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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: '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

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

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