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; follow us for the latest updates.

"Spots in a Box" by Helen Ward

'Spots in a Box' by Helen Ward

Children's Book ★★★★★ This fun book is about a guinea fowl who doesn't have any spots. When he orders them in the mail, they arrive as something quite unexpected. As he explores the unexpected assortment of spots, he comes to realize that not all spots are created equal just like no two individuals are exactly alike. What he discovers is that it is more important to be happy being yourself when making friends than to be someone you're not. ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Spots in a Box" at »

"The Truth About Twinkie Pie" by Kat Yeh

'The Truth About Twinkie Pie' by Kat Yeh

Tween Book ★★★★★ 12-year–old Gigi lives with her sister Didi who is a hairstylist in a trailer park. When Didi wins one million dollars in a cooking contest she is able to help realize the big dreams she has for Gigi by moving to Long Island and enrolling her in an upscale high school. Gigi, who hates her name and asks the new kids at school to call her Leia, becomes friends with Trip, a cool, handsome guy who accepts her as she is. This is a warm, sweet ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "The Truth About Twinkie Pie" at »

"Goodnight Football" by Michael Dahl

'Goodnight Football' by Michael Dahl

Children's Book ★★★★★ This bedtime story will bring back sweet memories of football season. Told in rhyme, it follows a little boy as he attends a Friday night game with his family. From concessions, to the players, to the roar of the crowd, you'll remember why we love this game so much, and the satisfaction we feel as our team wins and we head home to snuggle into bed. This is a great book for the young football fans in your life. ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Goodnight Football" at »

"Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred)" by Josh Schneider

'Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred)' by Josh Schneider

Children's Book ★★★★★ This is a really cute story, written in rhyme. All over the world, animals are trying to sleep. Fred however is not. This adventurous boy has a huge to do list and simply does not have time to waste sleeping. Kids will enjoy Fred's antics as he fights to get his tasks done before bedtime. ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred)" at »

"The League of Beastly Dreadfuls (The League of Beastly Dreadfuls, #1)" by Holly Grant

'The League of Beastly Dreadfuls (The League of Beastly Dreadfuls, #1)' by Holly Grant

Tween Book ★★★★ Eleven-year-old Anastasia McCrumpet is snatched from her school library by two tiny “ancient” ladies claiming to be her great aunties; only she doesn’t have any great aunts. She is told that her parents have suffered an unfortunate vacuum cleaner accident. They take her, not to a hospital, but to a dreary Victorian home in the middle of nowhere that used to be St Agony’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane. She is given mystery, lumpy ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "The League of Beastly Dreadfuls (The League of Beastly Dreadfuls, #1)" at »

"The Silver Witch" by Paula Brackston

'The Silver Witch' by Paula Brackston

Adult Book ★★★★ I couldn't help but immediately get sucked into the setting and characters in this novel. Set in Wales, a country I've always loved since visiting it in person, this beautiful landscape has many secrets. Tilda, a woman who just tragically lost her husband after they bought a lakeside cottage, feels an immediate affinity for the mysterious place. She vows to discover her own history and link to the alluring land, while the locals uncover a ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "The Silver Witch" at »

"The Cure for Dreaming" by Cat Winters

'The Cure for Dreaming' by Cat Winters

Teen Book ★★★★ Morris Award Finalist Cat Winters follows her debut novel with this unique and terrifying story about a teenage girl who discovers she can see frightening images after undergoing hypnosis. Set in 1900 in Portland, Oregon, “The Cure for Dreaming” is the story of Olivia Mead, an outspoken proponent of the right to vote for women. Her father decides to have a traveling hypnotist "cure" Olivia of her political views. While Olivia becomes m ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "The Cure for Dreaming" at »

"H is for Hawk" by Helen Macdonald

'H is for Hawk' by Helen Macdonald

Adult Book ★★★ Part memoir, part nature essay, and part biography of eccentric author T.H. White, this book is difficult to categorize. Helen Macdonald decides to train a goshawk after her father's unexpected death, and the experience allows her to deal with her loss. Macdonald also writes about the parallels between her goshawk training experience and the English author T.H. White's disastrous goshawk experience, devoting chapter after chapter to the tr ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "H is for Hawk" at »

"The Scavengers" by Michael Perry

'The Scavengers' by Michael  Perry

Tween Book ★★★★ Don't miss Wisconsin author Michael's Perry's foray into children's fiction, even if you are a grown up! This dystopian chapter book follows twelve-year-old Maggie, (who later renames herself Ford Falcon) her life living outside of the Bubble Cities, and her quest to find her parents after they mysteriously disappear. Despite the futuristic, sci-fi plot, adult fans of Perry's nonfiction will enjoy the little quirks and references to farm l ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "The Scavengers" at »

"Mademoiselle Chanel" by C.W. Gortner

'Mademoiselle Chanel' by C.W. Gortner

Adult Book ★★★★★ This novel follows the life of famed fashion designer Coco Chanel from her early years in a convent to the debut of her 1954 collection. For lovers of fashion, there are numerous descriptions of her famous pieces as well as a subplot about development of her still popular scent, Chanel No. 5. Her social circle, which included artists, aristocrats, courtesans, and ballet dancers, as well as her many love affairs are complex and vivid, bring ...

Reviewed by Anna C. Read more reviews of "Mademoiselle Chanel" at »

"Moonpenny Island" by Tricia Springstubb

'Moonpenny Island' by Tricia Springstubb

Tween Book ★★★★ The only eleven year-olds on the small island, Flor and her best friend and soulmate, Sylvie, share everything and lead an idyllic life. At the end of the summer, however, suddenly everything changes. Sylvie is mysteriously sent to the mainland to school, Flor’s mother disappears supposedly to take care of her mother, her sister Cecilia is harboring what appears to be a dangerous secret and Flor is strangely asked to watch out for Sylvie ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "Moonpenny Island" at »

"The Magician's Lie" by Greer Macallister

'The Magician's Lie' by Greer Macallister

Adult Book ★★★★★ When I saw the comment that this book was compared to a cross between "Water For Elephants" and "The Night Circus", I knew that I had to read it. It did not disappoint! The Amazing Arden is a rarity, a female illusionist whose signature illusion has become the act of sawing a man in half. On one fated night in Waterloo, Iowa, Arden suddenly changes her trick, using an axe instead of a saw and then disappears into thin air. When her husband ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "The Magician's Lie" at »

"Good Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story" by Mariam Gates

'Good Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story' by Mariam Gates

Children's Book ★★★★★ You don't have to be a yogi to love this book. This pose-by-pose bedtime story takes children through gentle yoga poses and focuses their breathing while telling the story about the world getting ready for bed. Complete with beautiful illustrations, this book can be enjoyed by the whole family. Following the story, there is a complete list of the yoga poses in sequence and a "cloud journey visualization" to help children relax and wind dow ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Good Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story" at »

"Ms. Rapscott's Girls" by Elise Primavera

'Ms. Rapscott's Girls' by Elise Primavera

Tween Book ★★★★ There are a lot of extraordinary things about the Great Rapscott School for Girls. The students arrive by air in E-Z open tab boxes, they are hand-picked from homes where the girls' parents are so busy they scarcely notice they’re gone, the school is located in a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere, and the curriculum focuses on getting lost on purpose. The new students to arrive are Mildred, Bea, Fay, Annabelle and Dahlia, "who was a sm ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "Ms. Rapscott's Girls" at »

"I Wish You More" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

'I Wish You More' by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Children's Book ★★★★★ Lovely illustrations and simple text convey the beauty of life's small moments. This book is a wonderful read to share with a special child in your life. I loved the simplicity that still spoke volumes, and having the chance to show my kids through this book that it is all of those little things in life that mean to much. ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "I Wish You More" at »

"Stick and Stone" by Beth Ferry

'Stick and Stone' by Beth Ferry

Children's Book ★★★★★ Stick and Stone are both alone without a friend in the world. Then, Stone is bullied and Stick intervenes. From that day forward they have a strong friendship. Well-written with cute illustrations, this book is an easy read with a great message about friendship. My kids and I loved it! ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Stick and Stone" at »

"Hero" by Sarah Lean

'Hero' by Sarah Lean

Children's Book ★★★★★ Leo has a great imagination. He dreams and playacts at being a brave, heroic gladiator; he even has a homemade gladiator’s hat. In real life it appears that everyone else has something to be proud of except him. When Leo does something he knows is wrong to impress some kids at school, lies about it and is called a hero for saving a neighbor's dog, he becomes entangled in so many lies he can’t find the courage to admit the truth. This i ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "Hero" at »

"Roller Girl" by Victoria Jamieson

'Roller Girl' by Victoria Jamieson

Tween Book ★★★★★ In this graphic novel, written by a derby girl herself, twelve-year-old Astrid discovers the world of roller derby. When Astrid's mom takes her and her best friend Nicole to a match, Astrid falls in love with the crazy outfits, eccentric nicknames, and fierceness of the sport. Astrid decides to sign-up for summer derby camp, expecting Nicole to sign-up as well. When Astrid finds out Nicole signed-up for ballet camp with a new friend, Astri ...

Reviewed by Taylor W. Read more reviews of "Roller Girl" at »

"One Witch at a Time" by Stacy DeKeyser

'One Witch at a Time' by Stacy DeKeyser

Tween Book ★★★★ Loosely based on the fairytale “Jack and the Beanstalk”, the trouble begins when 13 year old Rudi is sent to market with Susanna to trade dairy products for meat and grain and possibly sell a cow. Susanna, in an effort to help him, sells one of his cows for some allegedly magic beans. It turns out that the beans were stolen from a witch in the neighboring village of Petz and must be returned quickly, so they set out on an adventure to ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "One Witch at a Time" at »

"The Darkest Part of the Forest" by Holly Black

'The Darkest Part of the Forest' by Holly Black

Teen Book ★★★★★ This young adult novel takes us deep into the world of Faerie. Hazel and her brother Ben live in the town of Fairfold where humans and Folk live side by side in an uneasy form of peace. In the woods lies a horned boy in a glass coffin. Tourists come to gawk and debunk him as a myth and the locals adore him. His grove has become the party hangout for generations of local teens. Hazel and Ben have spent their whole childhood making up storie ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "The Darkest Part of the Forest" at »

"Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters" by Mallory Ortberg

'Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters' by Mallory Ortberg

Adult Book ★★★★★ If you are looking for a funny, witty, quick read, this book may be for you. Mallory Ortberg, co-creator of the website The Toast, has taken our favorite literary characters, authors, and heroes and created hilarious text message conversations from their perspective. From Scarlett O'Hara to Edgar Allan Poe and from Plato to The Hunger Games, this book is filled with smart humor that will give you a much needed laugh break in your busy day. ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters" at »

"Inside the O'Briens" by Lisa Genova

'Inside the O'Briens' by Lisa Genova

Adult Book ★★★★★ Joe O'Brien is a tough, respected, Boston police officer, born and raised into a tough Irish Catholic family in Charlestown. He is the proud father of four and a husband to his beautiful wife Rosie. When Joe starts to experience some odd quirks in his memory, mood, and physical health, he attributes it to middle age and the stress of his job. As things quickly deteriorate, he is forced to go to the doctor to find out what is really going o ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Inside the O'Briens" at »

"Simple Decor, Extravagant Living: The Watson Kennedy A to Z Guide to a More Beautiful Life" by Ted Kennedy Watson

'Simple Decor, Extravagant Living: The Watson Kennedy A to Z Guide to a More Beautiful Life' by Ted Kennedy Watson

Adult Book ★★★★ This isn't your typical decorating book. This is a celebration of the beauty in everyday items. Organized alphabetically, the author beautifully displays items and ideas on how to use them to create a wonderful space. A few recipes are included, and every page is gorgeous. A fantastic book to look through for ideas and inspiration. ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Simple Decor, Extravagant Living: The Watson Kennedy A to Z Guide to a More Beautiful Life" at »

"The Dress Shop of Dreams" by Menna van Praag

'The Dress Shop of Dreams' by Menna van Praag

Adult Book ★★★★★ What a beautiful, enchanting read! This is a book you will fall in love with, and characters that you feel as if you know from the very beginning. Studious and unfeeling Cora, after the death of her parents, splits her life between trying to continue her parents' scientific work and keeping her grandmother company in the beautiful dress shop she owns in Cambridge. When Cora discovers her parents' death may not have been an accident, she vo ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "The Dress Shop of Dreams" at »

"Wish Girl" by Nikki Loftin

'Wish Girl' by Nikki Loftin

Children's Book ★★★★★ Unlike his boisterous, quarreling family, 12-year-old Peter Stone is quiet, thoughtful, sensitive, artistic and misunderstood. After his father loses his job and they move from the city to remote Texas Hill Country, he escapes daily to a magic lonely valley where he can be at one with nature, away from the crying and yelling. On one of his trips to the valley he meets a unique girl named Anne who tells him she’s a “wish girl” attend ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "Wish Girl" at »

25 | Based on the Goodreads API.