Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




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Surviving Wounded Knee- Review - (out in Jan 2016)

Surviving Wounded Knee: The Lakotas and the Politics of Memory - David W. Grua

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.


                Grua’s book is one of those that every American should read, even if the prose can at times be a little dull.

                The book isn’t so much about the actual massacre itself, though Grua does gives a run-down so an unfamiliar reader, will be clued in, but about the way that the events were portrayed by each “side”.  I say “side” because it is hard to term women and children as a side.  What this means is how the American media at first described what happened and then the battle for truth, if not justice.

                While the prose is not gripping, there is enough here to anger the most ardent expansist apologist.  It is important reading for any American citizen.

Reblogged from Chris' Fish Place

Have you read the Sil?

Beren and LĂșthien -  Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, Alan Lee

If you read the Sil, then you know this story.  If you haven't and have only seen the movies, (1) what is wrong with you and (2) Beren and Luthien are the couple that Strider sings about in Fellowship.


This book supposedly sets the story in a story mode as opposed to bits and pieces.  But it doesn't really.  It's more a collection of various parts of the story, rough drafts and what not.  Some are in verse.  There are illustrations by Alan Lee, which most likely are the real selling point of the book.


In many ways, it is a good source for an academic, but in terms of an actual story, nope.  In some ways, it feels like a way to re-package something that didn't really need to be repackaged for the average reader, at least not in this format.


Lee's illustrations are nice though.



The Kindness of Strangers - Salka Viertel

Jan 2019 NYRB Selection


                I really don’t know much about Greta Garbo.  I know the “gossip” of her lesbianism or bisexuality.  I enjoyed Queen Christiana and I few other movies.  Like Marlene Dietrich in many ways it was what she did doing the years of World War II that weren’t movies that were far more interesting.   So, the name Salka Viertel didn’t ring any bells. 


                Viertel was a very close friend of Garbo’s, but she was also a screenwriter, working on quite few Garbo movies’; in fact, their creative collaboration seems to have started with Queen Christian, mostly because both women found the queen fascinating.


                Viertel was born in Sambor which at the time of her birth was part of the Austro-Hungary empire.  She was Jewish and lived to see both World Wars.  She worked first as an actress until a journey to America, where she and her husband went to work in the film industry.


                The selling point that seems to be used for the book is whom she knows in Hollywood.  There are stories about various Hollywood stars, and Viertel seems to have known a great many people, including various family writers, such as the Manns.


                The most interesting aspects of the memoir are not the stories of people you’ve heard of, but of the personal side.  Viertel, for instance, writes about what today we would call post-partum depression.  There are passages about relationships.


                Not much about Garbo.  The friendship takes a back seat in the memoir. 


                At times there is a frustrating vagueness that could be eased with some footnotes – such as the tragedy that is used in reference to her relationship with her niece. 


                Yet, it is a very modern memoir that gives insight to times of the past.

Good History

The Vel D'Hiv Raid - Levi Laub, Maurice Rajsfus

The Vel d'Hiv raid was during WW II.  It was when French police arrested Jewish residents, imprisoned them in the Vel d'Hiv (bike stadium), and eventually deported them to various killing camps.


This short history not only presents the raid but also links it to historical context.  It includes a very detail appendices.

Homage to the TV Series

Wonder Woman '77 Volume 2 - Trina Robbins, Marc Andreyko

This series of comics is the Wonder Woman from the TV series.  It is set in the 70s, and looks like Lynda Carter.  It is a group of stand alone stories.  


There is a story about ivory that connects in with current issues, but otherwise it is just basic stories.  There is a story that has some 70 guest stars.  And one character seems to be a take off of David Bowie.



A Massacre in Mexico - John Washington, Anabel Hernandez

In September 2014, 43 students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Normal School of Ayotzinapa were disappeared in Mexico.  They literally vanished.  They group was largely first year students.  They have never been found.  At time, it made the headlines even outside of Mexico.  Today, ever so often an international news report will mention the status of investigation.

                Anabel Hernández’s book details not only the night of attacks when the 43 students disappeared but also the cover-ups that followed.  On one hand, the writing is dry.  Hernandez is reporting. She is trying to prove the cove ups. 

                The important thing is that she does.  The detail and information she has gathered and presented makes her case.

                If you live in the US, this is really a book you should read because it does have impact on way there are refugees and the impact of the war on drugs.

Real Life Book Club Read

Warlight - Michael Ondaatje

It's impossible to not wonder at the writing ability of Ondaatje, so why three stars?  


The idea of the book is interesting, the effect of a mother's secret life on her children.  Yet it is largely the story of women told by a man.  Not Ondaatje but the narrator of the story, the son.  There's something off that I haven't been able to put my finger on yet.

Reading this out of order

Wonder Woman Vol. 5: Flesh (The New 52) - Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, Goran Sudzuka

I've read Vols 1 and 2 of this Wonder Woman run, my friend gave me this volume for Christmas.  While I have read the issue where Wonder Woman becomes the God of War (She doesn't want it, it happened because of stuff), I haven't read all the volumes between, so I can't comment how this connects to the larger ARC.


This volumes builds up to what seems to be a major war on Olympus as Wonder Woman eventually comes to terms with being the God of War.


What I like about this was how the various Greek gods were depicted.  The designs for Artemis and Apollo in particular are very good.


The central of the story is Diana's friendship and love for those in her circle.


This was in today's New York Times Op Ed section.  I think it is safe to say that the essay was written before the Hale news blew up.  The piece focuses on mostly Gressen and Alexie.  

Still Free for Kindle (US)

Bill Reid Collected - Martine J. Reid

This includes a brief biography  and a work overview.  The photos are stunning.  Reid worked in a variety of mediums, so there is boxes, earrings, prints, and sculptures.  

Standard but Creative

Creature Cops: Special Varmint Unit - Rob Anderson, Fernando Melek, Novo Malgapo

The storyline is pretty standard, though the two women supporting characters get far more time than the men supporting characters.  The main character is male.  It is about a police like SPCA that has to deal with hybrid animals.  It is the animals where the book is most creative.  The plot is pretty standard but most of the characters are poc.

May I recommend to anyone thinking of buying this ...

Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker - Kathleen  Hale

...the money better spent as a donation at 


Help with stalking: 

Reblogged from Debbie's Spurts
The St Lawrence (Rivers of America series, #20) - Henry Beston

I was reading this to see if it had any information about Ile d'Orleans. While there isn't much there, this a lovely read about the river, at least the Canadian side of the river. Beston writes about the city and nature. His writing about Beluga whales is also very powerful.

In Book Rage News Today...

You all remember Kathleen Hale. Well she's back. Apparently putting out a book about how she stalked a reviewer. I cannot. Follow the twitter feed.


Reblogged from Obsidian Blue

Audible Freebies

These are not part of the originals offered each month.  I think the zero price is only if you are a member.


Authorized: Love and Romance (about writing romance)

Real Crime (British Crime)

Elizabeth II LIfe of a Monorach

Sue Perkins (of British Bake Off) - Earpedia


Mortal City 

Making of a Massacre

McSweeney's Internet

West Cork Aftershow (it's listed as West Cork 2)

Bedtime Stories for Cynics

2018 Year of Reading Review



Number of books read: 639.  This numbers includes short eBooks and single-issue comic books. 


Best Debut: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Best Cat Book: Fuddles series of children books


Best Poetry: Emergencies of the Heart


Best Memoir: Widower’s Notebook.  Michelle Obama’s Becoming is a close second.  But I didn’t think I would like Widower’s Notebook and it made me buy a book, so it just gets the win.


Best Star Trek: Starfleet Academy Graphic Novel


Best Travel: Tale from the Haunted South


Best Comic Series: Sensation Wonder Women


Best Current Events: Suspect Citizens tied with Crashed


Thought it was going to suck but it didn’t: Ella


OMG Finally a Sequel: Once Upon a time Machine Greek Myths


Best Biography:  David Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass. 


Will I Ever Stop Loving This Book:  Watership Down tied with Possession


Looks like a Lifetime movie but is so much better: What Happened that Night


Best Book of the Year: Niirlit


Children’s Book: Suite for Human Nature


Red Riding Hood Story: Little Red Riding Sheep


Well, if you are going to end it, at least it’s good: I Hate Fairyland  Vol 4


Started Good but WTF happened to that: The Darkest Thread


So that’s why everyone talks about this book: Tales of the City


Sherlock Holmes rift: Warlock Holmes


True Crime: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark


Best Book about Reading: A Dreadful Fairy Book


Best Parody:  Besides the Cocky parody books, The Wordsmiths of Grosmere simply because of Tim Curry as Lord Byron.


Best Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View


Ghost Story: The Family Plot


WTF Did I just Read; it is great: Dinosaur Dump


Werewolf Book: Werewolf Haiku


Best Troy Retelling: Age of Bronze Vol 1




For this year: I want to knock out the books I have but have not read in various series I have started.