Marathon County Public Library

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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.


'Prim Improper'  by  Deirdre Sullivan

"Prim Improper" by Deirdre Sullivan

★★★★★ Meet Primrose “Prim” Leary, the quirky and charming 13-year-old star of Deirdre Sullivan’s Prim Improper.  Prim is coping with the sudden loss of her mother, and you might expect a story like this to be dark and brooding, but Prim tells her tale (in diary form) with a precocious and wittily observant voice that delves into sensitive – and even...

Audience: Children, Teens, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan'  by  Chloe Coscarelli

"Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan" by Chloe Coscarelli

★★★★★ The newest cookbook from Chloe Coscarelli features a new batch of delicious vegan recipes. Included are recipes for breakfast, brunch, snacks, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, main meals, drinks, and dessert. Full of tantalizing photographs and snippets about Chloe's journey to veganism, this is another favorite of mine from one of my all-time favorite...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Cookbook

'Hello Lighthouse'  by  Sophie Blackall

"Hello Lighthouse" by Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This beautifully illustrated children's picture book traces the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his wife in a lighthouse on a very tiny island in the middle of the sea. We see the keeper doing his daily chores such as polishing the lamp’s lens, filling the oil and trimming the wick to keep the lighthouse lamp lit. We experience the birth of their...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Creative Quest'  by  Questlove and Ben Greenman

"Creative Quest" by Questlove and Ben Greenman

★★★★★ Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is a busy guy: drummer for the rap group The Roots, which is also the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon; DJ; restaurateur; and author of two previous books, Mo' Meta Blues and somethingtofoodabout. His newest book, as the title suggests, is all about creativity: what defines it, how to tap into your...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Broken Girls'  by  Simone St. James

"The Broken Girls" by Simone St. James

★★★★★ Part ghost story, part murder mystery, this atmospheric novel captivated me from the first page. Centered around a now abandoned school for troubled girls, Idlewild Hall holds secrets of the past within its walls and grounds. The reader learns the stories of the abandoned girls who were forced to attend, the ghost who forces its victims to relive their...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Mystery

'One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays'  by  Scaachi Koul

"One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays" by Scaachi Koul

★★★★★ Scaachi Koul is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She was born and raised in Canada surrounded by western culture. She is also thoughtful and hilarious. All this comes together in “One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter,” a delightful collection of essays. Many of Koul’s stories clue us in on what it is like to bear the scrutiny of being a...

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

'The Witch Boy'  by  Molly Knox Ostertag

"The Witch Boy" by Molly Knox Ostertag

★★★★★ Aster wants to learn how to be a witch, but the men in his family are supposed to be shapeshifters and warriors. Aster doesn't care about those things; he just wants to learn witchcraft with the girls. He spies on them, jotting down notes and teaching himself spells. His mother warns him that what happened to his great uncle could happen to him, that his...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Tween Graphic Novel, Identity

'The Changeling: A novel'  by  Victor La Valle

"The Changeling: A novel" by Victor La Valle

★★★★★ One night, Apollo Kagwa's wife, Emma, chains him to a chair, kills their infant son and disappears.  Was it postpartum depression or something much worse?  He sets out to discover whether his wife is still alive and what exactly happened to his son.  Apollo has some baggage of his own that he has to grapple with along the way,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Fiction

'Dear Girl'  by  Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal

"Dear Girl" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal

★★★★★ Written like a letter from a mother to a daughter, this children's book is one of my new favorites. I would recommend anyone to read this to the young girls in their lives; daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends. This is the perfect story to give girls permission to be themselves, love themselves, and express themselves. The story is fun and...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Emma in the Night'  by  Wendy Walker

"Emma in the Night" by Wendy Walker

★★★★★ Eighteen-year-old Cass stands on her mother’s doorstep, steeling herself. Her mother and the police must believe her—Emma’s life depends on it. It’s been three years since she and her older sister Emma, then age 17, disappeared. Her story—that she and Emma, who gave birth a few months after they disappeared, were held captive by a reclusive couple who had...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein'  by  Lita Judge

"Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein" by Lita Judge

★★★★★ Dark and beautiful watercolor illustrations bring Mary Shelley's biography to life in this captivating graphic novel. Told in verse, this was a quick read and peek into Mary Shelley's odd, dark, and intense life. Mary was barely sixteen when she left home to follow the man she loved, the married Percy Shelley. It was a daring move for a 19th century British...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Biography, Horror

'I Am a Cat'  by  Galia Bernstein

"I Am a Cat" by Galia Bernstein

★★★★★ What happens when Simon, a normal house cat, tells a group of big cats from around the world that he is just like them? They are stunned, and then laugh hysterically! Lion, Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, and Tiger each go on to tell Simon how they differ and how Simon is not "cat" enough. The lion has a mane and roars, Simon doesn't have a mane, nor can he...

Audience: Children | Genre: Picture Book, Fiction

'The Last Black Unicorn'  by  Tiffany Haddish

"The Last Black Unicorn" by Tiffany Haddish

★★★★★ Stand-up comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish makes a living out of entertaining others and making people laugh. That might not seem like anything extraordinary, until you learn about all of the strife and setbacks Haddish faced in her life, especially before reaching adulthood. While growing up, Haddish had an absentee father, a mother who verbally and...

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

'Dear Pope Francis'  by  Pope Francis

"Dear Pope Francis" by Pope Francis

★★★★★ This book is a delightful and refreshingly candid look at Pope Francis and the children from around the world who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a letter and ask the leader of the Catholic Church any questions they wished. The questions they ask are honest, surprising, and ones that people of all ages would be interested in hearing his...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction

'Sunburn'  by  Laura Lippman

"Sunburn" by Laura Lippman

★★★★★ Polly Costello is a striking, self-possessed woman with a complicated past who left her husband and young daughter behind at the beach, claiming to need a break from the sun, but she’s really looking for a fresh start. She stops in a bar in a small Delaware town for a drink and meets Adam, an intelligent, handsome man also just passing through, and sparks...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Glass Town Game'  by  Catherynne M. Valente

"The Glass Town Game" by Catherynne M. Valente

★★★★★ What happens when four children follow a man made entirely out of book and magazine pages onto a train headed for Glass Town? An adventure, of course! Only these aren’t just any children, they are the Brontës—Branwell, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—and the world they find themselves in is all their own creation. Glass Town and Gondal are at war, just like...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Educated'  by  Tara Westover

"Educated" by Tara Westover

★★★★★ Tara Westover has an impressive academic pedigree that includes Harvard and Cambridge, but she did not set foot into a classroom until she enrolled at Brigham Young University at the age of seventeen. This compelling memoir immerses the reader into the isolated world in which she was raised in rural Idaho as the youngest of six children. Her father, a...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Lady Bird'  (DVD)

"Lady Bird" (DVD)

★★★★★ Lady Bird's life is at a crossroads, of sorts. It’s her senior year at her Catholic high school and she yearns to spice up her life and make the year a memorable one. More than anything, though, Lady Bird (played by Saoirse Ronan) wants to make sure she gets out of Sacramento after high school and moves a place where she feels she can...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Movies

'Frogkisser!'  by  Garth Nix

"Frogkisser!" by Garth Nix

★★★★★ Anya is a princess in a tough situation but with quite a gift. She is the Frogkisser. When Rikard, her evil, power-hungry, sorcerer stepfather takes over the kingdom of Trallonia and begins transforming people that get in his way into frogs, lizards and other critters, Anya discovers she has a magic gift all her own. With some magic lip balm and the...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Oddity'  by  Sarah Cannon

"Oddity" by Sarah Cannon

★★★★★ Any book that starts out with fifth graders defending themselves against leopards (again) during a safety drill promises to be fun.  Oddity is a small town that's...well...odd.  Except to Ada Roundtree and her friends and family who have spent their whole lives there.  When Ada's sister Pearl disappears after "winning" the town sweepstakes,...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Tweens

'The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi'  by  Phil Szostak

"The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi" by Phil Szostak

★★★★★ The Star Wars universe is a vast and constantly growing thing. But did you ever stop to wonder what makes something look like it belongs in a Star Wars movie? In The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, readers see the various stages of planning that went into creating new creatures, vehicles, costumes and locations for the latest film in the franchise....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Movies, Movie Tie-ins

'Moxie'  by  Jennifer Mathieu

"Moxie" by Jennifer Mathieu

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Vivian plans to keep her head down and avoid making any waves as she rides out her last two years of high school in her small town Texas high school. However, after seeing the new girl face humiliation after a sexist incident in class, she finds inspiration in her mother’s “My Misspent Youth” box, which is filled with Riot Grrrl materials....

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Goldeline'  by  Jimmy Cajoleas

"Goldeline" by Jimmy Cajoleas

★★★★★ Goldeline is called ghost girl because of her long, flowing white hair, making her a frightening distraction for the robbing bandits she helps in the magical Hinterlands, and who are the only "family" she has known since her momma was accused by the Preacher of being a witch and burned at the stake. However, during one of their jobs she discovers a young...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Death and Life of the Great Lakes'  by  Dan Egan

"The Death and Life of the Great Lakes" by Dan Egan

★★★★★ Dan Egan, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, provides a comprehensive portrayal of the Great Lakes, past and present, and a thorough analysis of the challenges the lakes have endured and continue to face. After establishing a portrait of the Great Lakes as they would have been experienced by the first European explorers, Egan traces the history...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Born at Midnight'  by  C.C. Hunter

"Born at Midnight" by C.C. Hunter

★★★★★ Follow Kylie Galen on her journey to discovering who/what she is. Kylie seems to be your everyday, normal teenage girl. Her parent's send her off to a summer camp for "troubled" teens. Once there, Kylie's world gets flipped upside down and she soon discovers that the supernatural things seen in movies and read in books are real and that she is in fact a...

Audience: Teens | Genre: YA Fiction With Adult Appeal

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