brandy, Churchill relished the political and intellectual world as few others did. Barry Singer’s book offers an insightful and altogether charming portrait of the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Cary Grant: A Life in Pictures' by Yann-Brice Dherbier

"Cary Grant: A Life in Pictures" by Yann-Brice Dherbier

Few actors ever equaled Cary Grant’s elegance, sex appeal and versatility on screen. Yann-Brice Dherbier’s book offers up 170 pages of black and white photographs of Grant at work, at home and at play. It’s an entertaining photographic tribute that reminds us that Grant truly was one-of-a-kind.  

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Celebrities, Photography

'Porch Lights' by Dorothea Benton Frank

"Porch Lights" by Dorothea Benton Frank

★★★★ This is a great read for hurricane season.  Even devastating things in life can be worked out when family comes together.  Jackie and her son Charlie build a new life with help from Sullivan's Island.  

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'No Such Thing As Dragons' by Philip Reeve

"No Such Thing As Dragons" by Philip Reeve

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Ansel, a mute boy, is sold by his father to Brock, a self-proclaimed dragon slayer who needs someone who will keep his secrets safe.   They travel town to town on horseback searching for food and shelter in exchange for protecting villagers from dragons.  In Drachenberg, his master accepts a quest to climb the steep mountain and rid...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

'Breaking Stalin's Nose' by Eugene Yelchin

"Breaking Stalin's Nose" by Eugene Yelchin

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Sasha Zaichik has prepared to become a member of the Soviet Young Pioneers since he was 6 years old.  Just as he is almost ready to realize his dream, his world and his family seemingly collapse, as he discovers that everything that he believed growing up in the Communist Soviet Union was a lie.   This simply-told but powerful...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Newbery Award Winner, Award-Winning

'Someone Like You' by Barbara Bretton

"Someone Like You" by Barbara Bretton

Two sisters struggle to come together when their formerly famous mom suffers a stroke and burns down her house, but their own issues with intimacy get in everyone’s way. Bretton’s book shows promise, but the story ends almost before it begins with a too convenient and hurried ending.  

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Brahms Deception' by Louise Marley

"The Brahms Deception" by Louise Marley

“The Brahms Deception” is a music history meets sci-fi thriller novel. When a musicologist travels back in time to unravel a mystery that has haunted musicians for centuries, her rival must find a way to undo the damage she creates. The book has an unexpected and interesting premise and well-developed -- if slightly stereotypical -- characters. The average...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Music

'Furthermore' by Tahereh Mafi

"Furthermore" by Tahereh Mafi

★★★★★ Ferenwood is a community of sharp, bright colors, predictable, common magic, and adventure. Unfortunately Alice Alexis Queensmeadow doesn’t quite fit in. She’s stark white except for her ginger colored eyes, she doesn’t appear to be very good at magic, and her hopes for an adventurous life have been smashed by the disastrous results from her Surrender...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Foxheart' by Claire Legrand

"Foxheart" by Claire Legrand

★★★★★ Quicksilver is not your ordinary heroine. Left on the steps of Saint Martta’s convent when she was three-years-old, presumably nameless, with an unusual mane of gray hair, she is continuously taunted with names like pig and witch. Saved by a kind yellow dog she names Fox, who becomes her partner, she steals in order to survive in the dangerous Star Lands...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'A Most Magical Girl' by Karen Foxlee

"A Most Magical Girl" by Karen Foxlee

★★★★★ Suddenly thrust by her mother into the care of two unknown aunts who have an old, dusty magic shop full of broomsticks, wands, and magic potions, Annabel Grey is more than a little confused. Raised in Victorian England as a prim and proper young lady with a beautiful wardrobe and set of manners, this is nothing like the life she has known. While she is...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Littlest Bigfoot' by Jennifer Weiner

"The Littlest Bigfoot" by Jennifer Weiner

★★★★★ Off to her eighth boarding school, this one an Experimental Center in the woods proclaiming to respect everyone’s uniqueness, twelve-year-old Alice Mayfair knows instinctively that this new school will still be like all the others. Teased and bullied at her previous seven schools about “the Mane,” her big, wild, uncontrollable hair, her large body, her...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

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