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Staff Picks

Check out these five-star 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. The book reviews on this website represent the personal opinions of the individuals who created them and do not represent any official views of the Marathon County Public Library.


Cover: 'Things You Save In a Fire'

"Things You Save In a Fire" by Katherine Center

★★★★★ This story is about an old-school firehouse in Boston that has a few issues with the new female firefighter on staff. Not only is there a new female on the C shift, but a new rookie. With budget cuts for the fire station, only one of the newbies can stay.  Who will get to keep their job - the rookie (whose dad was a fire chief, and quite...

Cover: 'Acid for the Children'

"Acid for the Children" by Flea

★★★★★ Flea, a musician and actor best known as the bassist for the rock/funk band Red Hot Chili Peppers, has written a memoir covering his early years growing up in Australia, New York City and eventually Los Angeles. His love of literature had a positive impact on Flea's own writing abilities, and his memoir is well-written, funny, sad, moving, poetic and...

Cover: 'BISH BASH BOSH!'

"BISH BASH BOSH!" by Henry Firth, Ian Theasby

★★★★★ Are you looking for plant-based recipes that are guaranteed to be absolutely delicious? Looking to impress others or provide for those in your life that eat plant-based, or have food allergies? This is a must read!  Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, the two behind the popular video channel and previous Bosh cookbook, bring yet another cookbook packed...

Cover: 'Saturday'

"Saturday" by Oge Mora

★★★★★ Today will be special. Today will be splendid. Today is Saturday! Ava's mother works Sunday through Friday, so their Saturdays together are precious. Saturdays are filled with fun activities the mother-daughter duo partake in together: story time at the library, visits to the salon, and picnics in the park. When Ava and her mother have a not-so-great...

Cover: 'Our House is on Fire'

"Our House is on Fire" by Jeanette Winter

★★★★★ After learning about climate change in school, Greta couldn't eat, sleep, or think about anything else. Like any good student, Greta decided to do some research. She saw polar ice caps melting, animals' habitats changing, and wildfires running rampant in documentaries and in scientific books. Greta realized the planet - our house - is on fire and that...

Cover: 'Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao'

"Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao" by Kat Zhang

★★★★★ Amy Wu is good at a lot of things, but one thing she is not good at is creating the perfect bao, a Chinese steamed bun her family loves to make and eat. Amy, along with her little white cat, are determined to master this difficult recipe. Amy helps her dad mix and knead the dough while her mom cooks the meat filling. Then, it is time to get to assemble...

Cover: 'The Lions at Night'

"The Lions at Night" by Jessica M. Boehman

★★★★★ Take an adventure through New York City in this wordless picture book!  The famous sculpted lions outside of the New York Public Library, Patience and Fortitude, take an adventure one summer evening as they leave their usual post outside the NYPL. The lions ride the subway, visit Coney Island, and more. The black and white illustrations with pops of...

Cover: 'Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties'

"Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties" by Tom O'Neill

★★★★★ Most true crime fans like a new Charles Manson book. Often, they tell the same story. Creepy-crawly. Sharon Tate. The Family. Drugs and Helter Skelter. But so often, those books have a timeless, placeless kind of quality; the crimes shrouded in a haze of smoke and lies. Meet Tom O’Neill. As a freelance journalist, he was approached in 1989 to write an...

Cover: 'The Library of the Unwritten'

"The Library of the Unwritten" by A. J. Hackwith

★★★★★ All unfinished, unwritten books are held in Hell's library in the "Unwritten" wing (a neutral place within Hell). The books are sentient and want terribly to escape to their author, to beg to be finished. It's the job of the Head Librarian to keep them contained.  This novel is refreshing, wonderfully written, and is a great read for bibliophiles...

Cover: 'Christmas Wombat'

"Christmas Wombat" by Jackie, French

★★★★★ This book is a wonderful holiday read about a wombat who loves carrots, naps, and scratching. This love of carrots takes him on an adventure (a holiday adventure), though wombats don't celebrate holidays and have no concept of what Christmas or Santa is. The wombat finds himself face-to-face with reindeer (he names them strange creatures), who he battles...

Cover: 'Writers and Their Pets: True Stories of Famous Authors and Their Animal Friends'

"Writers and Their Pets: True Stories of Famous Authors and Their Animal Friends" by Kathleen Krull, Violet Lemay

★★★★★ Do you have a pet? What kinds of animals do you like? Have you ever given your pets names like Bambino, You Know, Catterina, Mooky, Littless Kitty, Friendless, or Colonel Eggbert? In this read you will learn about the pets and animals 20 famous authors loved! Author Kathleen Krull offers insight into the backgrounds of the authors from childhood to them...

Cover: 'Me'

"Me" by Elton John

★★★★★ If you’re an inhabitant of planet Earth, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Elton John. Maybe you’re familiar with some of the wild outfits and costumes he’s worn over the years, or you know a couple of his (many) hit songs. Perhaps you know him from his work on Disney’s The Lion King, or you’ve seen the 2019 biopic Rocketman. If you know anything about...

Cover: 'Clear My Name'

"Clear My Name" by Paula Daly

★★★★★ Tess, who runs a charity that focuses on trying to help those wrongly convicted of crimes, gets her newest case: Carrie, charged with the brutal murder of her husband’s mistress. Carrie has maintained her innocence for three years, and she wants nothing more than to be released to be with her pregnant daughter. The case brings Tess back to the hometown...

Cover: 'The Girl and the Wolf'

"The Girl and the Wolf" by Katherena Vermette

★★★★★ The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette is a wonderful retelling of the classic Red Riding Hood tale. With gorgeous illustrations and lyrical dialogue, Vermette walks you through the woods as a little girl who has wandered too far and finds herself alone and lost. A wolf comes upon her, and what follows is a twist on the original...

Cover: 'The Fate of Food'

"The Fate of Food" by Amanda Little

★★★★★ In today’s world, more and more people want to know about the food they eat, where it comes from, and how it’s grown. But what does the future hold for consumers – and the food on their plates – in a world that’s getting increasingly hotter, drier and that has more extreme weather? In The Fate of Food, author Amanda Little explores the different...

Cover: 'Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde'

"Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde" by Joyce Dunbar

★★★★★ Puss Jekyll is the perfect pet, cuddly and sweet, but she has a secret. At night she becomes Cat Hyde, mischievous hunter of small critters, not an ideal house pet. How can these two distinct personalities coexist in one furry cat body? Puss Jekyll lounges in the sun, warming her paws, while Cat Hyde prowls the streets wreaking havoc. What trouble will...

Cover: 'The Turn of the Key'

"The Turn of the Key" by Ruth Ware

★★★★★ Author Ruth Ware has done it again! Easily one of my favorite authors, this utterly absorbing novel is her newest fantastic creation.  Readers meet Rowan Caine, who finds an ad for a live-in nanny position in the picturesque Scottish Highlands. Beautiful surroundings, a very generous salary, and a luxurious home make this opportunity seem too good...

Cover: 'Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts'

"Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts" by Esta Spalding

★★★★★ Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts is a book you feel like you’ve dreamed up. Its realistic elements are: the four Fitzgerald-Trout children need to go to school, they need to eat, they need to do laundry and - most importantly - they need a better place to live. Its fantastical twist is: they have two terrible mothers and two (or three) awful fathers...

Cover: 'A Boy Called Bat'

"A Boy Called Bat" by Elana K. Arnold

★★★★★ Nine year-old Bixby Alexander Tam - also known as Bat - loves animals, struggles to get along with his big sister, and also happens to be on the autism spectrum.  Author Elana K. Arnold allows us to experience Bat’s world first hand, and we find ourselves rooting for Bat as he cares for an orphaned baby skunk and learns to navigate his first friendship...

Cover: 'The Body in Question'

"The Body in Question" by Jill Ciment

★★★★★ Courtroom dramas almost always focus exclusively on the plaintiff and defendant at the heart of a trial. After all, that’s where some of the most compelling storytelling tends to reside. The Body in Question, however, switches things up by following a six-person jury assigned to a murder trial in central Florida, where a teenage girl is accused of setting...

Cover: 'The Sad Little Fact'

"The Sad Little Fact" by Jonah Winter

★★★★★ This book allows its readers to meet the Sad Little Fact and many other little facts along the way. The Sad Little Fact lives in a world in which facts are dismissed and ultimately deemed "fake," then thrown away. The authorities of the world declare that lies are facts, and the world grows dark and dreary. However, hope is on the horizon as...

Cover: 'The Art of Racing in the Rain'

"The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein

★★★★★ Enzo loves his family, and loves car racing nearly as much. It just so happens that Enzo is also a dog. This is the story of Enzo reflecting back on his family, and how he sees the world, during his last moments on Earth. Does he want thumbs just like humans? Yes. Can he bark two times to tell Denny, his owner, to drive faster? Yes...

Cover: 'The Paris Architect'

"The Paris Architect" by Charles Belfoure

★★★★★ This story takes place in Paris in 1942 during World War II. While so many people are struggling, the wealthy entrepreneurs are building factories and need architects to design them. Lucien Bernard is one of these architects, and is offered large amounts of money to build secret hiding places for Jews. Although he struggles with the risk that he is...

Cover: '101 Ways To Go Zero Waste'

"101 Ways To Go Zero Waste" by Kathryn Kellogg

★★★★★ Are you tired of taking out the trash? Does it bother you that only nine percent of plastic is actually recycled? That it takes three liters of water to produce once liter of bottled water? Everyone is familiar with the saying: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. What Kathryn Kellogg emphasizes in this guide is that recycle comes last. First, what can you do...

Cover: 'Grave's End'

"Grave's End" by Elaine Mercado

★★★★★ This book is an account of the actual terrors the author and her family experienced while living in a home they bought in Brooklyn New York.  While I can’t say that the story is incredibly well-written, the fear that was felt is credible, even to someone that doesn’t believe in the paranormal. I found myself not reading it at night, as I usually do....

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