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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; 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: 'Jane Steele'

"Jane Steele" by Lyndsay Faye

★★★★★ At first glance, Jane Steele’s life mirrors that of the heroine of her favorite book, Jane Eyre. Both are orphaned, treated poorly by their extended relations, sent to oppressive boarding schools, and seek employment as a governess. (Don’t worry, Bronte fans. There’s a Mr. Rochester, albeit in the guise of a traumatized British doctor born and raised in...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Born a Crime'

"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, celebrities, television

Cover: 'Missing, Presumed'

"Missing, Presumed" by Susie Steiner

★★★★★ Manon Bradshaw loves her job as a detective sergeant in the Cambridgeshire Major Incident Team and excels at it, but her personal life is unfulfilling. She has grown weary of the internet dating scene, even as she plays the game of shaving a few years off her actual age (39) and cribbing her hobbies and interests from other people’s profiles. In her latest...

Audience: adults | Genre: mystery

Cover: 'The Vanishing Year'

"The Vanishing Year" by Kate Moretti

★★★★★ Zoe Whittaker is leading a life most can only dream of. Living in a Manhattan penthouse with a handsome, extremely wealthy husband, Zoe appears to have it all. But the past she ran away from is suddenly creeping back, edging ever closer to ruining her perfectly constructed life. Zoe doesn't know who to trust, what to do, or where to go. Her life begins...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Discovery of Witches'

"A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness

★★★ Diana Bishop, an Oxford scholar and non-practicing witch, discovers a long-lost alchemical manuscript that promises to reveal the origins (and future) of all supernatural species: witches, vampires, and "demons." However, Diana's reluctance to share this discovery puts her at odds with the supernatural community and drives her into an unlikely romance with...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, paranormal, fantasy, romance

Cover: 'Crosstalk'

"Crosstalk" by Connie Willis

★★★★★ Briddey Flannigan is thrilled when her boyfriend, Trent, proposes that they both undergo a relatively new and popular surgical procedure that enhances one’s ability to experience a romantic partner’s feelings. Sure, it’s literally brain surgery, but who wouldn’t want to share such an emotionally significant moment as a marriage proposal at a deeper level...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, science fiction

Cover: 'The City Baker's Guide to Country Living'

"The City Baker's Guide to Country Living" by Louise Miller

★★★★ In this cozy new novel we meet Livvy, who left her high pressure pastry chef job literally in flames. With no money and no job, Livvy escapes to rural Vermont, where her best friend sets Livvy up with a baking job at a quaint inn. Complete with loveable characters, a gigantic dog, and delicious descriptions of decadent desserts, this was a cozy read that...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Leave Me'

"Leave Me" by Gayle Forman

★★★★ "Leave Me" is the debut adult novel by popular young adult author Gayle Forman. The story follows Maribeth, a woman who experiences a heart attack at a young age and how that event makes her evaluate her life and how she lives. In an instant she decides to leave her family to help herself heal. What happens after this decision, how Maribeth heals, and the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Singles Game'

"The Singles Game" by Lauren Weisberger

★★★★ Charlotte "Charlie" Silver has the good girl image down in the world of tennis. She's sweet, plays by the rules, her brother is her manager, and she keeps her personal life top secret. After a devastating injury at Wimbledon, Charlie needs to re-brand herself and re-train her mental and physical game. After letting her friend and longtime coach Marcy go,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, chick lit

Cover: 'The Daylight Gate'

"The Daylight Gate" by Jeanette Winterson

★★★★★ It's the best time of year for a suspenseful, spooky story and Jeanette Winterson has just the book for you! "The Daylight Gate" is a fictionalized account of the Trial of the Pendle Witches. In short chapters, Winterson relates the story of Alice Nutter, former student of the great alchemist John Dee and wealthy widow, who is accused of witchcraft, along...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Lock In'

"Lock In" by John Scalzi

★★★★★ It’s twenty-five years since an illness that became known as Haden’s Syndrome swept the world and left 1% of those afflicted in a state known as “lock in.” Those in lock in are aware of the world but unable to move or otherwise respond to their environment without the implantation of neural networks that allow them to connect to a virtual, Haden’s-only...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, science fiction

Cover: 'Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way'

"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

Cover: 'Ink and Bone'

"Ink and Bone" by Lisa Unger

★★★★ Finley does not know what it feels like to really be alone. Sitting on the floor by her bed is a young boy playing with a train, and on her way down the hall she passes a woman watching her carefully, both of whom have been long dead. Haunted by a gift she neither wants nor understands, Finley is quickly pulled into a missing persons case. Merri has been...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'All Is Not Forgotten'

"All Is Not Forgotten" by Wendy Walker

★★★★ In a small, wealthy community in Connecticut, Jenny Kramer is violently assaulted in a wooded area outside a high school house party. With her parents’ consent, she is given a relatively new drug that erases her memories of the traumatic event, in hopes of sparing her emotional distress. Unfortunately, the emotional trauma remains, and those emotional...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'A Lowcountry Wedding'

"A Lowcountry Wedding" by Mary Alice Monroe

★★★★ This book is another installment in the Lowcountry Summer series by Mary Alice Monroe. Much like the others in the series, we continue following the journey of three half-sisters who are not only learning to love themselves, but are also delving into love and marriage in this book. We get to read about, what I imagine to be, the beautiful and magical South...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, romance

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

"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

Cover: 'Home is Burning'

"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, health

Cover: 'The Song Poet'

"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

Cover: 'The Fireman'

"The Fireman" by Joe Hill

★★★★★ Dad should be “Kingly” proud of his boy, for in the “The Fireman,” Joe has mastered the saga his dad is so famous for. There have been many apocalyptic books about viruses and plagues, but leave it to Joe, author of the "Horns", and "NOS482" to take it one step further, by having a plague called Dragonscale that shows up as tattoo-like marks on your body...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Grunt'

"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

Cover: 'One True Loves'

"One True Loves" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

★★★★★ Emma Blair never wanted to take over her parents' bookshop on the East Coast. Emma dreams of traveling, writing, and exploring the world with her high school sweetheart, Jesse. That is exactly what the pair do, until tragedy strikes on their first anniversary. Jesse's work helicopter crashes in the Pacific Ocean. With all of the crew dead and no sign of...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, romance

Cover: 'Eating Well Made Easy'

"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

Cover: 'Little Black Lies'

"Little Black Lies" by Sharon Bolton

★★★★★ In the Falkland Islands terror grips a small community when children start to go missing. Though no one can believe there is a murderer among them, everyone becomes involved when the third child disappears. Among them is Catrin, a woman who lost all of her children in a horrible accident three years ago, who now seeks revenge on the woman who used to be her...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Kitchens of the Great Midwest'

"Kitchens of the Great Midwest" by J. Ryan Stradal

★★★★★ Eva Thorvald is only a few months old when she loses both of her parents, Lars and Cynthia, to vastly different circumstances. From there, the book follows Eva's life from infancy through her mid-twenties, skipping anywhere from a few months to several years between chapters. Instead of having Eva tell us her own story, her life is framed through the eyes...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'I Let You Go'

"I Let You Go" by Clare Mackintosh

★★★★★ In this unforgettable and deeply moving novel, Jenna Gray's life is catapulted into chaos one rainy night in November. To try to survive her nightmare, she escapes to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast. But her past never stays truly hidden, and she is plagued by what happened and the choices she made, even though she tries to heal from her mistakes. When...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery