Tuesday, May 12, 2020


Below are a few (somewhat) brief, $.02 opinions about several books I've read or listened to recently but don't have time to review in full. Their appearance in this recurring piece generally has little to nothing to do with merit. Many of these books I enjoyed as much or more than those that got the full court press. I hope you'll consider one or two for your own TBR stack if they strike your fancy whether they struck mine or not.

Fabulous Recent Audio:
The Lady From the Black Lagoon, by Mallory O'Meara

This was one of those times where a book smacks you upside the head about a topic you didn't even know you were interested in. O'Meara's narration of this fantastic true story increases its grip on the reader as her passion shines through. This multiple-award winner addresses the life of Milicent Patrick, who was one of the first female animators at Disnely and "the only woman in history to create one of Hollywood’s classic movie monsters." As the designer behind the Creature in The Creature in the Black Lagoon, Patrick nevertheless had much, if not all, of the credit taken by the men around her. Maddening, engrossing and educational, this one is a winner whether or not you're a fan of old horror movies. 

The Way I Heard It, by Mike Rowe

One of Mike Rowe's early career stops was on San Francisco's Evening Magazine, and his great pipes were music to my ears even way back when (the 80s, I believe). So when I saw this book available on audio, I grabbed it, figuring I could at least listen to something soothing for a few hours. Rowe is also a very entertaining character, and this book is a collection of his favorite episodes of the highly rated short-form podcast of the same name, as well as some of his thought and memories about a variety of topics. He's charming, witty, funny and insightful, making my fears that he may be a Trumper all the greater. But until I know (he seems very secretive about it, which gives me hope he's "just" a republican and perhaps does not support the asshole-in-chief.

Me, by Elton John

Narrated by Elton, Me  is his own life story in his own words. Searingly open about some difficult topics, it was fun to revisit the glory years and learn more about his philanthropic work. He delves into many relationships. career issues, personal issues and the like. If you're a fan of Elton or just enjoy music biographies, this is a great read.

The Majesties, by Tiffany Tsao

The only fiction title in this group, I was lured in by this oddly beautiful cover. Turns out the story is also oddly beautiful. It's summarized as the story of "two sisters from a Chinese-Indonesian family grapple with the past after one of them poisons their entire family," which is accurate and reinforced my interest from the cover. It's also much deeper than that. There's a bizarre business run by one of the sisters, a mysteriously disappeared aunt, shifting family loyalties, all the drama that makes for a great story. The audio was great as well.

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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.


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