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Staff Reviews: For Adults

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


'Hearts Beat Loud'  (DVD)

"Hearts Beat Loud" (DVD)

★★★★ Frank (Nick Offerman) is a middle-aged single father whose life is on the verge of change. He’s considering closing his small Brooklyn record store due to poor sales and his daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemons), is just weeks away from going off to college in California to study medicine. Both lovers of music, Frank and Sam write and record a song one night in...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Movies

'China Rich Girlfriend'  by  Kevin Kwan

"China Rich Girlfriend" by Kevin Kwan

★★★★ Set two years after the conclusion of Crazy Rich Asians¸ Rachel Chu and her fiancée, Nick Young, are still happily living in New York City. On the eve of their wedding, the couple receives a visit from Nick’s mother, Eleanor, whom he hasn’t spoken to in years (and who crashes the wedding rehearsal and amazingly dramatic fashion). Eleanor tells Rachel that...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Dietland'  by  Sarai Walker

"Dietland" by Sarai Walker

★★★ Plum Kettle has struggled with her weight for as long as she can remember. Now in her late 20s, she weighs over 300 pounds and has isolated herself away from most of society. But she’s formulated a plan to change her life completely: get lap band surgery, shed the weight and adopt an entirely new, more confident personae. Plum lives in New York City and...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

'An American Marriage'  by  Tayari Jones

"An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones

★★★ Roy and Celestial have been married for just one year. As part of their first anniversary, the couple visits Roy’s parents and the small Louisiana town where he grew up. After a disagreement in their hotel room, Roy decides to give Celestial some space and go for a walk. Later that night, the police burst into their room and arrest Roy, accusing him of rape...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

'Sex and the City and Us'  by  Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

"Sex and the City and Us" by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

★★★ Are you a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte or a Miranda? If you know the answer to that question, chances are you’re a fan of Sex and the City. Airing on HBO from 1998-2004, Sex and the City followed the lives of four women living in New York City as they navigated the worlds of dating, sex and relationships. The show became beloved for its witty dialog...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Other Mother'  by  Carol Goodman

"The Other Mother" by Carol Goodman

★★★★★ In this new novel by Carol Goodman, the reader is immediately gripped by new mother Daphne’s doubt after the birth of her daughter Chloe. When she meets and strikes up a friendship with Laurel, one of the mothers in her new support group, Daphne finally feels hope and reassurance. Unfortunately, events that Daphne never could of predicted lead her to run....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants'  by  Malcom Gladwell

"David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants" by Malcom Gladwell

★★★★ This non-fiction selection is really a discussion about the art of winning (success). The author starts with a description and analysis of the original (Biblical) "battle" between David and Goliath.  The author hypothesizes that, seemingly weaker David, won over the giant (in physical respects) Goliath because quite actually, he used his already...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Soup & Bread Cookbook'  by  Beatrice Ojakangas

"The Soup & Bread Cookbook" by Beatrice Ojakangas

★★★★★ 'Whether you love hearty stews and warm bread in the winter or cold soups in the summer, this is the book for you. This cookbook is subdivided into chapters for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter based on what fresh produce is available. The soups are impressive and sophisticated (like my favorite the apple-brie soup) but may not appeal to everyone; children...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'The Boleyn Deceit'  by  Laura Andersen

"The Boleyn Deceit" by Laura Andersen

★★★★ In this sequel to “The Boleyn King,” Minuette, a lady in waiting to the future Elizabeth I, is caught between her love for Dominic Courtenay and William (the fictional King Henry IX of England), who becoming increasingly obsessed with her and wants to make her his queen.  Treasonous plots add a political undercurrent to the love triangle. Andersen...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Jack The Ripper: The Terrible Legacy'  by  The Whitechapel Society

"Jack The Ripper: The Terrible Legacy" by The Whitechapel Society

★★★★★ Many know of the five women brutally killed by Jack the Ripper in London in 1888. However, the failure to bring the killer to justice left many unintentional victims in its wake. Conspiracies abounded about who was responsible for the crime. Numerous men were falsely accused of being Jack the Ripper. Many more were tainted by connections, however tenuous,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History, True Crime

'The Far Away Brothers'  by  Lauren Markham

"The Far Away Brothers" by Lauren Markham

★★★★★ Author Lauren Markham's deeply reported book tells the story of identical twins, the Flores brothers, who migrate from their home in El Salvador to California, not only to escape the violence of their native land but also in an effort to help their parents and siblings who stay behind in El Salvador. A mix of Markham's own firsthand accounts and...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

'The Kiss Quotient'  by  Helen Hoang

"The Kiss Quotient" by Helen Hoang

★★★★ Stella Lane is a 30-year-old econometrician who is better at predicting customer purchase trends than dating. Stella is fine with this, despite her parents wishes for her to find a mate. As a person with Asperger's, dating does not come as easy to Stella as math does. In fact, Stella compares French kissing to a shark getting it's teeth...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering'  by  Joanna Gaines

"Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering" by Joanna Gaines

★★★★★ This is a cookbook straight out of the very real kitchen of Joanna Gaines with recipes you know that she has made many times!  I am, in general, a fan of the Gaines Family and have watched several installments of their TV show Fixer Upper.  I picked up this cookbook more out of curiosity than anything else.  These days I have found that many...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction; Cookbook

'Playing with Matches'  by  Hannah Orenstein

"Playing with Matches" by Hannah Orenstein

★★★★★ With a recent degree in journalism, 22-year-old Sasha has no job prospects in New York City. After she sees the matchmaking company Bliss is hiring, she knows the unique backstory of how her parents met will make her a standout against the competition. After landing the job, Sasha delves into the world of Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and Bliss' large database of...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Chick Lit

'The Last Time I Lied'  by  Riley Sager

"The Last Time I Lied" by Riley Sager

★★★★★ Emma Davis is an aspiring painter on the verge of making it big in New York City’s art scene. But what inspires her work is something that’s haunted her since she was 13 years old, during her first (and only) summer at sleepaway camp: the mysterious disappearance of her three bunkmates. Camp Nightingale, an all-girls summer camp in upstate New York, has...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Suspense, Mystery

'Caged'  by  Ellison Cooper

"Caged" by Ellison Cooper

★★★★★ In this thrilling and atmospheric new novel by Ellison Cooper, readers meet Sayer Altair, a neuroscientist who ends up being called in as a lead investigator for a brutal murder in Washington D.C. The crime committed? A young woman was left to starve in a cage. When the victim is identified as the daughter of a prominent senator, the case goes public...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'My Oxford Year'  by  Julia Whelan

"My Oxford Year" by Julia Whelan

★★★ American Ella Duran has won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University for one year.  This has been a lifelong dream of hers that she has realized at the age of 24.  In addition to being a student there, she is also a key political advisor to key candidates back in the U.S.  Her expectations of Oxford are surpassed and more as she...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Contemporary Fiction

'Crazy Rich Asians'  by  Kevin Kwan

"Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan

★★★★★ Rachel Chu is invited by her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, to spend the summer in Asia. They will travel the continent and attend the wedding of Colin Khoo, Nick's best friend, in Singapore. Rachel accepts Nick's invitation and is thrown into the crazy, rich world of Nick's family and friends in Singapore. Money, status, and familial reputation are everything...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Calypso'  by  David Sedaris

"Calypso" by David Sedaris

★★★★ In David Sedaris’ latest compilation of observational essays, he and his longtime partner have purchased a beach house on the coast of North Carolina. Many of the essays in the book take place at this house, which Sedaris and his family use as a place to vacation in the summer or to gather during the holidays. The book contains 21 vastly different essays...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Humor, Essays

'Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story'  by  Chris Nashawaty

"Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story" by Chris Nashawaty

★★★ Nearly 40 years after its theatrical release, the film Caddyshack has an established spot in the history of pop culture through memorable quotes (“Did somebody step on a duck?”) and memorable characters like groundskeeper Carl Spackler, played by Bill Murray. Author Chris Nashawaty sets out to share not only the history of how the film was made and how...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Hillbilly Elegy'  by  J.D. Vance

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

★★★ Author J.D. Vance grew up among what he refers to as “hillbillys” – white, working class (and mostly poor) folks in Appalachia. Vance spent his adolescence split between extended family in Jackson, Kentucky and in Middleton, Ohio, a town in a state of decline after its main source of local jobs closes, leaving thousands without a job. In this memoir,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

'The Immortalists'  by  Chloe Benjamin

"The Immortalists" by Chloe Benjamin

★★★★ In the summer of 1969, siblings Varya, Daniel, Klara and Simon visit a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell people the day that they will die. The siblings, just children at the time, each receive their prediction separately. Some share their supposed death date with each other while some choose to keep the information to themselves. The book...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan BBQ Cookbook'  by  Nadine Horn

"VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan BBQ Cookbook" by Nadine Horn

★★★★★ Are you looking for healthy and delicious recipes to grill this summer? This new cookbook is a must for you! All recipes are vegan, so this cookbook is perfect for vegans, vegetarians, food allergy sufferers, or anyone who just wants some healthy alternatives this summer. Literally every recipe is fully photographed in all its delicious glory, and I just...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Cookbook

'All We Ever Wanted'  by  Emily Giffin

"All We Ever Wanted" by Emily Giffin

★★★★ In the Nashville's wealthy neighborhood of Belle Meade, Nina finds her family at the center of a scandal. Nina was raised in a middle class household, with a strong sense of character and doing the right thing. When she married Kirk, she was introduced to a lavish and wealthy lifestyle where money means everything. It is what their son, Finch, has always...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Contemporary Fiction

'The Deal of a Lifetime'  by  Fredrik Backman

"The Deal of a Lifetime" by Fredrik Backman

★★★★ When I saw this new book on the adult fiction shelf in the library, I judged it by physical size and the fact that it had less than 75 pages. I wondered, what could possibly be on the pages that makes it so popular? A man who loved work ahead of everything else in life, including his wife and even his own son, makes a decision with the lady in the gray...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

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