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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. 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 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

Cover: 'The Side Dish Bible'

"The Side Dish Bible" by America's Test Kitchen

★★★★ Are you looking for a cookbook packed with ideas on how to use any vegetable or grain you have at the moment? This cookbook is packed full of ideas on how to creatively use whatever you have on hand at any given time, whether it's a vegetable, rice, grain, or bean. It has recipes to suit any dietary needs, so I found plenty of vegan recipes I'm excited to...

Audience: adults | Genre: cookbook

Cover: 'Death in Mud Lick'

"Death in Mud Lick" by Eric Eyre

★★★★★ This fascinating book details not only the flood of opioids into West Virginia and its impact on the state's citizens, but also shows the power of investigative journalism to bring that information to light and affect change. Journalist Eric Eyre spent years writing hundreds of stories on the opioid crisis for the Charleston Gazette-Mail newspaper...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness'

"Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness" by Qing Li

★★★★ A book full of beautiful photographs, this talks about the Japanese science and art of forest bathing, shinrin-yoku. As someone who’s always felt a connection to any forest and craves daily doses of nature, I was instantly intrigued by this. The author describes the science behind forest bathing, how to practice it, and tips on bringing the outside in, all...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Painted Girls'

"The Painted Girls" by Cathy Marie Buchanan

★★★★★ The Painted Girls takes place in Paris in 1878 and tells the story of the Van Goethem sisters, who love to dance. The family is surviving until the father dies and the sisters are raised by their mother, a laundress with a drinking problem.  The oldest girl is Antoinette, who must take over the role of the mother. She is an extra...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Big Bing'

"The Big Bing" by Stanley Bing

★★★ This is a book about office politics and uses humor and self-help recommendations. The author uses information from his own experiences and, although this is an older book, it still has information that can be used today. The author writes about climbing the corporate ladder and how you should observe your surroundings. Listen to your colleague’s advice...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, business

Cover: 'The Book of Longings'

"The Book of Longings" by Sue Monk Kidd

★★★★★ Through an abundance of research and her own imaginings, Sue Monk Kidd weaves together a fantastic piece of historical fiction that tells the story of a young woman named Ana, who becomes the wife of Jesus. While one would think this novel would be religious in nature, it focuses more on the historical context of life in 1st century Israel and Jesus'...

Audience: adults | Genre: historical fiction

Cover: 'Lost & Found'

"Lost & Found" by Jacqueline Sheehan

★★★★ For the person who has ever had - or has - a dog that you love, this book is for you. The story starts as Rocky's husband has a major heart attack in their bathroom. She tried to save him with CPR, but fails. Now, Rocky needs to put together her life, alone. That is, until she moves to Peak Island off of Maine. The story tells of a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Vegan Travel Handbook'

"The Vegan Travel Handbook" by Lonely Planet Food

★★★★★ This was an informative travel guide full of beautiful photos and tempting vegan restaurants from around the world. I was so glad to stumble upon it! Each chapter includes a summary of the area, practicalities like when it is best to travel to that area, and useful phrases used when ordering food. It also has a synopsis on local cuisine, top restaurants in...

Audience: adults | Genre: travel

Cover: 'Glass Town: The Imaginary World of the Brontes'

"Glass Town: The Imaginary World of the Brontes" by Isabel Greenberg

★★★★ This graphic novel of historical fiction is an excellent blend of fantasy and reality. In the prologue, readers meet Charlotte Brontë in 1849. As the only survivor of her siblings, she is haunted by memories of their make-believe kingdoms Glass Town and Gondal. These memories come in the form of a conversation between Charlotte and her character Charles...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: graphic novel

Cover: 'The Authenticity Project'

"The Authenticity Project" by Clare Pooley

★★★★★ Julian, a 75 year old London artist, starts a little green journal where he writes about his loneliness and his regrets. Julian leaves this journal in a neighborhood cafe and Monica happens upon it. Monica reads Julian's entry and is inclined to share her biggest fears and regrets. She then leaves it for a stranger to find. Soon enough, the little...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Greenwood'

"Greenwood" by Michael Christie

★★★★ Author Michael Christie's novel tells the story of four generations of the Greenwood family, whose lives all revolve around trees: Jake, a guide through one of the last old-growth forests to survive the Great Withering; her father Liam, a carpenter who grew up wandering the wilds of Canada with his mother Willow, a dedicated but non-violent eco-warrior...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Better Liar'

"The Better Liar" by Tanen Jones

★★★★ If you are a fan of suspenseful thrillers, this debut novel by Tanen Jones is a must read!  This novel races through twists and turns, alternating between chapters told by three unreliable narrators: Leslie, Robin, and Mary.  Leslie has spent the last few years taking care of her father as he dies from cancer. After he dies,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Wicked Saints'

"Wicked Saints" by Emily A. Duncan

★★★★★ When I picked up Wicked Saints I thought I knew what I was getting into, boy was I wrong. This novel follows three main characters, introduced as A Girl, A Prince, and A Monster. Full of twists and surprises, this book blew me out of the water and into someplace dark and unsettling. Set amidst a war between two neighboring countries, the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Copperhead'

"Copperhead" by Alexi Zentner

★★★★ For a high school senior, Jessup Collins has a lot on his mind. He’s focused on leading his football team to state. He’s hoping to secure a collegiate scholarship that will take him far away from his hometown of Cortaca, New York. And he’s heavily weighing how the people in town will view him and his family now that his stepfather has been released from...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction, fiction

Cover: 'Queen & Slim'

"Queen & Slim" (DVD)

★★★ A forgettable first date quickly turns tragic for a black woman and her companion, a black man who kills a police officer in self-defense during a traffic stop. Rather than risk immediate arrest over the killing, the man and woman (played by Daniel Kaluuya and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith, respectively) are forced to flee the scene and drive across the...

Audience: adults | Genre: movies

Cover: 'American Prison'

"American Prison" by Shane Bauer

★★★★ Investigative journalist Shane Bauer spent four months making $9 an hour as a guard at a privately-run prison in Louisiana and documented his experience - and the history of the for-profit prison industry - in this interesting book. Bauer used his real name to work at the prison but was otherwise "undercover" because no one knew he planned to write about...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Things You Save In a Fire'

"Things You Save In a Fire" by Katherine Center

★★★★★ This story is about an old-school firehouse in Boston that has a few issues with the new female firefighter on staff. Not only is there a new female on the C shift, but a new rookie. With budget cuts for the fire station, only one of the newbies can stay.  Who will get to keep their job - the rookie (whose dad was a fire chief, and quite...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dear Girls'

"Dear Girls" by Ali Wong

★★★★ Comedian Ali Wong is perhaps best known for her Netflix comedy specials Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife, or for her romantic comedy Always Be My Maybe. In this hilarious, side-splitting memoir, Wong recounts her youth, getting started as a comedian, and her adventures in parenting through a series of letters addressed to her two young daughters (with the...

Audience: adults | Genre: memoir, nonfiction

Cover: 'A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, far Away...'

"A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, far Away..." by Paul Hirsch

★★★★ Oscar-winning editor Paul Hirsch breaks down his career movie-by-movie, and in the process provides an inside look at an integral part of making movies, but one that seldom receives much attention. Directors, actors, score composers and even cinematographers receive praise (or criticism) for movies they make, but the editor is the one responsible...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, movies

Cover: 'Acid for the Children'

"Acid for the Children" by Flea

★★★★★ Flea, a musician and actor best known as the bassist for the rock/funk band Red Hot Chili Peppers, has written a memoir covering his early years growing up in Australia, New York City and eventually Los Angeles. His love of literature had a positive impact on Flea's own writing abilities, and his memoir is well-written, funny, sad, moving, poetic and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, music

Cover: 'The Music of the Deep'

"The Music of the Deep" by Elizabeth Hall

★★★★★ Alex Turner escapes from an abusive relationship by fleeing to a small town and taking on a job with a local marine biologist, who researches the orcas that pass through the area. While the locals are attached to the local group of orcas that swim through, the town is also known for being one of the most haunted towns in Washington. The more Alex stays, the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Recipe for a Perfect Wife'

"Recipe for a Perfect Wife" by Karma Brown

★★★ Leaving Manhattan was never part of Alice Hale's life plan. Yet she finds herself, on the verge of 30, moving to the sleepy suburbs with her husband, Nate. Recently fired from her public relations job (though Nate thinks she left on her own accord), Alice plans to keep busy by writing her first novel, making renovations to the outdated property...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction

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