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Staff Reviews: nonfiction

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library! (For reviews in all genres, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at; follow us for the latest updates.

Cover: 'The Book With No Pictures'

"The Book With No Pictures" by B. J. Novak

★★★★ How can a book be a picture book if there are no pictures? B.J. Novak, best known for his writing and acting on "The Office," shows that a book can be fun without illustrations. But how? Well, the person reading the book has to say everything the words matter what. Even if the words have no meaning or are down-right ridiculous, the reader still has...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, read-alouds

Cover: 'Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them'

"Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them" by Isaac Fitzgerald

★★★★★ People have been tattooing their bodies for thousands of years. Some tattoos are thought about for years and others are spur of the moment decisions. I have always been fascinated by the stories behind the art and so this book was a perfect find. Each tattoo is artistically recreated and accompanied by the person's story. Some stories are funny, others...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, beauty, fashion

Cover: 'A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey'

"A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey" by Jessica Fellowes

★★★★★ Full of gorgeous photographs, behind-the-scenes information about the show, and fascinating historical details, this book is a must-read for any Downton Abbey fan! The author breaks the chapters into months of the year, describing events that occurred each month and interviewing cast members and crew. She also focuses on a unique aspect of production on the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, television, celebrities

Cover: 'Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die'

"Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die" by Diane Kochilas

★★★★ This was a great, new book to stumble upon! This cookbook focuses on the life and recipes of the small Greek island of Ikaria. Between recipes unique to this area, the author shares stories of the people, culture, and food of this beautiful island, alongside fantastic pictures. This cookbook is a great opportunity to delve into the lives of the locals, and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Skinny Dinners: 200 Calorie-Smart Recipes that Your Family Will Love'

"Skinny Dinners: 200 Calorie-Smart Recipes that Your Family Will Love" by Better Homes and Gardens

★★★★ Looking for a healthy dinner recipe? This cookbook has a varied collection of healthy and appetizing options. Included are slow cooker, 30 minute, side dish, casserole, and dessert recipes, as well as 5 ingredient recipes for when you need a quick and easy option. They even include your favorite comfort food dishes tweaked to make them better for you, plus...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'There Was a Little Girl'

"There Was a Little Girl" by Brooke Shields

★★★ Brooke Shields opens up about her sometimes tumultuous relationship with her mother and manager, Teri Shields. She reveals heartbreaking details about her mother's life-long struggle with alcoholism, and how her relationship with her mother affected her life. A constant theme throughout the book is Brooke defending her mother to critics, despite the pain...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, celebrities

Cover: 'Chloe's Vegan Desserts'

"Chloe's Vegan Desserts" by Chloe Coscarelli

★★★★★ This is a fantastic vegan resource for desserts! Instead of containing substitutions and harder-to-find ingredients, Chloe relies on science instead of substitutions in order to keep the ingredient list and recipes from getting confusing (or expensive). These are recipes that won't make you feel like you're missing out on anything, whether being vegan was a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'A Gift From Bob'

"A Gift From Bob" by James Bowen

★★★ A continuation of James Bowen’s memoir that began in his popular book “A Street Cat Named Bob", this book focuses on the last year that James spent as a recovering person trying to make a living on the bitterly cold, frozen streets of London selling the magazine “The Big Issue” and playing guitar with his adopted cat Bob. It depicts the hand-to-mouth...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, holiday, animals

Cover: 'Cities of the World: Extreme Spot the Difference'

"Cities of the World: Extreme Spot the Difference" by Richard W. Galland

★★★★★ Do you love to travel (or wish you could)? Are you ready for a challenge? Then this book is perfect for you! Forty beautiful cities are represented in the photographs contained in these pages. From Sydney to London and Hong Kong to Rio de Janeiro, you will be transported around the globe from the comfort of your home. Travel broadens your mind and so do...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Art of Adventure: Outdoor Sports from Sea to Summit'

"The Art of Adventure: Outdoor Sports from Sea to Summit" by Ian Shive

★★★★★ This beautiful book is full of amazing adventure photographs that will inspire you to get up and have an adventure of your own. From water to snow to summits, this book offers a wide variety of adventures for all tastes. These breathtaking photographs capture the spirit and thrill of hurtling over a waterfall in a kayak, skiing down an unknown mountain...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'What the Dog Saw'

"What the Dog Saw" by Malcolm Gladwell

★★★ This book is from the same author of "The Tipping Point" and "Outliers", books I very much enjoyed. In "What the Dog Saw", Gladwell provides a collection of his writings from the "New York Times". The chapters provide overviews of newsworthy topics and issues, in essence their "back story". He examines the facts, history and interesting details of a wide...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Salad Samurai'

"Salad Samurai" by Terry Hope Romero

★★★★ This is one creative cookbook chock full of innovative ideas for all kinds of salads, dressings, and toppings. Recipes included building very unique pasta and lettuce salads, packed full with a variety of ingredients. All are vegan, but are sure to please those who don't normally eat that way. There are sweet and savory recipes, like 'Overnight Oats with...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Seriously Delish'

"Seriously Delish" by Jessica Merchant

★★★★ This cookbook is truly a celebration of food, with beautiful recipes that are a great mix between delicious healthy recipes and more scrumptious treats. Half of the recipes were actually already vegan (which is great for me!), just because the author favors equal parts healthy with equal parts 'treats', which I appreciated. I also enjoyed the author's...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'DIY Braids'

"DIY Braids" by Sasha Coefield

★★★★★ Braided hairstyles have become very popular in recent years but they can be intimidating to recreate yourself. "DIY Braids" uses photographs and step-by-step instructions to help you create beautiful braided hairstyles that can be very simple or complex. I appreciated that the models used in the book had different hair types. One had straight hair and the...

Audience: teens | Genre: nonfiction, beauty

Cover: 'Make It Ahead'

"Make It Ahead" by Ina Garten

★★★★ Another beautiful Barefoot Contessa cookbook! In this cookbook, Ina includes tips for making every single recipe ahead, even whipped cream and roasted turkey! Ina shows us how we can have easy and elegant food suitable for any occasion. The accompanying photographs of the food and her home are gorgeous, and will make fans envy Ina's life in the Hamptons.

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are'

"How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are" by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas

★★★★★ Written by four true Parisiennes, this book gives advice on how to live like a Parisian woman. It includes tips on style, beauty, books, bad habits, food, friends, family, and relationships. There is even a short collection of French recipes at the end. The women write their advice in short sentences and paragraphs, which makes this book quick, and fun, and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Swedish Christmas Table'

"The Swedish Christmas Table" by Jens Linder, Johanna Westman

★★★★★ Looking for a unique and quirky Christmas cookbook? Look no further because The Swedish Christmas Table is what you seek. Covering all things Scandinavian, this book is chock-full of recipes from drinks to desserts to candy to feasts! There are so many recipes in this book that it would take a lifetime to make it all! The graphics and pictures are...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook, holiday

Cover: 'Scandinavian Christmas'

"Scandinavian Christmas" by Trina Hahnemann

★★★★ Since marrying into a Norwegian family, I have looked for traditional foods to prepare around the holiday season. "Scandinavian Christmas" does a great job of giving basic recipes for the Christmas season while also providing ideas for Advent, Christmas parties, and the popular Smorgasbord. This cookbook is well thought out and presented in easy-to-follow...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks'

"I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks" by Gina Sheridan

★★★★ This is a collection of short snippets from the daily interactions at a public library. From entertaining to disturbing to heartwarming, anyone who has worked in a public library will surely find this book entertaining and most likely, oddly familiar. Conversations are cataloged by theme, such as curiosities and wonders, reference work, and even human...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Secret History of Wonder Woman'

"The Secret History of Wonder Woman" by Jill Lepore

★★★★★ Comic book geeks and history buffs alike will enjoy this fascinating story about the creator of Wonder Woman. William Moulton Marston invented the blood pressure-measuring lie detector test, and had a colorful academic career before he created the beloved comic book character. Inspired by the women's suffrage movement, and his own belief that women would...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, superheroes

Cover: '12 Days of Christmas with Six Sisters' Stuff'

"12 Days of Christmas with Six Sisters' Stuff" by Six Sisters

★★★★★ This book is a wonderful addition for anyone who is looking for a new Christmas craft or cookbook! Written by very popular bloggers, Six Sisters' Stuff, you will find all sorts of ideas on how to cook, enjoy, and share your holiday spirit. Not only is the book incredibly informative but also has wonderful pictures and easy to follow directions. It makes...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook, holiday

Cover: 'Before amen : the power of a simple prayer'

"Before amen : the power of a simple prayer" by Max Lucado

★★★★★ Prayer can be a daunting task for many of us. We may feel unskilled, unworthy, or unsure of how to even begin. This little book offers insight, comfort, and instruction when it comes to learning how to pray effectively. Max Lucado breaks through all of the complication and doubt about how to pray, where to pray, who can pray, and what to pray for. He makes...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, spirituality

Cover: 'Backyard Style'

"Backyard Style" by Matthew Mead

★★★★ Although looking through this outdoor style guide as you see snow right outside your window may not be the best feeling, this is packed full of beautiful illustrations and ideas for when the snow is gone! Included are entertaining tips and a few recipes and decorating ideas as well for each theme and style. I found myself longing for, not only a backyard of...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, gardening, outdoors, nature

Cover: 'Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life'

"Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life" by Sophia Loren

★★★★ Sophia Loren's memoir details her incredible life; full of beauty, love, success, but also tragedy and pain. The daughter of a single mother, Loren grew up in poverty during World War II in Italy and never had much contact with her father. She received her start in beauty pageants, and soon transitioned to film after she was noticed by her future husband,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities, memoir

Cover: 'Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President'

"Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President" by Candice Millard

★★★★★ It's not often that I request a book in CD format that is nonfiction. But I'm very glad that I listened to this outstanding account of the life and death of President James Garfield. It is available in both traditional book format and on CD but I will strongly urge the reader to give this book a listen in the CD format. It is read by Paul Michael who does...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history