MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation

Staff Reviews by Karen Jacobson

Cover: 'The Hot Zone'

"The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston

★★★★★ Stephen King considers this one of the most horrifying books he has ever read! Probably because it is nonfiction and relates the tale of death and destruction by the deadliest animals on earth. Those animals are also some of the smallest animals, the fatal virus Ebola and some of its close relatives. The author traces back the devastating and bloody trail...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, health

Cover: 'Invisible Murder'

"Invisible Murder" by Lene Kaaberbøl, Agnete Friis

★★★★★ 5 stars for this Danish novel! When it comes to murder-mysteries I rank them according to how far into the book I read before I figure out who did it, and the freshness of the developing plot. This one kept me in the dark until the very end without losing me along the way. The Scandinavian mysteries are really a wonderful challenge for the reader because...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

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

Cover: 'Burned'

"Burned" by Thomas Enger

★★★★ Author Thomas Enger bases this first murder-mystery novel in the series in Oslo, Norway. Fans of Scandinavian authors and their style will be very pleased with this offering by Enger. E-Reporter, Henning Juul, starts back to work after a long absence. He is scarred both physically and emotionally, but a slow, easy start back into his job is not in the cards...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Know-It-All'

"The Know-It-All" by A.J. Jacobs

★★★★★ Jacob's fears that his expensive college education is receding into a haze; a long, slow dive toward spending his days watching Wheel of Fortune and drooling into a bucket. To stave this off, he undertakes reading the entire "Encyclopaedia Britannica" from A-Ak to zywiec, 33,000 pages. He finds that this challenge recharges his brain which overflows with...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Orfeo'

"Orfeo" by Richard Powers

★★ Composer Peter Els has become a fugitive from Homeland Security. A philosophical, retired composer, Peter has been conducting chemistry experiments in his garage to find the true essence of music in the elements of earth. Chemistry was his second love, his first being a dreamy music student by the name of Clara, who urged Peter to pursue his talent for...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Son'

"The Son" by Jo Nesbø

★★★★★ Jo Nesbo, an award-winning author from Norway, has written another gripping thriller. The novel takes place in the seedy underworld of Oslo, but begins in a state-of-the-art prison. Prisoner Sony Loftus has a heroin addiction which has a steady supply, as long as he takes the fall for some gruesome murders in the area, even while he still remains a prisoner...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Devil's Dozen'

"The Devil's Dozen" by Katherine Ramsland

★★★★ This non-fiction collection is comprised of cases of serial killers beginning with the nineteenth century through modern times, with a special caveat; all were solved with the most cutting-edge forensics of the day, by detectives that were unrelenting and dogged in their pursuit of the perpetrators of unspeakable crimes. H.H. Holmes (portrayed in "Devil in...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, true crime

Cover: 'The Thousand-Mile War'

"The Thousand-Mile War" by Brian Garfield

★★★★★ This is not your typical war and battle narrative. Brian Garfield's dry humor and narrative style will keep you engaged to the very end. This little known theater of war during WWII, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, was described as "the weirdest war ever waged". Submarines, battleships and bombers all played second fiddle to the ferocious weather;...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Police'

"Police" by Jo Nesbø

★★★★★ It takes a strong will to put this book down before the end. Nesbo does it again, keeping us in suspense until the very end. "Police" is a real thriller with the suspense rising to almost unbearable levels. Oslo's police officers are being brutally murdered at scenes of unsolved murders they investigated. An unidentified severely wounded man in a coma,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery, romance

Cover: 'Watching You'

"Watching You" by Michael Robotham

★★★★★ Norwegian author Michael Robotham keeps the pace set high and the reader guessing until the very end. You may think you have figured it out sooner, but there's a twist that makes this author one to put on your "favorites" list. Marnie Logan's life seems to be taking one turn for the worst after another, but someone wants to help her. That someone causes...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox'

"Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox" by Jonathan B. Tucker

★★★★★ Jonathan Tucker narrates a spell-binding story in amazing factual detail of smallpox. This deadly disease was heroically eradicated from our planet, along with its hideous, painful, disfiguring and often fatal characteristics.  Many elderly citizens around the world bear the scar from smallpox vaccination, a practice now discontinued for the general...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history, health

Cover: 'The Wind is Not a River'

"The Wind is Not a River" by Brian Payton

★★★★★ This historical fiction captures events during World War II that were held in great secrecy from the American public: a Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska. A reporter, John Easley, is shot down while traveling with American troops flying over the bleak and inhospitable island chain. He is unable to communicate with the outside...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Ultimate Price'

"Ultimate Price" by Annemarie S. Kidder

★★★ This nonfiction book contains the testimonies of German Christians whose personal beliefs conflicted with Hitler's political ideologies. These were people not involved with the  military; common people, so to speak, also known as the resistance. Various countries had resistance groups attempting to guide citizenry away from Hitler's purification plan....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history, spirituality

Cover: 'How to Retire the Cheapskate Way'

"How to Retire the Cheapskate Way" by Jeff Yeager

★★★★ A person would not expect a nonfiction book about retirement to be a real page-turner, but the author's writing style in this one keeps you engaged chapter after chapter.  A good example is a direct quote from A Word From the Author:  "The following book is what I call "colorized nonfiction". That means it's basically true, with the exception of...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Snowman's Children'

"The Snowman's Children" by Glen Hirshberg

★★★ This book is adult fiction, described as psychologically intense, and that is an apt description of how the story unfolds.  In Detroit, in the 1970's, Mattie, Spencer and Theresa were in the "gifted" program at their school.  At that same point in time, a serial killer known as "The Snowman" was picking and choosing young victims with impunity....

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction