Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




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The Wonderful Bingo Card MR Gave Me

Craft Sequence

Three Parts Dead - Max Gladstone Shadowshaper - Daniel José Older

Hey all, on Amazon (US) kindle  the Craft Sequence books are on sale for 2.99 each, including the pre-order.  ShadowShaper is also on sale for 1.99

Stupid Orange Dude

Is what happens when you are jackass and don't read.


Honesty, I don't even know what to say

Confederate Statues

Look, I have a question. Why is it considered newsworthy that Gettysburg Battlefield is keeping its momunments? I mean, it is battlefield. There is a purpose there. People died there.People are buried there. It's to commerate the dead. I haven't heard anyone really complaining about such statues or memorials at battlefields or resting places. Isn't there a huge difference between Gettysburg and a public park with a statue celebrating Lee? One is history, one is propganda. Most people know this, right? I mean there is a grave of unclaimed Confederate War Dead at Arlington, and there is a small Lee museum there too. Slavery isn't glossed over there, and Lee isn't made into a hero. It's there as history. People are not complaiining about history but the romantizing and glossing over of history that continues to this day and is hate. And BTW, if you worship Lee, you should remember one very simple truth. He didn't want any statues of himself. He felt it would stop America from moving beyond the Civil War. Why are stupid idiots acting like people who want to get rid of Confederate statues in Durham, made during JIm Crow in many cases, are calling to get rid of things at Gettysburg and what not?


Never mind. Just figured out the answer.


But, why is there a fountain dedicated to Confederates in Montana? - Mic's list, though they haven't answered the question I had about battlefields.

Amulet 1-6

Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper - Kazu Kibuishi Amulet, Vol. 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse - Kazu Kibuishi Amulet, Vol. 3: The Cloud Searchers - Kazu Kibuishi Amulet, Vol. 4: The Last Council - Kazu Kibuishi Amulet, Vol. 5: Prince of the Elves - Kazu Kibuishi Amulet, Vol. 6: Escape From Lucien - Kazu Kibuishi

I picked up the first six volumes in this series for free.  Apparently, it was when volume seven was about to be released and Scholastic offer the first six via Kindle for free.


                The series chronicles the adventures of Emily, her brother Navin, and their mother as they try to adjust to an unexcepted trip to a magical land.  Emily is a Stonekeeper, an Amulet wearer (hence the title of the series).  She received this amulet from her grandfather upon her arrival.


                In short, this is a series where the chosen one is a girl.


                And that is cool because that doesn’t happen too much.  Don’t worry though, unlike some series where the sidekick gets sidelined, Navin too is allowed to come into his own, and his skill set is different than his sister’s.


                Kibuishi makes it quite clear that the siblings love each, though they do tease each.  The back story for the family is pretty much comic standard, one that we have seen pretty of times.  The artwork is cool, and the comic touches on themes such as redemption and protection.  At first it seems that the bad guys are going to be the elves, but the true evil becomes more complicated than that.  Kibuishi also illustrates where hate and fear can lead people.  It’s a tale with morals that doesn’t hit the reader over the head with them.


                Additionally, there is a creature that resembles Cherbourg (you know that mountain demon from Fantasia’s Night on Bald Mountain).


                I did have some problems with the story.  The first is one that I think only adult readers will have.  Both Emily and Navin at times seem both too adult and too childish.  It doesn’t quite work and at times, it throws you out of the story.  This occurs when Navin says to two children that they are too young to be helpful.  But I am pretty sure this is just an adult perspective.  The other issues are despite Emily being the chosen one, for much of the series the other major players are all male.  This changes in books 5 and 6 where we finally get more female characters who are active and not simply damsels in distress (like Emily’s mother).  This could have occurred before – Emily is being accompanied by men, trained by men (or male animals) so it is a little disappointing.  But if 6 is any indication this is going to change in the rest of the series.

Blacksad -1-3 Collected volumes

Blacksad - Juan Díaz Canales, Juanjo Guarnido Blacksad: A Silent Hell - Juanjo Guarnido, Juan Diaz Canales Blacksad: Amarillo - Juan Diaz, Juanjo Guarnido

This isn't Disney.

For which we should all be very thankful.

First, let me say that the artwork is stunning, in particular how certain real figures were shown as characters in this book.  The series is about a panther who exists in a world similar to our own, but instead of humans, animals.

In the first collection, the thing, the real thing, is the plot. Blacksad is a private detective whose first tale involves solving the murder of his former girlfriend. The best part, however, is the second story in this book, with the last running a close second.  The second story is a look at race as told by the animal figures that inhabit the world. Quite frankly, any novel, graphic or otherwise, that can reference "Strange Fruit" and get it correct deserves an award.

In the best tradition of animal stories, this graphic novel makes you think about the human condition.


The second volume of the series, Silent Hell,  takes place in the South, and despite the use of animals, actually does chronicle a story inspired by true events.  The question here is about music, truth, and testing.  Blacksad is accompanied by his reporter sidekick, and the second volume links nothing into the third volume of the series.


                The third volume is the only volume that does not deal directly with race, at least not in the same way as the first two volumes of the series. There are subtle hints in Blacksad’s sister and his nephews, but that is about it.  The third volume does refer to the lives of the Beat poets so it does have that tie in, but the overarching social look is missing a bit.

                I do wish that Idris Elba would play Blacksad, simply because it is a role that seem so suited for him.

FYI -Audible Sale

Audible has a bunch of books in a two for one credit sale.  This includes Faith Hunter series and Ilona Andrews

Help - Suggestions

Hi all.  As many of you know I teach.  Every year, I offer my students an extra credit option where they can read a book from a list (see below) and write a review.  This year, after yesterday, I revamped the list.  Does anyone have any suggestions that are not on this list? James Baldwin and Margaret Atwood are actually not listed because I am teaching both Fire Next Time and Handmaid's Tale.  There will be a "read other works by" option for those as well.


 Updated - Thanks to those who commented.  To answer a few questions.  These are college age students so 18 and over.  Various backgrounds, but usually middle-class (upper edge) to lower class.  I have students from the suburbs as well as  the inner city.  In on campus, the classes are predominately white, in the other I am usually the only white person in the class.  The comp reader I am using doesn't have many Native American/Indigieous books and my knowledge there is murky, so in particular suggestion for that group would be helpful.  The reader does have Morrison, Mair, Hurston, Baldwin, Hughes, Angelou.



Alexie, Sherman.  Absoultey True Diary of a Part Time Indian

Anamn, A Golden Age

Andersen, Eljiah.  Code of the Streets

Boo, Katherine.  Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Boullosa, Carmen.  A Nacro History

Brown, Dee  Bury My Heart at Wounded knee

Bulter, Octavia

Coates, Ta-Nahisi.  Between the World and Me

Dickey, Colin.  Ghostland

Giddings, Paula.  Ida: A Sword Among Lions

Goffman, Alice.  On The Run

Gordon-Reed, Annette

Harden, Blaine.  Escape from Camp 14

Hochshild, Adam.  King Leopold’s Ghost

Horwitz, Anthony.  Confederates in the Attic

Hwang, Sun-Mi.  The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

Kendi, Ibram.  Stamped from the Beginning

Leamer, Lawrence.  The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Bought Down the Clan

Leovy, Jill. Ghettoside

Lepore, Jill Secret History of Wonder Woman

Lewis, John.  March Trilogy.

Lipstadt, Deborah.  Denial

Luther, Jessica.  Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Mernissi, Fatima

Noah, Trevor.  Born a Crime

Oberski, Joana.  Childhood

Quinnoes, Sam.  Dreamland

Rodriguez, Teresa.  Daughters of Juarez

Saviano, Roberto.  Gomarrah

Schrank, Delphine.  Rebel of Rangoon

Simon, David.

Thomas, Angie.  The Hate U Give

Wainaina, One Day I Will Write About This Place

Watkins, D.  The Beast Side        

Whitehead, Colson.  The Underground Railroad


Zakaria, Rafia.  The Upstairs Wife



Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

Last year, I horrified someone.  I didn’t mean to.  She asked me why I was in Old Alexandria, and I said that I had read the Ghosts of Virginia series and was interested in the history.  She gave me that disappointed look, that the one that says you are stupid.


                What she didn’t understand or know is this – I like ghost stories because in part, I like to know the stories behind the ghost stories.  To me, they are folklore and interesting because of that.  True Joel Chandler Harris presents tales that can be seen as trying to make slavery less bad.  That is until you realize that figures like Brer Fox and Wolf are, in fact, the slave owners who get it handed to them every single time.  Don’t believe me, read his version of three little pigs that he took down from a former slave.  The pigs are not pigs, and the wolf is not a wolf.


                So, folklore, in particular when it is good, can interest people.  Taylor Jr. who wrote the Ghosts of Virginia series didn’t hide the disturbing aspects of VA history.  The stories he told were also done to get people curious about history. 


                Dickey seems to feel that way too because his Ghostland is, in part, a look at the real stories behind the ghost stories.  At times, he examines why there are some type of ghosts and not others.  He does this by visiting and writing about some famous, and not so famous, haunted places.  Then he dismantles the story in some cases.  This isn’t to say that Dickey totally disbelieves in ghost.  I don’t know.  At times, he seems conflicted.  I guess he is like me.


                While Dickey does cover the well-known ghost places, like the Winchester Mystery House, and does tell the truth about such places, the best writing is in the analysis of ghost stores from the southern states.  Dickey’s comments about why there are so few stories about vengeful slave ghosts as opposed to the standard “concubine” or white people ghost are actually really well thought out and worth the price of the book alone.  Truly. 


IN the news

The Hill is reporting that a Trump advisor said Orange Man (my words) didn't want to mention the racist white fucking facists (my words) because Orange Man didn't want to dignify them.


If you believe that, how is Neverland these days?


Additionally, the flandago dancer who got fired said people are trying to eject Trump, people in the White House that is - according to BBC.  I wonder if it is Ms Trump.

I want a Margaret Funko Pop! - Seriously.

Curse Words Vol 1: The Devil's Devil - Charles Soule, Ryan Browne

What happens when an evil wizard (not Wizzard) named Wizord (no first name) lands in NYC to meet up with his rat familiar(?) Margaret?


                Turn Margaret into a kola (#teammargaret) or if the situation calls for it, something else (#notmymargaret).


                And become one of the good guys.  Sort of.


                Wizord ends up in NYC to do a dark deed for his boss, but he discovers there such a thing as freedom and he likes it.  So, he decides to become a good guy.  In other words, he is trying to change from the evil bastard he was.  Lucky for him, he has Margaret, who may be something more than a familiar (#teammargaret) but who is definitely smarter than he is.


                Wizord is also hot.  It is important to note this.  He is hot.


                He also grants wishes, like the Genie in Aladdin he does have the three no go areas.  He also finds loopholes.


                He’s just not sure how good guys deal with certain problems, such as what to do with witnesses.


                But he muddles though.


                In many ways, this book reminds me a little of I Hate Fairyland, comedy, but there is also an underlying seriousness to it.  How does one define magic, how does magic work, what makes us who we are. 


                The artwork is excellent.  Margaret might be a cute kola bear (#teammargaret), but she is a real kola bear, not a stuffed animal.  And the cost and ramifications of the magic spells upon surrounding people are brought home.  Cost is dealt with.  It’s quite a nice comic.  In many ways, it takes the best of Dresden and plays with it in a totally different way. 

Out soon

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City - Tanya Talaga

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley


                Tamra Jewel Keepness.


                Name doesn’t ring a bell to many people here in the United States.  In 2004, the five-year member of Whitebear First Nation went missing from her family home in Reinga.  She has never been found.  I only know about because I was in Montreal shortly after she was reported missing, when the story was showed on Canadian news.  I remember thinking at the time that it such coverage seemed to be different than that of the US, were the only people who seem to go missing are attractive white women or old forgetful people, at least according to the national news.


                I found myself thinking of Keepness while reading this book, in part because the book showed me how wrong I was.


                Prior to reading this book I knew about the reputation of Residential Schools, of the taking of Native/First Nation children by whites in order to “civilize” or “assimilate” them in both the US and Canada, and I have read reports and watched documentaries about the large number of First Nation women missing and killed in Canada, including along Highway 16. Yet, there was a sense that Canada at least owned up to the injustice in a way that the United States has not done.


                Nope.  Wrong about that.


                Talaga’s book looks at the deaths of seven indigenous students from a school in Thunder Bay.  The students lied in Thunder Bay, but they came from small Northern communities that lacked adequate schooling.  The only way for the students to get a good education, the First Nation schools in their communities either being non-existent or severally underfunded.  It is also a condemnation of a society and a government that does little to nothing to correct the issues that are a result of colonialism and racism.  Of school that is underfunded but tries, and a town that does little to deal with hate crimes.


                Talaga tells the story from the indigenous point of view.  This means that the focus is on racism and government responsibility as well as, at times, culture shock of moving to a city from a town of 300 people or less.  So, this isn’t drink done them wrong, at least no more than drink does any teen wrong.  Additionally, while details are given about the lives of the people whom Talaga is writing about, she doesn’t Romanize them.  It is reporting, all the more damning because of it.  In part, this is all due to Talaga herself who is honest enough to admit that when the germ of the story started, she was reporting on something completely different.


                It’s important to remember that the focus is on seven young lives that were lost, all in a similar way.  It chronicles not only the crime but also the reaction of society and the struggle to get justice.  It also is a look at the families.  What would you do if there was no school for your child at home, and the closest school was 100s of miles away?  You also have more than one child.


                The book is both eye-opening and anger inducing. 


Personal Canon - Hero and the Crown

The Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley

First Read: 6th grade  - Still have that edition.  It is held together by a rubber band.


                Robin McKinley’s book The Hero and the Crown has made me more friends in the real world and on social book websites than I can count.  I owe one of my longest friendships to this book.  It is a book that is currently being held together by a rubber band.


                When I was in 6th grade, they had these things called Scholastic Book Clubs, where every couple of weeks or so, students could order books that would be shipped to the school.  It was though one of these that I got my copy of Hero and the Crown.  The basic plot is a young princess whose mother has a dubious past, and therefore, she is an outsider at the court.  She isn’t the pretty noble whom everyone loves, though her father does love her; eventually, though hard work becomes a dragon killer.


                She is in many ways St Georgina.  She even has a white horse.  His name is Talat.


                It was the first novel I read, the first fantasy novel, where a woman takes on the “man’s” role.  It was totally awesome.  And in particular, it was one of the few adventure stories were a woman was front and center and not a boy/man.  It was just so wonderful because it didn’t have the complicated issues that say Riders of Pern has when you get older (is it or is it not rape).  The only objectionable, if objectionable is the right word, is when she sleeps with someone.  But that happens off page, is not graphic, and was of her own choice and without pressure.


                In some ways, McKinley foreshadows books such as the Hunger Games or Divergent with the emphasis on action more than romance, though McKinley, unlike HG, stays away from a love triangle.  McKinley takes the outcast and doesn’t make her into a practically perfect individual, one that everyone loves though the outcast will constantly deny this.  Aerin is truly an outcast, truly separate.  And that is something that most books today do not use.


Aerin also allowed me to meet my oldest and dearest friend.

RIP Robert Hardy

Image result for robert hardy


I know I am supposed to be like "Harry Potter's Fudge" but you will always be Siegfried to me.  I also loved the Castle Ghost series.

Works really well

Arrowood: Sherlock Holmes Has Met His Match - Mick Finlay

Arrowood has a problem. It isn't the fact that his sister has returned. Nope. It isn't the fact that his wife left - his fault that. It isn't that the beer has gone off.

It is Sherlock Bloody Holmes.

Finlay's book is about the anti-Holmes and Watson. Not bad guys, no, but the ones who handle those cases that are not classy enough for Holmes. Along the way, Finlay also subtley digs at Watson's martial status.

Overall the book is good. The mystery is a bit wrapped up in a bow, if you know what I mean, but the characters are engaging, and Finlay nails the period. He also puts in commentary about Holmes, and quite frankly, I think he should get a bonus for the whole riff about Adler because honesty, after what Moffat did with her, I so needed that.

Waiting for the movie, waiting for the movie

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 - Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze

Note: I got this for free via an Amazon Marvel Comics' Offer. I "purchased" a FCBD comic about Rocket for nothing, and then recieved an email coupon saying I could get a free comic collection. I chose this one because I was lucky enough to see Coates speak shortly after it was announced he was writing this.

Years ago, I was a huge Marvel fan, until they screwed one too many of thier female characters over. So I stopped reading. I kept up a bit because you know how it is. You get attached to characters and want to know. I was never a Black Panther fan. Sorry, just wasn't, mostly because I didn't read the Avengers. But Storm, Storm and Firestar are my two favorite Marvel characters. When Storm and Panther married I was like cool even though I shipped Storm/Forge, but why did you retconned it the way you did? Why couldn't the story of Storm saving Panther be kept? Why did it have to be reversed? But I understand the importance of the, this, power couple, but this begs the question why break them up?

So that's my mind set when I picked this up. As someone who has not read Marvel in recent years, I was slightly confused on the outset, though the summery at the start helped with this. And honestly, if Marvel had been producing this when I stopped reading, I would not have stopped reading.

First, the art. Comic books are known for women with skinny waists, big boobs, and really strange outfits. Well, the strange outfits are here and some navels get flashed, but the women are actually drawn as women with real waists and bust sizes. So wow. Awesome. Women in power too. 

Second, the plot. Coates' storyline seems to be on the nature of rule, which is a rather interesting take. Coates explored not only the idea and cost of ruling, but what happens when that pact is broken. It is a really adult look at power and government that mirrors some the politcal situations in some African countries. Really well done writing.

On the representaton issue, this book is great. Two of the leading female characters are in a romantic realtionship where they truly care for each other. They are not demonized. Additionally, there are hints of a relationship between two older adults. There is only one white person who has a small role, and the book therefore balances the predominately white casts of the other comics. Honestly, there was a time when the Avengers seemed to be nothing but blonde men. Representation does matter, everyone should realize this.