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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 Airport Book'

"The Airport Book" by Lisa Brown

★★★★★ Join a young boy, his toddler sister, and their parents as they journey through a busy airport. From leaving the house to experiencing turbulence, and from boarding the plane to the baggage claim, the siblings take you through the entire process of going to the airport and flying on a plane. There is even a fun subplot about the sister's toy monkey and his...

Cover: 'The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: 60 Easy Plant-Based Recipes Kids Can Make to Stay Healthy and Save the Earth'

"The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: 60 Easy Plant-Based Recipes Kids Can Make to Stay Healthy and Save the Earth" by Ruby Roth

★★★★★ Are you a parent or family member looking for healthy, fun meals for your youngest family members? This fun, new cookbook is a great resource for anyone looking for healthy recipes that will tempt even the pickiest eaters. Not only are all recipes vegan, so they are allergy friendly and environmentally conscious, but the author did a great job of...

Cover: 'The Girl From Everywhere'

"The Girl From Everywhere" by Heidi Heilig

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Nix has only known life as a time-traveling vagabond on her father’s Portuguese tall ship. (Yes, it looks like a pirate ship.) Her father, Slate, has a special ability to navigate to any location at a specific point in time, even mythical locations, as long as he has an authentic map created on that date. Nix has been to 21st century New...

Cover: 'Strong Female Protagonist'

"Strong Female Protagonist" by Brennan Lee Mulligan, Molly Ostertag

★★★★★ I don't always cry while reading books.  Mostly my sniffles are reserved for a good romance, but the graphic novel "Strong Female Protagonist" got me sniffling. "Strong Female Protagonist" tells the story of Alison Green, AKA Mega Girl, a former superhero turned college student.  After Alison is confronted by the damaging results of her...

Cover: 'The Daylight Gate'

"The Daylight Gate" by Jeanette Winterson

★★★★★ It's the best time of year for a suspenseful, spooky story and Jeanette Winterson has just the book for you! "The Daylight Gate" is a fictionalized account of the Trial of the Pendle Witches. In short chapters, Winterson relates the story of Alice Nutter, former student of the great alchemist John Dee and wealthy widow, who is accused of witchcraft, along...

Cover: 'Uninvited'

"Uninvited" by Sophie Jordan

★★★★★ It seems as though every time you turn on the news you hear/see reports of violence. What would happen if there was a way to test and see who would be most likely to commit those crimes before they happen? This book delves into an example of that. Author Sophie Jordan writes a very well done novel exploring the possibility of being able to test DNA to see...

Cover: 'Lock In'

"Lock In" by John Scalzi

★★★★★ It’s twenty-five years since an illness that became known as Haden’s Syndrome swept the world and left 1% of those afflicted in a state known as “lock in.” Those in lock in are aware of the world but unable to move or otherwise respond to their environment without the implantation of neural networks that allow them to connect to a virtual, Haden’s-only...

Cover: 'The Weight of Feathers'

"The Weight of Feathers" by Anna-Marie McLemore

★★★★★ This is a story of feuding families, superstition, love, and a hint of magic. While it may strike familiar chords, this is a beautifully written story not to be missed. The Corbeau family, descendants of tight-rope walkers, has a traveling act that showcases their balancing skills as they artfully jump from one slender branch to another in the tallest trees...

Cover: 'Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way'

"Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way" by Chloe Coscarelli, Neal D. Barnard

★★★★★ As always, Chloe Coscarelli's cookbooks are packed full of recipes for vegans and contain all the information you need to make over a hundred delicious meals. Not only will you find appetizers, soups, main meals, and pasta dishes, but Chloe has put together a tantalizing dessert section in this cookbook. I've got chocolate crème brulee, sea salt toffee bars...

Cover: 'How It Went Down'

"How It Went Down" by Kekla Magoon

★★★★★ Tariq Johnson hurried down the sidewalk, hunched over a bit carrying stuff and wearing a hoodie. A shopkeeper calls after him, and a bystander steps in to stop him, thinking Tariq stole something from the corner store. Someone says, “He’s got a gun,” and the bystander steps back, arms raised. He doesn’t see a gun when two shots are fired and Tariq Johnson...

Cover: 'Some Kind of Happiness'

"Some Kind of Happiness" by Claire Legrand

★★★★★ Finley Hart is sad. She is sad and downhearted about a lot of things, including the fact that she is being forced by her parents to spend the summer at Hart House, with grandparents and cousins whom she has never even met, while her parents try to “work things out”. To escape, she retreats into the Everwood, a forest kingdom fantasy world that she is...

Cover: 'Home is Burning'

"Home is Burning" by Dan Marshall

★★★★★ Dan Marshall had it made at 25. After being brought up in a privileged (some may say spoiled) home, he had a great job in Los Angeles, a devoted long-term girlfriend and no bigger problem than deciding where to vacation next. Then, while lounging in Palm Springs, that life instantly vanishes when Marshall gets a call from his parents telling him that his...

Cover: 'The Song Poet'

"The Song Poet" by Kao Kalia Yang

★★★★★ This is the true story of a courageous family who put family and love first. In some ways it is the continuing story of the author, Kao Kalia Yang’s family told in her first book, “The Late Homecomer”, only the focus of this book is her father, Bee Yang, who was orphaned as a young child, something that affected him his whole life. Bee Yang is a Song Poet,...

Cover: 'The Shadow Hour'

"The Shadow Hour" by Melissa Grey

★★★★★ This follow up to "The Girl at Midnight" did not disappoint! Echo and her diverse crew may have survived their quest to discover the firebird, but the promised peace is a distant promise at best. Hidden away in a London safe house, they’ve escaped the detection of the two warring races (the Avicen and Drakharin) who covet the firebird and consider them...

Cover: 'Flora and the Peacocks'

"Flora and the Peacocks" by Molly Idle

★★★★★ I loved this gorgeous lift-the-flap, wordless picture book and you will too. Flora from “Flora and the Penguin” and “Flora and the Flamingo” is back, this time making friends and fan-dancing with penguins. Not all goes well, however, in this give and take dance of friendship, but the stunning, surprise fold-out ending will leave you smiling. This beautiful...

Cover: 'The Fireman'

"The Fireman" by Joe Hill

★★★★★ Dad should be “Kingly” proud of his boy, for in the “The Fireman,” Joe has mastered the saga his dad is so famous for. There have been many apocalyptic books about viruses and plagues, but leave it to Joe, author of the "Horns", and "NOS482" to take it one step further, by having a plague called Dragonscale that shows up as tattoo-like marks on your body...

Cover: 'The Door By the Staircase'

"The Door By the Staircase" by Katherine Marsh, Kelly Murphy

★★★★★ Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes is miserable. She is so miserable that she attempts an escape up the small, sooty stovepipe from the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies, where, as an older child, there’s literally no chance of getting adopted, especially when the head mistress dislikes you. So when an old woman with a big nose, Madame Z, shows up to adopt her, she’s...

Cover: 'One True Loves'

"One True Loves" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

★★★★★ Emma Blair never wanted to take over her parents' bookshop on the East Coast. Emma dreams of traveling, writing, and exploring the world with her high school sweetheart, Jesse. That is exactly what the pair do, until tragedy strikes on their first anniversary. Jesse's work helicopter crashes in the Pacific Ocean. With all of the crew dead and no sign of...

Cover: 'Every Last Word'

"Every Last Word" by Tamara Ireland Stone

★★★★★ Samantha is not looking forward to the start of her junior year of high school. She enjoys the freedom of summer, particularly the freedom she finds on her summer swim team, where she can be “Sam” and can escape the scrutiny of her cadre of cool girl/mean girl friends, the Crazy Eights, who insist upon calling her Samantha. Then she meets Caroline, who is...

Cover: 'Little Black Lies'

"Little Black Lies" by Sharon Bolton

★★★★★ In the Falkland Islands terror grips a small community when children start to go missing. Though no one can believe there is a murderer among them, everyone becomes involved when the third child disappears. Among them is Catrin, a woman who lost all of her children in a horrible accident three years ago, who now seeks revenge on the woman who used to be her...

Cover: 'Hour of the Bees'

"Hour of the Bees" by Lindsay Eagar

★★★★★ A whole summer stuck in the intensely hot New Mexican desert helping her parents clear out her grandparents' sheep ranch and move her ailing, dementia-ridden, temperamental grandfather, who she has never even met before, is not even remotely what twelve-year-old Carol (Carolina) expected or wanted to be doing with her summer. Then she meets her grandfather...

Cover: 'Kitchens of the Great Midwest'

"Kitchens of the Great Midwest" by J. Ryan Stradal

★★★★★ Eva Thorvald is only a few months old when she loses both of her parents, Lars and Cynthia, to vastly different circumstances. From there, the book follows Eva's life from infancy through her mid-twenties, skipping anywhere from a few months to several years between chapters. Instead of having Eva tell us her own story, her life is framed through the eyes...

Cover: 'I Let You Go'

"I Let You Go" by Clare Mackintosh

★★★★★ In this unforgettable and deeply moving novel, Jenna Gray's life is catapulted into chaos one rainy night in November. To try to survive her nightmare, she escapes to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast. But her past never stays truly hidden, and she is plagued by what happened and the choices she made, even though she tries to heal from her mistakes. When...

Cover: 'The Summer Before the War'

"The Summer Before the War" by Helen Simonson

★★★★★ Beatrice Nash arrives in East Sussex late in the summer of 1914 as the newly hired Latin teacher for the school at Rye and the first woman appointed to the post. Lady Agatha advocated for the hiring of Beatrice, and she is prepared to do all in her power to ensure that Beatrice is a success. This may be a bit of a challenge since Beatrice does not fit the...

Cover: 'The Wild Robot'

"The Wild Robot" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Roz’s life begins in a peculiar way. Washed ashore in a crate on what appears to be a deserted island, she is the lone intact survivor of a sunken cargo ship. Charged by the island sun and literally jolted to life when a sea otter reaches through her crate and accidentally pushes a button on the back of her head, Roz, a robot, opens her eyes and introduces...

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