Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




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Gotten as Audible Freebie

Girls & Boys - Dennis Kelly, Carey Mulligan

The play is told from the viewpoint of the wife and concerns a marriage as well as the fallout of its failure. It is an moving and, at points in the beginning, a funny play.   Mulligan's performance is excellent.

Hearst's dog was named Helen

Hearst Castle Photo Tour Guide - Vicki León

Nicely done photo guide to the famous site. I love that they included a photo of the chair where the dog slept.


I have not visit the complex, but now I want to.  Simply to see the dog bed.

Je t'aime

A Year in Paris: Season by Season in the City of Light - John Baxter

Non-fiction book for Feb 2019 My Book Box.

If anyone writes more beautifully about Paris than John Baxter, I’ve yet to read them.
This book is supposedly about Paris throughout the year. It loosely follows this (there are some jumps in season, time, and place) as well as a brief history of the Revolution’s desire to change the calenderer.

It is best to think of this book as part memoir of seasons of his life in Paris, as well as seasons of Paris. Each chapter is like a meditation.

There are interesting little factoids that pop up. Like France’s obsession with sanitation. Or how names use to be chosen for French children. There is a wonderful bit about April, Paris, and music. There are observations like, “More so in France than anywhere else in the world, political survival turns on a gesture” (207).

There are parts of the book that are somewhat, well strange. It’s not the comparison between Baxter’s Australia or California. Those parts are interesting. It’s just sometimes, it almost feels like he is oversharing. There is a bit too much about his sexual relationships. Don’t get me wrong, the details aren’t overly graphic, and the first relationship is actually beautifully described. However, he does seem to think of Paris, in part, as terms of women he has relationships with. (Most importantly, it should be fairly noted, his wife and daughter. He dedicates the book to both, and they do seem to be the loves of his life. The two non-marriage relationships occur prior to the marriage). So, we also get details about his relationship with a German woman. There also is a weird bit about an Aussie’s man’s junk. Which comes out of left field. I’m not really sure why that was there.

Still, it is a beautiful book about Paris. You should read it.

Thoughts on this?

Dover Castle, Kent - R. Allen Brown

This short little book is an excellent history of the castle.  Much information.  Wonderful.

The Autumn Throne: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine - Elizabeth Chadwick

This is a good conclusion to Chadwick's series about Eleanor. If anyone captured the queen, I think it was Chadwick. The conflict between her sons and their heirs forms much of the book, and the conflict emotions that Eleanor feels are well done.  I like how she has woman friends.

Gotten as a kindle freebie

Luka Magnotta: True Story of a Canadian Psycho (Crimes Canada : True Crimes That Shocked The Nation Book 5) - Peter Vronsky, Rj Parker, Aeternum Designs, Cara Lee Carter

This a good short history of the Luka Magnotta case. You should be warned that there are some graphic photos and description, but Carter warns you in text so you can skip those sections.

I'm not sure if the introductory bits about psychology is correct though. It seems like an over-simplification.

The Valley of the Kings - Cecelia Holland
So this basically two novellas. The first, about Carter finding Tut's tomb, is pretty good. It also includes the conflict between Egyptians and those who would steal their heritage.

The second part, set in Tut's time, is really not good. In part, this is because of the change in knowledge about the time period from when the book was first written, but also in part because the plotting is basically a mess there.

Round two with the Pufferfish

Terminal Alliance - Jim C. Hines

Hines’ second outing with the hero Janitors involves Mops and crew going back to Earth. There are references to Farscape (living ships), Willard Scott, and sports (as well as possible current US politics).

I like the sports in this book.

It is also a love novel to books and libraries.

While I didn’t find the novel as funny the first one in the series, it is still an excellent book. In part, this is because, like Terry Pratchett, Jim C Hines’ heroes are those that would not have even been mentioned in the epic fantasy or sci-fi. This is only one reason why Hines is really deserves the title of America’s Answer to Terry Pratchett. Mops and her crew of janitors are heroes with such a level of doneness that it is wonderful.

The janitor crew travels to Earth because of certain rumors involving whether or not there might be change in feral humans. They discover a bit more about the lies that were revealed in the first book. Hines also gives a solution to that plot and brings up another plot thread to lead into the next book. (The ending report of this book is so wonderfully funny).

It is also important to note that unlike much writing where the motives of the evil doers are never fully examined, Hines does the opposite. The motivates of the head boss are examined. This is something that is rarely done. Furthermore, this is a book where the ones in command positions are all female.

But honesty, the price of the book is well worth reading Doc’s interrogation scene.


There is  novella up on Netgalley.

Out the 5th

The Wolf and the Watchman - Niklas Natt och Dag

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.



                The older I get, the more frustrated I get with “events”, at least in terms of movies.  Don’t really care which Avengers are going to make out whatever Avengers movie is coming out soon.  It’s Marvel; the only character never brought to life is Uncle Ben.    I am also the type of person who hears about the guy who jumps off a cruise ship into the ocean to see if he could do and then says “good” when the cruise ship bans him for life.


                So, there is something wrong with me.  I freely admit this.


                If I get hyped about anything, it is usually a book.  But even then, if the book is hyped, I tend to be well disappointed.  I didn’t love The Girl with Dragon Tattoo and have no desire to read any of the other books.  It’s important you know this before reading this review any further.


                In some ways, The Wolf and the Watchman is being set up as Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets the Alienist.  It is historical mystery, set in the 1700s in Sweden, largely Stockholm.  There are two oddly paired detectives – the more brilliant if problematic one, and the more physical one.  There is similarity to Holmes and Watson in the characters, though both Cardell and Winge are far earthlier than their Doyle counterparts.  The mystery is part cultural critique but with plenty of creepy bits.


                And yet, there is a sense of it not quite living up to the hype, of a lack of something.  Perhaps it is because the characters are too much like type, perhaps because it is a little too much like every other Swedish mystery (okay, not like Inspector Huss) that gets translated into English, and much like many English mysteries – tortured men, women in need of saving.


                Still, it was an interesting read.

Strong Second Installment

The Winter Crown: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine - Elizabeth Chadwick

Chadwick's second volume of her series about Eleanor of Aquitaine is a good strong volume.  It chronicles the breakdown of her marriage to Henry II as well as the start of the major family in fighting between Mama Bear and her cubs against Papa Bear.


At some points, Eleanor is a bit more sinned against than sinning, but Chadwick's take on history is rather plausible.  It is particularly fun watching Maud and Eleanor interact.  Chadwick does an excellent job showcasing how frustrating and annoying it must have been for a woman like Eleanor to be constantly shoved to the side. 


There is also a happy romance to balance the failing of marriage.


Totally enjoyable read.

Kindle Monthly Sales (US)

Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival - Velma Wallis, James Grant Flat Broke with Two Goats: A Memoir of Appalachia - Jennifer McGaha A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo - Marlon Bundo, Jill Twiss, Richard Parsons

Two Old Women is on sale for 1.99.  It is a great book.


Christie's Evil Under the Sun




Scourge of Henry VIII


Flat Broke with Two Goats (I liked this one)


DC Icons Wonder Woman


Marlon Bundo


Several romances including Janet Dailey, Debbie Macomber, and Beverly Jenkins.


American Gods Graphic Novel Vol 1


By a Spider's THread  by Lippman


Several DK eyewitness Travel guides


Books by Heather Graham, Mary Stewart, and M C Beaton as well as Joe Grey Mysteries and Lady Julia Grey Mysteries


Notorious RBG


Several Miltary/Police canine harlequin looking books


Pancakes in Paris  (I really enjoyed this one.  The author worked on TNT's Robin Hood series)


As Always Julia


Nasty Women


Becoming Madeline (biography of L'Engle by her daugthers)


Dr. Who Cookbook


A few Ted Dekker books


Young Frankenstein The Making of the Film


The Card Catalog


Not One Damsel in Distress


Cruel Beauty


Bull by David Elliot

Audible Member Freebies

Saw this on Dailycheapreads.


You can get the following books for free if you are member. Not sure how long it will last.


A Mind of her Own by Paula McLain

Junk by Les Bohem

The Demon Next Door by Bryan Borrough

Black Leopard, Red Wolf - Marlon James

When I first heard that James was writing a fantasy that used African myth, legends, and folklore, I was very excited, so it should be noted I had high expectations of this novel.  Also, I love James’ but it takes about 100 or so pages for me to get into his books, but then I can’t put it down.


                So, here’s the thing – most readers are going to fall into one of two camps with this book – you are either going to love it, or you’re going to hate it.  There is going to be, I believe, a smaller group who fall somewhere in the middle.


                At its most basic, the novel is a quest, as Tracker and various other characters (there are quite a few characters) try to find a boy.  But the sweeping narrative is far more than that.  If Tolkien drew from English and European myth/legend to fashion Middle Earth, James draws from African story telling tradition as well myth/legend/folklore here.

                But to care it an African or Black LOTR or GOT is wrong because it implies that those two are the originals, and this book is more diverse version.


                Black Leopard, Red Wolf is its own thing, as any good novel should be.


                To say that the book is layered would be an understatement.  There are references to comics as well as current events.  Some of the sexual violence in the book does seem to be a comment FGM and criminalization of homosexuality.


                There are character and figures that are from African legend, yet the African epic I found myself thinking of the most when reading the book was Sundiata from Mali.  I’m not familiar enough with the style of griots, but I do also wonder if James’ style here is influenced by that tradition.


                It doesn’t equal A Brief History of Seven Killings, and at time it could have been less sprawling, but there was something wonderful about the vision.

Northern Armageddon: The Battle Of The Plains Of Abraham - D. Peter Macleod

This is an excellent book about the Battle of the Plains of Abraham - the battle that basically won Quebec for the British.

Macleod's descriptions of the Battle, in particular the Scots fighting, are particularly good. There's this one old Scot who must have been descended from the Spartans.

He is also even handed. His treatment of both Montcalm and Wolfe does not lionize either men.


Here are some photos of the Plains