MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation ATTENTION: (1) MCPL locations are open by appointment; (2) curbside pickup is available: [Details.]

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. The book 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.


Cover: 'The Unsuitable'

"The Unsuitable" by Molly Pohlig

★★★★★ Victorian, Gothic, Dark Humor. Iseult Wince is getting too old. Soon, she’ll be a spinster, which everyone knows is the worst fate of all. Iseult is a bit odd, and her father dislikes her. His goal is to find her a suitable husband (i.e. any man who will take her). Iseult believes her mother died while giving birth to her, resulting in a scar on her neck...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Alright, alright, alright : The oral history of Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused'

"Alright, alright, alright : The oral history of Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused" by Melissa Maerz

★★★★★ Writer Melissa Maerz stitches together the story of a film that's become a cult classic, Dazed and Confused, through the words of more than 100 people she interviewed for the book. The result is outstanding. I'm a big fan of books written in the oral history format because the story is told directly by those involved, rather than the occasional...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, film and television

Cover: 'To Catch A Witch'

"To Catch A Witch" by Heather Blake

★★★★ Darcy Merriweather is a wishcrafter, a witch who can grant other peoples’ wishes. She lives in a cozy Enchanted Village outside of Salem. Darcy runs a concierge company and has been hired to organize a competition called the Wicked Mad Dash by her friend Abby Stillwell. On the morning of the competition, a blizzard hits the Enchanted Village. While Darcy...

Audience: adults | Genre: mystery, fiction

Cover: 'The Count of Monte Cristo'

"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas

★★★★★ I recently took on a rather mundane home improvement project of tearing off wallpaper and painting my dining room. Not a fan of these projects, my saving grace is listening to an engaging audiobook, one that sweeps me away to other lands and people. I found this escape in The Count of Monte Cristo, written by French novelist Alexandre Dumas. The story...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, classic fiction

Cover: 'The Wicked Sister'

"The Wicked Sister" by Karen Dionne

★★★★★ For over a decade, Rachel has been locked in a mental institution, convinced she was responsible for the death of her parents. But when she finds out new details in the investigation that make her question everything she thought she knew, she returns to the one place she never thought she would: her family's breathtaking but haunting log cabin in the middle...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Playing Nice'

"Playing Nice" by J.P. Delaney

★★★★★ What would you do if you were told the son you've been raising lovingly for two years was not actually yours?  A parent's worst nightmare happens to Pete Riley, when a stranger shows up on his doorstep claiming to be his son's biological father. Miles Lambert claims his son was switched with Pete's, and has DNA results to prove it. What begins as an...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Rules of Magic'

"The Rules of Magic" by Alice Hoffman

★★★★★ The Rules of Magic is a prequel to the 1995 best-seller Practical Magic, a book I fell in love with years ago. That novel told the story of Sally and Gillian Owens, who were raised by their mystical aunts, Franny and Jet, after the death of their parents. But in The Rules of Magic, we rewind several decades, chronicling Franny and Jet’s lives into adulthood...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction, romance, magical realism

Cover: 'Norse Mythology'

"Norse Mythology" by Neil Gaiman

★★★★★ Neil Gaiman’s excellent retelling of the chief stories of Norse mythology is perfect as a first introduction to the material and well worth reading for those familiar with other versions of these tales.  The setting remains the ancient time of the gods, so in that respect it is not a modern retelling. Gaiman does, however, significantly develop the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Chocolate Shark Shenanigans: A Chocoholic Mystery'

"Chocolate Shark Shenanigans: A Chocoholic Mystery" by JoAnna Carl

★★★★ When a house in the neighborhood goes up for sale, Lee and Joe decide to team up with Lee’s aunt and uncle to flip the Bailey’s house for profit. A local developer, “Spud” Dirk has the same idea and swoops in with a higher offer on the house. Lee, who was not excited about flipping the house anyway, is happy to concentrate on managing the family business,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Home Before Dark'

"Home Before Dark" by Riley Sager

★★★★★ 25 years ago, Maggie and her parents fled their sprawling Victorian estate, Baneberry Hall, in the middle of the night. They claimed their house was haunted and, fearing for their lives, left all of their belongings inside. Driven by their harrowing experience, Maggie's father wrote a novel chronicling everything that allegedly happened inside the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Home Before Dark'

"Home Before Dark" by Riley Sager

★★★★ Maggie Holt’s philosophy is “every house has a story to tell and a secret to share.” And the 30 year-old contractor and home designer should know, having lived in one of the most notorious houses in the world – Baneberry Hall. When Maggie was just five years old, she and her parents fled Baneberry Hall in the middle of the night after having lived in the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, suspense, horror

Cover: '500 Miles From You'

"500 Miles From You" by Jenny Colgan

★★★★ This newest installment in the Scottish Bookshop series introduces readers to Lissie, an overworked nurse in London who witnesses a truly traumatic event. Suffering from PTSD afterwards and finding no relief as time goes on, she is encouraged by her supervisor to swap places with a nurse in a quiet Scottish town, hoping it will be the rest and recovery...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dead Ringer'

"Dead Ringer" by Annelise Ryan

★★★★ Another dead body has been found in Sorenson, Wisconsin, which means that Mattie and her husband, Steve Hurley, have a new case to solve.  The body of a Jane Doe, a drug addict, was found on the side of the road. However, the drugs did not kill her. She was stabbed multiple times in a specific pattern. When the autopsy reveals flower petals in one...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Howards End'

"Howards End" by E.M. Forster

★★★★★ Howards End is set in the early Edwardian era in England. The plot centers around two middle-class families: the Wilcoxes and the Schlegels. After the death of his first wife, Henry Wilcox marries Margaret Schlegel to the amazement of both their families. The two seem unsuited in age and interests. Margaret, an independent-minded woman, wants to help Henry...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Coconut Layer Cake Murder'

"Coconut Layer Cake Murder" by Joanne Fluke

★★★★ Hannah Swensen is back in her latest adventure!  Hannah is on vacation when she is called back to Minnesota to help her sister Michelle’s boyfriend, Lonnie, who has been accused of murder. Detective Lonnie Murphy had spent a night out with his high-school friends, only for one of them to end up dead. Unfortunately, Lonnie only remembers part of...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Notes from an Apocalypse'

"Notes from an Apocalypse" by Mark O'Connell

★★★ Author Mark O’Connell writes that he’s always had a pessimistic outlook, and nothing has reinforced that attitude more than the events of recent years. O’Connell writes that an increase in extreme weather events due to climate change, the growing gap between poverty and wealth, and intense division and societal unrest in the United States and other...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'We Ride Upon Sticks'

"We Ride Upon Sticks" by Quan Barry

★★★★★ The year is 1989. The hair is big, Janet Jackson rules the radio, and practically every teen is decked out in Jordache and Z. Cavaricci. For the young women on the Danvers High School field hockey team, their senior year is expected to bring another year of disappointment, consistent with their track record of losing big-time. But after one of the girls,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death'

"From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death" by Caitlin Doughty

★★★★★ Caitlin Doughty is one of my favorite nonfiction authors, Her writing is easily digestible, funny, clever, and fascinating. Caitlin Doughty is a mortician, and From Here to Eternity is a chronicle of her adventures around the world learning about other cultures relationship with death and funeral practices. Sectioned by location, the book starts in...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Before We Were Yours'

"Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate

★★★★★ Although the characters in this book are fictional, it is based on actual stories from survivors from the Tennessee Children's Home Society. Georgia Tann was the manager of this notorious organization who had doctors and lawyers in her back pocket. They were paid to tell new mothers that their baby had died. Mothers were told that...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Love Story of Missy Carmichael'

"The Love Story of Missy Carmichael" by Beth Morey

★★★★ Missy Carmichael is admittedly depressed. She spends nearly every day alone inside her London home, rarely venturing out and almost never engaging with strangers. She’s estranged from her daughter, and her son lives across the globe in Australia, leaving her with virtually no social connections whatsoever. While at the park one day, Missy meets Sylvie, a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Sun Down Motel'

"The Sun Down Motel" by Simone St. James

★★★★ Are you a fan of mysteries that grab hold and won’t let go? Do ghosts and the paranormal intrigue you? Carly Kirk has always been fascinated with the macabre and strange. The disappearance of her aunt before she was born has always been a sensitive subject in her family. In 1982 when her aunt Viv was 20 years old she disappeared without a trace while...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Great Successor'

"The Great Successor" by Anna Fifield

★★★★★ Kim Jong Un is known the world around as the leader of North Korea. Some view him as a ruthless dictator who keeps the people of his country under harsh, suffocating control while others see him as a power-hungry – though mostly harmless – ruler who strives for more respect and standing on the international stage. In The Great Successor, journalist Anna...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography

Cover: 'Alice'

"Alice" by Christina Henry

★★★★★ My favorite fairy tale retellings are those that you can’t immediately identify as a retelling, and this is one of the best. Meet Alice. Alice lives in a mental institution, she has no memory of how she got there, or why. She does have memories, just bits and pieces here and there; a tea party, long ears, the large slash down the side of her face, and *...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Pages