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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 Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry'

"The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry" by Jon Ronson

★★★★ Jon Ronson is an English journalist who gets called to help decipher a homemade book delivered to scientists around the world. But beyond that, he is asked to determine if there is some “secret message” being relayed to the recipients or is this some elaborate hoax. In his quest he is led to a larger pursuit, i.e. who is or isn’t crazy, who decides who is...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Under the Same Sky'

"Under the Same Sky" by Joseph Kim, Stephan Talty

★★★ In this book Joseph tells us the story of his life in communist-ruled North Korea. In North Korea he starved for 10 years due to inflated prices of food and his country's inability to grow their own food. He tempts fate when he crosses the Tumen River during the day and is "free" in China. Once in China, where he could be exported at any time, he finds life...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels'

"The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels" by John T. Edge

★★★★★ Don't let the title of this book fool you; yes, it is a cookbook but it is also a book about food trucks in major cities across the country and where to find them. All the food looks and sounds delicious! Good thing I live close to two of the cities highlighted here in the Midwest; Minneapolis and Madison. Not only does this book give you an inside look and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens'

"Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens" by Emily Wight

★★★★ I enjoyed this cookbook and its approach to eating well on a tight budget. Most of us can relate to the author needing to prepare meals on a budget. This cookbook does a good job of giving you new ideas of what to cook that you can add to your repertoire at home. The layout of the book is easy to follow and pictures help give you an idea of what a dish...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'A Train in Winter'

"A Train in Winter" by A Train in Winter

★★★★★ If you are interested in history (particularly WWII), human behavior, France, heroism or human suffering under spectacular circumstances, "A Train in Winter" will prove an engrossing read. The author takes the reader behind the word “French Resistance” fighter to reveal the real individuals, specifically the females who played a significant role in...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much'

"How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much" by Samantha Ellis

★★★★★ "How to Be a Heroine" is an engaging blend of memoir and literary criticism that was prompted by Ellis’ debate with her best friend over whom she’d rather be: Cathy Earnshaw (of Wuthering Heights) or Jane Eyre. This debate launched her into a re-evaluation of the heroines that had inspired her throughout her life. I enjoyed meeting her literary heroines (...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Boys in the Boat'

"The Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown

★★★★★ This book is amazing! A great mix of technical explanation and the personal journey of the rowers, this is one book I couldn't put down. Throughout the book, we follow the story of Joe Rantz as he grows from a boy abandoned, to a resourceful teenager, to the young man who will struggle and do anything to make the Washington rowing team. His story will tug...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history, sports

Cover: 'Sheet Pan Suppers'

"Sheet Pan Suppers" by Molly Gilbert

★★★★★ Are you as sick of playing the crock pot game as I am? Do you have better success with roasting? My answer to these questions is yes! This book is amazing and has so many wonderful recipes! I had started to mark pages that I wanted to photocopy, however it turned out to be most of the book! This will simply have to be a purchase for my personal collection...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'March: Book Two'

"March: Book Two" by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

★★★★★ "March: Book Two" is the second graphic novel in a trilogy that recounts the Civil Rights movement from the perspective of Congressman John Lewis, a key figure of the movement. This volume picks up the story in late 1960 in Nashville and recounts events including the Freedom Rides in 1961, Lewis’s incarceration in Mississippi, and the March on Washington in...

Audience: teens | Genre: nonfiction, graphic novel

Cover: 'The Geeky Chef Cookbook: Real-Life Recipes for Your Favorite Fantasy Foods'

"The Geeky Chef Cookbook: Real-Life Recipes for Your Favorite Fantasy Foods" by Cassandra Reeder

★★★★★ Calling all fellow geeks out there! Have you ever pondered how the food from your favorite TV shows, movies and video games would taste? Here is your chance to experience what was once a mystery! This book is full of unofficial recipes from Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda... just to name a few. I am a self-proclaimed geek, and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Dairy-Free Ice Cream: 75 Recipes Made Without Eggs, Gluten, Soy, or Refined Sugar'

"Dairy-Free Ice Cream: 75 Recipes Made Without Eggs, Gluten, Soy, or Refined Sugar" by Kelly V. Brozyna

★★★★★ I am completely ecstatic to try every single recipe in this beautifully illustrated book. Every recipe looks absolutely delicious, and won't make me sick! For all of us ice cream lovers with food allergies, rejoice! These recipes are made without eggs, gluten, soy, dairy, or refined sugar. As someone who can't have soy or dairy, finding dessert recipes has...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Raw and Simple Detox: A Delicious Body Reboot for Health, Energy, and Weight Loss'

"Raw and Simple Detox: A Delicious Body Reboot for Health, Energy, and Weight Loss" by Judita Wignall

★★★★ This a great new resource for anyone looking to eat delicious, healthy raw foods. Included is helpful information and guides to detoxing for those interested. For me, having food allergies and eating a mostly vegan diet, I just enjoyed the recipes that are naturally safe for me and great for my body. Included on my list to try: rustic raw lasagna,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'My Organic Life'

"My Organic Life" by Nora Pouillon

★★★★ It's easy to find organic produce and hormone-free meat now, but 50 years ago, that was not the case. Nora Pouillon is a Vienna-born chef and founder of Restaurant Nora, the first certified organic restaurant in the United States. When Nora came to Washington D.C. in the 1960s, she was horrified at the lack of seasonal produce and meat filled with hormones...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, food

Cover: 'Hope and Other Luxuries'

"Hope and Other Luxuries" by Clare B. Dunkle

★★★★ This memoir is haunting, beautiful, and hard to forget. From the outside, Clare's life seems perfect. She has a great job as children's book author and is raising her two smart and talented daughters in Germany with her loving husband. Clare's story shows us that even when you think everything is perfect, something can happen that can turn your whole world...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, mental health

Cover: 'Life from Scratch'

"Life from Scratch" by Sasha Martin

★★★★★ Blogger Sasha Martin may be best known for Global Table Adventure, the blog where she chronicled her culinary journeys cooking recipes from every country. Her memoir does discuss the blog, as well as her picky husband's foray into exotic foods, but the majority of the memoir focuses on the tragedies Martin experienced as a child, and how it affected her...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, food

Cover: 'When Fraser Met Billy'

"When Fraser Met Billy" by Louise Booth

★★★★ This is a true story about a struggling family, their autistic son, Fraser and a special gray shelter cat named Billy who brought them love, happiness and hope. With Billy in his life, gradually Fraser had less tantrums, was less anxious about changes, and less moody. Also diagnosed with hypotonia, a muscle condition, Billy also helped him learn to climb...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, differing abilities, animals

Cover: 'Getting There: A Book of Mentors'

"Getting There: A Book of Mentors" by Gillian Zoe Segal

★★★★★ Curious about how Warren Buffett, Jillian Michaels, or Michael Bloomberg became so successful? Read about the road to success from these public figures and more who excel in a variety of careers. Each person also offers advice in addition to their candid recollections about success. An excellent book, especially for anyone looking for a mentor or just some...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Worn Stories'

"Worn Stories" by Emily Spivack

★★★★★ Everyone has a piece of clothing hanging in a closet or folded away in a drawer that has so much sentimental value, it is impossible to discard, despite the stains or holes. This clever idea of documenting the stories of such clothing began as a side project in 2010. For the book, the author pairs each short essay with a stark photograph of each item of...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Make My Day London'

"Make My Day London" by Lonely Planet

★★★★ This is a great, quick resource to go through for anyone interested in a short trip to London. As someone who's lived in this amazing city, I thought Lonely Planet did a great job picking some of the top attractions for a city where there's something to see around every corner (in my very biased opinion!). This resource allows you to mix and match...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, travel

Cover: 'H is for Hawk'

"H is for Hawk" by Helen Macdonald

★★★ Part memoir, part nature essay, and part biography of eccentric author T.H. White, this book is difficult to categorize. Helen Macdonald decides to train a goshawk after her father's unexpected death, and the experience allows her to deal with her loss. Macdonald also writes about the parallels between her goshawk training experience and the English author...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, memoir

Cover: 'Mademoiselle Chanel'

"Mademoiselle Chanel" by C. W. Gortner

★★★★★ This novel follows the life of famed fashion designer Coco Chanel from her early years in a convent to the debut of her 1954 collection. For lovers of fashion, there are numerous descriptions of her famous pieces as well as a subplot about development of her still popular scent, Chanel No. 5. Her social circle, which included artists, aristocrats,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Style & Simplicity'

"Style & Simplicity" by Ted Kennedy Watson

★★★★ This isn't your typical decorating book. This is a celebration of the beauty in everyday items. Organized alphabetically, the author beautifully displays items and ideas on how to use them to create a wonderful space. A few recipes are included, and every page is gorgeous. A fantastic book to look through for ideas and inspiration.  

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, decorating

Cover: 'Stevie Nicks'

"Stevie Nicks" by Zoë Howe

★★★ As a Stevie Nicks fan, I enjoyed this new biography from British journalist Zoe Howe, but recommend it with some reservations. I was a bit disappointed that most of the material is sourced from published interviews and books, so I would not recommend this book for fans looking for "new" insights about Nicks, especially fans who have already read one of the...

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

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