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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 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...

Cover: 'The Last Black Unicorn'

"The Last Black Unicorn" by Tiffany Haddish

★★★★★ Stand-up comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish makes a living out of entertaining others and making people laugh. That might not seem like anything extraordinary, until you learn about all of the strife and setbacks Haddish faced in her life, especially before reaching adulthood. While growing up, Haddish had an absentee father, a mother who verbally and...

Cover: 'Dear Pope Francis'

"Dear Pope Francis" by Pope Francis

★★★★★ This book is a delightful and refreshingly candid look at Pope Francis and the children from around the world who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a letter and ask the leader of the Catholic Church any questions they wished. The questions they ask are honest, surprising, and ones that people of all ages would be interested in hearing his...

Cover: 'Sunburn'

"Sunburn" by Laura Lippman

★★★★★ Polly Costello is a striking, self-possessed woman with a complicated past who left her husband and young daughter behind at the beach, claiming to need a break from the sun, but she’s really looking for a fresh start. She stops in a bar in a small Delaware town for a drink and meets Adam, an intelligent, handsome man also just passing through, and sparks...

Cover: 'The Glass Town Game'

"The Glass Town Game" by Catherynne M. Valente

★★★★★ What happens when four children follow a man made entirely out of book and magazine pages onto a train headed for Glass Town? An adventure, of course! Only these aren’t just any children, they are the Brontës—Branwell, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—and the world they find themselves in is all their own creation. Glass Town and Gondal are at war, just like...

Cover: 'Educated'

"Educated" by Tara Westover

★★★★★ Tara Westover has an impressive academic pedigree that includes Harvard and Cambridge, but she did not set foot into a classroom until she enrolled at Brigham Young University at the age of seventeen. This compelling memoir immerses the reader into the isolated world in which she was raised in rural Idaho as the youngest of six children. Her father, a...

Cover: 'Lady Bird'

"Lady Bird" (DVD)

★★★★★ Lady Bird's life is at a crossroads, of sorts. It’s her senior year at her Catholic high school and she yearns to spice up her life and make the year a memorable one. More than anything, though, Lady Bird (played by Saoirse Ronan) wants to make sure she gets out of Sacramento after high school and moves a place where she feels she can...

Cover: 'Frogkisser!'

"Frogkisser!" by Garth Nix

★★★★★ Anya is a princess in a tough situation but with quite a gift. She is the Frogkisser. When Rikard, her evil, power-hungry, sorcerer stepfather takes over the kingdom of Trallonia and begins transforming people that get in his way into frogs, lizards and other critters, Anya discovers she has a magic gift all her own. With some magic lip balm and the...

Cover: 'Oddity'

"Oddity" by Sarah Cannon

★★★★★ Any book that starts out with fifth graders defending themselves against leopards (again) during a safety drill promises to be fun.  Oddity is a small town that's...well...odd.  Except to Ada Roundtree and her friends and family who have spent their whole lives there.  When Ada's sister Pearl disappears after "winning" the town sweepstakes,...

Cover: 'The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

"The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi" by Phil Szostak

★★★★★ The Star Wars universe is a vast and constantly growing thing. But did you ever stop to wonder what makes something look like it belongs in a Star Wars movie? In The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, readers see the various stages of planning that went into creating new creatures, vehicles, costumes and locations for the latest film in the franchise....

Cover: 'Moxie'

"Moxie" by Jennifer Mathieu

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Vivian plans to keep her head down and avoid making any waves as she rides out her last two years of high school in her small town Texas high school. However, after seeing the new girl face humiliation after a sexist incident in class, she finds inspiration in her mother’s “My Misspent Youth” box, which is filled with Riot Grrrl materials....

Cover: 'Goldeline'

"Goldeline" by Jimmy Cajoleas

★★★★★ Goldeline is called ghost girl because of her long, flowing white hair, making her a frightening distraction for the robbing bandits she helps in the magical Hinterlands, and who are the only "family" she has known since her momma was accused by the Preacher of being a witch and burned at the stake. However, during one of their jobs she discovers a young...

Cover: 'The Death and Life of the Great Lakes'

"The Death and Life of the Great Lakes" by Dan Egan

★★★★★ Dan Egan, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, provides a comprehensive portrayal of the Great Lakes, past and present, and a thorough analysis of the challenges the lakes have endured and continue to face. After establishing a portrait of the Great Lakes as they would have been experienced by the first European explorers, Egan traces the history...

Cover: 'Born at Midnight'

"Born at Midnight" by C.C. Hunter

★★★★★ Follow Kylie Galen on her journey to discovering who/what she is. Kylie seems to be your everyday, normal teenage girl. Her parent's send her off to a summer camp for "troubled" teens. Once there, Kylie's world gets flipped upside down and she soon discovers that the supernatural things seen in movies and read in books are real and that she is in fact a...

Cover: 'Lucky Broken Girl'

"Lucky Broken Girl" by Ruth Behar

★★★★★ Ruthie Mizahi is the “lucky broken girl,” at least that’s what they call her after the multiple car accident in which she survived but several other people died. Being new in America from Cuba, she learned just enough English to graduate from the fifth grade "dumb class” at school, and just received her very own dream pair of go-go boots. Now she has to lie...

Cover: 'Just Like Jackie'

"Just Like Jackie" by Lindsey Stoddard

★★★★★ Robinson (Robbie) has finally had enough taunting from the fifth grade school bully, Alex, punches him in the nose, and ends up in the principal’s office with her grandfather. She knows her grandfather will be angry with her for not doing what Jackie Robinson, her namesake, would have done--nothing. She helps her grandfather in his auto repair shop, with...

Cover: 'The Wife Between Us'

"The Wife Between Us" by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

★★★★★ Vanessa can’t believe that her ex-husband Richard is remarrying so quickly! She thought her replacement was going to be a short term fling, but news of their impending wedding has her in a tailspin. She’s barely holding it together as it is—she’s living in her aunt’s spare room, living off commissions as a saleswoman in a swanky department store (where she...

Cover: 'Elizabeth and Zenobia'

"Elizabeth and Zenobia" by Jessica Miller

★★★★★ Elizabeth is not too happy about moving with her father to Witheringe Manor, her emotionally distant father’s creepy, spooky childhood home, but at least she has her best friend and fearless companion, Zenobia with her, even if her father thinks she is far too old for an imaginary friend. Zenobia believes there is a spirit presence in the house and...

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