Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




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Rage Enducing

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History - Katy Tur
There is a man at my job who voted for the Trump, henceforth known as Cheeto Dust or Orange. After Cheeto Dust's victory, said man put up and keeps putting up pictures of the Orange on the boards in the break room. Normally, this wouldn't bother that much - free speech. But this man also takes down any picture that is anti-Orange. This anger me. It should be equal or not at all.

Needless, the women in the break room (and quite a few men) are made about this. We haven't filed a formal grievence yet because the man in question isn't all bad and we all are rooting for his grandkid.

So, what does this book have to do with that story?

Everything and nothing.

Katy Tur was covering Orange when Cheeto Dust decided to make a focal point of something. Who knows what, Tur doesn't know. But the book is a strong reminder that people voted for a man who views women as things and unimportant. It is a book about when the man who has it in for you, is the one who you must report on. 

It is a very crazy thing. Quite frankly. The book is a quick read, and Tur is actually quite sympathic Trump voters - less so to Orange himself, but she comes across as fair.


Updated Bingo Card - 2 Bingo

One cat has a death wish

I live with four cats and two dogs.  One cat, Moby, apparently has a death wish.  Two of the other cats were getting into a food bowl tiff and Moby goes charing at the biggest dog who could quite easily kill him.

Werewolf Square

Red as Blood: Old Tales Retold - Little Red Riding Hood (Tales of Blood and Darkness Book 1) - Simone Leigh

This paranormal romance draws quite nicely on Angela Carter.  While it is not the best kindle ebook ever, it is actually pretty interesting.  Nice dark romance for Halloween while also making comment on how we see woman and sexuality.

Gothic Square

By Chance Or Providence - Becky Cloonan

Nice and gothic. Cloonan uses fairy tale themes in three stories - Demeter, the last tale is the best. But all stories are outstading.

Haunted House Square

The Bell Witch: An American Haunting - Brent Monahan

Before I start the review proper, I should note that one really get thing about this audio book was the reader. He was great.

The Bell Witch is a famous American haunting. Monahan claims that this is an account written by Richard Powell who married Betsy Bell, the young woman who was one of the people haunted by the Bell Witch. So this is one of those fact mixed with fiction books that yanks my chain.

The problem with the claim is that the narrative doesn't quite make sense and is put in a vaccum. I think the conclusion is interesting, but Powell's narrative leaves out certain details, like all the time he was crushing on Betsy he was married. While a narrative written to your daughter wouldn't mention that, if this was truly a work of non-fiction shouldn't the editor note that?

And if you don't, why don't you edit out the problematic language?

And those are major problems. And yet, I wonder if this version isn't simply about gender and victimhood. Considering that the teller is a man who married a girl who is younger enough to be his daughter and who he has been in love with since she was 12, he is, in fact, a bit of predator. Considering her parent's history this too is rather interesting. So I wonder if that is the deeper point here - a point about gender and abuse.

80s Horror Square

Ghostly Tales & Sinister Stories of Old Edinburgh - Alan J. Wilson, Des Brogan, Frank McGrail

Published 1989


This slim volume is a good collection of true stories from Old Edinburgh.  There are murders and ghosts aplenty.  The stories are quite creepy.

Amateur Sleuth Square

The Hindenburg Murders - Max Allan Collins

Collins series about murders during famous disaters is actually quite good.  This one concerns the the Hindenburg and our hero is the writer of the Saint stories.  In part, this allows Collins to use a little bit of the James Bond lust idea, but also it does make for some interesting asides.  


The mystery itself is rather interesting, and Collins does make it believable as well as using it to comment on the rise of the Nazis.

Classic Horror Square

Mrs. Zant and the Ghost - Wilkie Collins, Gillian Anderson

Anderson as a reader is rather interesting. At one point, I was like, "I'm not sure how I feel about this voice" and then I was like, "There it is".  


So, this is Collins' ghost story about a woman who may be haunted.  It's a good ghost story, and unlike his contemporary, Dickens, Collins does write women rather well and with sympanthy.  The story makes use of some of the tension that makes Uncle Silas by LeFanu work so well.

Vampire Square - Tomb of Dracula

Tomb of Dracula (1972-1979) #1 - Gerry Conway, Gene Colan, Neal Adams

This is the first issue of a Marvel series that brings Dracula to the 1970s.  It is very Hammer House of Horror, and somewhat predictable if you have read comics from the 50s or 70s  - those horror comics.  It's not bad and somewhat enjoyable.  I love the credits square at the start of the comic.


Its a standard romantic triangle vampire tale.

Out Nov 7 2017

Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on the World's Greatest Scientific Expedition (A Merloyd Lawrence Book) - Stephen R. Bown
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

For some reason, I like reading books about white men going into cold places and dying. Except Norwegians, for some reason my brain believes Norwegians should always make it out alive. I’m not sure why, but it does. I blame National Geographic Museum in Washington DC for all this because I saw an exhibit there about Scott and Amundsen. 

This book is about a Russian trek, led by a Dane Vitus Bering (yes, that Bering). Truthfully, when we read about those treks, at least in the Eastern part of American, we tend to focus solely on the British during crazy things. It was refreshing, therefore to read about Russians doing crazy things. It should be noted that I am not an expert on this topic.

Brown does a very good in keeping the reader engaged. First, he sets up the scene, allowing the read to understand the circumstances that the large group of men were dealing with. Unlike the British, the Kamchatka Expedition had to deal with official who had little desire to help the leaders, making food and supplies difficult. The failure of the expedition, it seems, was also that due to politics.

Brown doesn’t hesitate to illustrate the flaws of some of the members of the expedition, but he also shows the good points. In particular, is Stellar who is at once infuriating, yet he is vital to the survival of those who make it. 

Perhaps that is the greatest strength of this history – unlike many such book it doesn’t play favorites but presents humanity struggling in a dangerous situation of its own making.


Horror Square

The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy - Daniel Kalder

So this is going to count for the horror square on bingo because that whole bear was freaky.


Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

I have to admit, I almost didn’t request this title from Netgalley. It wasn’t that the topic, a study of works by dictators, didn’t sound interesting. It did, but there also seemed a possibility for dryness, and I really wasn’t in the mood. But I requested it anyway.

I am very happy I did. Mr. Kalder, I am sorry for thinking it would be dry.

Honesty, you know you are in good hands when the book starts, “This is a book about dictator literature – that is to say, it is a book about the canon of works written or attributed to dictators. As such, it is a book about some of the worst books ever written, and so was excruciatingly painful to research.”

Kalder took one for the team, and quite frankly, we should repay him by reading this book.

The book isn’t so much literary criticism; though Kalder does not shy away from calling a bad book a bad book. For instance, on The Green Book, “it is not merely boring, or banal, or repetitive, or nonsensical, although it is certainly all those things. It is quite simply, stupid . . . “.

And he is fair, for Kalder notes of Mussolini’s bodice ripper (which isn’t really one apparently) that it is readable.

His survey of literature starts with the Russian revolution and includes present day dictators. Kalder is also as funny as, well, Monty Python.

What Kalder does is look at not only what the writings reveal about the dictators, but also why people didn’t take the books seriously as warnings of things to come. He points out that some people should have known better. He also connects it to the thinking and control process, showing how the works did reflect the personality of each man (and they are all men). He also addresses the weird beliefs that make their way into the books – Hussain had strange ideas about bears.

The book is an entertaining journey into some really strange minds that produced some really bad literature. Luckily for the reader, Kalder read it for us.

So, what did you all think of the Star Wars trailer?

Question about the word female

What is it about the use of the word female?  Why is it being used more?  What the hell is this all about?  Seriously.  Look, I've seen people, men and women , write "men and females".  For me, using male and female to refer to people is like you are refering to them like animals.  A female dog, for instance, because you don't want to say bitch.  And female gets tossed around far more than male.  What the hell?

Romantic Suspense Square

Lie to Me: A Fast-Paced Psychological Thriller - J.T. Ellison

My Book Box mystery selection.

I want to thank My Book Box because I doubt I would have picked this up on my own. So whoever made the selection, good job.

Ellison's novel ties the story about two relatively unlikable people who struggle though a rough patch in thier marriage. Neither Ethan or Sutton is particularly worthy of the title hero, though anti-hero would be apt. The character you root for is the cop Holly, who is caught up in thier lives simply because it is her job.

It's a brave book because of that. I like the format with the chapters that shift focus.

American Horror Story Square

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI - David Grann

Look, everything you have heard about this book is true. You need to read it. It isn't really about murder and the birth of the FBI, though that is the compelling aspect of the story. It is really about the American government and society have treated Native Americans (or First Peoples). The book is engaging and quite frankly, the history that it covers should be taught in school. Thank you David Grann for writing this book.

Audio book performance is good and makes good use of three voices for the three parts.