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Staff Reviews

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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: 'The Skinnytaste Cookbook'

"The Skinnytaste Cookbook" by Gina Homolka

★★★★★ The tagline says it all "light on calories, big on flavor." This debut cookbook from popular food blogger Gina Homolka contains tons of recipes for creating delicious, low-calorie, and nutrient rich dishes. Ms. Homolka's recipes rely on whole foods as well as tips and tricks for reducing the calorie content of foods. This reviewer loved the shrimp and grits...

Cover: 'Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands'

"Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands" by Chris Bohjalian

★★★★★ This beautiful, tragic, heart-wrenching book tells the story of Emily, a teen who finds herself orphaned and homeless following a nuclear meltdown at the plant where her parents worked. Fearing that she will be blamed for the mistakes of her father, Emily runs away, assumes a new name, and struggles to survive on the streets. We sit helplessly by as she is...

Cover: 'Little One-Yard Wonders'

"Little One-Yard Wonders" by Patricia Hoskins

★★★★ This is an excellent addition to the other books in the One-Yard Wonders series. There are 101 sewing project ideas that you can make with just one yard of fabric! Find all of that scrap fabric you have at home at put it to good use making all sorts of useful things for babies to toddlers. One of my favorite projects is the car organizer! Any beginning...

Cover: 'Vegan Desserts'

"Vegan Desserts" by Hannah Kaminsky

★★★★★ This is an excellent source of delicious vegan desserts, for vegans and non-vegans alike! Recipes are separated into the four seasons and every one is beautifully illustrated, which makes preparing many recipes quite easy! Just like Kaminsky's other excellent vegan dessert resource, "Vegan a la Mode" (which everyone should check out as well), this...

Cover: 'Carsick'

"Carsick" by John Waters

★★★ John Waters, eccentric director of the original Hairspray and Cry Baby, hitchhikes from Baltimore to his apartment in San Francisco, and lives to write a book about his journey! About two-thirds of the book are novellas. The first one details all of the horrible things that Waters thought would happen to him. The second novella describes a best-case...

Cover: 'Flea Market Fabulous'

"Flea Market Fabulous" by Lara Spencer

★★★★ Anyone who loves a good flea market, looking at projects on Pinterest, or up-cycling different things will enjoy this book by Good Morning America's Lara Spencer. Lara walks you through updating different rooms in your house by using different vintage finds in miraculous ways. Along the way, she gives you tips and tricks to help you think about updating a...

Cover: 'The Enchanted'

"The Enchanted" by Rene Denfeld

★★★★ The enchanted place is not what you might expect. In fact, it is a prison, and its story is being told by a death row inmate. We are given a front row seat to viewing what goes on in this world and we are pulled along as the lady tries to save the life of a prisoner who simply wants to die. We are also able to glimpse a little of the life of the lady, the...

Cover: 'Euphoria'

"Euphoria" by Lily King

★★★★★ A surprising find, this novel takes us deep into the world of three young anthropologists working in the territory of New Guinea in the 1930s. When they meet by chance, their lives become intertwined in a treacherous love triangle. Beautifully written and deeply emotional, this is a tale of adventure, danger, romance, and a fierce battle to be the best in...

Cover: 'My Salinger Year'

"My Salinger Year" by Joanna Rakoff

★★★★ Dictaphones and typewriters in 1996? After graduate school, Joanna takes a job as an assistant to the literary agent who represents J.D. Salinger. The office appears stuck in the 1950s, despite the introduction of computers and email to the rest of the world. Joanna's duties include typing out a generic form letter to Salinger's fans, since Salinger will...

Cover: 'Make Ahead Paleo'

"Make Ahead Paleo" by Tammy Credicott

★★★★★ Interested in the new, popular Paleo diet? Try this cookbook out to help you learn more about it! Not only does this book give you good advice about how to approach trying a Paleo diet with tips of swapping ingredients but also useful kitchen tools to use, and how-to ideas on food storage. Not only that, but the recipes in this cookbook look really...

Cover: 'My Brother's Shadow'

"My Brother's Shadow" by Tom Avery

★★★★ Eleven-year-old Kaia is frozen in time, a horrendous, unimaginable time; the day she found her brother Moses in his bloody bed, dead.  Her mother, who has lost her job, numbs herself with booze, Kaia with not talking, withdrawing from everyone at school where she’s known as "the freak", not even daring to read any books at a higher reading level than...

Cover: 'Every Day'

"Every Day" by David Levithan

★★★★ Meet A, a 16-year-old who wakes up every day in a new body. Life has always been this way for A where every day brings a new family, school, town and even gender. A wakes up in the body of Justin, where he meets his girlfriend Rhiannon and instantly falls for her. Read how A struggles with wanting to stay with Rhiannon every day and not being able to...

Cover: 'The Make-ahead Cook'

"The Make-ahead Cook" by America's Test Kitchen

★★★★ If you're looking for tested dinner recipes that you can trust, this is your cookbook! It includes tips and over 150 recipes, most of which are easy casseroles, freezer meals, slow cooker recipes, or ready-to-serve entrees. Also included are 'One Grocery Bag, Three Meals'; one grocery list is provided and three different recipes you can make using the...

Cover: 'Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well'

"Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well" by Nancy Atherton

★★★★ If you're looking for a cozy mystery set in the English countryside with a cast of likeable characters and an ending that will make you smile, this is your next read! In the 19th Aunt Dimity mystery, Lori Shepard and the tight-knit village of Finch are burying one of the townsfolk when they meet Jack MacBride, the surprise nephew of the gentleman who passed...

Cover: 'The Secret Place'

"The Secret Place" by Tana French

★★★★★ Tana French is my favorite mystery author, so I highly recommend the fifth book in her Dublin Murder Squad series! St. Kilda's, a boarding school for girls outside of Dublin, has a bulletin board called "The Secret Place" where the girls can express their deepest secrets anonymously. It is usually a place for gossip and rumors, but one day a photo shows up...

Cover: 'The Good Girl'

"The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica

★★★★ If you were a fan of the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl", this is the perfect book for you! Colin Thatcher is paid to abduct Mia Dennett, the free spirited daughter of a prominent Chicago judge, and hand her over to his employers. However, once Mia is in his custody, he has a change of heart and decides to hide Mia in a secluded Minnesota...

Cover: 'The Cuckoo's Calling'

"The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith

★★★★★ I usually don't read many crime or mystery novels but I thought I would try this one since it was written by J.K Rowling. To my surprise, it was an excellent read about a beautiful, mega-celebrity named Lulu Landry, also known as Cuckoo. After Lulu falls off her balcony to her death, the police quickly rule it a suicide. However, months later, the private...

Cover: 'The Know-It-All'

"The Know-It-All" by A.J. Jacobs

★★★★★ Jacob's fears that his expensive college education is receding into a haze; a long, slow dive toward spending his days watching Wheel of Fortune and drooling into a bucket. To stave this off, he undertakes reading the entire "Encyclopaedia Britannica" from A-Ak to zywiec, 33,000 pages. He finds that this challenge recharges his brain which overflows with...

Cover: 'Orfeo'

"Orfeo" by Richard Powers

★★ Composer Peter Els has become a fugitive from Homeland Security. A philosophical, retired composer, Peter has been conducting chemistry experiments in his garage to find the true essence of music in the elements of earth. Chemistry was his second love, his first being a dreamy music student by the name of Clara, who urged Peter to pursue his talent for...

Cover: 'Growing Up Duggar'

"Growing Up Duggar" by Jana Duggar

★★★ While readers may not want to take romantic advice from girls who have never been in a romantic relationship, this book provides some insights into the lives of the notorious Duggar clan, famous for their large family of 19 children. Each chapter is divided into various relationships, such as relationships with parents, siblings, guys, culture, and of...

Cover: 'Complete Guide to Natural Home Remedies'

"Complete Guide to Natural Home Remedies" by National Geographic Society

★★★★ This book is a plethora of information! This guide includes remedies for all the common ailments, including skin, digestive, muscle, and breathing problems. Each ailment is broken down into more specific problems and multiple home remedies are given as well as information on when further medical attention is needed. Also included in this easy to follow and...

Cover: 'Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage'

"Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage" by Elizabeth Gilbert

★★★ Committed, a follow-up novel to the bestselling Eat, Pray, Love, is a continuation of Elizabeth's and Felipe's love story. On a routine trip back to the States, Felipe is whisked off by government officials who leave the couple with a choice: get married, or never again have Felipe in the United States of America. And so Elizabeth Gilbert must confront what...

Cover: 'Tailing a Tabby'

"Tailing a Tabby" by Laurie Cass

★★★★★ In the second installment of the Bookmobile Cat series, we again meet librarian Minnie Hamilton and her lovable cat Eddie. On one of their bookmobile runs across the Michigan countryside, they are flagged down by a woman whose husband is having a stroke. When the man is accused of murder days later, Minnie can't help but delve into investigation mode with...

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