Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




 Challenge ParticipantFrequently Auto-Approved80%Reviews PublishedProfessional Reader













Kindle Freebie

The Ghanaian Goldilocks - Tamara Pizzoli, Phil Howell

This is everything a retelling of a story should be Pizzoli adapts the story to fit Ghanaian culture. The artwork is charming. Quite lovely.

Metaphrog's Bluebeard - Metaphrog
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.

Bluebeard is and is not a strange. A modern reader sees it as a warning tale for women but the whole “rein in one’s curiosity thing’ gets more than a raised eyebrow from today’s woman. I mean, she at least didn’t kill anyone. The Brothers Grimm are a bit better. But there is something about Bluebeard – the castle, the beard, Angela Carter’s short story. Who knows?

Metaphrog’s retelling, in graphic novel form, combines these various versions and presents something that is pretty darn good.

In this version of the story, the center, the part that holds is the love that the family has for each other, this is particularly true of the sisters. By filling in, or better answering questions versions, that the original versions raise, Metaphrog not only makes the story more engrossing but more modern. There are issues besides the question of curiosity vs feminism. There are also the issues of rich and poor that that are raised in the original but dealt with in passing.

The artwork is glorious. But the stand out winning aspect is the use of the name Eve for the heroine. It is reclaiming the story in so many different ways, moving it beyond the curiosity evil original and taking it further than Angela Carter’s “Bloody Chamber”.

Enjoyed this

Illuminae - Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman

The set up of this novel is pretty good. The cast too is varied in terms of gender. In other words, the heroine is not the only kick ass girl. Once I was able to "forget" that the lead was 17 (she so does not sound like it), the book worked. Quite enjoyable. Nice, quick read.

Out in June

The Lost Pianos of Siberia - Sophy Roberts
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

There is something about Siberia that does stir the imagination. The ice, the snow, the tigers – all of the above, you know. Perhaps it is the survival of people who survive in such a place. Roberts book, despite its title is more about Siberia than about pianos. But that is okay.

The book is framed by the idea of quest for a piano, though at times it is very easy to forget that this quest. While the book does discuss the lost pianos, the book details more the inhabitants and prisoners of the land.

Roberts travels around Siberia include not only a hunt to view the famous tigers but also a visit to the location of the death of the Romanovs. The writing is more powerful when she is dealing with nature. The chapter about the tigers, for instance, contains some of the most beautiful writing about the big cats. When the pianos come back in, strangely the book seems to lag a bit.

But there is something engaging about Roberts style nonetheless. The joy of her trek and travel infuses the book and it is impossible not to get caught up in the excitement and joy. Perhaps because she finally has achieved a trip to Siberia (and perhaps this is why the request feels secondary). It was a good read.

Author should be Max Eisen

By Chance Alone - Max Eisen

Max Eisen's memoir details his experiences during the Holocaust.  Eisen's story takes the reader from pre-WWII til his immigration to Toronto.  The writing is engrossing and powerful.  

Amusing game based on H.P. Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls"

I don't think I've ever read the story, but the game made me chuckle. You play as the rats, trying to get Delapore to enter three different places so that he'll go insane and "do the cannibalism" on Norrys.

Reblogged from Familiar Diversions


So I am currently locked out of Twitter because I said calling com one a bimbo was an insult to bimbos.  I feel like I have arrived.


Hey, check out the podcast that Marlon James and his editor put together.  So great.


It is called Marlon and Jake Read Dead People.

Fake History

Southern Independence : Why War - Charles T. Pace
FYI - this review might be triggering and I am not hiding this review because of spoilers.

Currently (1/26/2020) if you look this book up on Amazon, it is on the Kindle freebie best seller list. Furthermore, as of this writing, my one star review will be the only second one star review this book gets on GR. I understand that freedom of speech means the freedom of all speech, I wonder why Amazon would sell such a blatant white supremacy tract, or at the very least allow it to be sold as history. "Books" (and I use the term loosely) such as this are the reason why people hear others repeat falsehoods that are really racism about things like George Washington being a Rothschild and therefore, America is a Jewish state where rich Jews control everything. And surely, I do not need to explain the dangers of such lies.

If Dr. Pace (MD) ever reads my review, he will most likely dismiss it as propaganda put out by a Northerner. So yes, in the interest of full disclosure my family is from the North. On my maternal grandmother's side of the family, there is at least one ancestor who fought for the Union. My paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather were also immigrants to the US. The grandmother to leave behind prosecution, and the grandfather because that side of the family was Protestant in Catholic Italy. Additionally, one of the writers Pace quotes in the beginning of chapter (an epigram quote) was a professor of mine in college. Dr. Lukcas would not be happy to see his name in this book. (Lukcas was a demanding but brilliant teacher).

A list of problems and errors in this "book" are below and are the reasons why I view this book as a white supremacy tract.

1. Repeated use of the word colored to describe Afro-Americans.

2. It takes about a quarter of the book before the word slave is used.

3. No footnotes or in text citation for facts. Makes general statements with no support. The book is copyrighted 2015, btw.

4. Claims that black (he uses the word colored) children were better off pre Civil Rights and pre Civil War than in the modern era.

5. The author states that, as compared to the North, the South had few immigrants and those that did immigrant were quickly accepted and assimilated. (Strangely, he does not mentioning the lynching of Italian immigrants in New Orleans here, for one).

6. Apparently there was no one in American prior to the arrival of white people who, in the South, lived side be side with black workers in an Eden. My guess is that this is because the white people killed the native population but Pace does not mention that at all.

7. Calls what happened to the South during the Civil War a holocaust. And apparently America is a facist state.

8. The author believes all major newspapers work for the Dems (so he hasn't read the Wall Street Journal I presume).

9. Believes that the South was better because the people of the South followed the morals of the aristocrats. (So no reason for a revolution then, am I right?)

10. uses experts in one subject as experts in any subjects.

11. The author does not grammar well.

12. Huge misreading and misrepresentation of Hawthorne's words and works. Though why the author is citing Hawthorne, a romantic. Pace considers romanticism to be one of the evils that humanism gave birth to. (and yes, he lists feminism there as well).

13. Refers to the south as an abused minority and the goal of the Confederate states was to gain "freedom from slavery". And Davis didn't free his slaves because?

14. Implies that slavery had nothing to do with money, except for when he argues that the slaves had it good because they were an investment. (so the documented whippings, killings, and rapes were what?)

15. No mention of Fort Pillow, West VA, or Wilmington, NC.

16. He blames Anthony Johnson twice for the bringing slavery to America. Johnson was a forced indentured servant (i.e slave) who gained his freedom, and afterwards owned slaves (including his son, so the story is more nuanced than Pace would have you think). But yes, Pace blames slavery in America on a black man.

17. He has a tendency to add zeroes to numbers. For instance he says Boston's population was 250,000 when it was 25,000 and that 30,000 white people were murdered during the Revolution in Haiti, it was really 3,000-5,000, mostly French whites. Once might be an honest mistake, but twice?

18. He says that the white people who were killed in Haiti was a tragedy but does not mention the over one million Africans that died during the Middle Passage. It seems to Pace that it is only a tragedy or holocaust when white, Christians die.

19. The South only got slaves because the North sold them to the south.

20. Implies that the whole slave trade stopped in 1808, when it was only the legal, international slave trade. And no, he does not mention the fact that people still illegally brought slaves from Africa to the US.

21. Says that servants in the North were not family to their employers in the same way that slaves and owners were in the South. Of course, another difference would be that servants got paid and slaves didn't, but he doesn't mention that.

22. South was more Christian than the North because it had fewer immigrants.

23. Says that the slaves in America were treated better and it was better for them to be slaves. Because you know, if they had not been stolen from their homes, they would not have been Christian (at least I presume that is reasoning).

24. Claims that Northerners lived on top of each other but didn't know each other, while Southerners lived far apart but treated each other like family. This is uncited and makes no sense.

25. Claims that the South was peaceful with no fighting or rebellions. So Nat Turner was a dream? Also the work of Edward Ayers and others disproves this.

26. Claims that the leaders of the South during the war were farmers without much wealth. So Lee was a poor guy?

27. In the chapter on slavery, he says slavery is a red herring and then gives a red herring himself instead of attempting to prove his thesis for that chapter.

28. Claims that "slaves were not abused people striving to be free". Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, John Box Brown and others would like a word with him.

29. Repeats the myth about Lincoln and the Republicans trying to get slaves to kill masters. There is no proof for this claim. Additionally, Pace says the slaves didn't do it because they were happy.

30. He does not mention the difference between slavery in Africa and in the New World. The difference is important. He also blames the slave trade on Africans.

31. He claims that "any slave who wanted to go North could get on a train and go". Seriously WTF?

32. He claims that only 1% of the slave population were runaways but does state where the information comes from. (estimates of the Underground Railroad run between 40,000-100,000 freed, check out Gates).

33. Claims that the slave testimonies that were collected during the depression all have slaves saying how much things were when they were slaves. This is a lie. I've read several of those testimonies, they are easily available.

34. believes that slaves were better off than workers in Europe and the North. (Because they had houses, I guess. I don't know. He doesn't even try to explain that statement).

35.He says to try to change others (i.e. society) is the devil's work. This makes me wonder why he can support the American Revolution because of change.

36. Doesn't mention Dred Scott as a reason why the flight was to Canada. Implies that the North kicked all free blacks out to Canada.

37. Writes, "slavery did not cause secession but abolition did" - but then says everyone opposed slavery. This is very confusing.

38. Claims that under 500,000 slaves were brought to the US. Estimates are actually 500,000 to 650,000.

39. Neglects the fact that the lack of medical care led to a great many deaths in the Civil War.

40. There is this gem of old time racism, "From 1709 forward, Virginian Government petitioned to abolish slave imports but was overruled by London and Boston power. All people realized that slavery, and a race so numerous, so different, so primitives was a problem and slated to become a worse problem." It would be one thing if he was saying this was what people thought, but how it was worded implies more than that.

41. Claims that abolition only started in 1830 and that between 1700-1800 there was no abolition. This disregards the Quakers as well as the fact that Vermont (1777) and Penn. (1780) outlawed slavery. It also overlooks rebellion.

42. He mentions a Smithsonian article that calls Sherman's march a great environmental disaster, one of the worst in the country. But I looked and couldn't find such an article on the Smithsonian website from the year he cites (1996).

43. When he discusses how bad former slaves had it after the Civil War, he cites white women who were former slave owners only. There is no mention of the mass amount of lynchings that occurred after the Civil War. He only says that the former slaves were thrown out to starve, freeze, and become ill.

44. Claims that Seward said Lincoln never spoke the truth. His proof is this quote, "All his words were to a purpose" that Seward said when describing Lincoln. Not quite the same thing as lying.

45. He gets the history of the Cotton Gin and Kansas totally wrong.

46. Claims that all historians see altruism as the start of every war, but that they don't want to admit it (so how does he know?)

47. says Lincoln never thought about the horrors of war. This is wrong. Lincoln spoke about the horrors of the war and how evil war was.

48. Apparently Lincoln was a big cheat during the election.

49. He mentions Samuel Johnson for some reason but for the life of me I don't know why.

50. Says Polk and Tyler were two of the best Presidents. First time, I've heard this.

51. When talking about the Confederate invasion of PA, he writes, "it may not have been peaceable but it was peaceful" and that the Confederates hurt no one. Elizabeth Bulter, among others, disagrees strongly.

52. Claims Longstreet hooked up the Grants. (Longstreet was a distant relative of Julia Grant, not the cousin that the author states).


Kindle and audible freebies.

Every Heart


list of audible  (this takes you to dailycheapreads which posted it.  Apparently they are the originals for Feb).

Ronaldo: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher (Ronaldo the Flying Reindeer Book 2) - Maxine Sylvester, Maxine Sylvester

This installment finds everyone’s favorite sport star named reindeer struggling to win a race as well as to help his new friend Ernie, who isn’t a reindeer. There are some comma issues, but the story is sound and entertaining. Importance is giving not only to friendship but also the ability to think. Illustrations match the story quite well.

The Path to Ramen Enlightenment: Silicon Valley (Bravo Your City! Book 89) - Randy Fung

Book is set up extremely well.

The Hedgehog Trail - J. Roshni

Can people please learn about commas? Thank you.


The Death of Death - K.N. Parker

Tried three times to read this, and each time it doesn't grab me. Sorry book, it's me not you.

The Remains of an Altar (Merrily Watkins Mysteries Book 8) - Phil Rickman

Not the best of the series. There is something a bit off, maybe because Lol and Gomer aren't as present. But Rickman does tap into the fear of development and tourism as well as how ghost stories are seen by different people in the same area. That's what makes it a good read. And it's always nice to spend time with Merrily who is one of the best written characters in the world.

Thanks Edward Lorn

Secret Santa: A Christmas Horror - Edward Lorn

Seriously enjoyable.