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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: 'Playing with Matches'

"Playing with Matches" by Hannah Orenstein

★★★★★ With a recent degree in journalism, 22-year-old Sasha has no job prospects in New York City. After she sees the matchmaking company Bliss is hiring, she knows the unique backstory of how her parents met will make her a standout against the competition. After landing the job, Sasha delves into the world of Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and Bliss' large database of...

Cover: 'Caged'

"Caged" by Ellison Cooper

★★★★★ In this thrilling and atmospheric new novel by Ellison Cooper, readers meet Sayer Altair, a neuroscientist who ends up being called in as a lead investigator for a brutal murder in Washington D.C. The crime committed? A young woman was left to starve in a cage. When the victim is identified as the daughter of a prominent senator, the case goes public...

Cover: 'Crazy Rich Asians'

"Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan

★★★★★ Rachel Chu is invited by her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, to spend the summer in Asia. They will travel the continent and attend the wedding of Colin Khoo, Nick's best friend, in Singapore. Rachel accepts Nick's invitation and is thrown into the crazy, rich world of Nick's family and friends in Singapore. Money, status, and familial reputation are everything...

Cover: 'Just Under the Clouds'

"Just Under the Clouds" by Melissa Sarno

★★★★★ Cora lives in Brooklyn and loves to climb trees. She was taught by the best, her father. Now with her father gone, her family is struggling and basically homeless, shuttling from one unsafe shelter to another. A middle schooler, Cora is responsible for looking after her younger sister, Adare, while her mother works. Adare is “special:" she was deprived of...

Cover: 'VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan BBQ Cookbook'

"VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan BBQ Cookbook" by Nadine Horn

★★★★★ Are you looking for healthy and delicious recipes to grill this summer? This new cookbook is a must for you! All recipes are vegan, so this cookbook is perfect for vegans, vegetarians, food allergy sufferers, or anyone who just wants some healthy alternatives this summer. Literally every recipe is fully photographed in all its delicious glory, and I just...

Cover: 'How To Walk Away'

"How To Walk Away" by Katherine Center

★★★★★ Margaret Jacobsen is a normal young woman with a master's degree, a serious boyfriend, and all of a great life to look forward to. That is, until one day she and her new fiance are in a horrible accident that leaves Margaret paralyzed. In an instant her life takes a dramatic turn as her career hopes and life expectations fizzle, and all that remains is...

Cover: 'BOSH!: The Cookbook: Simple Recipes. Amazing Food. All Plants.'

"BOSH!: The Cookbook: Simple Recipes. Amazing Food. All Plants." by Ian Theasby, Henry Firth

★★★★★ This brand new cookbook is filled with recipes from the chefs behind the online video channel Bosh, popular in the U.K. This cookbook is packed with enticing recipes, including quick recipes, big meals, bowls, sides, desserts, breakfasts, cocktails, and meals meant to impress. I couldn't stop finding recipes I'm really excited to try, and because they're...

Cover: 'The  Truth As Told by Mason Buttle'

"The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle" by Leslie Connor

★★★★★ Mason Buttle appears to have almost all the cards stacked against him. He’s taller and bigger than all the other kids in his seventh grade class. He sweats profusely, so much so that he brings another shirt to school with him every day to change into later in the day.  He has trouble with words, writing them and reading them. He lives in a ramshackle...

Cover: 'What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter'

"What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter" by Suzy Hopkins, Hallie Bateman

★★★★★ No one is ever really ready to lose a loved one, and this book tries to help with that in it's own unique way.  As the title states, the author's mother provides preemptive advice on how to function in the event of her death. The advice walks her daughter through day-by-day instructions on what to do, days, even years, after her passing.  As...

Cover: 'Prim Improper'

"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...

Cover: 'The Wild Robot Escapes'

"The Wild Robot Escapes" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Author Peter Brown left us with hints of impending doom for our robot friend, Roz and her family, near the end of the previous book, The Wild Robot. At the very least we were fairly certain that changes were ahead for the characters we, (okay I), had grown to love, and of course these play out in this sequel. Roz has been brought to the mainland and is...

Cover: 'Bob'

"Bob" by Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead

★★★★★ Bob’s been waiting for Livy for five, very long boring years at her grandmother’s house, exactly as she told him to do. When Livy finally returns to her grandmother’s house in Australia to stay for a while, she strangely remembers nothing about ever being at her grandmother’s house before, yet it feels like she has forgotten something very important. Then...

Cover: 'Hope in the Holler'

"Hope in the Holler" by Lisa Lewis Tyre

★★★★★ Wavie’s mom had a plan for her after her impending death from cancer, but ending up in in Conly Hollow, her family’s Appalachian home, was never intended to be a part of it. But when her alleged aunt shows up after her mom’s death and takes her there to live, she has no choice. What Waivie gets is a filthy home with garbage strewn everywhere, in a dirt-poor...

Cover: 'Hello Lighthouse'

"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...

Cover: 'Creative Quest'

"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...

Cover: 'The Broken Girls'

"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...

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

"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...

Cover: 'The Witch Boy'

"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...

Cover: 'Dear Girl'

"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...

Cover: 'Emma in the Night'

"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...

Cover: 'Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein'

"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...

Cover: 'I Am a Cat'

"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...

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