Marathon County Public Library

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Adult Services

Staff Reviews: For Adults

Check out these book reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring reviews of fiction and nonfiction for adults! (For reviews of books for all ages, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) These book reviews also are published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


'Manhattan Beach' by Jennifer Egan

"Manhattan Beach" by Jennifer Egan

★★★★★ Anna Kerrigan is an observant twelve-year-old who enjoys going with her father, Eddie, on his visits for his work, unaware that he works as a bagman for an Irish gangster. She knows something is different when they visit the home of Dexter Styles, a nightclub owner with syndicate ties and a society marriage, for the first and only time at Manhattan Beach....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Child Finder' by Rene Denfeld

"The Child Finder" by Rene Denfeld

★★★★★ Naomi is a child finder. Once a lost child herself, she is now hired out by parents searching for their missing children. She has proven that she has great skill (and luck) at finding missing children, whether they are dead or alive. Her latest case, locating a 5-year-old girl named Madison, takes her to the Skookum forest where Madison went...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Mystery

'The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir' by Jennifer Ryan

"The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir" by Jennifer Ryan

★★★★ As the men are heading off to war in 1940, the small village of Chilbury is subject to the ramifications of encroaching war, but a free-spirited female professor of music decides (to the shock of many) that the village choir need not be a casualty and forms a ladies’ choir to take its place. Through journal entries, letters, and other written correspondence...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Historical Fiction

'Little Fires Everywhere' by Celeste Ng

"Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng

★★★★ Almost every member of the Richardson family has something going for them. The family, headed up by matriarch Elena, lives in the wealthy and picture-perfect Cleveland suburb of Shaker, where people’s lives are practically planned out for them before they’re born. One day, the family wakes to find their home on fire. A fire that is, without a doubt,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

'Janesville: An American Story' by Amy Goldstein

"Janesville: An American Story" by Amy Goldstein

★★★★★ Janesville, Wisconsin was home to the longest-operating GM plant in the world at the time of its closure in December 2008. This book provides a narrative account of life in Janesville after the closure of the plant, including long term effects, and includes the stories of employees of the GM plant and the local suppliers that supported it, their families,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Magpie Murders' by Anthony Horowitz

"Magpie Murders" by Anthony Horowitz

★★★★★ With this book you get two mysteries to solve—one is a classic whodunit (Magpie Murders) that brings to mind Agatha Christie, and the other is a modern day mystery surrounding its author and manuscript. Susan Ryeland is an editor at a small publishing house whose fortunes were built on the success of prickly author Alan Conway’s Atticus Pünd series, and she...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Final Girls' by Riley Sager

"Final Girls" by Riley Sager

★★★★ Quincy Carpenter lives in New York City and is the curator of her own popular baking blog. But 10 years ago, she was the lone survivor of a brutal serial slaying in the middle of the woods, known as the Pine Cottage Murders. Though the rest of her college friends were stabbed to death by a deranged mental patient, Quincy survived and was branded by the...

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

'Jane, Unlimited' by Kristin Cashore

"Jane, Unlimited" by Kristin Cashore

★★★★★ Eighteen-year-old Jane is adrift. After the recent death of her beloved Aunt Magnolia, who raised the orphaned Jane, she dropped out of college and is working at the campus bookshop when she gets an unexpected invitation. Her former tutor, Kiran Thrash, invites her to the spring gala at her family’s island estate, Tu Reviens. Jane might not have accepted...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Mrs. Fletcher' by Tom Perrotta

"Mrs. Fletcher" by Tom Perrotta

★★★★★ Eve Fletcher is a 40-something divorcee whose life is at a crossroads. Her only child, Brendan, has just left for his freshman year of college, leaving Eve to figure out what to do now that she's on her own. Late one night, she receives a sexually explicit text from an anonymous number, which initially startles Eve but later intrigues...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

'Dead Woman Walking' by Sharon Bolton

"Dead Woman Walking" by Sharon Bolton

★★★★★ In this gripping new novel, readers meet the lone survivor of a hot air balloon accident. Right before the balloon was ripped out of the sky, those inside witnessed a brutal crime. Knowing she exposed her face to the killer on the ground, the lone survivor stumbles from the scene of the accident, trying to stay alive. But is she really running to a safe...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Windfall' by Diksha Basu

"The Windfall" by Diksha Basu

★★★★★ In East Delhi, the Jha's are accustomed to their middle class life in their apartment complex. Their only son, Rupak, is in America studying for his MBA, and Mr. and Mrs. Jha are content despite their small kitchen and nosy neighbors. When Mr. Jha sells his website for an exorbitant amount of money, the Jha's find themselves moving up not...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life' by David R. Montgomery

"Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life" by David R. Montgomery

★★★★ Many people choose sides between conventional and organic methods of farming, assuming that you will have to settle for lower harvests and smaller produce if you don’t want your food to be poisoned by carcinogenic pesticides. Montgomery brings the reader’s attention to a third option: conservative agriculture. This means not tilling fields with a plow,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook' by Norah Gaughan

"Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook" by Norah Gaughan

★★★★★ I love this book! Every pattern in this book is beautiful. Clear, clean-looking photographs display cable patterns ranging from beginner to advanced in skill level. The hard part is deciding where to start! The instructions are written so that knitters can really experiment and individualize each design to suit their projects. The author includes 2–3...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Lie to Me' by J. T. Ellison

"Lie to Me" by J. T. Ellison

★★★★★ What would you do if your wife suddenly left you, leaving only a note behind asking you not to look for her? What if you called the police anyway, knowing your life would be ripped apart, but desperate to find your wife even if she doesn't want to be found? What happens when you suddenly become the prime suspect in her disappearance? This fast-paced...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Thriller

'You Can't Touch My Hair' by Phoebe Robinson

"You Can't Touch My Hair" by Phoebe Robinson

★★★★★ Whether comedian Phoebe Robinson is performing stand up, hosting one of her two successful podcasts, or critiquing pop culture on Instagram, you’ll find yourself laughing and wanting more when reading this book. You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain, is a series of essays where Robinson explains cultural and racial...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Humor

'Revival, Volume One: You're Among Friends' by Tim Seeley

"Revival, Volume One: You're Among Friends" by Tim Seeley

★★★★ The day is January 2 and it's the dead of winter. It seems to be just another ordinary day in Marathon County, Wisconsin, that is, until everyone who passed away on January 1 suddenly comes back to life. Soon, all of Marathon County finds itself under a strict quarantine imposed by the federal government and tensions begin to run high. "Revival" focuses...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novels, Thriller, Paranormal

'Young Jane Young' by Gabrielle Zevin

"Young Jane Young" by Gabrielle Zevin

★★★★★ Aviva Grossman is a political intern in Florida. When she has an affair with her married boss, she feels the wrath from society as "the other woman." Unable to find work anywhere due to the scandal, Aviva reinvents herself as Jane Young far away in Maine. Years later, Jane decides to run for mayor of her small town. However, the past comes to light and...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Contemporary Fiction

'The Salt Line' by Holly Goddard Jones

"The Salt Line" by Holly Goddard Jones

★★★★★ In this future version of the United States, a deadly tick-borne disease has driven the population to live in regional zones. These safe areas are separated from the out-of-zone area by bands of scorched earth and large, vibrating walls—the salt lines. Life in-zone is dominated by technology and the digital world, and it’s a regimented but safe existence....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Undefined

'Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore' by Matthew J. Sullivan

"Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore" by Matthew J. Sullivan

★★★★ After a haunting past, Lydia lives a quiet life as a bookstore clerk. When she finds a favorite patron dead in the stacks, holding a photo of Lydia as a child in his hand, Lydia's life spirals out control. With her past suddenly coming closer into focus, Lydia is forced to confront memories she shares with no one else. Who was the frequent bookstore patron...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Breakdown' by B.A. Paris

"The Breakdown" by B.A. Paris

★★★★★ Stuck driving home late during a dangerous storm, Cass makes a pivotal decision to drive through the woods in order to get home sooner. When she sees someone stopped alongside the road, but they make no effort to flag her down, Cass drives on. The next morning, she finds out the woman from the woods was brutally murdered. Racked with guilt, Cass's life...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Astronaut Wives Club' by Lily Koppel

"The Astronaut Wives Club" by Lily Koppel

★★★★ 45 years have passed since humankind's last visit to the moon, during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. In that time, NASA and other space agencies around the globe have sent numerous satellites and rovers into the depths of space, but nothing to rival the awe and fanfare the agency's space program drummed up during the space race of the 1960s. Author Lily...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History, Outer Space

'The Lying Game' by Ruth Ware

"The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware

★★★★ Would you drop everything and travel hours with your baby if an old friend texted you, "I need you," after decades of silence? Four friends are reunited after just those three words, years after they were all expelled from a boarding school. Isa, Thea, and Fatima join Kate in a town where they left behind horrible rumors, hurt, and lies. It's not the safest...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Cafe by the Sea' by Jenny Colgan

"The Cafe by the Sea" by Jenny Colgan

★★★★ What do you do when you're forced to return to a place you ran away from during the hardest time in your life? Years before, Flora had fled the small Scottish island where she was born, vowing never to return. Instead she's been living in London, trying to ignore that fact that she's in love with her boss. When she's sent by said boss back to her tiny...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Persons Unknown' by Susie Steiner

"Persons Unknown" by Susie Steiner

★★★★★ Motivated by a desire to protect adopted twelve-year-old son Fly from potentially bad influences (and the frequent friskings he was subject to as a hoodie-clad black youth) and to find a better work-life balance as she anticipates the birth of her child, Mannon Bradshaw has moved back to Cambridgeshire with Fly, her sister Ellie, and Ellie’s toddler son,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Lincoln in the Bardo' by George Saunders

"Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders

★★★★★ Lincoln in the Bardo finds its inspiration in a brief moment in history—a February night in 1862 when President Lincoln visited the grave of his recently deceased eleven-year-old son, Willie—and transforms it into a complex reflection on grief, loss, uncertainty, and regret. Young Willie finds himself in the bardo, a state between the death of his physical...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

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