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Marathon County Public Library

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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: 'Just Last Night'

"Just Last Night" by Mhairi McFarlane

★★★★★ Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have that rare magic kind of friendship that started when they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, they are navigating new sets of problems, a dead end job, family you won’t speak of, being in love with one of your best friends. Eve has loved Ed since forever and no one knows. One night changes everything, Ed’s longtime...

Cover: 'Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math'

"Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math" by Jeannine Atkins

★★★★★ Jeannine Atkins has another excellent book to follow Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science. The women she focuses on this time include Katherine Johnson and Vera Rubin. Each poem is a small moment in the girls’ lives. I especially love the last lines of so many of the poems. They feel hopeful and end on an upward note. “She charts what’s known in...

Cover: 'What Happened To You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing'

"What Happened To You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing" by Bruce D. Perry, Oprah Winfrey

★★★★★ This informative resource hooked me from the very beginning, as Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Perry started to speak on their own experiences with trauma, along with the effects traumatic experiences have on the human brain. I learned just how much trauma can affect the actual biology of the brain, and how vital loving caregivers are to the actual development of...

Cover: 'Little Wise Wolf'

"Little Wise Wolf" by Gijs van der Hammen, Hanneke Siemensma, Laura Watkinson

★★★★★ This is a beautiful story with a gentle lesson about friendship and learning. One day, Little Wise Wolf, who is deeply ensconced in his books and research, receives a summons from the king. He sets off on a long journey to the other side of the mountains, perhaps not as prepared as he should be. The hard day’s journey makes him lose confidence in his...

Cover: 'Those Darn Squirrels Fly South'

"Those Darn Squirrels Fly South" by Adam Rubin

★★★★★ Those Darn Squirrels Fly South is the third book in the children’s series of Those Darn Squirrels. In this delightful children’s book we once again find Mr. Fookwire feeling grumpy and lonely as his beloved birds fly south for the winter. He would normally have the neighborhood squirrels to keep him company but they have decided to follow the...

Cover: 'Dairy Queen'

"Dairy Queen" by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

★★★★★ This book was so true to life about a teen girl growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. The author writes with detail about the daily and seasonal work that always needs to be done on the farm. Throw in some unexpected happenings like illness or surgery and the daily routine changes for everyone.  DJ finds herself in charge of many chores while her...

Cover: 'One Was Lost'

"One Was Lost" by Natalie D. Richards

★★★★★ In this intense young adult thriller, a small group of students are hiking on a senior field trip. When a flash flood cuts off three students from the other four, the students quickly realize this is no ordinary field trip. When they wake up dazed with their supplies missing and chilling words written on their wrists, they realize they're not alone in the...

Cover: 'Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man'

"Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man" by Emmanuel Acho

★★★★★ An absolute must-read for anyone committed to their anti-racist journey, Emmanuel Acho takes readers through so many important topics in this book. From whether Black or African American is the appropriate term, to white privilege, to systematic racism and reverse racism, to how to be an ally, and so many more crucial topics, I found this to be an extremely...

Cover: 'Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré'

"Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré" by Anika Aldamuy Denise, Paola Escobar

★★★★★ This was a really impactful story about the life of Pura Belpré, author, puppeteer, and librarian from Puerto Rico. Not only was this a story about the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York, this is a heartwarming story about the impact librarians have on their community. I really enjoyed learning about the life of Pura Belpré, and appreciated the...

Cover: 'A Tale of Witchcraft'

"A Tale of Witchcraft" by Chris Colfer

★★★★★ The magical community has been accepted in the kingdoms. The faeries have been helping around the kingdoms and the people celebrate when they arrive! Now, a secret clan has resurfaced after centuries of silence called the Righteous Brotherhood. The Righteous Brotherhood has vowed to exterminate all magical life and Brystal is their first target. Meanwhile,...

Cover: 'Remote Control'

"Remote Control" by Nnedi Okorafor

★★★★★ They call her Sankofa, but that is not her name. Whispers travel ahead of her calling her the adopted daughter of Death, fearful cries that she will kill you with one touch, destroy a town with one glance. A fox follows at her heels, her only companion. Sankofa walks from city to city, searching all of Ghana for the object that was stolen from her....

Cover: 'Tea Time Around the World'

"Tea Time Around the World" by Denyse Waissbluth

★★★★★ Take a trip around the world with tea! This traditional, yet diverse beverage can be warm or cold, sweet or tart. Did you know that tea can also contain yak butter or tapioca bubbles? Tea can also steep in a samovar and be prepared as an entertaining show!  Learn about tea in various cultures with the poetic rhythm of a...

Cover: 'The Switch'

"The Switch" by Beth O'Leary

★★★★★ When Leena has a panic attack during a pivotal work presentation, she's given a mandatory two-month sabbatical by her boss. Panicking at the thought of her career in shambles and at the thought of two months without the distraction of work, Leena calls her grandmother to arrange a visit in the Yorkshire countryside. Her grandmother, Eileen, has a different...

Cover: 'The Perfect Guests'

"The Perfect Guests" by Emma Rous

★★★★★ Only 14 years old, Beth is dumped on the doorstep of a large mansion by her aunt, to be taken in by a family with a young daughter the same age. Beth is amazed at the kind family and grand estate she's welcomed to, but when they ask her to play a game before a visitor arrives, her world spins out of control.  Years later, Sadie is an actress...

Cover: 'Red Sister'

"Red Sister" by Mark Lawrence

★★★★★ In Abeth there were once four tribes, each with different traits and abilities. Gerant are large, and strong; Hunska are dark-haired, dark-eyed, and fast; Marjal are known for their ability to perform lesser magics; and Quantal are able to work great magics and walk "The Path," a line of energy connected to The Ancestor and the heart of power itself. Over...

Cover: 'On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson'

"On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson" by Jennifer Berne, Becca Stadtlander

★★★★★ Beautifully illustrated with just the right amount of text to a page, this picture book biography is great to share with young poets. It tells how Emily lived a secluded life enjoying her family, close friends, and the natural world. In books and in her mind she experienced much that she described in her poems. Though she published few in her lifetime, her...

Cover: 'Hunted'

"Hunted" by Darcy Coates

★★★★★ When Eileen goes missing from a hiking trip, her family is thrown into turmoil. When her camera washes downriver and is turned into the police, something disturbing and unexplainable is captured on film. When her brother and his best friends see copies of the film and police stop the search for Eileen, the group of friends are spurred into action to try and...

Cover: 'Outside, Inside'

"Outside, Inside" by LeUyen Pham

★★★★★ The cover of this picture book immediately caught my eye when I saw a beautiful illustration of a girl and a black cat peering out of a window. The hearts hanging in the window and the title alluded to it being set in the current pandemic, and I'm so glad I picked up this picture book from our new releases section.  This is a really wonderful...

Cover: 'South of the Buttonwood Tree'

"South of the Buttonwood Tree" by Heather Webber

★★★★★ This is a story about two women who want something different of their lives, something more. They break the rules and expectations others have of them to find their true self. Years of lies and secrets have formed the women’s beliefs of their families and of themselves. They discover that those secrets have kept them from learning who they truly are and...

Cover: 'The Flatshare'

"The Flatshare" by Beth O'Leary

★★★★★ What would you do if you had no other living option besides sharing a one bedroom flat with a complete stranger? A stranger though, that you won't actually see despite living together?  Tiffy jumps (albeit hesitantly) at the chance of an affordable flat, especially since her flatmate is not supposed to be there at the same time, per their agreement...

Cover: 'Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice'

"Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice" by Mahogany L. Browne, Theodore Taylor III, Elizabeth Acevedo, Olivia Gatwood

★★★★★ This is an absolutely beautiful collection of thought-provoking poems by an amazing collection of talented poets that tackles topics from discrimination to immigration to intersectionality to privilege ("What's in my Toolbox" and "A Me-Shaped Box" are both must reads on the topic of privilege and stereotypes). It is a beautifully illustrated reflection on...

Cover: 'Clap When You Land'

"Clap When You Land" by Elizabeth Acevedo

★★★★★ This novel, written in verse, follows Camino Rios in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira Rios in New York City. Both are unaware that the other exists, but as Yahaira's father leaves on his usual summer flight to the Dominican Republic, Camino will soon find out her father's plane will never land. Yahaira and Camino's worlds collide when they soon find out...

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