MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation ATTENTION: (1) MCPL is closed 3/17–6/15; (2) curbside pickup starts 5/4: details.

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: '1939: The Greatest Year in Film History'

"1939: The Greatest Year in Film History" by Mark A. Vieira

★★★★★ To all those who love motion pictures, 1939 will always be THE year. During 1939, so many, many classic films were produced. Mark Vieira reviews those films in this wonderfully-illustrated, insightful and affectionate guide to  that magical time and place. Vieira's book arranges the films in order of release. Most of the films is described in a two-to-...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities

Cover: 'Sisterland'

"Sisterland" by Curtis Sittenfeld

★★★★★ Whatever direction life carries us, we cannot escape our family of origin no matter how hard we might try.  Kate and Violet are identical twin sisters with psychic abilities, living very different lives. Kate, married with two children, tries to ignore her “senses” and live a somewhat normal life, while her single sister, Vi flaunts hers, even...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Hungry Girl 300 under 300'

"Hungry Girl 300 under 300" by Lisa Lillien

★★★★ Hungry Girl, was created by Lisa Lillien because, as she states in her book, “I’m just hungry”.    This calorie counting cookbook certainly doesn’t fall into the category of having dull and boring diet recipes. Every one of the plain and simple recipes featured in this book are “guilt free”.  Breakfast Scramble Pizza, Chicken Pot Pockets,...

Audience: adults | Genre: cookbook

Cover: 'Terra Maxima'

"Terra Maxima" by Wolfgang Kunth

★★★★★ This oversized, wonderfully-illustrated volumes has to be seen to be believed. Bursting with over 3,000 full-color photographs, TERRA MAXIMA is a visual guide to the major technological and cultural achievements of mankind. Its 576 pages describe and illustrate a myriad of human accomplishments such as the tallest buildings, the largest libraries, the most...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Treasures of the Civil War'

"Treasures of the Civil War" by

★★★★★ Published in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, MacLachlan's book is an appealing, intimate tribute to 13 legendary leaders who shaped the nation during the Civil War. Among the individuals covered are Lincoln, Grant Lee, Sherman, Clara Barton, George Custer, Frederick Douglass and George Pickett. Each merits a lengthy write-up...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'The Greatest Sitcoms of All Time!'

"The Greatest Sitcoms of All Time!" by Martin Gitlin

★★★★★ Everyone has a favorite sitcom. In THE GREATEST SITCOMS OF ALL TIME, Martin Gitlin has undertaken the daunting task of ranking the top 50 sitcoms of all time. The results make for entertaining and informative reading. Gitlin evaluated hundreds of shows based on factors such as its longevity, ratings, the awards it won, its impact on society and so on. From...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities, television

Cover: 'The West That Was'

"The West That Was" by John E. Eggen

★★★★★ John Eggen's book is a fascinating 'time travel' look back at Wild West cowboys. The hundreds of photographs found in the book date from the late 1880s and depict working cowboys in Colorado. They accurately capture the true life and times of cowboys as they round up steers, train horses, chow down around the campfire, etc. Taken together, they supply a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Literary Legends of the British Isles'

"Literary Legends of the British Isles" by Michael Thomas Barry

★★★★★ Michael Barry's enchanting LITERARY LEGENDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES provides capsule histories of the life and times of 50 of England's greatest writers and poets. Barry provides two-four page write-ups on such luminaries as Shakespeare, Kipling, Chaucer, Swift, Burns, Keats, Dickens, Shaw, Christie, Wordsworth, Wilde, Browning, Orwell, Tolkien and the Bronte...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Uncle John's Perpetually Pleasing Bathroom Reader'

"Uncle John's Perpetually Pleasing Bathroom Reader" by Bathroom Readers' Institute

★★★★★ Once a year the Bathroom Readers Institute uncorks their latest compilation of trivia facts and feats. Well, here comes UNCLE JOHN'S PERPETUALLY PLEASING BATHROOM READER, the 26th Bathroom Reader annual. And it's as chock full of fun and interesting facts as the first 25! This latest edition offers up 540 pages of info on fads & flops, forgotten history...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Souvenir Relics: Relics, Keepsakes and Curios from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History'

"Souvenir Relics: Relics, Keepsakes and Curios from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History" by William L. Bird, Jr.

★★★★★ This appealing look at American history spotlights over 50 memorabilia from history, detailing each item's history and how they came to find a home at the Smithsonian. Included are such fascinating items as a piece of the original Plymouth Rock, a Washington Monument cornerstone, the table/chairs used by Grant and Lee at Appomattox, a framed lock of Andrew...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Donuts'

"Donuts" by Elinore Klivans

★★★★★ This unbelievable book has recipes for 40 different kinds of donuts. From maple-bacon donuts to jelly-filled donuts tolemon-filled beignets and apple fritters, you will find the easy to follow recipes in this book. The hardest part will be deciding which ones to make first. The last chapter includes recipes for fillings, glazes and toppings to complete your...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'The A to Z of Children's Health'

"The A to Z of Children's Health" by Jeremy Friedman

★★★★★ This useful guide to children's health is written by a dozen pediatricians from the Hospital for Sick Children, one of the best children's hospitals in the world. Parents of small children will welcome the book's comprehensive, up-to-date information on diseases, illnesses, injuries, conditions, symptoms and treatments. Among the topics covered are...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, health

Cover: 'LIFE Unseen: Johnny Cash'

"LIFE Unseen: Johnny Cash" by LIFE Magazine

★★★★ The life and time of country music legend Johnny Cash are covered in this nicely-illustrated biography from Life Books. Over 190 black-and-white and color photographs of Cash, his family, friends and fellow musicians compliment an honest yet affectionate narrative that traces Cash's rags to riches story.  The book includes reminiscences by Rosanne Cash...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities, biography, music

Cover: 'The Beatle Invasion!'

"The Beatle Invasion!" by Bob Spitz

★★★★ In February 1964, four talented, cheeky, mop-topped English musicians landed in America, set to undertake a two-week tour and perform on the Ed Sullivan TV show. The Beatles had arrived and America - and the world - would never be the same. THE BEATLE INVASION is an entertaining, nicely-illustrated account of how John, Paul, George and Ringo conquered the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities, music

Cover: 'Biggest, Fastest, Deadliest: The Book of Fascinating Facts'

"Biggest, Fastest, Deadliest: The Book of Fascinating Facts" by Dan Bridges

★★★★ Dan Bridges' BIGGEST, FASTEST, DEADLIEST should prove to be catnip for all trivia buffs. Bridges' book offers up hundreds and hundreds of fascinating lists on a galaxy of topics including astronomy, sports, history, nature, inventions, foods, entertainment and so on. The information is nicely arranged in chapters on Arts & Artists, Animals, Film, Food...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'World's Most Dangerous Jobs'

"World's Most Dangerous Jobs" by Paula Reid

★★★★ Given the varied occupations out there, a few inevitably will be ranked as 'most dangerous.' British author Paul Reid provides an informative guide to 21 such positions in this fascinating and sometimes scary book. Among the jobs covered are bush pilot, storm chaser, astronaut, ice road trucker, volcanologist, Formula One driver, Grand National jockey,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'As I Knew Him'

"As I Knew Him" by Anne Serling

★★★★★ In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Rod Serling penned various movie and television scripts that demonstrated the power and majesty of the English language. Though termed "television's angry young man," his scripts consistently displayed a sensitivity, gentleness and perceptive understanding of the human condition. This tender and intimate biography, penned by his...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, memoir, television, celebrities

Cover: 'Four Seasons of Travel'

"Four Seasons of Travel" by National Geographic Society

★★★★★ This sumptuous travel guide offers up hundreds of gorgeous, full-color photographs and first-person reminiscences of "400 of the world's best destinations in winter, spring, summer and fall." Among the destinations covered are Edinburgh, London, Victoria Falls, Queenstown, New York City, Lake Como, Oaxaca, the Atlas Mountains, Newport, St. Petersburg,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, travel, photography

Cover: 'Starry Night'

"Starry Night" by Debbie Macomber

★★ When I first read the back of this book it sounded great. Karrie is a reporter for a news paper. Finn is an author he lives in Alaska, know one really knows anything about him and he likes it that way. Karrie is unhappy with her job and makes a deal with her boss to be the only reporter to get an interview with Finn Dalton. If she can land the interview,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, romance, chick lit, holiday

Cover: 'A Christmas Story Treasury'

"A Christmas Story Treasury" by Tyler Schwartz

★★★★★ Over the years, 'A Christmas Story' has become a perennial favorite around the holidays with its heartwarming story of young Ralphie longing for a very special Christmas gift. Tyler Schwartz's charming and informative book details the creation of this film and how it flowered into a beloved holiday classic. Illustrated throughout with color photographs, the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, holiday

Cover: 'Rescue'

"Rescue" by Anita Shreve

★★★★★ Anita Shreve, a well known author who wrote "A Pilots Wife," has done it again with her book "Rescue." Did you ever dream your life out completely, right down to land you where going to buy in your own town? Did your dreams ever spiral out of control and you had to be the strong one? Webster, a young paramedic, had his life all figured out and was saving...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Just what kind of mother are you?'

"Just what kind of mother are you?" by

★★★★ In Paula Daly's debut novel, we are introduced to Kate, an overwhelmed and overworked mother of three, who in the chaos of daily life not only forgets that her daughter's best friend was supposed to sleepover, but wakes up the next day to find that she is missing. After a young girl had recently been kidnapped and seen walking back into town with telltale...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Toy Time: From Hula Hoops to He-Man to Hungry, Hungry Hippos'

"Toy Time: From Hula Hoops to He-Man to Hungry, Hungry Hippos" by Christopher Byrne

★★★★★ Revisit your childhood with this charming, full-color chronicle of toys from decades past. Among the toys described and illustrated are Play-Doh, Barbie, Gumby, Uno, Rubik's Cube, Etch-a-Sketch, Teddy Ruxpin, Silly Putty, G.I. Joe, the Star Wars Action Figures, Care Bears, Dungeons and Dragons, Tonka Toy Trucks, NERF Ball, View-Master and the Frisbee....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history, collectibles

Cover: 'Shakespeare's Tremor and Orwell's Cough: The Medical Lives of Famous Writers'

"Shakespeare's Tremor and Orwell's Cough: The Medical Lives of Famous Writers" by John J. Ross

★★★★★ Author John Ross' book takes a unique view of the lives of 12 American and British literary notables, examining their medical histories to see what impact various maladies had on their personal life and literary output. Along with Orwell and Shakespeare, Ross looks at Hawthorne, Melville, London, Yeats, Swift, Joyce, Milton and the Bronte family, describing...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Pages