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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 Castle Behind Thorns'

"The Castle Behind Thorns" by Merrie Haskell

★★★★★ Waking up in the fireplace ashes of an unfamiliar and very broken castle, Sand discovers that nothing lives here, except the huge, dense thorny brambles that enclose the whole exterior, making it impossible to leave. He begins mending broken objects and soon discovers Perrotte, a girl his age and heir to the castle who has awakened from the dead. They...

Cover: 'The Son'

"The Son" by Jo Nesbø

★★★★★ Jo Nesbo, an award-winning author from Norway, has written another gripping thriller. The novel takes place in the seedy underworld of Oslo, but begins in a state-of-the-art prison. Prisoner Sony Loftus has a heroin addiction which has a steady supply, as long as he takes the fall for some gruesome murders in the area, even while he still remains a prisoner...

Cover: 'You Are Not Special and Other Encouragements'

"You Are Not Special and Other Encouragements" by David McCullough Jr.

★★★★ McCullough’s book came after a similarly themed graduation speech of 2012. His thoughts are well received and regarded because he speaks from the position of an educator of nearly 30 years (Interestingly he spent nearly a decade teaching in the Hawaii high school where President Obama admitted to spending his high school years mostly getting high and “by”...

Cover: 'The Organic Family Cookbook'

"The Organic Family Cookbook" by Anni Daulter

★★★★★ What a refreshing cookbook and way to think about healthy eating! This cookbook really makes you feel as though you can eat healthy and organic fairly easily.  There are excellent ideas for meals and snacks that are easy and don't require strange sounding, organic ingredients that can sometimes break a budget. The pictures are great and the book also...

Cover: 'I am Malala'

"I am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai

★★★★★ This fascinating and thought provoking memoir takes us into the world of schoolchildren in the Swat Valley of Pakistan; a world not often experienced by outsiders since the takeover of the Taliban. Malala faces adversity, including the brutal attack in which she was shot in the face by the Taliban, with the courage that comes from being passionate about...

Cover: 'The Girl with the Silver Eyes'

"The Girl with the Silver Eyes" by Willo Davis Roberts

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Katie Welker knows that she’s different in more ways than just having those unusual silver eyes which freak other people out. She can move things just by thinking about them and read the minds of cats, but what else might she be capable of.  After she discovers that her mother took a drug while she was pregnant that was later removed from...

Cover: 'Hate List'

"Hate List" by Jennifer Brown

★★★★ In this harrowing and eye opening novel, we are taken inside the lives of students affected by a school shooting. The main character, Valerie, is not only recovering from a gunshot wound, but dealing with the constant struggle of being the shooter's girlfriend. Shunned even by her own family afterwards, Valerie has a lot of healing, both physically and...

Cover: 'The Silkworm'

"The Silkworm" by Robert Galbraith

★★★★★ Writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, "Harry Potter" authoress J.K. Rowling brings us this second book about private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. As their search for missing author Owen Quine turns into a sadistic murder, perhaps as retaliation against Quine's libelous unpublished book, Strike and Robin also grow...

Cover: 'Lizzy Bennet's Diary'

"Lizzy Bennet's Diary" by

★★★★★ Inspired by Jane Austen’s classic novel, “Pride and Prejudice”, we can easily believe that Elizabeth Bennet just might have written this diary.  It is a fun re-imagining of Lizzy Bennet’s world through her eyes with realistic journal entries and cute drawings and captions filling each page. But it’s the realistic invitations, notes, and letters glued...

Cover: 'The Devil's Dozen'

"The Devil's Dozen" by Katherine Ramsland

★★★★ This non-fiction collection is comprised of cases of serial killers beginning with the nineteenth century through modern times, with a special caveat; all were solved with the most cutting-edge forensics of the day, by detectives that were unrelenting and dogged in their pursuit of the perpetrators of unspeakable crimes. H.H. Holmes (portrayed in "Devil in...

Cover: 'Ferry Tail'

"Ferry Tail" by Katharine Kenah

★★★★ Walter, the ferry dog loves his perfect job. He greets ferry-goers, fetches the captain’s morning newspaper, tastes the cook’s food, watches babies and barks at seagulls. The captain’s cat is the only one aboard he does not like. One day he doesn’t feel needed and decides to leave and try life on the island. This sweet, simple picture book will appeal to...

Cover: 'The Art of Secrets'

"The Art of Secrets" by James Klise

★★★★ Left homeless after a fire of unknown origin destroys their apartment, Saba Khan and her family’s lives are changed forever. Fellow students at Highsmith School decide to collect items for an auction to be held at school with the proceeds to be donated to Saba’s family. But when a rare and valuable painting worth hundreds of thousands of dollars gets...

Cover: 'A Mouthful of Stars'

"A Mouthful of Stars" by Kim Sunée

★★★★ Are you a lover of travel and exploring food? Then this is the cookbook for you! Kim has been a world traveler all of her life and uses this cookbook to highlight delicious recipes from her adventures across the globe. The pictures of the food are beautiful and her anecdotes included in each chapter add to our wanderlust as a reader. This is definitely a...

Cover: 'The Time Traveler's Wife'

"The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger

★★★★★ This is the extraordinary love story of Clare, an artist, and Henry, a librarian and time traveler. Henry has known Clare since she was a little girl but doesn't know it until he meets her in real time where she knows who he is and is already in love with him. Discover the complexities of time travel through their love affair of the ages. You will not be...

Cover: 'Will Grayson, Will Grayson'

"Will Grayson, Will Grayson" by John Green

★★★★ This is a hilarious story of how two different teenage boys with the exact same name come to meet one another and change each other's lives. I listened to this book twice on audio book and both times found myself laughing out loud on my commute! Both Will Grayson's lives are at a turning point in love, relationships, and life when their paths cross. The...

Cover: 'Body Language'

"Body Language" by Aaron Brehove

★★★★ I have read a number of books on the "science" of non-verbal communication i.e. "body language" and this book was one of the better ones I have read. Scientists have indicated that most communication occurs non-verbally via body signals which we give out unconsciously. While our words convey some meaning, some studies indicate that non-verbal communication...

Cover: 'The Medici Boy'

"The Medici Boy" by John L'Heureux

★★★★ Set in fifteenth century Florence, this novel is written as a confession and memoir by Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant to the great artist Donatello. Luca writes about living in the infamously sinful city of Florence and about the intimate details of life in Donatello's workshop. A collision of politics, art, and forbidden passions, this is a tale full of...

Cover: 'Little Green Peas'

"Little Green Peas" by Keith Baker

★★★★ The peas from the alphabet sensation LMNO Peas have returned for a new adventure exploring color. From green gardens to purple mountains to the red colors of fall, the peas see color everywhere. This book is recommended for toddlers and preschoolers who will gain color knowledge and letter knowledge from the vibrant, fun illustrations.  

Cover: 'The Boleyn Reckoning'

"The Boleyn Reckoning" by Laura Andersen

★★★★★ In the thrilling conclusion of this trilogy about the Boleyn King who never was, Minuette finds herself caught between the king’s increasingly obsessive love and her loyalty to her secret husband Dominic. As the backdrop to this love triangle, Catholic and Protestant factions vie for power, causing families, friendships, and political loyalties to fracture...

Cover: 'Allegiant'

"Allegiant" by Veronica Roth

★★★★★ The intriguing conclusion to the Divergent series, this book will be hard to put down. Tris and Four continue to search for answers and a way to put the pieces of their broken lives back together. What began with a choice that changed their lives forever continues to be a journey of choices and tough lessons in love, courage, truth, and sacrifice.  

Cover: 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane'

"The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman

★★★★★ A haunting tale of evils both real and supernatural, this story follows our narrator as he remembers the events that changed his world as a 7-year-old child. When a lodger commits suicide in the family car, evil powers are unleashed that quickly threaten his life and those of the people he loves. In order to survive, he must become brave enough to face this...

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