Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




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Joe Lansdale

He is not dead.  But he wrote some, I believe, flash fiction (his tweet said flah so) for the Year of Juliet.  


You can read it for free here



Much better than that Shylock book.

For those of us in the USA

Happy Independence Day.

Christmas Plant book

Zetta the Poinsettia - Zuzana Svobodova, Alma Hammond

This is a lovely book.  It traces a story of the  poinsettia.  It also includes facts about the plant at the end.  

General Musings on the day

1. George Zimmerman is apparently worse than I thought he was.  He is suing the family of Trayvon Martin.


2. Rep. McClintock from CA (R) asked what I considered the must chilling question, when he wanted to know who private citizens cast their ballots for.


3. William Barr is threatening the people of America.


4. Moana is one of the best, if not the best, Disney movie.


5. Republicans really don't like women, do they?


6. We spend way too much time talking about Baby Yoda in the prep room


7. Lou Diamond Phillips retweeted a pic of my cat Moby.  

Freebie Kid book round up

Champ and Nessie - Zebulan Frayne, Sherry Frayne The 12 Days of a Great White Christmas - Chris Bresky, Chris Bresky I Spy Christmas: I Spy Christmas Book for Kids - J. K. Nawara The Sun and the Moon - Kibaek Jeon, Nayun Kim Jade's Life Skills Series - Learning Manners or To Fart Or Not To Fart (Children's Life Skills Series) - Asaf Shani What The Fox Learnt: Four Fables from Aesop - Aesop, Ripple Digital Publishing Unicrosn, Magic, and Slime - Misty Black Diaries of a Dragon - Beatriz Rare Once Upon and Ever After - Caroline L. Thornton Sophia and the Popcorn Dragon - Tommy  Walker

Stand outs in this group are


12 Days of Great White Christmas - parody of the 12 days using sharks.  It includes a fact section at the end.  It's quite well done and fun. 5 stars.


Diaries of a Dragon - I wasn't sure about this one, but the artwork and the story match each other pretty darn well. It was sweet. 3.5 stars


Once Upon and Ever After - most likely the best of this batch.  5 stars.  It deals with how the prince is affected by sterotypes as well as princesses.


What the Fox Learnt - pretty good retellings of Aesop tales about foxes.  Three stars.


Champ and Nessie - actually makes good use of Nessie and Champ to teach about earth history. 3 stars


Sun and the Moon - good retelling of the Korean tale.  3 stars


Sophia and the Popcorn Dragon - a bit too cute, but woc so that was cool.  3 stars.


Unicorns, Magic and Slime -predictable but fun.  3 stars


Dollhouse Elf -(not pictured) not bad, predictable. 


To be missed


The farting book - the whole thing about dad working around in his boxers was a bit strange.


I Spy - the word scarf is missed spell.







Out Now

Voice of Rebellion - Roberta Staley
Disclaimer: ARC via a Librarything giveaway.

There is a debate among those who read biography (most likely more than one debate, but let’s just focus on this one). It has to do with the use of dialogue in biography, more specifically with the use of conversations that had to occur long ago and weren’t transcribed or recorded. Some people don’t mind them, perhaps even like them, but some don’t. I don’t. They work on basic level because of the nature of story telling and how we response to stories. But the academic in me is constantly wondering -was that really the conversation and how do you know that’s exactly what was said.

Staley makes use of such literary device, too much for my taste. So, if you feel differently, you should take that into account.

Staley’s book is biography of Mozhdah Jamalzadah, a singer who, when she was a young girl, immigrated with her family to Canada from Afghanistan. She went on to bring an Oprah Winfrey type of talk show to Afghanistan as well as to perform Afghan pop music.

Jamalzadah’s family was forced to leave Afghanistan during the 1980s because of her father’s position and political views. The biography’s first section details the family’s escape to Pakistan. While Mozhdah herself obviously did not have much to do with the planning and escape, the account showcases her parents’ strength of will and determination which they apparently passed down to their daughter. (In fact, it almost seems like Staley wants to tell the parents’ story, which itself sounds like it makes an interesting book).

The next part of the book details the family’s experiences in Canada and focuses shifts mostly to Mozhdah. And, strangely, it’s where the book loses a spark, a note, or a step. It isn’t that Staley’s writing shifts. She writes well, but there is a feeling of never quite getting to know Mozhdah Jamalzadah. In part, this has to do with details. For instance, she mentions Jamalzadah’s interest and heavy reading at one point, but doesn’t mention any of the books. There is a general sense of things but not much specifics outside the use of dialogue. To be fair, it must be difficult to write about a young and still living subject, even one who is cooperating. This might explain why the other children of the family seem to disappear (perhaps they did not want to feature in the book), but these generalities and missing facets are felt.

This is alleviated somewhat when Jamalzadah and her mother journey to Afghanistan to film the show. The challenges that Mozhdah faces range from the dangers of a country in a state of war to threats on her person because of her unwillingness to be a traditional, quiet woman as opposed to the feminist she is carry the weight, though even here there are gaps that feel strange. The focus is mostly on the career without too much depth, and there is little personal detail. It’s almost like there is a better book screaming to be let out.

still free for kindle

Bullets into Bells: Poets & Citizens Respond to Gun Violance - Brian Clements

Powerful collection of poems about gun violence.  Includes essays after  the poems.

Olde Robin Hood - Kate Danley
  Do we really need another Robin Hood adaptation?

Maybe not, but this one is pretty good anyway.

Danley sets her Robin in historical terms as opposed to the popular tales and songs. She draws on the ballads and, to a degree, on Pyle. So this is not a Hollywood or BBC version.

It is easily PG-13, though.

The plot is pretty straight forward, but it is a solid adaption and how Danely blends the ballads in is pretty good. She also creates a good Marian.

There isn't much magic, but there are some wonderful beautiful touches with native English birds

Kindle Freebies


Misc Children's Books Part 2

The Search for Elephants in Thailand - Deborah Haile Snowy White World to Save - Andrzej Sapkowski, Richard Sale Shadow Kitty - Kurt Zimmerman, Michelle Zimmerman The very Worst Riding School in the World - Lucinda E Clarke, Lucinda E  Clarke, Gabi Plumm Adventures of Laffe the Giraffe: Friends Don't Bully Friends - Toby Beavers Felix and the Magic Carrot - Emily Hamilton Mattie the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach: In the Face of Danger - Michael Middlebrooks, Danica Damnjanovic

The book about Thailand is pretty nice.


Worst Riding School is more YA.


Laffe is wonderfully illustrated.  Mattie is great.  Felix is a bit weird.

Misc Halloween Book Round Up

Tomcat Jack Celebrates Halloween - MissMiezzi Children's Books: THE WITCH'S BIG NIGHT: (Very Funny, Rhyming Bedtime Story/Picture Book for Beginner Readers About Halloween and Kindness, Ages 2-8) - Sally Huss

The Witch's Big Night is the winner out of these two.  Nice and funny.  Lovely book.

Misc Christmas Books Round-Up

Little Elf Ray Saves the Day - Ross Hammond Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy - Maxine Sylvester, Maxine Sylvester How Pidge Saved Christmas - Chad Baucom, Lera Luzhanskya The Advenutures of Nature Nate and Chompy's Christmas Tree - Kristy Hammill, Micah Hoeschele, Evgenia Dolotovskaia My Teacher is an Elf - Joey and Melanie Acker Never Let a Unicorn Meet a Reindeer - Diane Alber The Night The Elves Took Back Christmas - Rachel Burlew, Lucas Silva The Mouse in the Hammock: A Christmas Tale - Bethany Brevard A Silly Milly Christmas - Sheri Wall Christmas Friends - Uncle Amon
The best of the bunch is Never Let a Unicorn Met a Reindeer which is totally great. Adventures of Nature Nate gets a nod for poc. Ronaldo's story is good. Christmas Friends is nice. If you have a dog you will like Silly Milly.

Worth buying

Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World - Various Authors, Christiane Amanpour, Zahra Hankir

When Marie Colvin was murder, many people in the world mourned Yet, not to diminish her importance it should be noted that she was a Western journalist reporting on the Middle East. There had been and still are, Middle Eastern journalist who have been killed or imprisoned for the same reasons that Colvin was targeted. They do not get the same attention in the Western media for a variety of reasons: skin color, political viewpoint, and, perhaps least offensive, limited to no publication in Western media. Hankir’s collection does much to rectify that.

Each essay in the collection is by a woman who reports from the Arab world and is Arab herself. The Introduction places the reporters in context – in the history of reporting in the Arab world as well as reporting as a woman in the Arab world. The essays range from personal to commentary to reflection.

“An Orange Bra in Riyadh” by Donna Abu-Nas is in many ways the stellar standout in a group of stellar essays. In part this is because it deals with the changes in Saudi Arabia and how she experienced them as a working journalist, but also because it mentions the murder of Khashoggi. It also ensures that you never take little freedoms for granted again.

There are a few essays that deal with the death of fellow journalists – be they friends, husbands, or mentors. And these are particularly touching and powerful. But “On a Belated Encounter with Gender” by Lina Attalah is especially moving for it focuses on the issues of deciding to become a journalist in a family that is traditional.

The book is divided into sections, and of the course, the Exile section which deals with Syria is important to read simply because of perspective, but the essays also show case aspects of life that did not normally make it into Western news, presenting a more nuanced view of the area.

This collection of essays is highly recommended.

Maiden Mermaid: The Tale of Sirena - Sheri Wall

I have mixed feelings about this book. It is a good story, and the artwork is pretty good. It is one of the better "my dad told me this story and its been in my family for generations" created books. I loved the fact that she included a photo of the statue this story inspired.

But, it does appear to be a tale about Native Americans told from a settler point of view - the first hint being in the title. So there's that.  To be clear: the author does NOT suggest the story is Native American in origin.

But in terms of stories, this interesting in terms of transmission as well as how/why stories are created and adapted.

Cutest thing on Disney + right now.

Misc Children's Books Part 1

Be Bold! Be Brave! Chiquitos: 11 Latinas Who Made US History - Naibe Reynoso, Jone Leal The Little Horse - Luke Helmer Mosque - David Macaulay Aesop's Fables Box Set 1 - Reading Eggs Mama's Daycare - Swapan Debnath, Ngozi Edema The Perfect Potty Zoo: The Funniest ABC Book (Potty Training Book, Rhyming Book for Kids 2-5 Years Old, Toddler Book, potty training books for toddlers, potty book) - Agnes Green, Zhanna Mendel The Big Splash - Ed Ouano Arial the Chef - Mary Nhin, Jelena Stupar It's Not Easy Being a Unicorn - Beatriz Rare Kaulele The White Fairy Tern - Carleigh Vollbrecht

With the exception of Mosque, I picked these up for free.


Mosque is good, and if you have read the author's other books, it is like those.


Be Brave! Be Bold! is actually pretty good and is about famous Latinias.  While I know the book is intended for a young audience, there could have been a bit more in the bios about the women at the end.


The Little Horse is a Christian story about a horse who was present at Christ's birth.  It is actually one of the better ones.  It reminded me of Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey or the Little Drummer Boy Christmas shows.


The Aesop Box Set  contains a few fables, but the illustrations are good.  It's nice.


Mama Daycare is a sweet book that presents the fear of going to school for the first time in a different way.  It was cute.


The Perfect Potty Book is extactly as advertised.


Arial Chef - not the best, but the bits at the end about how to make Sushi were nice.


Big Splash - good if you like Dinos


It's Not Easy Being Unicorn and Kaulele the Fairy Tern are the best two.  Wonderful story about unicorn that you can see being adapted by Pixar.  Interesting story about a bird.