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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: 'Hillbilly Elegy'

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

★★★ Author J.D. Vance grew up among what he refers to as “hillbillys” – white, working class (and mostly poor) folks in Appalachia. Vance spent his adolescence split between extended family in Jackson, Kentucky and in Middleton, Ohio, a town in a state of decline after its main source of local jobs closes, leaving thousands without a job. In this memoir,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Immortalists'

"The Immortalists" by Chloe Benjamin

★★★★ In the summer of 1969, siblings Varya, Daniel, Klara and Simon visit a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell people the day that they will die. The siblings, just children at the time, each receive their prediction separately. Some share their supposed death date with each other while some choose to keep the information to themselves. The book...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan BBQ Cookbook'

"VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan BBQ Cookbook" by Nadine Horn

★★★★★ Are you looking for healthy and delicious recipes to grill this summer? This new cookbook is a must for you! All recipes are vegan, so this cookbook is perfect for vegans, vegetarians, food allergy sufferers, or anyone who just wants some healthy alternatives this summer. Literally every recipe is fully photographed in all its delicious glory, and I just...

Audience: adults | Genre: cookbook

Cover: 'All We Ever Wanted'

"All We Ever Wanted" by Emily Giffin

★★★★ In the Nashville's wealthy neighborhood of Belle Meade, Nina finds her family at the center of a scandal. Nina was raised in a middle class household, with a strong sense of character and doing the right thing. When she married Kirk, she was introduced to a lavish and wealthy lifestyle where money means everything. It is what their son, Finch, has always...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Deal of a Lifetime'

"The Deal of a Lifetime" by Fredrik Backman

★★★★ When I saw this new book on the adult fiction shelf in the library, I judged it by physical size and the fact that it had less than 75 pages. I wondered, what could possibly be on the pages that makes it so popular? A man who loved work ahead of everything else in life, including his wife and even his own son, makes a decision with the lady in the gray...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'How To Walk Away'

"How To Walk Away" by Katherine Center

★★★★★ Margaret Jacobsen is a normal young woman with a master's degree, a serious boyfriend, and all of a great life to look forward to. That is, until one day she and her new fiance are in a horrible accident that leaves Margaret paralyzed. In an instant her life takes a dramatic turn as her career hopes and life expectations fizzle, and all that remains is...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Abstinence Teacher'

"The Abstinence Teacher" by Tom Perrotta

★★★★ Ruth Ramsey is a sex educator at a suburban New England high school. A divorced mother of two tween girls, Ruth has taught her classes for years with no objection from the community. After misspeaking during one of her classes, a complaint is filed against Ruth and she becomes the subject of intense public scrutiny. In order to appease those who are...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Love Warrior'

"Love Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton

★★★ Since she was 10 years old, Glennon Doyle Melton didn’t feel at home in her body. Due to the pressures of society, she never felt she could be thin enough, pretty enough, accepted enough, or loved enough. So, she turned to bulimia, binge drinking and casual sex to mask her fears and insecurities. In her twenties, Glennon finds herself pregnant and at a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'BOSH!: The Cookbook: Simple Recipes. Amazing Food. All Plants.'

"BOSH!: The Cookbook: Simple Recipes. Amazing Food. All Plants." by Ian Theasby, Henry Firth

★★★★★ This brand new cookbook is filled with recipes from the chefs behind the online video channel Bosh, popular in the U.K. This cookbook is packed with enticing recipes, including quick recipes, big meals, bowls, sides, desserts, breakfasts, cocktails, and meals meant to impress. I couldn't stop finding recipes I'm really excited to try, and because they're...

Audience: adults | Genre: cookbook

Cover: 'What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter'

"What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter" by Suzy Hopkins, Hallie Bateman

★★★★★ No one is ever really ready to lose a loved one, and this book tries to help with that in it's own unique way.  As the title states, the author's mother provides preemptive advice on how to function in the event of her death. The advice walks her daughter through day-by-day instructions on what to do, days, even years, after her passing.  As...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Flight Attendant'

"The Flight Attendant" by Chris Bohjalian

★★★ Cassie Bowden is a seasoned flight attendant who has worked for the same airline since her early twenties. Now in her late thirties, Cassie can barely keep her life in order, having fallen into a pattern of binge drinking and hooking up with random men in the various cities she flies to. While in Dubai, Cassie’s risky lifestyle catches up with her when...

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

Cover: 'The Handmaid's Tale'

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

★★★ In the not-too-distant future, a restrictive, invasive patriarchy has taken over and dismantled the American government. In this new society, known as Gilead, women have few roles they can play: as cooks and housekeepers, as the wives of the society’s leaders (known as Commanders), and as handmaids. Acting as surrogates for the Commanders’ wives,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, dystopian

Cover: 'Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan'

"Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan" by Chloe Coscarelli

★★★★★ The newest cookbook from Chloe Coscarelli features a new batch of delicious vegan recipes. Included are recipes for breakfast, brunch, snacks, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, main meals, drinks, and dessert. Full of tantalizing photographs and snippets about Chloe's journey to veganism, this is another favorite of mine from one of my all-time favorite...

Audience: adults | Genre: cookbook

Cover: 'Creative Quest'

"Creative Quest" by Questlove and Ben Greenman

★★★★★ Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is a busy guy: drummer for the rap group The Roots, which is also the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon; DJ; restaurateur; and author of two previous books, Mo' Meta Blues and somethingtofoodabout. His newest book, as the title suggests, is all about creativity: what defines it, how to tap into your...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Feather Thief'

"The Feather Thief" by Kirk W. Johnson

★★★★ In 2009, 20-year-old American Edwin Rist broke into the Tring museum, a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. His quest: to steal rare bird specimens - some collected more 150 years earlier - with gorgeous feathers sought the world over by people who shared Edwin's obsession of the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Broken Girls'

"The Broken Girls" by Simone St. James

★★★★★ Part ghost story, part murder mystery, this atmospheric novel captivated me from the first page. Centered around a now abandoned school for troubled girls, Idlewild Hall holds secrets of the past within its walls and grounds. The reader learns the stories of the abandoned girls who were forced to attend, the ghost who forces its victims to relive their...

Audience: adults | Genre: mystery

Cover: 'One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays'

"One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays" by Scaachi Koul

★★★★★ Scaachi Koul is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She was born and raised in Canada surrounded by western culture. She is also thoughtful and hilarious. All this comes together in “One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter,” a delightful collection of essays. Many of Koul’s stories clue us in on what it is like to bear the scrutiny of being a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, essays, humor

Cover: 'Behold the Dreamers'

"Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo Mbue

★★★★ For years, Jende Jonga dreamed of making a life for himself and his family in the United States. A native of Cameroon, Jende has been living and working in New York City on a temporary visa for three years when his wife, Neni, and six year-old son, Liomi, immigrate to Harlem to join him. It’s 2007, and a world of opportunity opens up for the Jongas while...

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

Cover: 'The Changeling: A novel'

"The Changeling: A novel" by Victor La Valle

★★★★★ One night, Apollo Kagwa's wife, Emma, chains him to a chair, kills their infant son and disappears.  Was it postpartum depression or something much worse?  He sets out to discover whether his wife is still alive and what exactly happened to his son.  Apollo has some baggage of his own that he has to grapple with along the way,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fantasy, magical realism, fiction

Cover: 'Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows'

"Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows" by Balli Kaur Jaswal

★★★★ Nikki is a modern twentysomething living and working in central London. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Nikki has spent much of her adult life embracing a life of independence and feminism while distancing herself from the traditional Sikh lifestyle that the rest of her family prefers. While still figuring out a career path for herself, Nikki finds a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy'

"I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy" by Erin Carlson

★★★★ This book provides readers with a brief history of Ephron’s life prior to her filmmaking years, but the main focus is a behind-the-scenes tour of the writing, filming, and releases of Nora Ephron’s three classic romantic comedies: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. While the spotlight is on Ephron and her transition from...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Emma in the Night'

"Emma in the Night" by Wendy Walker

★★★★★ Eighteen-year-old Cass stands on her mother’s doorstep, steeling herself. Her mother and the police must believe her—Emma’s life depends on it. It’s been three years since she and her older sister Emma, then age 17, disappeared. Her story—that she and Emma, who gave birth a few months after they disappeared, were held captive by a reclusive couple who had...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Mrs.'

"Mrs." by Caitlin Macy

★★★★ At an Upper East Side preschool in New York City, groups of gossiping mothers and nannies gather to pick up their children day after day. Among them, is the fabulous Phillipa Lye and her childhood acquaintance, Gwen Hogan. Phillipa's life seems perfect: she is married to a wealthy banker and has three beautiful children. But, Phillipa's scandalous past...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Last Black Unicorn'

"The Last Black Unicorn" by Tiffany Haddish

★★★★★ Stand-up comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish makes a living out of entertaining others and making people laugh. That might not seem like anything extraordinary, until you learn about all of the strife and setbacks Haddish faced in her life, especially before reaching adulthood. While growing up, Haddish had an absentee father, a mother who verbally and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, celebrities, humor

Cover: 'Sunburn'

"Sunburn" by Laura Lippman

★★★★★ Polly Costello is a striking, self-possessed woman with a complicated past who left her husband and young daughter behind at the beach, claiming to need a break from the sun, but she’s really looking for a fresh start. She stops in a bar in a small Delaware town for a drink and meets Adam, an intelligent, handsome man also just passing through, and sparks...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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