Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Below are a few (somewhat) brief, $.02 opinions about several books I've read (or listened to) recently but don't and won't have time to review in full. Their appearance here has nothing to do with merit, many I enjoyed as much or even more than those that got the full-court press. I hope you'll consider one or two for your own TBR stack.

Unfair, Adam Benforado

In this non-fiction work, subtitled The New Science of Criminal Injustice, author Benforado looks at the many ways our criminal justice system is broken, and would be even if it functioned perfectly as intended. Backed by studies in the fields of psychology and neuroscience to name a few, Benforado proceeds the stages of the process and provides examples and horror stories of our dysfunction and biases that operate even beyond our conscious awareness. A fascinating work, bolstered by great narration by Joe Barrett. Benforado's ideas for system fixes can lean towards the far-out, but you'll learn something about yourself and your fellow man from this one.

The Guest Room, Chris Bohjalian

Hated it. I didn't find it spellbinding, just silly. Fairly formulaic "bachelor party gone wrong" scenario with a ridiculous ending. My feelings are likely also colored by half of the audio narration that I found highly annoying. I know many folks enjoyed this one, which I love - everyone liking the same thing is boring. Maybe it was just a bad week for me, but bleh. I sped-listened to the end just to see if it went anywhere that interested me. It did not.

Mr. Splitfoot, Samantha Hunt

Oh boy, was this a corker. Spurred on by high regards from some trusted fellow bloggers, as well as this badass cover, I was not disappointed. The story is told in a fabulous narrative that alternates between orphans Ruth and Nat and, decades later, Ruth's mysterious appearance at the home of her pregnant niece Cora. As Ruth and Nat escape their life with a religious cult, future mute Ruth leads Cora on a mysterious journey. The arcs bend towards each other until they meet in an ending that will kick your ass into next Tuesday.

The Residence, Kate Anderson Brower

I listened to this gem, subtitled Inside the Private World of the White House, and was glued to it from start to finish. While First Families may come and go, staff turnover at the White House is minimal, with many people serving for decades. The Residence is an intimate yet non-salacious account of the history and tradition behind staff protocol from the Kennedys through the Obamas. It includes great stories of staff/Family interactions and, sometimes, true friendship. It details what happens when its time for one family to go and another to move in, and proceeds through the inner workings of those working for the family, from daily life to special occasions. While the staff mostly stay historically mum about goings-on inside the White House, it was fairly easy to discern who were the aholes (Lyndon B. Johnson and Nancy Reagan, for example) and who were staff favorites (George and Barbara Bush). Highly recommended.

No comments:

About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP