MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation

Staff Reviews

woman reading book by aloe plant
Staff Reviews: for Kids Staff Reviews: for Teens Staff Reviews: for Adults Staff Picks

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: 'Invisible Murder'

"Invisible Murder" by Lene Kaaberbøl, Agnete Friis

★★★★★ 5 stars for this Danish novel! When it comes to murder-mysteries I rank them according to how far into the book I read before I figure out who did it, and the freshness of the developing plot. This one kept me in the dark until the very end without losing me along the way. The Scandinavian mysteries are really a wonderful challenge for the reader because...

Cover: 'Mood Indigo'

"Mood Indigo" by Boris Vian

★★★★ Originally published in 1947, this book was translated into English and released with the opening of the new film version. I had never read this classic but I was intrigued. Touted as a love story gone tragic, it is indeed that and so much more. Vian's world invites you in with its soft edges, beautiful scenery, and mood inspired ambiance. We can't help but...

Cover: 'The Swedish Christmas Table'

"The Swedish Christmas Table" by Jens Linder, Johanna Westman

★★★★★ Looking for a unique and quirky Christmas cookbook? Look no further because The Swedish Christmas Table is what you seek. Covering all things Scandinavian, this book is chock-full of recipes from drinks to desserts to candy to feasts! There are so many recipes in this book that it would take a lifetime to make it all! The graphics and pictures are...

Cover: 'Scandinavian Christmas'

"Scandinavian Christmas" by Trina Hahnemann

★★★★ Since marrying into a Norwegian family, I have looked for traditional foods to prepare around the holiday season. "Scandinavian Christmas" does a great job of giving basic recipes for the Christmas season while also providing ideas for Advent, Christmas parties, and the popular Smorgasbord. This cookbook is well thought out and presented in easy-to-follow...

Cover: 'Rose Under Fire'

"Rose Under Fire" by Elizabeth Wein

★★★★ Rose Justice, an American Air Transit Auxiliary (ATA) pilot, is captured by the Germans in late 1944 and sent to the concentration camp for female prisoners at Ravensbrück. She struggles learn the rules of the camp, whether those imposed by the guards or those of her fellow prisoners. The novel paints a vivid portrait of life in the prison camp and Rose’s...

Cover: 'Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms'

"Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms" by Katherine Rundell

★★★★★ Will (Wihelmina) loves her wonderful, wild life on the hot, dusty African farm where she is free to roam, climb trees and play with her best friend Simon and numerous animals all day long. Unfortunately her idyllic life comes to an abrupt halt after her father dies from malaria and her father’s friend and new guardian Captain Browne marries a heartless...

Cover: 'The Impossible Knife of Memory'

"The Impossible Knife of Memory" by Laurie Halse Anderson

★★★★★ Hayley Kincain, a high school senior, is trying to fly under the radar at school, particularly because she cannot afford drawing attention to her life at home. Her father, Andy, a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is struggling with PTSD and a severe depression, and the return to his boyhood home has not proved to be a stabilizing force....

Cover: 'The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and The Game of Thrones'

"The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and The Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin, Elio M. García Jr., Linda Antonsson

★★★★★ Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire rejoice! This large and beautifully illustrated tome will answer many questions about key figures and events in the history of Westeros. Ancient history, Valyria, Aegon's conquest, the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty, and information about the key Westerosi houses are included. The book also covers Essos, including the Free...

Cover: 'Lots of Dots'

"Lots of Dots" by Craig Frazier

★★★★ Author and illustrator Craig Frazier creates dots of all colors and dimensions that young readers can discover around them. There are brightly-colored floating balloon dots, big drum stick dots, oranges (dots) falling from a tree, traffic light dots, ice cream dots, pea dots, heavy dumbbell dots, light bubble dots and more. This fun “I Spy” read-alike with...

Cover: 'Salad Samurai'

"Salad Samurai" by Terry Hope Romero

★★★★ This is one creative cookbook chock full of innovative ideas for all kinds of salads, dressings, and toppings. Recipes included building very unique pasta and lettuce salads, packed full with a variety of ingredients. All are vegan, but are sure to please those who don't normally eat that way. There are sweet and savory recipes, like 'Overnight Oats with...

Cover: 'Seriously Delish'

"Seriously Delish" by Jessica Merchant

★★★★ This cookbook is truly a celebration of food, with beautiful recipes that are a great mix between delicious healthy recipes and more scrumptious treats. Half of the recipes were actually already vegan (which is great for me!), just because the author favors equal parts healthy with equal parts 'treats', which I appreciated. I also enjoyed the author's...

Cover: 'Mermaids in Paradise'

"Mermaids in Paradise" by Lydia Millet

★★★★ "Mermaids in Paradise" is a comedic book about a honeymoon gone awry. The newlywed couple, Deb and Chip, expect nothing but sand, sun, and relaxation during their trip to the Caribbean, but when they meet a marine biologist named Nancy they stumble upon a discovery no one saw coming. While snorkeling in the coral reef they sight actual mermaids! To prove it...

Cover: 'DIY Braids'

"DIY Braids" by Sasha Coefield

★★★★★ Braided hairstyles have become very popular in recent years but they can be intimidating to recreate yourself. "DIY Braids" uses photographs and step-by-step instructions to help you create beautiful braided hairstyles that can be very simple or complex. I appreciated that the models used in the book had different hair types. One had straight hair and the...

Cover: 'The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story'

"The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story" by R. J. Palacio

★★★★★ This is a fantastic addition to the book Wonder, the incredible story about Auggie Pullman, a young boy with a unique face. In Wonder, readers had a glimpse into the viewpoints of several characters in Auggie's world, except for the bully himself: Julian. Now readers finally get a chance to experience Julian's point of view, and learn why he hated Auggie so...

Cover: 'Girls Like Us'

"Girls Like Us" by Gail Giles

★★★★★ "Girls Like Us" introduces us to Quincy and Biddy, two special education students (or as they refer to themselves, “Speddies”) as they graduate from high school and start life in the real world. Their high school advisor pairs them as roommates in a small apartment above the garage of their new employer and landlady. Quincy and Biddy could not engage with...

Cover: 'Rain Reign'

"Rain Reign" by Ann M. Martin

★★★★★ The likable narrator of this book, fifth-grader Rose Howard, sees homonyms everywhere and obsessively collects them. Her mother is gone (she doesn't know exactly where) so she lives with her impatient father, is strict about her own (and everyone’s) rules, and has a diagnosis: high functioning autism or Aspergers. When her beloved adopted dog, Rain,...

Cover: 'Make It Ahead'

"Make It Ahead" by Ina Garten

★★★★ Another beautiful Barefoot Contessa cookbook! In this cookbook, Ina includes tips for making every single recipe ahead, even whipped cream and roasted turkey! Ina shows us how we can have easy and elegant food suitable for any occasion. The accompanying photographs of the food and her home are gorgeous, and will make fans envy Ina's life in the Hamptons.

Cover: 'The Good Luck of Right Now'

"The Good Luck of Right Now" by Matthew Quick

★★★★★ Bartholomew Neil's world has centered on his mother for 38 years. When she dies suddenly, Bartholomew is left alone to try to figure out what to do with his life. When he finds a form letter from Richard Gere in his mother's dresser, he begins to write very detailed and intimate letters to the actor about his life. We follow along as Bartholomew struggles...

Cover: 'How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are'

"How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are" by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas

★★★★★ Written by four true Parisiennes, this book gives advice on how to live like a Parisian woman. It includes tips on style, beauty, books, bad habits, food, friends, family, and relationships. There is even a short collection of French recipes at the end. The women write their advice in short sentences and paragraphs, which makes this book quick, and fun, and...

Cover: '12 Days of Christmas with Six Sisters' Stuff'

"12 Days of Christmas with Six Sisters' Stuff" by Six Sisters

★★★★★ This book is a wonderful addition for anyone who is looking for a new Christmas craft or cookbook! Written by very popular bloggers, Six Sisters' Stuff, you will find all sorts of ideas on how to cook, enjoy, and share your holiday spirit. Not only is the book incredibly informative but also has wonderful pictures and easy to follow directions. It makes...

Cover: 'I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks'

"I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks" by Gina Sheridan

★★★★ This is a collection of short snippets from the daily interactions at a public library. From entertaining to disturbing to heartwarming, anyone who has worked in a public library will surely find this book entertaining and most likely, oddly familiar. Conversations are cataloged by theme, such as curiosities and wonders, reference work, and even human...

Cover: 'The Secret History of Wonder Woman'

"The Secret History of Wonder Woman" by Jill Lepore

★★★★★ Comic book geeks and history buffs alike will enjoy this fascinating story about the creator of Wonder Woman. William Moulton Marston invented the blood pressure-measuring lie detector test, and had a colorful academic career before he created the beloved comic book character. Inspired by the women's suffrage movement, and his own belief that women would...

Cover: 'The Longest Ride'

"The Longest Ride" by Nicholas Sparks

★★★★★ Two love stories, one that is three quarters of a century in the making and one that is brand new are told side by side in this beautifully written novel. When Ira is trapped in his car following an accident in a remote area, he recounts the stories of his life with his one true love, his wife Ruth. He describes their story as it unfolds decade after decade...

Cover: 'Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances'

"Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances" by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

★★★★★ Young adult readers rejoice! Three of our favorite authors have gotten together to write about the sweetness of love in the middle of a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. We have the pleasure of reading about three separate but connected couples who live in the same town, through the same blizzard, and the same joys of young love. This is such a fun book for the...

Cover: 'Circle of Stones'

"Circle of Stones" by Catherine Fisher

★★★ Sulis, a teenage girl being handed off to another set of new foster parents, arrives in Bath, England, ready to leave the past behind her. Within minutes, she is already nervously looking over her shoulders at every opportunity. Linked with her story is that of Zac, the assistant to the man who aims to invent the world's first circular street, King's Circus...

Pages