Marathon County Public Library

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Staff Picks

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.


'Persons Unknown' by Susie Steiner

"Persons Unknown" by Susie Steiner

★★★★★ Motivated by a desire to protect adopted twelve-year-old son Fly from potentially bad influences (and the frequent friskings he was subject to as a hoodie-clad black youth) and to find a better work-life balance as she anticipates the birth of her child, Mannon Bradshaw has moved back to Cambridgeshire with Fly, her sister Ellie, and Ellie’s toddler son,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Moo' by Sharon Creech

"Moo" by Sharon Creech

★★★★★ Almost on a whim Reena, her little brother Luke, and her parents move to Maine. They trade the bustling, big city life for a quiet harbor town with hills and valleys where they’re free to bike, hike and pick blueberries. But when their parents suddenly ‘volunteer” them to help an eccentric elderly neighbor with her animals, they really don’t know what to...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Lincoln in the Bardo' by George Saunders

"Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders

★★★★★ Lincoln in the Bardo finds its inspiration in a brief moment in history—a February night in 1862 when President Lincoln visited the grave of his recently deceased eleven-year-old son, Willie—and transforms it into a complex reflection on grief, loss, uncertainty, and regret. Young Willie finds himself in the bardo, a state between the death of his physical...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'She Persisted' by Chelsea Clinton

"She Persisted" by Chelsea Clinton

★★★★★ "Sometimes being a girl isn't easy. At some point, someone probably will tell you no, will tell you to be quiet and may even tell you your dreams are impossible. Don't listen to them. These thirteen American women certainly did not take no for an answer. They persisted." From Ruby Bridges to Sally Ride, and from Oprah Winfrey to Nellie Bly, come short,...

Audience: Children | Genre: Picture Book

'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas

"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Starr has become adept at navigating life in two distinct worlds. One is her black urban neighborhood of Garden Heights, where her father operates a small grocery store. The other is her suburban prep school in which she is one of a handful of black students, which lends her a certain cachet that overrides the income disparity between her...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Lust & Wonder' by Augusten Burroughs

"Lust & Wonder" by Augusten Burroughs

★★★★★ After chronicling his extraordinarily unstable upbringing in Running with Scissors and his journey to become sober in Dry, Augusten Burroughs uses his latest book to explore the two romantic relationships that led to him meeting his husband, Christopher. The first section of this page-turner covers his 1990s-era relationship with Mitch, a successful-yet-...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

'Bubble' by Stewart Foster

"Bubble" by Stewart Foster

★★★★★ Being poked and monitored continuously and stuck inside an almost 100 percent air quality hospital room in London, all day, every day, is not the life any eleven-year old-boy would want.  Born with a rare immunodeficiency disease, this has had to be Joe’s life for as long as he can remember. All he wants is a normal life in the outside world with his...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo' by Taylor Jenkins Reid

"The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

★★★★★ Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo is in her 80s and ready to spill the truth about her scandalous and glamorous life that she has kept secret for years. Evelyn contacts Monique, a low-profile journalist just starting her career. Through one-on-one interview sessions, Evelyn spills everything to Monique: how she made it to Hollywood, how her mega-star second...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine' by Gail Honeyman

"Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman

★★★★★ Eleanor Oliphant is not your typical 30-year-old. She has never missed a day of work, she sticks to a strict schedule, and she has a mysterious burn on her face that she never wants to talk about. Eleanor is completely fine; neither sad, nor happy, and she is fine with that. Eleanor avoids social interactions and has no friends, until Raymond, her...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Contemporary Fiction

'The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook' by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

"The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

★★★★★ Are you looking for a cookbook packed with enticing recipes for any occasion? If so, this is a must read! All of the recipes are vegan, so it's perfect if you're cooking for a guest with food allergies, or are just looking for new ideas for you and your family. Many of the recipes are illustrated, which I always love in a cookbook, and are separated by...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Cookbook

'The End of Temperance Dare' by Wendy Webb

"The End of Temperance Dare" by Wendy Webb

★★★★★ Are you looking for an atmospheric, completely absorbing novel to read this summer (made even better if read during a thunderstorm)? Look no further! In Wendy Webb's latest gothic novel, readers meet Eleanor Harper, who recently left her crime-writing job due to post traumatic stress disorder after too many years spent covering gruesome cases. When the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Piecing Me Together' by Renée Watson

"Piecing Me Together" by Renée Watson

★★★★★ Jade is a junior at the best private school in Portland.  She is a talented artist and a bright student, determined to learn Spanish and one day travel the world.  Unlike most of her classmates, Jade is on scholarship and she is painfully aware that this school, and the opportunities it presents, are her ticket out of her poor North Portland...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Anna and the Swallow Man' by Gavriel Savit

"Anna and the Swallow Man" by Gavriel Savit

★★★★★ Seven-year-old Anna did not realize it that morning in Krakow, Poland, that when her father left her in the care of a pharmacist friend, he would not return. It was November 6, 1939, and her father, a linguistics professor, was one of the many Polish intellectuals summoned by the Gestapo, arrested, imprisoned, and ultimately sent to concentration camps. Her...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Genevieve's War' by Patricia Reilly Giff

"Genevieve's War" by Patricia Reilly Giff

★★★★★ Spending the summer of 1939 working on her grandmother Meme’s farm in Alsace, France, thirteen-year-old Genevieve (Gen), an American, yearns to get back to her aunt’s house in New York. With rumors of the Germans invading Alsace and another world war starting she gets her chance to return. Yet when Gen notices her grandmother is injured, she makes a...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Evil Wizard Smallbone' by Delia Smallbone

"The Evil Wizard Smallbone" by Delia Smallbone

★★★★★ Fleeing his neglectful and abusive uncle in a brutally cold, blinding New England blizzard, Nick ends up on the porch of an eccentric old man who appears to be the owner of the Evil Wizard Bookstore. In exchange for a warm place to live and plenty to eat, the snarly old man orders him to clean the house, make meals and take care of the animals. The only...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer's Caregiver' by Martin J. Schreiber

"My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer's Caregiver" by Martin J. Schreiber

★★★★★ “My Two Elaines” is the perfect title for this book. Former Wisconsin Governor, Martin J. Schreiber fell in love with his wife, Elaine, when in high school. They married during college and pledged a lifelong commitment to each other. Together they raised a family and had successful careers. That is, until the “other Elaine” came into the story....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

'The Pearl Thief' by Elizabeth Wein

"The Pearl Thief" by Elizabeth Wein

★★★★★ Fans of Code Name Verity will appreciate the opportunity to get to know the nearly sixteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart as she is enmeshed in a mystery at the estate of her late grandfather, the Earl of Strathfearn, in 1938. She’s not looking forward to saying good-bye to the Scottish estate, which has been sold to pay off family debt, but she’s happy to...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'The Underground Railroad' by Colson Whitehead

"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

★★★★★ "The Underground Railroad" is the story of a young woman named Cora, who is a third-generation slave on a Georgia plantation where she never quite fit in since her mother abandoned her to flee to the North. Cora does not suffer fools, but she suffers at the hands of others, including those of her owner’s family. Given an opportunity, she flees with a young...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'A Darker Shade of Magic' by V.E. Schwab

"A Darker Shade of Magic" by V.E. Schwab

★★★★★ Prepare to enter a world with multiple Londons, each defined by their level of magic or lack thereof. In Red London, magic is vibrant and strong, and home to Kell, a young man adopted by the royal family. Kell is an antari, a blood magician, and one of the few that can travel between the Londons. White London is dying, as those who possess the waning magic...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Homegoing' by Yaa Gyasi

"Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi

★★★★★ Two half-sisters were born in two different villages in Ghana in the 18th century. Effia, who is married to one of the English slave traders, eventually learns of her half-sister’s (Esi) existence, but not of her fate. Esi is captured, imprisoned in the dungeon below Effia’s castle home on the Gold Coast, and sent to the U.S. as a slave. Homegoing is the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Enchantment Lake' by Margi Preus

"Enchantment Lake" by Margi Preus

★★★★★ Seventeen-year-old Francie bolts from an audition and hops on a plane from New York City to Minnesota after receiving a troubling call from her great aunts Astrid and Jeannette. She hasn’t visited her aunts’ home in northern Minnesota since her father’s death seven years prior, but she has fond childhood memories of Enchantment Lake. However, she cannot...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Mystery

'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber

"Caraval" by Stephanie Garber

★★★★★ Scarlett Dragna has dreamed of attending the mysterious Caraval, an annual, multi-night, and itinerant event in which the audience participates in the magical spectacle and competes for a prize. She’s written to Master Legend, the mysterious creator of the event over the course of seven years. Soon to be married to a man whom she’s never met (but sees as...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'As Brave As You' by Jason Reynolds

"As Brave As You" by Jason Reynolds

★★★★★ Eleven-year-old Genie is nervous to be spending a whole month of his summer vacation (with his older brother, Ernie, Jr.) at his paternal grandparents’ house. Not only is this Brooklyn native unprepared for life in the country (no cell signal or internet?!), it’s the first time his family has seen his grandparents in ten years, and there’s a lot of...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Passion of Dolssa' by Julie Berry

"The Passion of Dolssa" by Julie Berry

★★★★★ Dolssa de Stigata is a young noblewoman of eighteen who draws the attention of church authorities when they learn that she is telling family members and friends of the bond she shares with her beloved Lord. Sentenced to death along with her mother, she is mysteriously freed before she is to be dragged into the flames and begins a life on the run hiding from...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Love,Ish' by Karen Rivers

"Love,Ish" by Karen Rivers

★★★★★ Twelve-year-old Miscah “Ish” Love is a smart, self-aware, young girl with big dreams. She wants to be one of the first people to live on Mars. Together with Tig, her BFF (Best Friend Forever), they researched and planned everything together, even applied online, but now Tig is DTM, Dead To Me (her), because he moved away and she hasn't heard from him....

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

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