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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 Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


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: 'First Big Book of the Ocean'

"First Big Book of the Ocean" by Catherine D. Hughes

★★★★★ Do you know what a leafy sea dragon is? Find out in this ocean-filled book put out by National Geographic Kids. This books is a great read for any school-aged child that is curious about biology or the ocean. Split up into ocean sections, each section details the animal life one will find in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic oceans. Each animal...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, animals, nature

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: '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: '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

Cover: 'The Masters of Nature Photography'

"The Masters of Nature Photography" by

★★★★★ Cox's book claims to "represent the very best of nature photography," a claim supported by the gorgeous photographs found in this 2013 release. Made up of portfolios from ten renowned nature photographers, the book is overflowing with touchingly beautiful images and perceptive text. All of the photographers whose work are featured in Cox's book have won...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, photography, nature

Cover: 'The A-Z of Curious London'

"The A-Z of Curious London" by Gilly Pickup

★★★★ One of the most fascinating cities in the world, London has had its share of 'oddball history' as revealed in Gilly Pickup's charming, informative book. Here can be found details on the dentist who kept his dead wife on view in a shop window, London's oldest restaurant, the ghosts of Ham House, Sweeney Todd's evil doings, the smallest police station in the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history, travel

Cover: 'Reef Life: A Guide to Tropical Marine Life'

"Reef Life: A Guide to Tropical Marine Life" by Brandon Cole

★★★★★ A treasure trove of information and over 1,000 full-color pix of ocean life around the world, "Reef Life" is eye candy for nature lovers and divers alike. Topping off at 616 pages, Cole's book is brimming with gorgeous pix of dartfish, razorfish, sharks, rays, angelfish, corals, hawkfish, dolphins, grunts, eels, seahorses and so on. Some 800 species of...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, nature

Cover: 'The Beatles in 100 Objects'

"The Beatles in 100 Objects" by Brian Southall

★★★★ Take a Magical Mystery Tour back to the heady days of Beatlemania when John, Paul, George and Ringo were front-page news around the world. Brian Southall's appealing book traces the Fab Four's history by describing and illustrating 100 objects - guitars, drum kits, suits, lyric sheets, audition tapes, film scripts, show posters, gold records, cars, etc. -...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities, history

Cover: 'Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library'

"Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library" by Barb Rosenstock

★★★★★ Thomas Jefferson’s love of books and reading is wonderfully portrayed in this short children’s book.  Amusing illustrations of books on the roof of the White House, books used to spell out the word “BOOKS” on his fireplace mantle, and a picture of Jefferson being so engrossed in reading a book that they had to wait for him to sign the Declaration of...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, picture book, history

Cover: 'A Street Cat Named Bob'

"A Street Cat Named Bob" by James Bowen

★★★★★ Wounded, hungry and full of fleas, a stray ginger-colored tom cat catches the eye of James Bowen, a street musician struggling to free his life from drug addiction. The two lost souls instantly form a bond. Even though James can barely get by himself on the money he earns performing on the streets of London, he knows that he has to take care of this cat....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, animals, memoir

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