Marathon County Public Library

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Staff Reviews: Nonfiction

Check out these book reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring reviews of books for all ages! (For reviews of books of all genres, 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

'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

'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

'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

'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

'The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy' by Peggy Caravatnes

"The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy" by Peggy Caravatnes

★★★★★ Most people recognize Josephine Baker as that dancer in the banana skirt.  But Josephine Baker was a far more complex character than can be summarized in one sentence.  Starting life in the poorest slums of East St. Louis, Baker went on to gain international fame dancing and singing on stage and eventually on screen.  An extravagant dresser...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Biography, Nonfiction

'The Airport Book' by Lisa Brown

"The Airport Book" by Lisa Brown

★★★★★ Join a young boy, his toddler sister, and their parents as they journey through a busy airport. From leaving the house to experiencing turbulence, and from boarding the plane to the baggage claim, the siblings take you through the entire process of going to the airport and flying on a plane. There is even a fun subplot about the sister's toy monkey and his...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: 60 Easy Plant-Based Recipes Kids Can Make to Stay Healthy and Save the Earth' by Ruby Roth

"The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: 60 Easy Plant-Based Recipes Kids Can Make to Stay Healthy and Save the Earth" by Ruby Roth

★★★★★ Are you a parent or family member looking for healthy, fun meals for your youngest family members? This fun, new cookbook is a great resource for anyone looking for healthy recipes that will tempt even the pickiest eaters. Not only are all recipes vegan, so they are allergy friendly and environmentally conscious, but the author did a great job of...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way' by Chloe Coscarelli, Neal D. Barnard

"Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way" by Chloe Coscarelli, Neal D. Barnard

★★★★★ As always, Chloe Coscarelli's cookbooks are packed full of recipes for vegans and contain all the information you need to make over a hundred delicious meals. Not only will you find appetizers, soups, main meals, and pasta dishes, but Chloe has put together a tantalizing dessert section in this cookbook. I've got chocolate crème brulee, sea salt toffee bars...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'Vegan Bowl Attack!: More than 100 One-Dish Meals Packed with Plant-Based Power' by Jackie Sobon

"Vegan Bowl Attack!: More than 100 One-Dish Meals Packed with Plant-Based Power" by Jackie Sobon

★★★★ Looking for nourishing, vegan meals that smoothly fit into one dish? This is a fun new cookbook with tantalizing photographs of vegan meals. Favorites like shepard's pie and cinnamon rolls are not only given a vegan do-over, but the author's creativeness can be seen in each of the recipes. I found this a great new resource for vegans and clean eaters alike...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'Home is Burning' by Dan Marshall

"Home is Burning" by Dan Marshall

★★★★★ Dan Marshall had it made at 25. After being brought up in a privileged (some may say spoiled) home, he had a great job in Los Angeles, a devoted long-term girlfriend and no bigger problem than deciding where to vacation next. Then, while lounging in Palm Springs, that life instantly vanishes when Marshall gets a call from his parents telling him that his...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

'The Song Poet' by Kao Kalia Yang

"The Song Poet" by Kao Kalia Yang

★★★★★ This is the true story of a courageous family who put family and love first. In some ways it is the continuing story of the author, Kao Kalia Yang’s family told in her first book, “The Late Homecomer”, only the focus of this book is her father, Bee Yang, who was orphaned as a young child, something that affected him his whole life. Bee Yang is a Song Poet,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Grunt' by Mary Roach

"Grunt" by Mary Roach

★★★★ In this book, science author Mary Roach investigates the challenges the military tries to address in order to protect combat troops and provide the tools they need. She brings her trademark sense of humor, curiosity, and empathy to a wide range of topics that you never thought to be interested in. Frankly, some of them you may not rather think about, as...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Eating Well Made Easy' by Lorraine Pascale

"Eating Well Made Easy" by Lorraine Pascale

★★★★ This beautifully illustrated new cookbook is a great resource for healthy eaters looking for unique recipes. Inside you'll find everything from brunch recipes to desserts to meals for every occasion. I really enjoyed the enthusiasm the author has for eating well, and that every recipe had an accompanying (very enticing) photo along with it. A great new...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'Practically Raw Desserts: Flexible Recipes for All-Natural Sweets and Treats' by Amber Shea Crawley

"Practically Raw Desserts: Flexible Recipes for All-Natural Sweets and Treats" by Amber Shea Crawley

★★★★ Looking for naturally sweetened, allergy friendly recipes for anyone with a sweet tooth to enjoy? This is the perfect cookbook for you! Packed full with recipes that are dairy, soy, egg, and gluten free (and more), this is a great resource for families or anyone who shares my severe sweet tooth! As the recipes focus on using raw, healthier ingredients,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'The Make Ahead Vegan Cookbook: 125 Freezer-Friendly Recipes' by Ginny Kay McMeans

"The Make Ahead Vegan Cookbook: 125 Freezer-Friendly Recipes" by Ginny Kay McMeans

★★★★ Are you looking for healthy, delicious recipes that fit a hectic lifestyle? Or do you or family members have food allergies, or are clean eaters wanting new ideas for meals? This is a great new cookbook packed full with tantalizing vegan recipes, all freezer friendly to fit anyone's busy schedule. I appreciated that all of the recipes included were freezer...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City' by Matthew Desmond

"Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" by Matthew Desmond

★★★★★ This book is the result of an ethnographic study undertaken by Matthew Desmond, an associate professor of Sociology at Harvard (who earned his PhD at UW-Madison). Desmond researched the impact of eviction on distressed families in Milwaukee, WI. Over the course of 2008-2009, he lived in a substandard trailer park, whose tenants were largely white, and in an...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land' by John Coy

"Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land" by John Coy

★★★★★ This beautiful, heart-warming children’s book gave me goosebumps. The photographs portray a multitude of immigrants who came to America from many different countries. In simple, almost lyrical text it imparts the great sacrifices that the previous generation made, not only to bring their family to a new country, but to survive and provide new opportunities...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish' by John Hargrove, Howard Chua-Eoan

"Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish" by John Hargrove, Howard Chua-Eoan

★★★★★ Have you watched the movie Blackfish? Do you like orca whales? Have you been to SeaWorld? If your answer to any of these questions is yes then this is a book for you! As a lover of all marine animals, especially whales and dolphins, and having been to SeaWorld a few years back, I decided just based off the description of this book that I should give it a...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Animals

'Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-Based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes' by Dana Shultz

"Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-Based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes" by Dana Shultz

★★★★★ This is a fantastic treasure trove of vegan and mostly gluten-free recipes that are beautifully illustrated. I was thrilled to see Minimalist Baker publish a cookbook, as I've been following their vegan website for a while now. I can personally vouch for the one-bowl funfetti cupcakes, as well as many other recipes, so I'm very excited to start cooking many...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'Finding Winnie:  The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear' by Lindsay Mattick, Sophie Blackall

"Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear" by Lindsay Mattick, Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This is the heartwarming story of the real life "Winnie the Pooh." I really enjoyed how the author told the story in two parts and also included real journal entries and photographs from WWI. In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian on his way to care for horses in World War I, happened upon a lost baby bear at a train station. For some reason,...

Audience: Children | Genre: Caldecott Award Winner, Nonfiction, Picture Book, Read-Alouds

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