Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




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Batman Freebies Round Up

DCeased #1 - Tom    Taylor Batman Black and White #5 - Len Wein, Jimmy Palmiotti, Chris Weston, Javier Pulido, Keith Giffen, Joshua Middleton, Ivan Brandon, Paolo Rivera, Andrew    Robinson, Blair Butler, Victor Ibanez Ramirez Batman Black and White #1 - Chip Kidd, Neal Adams, Joseph A. Quinones Jr., Maris Wicks, John Arcudi, Howard Mackie, Sean  Murphy, Michael Cho, Chris Samnee, Marc Silvestri Batman Black and White #2 - Rafael Grampa, Dan DiDio, Rafael Albuquerque, Jeff Lemire, Michael Uslan, J.G. Jones, Alex NiƱo, Dave Bullock, Jim Steranko Batman & Robin Adventures No. 21 Aug 1997 - Ty Templeton Batman: Black and White (2013- ) #1 - Chip Kidd, Neal Adams, Joe Quinones, Michael Cho

So I picked up a bunch of Batman freebies.  I'm not a huge Bats fan.  I really only read him when Catwoman shows up because she's awesome.


So - 


DCeased is basically the DC universe vs. zombies.  It's an interesting idea but I didn't find it particularly "must know what happened next".


The Batman Black & White series are short Batman stories.  Somewhat Noir in feeling, sometimes by people associated with the cartoon series.  An Innocent Guy is the best one because it actually uses something I think some villain should have done before.


The Batman Adventure one features Batgirl.  It's entertaining, but Batgirl is drawn in such a way that she would have no room for a stomach.


(I believe most if not all, of these are still free for kindle).

This was cute

Too Many Tribbles - Frank Berrios, Ethan Beavers

The Little Golden Book version of the Trouble with Tribbles.  It's as good as you think.


This was so much fun to read.  Honesty, if you love Trek and Golden Books, check it out.

Not by Jemsin

Harry The Christmas Mouse - Janelle Dimmett,  N.G.K.

It is a cute Christmas story but it is not by the famed science fiction/fantasy author.

Catch and Kill - Ronan Farrow

If you have been following the whole Weinstein scandal, you need to read this.

Farrow can write - he is far, far more than a pretty face or the son of a famous actress.

The book reads like a spy thriller, which makes the truth it relates far more damning

Good book about reading

Quint the Bookmobile: Barnabus Rides in Style! - Kathleen Quinton, Mousam Banarjee

Okay, I liked the use of the dog and the mobile library. The love of reading the children show is great.

But why are all the children, for the most part, blonde and blue eyed? It's spooky.


This was the reason why I at first gave it two stars on GR.  But then the author left a nice comment on the review saying that the children were her grandchildren.  She just wanted to put them in book. Okay, a little less spooky. Still would want some more diversity but it makes sense.  (FYI - she didn't ask that I change my review or anything, even thanked me. She just answered the question).

FYI - author's last name is Lin - also still free on kindle

The Emperor Who Built the Great Wall - Jillian Lin

This was a pretty good children's history of Qin Shi Huang. It includes facts and questions at the end. Really nice.

still free for kindle

Arial the Secret Santa - Mary Nhin, Jelena Stupar

I didn't enjoy this as much as the others in the series. But it does keep the nice extras at the end.

Good book to be released in 2020

House on Endless Waters - Emuna Elon

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

When Yoel Blum breaks a promise to his dead mother by traveling to Amsterdam to celebrate the Dutch translation of one of his books, he does not know what path he has started to trod on.

Blum was born during the Second War when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands. His family lived in the Netherlands. His discovery of a family secret leads to an extended stay in the country as well as discovery aspects of himself that he though long dead. The story is told through Blum’s writing of a novel as well as his own mediations and experiences.

The best part of the book are the sections where Blum interacts with Amsterdam and his family. The book that he is writing is, the story of his family, is less engrossing. In part, this is because the family secret is easy to figure out. But the beauty of the writing in describing Blum’s internal conflict – not only with his newly discovered past but also with his present life.

The work is also a mediation of the effects of the Holocaust on those generation of adults who were hidden as children who faced not only the dangers of survival but also the trauma of being left by and then reunited with family. Elon also ties into the effect on the families of the present. It is this reason why Blum’s relationship with his family feels far more interesting than the plot set in WWII Amsterdam. Though to give Elon credit she does highlight the more common Dutch story than the one that everyone knows about Anne Frank.

Elon also writes Amsterdam extremely well. The descriptions of Blum walking though the city are beautifully written.


Sorry for the book wave people.  Finally getting caught up while watching the whole Sarah Dessen thing on twitter.

Southside Collection

The Hustle of Kim Foxx - Steve Bogira Cellmates - Tori Marlan The Waiting Room - Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve The Gun King - John H. Richardson Payback - Natalie Y. Moor

This is a series of 5 articles/essays about the Southside in Chicago, or to be on point crime, justice and race in Chicago.  They are by five different authors so somewhat mixed.


The Waiting Room is most likely the most moving as it deals with the presence of a jail in the neighborhood as well as the impact of jail on the lives of people.  It is more thoughtful and deep than The Gun King, which is about a young man sent to jail for dealing guns.  Gun King does raise legit questions but it needed to be a bit longer.


The profile of Kim Foxx is good and in depth.

Gotten as a kindle freebie

No Such Thing as Dasher - Juli D. Revezzo

I like the use of the older pagan element, but I have some issues

 (and this is me) I hate the mysterious guy who acts all superior to the woman.  I like the use of the older pagan element, but I have some issues

 While in the US, we do not herd reindeer, many cultures do, so really the comment about the Night Before Christmas was strange.

But it is a clean romance, so if you are looking for those, this counts.

Real Life Book Club Read

My Antonia - Willa Cather

Cather's book is about immigration, romanticism, symbolism, classism, and sexism.

On one hand, the story is suppose to be about Antonia, the eldest daughter of recent immigrates to the American prairie. But it is more about what Antonia represents to those around her. Beauty, childhood, the prairie itself, a loose woman. Antonia, herself, might just represent the different views of America that everyone has, sometimes all at once.

Antonia's hardships and struggles represent different things to those around her, but she herself seems other, always other. In part because she is a new American, in part because she speaks her mind, and because she is a meek woman

still free for kindle

The Merman's Kiss - Tamsin Baker

It is not a bad book, and the twist is pretty good. The plot, though, is a bit weak, and the book is simply a reason for two people to have sex and sex so rational thought process is out the window and insta love is the sole item on the menu (but this is somewhat idicated by the description).


Two stars because I am tired of books where every other female is evil. But with this note - I will most likely be trying other books in the series. The world building made sense - or at least how the magic works in the book. And Ley does base her version of merpeople on established traditions. (Think of the merman statue in Copenhagen for instance). I liked that as well as the ending.


Honesty, I love the cover too.

Ebook Embargo

Tomorrow (Nov 1, 2019), Macmillan’s new rules for library digital copies goes into effect.  It is being called an embargo.  Here’s how it will work.  For each new release, a library can buy one digital copy for around 30 dollars with perpetual access (Sargent, “Memo”).  After eight weeks, the library will be able to buy as many digitals as it desires; however, these come at a price of up to 60 dollars with a two year or 52 lend limit (Sargent, “Memo”).  Needless to say, libraries are upset.  Today (10/31/19), the ALA delivered over 165,000 signatures opposing this embargo. 


So, what is this all about, how does this all work?




                According to the ALA’s testimony before the US House, eBooks make up about 19% of the book market in the US (2).  Additionally, according to Overdrive, the company that enables the borrowing of eBooks from libraries, there were 274 billion eBook and eBook audio borrows last year (Million Checkout Club”).  This number is for the US and Canada combined.  The Toronto system has the most digital loans (Million Checkout”) and the King County Library System in Washington state is the largest digital library in the US (Macdonald) with 4.8 million digital checkouts (Albanese, “Major”).


                In most cases, when a library buys a digital book, the branch is spending anywhere from 30 to 220+ dollars on one digital book.  This means that cases the library has a two-year access (and/or a limited number of reads usually 26-52).  After the end of this period, the library can re-purchase the digital copy for another set length of time or loans.   This format is, at least until Nov 2019, the format used by the Big 5 Publishers.  Keep in mind that one digital eBook can only be loaned to one person at a time.

 It should also be noted that Amazon Publishing does not make its books available to public libraries (ALA Report 2).  Additionally, in terms of its lending, Amazon seems to do one of two things in regards to big publishers – either there is a fixed fee each time someone borrows the book or the book is sold to Amazon at a wholesale price each time someone borrows it (Paul).


On the surface, this does make some sense, perhaps not in terms of pricing for the library, but it does allow the publisher to make a profit, the library to have the book, and the patrons to read it.  The system seems to be like that used to price college textbooks, and while both systems have problems in regards to pricing (such as is it too high), there is a sense of logic to it.


Apparently, eBook sales have been at pretty much constant rate for the last couple years.




                Last year, Macmillan tried out an embargo with its Tor imprint.  While the company has not released the data from the experiment, in a memo laying out the changes to take place next month, the company has claimed that it worked.  In a memo outlining the changes, John Sargent, the CEO, notes that library lending is “cannibalizing sales” and that 45% of the company’s eBook reads are via libraries with the revenue of such reads being under two dollars (Sargent, “Memo”).  He also notes that the public excepts eBooks to be cheaper.  (He’s right about this.  With a physical book, I can: read it myself, loan it to people, resell it, recycle it, past it on, regift it, or trade it’s in.  With an eBook, I might be able to loan it.  That’s it.)  Because of this desire to save money, more people are reading eBooks via libraries.  Hence, for the company to exist and make profit, the terms must be changed.


                In a letter dated the 30th of October, Sargent goes further noting that with physical books library patrons had friction – they had to travel to library to borrow and return the book, and there were late fees.  He contends that there is no such friction with eBooks. 


Take Away


          Well, at least several libraries, including the King County System, will not be buying digital books from Macmillan to protest the embargo.  According to Kent Olivier director of the Nashville Public Library system, patrons could be waiting up to a year for a digital lend.  (There are currently wait lists for ebooks now.  That is friction).


                Macmillan’s plan, quite frankly, sucks. 


                I have seen what lack of access to a library does.  When I was in middle school, my neighborhood library closed for a bit, then reopened (sort of), then closed again, then reopened in a smaller space, then closed, and finally when I was in college, reopened.  Now, I’m lucky.  My parents would buy books, and I live in a city where the next nearest branch is a short trolley ride away.  But at the school level, there were no more trips to the library.  None.  Students read less. 


                While Macmillan is correct, that digital lends are easier than physically picking up the book, there is the question of access.  Someone who lives in a big city has little concern about access.  But a smaller city, a more suburban or rural area – I would imagine digital loans are a god send (if you believe in a god).  At best, at best, the Macmillan rules are harming those library patrons who live in rural areas.


                At worst, and this is the more likely outcome, the embargo is harming both libraries and patrons with no real winning for Macmillan.  The libraries are going to take the heat because of the increase wait times for a recent release.  Macmillan seems to think that this will translate in an increase of eBook sales.   But will it?  Considering the constant state of eBooks being pirated online, this is doubtful. 


                Even if people don’t go towards pirated books (and they shouldn’t), it does not necessary translate to more sales.  There are ways around the no lending or price issue – either by sharing access to an account or reading the book quickly and returning it.  People will even: grasp: wait.


                Some people might even stop reading altogether.


                Or maybe Amazon will win everything and kill libraries. 


                Public libraries are many people’s gateway to knowledge and power.  A student who reads does better than a student who doesn’t.  A person who reads as a child is more likely to read as an adult.  A reader is more likely to buy books when there is money available to do so. Libraries are already facing increasing budget cuts and people wondering “why do we need to pay for a library, I don’t read”.  Limited access to current and popular titles is only going to make countering those foolish points that much harder.  Libraries are needed because they provided the public with access to knowledge.  A person might not be able to afford to get beyond the Post’s paywall, but a library can give them that access.


                With its embargo, Macmillan appears to be declaring war, not so much on libraries, but on the middle and lower classes and knowledge itself.


Work Cited and Bibliography


Albanese, Andrew.  “Major Public Library System Will Boycott Macmillan Ebooks”.  Publisher’s Weekly.  Oct 15, 2019.


American Library Association.  “Report on Competition in Digital Books”.  Delivered to US House of Representatives Judicial Committee on Oct 15, 2019.


Hines, Shawnda.  “ALA launches National Campaign against e-book embargo”.  ALA News. Sept 11, 2019.


Hines, Shawnda.  “ALA Responds to Macmillan Letter”.  30 Oct 2019.


“How the Macmillan embargo impacts authors”. County Library System. 29 Oct 2019.


Inouye, Alan.  “The Future eBook Pricing”.  American Libraries Magazine.  9 July 2019.


Inouye, Alan S.  “Update on eBook Advocacy”.  American Libraries Magazine.  9 Sept 2019.


Macdonald, Moira.  “Seattle and King County library patrons will start seeing a change in access to  Macmillan e-books starting this week”.  The Seattle Times.  Oct 29, 2019.


“Million Checkout Club”.  Overdrive.  Overdrive Company.  9 Jan 2019.


Paul, Ian.  “Amazon Prime Book Leading: Your FAQS Answered”.  PC World.  3 Nov 2011.


Sargent, John.  “Draft Memo”.  Publisher’s Weekly.  Oct 15, 2019.


Sargent, John.  “Letter to Libraries”.  Macmillan Publishers.  29 Oct 2019.  Accessed:



Black Out

Deadly Deep Square

Submerged - S.C. Butler, Josuha Palmatier

FYI - I funded the kickstarter that included this book.

Any collection of stories is going to be a mixed bag that will differ from reader to reader. Overall the majority of the stories were good. Not great, but a little above okay. There were three stand-outs.

1. "Rest in Peace" by Seann Macguire - this rift on the idea of a missing ship is wonderful. It's the right mixture of realism and sea legend. Really good ending.

2. "Go With the Flow" by Esther Friesner - Friesner is always best when playing with tropes.

3. "Son of Blob" by Jeffery J Mariottie - real good story with squid.