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Staff Reviews

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Check out these book and movie reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring works of fiction and nonfiction for adults, children and teens!

Our book reviews also are published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.

(The 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.)

Reading Advice MCPL Online

Cover: 'Africa, Amazing Africa'

"Africa, Amazing Africa" by Atinuke, Mouni Feddag

★★★★★ The colorful Africa, Amazing Africa by Atinuke is a fun way to get familiar with African geography. Atinuke and Mouni Feddag present each African country with a short description and illustrations. Southern, eastern, western, central, and northern countries are grouped regionally with a hand-drawn map for reference. The wording is concise and...

Cover: 'Skin of the Sea'

"Skin of the Sea" by Natasha Bowen

★★★★ Steeped in West African mythology and history, this creative retelling of The Little Mermaid will keep readers hooked and enrich their knowledge. Set in the mid-1400s at the beginning of the slave trade, the story centers on Simi, a Mami Wata (mermaid) tasked to collect and bless the souls of those who die at sea. When a boy named Kola is...

Cover: 'BOSH! on a Budget'

"BOSH! on a Budget" by Ian Theasby, Henry Firth

★★★★★ This new vegan cookbook is all about delicious food that won't break your budget. It is packed full of tantalizing recipes for breakfast meals, soups, salads, light meals, food to share with others, comfort food and, of course, dessert items. There's a hash brown breakfast pizza and blueberry pancakes that are calling my name, along with mushroom stroganoff...

Cover: 'The House Across the Lake'

"The House Across the Lake" by Riley Sager

★★★★★ Casey Fletcher is barely keeping it together. She’s a famous actress whose career and life have been in a downward spiral since her husband tragically drowned the previous summer. In the time since her husband passed away, Casey has turned to drinking heavily and having meaningless hookups, which culminated in a public meltdown that was covered thoroughly...

Cover: 'Hello, Molly!'

"Hello, Molly!" by Molly Shannon

★★★★★ Actress Molly Shannon broke onto the national scene in the mid-1990s after joining the cast of NBC’s Saturday Night Live. During her six-year stint on the show, she introduced the world to such iconic characters as the high-kicking, jumpsuit wearing Sally O’Malley; licensed “joyologist” Helen Madden; and the awkward, clumsy, armpit-smelling Mary Katherine...

Cover: 'Yours Cruelly, Elvira'

"Yours Cruelly, Elvira" by Cassandra Peterson

★★★★★ You probably don’t know the name “Cassandra Peterson” yet she’s likely someone you’ve seen numerous times over the last several decades on TV, in movies or in advertisements, especially around Halloween. Peterson is better known as her alter ego Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She first rose to fame in the early 1980s after adopting her stage personae and...

Cover: 'I Like This, You Like That'

"I Like This, You Like That" by Linda Ashman, Eve Coy

★★★★★ This sweet picture book teaches children that they can still be friends with someone even if they don’t agree on everything. Throughout the story, two young friends find they don’t seem to like any of the same things. One likes cold days and one likes hot days; one likes being messy and one likes being neat. Instead of being sad about it, though, they...

Cover: 'California Girls'

"California Girls" by Susan Mallery

★★★★★ This book is a total "chick flick" in book form!   This is the story of three sisters, who happen to have life-changing moments around the same time.  And let's not forget their mom, who really wants to become a Grandma in the worse possible way. After all, with three daughters, how could I not have a grandchild already?, she...

Cover: 'From Below'

"From Below" by Darcy Coates

★★★★★ What happened to the famous Arcadia, its passengers and its crew? How could such a grand ship vanish completely without a single trace?  60 years later, Cove and her diving crew are about to find out. When the wreck is finally discovered, Cove and her crew are excited to hopefully find out the cause of the mysterious shipwreck and its disappearance...

Cover: 'Marshmallow Clouds'

"Marshmallow Clouds" by Ted Kooser, Connie Wanek, Richard Jones

★★★★★ A collaboration between distinguished poets Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek is definitely a book to be read and reread! These are gentle poems that have a calming effect. While these poems are short and use simple words, they also contain numerous similes and metaphors for readers to consider and enjoy. A harp is “a great golden moth.” A book’s a sandwich, a...

Cover: 'The Nesting'

"The Nesting" by C.J. Cooke

★★★★★ What would you do if you had no where to go, and the opportunity of a lifetime landed in the seat next to you? Lexi finds herself in just such a position, riding around the train after devastating life events leave her homeless and jobless. When the opportunity to nanny for two young girls in Norway lands in her lap, she knows she has to take it. What...

Cover: 'Neurotribes'

"Neurotribes" by Steve Silberman

★★★★★ This book is an incredibly thorough and surprisingly easy-to-read medical and social history of autism spectrum disorders.  From the early years in horrifying institutions, to 20th century efforts of autistic extinction by both Nazi Germany and America, to modern day misinformation wars versus acceptance movements, this book thoroughly and fairly...

Cover: 'We Are Wolves'

"We Are Wolves" by Katrina Nannestad

★★★★ This work of historical fiction tells the story of three siblings in war-torn Germany, 1945. Officially, their country of East Prussia no longer exists. Forced from their homes and separated from their families, they hide from the Russian army in the woods, sometimes in deserted homes or barns. There is little food and, since the takeover happens in January...

Cover: 'How To Go Vegan'

"How To Go Vegan" by veganuary

★★★★★ Whether you’re thinking of going vegan one meal a day or you're a seasoned vegan (or somewhere in between), this has everything you need to know about veganism. Included are sections on how to go vegan in all parts of life including home items, traveling, nutrition, with your kids and more. This book lays out all the reasons a person may have for going...

Cover: 'Honey Roasted'

"Honey Roasted" by Cleo Coyle

★★★★ Bees swarm inside the Village Blend coffeehouse during an employee meeting. Clare calls 911 and to everyone’s surprise, the NYPD has a Bee Unit. Clare realizes she knows who the bees belong to. She and ex-husband, Matt, decide to visit the bee owner only to find the hives have been overturned and the owner unconscious on the balcony below. The police rule...

Cover: 'Iron Widow'

"Iron Widow" by Xiran Jay Zhao

★★★★★ Action-packed and brimming with righteous fury, the plot of this novel will take the reader through a unique blend of Chinese mythology, modern anime themes and superhero-like action sequences. The narrator Zetian is a young, spirited powerhouse bent on destroying the unfair patriarchal systems that caused the death of her sister at the start...

Cover: 'The Song of Achilles'

"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller

★★★★★ This is a beautifully-written romantic interpretation of the tragedy of Achilles and Patroclus, this time told from Patroclus' perspective. It tells of his childhood, how he met Achilles, and their time growing up together. The classic story sees new life in the form of modern prose adorned with heaps of beautiful imagery that pays homage to Homeric...

Cover: 'Firekeeper's Daughter'

"Firekeeper's Daughter" by Angeline Boulley

★★★★★ Daunis Fontaine is an 18-year-old living in her hometown of Sault St. Marie, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. While she should be headed to the University of Michigan to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, she decides to stay home to help her mother after a series of family tragedies. Daunis is also highly connected to her Firekeeper roots: she is...

Cover: 'Wanderess'

"Wanderess" by Elise Fitzsimmons, Nikki Vargas

★★★★ While not an in-depth travel guide, this is a fantastic starting point for travelers who identify as female and/or are traveling alone and want extra tips on staying safe. This brightly formatted book includes concise tips, packing lists, resources, travel quotes, and more. Included is everything from how to pack light to managing anxiety while traveling to...

Cover: 'The Proven Winners Garden Book'

"The Proven Winners Garden Book" by Thomas Christopher, Ruth Rogers Clausen

★★★★★ This nonfiction book was a perfect fit to spark ideas for the gardening season, and I loved the format as well. There are introductory sections for beginner gardeners who need help picking a spot and deciding on what plants to use, as well as sections on soil preparation, pruning, and maintenance like pest and weed control. My favorite sections were the...

Cover: 'Stacey's Extraordinary Words'

"Stacey's Extraordinary Words" by Stacey Abrams, Kitt Thomas

★★★★★ This is a heartwarming story for all lovers of reading, about a little girl who loves to discover new words and loves how words help her express herself. When Stacey's teacher signs her and a fellow student up for a spelling bee, Stacey's knowledge and courage are put to the test. I absolutely adored this picture book and the lessons it'll teach the...

Cover: 'Unbelievably Vegan'

"Unbelievably Vegan" by Charity Morgan

★★★★ Private chef to athletes and from the excellent documentary "The Game Changers", Charity Morgan packs a punch with this new vegan cookbook. I have so many recipes I want to try from this, from garlic ramen noodles to the spicy crab dip to the no-bake peanut butter cheesecake. I also really appreciated the opening chapter on sauces and dressings to add to my...

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