Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




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Reservoir 13: A Novel - Jon McGregor

On one hand, the nature writing in this book is wonderful.  The story is basically what happens in a town after a young girl goes missing.  The young girl is not local, so the village has the misfortune of being both setting and possible culprit.


The problem for me, though, is that there is far, far, far, far too much telling.  Even when you imagine Attenborough reading it too you, it is far too repetitive and you quite frankly don't care about anyone.

Uncertain Justice: Canadian Women and Capital Punishment, 1754-1953 - F. Murray Greenwood, Beverley Boissery

This is a quite interesting book. In general, the book is in chronological order though it does start with a modern case. The authors are looking at how Canadian justice treated women for about two hundred years. Various cases are studied in depth. The particular reason I brought this book was that I was looking at the story of La Corriveau, and this presents a very good historical context on that case.

It does help to have some basic historical knowledge of Canada, but outside of that, it is an easy enough read for the non-criminal justice major.

Still on US Kindle

The Golden and Ghoulish Age of the Gibbet in Britain (Palgrave Historical Studies in the Criminal Corpse and its Afterlife) - Sarah Tarlow

Pretty much everything you want to know about gibbet usage in Great Britain. (The gibbet is the iron cage in which the body is put to be displayed). Very accessible. Not boring. Pretty of good charts.

Audio Book

The Rival Queens: Catherine de' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom - Nancy Goldstone

Goldstone's book looks at the power struggle in France during the lives of Queen Catherine de Medici and her daughter Queen Margeruite (Margot) of Navarre.  In part, Goldstone pushes back against the more recent histories that show Catherine has a good politician and her daughter as a slut.  The footnotes are quite funny.  It must be said, however, that both women still seem to be in the shadows.

Good conclusion

Dictator: A novel (Cicero Trilogy) - Robert Harris

This is a good conclusion to the series.  If you know the history, the ending isn't really a surprise.  What Harris does extremely well is paint ancient Rome.  It is a wonderful read about ancient politics.  


So last night I had to put down Mab (the tabby) which was about two months after I had to put down Moby (the white one).  And in the last year and a half, I have put down one dog and two cats.




Freebies for kindle

 Several Algonquin titles [here]


Also this

Blood Hemlock - Libbie Hawker

The thing about series is I am left with the feeling that it would have been better as just one book. The resolution in this finale isn't that much of a surprise, though the sequence from which the book gets its title is pretty good. 

I love Hawker, but this is the weakest one of her books.

Star Wars: From A Certain Point Of View - Paul Kemp

I pre-ordered this book when I heard that Nendi Okorafor had story in it. A story about a thing with tentacles. Then my brother gave me a hardcover version for Christmas. After reading, I’ve decided to keep the hardcover even though I have the kindle edition.

The book is a collection o short stories that present an event or some of the events of Star Wars (A New Hope) from the point of view of minor or background characters. So, we have the red droid, the Jawas, Sand people, and so on. The stories run from serious, to referencing current real-world issues, to humor. There is a story by Wil Wheaton, making the collection both a Star Wars and a Star Trek book. Best of all, it is for the support of First Book.

And the stories are damn good.

Ken Liu’s short story “The Sith of Datawork” might just be the best one in the collection and presents the paperwork that must be filled out when you don’t shoot an escape pod. Or perhaps it is Meg Cabot’s short story about Aunt Beru – which is the reason why I now want to try the Princess Diaries. Or perhaps it is the one about that red droid, R2-D4, though it will make you look at R2-D2 in a different way.

Or perhaps it is all the ones about Leia. The torturer one, or the stormtrooper, or the one that takes place during the medal ceremony.

Or perhaps the best story is about the love affair that occurs on the Death Star.

Nope, it must be the incident report one.

The one weak part, if weak part it is, the number of stories that cover the Cantina. On one hand, this is interesting because of the whole editing of Han shooting first. But it also feels like a bit too many stories covering the same material over and over.

That aside though, this is a really good collection

Question and note for Audible Members

One - this months originals include a Stephen Fry and  a Kevin Kline on audible.


But is another else getting a photo attachment with a Booklikes update email?

Updated Bingo Card -Kitten Out

Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh - Anna Beer

Disclaimer: I won an ARC of this title via Netgalley.


                When you actually sit down and think about, what exactly did Sir Walter Ralegh actually do to deserve almost being a household name in today’s world?  You are more likely to have heard of him than Robert Cecil.  He is one of the famous prisoners of the Tower of London, isn’t he?  Thankfully, Anna Beer’s new book partially answers that question.  In fact, she answers it as much as is humanly possible.


                The book is less an examination of whether Ralegh was a traitor but how much he truly relied on self-promotion and proclamation.  It is about treading the minefields that were political life in both Elizabeth and early Jacobean English court history.


                While it is helpful to have a working knowledge of English history during the closing years of Elizabeth’s reign and the beginning of James, Beer’s writing is very engaging, and the pace is lively.  The chapters each deal an aspect of Ralegh – solider, husband, and on – and what is undoubtedly more engrossing than a simpler linear biography.


                What really sells the book are the subtle, at times funny, asides, such her musing about a codpiece, and her ability to not see her subject through rose-colored glasses.  There are examinations of Ralegh’s various relationships – in particular with his wife and with his rivals.  While one can’t say a better knowing of Ralegh as a man is a result of this book, one does get a better idea of how when he lived affected him.  It doesn’t make Ralegh into your drinking mate, but it deepens your understanding.

Updated Bingo Card

Just waiting for that last call

Free for kindle

Thor - Wayne    Smith

I got this book years ago.  There is a bad movie based on it.  The book itself is excellent.  It is about a German Shepherd who is trying to protect his people from a werewolf, but the people just don't understand.  While you will cry at parts, the dog does NOT die.  Just saying.  But it was clearly written by a loving dog owner.


It is currently free for kindle in the US at least.

I like Fox but

The Complaints - Ian Rankin

This mystery leaves me a bit cold.  It's a bit interesting until it is not.

So clever

Magpie Murders - Anthony Horowitz

I love magpies.  They are so  neat.  Just had to say that.


This is a very, very clever book.  What is more important it isn't impressed by its own cleverness.  It's the reason I'm not that big of an Ian McEwan fan.  He is never unaware of his own talent and ability and never lets you forget that.  


Horowitz's clever book doesn't do that.  It is so clever but not insulting.  If you like British murder mysteries, this is a wonderful book.