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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: 'Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis'

"Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" by Robert D. Putnam

★★★★★ Americans like to believe that anyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity for a fair start in life through education and hard work. This book explores the “opportunity gap” that exists between children of “working- class” parents (defined as those with whose education did not go beyond high school) and children of “upper-middle-class” parents (...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Cherry Harvest'

"The Cherry Harvest" by Lucy Sanna

★★★★ Set in Door County in 1944, "The Cherry Harvest" tells the story of the struggling Christiansen family. Charlotte and Thomas' son Ben is at war in Italy, and their daughter Kate is finishing high school. The family business is in Door County cherries, but with young men off at war, and others working in the shipyard sending off supplies to the war, the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer'

"Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer" by Antonia Murphy

★★★★★ Meet Antonia and Peter, a couple who move from America to New Zealand and end up becoming farmers of a sort. This is the story of how this couple traveled to New Zealand in a sail boat, how they started a family and then became hobby farmers. The hobby farm grew one animal at a time as their family constantly fell in love with the idea of a new animal to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Gates of Evangeline'

"The Gates of Evangeline" by Hester Young

★★★★ Charlotte Cates has not only just lost her young son suddenly, but now single and completely alone, she wakes up from a haunting dream where a young boy, around her son's age, asks her for help in finding him. When she is given a sudden job opportunity to write a book about an infamous thirty-year-old cold case about a young boy, Charlotte feels she must...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Ice Twins'

"The Ice Twins" by S. K. Tremayne

★★★★★ What would you do if your one surviving daughter, a year after the other twin's death, suddenly tells you she's really the dead twin? For over a year you've been calling her the wrong name and the wrong daughter survived. Forced to move from London into a lighthouse on a remote Island in Scotland after financial disaster and the death of one of their twin...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers'

"Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers" by Nick Offerman

★★★★ Anyone familiar with Nick Offerman or his on-screen alter ego, Ron Swanson, will not be surprised to learn that he values gumption and those who embody it. In this book, Offerman provides profiles twenty-one Americans who inspire him with their gumption-fueled actions across a wide range of professions. For example, he includes founding fathers, writers (...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'X'

"X" by Sue Grafton

★★★★ The 24th book in one of my favorite series finds private detective Kinsey Millhone juggling a few complex matters - a client who is not who she says she is, a secret from the past, a problem with her troublesome new neighbors, and a sociopath who considers Kinsey his next target. Using all her skills of detection, Kinsey must pull all the pieces together. I...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Longest Ride'

"The Longest Ride" by Nicholas Sparks

★★★★★ Two love stories, one that is three quarters of a century in the making and one that is brand new are told side by side in this beautifully written novel. When Ira is trapped in his car following an accident in a remote area, he recounts the stories of his life with his one true love, his wife Ruth. He describes their story as it unfolds decade after decade...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, romance

Cover: 'A Field Guide to Awkward Silences'

"A Field Guide to Awkward Silences" by Alexandra Petri

★★★★ Washington Post columnist and twenty-something Alexandra Petri has never been afraid to embrace the awkward and to march to beat of her own eccentric drummer. This humorous memoir is composed of essays on a number of experiences that explore varying types and degrees of awkwardness. Experiences include participation in an international pun championship,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)'

"You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)" by Felicia Day

★★★★ For those of you out there who are wondering who Felicia Day is, once you see her picture you will wonder where you know her from. Many are familiar with her online presence from various geek-doms and others will know her from television and commercials. She reveals a lot about why she became a gamer and how she grew to love that culture. Let's get real...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'Cooking Light The Good Pantry: Homemade Foods & Mixes Lower in Sugar, Salt & Fat'

"Cooking Light The Good Pantry: Homemade Foods & Mixes Lower in Sugar, Salt & Fat" by Cooking Light Magazine

★★★★ This new cookbook is packed full of homemade mixes, meals, doughs, snacks, and jams utilizing pantry items. I appreciated that each recipe is fully illustrated and is marked if nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free for all of us allergy sufferers. I was surprised that even though I can't have soy, dairy, or egg, I was still able to find a few...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'The Truth According to Us'

"The Truth According to Us" by Annie Barrows

★★★★ After refusing to marry a wealthy, well-connected man, Layla Beck is cast out by her father, a U.S. Senator. He arranges for her to be hired by the Federal Writers’ Project. Her task is to write the history of a small West Virginia town for their upcoming sesquicentennial. She boards in the home of a once-prominent family—the Romeyns. Layla is drawn to...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Coincidence of Coconut Cake'

"The Coincidence of Coconut Cake" by Amy E. Reichert

★★★★★ In this lovely new novel set in Milwaukee, Lou, owner and extremely talented chef of her own restaurant, literally runs into the food critic who eventually threatens to destroy her restaurant. Unbeknownst to either of them at the time, the food critic, Al, cannot forget the smell of vanilla and coconut Lou carried with her after their run in. But later that...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, romance

Cover: 'The Flying Circus'

"The Flying Circus" by Susan Crandall

★★★★★ Henry is running for his life. He is trying desperately to escape his past, his identity, and the darkness lurking in his lost memories. But escape is not so easy; disaster has been Henry's constant companion. As Henry flees from his past he encounters a rather unusual sight, a motorcycle recklessly racing an airplane across a field. When the motorcycle...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Black-Eyed Susans'

"Black-Eyed Susans" by Julia Heaberlin

★★★★★ In this extremely addicting, fast-paced thriller, Tessa Cartwright is months away from watching the man on death row executed for leaving her mistaken for dead in a field filled with black-eyed susans and the bodies of young women who did not survive his attacks. But when a patch of freshly planted black- eyed susans appears under her bedroom window, Tessa...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King's Court'

"Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King's Court" by Marci Jefferson

★★★★★ This novel follows Marie Mancini, the niece of a powerful cardinal in the court of French King Louis XIV. As Marie and Louis fall in love, she becomes the target of her uncle's wrath because her relationship with the king threatens to unravel his carefully laid political plans. Marie also has to contend with the king's mother and competition from her own...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'So You've Been Publicly Shamed'

"So You've Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson

★★★★★ Has social media, particularly Twitter, become the modern day equivalent of the stocks or pillory as public shamings become commonplace on the web? That question leads Jon Ronson to explore the history of public shaming and its current manifestations on social media, where an admittedly ill-advised or inappropriate comment or photo can turn into a wave of...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Stolen, Smuggled Sold: On the Hunt for Cultural Treasures'

"Stolen, Smuggled Sold: On the Hunt for Cultural Treasures" by Nancy Moses

★★★★ Moses is a woman intimately familiar with museums and the world of art. In this book she explores the rather shadowy world of art, ownership by individuals and museums, and acquisitions of spectacularly famous and valuable items under sometimes questionable methods. The book is divided into eight separate chapters covering the discovery, ownership,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, printz award winner, award-winning

Cover: 'Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery'

"Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery" by Jenny Colgan

★★★★★ This is the fantastic sequel to the equally fantastic "Little Beach Street Bakery" and was just as heartwarming and completely captivating as the first. Polly, having just bought a lighthouse with her boyfriend Huckle, is happily settled spending her days working in the local bakery that brought the town together. But when a newcomer comes to town, her...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Run You Down'

"Run You Down" by Julia Dahl

★★★★ In this sequel to "Invisible City", Rebekah Roberts—a twenty-three-year-old stringer for a New York City tabloid—is struggling to recover from the emotional trauma inflicted by her first investigation, which took her into the insular Hasidic community in Brooklyn, her mother’s hometown. Rebekah is Jewish by birth but still new to Jewish practice since she...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry'

"The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry" by Jon Ronson

★★★★ Jon Ronson is an English journalist who gets called to help decipher a homemade book delivered to scientists around the world. But beyond that, he is asked to determine if there is some “secret message” being relayed to the recipients or is this some elaborate hoax. In his quest he is led to a larger pursuit, i.e. who is or isn’t crazy, who decides who is...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Summer's End'

"The Summer's End" by Mary Alice Monroe

★★★★ The final book of Monroe's Lowcountry Summer Trilogy fills in the remainder of the story of the three Muir half sisters as summer comes to the end. All of the girls living at Sea Breeze have life-changing decisions to make as summer comes to a close. Harper finds her purpose, Dora looks ahead, Carson accepts herself, and Mamaw finds life again in this well-...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Under the Same Sky'

"Under the Same Sky" by Joseph Kim, Stephan Talty

★★★ In this book Joseph tells us the story of his life in communist-ruled North Korea. In North Korea he starved for 10 years due to inflated prices of food and his country's inability to grow their own food. He tempts fate when he crosses the Tumen River during the day and is "free" in China. Once in China, where he could be exported at any time, he finds life...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels'

"The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels" by John T. Edge

★★★★★ Don't let the title of this book fool you; yes, it is a cookbook but it is also a book about food trucks in major cities across the country and where to find them. All the food looks and sounds delicious! Good thing I live close to two of the cities highlighted here in the Midwest; Minneapolis and Madison. Not only does this book give you an inside look and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens'

"Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens" by Emily Wight

★★★★ I enjoyed this cookbook and its approach to eating well on a tight budget. Most of us can relate to the author needing to prepare meals on a budget. This cookbook does a good job of giving you new ideas of what to cook that you can add to your repertoire at home. The layout of the book is easy to follow and pictures help give you an idea of what a dish...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

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