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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: 'The Two of Us'

"The Two of Us" by Andy Jones

★★★★★ This is a love story, but not exactly a traditional one. Fisher and Ivy both work in the film industry where they meet and begin their romance. When our story opens, they have had a wild and all-consuming nineteen day fling, and both of them know without a doubt, that they have finally found "the one". What they don't know is that their new relationship and...

Cover: 'Calling Me Home'

"Calling Me Home" by Julie Kibler

★★★★★ Based on a family secret revealed to her, Kibler turns her grandmother’s story of forbidden love into an impossible-to-put-down, page-turner of a novel. This is the story of a journey taken by eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister and Dorrie Curtis, a single mom struggling to find her way. Dorrie has taken care of Isabelle’s hair for years, first in the...

Cover: 'The Lightning Queen'

"The Lightning Queen" by Laura Resau

★★★★★ Surprising, haunting, almost magical, this tween novel is unusual in that it spans generations. At the beginning of the story, eleven-year old Teo is suffering from the recent loss of his mother and sister Lucita on the Hill of Dust in Mexico, where hardly anything exciting ever happens. But when the gypsies roll in and he meets Esma, the self-proclaimed...

Cover: 'The Little Shop of Happy Ever After'

"The Little Shop of Happy Ever After" by Jenny Colgan

★★★★★ This lovely, new book by Jenny Colgan had me enchanted from the first page (just as all her others have). Readers meet the timid, but immediately lovable Nina, who's a librarian that suddenly loses her job in Birmingham, England due to a library closure. When her life suddenly shifts beneath her feet, Nina is forced to step outside her comfort zone and make...

Cover: 'The Rosemary Spell'

"The Rosemary Spell" by Virginia Zimmerman

★★★★★ Books and words have always been important to Rosemary and her best friend Adam, so when they discover an extremely old book in a locked cabinet in her father’s old study, they are excited beyond words. Is it perhaps a secret, magical, ancient book? Did it once belong to Shakespeare or perhaps to Constance Brooke, an elderly poet suffering from Alzheimer’s...

Cover: '$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America'

"$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America" by Kathryn Edin, H. Luke Shaefer

★★★★★ When conducting research in 2010, Edin, who had been researching poverty for 20 years noticed a fundamental change in many families she interviewed—they were living without any visible cash income. In the summer of 2012, Edin joined forces with Shaefer, a leading expert on the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), and they started in-depth...

Cover: 'The Circle'

"The Circle" by Dave Eggers

★★★★★ Twenty-four-year old Mae Holland is elated to be starting her new job at the Circle, an internet company of the not-too-distant future that is a combination of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other social media platforms. At first Mae is taken aback by the virtual networking required within the company and the negative attention she draws by staying the...

Cover: 'The House of Tides'

"The House of Tides" by Hannah Richell

★★★★★ This is another fantastic and captivating novel by Hannah Richell that I just couldn't put down! In this intense family saga set mostly on the beautiful Dorset coast, we meet the Tide family. Moving from London to a sprawling house in the countryside catapults the whole family into an era of change and one fateful day that splits the entire family apart at...

Cover: 'Pax'

"Pax" by Sara Pennypacker

★★★★★ Forced by his father to return his beloved pet fox, Pax, to the wild and move three hundred miles away to live with his grandfather, twelve-year old Peter is devastated. Still grieving his mother’s recent death, losing his father to the war effort (again) and being forced to give up Pax, his friend and soul-mate, is too much. Unconcerned with his own safety...

Cover: 'The Love That Split the World'

"The Love That Split the World" by Emily Henry

★★★★★ Natalie has just graduated high school and has experienced visits throughout her childhood from a woman she calls "Grandmother" that no one else can see. Her last visit with Grandmother carries a foreboding warning about saving someone in the upcoming summer break. As Natalie tries to piece together what Grandmother's warning might mean, she starts to see...

Cover: 'A Mad, Wicked Folly'

"A Mad, Wicked Folly" by Sharon Biggs Waller

★★★★★ Seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling longs to be an artist; however, when her love of art leads to expulsion from her French finishing school, her high society London parents bring her home and lay out a plan for her rehabilitation, which includes an arranged marriage to a young man from a proper family. Her alternative: to be banished to a life of near-...

Cover: 'The Shadow Year'

"The Shadow Year" by Hannah Richell

★★★★★ In this captivating novel, Lila is devastated from a terrible loss. When she is anonymously sent the key to a tucked away cottage in the Lake District, Lila flees London for the quiet of the mysterious cottage. As her bruises, both physical and mental, slowly start to heal, Lila throws herself into renovating the hidden cottage. But the cottage isn't what...

Cover: 'Salt to the Sea'

"Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys

★★★★★ Inspired by the greatest tragedy in maritime history, four characters from four different European homelands board the Wilhelm Gustloff ship in hopes of surviving World War II. The war has torn apart the lives of Joana and Emilia. Joana, a young nurse from Lithuania, is trying to reunite with her mother. Emilia, a Polish girl, is just trying to survive...

Cover: 'Rosie Revere, Engineer'

"Rosie Revere, Engineer" by Andrea Beaty

★★★★★ Meet Rosie, the great-great-niece of the heroine Rosie the Riveter, who enjoys building different gadgets and gizmos. Rosie wants to become an engineer when she grows up! She is always trying to make new things, however when people laugh for joy at her inventions she mistakes that for people laughing at her inventions instead. Rosie wants to give up every...

Cover: 'Gratitude'

"Gratitude" by Oliver Sacks

★★★★★ It is hard to write a review on a book this brief without spoiling the contents. What I can say is that this short collection of essays, written in the two years leading up to Dr. Sacks’ death, is deeply and beautifully human. These essays show us the depth of coming to terms with death and celebrating, with gratitude, the life that you have lived. There is...

Cover: 'My Name is Lucy Barton'

"My Name is Lucy Barton" by Elizabeth Strout

★★★★★ We all have a story, and this one is Lucy Barton’s. When a mysterious reaction to a recent surgery lands Lucy in the hospital for an extended stay, she is surprised to find her estranged mother sitting at the foot of her bed. Since Lucy married and moved to New York City years ago, she has had little contact with her family and never goes to visit. With the...

Cover: 'Superfood Snacks: 100 Delicious, Energizing, & Nutrient-Dense Recipes'

"Superfood Snacks: 100 Delicious, Energizing, & Nutrient-Dense Recipes" by Julie Morris

★★★★★ If you are looking for snacks that are both delicious and super-healthy, this is a great book to pick up. I have made the cookie dough protein bites, the mocha energy bites, and the chocolate whip dip. There are also savory dip and kale chip recipes. I appreciated the first chapter, called "The Superfood Treatment," which outlines the items to stock in your...

Cover: 'Gonzo Girl'

"Gonzo Girl" by Cheryl Della Pietra

★★★★★ At age 23, Cheryl Della Pietra spent five months working as an assistant to famous (or infamous, rather) writer Hunter S. Thompson, who pioneered the genre of gonzo journalism with such works as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. Pietra’s time with Thompson is the basis for this fiction novel, which follows recent college grad and aspiring novelist Alley,...

Cover: 'The Japanese Lover'

"The Japanese Lover" by Isabel Allende

★★★★★ Alma Belasco's lives at Lark House Retirement Home in San Francisco. As a child, and then as a young woman, she fell in love with the son of her uncle's Japanese gardener. Now in old age, her grandson and her caretaker, who are falling in love themselves, discover their love letters. Her story spans from her fleeing Poland as a child refugee to her lover's...

Cover: 'Mother Bruce'

"Mother Bruce" by Ryan T. Higgins

★★★★★ Bruce is a grumpy bear who lives alone and has one passion—eggs. He loves making fancy egg recipes that he finds on the Internet, but one day he gets a big surprise. Before he gets his goose eggs cooked, they hatch and call him “Mama.” He tries repeatedly to get rid of the goslings, even by being extra grumpy and roaring, but they won’t leave, not even when...

Cover: 'Silver Bay'

"Silver Bay" by Jojo Moyes

★★★★★ Romantic, charming, and full of surprising characters, this early work from a popular author is not one to miss. Mike Dormer is climbing the ladder in a prestigious land development firm in London. He has made partner, is engaged to the boss’s daughter, and lives in luxury. His entire life appears to be perfect, that is until a land deal falls through on a...

Cover: 'Baking with Mary Berry'

"Baking with Mary Berry" by Mary Berry

★★★★★ If you have ever watched the popular British cooking show, The Great British Bakeoff, you will know the treasure that this cookbook holds! Mary Berry is a British baking superstar who has made an easy to follow cookbook that will help us all master a sponge cake or a choux pastry. For me, this cookbook has just want I would want to learn and master from...

Cover: 'Girl at War'

"Girl at War" by Sara Nović

★★★★★ Ana passes as a typical college student in New York City, where her friends do not know that her American parents are adoptive parents or that English is not her native tongue. In reality, she is a survivor of the Yugoslav civil war of the early 1990s who fled the country at the age of ten. After she testifies before a UN committee on children in combat,...

Cover: 'Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids'

"Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids" by Jill Mills

★★★★★ This book totally lives up to its name; it is adorable! There are some seriously cute ways to make snacks and meals for you and your family. Adults and kids will both enjoy the recipes in this fun filled cookbook. Adults, you’ll find lots of healthy recipes and treats that you can make with your kids or for them as a surprise. Kids, you will find cool...

Cover: 'National Geographic Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary'

"National Geographic Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary" by Susan Tyler Hitchcock, Stephen Alvarez

★★★★★ This book is absolutely gorgeous! From the highest mountains to the deepest caves, National Geographic brings us images from some amazingly talented photographers. These aren’t just any photos, but images of places and events that many of us will never get the chance to see in our lifetime. Some are secluded or protected places, some are once in a lifetime...

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