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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.


'Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America' by Jill Leovy

"Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America" by Jill Leovy

★★★★★ This work of narrative journalism explores the complex issues contributing to the homicide rate in Los Angeles, focusing on the black-on-black homicide rate in South Central LA. The book is informed and inspired by Leovy’s experiences reporting on homicide for The Los Angeles Times, during which time she was an embedded reporter in the Seventy-seventh...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Princess Diarist' by Carrie Fisher

"The Princess Diarist" by Carrie Fisher

★★★ Nearly everyone knows Carrie Fisher for her portrayal of Princess Leia Organa in the "Star Wars" film series. Being so strongly associated with this iconic character is something Fisher has struggled with virtually from the beginning of her career until she learned to embrace her alter ego later in life. The double-edged sword of a dilemma is the basis...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Celebrities

'Small Great Things' by Jodi Picoult

"Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult

★★★★★ Ruth Jefferson has spent twenty years of her life working as a nurse in the labor and delivery ward of a hospital. With years of experience and little to no complaints about her care as a nurse, Ruth is puzzled as to why Davis Bauer's parents don't want her to touch their newborn. Ruth finds a pink Post-It on Davis Bauer's file that states no African...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Why Not Me?' by Mindy Kaling

"Why Not Me?" by Mindy Kaling

★★★ As someone who was thoroughly entertained by actress Mindy Kaling's first memoir "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" I really looked forward to what she had to say in this follow-up. While this book didn’t quite match the humor and substance of its predecessor, it was still enjoyable to read. Known as the star of TV's "The Mindy Project" and for...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Humor, Celebrities

'The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo' by Amy Schumer

"The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo" by Amy Schumer

★★★★ Celebrity memoirs almost always seem to promise to "bare it all" and give the reader an uncensored look at the star's life, but most only half-heartedly keep that promise. Amy Schumer, however, is not one of those stars. In her debut book, Schumer (perhaps best known for her Comedy Central sketch series or her semi-autobiographical comedy film "...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Celebrities, Humor

'Girl Waits With Gun' by Amy Stewart

"Girl Waits With Gun" by Amy Stewart

★★★★★ Constance Kopp and her two sisters (Norma and Fluerette) live quiet, isolated lives on their small farm in New Jersey. Their peaceful life comes to an abrupt halt when their buggy is struck and overturned by an automobile while on a routine trip into Paterson. Constance, a tall and formidable woman, politely demands the contact information for the driver (...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Historical Fiction

'Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films' by Andrew Antoniades, Mike Siegel

"Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films" by Andrew Antoniades, Mike Siegel

A complex and enigmatic individual, Steve McQueen became a screen legend playing anti-authoritarian loners.  Authors Antoniades and Siegel combine talents to produce this weighty and wonderful account of the life and film career of McQueen. The book is an entertaining tribute to the King of Cool, featuring over 1,000 color and black and white...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Celebrities

'Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill' by Barry Singer

"Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill" by Barry Singer

Of all the major political figures of the 20th Century, Winston Churchill certainly lived life to the fullest. A master of the English language, prolific author and lover of cigars and fine brandy, Churchill relished the political and intellectual world as few others did. Barry Singer’s book offers an insightful and altogether charming portrait of the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Cary Grant: A Life in Pictures' by Yann-Brice Dherbier

"Cary Grant: A Life in Pictures" by Yann-Brice Dherbier

Few actors ever equaled Cary Grant’s elegance, sex appeal and versatility on screen. Yann-Brice Dherbier’s book offers up 170 pages of black and white photographs of Grant at work, at home and at play. It’s an entertaining photographic tribute that reminds us that Grant truly was one-of-a-kind.  

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Celebrities, Photography

'Porch Lights' by Dorothea Benton Frank

"Porch Lights" by Dorothea Benton Frank

★★★★ This is a great read for hurricane season.  Even devastating things in life can be worked out when family comes together.  Jackie and her son Charlie build a new life with help from Sullivan's Island.  

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Someone Like You' by Barbara Bretton

"Someone Like You" by Barbara Bretton

Two sisters struggle to come together when their formerly famous mom suffers a stroke and burns down her house, but their own issues with intimacy get in everyone’s way. Bretton’s book shows promise, but the story ends almost before it begins with a too convenient and hurried ending.  

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Brahms Deception' by Louise Marley

"The Brahms Deception" by Louise Marley

“The Brahms Deception” is a music history meets sci-fi thriller novel. When a musicologist travels back in time to unravel a mystery that has haunted musicians for centuries, her rival must find a way to undo the damage she creates. The book has an unexpected and interesting premise and well-developed -- if slightly stereotypical -- characters. The average...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Music

'All the Missing Girls' by Megan Miranda

"All the Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda

★★★★ 28 year-old Nicolette Farrell reluctantly returns to her North Carolina hometown after a 10-year absence in order to renovate and sell her childhood home and care for her father, who is ailing from Alzheimer's. While back in town, Nic reconnects with her brother Daniel, with whom she has a strained relationship; and her high school boyfriend Tyler, whose...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers

'Lithium Jesus' by Charles Monroe-Kane

"Lithium Jesus" by Charles Monroe-Kane

★★★★ Charles Monroe-Kane is a Peabody Award winning producer at National Public Radio. Before earning that title he spent what seems like a lifetime acquiring the labels of youth preacher, faith healer, traveler, smuggler, environmental activist, record producer, circus manager, and more. During his childhood Monroe-Kane began hearing voices in his head....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biography, Mental Health, Travel

'Jane Steele' by Lyndsay Faye

"Jane Steele" by Lyndsay Faye

★★★★★ At first glance, Jane Steele’s life mirrors that of the heroine of her favorite book, Jane Eyre. Both are orphaned, treated poorly by their extended relations, sent to oppressive boarding schools, and seek employment as a governess. (Don’t worry, Bronte fans. There’s a Mr. Rochester, albeit in the guise of a traumatized British doctor born and raised in...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Born a Crime' by Trevor Noah

"Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah

★★★★★ Before Trevor Noah was an internationally known comedian and host of The Daily Show he lived a modest life in South Africa with his mother. The two made a remarkable “team,” as he calls them, constantly trying to get ahead at the center of a world attempting to keep them behind. Trevor Noah’s father is white, Swiss, and German. His mother is black and...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Humor

'Missing, Presumed' by Susie Steiner

"Missing, Presumed" by Susie Steiner

★★★★★ Manon Bradshaw loves her job as a detective sergeant in the Cambridgeshire Major Incident Team and excels at it, but her personal life is unfulfilling. She has grown weary of the internet dating scene, even as she plays the game of shaving a few years off her actual age (39) and cribbing her hobbies and interests from other people’s profiles. In her latest...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Mystery

'The Vanishing Year' by Kate Moretti

"The Vanishing Year" by Kate Moretti

★★★★★ Zoe Whittaker is leading a life most can only dream of. Living in a Manhattan penthouse with a handsome, extremely wealthy husband, Zoe appears to have it all. But the past she ran away from is suddenly creeping back, edging ever closer to ruining her perfectly constructed life. Zoe doesn't know who to trust, what to do, or where to go. Her life begins...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'A Discovery of Witches' by Deborah Harkness

"A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness

★★★ Diana Bishop, an Oxford scholar and non-practicing witch, discovers a long-lost alchemical manuscript that promises to reveal the origins (and future) of all supernatural species: witches, vampires, and "demons." However, Diana's reluctance to share this discovery puts her at odds with the supernatural community and drives her into an unlikely romance with...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

'Crosstalk' by Connie Willis

"Crosstalk" by Connie Willis

★★★★★ Briddey Flannigan is thrilled when her boyfriend, Trent, proposes that they both undergo a relatively new and popular surgical procedure that enhances one’s ability to experience a romantic partner’s feelings. Sure, it’s literally brain surgery, but who wouldn’t want to share such an emotionally significant moment as a marriage proposal at a deeper level...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction

'The City Baker's Guide to Country Living' by Louise Miller

"The City Baker's Guide to Country Living" by Louise Miller

★★★★ In this cozy new novel we meet Livvy, who left her high pressure pastry chef job literally in flames. With no money and no job, Livvy escapes to rural Vermont, where her best friend sets Livvy up with a baking job at a quaint inn. Complete with loveable characters, a gigantic dog, and delicious descriptions of decadent desserts, this was a cozy read that...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'Leave Me' by Gayle Forman

"Leave Me" by Gayle Forman

★★★★ "Leave Me" is the debut adult novel by popular young adult author Gayle Forman. The story follows Maribeth, a woman who experiences a heart attack at a young age and how that event makes her evaluate her life and how she lives. In an instant she decides to leave her family to help herself heal. What happens after this decision, how Maribeth heals, and the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

'The Singles Game' by Lauren Weisberger

"The Singles Game" by Lauren Weisberger

★★★★ Charlotte "Charlie" Silver has the good girl image down in the world of tennis. She's sweet, plays by the rules, her brother is her manager, and she keeps her personal life top secret. After a devastating injury at Wimbledon, Charlie needs to re-brand herself and re-train her mental and physical game. After letting her friend and longtime coach Marcy go,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit

'The Daylight Gate' by Jeanette Winterson

"The Daylight Gate" by Jeanette Winterson

★★★★★ It's the best time of year for a suspenseful, spooky story and Jeanette Winterson has just the book for you! "The Daylight Gate" is a fictionalized account of the Trial of the Pendle Witches. In short chapters, Winterson relates the story of Alice Nutter, former student of the great alchemist John Dee and wealthy widow, who is accused of witchcraft, along...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Lock In' by John Scalzi

"Lock In" by John Scalzi

★★★★★ It’s twenty-five years since an illness that became known as Haden’s Syndrome swept the world and left 1% of those afflicted in a state known as “lock in.” Those in lock in are aware of the world but unable to move or otherwise respond to their environment without the implantation of neural networks that allow them to connect to a virtual, Haden’s-only...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction

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