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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 Stars Beneath Our Feet'

"The Stars Beneath Our Feet" by David Barclay Moore

★★★★★ Building epic cities with large garbage bags full of LEGO blocks is how twelve-year-old Lolly channels his anger and his voice since the death of his older brother Jermaine, the only real person he could talk to. When his buildings outgrow his mother’s apartment (and her patience) he spends time hiding in a storage closet at the St. Nick community center...

Cover: 'American Fire'

"American Fire" by Monica Hesse

★★★★★ American Fire is the true story of a five month arson spree in rural Accomack County, Virginia that started in November 2012 when four fires were set in a 24 hour period. By its conclusion, more than 60 fires were set. Hesse, a Washington Post reporter, provides a compelling account of the crimes, the public hysteria, and efforts by law enforcement to...

Cover: 'Renegades'

"Renegades" by Marissa Meyer

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Nova’s world is ruled by the Renegades, a group of Prodigies (humans that possess a special ability/superpower), who used their abilities to defeat Ace Anarchy and his Prodigy compatriots who were responsible for creating fear and destruction during the Age of Anarchy. Despite Renegade promises to protect them, Nova’s parents and sister...

Cover: 'The War I Finally Won'

"The War I Finally Won" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

★★★★★ Continuing eleven-year-old Ada's story from “The War That Saved My Life,” this book begins with hospitalization and surgical correction for Ada’s clubfoot, which she has mixed feelings about especially since it is funded by stern Lady Thornton. The external (and Ada's internal) war rages on, changing their lives in many ways, taking the life of their "Mam"...

Cover: 'Vegan Burgers & Burritos'

"Vegan Burgers & Burritos" by Sophia DeSantis

★★★★★ Are you looking for healthy, vegan recipes for you and even the pickiest of eaters, or for those meat-eaters in your life you're trying to convince to eat healthier? If so, this book is a must read! Full of incredibly enticing burger, burrito, dip and sauce recipes, as well as a few dessert and side dish recipes, I flipped through this cookbook and decided...

Cover: 'Sing, Unburied, Sing'

"Sing, Unburied, Sing" by Jesmyn Ward

★★★★★ Thirteen-year-old JoJo is eager to prove himself as a man in the eyes of his grandfather, Pap, whom he considers his true father figure. Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, who thrives on his nurturing attention, live with their African-American grandparents, who have raised them in their rural Mississippi home in the absence of their incarcerated white...

Cover: 'Whichwood'

"Whichwood" by Tahereh Mafi

★★★★★ Since the death of her beloved mother and the disappearance of her heartbroken father, thirteen-year-old Laylee is the only remaining mordeshoor in Whichwood, and she is quite literally working her fingers to the bone. Her job is to wash the bodies and souls of dead people in the village, and with a bit of magic only people in her occupation possess, send...

Cover: 'Uncommon Type'

"Uncommon Type" by Tom Hanks

★★★★★ Tom Hanks is an avid collector of typewriters, is obsessed with space travel and (who knew?) is a writer. This is what I learned while reading the collection of short stories, Uncommon Type, authored by Tom Hanks. That’s right, America’s favorite Hollywood star has broken into a new medium. As a fan of Hanks the actor, it took me a couple stories to lose...

Cover: 'Home Alone'

"Home Alone" by Jason Rekulak

★★★★★ Home Alone is a classic holiday film that's widely loved and appreciated. It's a film that pops up like clockwork every December and never gets old, no matter how many times you watch it (at least in my experience!) If you and your kids are fans of Home Alone as much as I am, you can now experience the film in the form of an eye-catching illustrated...

Cover: 'Spill Zone'

"Spill Zone" by Scott Westerfeld

★★★★★ In the early 70’s the Soviet science fiction authors, Arkady and Boris Sturgatsky, wrote ”Roadside Picnic” about the changes in the environment in places around the world after what is assumed to be an alien visitation. They wrote about a changed world, where artifacts from these locations displayed unusual and bizarre properties and effects, and the ways...

Cover: 'The Song From Somewhere Else'

"The Song From Somewhere Else" by A.F. Harrold

★★★★★ If it hadn’t been for the disappearance of Quintilius Minimus, her cat, Francesca’s (Frank’s) unlikely friendship with Nick Underbridge, the unusually tall, awkward, different, smelly boy from school, would probably have never happened. And if the other boys from her school weren't taunting and bullying her while she was at the playground posting posters...

Cover: 'Manhattan Beach'

"Manhattan Beach" by Jennifer Egan

★★★★★ Anna Kerrigan is an observant twelve-year-old who enjoys going with her father, Eddie, on his visits for his work, unaware that he works as a bagman for an Irish gangster. She knows something is different when they visit the home of Dexter Styles, a nightclub owner with syndicate ties and a society marriage, for the first and only time at Manhattan Beach....

Cover: 'The Child Finder'

"The Child Finder" by Rene Denfeld

★★★★★ Naomi is a child finder. Once a lost child herself, she is now hired out by parents searching for their missing children. She has proven that she has great skill (and luck) at finding missing children, whether they are dead or alive. Her latest case, locating a 5-year-old girl named Madison, takes her to the Skookum forest where Madison went...

Cover: 'Janesville: An American Story'

"Janesville: An American Story" by Amy Goldstein

★★★★★ Janesville, Wisconsin was home to the longest-operating GM plant in the world at the time of its closure in December 2008. This book provides a narrative account of life in Janesville after the closure of the plant, including long term effects, and includes the stories of employees of the GM plant and the local suppliers that supported it, their families,...

Cover: 'Magpie Murders'

"Magpie Murders" by Anthony Horowitz

★★★★★ With this book you get two mysteries to solve—one is a classic whodunit (Magpie Murders) that brings to mind Agatha Christie, and the other is a modern day mystery surrounding its author and manuscript. Susan Ryeland is an editor at a small publishing house whose fortunes were built on the success of prickly author Alan Conway’s Atticus Pünd series, and she...

Cover: 'Tumble & Blue'

"Tumble & Blue" by Cassie Beasley

★★★★★ Dumped on the porch of his grandmother’s house in the middle of nowheresville by his father (who supposedly is working some things out), Blue Montgomery feels even more cursed. The whole Montgomery family is the victim of a curse originated many generations ago, supposedly by an ancestor's encounter with a legendary golden alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp...

Cover: 'Jane, Unlimited'

"Jane, Unlimited" by Kristin Cashore

★★★★★ Eighteen-year-old Jane is adrift. After the recent death of her beloved Aunt Magnolia, who raised the orphaned Jane, she dropped out of college and is working at the campus bookshop when she gets an unexpected invitation. Her former tutor, Kiran Thrash, invites her to the spring gala at her family’s island estate, Tu Reviens. Jane might not have accepted...

Cover: 'Spirit Hunters'

"Spirit Hunters" by Ellen Oh

★★★★★ Harper Raine is sure that there is something really wrong with the old Gothic house that her family is moving into, beyond the repairs and renovations that her parents are making. She can sense it, and a neighborhood girl who becomes her friend confirms that it is rumored to be haunted. And then there’s Billy, a boy her four-year-old brother Michael...

Cover: 'Mrs. Fletcher'

"Mrs. Fletcher" by Tom Perrotta

★★★★★ Eve Fletcher is a 40-something divorcee whose life is at a crossroads. Her only child, Brendan, has just left for his freshman year of college, leaving Eve to figure out what to do now that she's on her own. Late one night, she receives a sexually explicit text from an anonymous number, which initially startles Eve but later intrigues...

Cover: 'Dead Woman Walking'

"Dead Woman Walking" by Sharon Bolton

★★★★★ In this gripping new novel, readers meet the lone survivor of a hot air balloon accident. Right before the balloon was ripped out of the sky, those inside witnessed a brutal crime. Knowing she exposed her face to the killer on the ground, the lone survivor stumbles from the scene of the accident, trying to stay alive. But is she really running to a safe...

Cover: 'The Apprentice Witch'

"The Apprentice Witch" by James Nicol

★★★★★ Sneaking out of her grandmother’s house early in the morning, young Arianwyn Gribble believes she is ready to become a full-fledged witch and take the Civil Witchcraft Authority’s evaluation and receive an assignment to serve her community. But then she loses her focus during the exam, the evaluation gauge supposedly malfunctions, and she is disappointingly...

Cover: 'The Windfall'

"The Windfall" by Diksha Basu

★★★★★ In East Delhi, the Jha's are accustomed to their middle class life in their apartment complex. Their only son, Rupak, is in America studying for his MBA, and Mr. and Mrs. Jha are content despite their small kitchen and nosy neighbors. When Mr. Jha sells his website for an exorbitant amount of money, the Jha's find themselves moving up not...

Cover: 'Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt'

"Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt" by Ben Clanton

★★★★★ In the second book of this graphic novel series, Narwhal and Jelly decide to become super heroes! But, you can’t just become a super hero. One needs a super cool outfit, a super cool name, and most importantly, a super cool super power. Narwhal tries to be invisible, but it doesn't work. He tries to be super strong, and even tries to fly (under the sea...

Cover: 'Forever, or a Long, Long Time'

"Forever, or a Long, Long Time" by Caela Carter

★★★★★ How can Flora ever believe in forever? After being shuttled from foster home to foster home longer than she or her brother Julian can even remember, how can she trust her new mother (who she calls Person because there have been way too many mothers) after they are adopted and promised a forever home. Carrying scars from their past, Flora has trouble getting...

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