Marathon County Public Library

learning • community • ideas • information

Holiday hours: All MCPL locations will be closed Sat.-Mon., 5/27-5/29.

Staff Reviews

Check out these book reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring reviews of fiction and nonfiction for adults, children and teens! These book reviews also are published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber

"Caraval" by Stephanie Garber

★★★★★ Scarlett Dragna has dreamed of attending the mysterious Caraval, an annual, multi-night, and itinerant event in which the audience participates in the magical spectacle and competes for a prize. She’s written to Master Legend, the mysterious creator of the event over the course of seven years. Soon to be married to a man whom she’s never met (but sees as...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'As Brave As You' by Jason Reynolds

"As Brave As You" by Jason Reynolds

★★★★★ Eleven-year-old Genie is nervous to be spending a whole month of his summer vacation (with his older brother, Ernie, Jr.) at his paternal grandparents’ house. Not only is this Brooklyn native unprepared for life in the country (no cell signal or internet?!), it’s the first time his family has seen his grandparents in ten years, and there’s a lot of...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Passion of Dolssa' by Julie Berry

"The Passion of Dolssa" by Julie Berry

★★★★★ Dolssa de Stigata is a young noblewoman of eighteen who draws the attention of church authorities when they learn that she is telling family members and friends of the bond she shares with her beloved Lord. Sentenced to death along with her mother, she is mysteriously freed before she is to be dragged into the flames and begins a life on the run hiding from...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Love,Ish' by Karen Rivers

"Love,Ish" by Karen Rivers

★★★★★ Twelve-year-old Miscah “Ish” Love is a smart, self-aware, young girl with big dreams. She wants to be one of the first people to live on Mars. Together with Tig, her BFF (Best Friend Forever), they researched and planned everything together, even applied online, but now Tig is DTM, Dead To Me (her), because he moved away and she hasn't heard from him....

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Hunted' by Meagan Spooner

"Hunted" by Meagan Spooner

★★★★★ In this retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Meagan Spooner weaves the classic tale with Russian folklore to create a dark adventure full of magic, heartbreak, and destiny. Born to an aristocratic family, Yeva has always felt something is missing in her life. She is bored serving as one of the baroness's ladies and she only truly feels comfortable when...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Young Adult

'The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit' by Michael Finkel

"The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit" by Michael Finkel

★★★★ For 27 years, Christpher Knight lived in complete solitude in the woods of Maine, becoming known by locals as the North Pond Hermit. Knight only encountered a handful of wayward hikers in his quarter century in isolation, tucked away in a large camp that he made into his own makeshift home. Year after year, Knight survived on his own, meticulously...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

'Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars' by Nathalia Holt

"Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars" by Nathalia Holt

★★★★★ This book is an account of women who were human computers (and later computer programmers and engineers) at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in California. Rather than choose one of the occupations most commonly pursued by women of their time (teacher, nurse, or secretary), these women put their math and science skills to work in order to generate equations and...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Nonfiction

'A Study in Charlotte' by Brittany Cavallaro

"A Study in Charlotte" by Brittany Cavallaro

★★★★★ Jamie, a descendant of John Watson, is still adjusting to life at his new boarding school and recovering from a recent and disastrous encounter with Charlotte Holmes (descendent of Sherlock Holmes) when the pair become prime suspects in the death of a fellow student. It seems someone is intent on framing the duo, but who could it possibly be? They weren’t...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction Mystery

'Whole New You: How Real Food Transforms Your Life, for a Healthier, More Gorgeous You' by Tia Mowry, Jessica Porter

"Whole New You: How Real Food Transforms Your Life, for a Healthier, More Gorgeous You" by Tia Mowry, Jessica Porter

★★★★ If you’re looking for healthy recipes and information on why they’re healthy, this is a cookbook you have to check out! Tia Mowry (from “Sister, Sister” and “Tia Mowry at Home”) shares her health journey, and the foods that led her to recovery. Normally I stay away from celebrity-authored cookbooks, but I couldn’t help but be curious about this one. I’m so...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Cookbook

'Cut the Sugar, You're Sweet Enough: Cookbook' by Ella Leche

"Cut the Sugar, You're Sweet Enough: Cookbook" by Ella Leche

★★★★ Looking to cut out sugar from your diet, or find healthier ways to make your favorite recipes? This cookbook is a great place to start! Filled with beautiful photography of scrumptious looking desserts, main meals, sides, and more, I found myself marking quite a few recipes to try. There wasn't anything in the description about it being a vegan cookbook,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Cookbook

'What's It Like in Space?: Stories from Astronauts Who've Been There' by Ariel Waldman

"What's It Like in Space?: Stories from Astronauts Who've Been There" by Ariel Waldman

★★★★ If you're like me, you've often wondered what it's like for astronauts up in outer space; what it smells like, what it sounds like, and the overall difficulty of adapting to daily life. Now, there's a book that answers a lot of those questions and provides other interesting facts straight from the men and women who have traveled there and back! The...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Cat's Cradle' by Kurt Vonnegut

"Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut

★★★★ A young impressionable writer two sets out to interview the children of Felix Hoennikker, a brilliant scientist credited with inventing the atomic bomb. A believer in the Caribbean religion of Bokonon, the writer believes that God, fate and the universe will guide his life, introducing him to the people he is supposed to meet, sending him to the places he...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Satire, Dystopian

'The Widow's House' by Carol Goodman

"The Widow's House" by Carol Goodman

★★★★★ Jess and Claire Martin move away from their bustling Brooklyn life in hopes that their marriage and Jess's writing career are rekindled. Due to their dwindling budget they end up in their old college town, taking on a caretaker's job in a large house owned by one of their old writing professors. Soon, it's not Jess's writing career that's rekindled. Between...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Naked Vegan: 140+ tasty raw vegan recipes for health and wellness' by Maz Valcorza

"The Naked Vegan: 140+ tasty raw vegan recipes for health and wellness" by Maz Valcorza

★★★★ Are you looking for original, healthy recipes that fit a vegan lifestyle? This colorful, easy-to-follow book has it all! From breakfast to main meals to delicious desserts, this cookbook is all about recipes that nourish the body and the taste buds. Because the recipes are considered raw some of them do require a dehydrator, but the author includes easy...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Cookbook

'The Goldfish Boy' by Lisa Thompson

"The Goldfish Boy" by Lisa Thompson

★★★★★ Matthew Corbin is the “Goldfish Boy;" at least that’s what his cul-de-sac neighbors call him. In the safety of the upstairs window in his room, he watches and records his neighbors' comings and goings. Between that and all the compulsive hand and body washing, obsessing about germs and his supply of plastic gloves, and feeling responsible for his baby...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Ugly' by Robert Hoge

"Ugly" by Robert Hoge

★★★★ Growing up fairly normal-looking is difficult enough, but when you are, well, ugly, it is almost unimaginable. Born with a tennis ball-shaped tumor in the middle of his face instead of a nose, and with short twisted, mangled legs, Robert Hoge was not the sort of baby mothers rush to take home. As a matter of fact, his mother didn’t. After knowing the facts...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction

'Scar Island' by Dan Gemeinhart

"Scar Island" by Dan Gemeinhart

★★★★★ No one wants to end up on Scar Island, no one. Believing his crime to be so terrible, Jonathan Grimsby feels he deserves whatever punishment or bad treatment he is given at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys on this tiny, stony, awful spot in the black sea. Finding a crew of would-be gnarly pirates as the adults in charge, life is constant...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'My Happy Life' by Rose Lagercrantz, Eva Eriksson, Julia Marshall

"My Happy Life" by Rose Lagercrantz, Eva Eriksson, Julia Marshall

★★★★★ This book opens as Dani tries to fall asleep by counting all the times in her life she has been happy. Along with those happy times, she remembers some not so happy. Her mother died when she was very young and she lives with her father. Then, in her first year of school, her best friend moves away! But Dani stays positive. Lagercrantz excellently captures...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania' by Erik Larson

"Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania" by Erik Larson

★★★★ If you are looking for a good non-fiction book and like history, this is for you. This book reads and listens like a novel, which made it easier for me to read/listen to. This was a very interesting read because it was about something that was not taught in school. I personally have heard all there is to hear about the Titanic, but we don't ever hear...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Race the Night' by Kirsten Hubbard

"Race the Night" by Kirsten Hubbard

★★★★★ Has the world really ended? Is there really only pollution, drought and this desert ranch and a few chosen special kids and teachers left? Twelve-year-old Eider has nagging doubts and is plagued by memories of another world with her sister in it. At night she takes forbidden exploratory trips beyond the closely monitored fence and collects prohibitive...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Train I Ride' by Paul Mosier

"Train I Ride" by Paul Mosier

★★★★ Twelve-year-old Ryder is a wounded, but resourceful girl without a home, who is worried about her dwindling pool of relatives and looming foster care. This time she’s being sent from California by train to a relative in Chicago she doesn’t know. She was living with an uncaring grandmother after her drug-addicted mother could no longer care for her. On her...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Big Little Lies' by Liane Moriarty

"Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty

★★★★★ Mayhem. Madness. Murder. This is not how the annual trivia night fundraiser at Perriwee Public School was supposed to go, culminating in the death of one of the school's parents. But as the story unfolds, we find that appearances can be deceiving in this small, seemingly perfect oceanside community, and that boiling tensions will eventually erupt. ...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary Fiction

'Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation' by Damian Duffy

"Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation" by Damian Duffy

★★★★ Dana, an African American woman in 1970s California, finds herself thrust into the past after experiencing a dizzy spell. On her first unwarranted trip, Dana finds a young, red-haired boy drowning and saves his life. She finds out this young boy, Rufus, is a distant relative of hers and the son of a cold-hearted slave owner. Dana returns to...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Graphic Novels

'The Last Days of Pompeii' by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

"The Last Days of Pompeii" by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

★★★★ You may think you know the eventual outcome: everyone dies, right? There can’t be much suspense in that! But do they? The story’s climax takes place, as the title suggests, just days before Vesuvius erupts. By then, our heroes and villains are caught in a complex web of actions and counteractions ostensibly dealt out by Fate. The Last Days of Pompeii by...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Historical Fiction

'With Love from the Inside' by Angela Pisel

"With Love from the Inside" by Angela Pisel

★★★★ Grace Bradshaw is on death row for the murder of her infant son, William. When William was months old, he was always ill until he finally had a seizure and died. The investigation into William's death found traces of windshield wiper fluid in his bottle. Grace was diagnosed with Munchausen by Proxy and was found guilty for her son's death. Sophie,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction Mystery Thriller

Pages