Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.

 

 

                             

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Drowning Deep Square

Water Monsters South of the Border - Denver Michaels

Loch Ness isn't the only body of water with monsters.  In this book, Michaels looks at water monster stories from Central and South America. He does so with a good dose of healthy disbelief.  So while he wants the stories to be true, she does not disregard rational reasons.

 

He does have discussions about the various legends, and at one points, goes off into wondering about if dinosaurs are still around.

 

Still it is a nice little collection of, at the very least, folklore with good and helpful footnotes.

Ghosts Square

The Haunting of Rachel Harroway: The Beginning- Book 0 - J.S Donovan

So Rachel and her husband move into a house and the weird things start to happen.  Well, weird once you get past Rachel drawing pictures of people dying in all types of way.  The question is whether or not Rachel is seeing ghosts or is so traveling down the path of maddness that took her mother.

 

The confusion and worry of Rachel comes across quite well.  The relationship between her and her husband is well drawn.  Her husband does get upset and worried, so he does push back to her lies.

 

It was a fun read, even if there were a couple strange typos.

Romantic Suspense Square

The Silver Falcon - Evelyn Anthony

Well, this is one of those is my husband's son really the evil man that everyone says he is stories.

 

The problem is that the heroine is such a stupid twit, it is impossible to discover why three men love her.  The hero is a jackass who according to the book is at the very least endangers the heroine by pulling her under water.

 

There is some interesting things about horse racing, but the Epsom?  Not the Kentucky?  For a horse breeder born and bred in Kentucky?  Maybe, but wouldn't he call it the Epsom as opposed to the Derby?

Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House - April Ryan

As far as I'm concerned, if you don't like Ryan's reporting and ethic of hard work, then there's something wrong with you. I have to admit though, this isn't as good as I hoped it be.

If you haven't been paying attention, Ryan is a reporter who has been covering the White House for quite a while. She is well spoken, well respected, and intelligent. Spicer told her to stop shaking her head. She is part of what Trump calls the fake news (until he considers it real news, then it's right, except when it's not). 

This book details her work in the White House Press corp during Trump's first year in Office. So if you are looking at how the Press is responding to Trump's repeated attacks on them and the First Amendent, this is it. It also means that there was, understandably, a push to get this book out. This most likely accounts for the feel that it should have used a bit of tighter editing. For instance,- I do not know if the publisher though only African-Americans would read this so perhaps this point is out of order (I'm white, I'm not show) - when Ryan is detailing Trump's first proclamination about African-American History month, she notes the response in the Black community because of the use of African-American not Black (there was/is a fear of erasing history or imporance). There was concern from the community, and she asked why the change. Spicer notes that Obama used the name; Ryan points out that Regan made the change. So why is Trump using African-American so much worse? I'm not questioning the validity of the response. I just want to know why it is worse. Is it because Trump is more openly racist? But Ryan doesn't say, so it comes off as strange.

I understand that this is an attempt, in part, to capture how Ryan talks in book form, but there is an overuse exclamination points, which I will grant is a pet peeve of mine.

There is also quite a bit on Ryan's "relationship" with Omarosa. This is understandable. If someone attacks your reputation and ethics, thereby endangering your job, you are going to be furious, but the section goes on for too long. A good editor would have shortened it.

Those qualms aside, I am glad that I read this. Ryan is a good read, and there is much in here that sheds light on some things in the news as well as horrifying you with Trump's working hours. It is important because Ryan is reporting when reporters are underfire at home, considering for instance, the work place shooting as well as the death threats that some reporters are getting.
 

Updated bingo Card

 

Pumpkin: Called but not read

Cat: Read but not called

Cat with Pumpkin: Called and Read

Spellbound Square

Witch Is When It All Began - Adele Abbott

This is a nice enough mystery involving Jill Gooder who discovers that she is a witch.  There is a bit more telling than showing.  But the really winning bit is Jill who comes across as human.  She has flaws, she knows what they are, and she doesn't apolgize for them.  But she is not bitchy.  She cares deeply for her family who care deeply for her.

 

It was fun.  And passed the Bedchal Test with flying colors.

Suspense Square

The Last Thing I Told You - Emily Arsenault

Way back when I first joined Goodreads, I won the first or second book by this author in a giveaway.  I didn't like it.  The writing was good, the plot was meh. I didn't finish. I put the author on the "perhaps try later" mental shelf.

 

MyBookBox included this recent release in its Aug 2018 shipment, and the book is much better.  It concerns a small town that is recovering from a mass shooting, a young woman, and a dead shrink.  The story is told via the detective trying to solve the murder and the young woman who is a prime suspect.

 

The pace is a bit slow, but the real suspense comes from the unrooting of secrets.  The writing is gripping and the book is a solid good read.

Shifter Square

Crimes Against Magic  - Steve McHugh

I might not have been in the right mood for this considering what is currently going on in the US politics.

 

It is a workable fantasy.  It is part Burn Notice, part Dresden, part James Bond.  Apparently every single beautiful woman finds Nate undeniable and is willing to drop her bra and panties for him.  At least, every woman of legal age.  To be fair, Nate does look upon girls as girls, and the sex is totally consenual - far beyond the loose Bond defination of that word.  Its just, at least for me, an eye rolling really.

 

But this would have been fine because the first half of the book is at least servicable urban fantasy, even a cut above because Nate does not try to soft pedal what he is, and he is at least honest.  The sections that take place in the past work in terms of laying down a longer plan and connecting the story to a larger mythos.

 

The world building could have been a little bit more work.

 

The second half of the novel falls a bit apart into a somewhat standard damsel in distress plot line that just feels like women manipulating men to fix problems.  I'm more in the mood for women to be kicking ass.

Modern Masters of Horror Square

Hyacinths - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

This is a rather interesting dystopia novel. The characters are not likable, and they are not really meant to be. It is more of a character study about what sexism and out of control capitalism can make people be as well as how it can affect creatively. 

Despite its age, the themes of the book can still be applied to today, especially with the use of social media and the entertainment industry.

Southern Gothic Square and Thanks Char

Savage Season - Joe R. Lansdale

I read this because Char really seems to love Hap and Leonard, so I figured what the hell.

 

Landsdale's tale of a search for lost money is pretty darn good.  The selling point of the book isn't so much the plot as it is the characters and the setting.

 

Reading Hap and Leonard snipe at each other like an old married couple is well worth the read.  The action starts with the arrival of Trudy - the girl who seems to have Hap's number and she has an offer.  Hap brings in Leonard, and what you have is the story of lost and buried dreams.

 

It was a fun read.

SPOILER ALERT!

Creepy Carnival Square Read

Ringmaster (Carnival) (Volume 1) - Trudi Jaye

I was planning on reading a series of comics for this square, but read this instead.  Oh well.

 

It is also titled Ringmaster's Heir (Dark Carnival #1) in the US.

 

There are parts of this that are wonderful.  Rilla, the title character, is a totally real and likable central character.  She is easy to root for, and isn't a princess perfect.  The idea of a Carnival and a group of families that are quasi cursed to help Marks is interesting.  The magic in the series is well thought out and has rules that are followed.  The plot at the beginning is pretty good.  Rilla's father has died (has he been murdered?), she faces a challenge to her inheritance as Ringmaster, made more problematic because the Carnival has been dealing with sabotage.  The whole sequence with Rilla and the Mark, Kara, as they help each other is wonderful.

 

The but to this otherwise good book is a few major buts.

 

The first is that the romance feels entirely forced and as something the writer threw in because she (I presume the Trudi Jaye is a she, apolgizes if he/it/them is the preferred pronoun) thought readers would want it.  The hero, Jack, is the son of the man who is challenging Rilla for the Ringmaster role.  The Nine, men and one women besides Rilla, who control various aspects of the Carnvial (such as food, games, rides) will vote on it.  Jack's father was exiled for 33 years for interfering with a Mark.  Part of the forced romance feel is that Jack is really unlikable.  At first, it is understandable why he wants to support his father in the quest for Ringmaster title.  His father was ill, the return to the Carnival seems to be good for his father - who wouldn't want to help Dad, especially when Jack wants to get back to his job.  So, yeah, he's a jerk and maniuplative (he uses a private conversation and its infromation), but you can understand why.  It's when his father suffers a relapse and decides that Jack should take his place as challenger that Jack looks even more jerk like (why would he agree, especially when he wasn't raised in the Carnival or fully understands it?).  Then Jerk Jack says he is doing it for Rilla's own good because she is sad about her dad.  This after they slept together (which felt so forced that you were literally, going really) and after he realizes that Rilla was basically running the Carnival for her father anyway.

 

WTF?

 

What is more, the NIne (even the only woman of the Nine, who is the Foodmaster) are okay with this.  AND NOT ONE WOMAN THINKS TO CALL THEM OUT ON THE SEXISM.  The closest you get is Missy who hints, hints, at it.  By the end of the book,when Rilla has been told by one of the men on the Nine that they love her and that's why they wanted Jack or his dad as Ringmaster because they were worried about her grieving. you want Rilla to shout, "Screw you, you SeXist Bastards and enabling Woman" and walk away.

 

Instead she becomes co-Ringmaster with Jack who is still a fucking jerk.

 

This might of been fine if the sexism had at least been addressed or even mentioned, but it's not.  THe only reason, at least in times of the world in the book, that the NIne might vote for Jack or his Dad instead of someone who knows the Carnival, is that Rilla has tits and a v-j.

 

It totally ruined the book.  It really did.

 

And then the reveal is something a reader can figure out about 100 plus pages earlier.  There is a third plot point that just feels thrown in.

 

 

Updated card

 

Cat with pumpkin: Read and called

Cat = Read but not called

Pumpkin = Called but not read

Relics and Curios Square

The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett

The first time I read this book,  I thought it was okay.  Not the best Discworld, but okay.

 

But each time I re-read it, I like it  more.

 

I mean, there is the Pern parody that is great.  There is the kick ass daughter who inherits.  There are the riffs on heroes.

 

And yet, there is the fact that we are all Rincewind.  I know, I know, I'm an American, so I should be Twoflower.  But Rincewind is what we would all be if we were in LOTR.

Doomsday Square

Muse of Fire - Dan Simmons

For me, Simmons is a historical horror or sci-fi horror writer first, and then a straight forward Sci-Fi writer.  But this book is about stories, poetry, and religion

 

A group of performers is forced to perform Shakespeare's greatest plays and if they fail, the human race is  doomed.  Doomed, doomed, doomed.  Wiped out.

 

Simmons does a wonderful job capturing the fear and stress of the needed performances.  But the world building is good as well and the various levels of aliens as well as the space ships provide reasons for a look at religion.  

 

What I really enjoyed was how he captured all the ins and outs of the personal lives of the performers as well as rivialries but without making anyone into a trophe or sterotype.

Tales of the City - Armistead Maupin

So there were really Rolling Skating Nuns in the Castro.  I asked my friend who lived there.

 

I miss all the cool stuff.

 

This is a book that draws you right in and carries you with it.  It, apparently from what my friend says, captures a time and place.  It addresses question of sexuality, morality, gender, and race.

 

It doesn't so much have bad guys, and everyone is interesting.  It is a really good read.

Queen Sugar - Natalie Baszile

I picked this up for kindle a while back because OWN (I believe) has a series based on it.  This summer I started watching the series via Hulu.  I now, offically, have too many series on Hulu and AcornTV that I am addicted to watching.

 

The book is different than the series in some major ways - two siblings instead of three, for instance.  But you can see why a series was made from it - race, family, history, and tradition all come into play in the story.  There is also quite a bit of class.  The tone isn't one of judgement, but of sympathy and reporting, especially in the case of Ralph Angel.

 

There is a quiet beauty in this story.  A love not only for land and family, but also for the beauty of words.  It is a beautiful book.