Staff Reviews / Book 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.

"Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5)" by Marissa Meyer

'Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5)' by Marissa Meyer

Teen Book ★★★★ This collection of nine stories takes place in the world of the popular Lunar Chronicles. Most of the stories serve as prequels to the series and provide additional backstories for a number of characters, including Michelle Benoit, a high-school age con-artist Carswell Thorne, and a young Cress. As charming and endearing as these stories are, the biggest draw for fans of the series is likely going to be the final story, which takes place a ...

Reviewed by Rachel H. Read more reviews of "Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5)" at Goodreads.com. »

"Pax" by Sara Pennypacker

'Pax' by Sara Pennypacker

Tween Book ★★★★★ Forced by his father to return his beloved pet fox, Pax, to the wild and move three hundred miles away to live with his grandfather, twelve-year old Peter is devastated. Still grieving his mother’s recent death, losing his father to the war effort (again) and being forced to give up Pax, his friend and soul-mate, is too much. Unconcerned with his own safety and the raging war in his path, Peter leaves on a desperate, seemingly impossible ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "Pax" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Love That Split the World" by Emily Henry

'The Love That Split the World' by Emily Henry

Teen Book ★★★★★ Natalie has just graduated high school and has experienced visits throughout her childhood from a woman she calls "Grandmother" that no one else can see. Her last visit with Grandmother carries a foreboding warning about saving someone in the upcoming summer break. As Natalie tries to piece together what Grandmother's warning might mean, she starts to see other people that others cannot, one of whom is Beau. She and Beau are instantly attr ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "The Love That Split the World" at Goodreads.com. »

"A Mad, Wicked Folly" by Sharon Biggs Waller

'A Mad, Wicked Folly' by Sharon Biggs Waller

Teen Book ★★★★★ Seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling longs to be an artist; however, when her love of art leads to expulsion from her French finishing school, her high society London parents bring her home and lay out a plan for her rehabilitation, which includes an arranged marriage to a young man from a proper family. Her alternative: to be banished to a life of near-solitude with her unmarried aunt in Norfolk who has no use for art, literature, or fun o ...

Reviewed by Rachel H. Read more reviews of "A Mad, Wicked Folly" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Shadow Year" by Hannah Richell

'The Shadow Year' by Hannah Richell

Adult Book ★★★★★ In this captivating novel, Lila is devastated from a terrible loss. When she is anonymously sent the key to a tucked away cottage in the Lake District, Lila flees London for the quiet of the mysterious cottage. As her bruises, both physical and mental, slowly start to heal, Lila throws herself into renovating the hidden cottage. But the cottage isn't what it appears to be, and Lila is driven to find out who gave it to her and what past the ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "The Shadow Year" at Goodreads.com. »

"Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys

'Salt to the Sea' by Ruta Sepetys

Teen Book ★★★★★ Inspired by the greatest tragedy in maritime history, four characters from four different European homelands board the Wilhelm Gustloff ship in hopes of surviving World War II. The war has torn apart the lives of Joana and Emilia. Joana, a young nurse from Lithuania, is trying to reunite with her mother. Emilia, a Polish girl, is just trying to survive being driven from her homeland after the persecution of the Polish people from both the ...

Reviewed by Taylor W. Read more reviews of "Salt to the Sea" at Goodreads.com. »

"Tinder Nightmares" by Unspirational

'Tinder Nightmares' by Unspirational

Adult Book ★★★★ For the unfamiliar, Tinder is a mobile dating app that helps pair up singles with others in their geographical area. Swiping right on a person’s profile means you like them and if they like you back, the app will let you know you’re a match. Sounds simple, right? In “Tinder Nightmares”, it’s less about the simple and more about the absurd. Comprised of real-life interactions that were submitted by users of the app, the book featu ...

Reviewed by Dan R. Read more reviews of "Tinder Nightmares" at Goodreads.com. »

"Rosie Revere, Engineer" by Andrea Beaty

'Rosie Revere, Engineer' by Andrea Beaty

Children's Book ★★★★★ Meet Rosie, the great-great-niece of the heroine Rosie the Riveter, who enjoys building different gadgets and gizmos. Rosie wants to become an engineer when she grows up! She is always trying to make new things, however when people laugh for joy at her inventions she mistakes that for people laughing at her inventions instead. Rosie wants to give up every time someone laughs or her ideas fail on the first try. Luckily she is related to Ros ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "Rosie Revere, Engineer" at Goodreads.com. »

"Gratitude" by Oliver Sacks

'Gratitude' by Oliver Sacks

Adult Book ★★★★★ It is hard to write a review on a book this brief without spoiling the contents. What I can say is that this short collection of essays, written in the two years leading up to Dr. Sacks’ death, is deeply and beautifully human. These essays show us the depth of coming to terms with death and celebrating, with gratitude, the life that you have lived. There is something so peaceful about reading his final reflection on the joy of a life wel ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Gratitude" at Goodreads.com. »

"My Name Is Lucy Barton" by Elizabeth Strout

'My Name Is Lucy Barton' by Elizabeth Strout

Adult Book ★★★★★ We all have a story, and this one is Lucy Barton’s. When a mysterious reaction to a recent surgery lands Lucy in the hospital for an extended stay, she is surprised to find her estranged mother sitting at the foot of her bed. Since Lucy married and moved to New York City years ago, she has had little contact with her family and never goes to visit. With the sudden reappearance of her mother at her sick bed, the two start to connect over ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "My Name Is Lucy Barton" at Goodreads.com. »

"Superfood Snacks: More than 100 nutrient-dense, completely indulgent desserts & snacks" by Julie Morris

'Superfood Snacks: More than 100 nutrient-dense, completely indulgent desserts & snacks' by Julie   Morris

Adult Book ★★★★★ If you are looking for snacks that are both delicious and super-healthy, this is a great book to pick up. I have made the cookie dough protein bites, the mocha energy bites, and the chocolate whip dip. There are also savory dip and kale chip recipes. I appreciated the first chapter, called "The Superfood Treatment," which outlines the items to stock in your pantry and their specific health benefits, as well as tips to reduce the cost of bu ...

Reviewed by Anna C. Read more reviews of "Superfood Snacks: More than 100 nutrient-dense, completely indulgent desserts & snacks" at Goodreads.com. »

"Connect the Stars" by Marisa de los Santos

'Connect the Stars' by Marisa de los Santos

Tween Book ★★★★ You could say that thirteen-year-old Audrey Alcott is obsessed with lying. She can’t help it. She instinctively knows when people are lying and it’s making her life so miserable that her parents send her to a six-week summer wilderness camp that promises attendees a “journey to confidence.” There she meets Aaron Archer, a kid with a brain like a walking computer, who is great with facts but not so good at assembling them. Going out ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "Connect the Stars" at Goodreads.com. »

"Gonzo Girl" by Cheryl Della Pietra

'Gonzo Girl' by Cheryl Della Pietra

Adult Book ★★★★★ At age 23, Cheryl Della Pietra spent five months working as an assistant to famous (or infamous, rather) writer Hunter S. Thompson, who pioneered the genre of gonzo journalism with such works as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. Pietra’s time with Thompson is the basis for this fiction novel, which follows recent college grad and aspiring novelist Alley, who takes a job assisting unpredictable and temperamental writer Walker Reade. A ...

Reviewed by Dan R. Read more reviews of "Gonzo Girl" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Japanese Lover" by Isabel Allende

'The Japanese Lover' by Isabel Allende

Adult Book ★★★★★ Alma Belasco's lives at Lark House Retirement Home in San Francisco. As a child, and then as a young woman, she fell in love with the son of her uncle's Japanese gardener. Now in old age, her grandson and her caretaker, who are falling in love themselves, discover their love letters. Her story spans from her fleeing Poland as a child refugee to her lover's incarceration at an internment camp for Japanese nationals during World War II. Set ...

Reviewed by Anna C. Read more reviews of "The Japanese Lover" at Goodreads.com. »

"Mother Bruce" by Ryan T. Higgins

'Mother Bruce' by Ryan T.  Higgins

Children's Book ★★★★★ Bruce is a grumpy bear who lives alone and has one passion—eggs. He loves making fancy egg recipes that he finds on the Internet, but one day he gets a big surprise. Before he gets his goose eggs cooked, they hatch and call him “Mama.” He tries repeatedly to get rid of the goslings, even by being extra grumpy and roaring, but they won’t leave, not even when all the other geese are flying south. This cute, humorous tale of mistaken ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "Mother Bruce" at Goodreads.com. »

"Silver Bay: A Novel" by Jojo Moyes

'Silver Bay: A Novel' by Jojo Moyes

Adult Book ★★★★★ Romantic, charming, and full of surprising characters, this early work from a popular author is not one to miss. Mike Dormer is climbing the ladder in a prestigious land development firm in London. He has made partner, is engaged to the boss’s daughter, and lives in luxury. His entire life appears to be perfect, that is until a land deal falls through on a high end resort project and he is forced to quickly scout out a new property on th ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Silver Bay: A Novel" at Goodreads.com. »

"Baking with Mary Berry" by Mary Berry

'Baking with Mary Berry' by Mary Berry

Adult Book ★★★★★ If you have ever watched the popular British cooking show, The Great British Bakeoff, you will know the treasure that this cookbook holds! Mary Berry is a British baking superstar who has made an easy to follow cookbook that will help us all master a sponge cake or a choux pastry. For me, this cookbook has just want I would want to learn and master from Mary Berry. The beginning of the book gives easy step-by-step techniques, with pictures ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "Baking with Mary Berry" at Goodreads.com. »

"Girl at War" by Sara Nović

'Girl at War' by Sara Nović

Teen Book ★★★★★ Ana passes as a typical college student in New York City, where her friends do not know that her American parents are adoptive parents or that English is not her native tongue. In reality, she is a survivor of the Yugoslav civil war of the early 1990s who fled the country at the age of ten. After she testifies before a UN committee on children in combat, her long-suppressed memories and nightmares return. Shifting between past and present, ...

Reviewed by Rachel H. Read more reviews of "Girl at War" at Goodreads.com. »

"Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids" by Jill Mills

'Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids' by Jill Mills

Children's Book ★★★★★ This book totally lives up to its name; it is adorable! There are some seriously cute ways to make snacks and meals for you and your family. Adults and kids will both enjoy the recipes in this fun filled cookbook. Adults, you’ll find lots of healthy recipes and treats that you can make with your kids or for them as a surprise. Kids, you will find cool snacks that you can make for yourself and recipes that you can create with mom or dad a ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids" at Goodreads.com. »

"Maybe in Another Life" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

'Maybe in Another Life' by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Adult Book ★★★★ "Life is long and full of an infinite number of decisions. I have to think that the small ones don’t matter, that I’ll end up where I need to end up no matter what I do." Hannah Martin recently ended her relationship with a married man in New York City and moved back to her hometown of L.A. She moves in with her best friend Gabby and her husband Mark. Gabby and Mark throw Hannah a welcome home party where Hannah bumps into her old flam ...

Reviewed by Taylor W. Read more reviews of "Maybe in Another Life" at Goodreads.com. »

"National Geographic Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary" by National Geographic Society

'National Geographic Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary' by National Geographic Society

Adult Book ★★★★★ This book is absolutely gorgeous! From the highest mountains to the deepest caves, National Geographic brings us images from some amazingly talented photographers. These aren’t just any photos, but images of places and events that many of us will never get the chance to see in our lifetime. Some are secluded or protected places, some are once in a lifetime events, and others are simply gone due to environmental damage, but all come with ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "National Geographic Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Bridges of Madison County" by Robert James Waller

'The Bridges of Madison County' by Robert James Waller

Adult Book ★★★★★ I read this book many years ago, but after listening to the soundtrack of the recent musical based on the book and the movie, I decided to revisit the story that I had remembered. "The Bridges of Madison County" by Robert James Waller, is a love story; a story of a love that was unexpected, short-lived, forbidden, but so powerful that it haunted the two main characters’ lives forever. In the summer of 1965 while Francesca Johnson ...

Reviewed by Lisa H. Read more reviews of "The Bridges of Madison County" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Brontë Plot" by Katherine Reay

'The Brontë Plot' by Katherine Reay

Adult Book ★★★★★ Lucy enjoys her work at an antique/interior decorator shop. One shopper, James, falls in love with Lucy. But when James' Grandmother, Helen, meets Lucy, she is reminded of someone she used to know. She requests Lucy to travel to London for a literary and antique excursion. They both have to face their own pasts and confront their issues in order to go forward in their lives. Warning: This book is full of quotes from classic books and may c ...

Reviewed by Heather H. Read more reviews of "The Brontë Plot" at Goodreads.com. »

"Vincent Paints His House" by Tedd Arnold

'Vincent Paints His House' by Tedd Arnold

Children's Book ★★★★★ This book transports us to Vincent's house on the day he decides to paint it. This book pays homage to the artist himself, Vincent van Gogh. As Vincent begins painting his house he encounters various animals who also live on his house that have differing opinions as to which color to paint it. Not only are all the colors of the rainbow mentioned as options, but we also learn through the process different names for different colors. If you ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "Vincent Paints His House" at Goodreads.com. »

"I Am Pilgrim (Pilgrim, #1)" by Terry Hayes

'I Am Pilgrim (Pilgrim, #1)' by Terry Hayes

Adult Book ★★★★★ This book is impossible to describe, but cannot be missed. Pilgrim is a man with many names, no home, and an intense backstory. He used to a work for a government agency even more secret than the CIA, but got out to try to create some semblance of a normal life. However, the president and his top advisers soon call him in to resume his old life and track down a terrorist threatening to destroy our country in the worst way imaginable. Reade ...

Reviewed by Laura W. Read more reviews of "I Am Pilgrim (Pilgrim, #1)" at Goodreads.com. »

25 | Based on the Goodreads API.