Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




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The Word Whore - (warning bad words ahead)

Let's talk about the word whore for a second here.  Man, well some women too, keep throwing it around as insult.  But I really don't think it is.  I know that many,if not most, women involved in the sex trade have serious issues with drug abuse, phyiscal abuse, and mental illness.  I know that many of these women have been forced to this job because of a varity of factors including abuse, poverty, or being sold into the business.  In no way, do I mean to diminish that.  I aslo know that the pimp takes most of the money.


I just don't think the men who throw the word "whore" has an insult are really thinking about all that.  Maybe they are, but I doubt it.


In a strict defination sense, a whore gets paid for sexual services, and this is the defination that most of those insulting men seem to be using (most often with the term suck cock).   A john is the man that pays for said services.


Isn't it worse to be a john?  I mean, you have to pay someone to have sex with you.  A whore gets paid.


Maybe we should call such really bad men Johns?  Maybe we should claim the word whore?


audio freebie

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah

This book really stalked me. It's true; I'm not even a huge fan of the Daily Show. Look, it isn't Stewart or Noah, it's just not really my thing. I've even given up watching Samantha Bee after the election too - I just can't for some reason. But Noah in his interviews has always stuck me as someone to listen to so I figured why not. I picked up a copy, for free, at the MLA convention, and then later Audible offered me the audio book for free.

See, stalking.


But I can see why. Noah tells stories from his life - in particular about growing up in a society where literally he should not exist - his mother is black, his father white. That should not be. He is also geeky and uncool. Yet, perhaps it was his status as outsider that allowed him such a view into what he was witnessing.


Noah's stories include what happened with his crew, including top dancer Hitler, when they played gigs, his experience in schools, his ability to pray, and a very funny story involving shit that is also very profound.


But most of all, the book is a testament to his mother, who sounds like one hell of a lady.

A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel - Marlon James

This is one of those books that when you first reading, you know that it is brillant. While I didn't slog though the first 100-200 pages, it was a bit slow, but then it really takes off and you don't want to put down the book, even if you are not huge Marley fan.

The title is misleading. The book might feel brief, but at 600 plus pages, it isn't. There are more than seven killings, and quite a bit of talk about rape and violence against women. Yet to not inlude this aspect would have made the book false considering the period and setting.

Marlon James tells the story in quite a few voices, and as such, despite the names at the beginnings of each section, he trusts the reader to be paying attention. Not everything is spelled out, and quite frankly if you have been playing attention, the ending shouldn't be surprising at all. I always love it when I read a book whose author doesn't think readers are idiots.

On sale

The Terror - Dan Simmons Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident - Donnie Eichar The Blue Sword  - Robin McKinley Night Train to Lisbon: A Novel - Pascal Mercier, Barbara Harshav Mornings in Jenin Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 Reprint edition - Susan Abulhawa Fledgling - Octavia E. Butler Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes - Michael Sims Medicus - Ruth Downie

On sale this month for kindle US.  


Also several Marvel masterworks


The Terror is slow, but good.

Overwatch Series

Overwatch #1 - Robert Brooks, Bengal Overwatch #2 - Robert Brooks, Bengal Overwatch #3 - Robert Brooks, Gray Shuko Overwatch #4 - Andrew Robinson, Jeff Cruz Overwatch #5 - Andrew Robinson, Nesskain Overwatch #6 - Micky Neilson, Gray Shuko Overwatch #7 - Andrew Robinson, Bengal Overwatch #8 - Michael Chu, Bengal Overwatch #9 - Michael Chu, Matt Burns, Gray Shuko Overwatch #10 - Michael Chu, Miki Montllo

5/5 stars for the series.


I'm reviewing the whole ten issue series.  It is currently free on Kindle and Comixology.  I think it is always free.


The series is about the characters from the video game of the same name.  I have not played the video game.  The series actually pretty cool.  At least three of the issues (5, 7,8) are linked pretty closely.  There are many women who are strong and who of color.  The science fiction aspects are cool.  The story telling is great, for instance in issue 4 you are not only reading a character study via action story, but also have a look at how to solve or deal with slums. 


Honesty, these are very short comics, but awesome.


I read this so you don't have to

How to unlock her legs make a woman to have sex with you and to do anything for you - David Right

So as you can tell from the title, this is one of those get laid books. It includes gems like how to make the mood on a date (a first date) lighter - by slapping the girl on the bum. Also other girls will always be more attractive than your girl, but that's okay just go after them.

In fairness, he does recommend honesty and passion for a woman, including her interests. Though he keeps using the word girl and not woman. I am presuming he means adults and not illegal age relationships..

And sentences like: "Men need lose hope because all is not lost". I'm not sure what that means really.

or "Where Seduction forms the basis of foreplay, in fact is a part of foreplay".

There is this wonderful gem, "where romance never lasts and maybe makes you feel weak and give in, seduction is a cycle that keeps repeating"

By the way, all woman yearn to give men "deep passionante desires". Even lesbians.

He does, to be fair, have some good points - like humor and listening, but then says to lie because that will seduce her faster.

He also says you should hypotize women, in particular when they rejection you or are out of your league. So he really does look like a scumbag despite the nice points.

Then in the chapter about sex he worries about surronding sexist. BTW, women use sex as a bargining chip but this has been overlooked by a sterotype that uses it (I thinnk that is what he is saying).

Women are easily addicted to food, shopping and spending money, according to this chapter on sex.

And he has 3 perfect lines for after sex.

Boobs. He uses the word boobs! He tells you to bite and talk dirty. 

Men should be in control, he says, because women really like that. Then he tells men to do doggy style but five pages later says this is bad for the man, so I really don't want to tell you guys.

(There is also a huge disclaimer so you can't sue the author. Now you know why).

Hello rape culture book, how was your day?

Puns, Puns, Puns,

Away with Words: An Irreverent Tour Through the World of Pun Competitions - Joseph Berkowitz

Putting this in literary criticism because puns do pop up in quite a few books. 

I can honestly say this is not something I would have picked up on my own, and it was included in My Book Box for this month. Berkowitz takes the reader on a tour of Pun Competitions and brief history or look at puns in general. There is also a bit how puns are different than other comedy.

It's an interesting book, and give more respect to puns. Funny at times. If you like wordplay, read it. If you don't, you can skip it.

RIP Michael Bond



Image result for michael bond paddington

I thought it was a parody and then found it out it wasn't

Blood of the Sphinx - J. Johanis, Indigo Forest Designs, Jason Bradley
I really, truly do not know what to make of this book. I thought it was a parody, but apparently it is not.

This I found hard to believe.

This book would be better if Johanis lost what is supposedly the historical aspect. It's one thing to rewrite history and give those with tragic endings, happy ones. But this is like an alternate sci-fi Egypt on an totally different planet.

There is some weird shit going down. Like the fact that the men fight and then rape each other in the arena. Ummm. And I'm sorry, Sasha as a nickname for Caesarion? Adrian for an Egyptian guard?

Now to be fair, Johanis acknowledges the playing with history, a bit, and gives the bare facts in an afterword.

So I guess it's about kink, though where Sasha got a pick feather anus toy, I have no idea. But, hey, he is a blonde with long flowing tresses. (Yeah, I know).

The whole bit about seman, I honestly do not know where to start with that. I don't. That was just inventive, but very strange. And insulting.

Which brings me to a question - I haven't read much m/m erotica or romance. So is it normal for one of the partners to be constantly described in womanly terms? Even the sex is basically described as man taking a woman - some verbiage and what not. Honestly, you change some of the pronouns around and it could be m/f. Is that normal? I'm not a guy, but wouldn't the mechancis be a little different than standard frontal sex, right? I swear one passage makes it sound like the two men are entering each others womanly parts that they don't have. This confused me greatly. Do men have secret vaginas?

So as a parody it is quite funny, but it is not suppose to be one. So oops.



Author has promise, but

Girl Last Seen - Nina Laurin

I hate being the first person to give a book one star on Goodreads, I really do.  I really hate it when I am conflicted about that one star rating, especially when it is a debut novel.


But two stars means okay, and I didn’t find the book okay.  Official rating is 1.5.


                The basic premise of this novel is that a woman, Lainey, who escaped her rapist/abductor realizes that the latest missing girl looks like her and may be the first victim of the same sadist, the first in several years.


                All of which sounds pretty interesting.


                The best part of the book, and the riskiest, is the character of Lainey – who is really unlikable.  She isn’t so much of anti-hero as hapless.  It’s understandable considering that she is suffering from a variety of mental issues caused not only by her abduction and rape, but also because she had a shitty life before.  In many ways, this backstory in terms of Lainey is cliché and overused.  It isn’t so much the mental issues, as the fact that these characters never truly seem to be trying to get help to overcome these issues.  Look, I’ve suffered with depression for half my life.  I have good years and bad years.  I know how hard and difficult it is to get yourself into treatment.  That’s half the battle or more.  I understand that.


                But, also from experience, I understand too well what it is to live with people who are suffering from depression or other forms of mental illness and do not get proper treatment.  They refuse to, full stop.  It is absolutely horrible.  Not only for the mood swings and hurtful behavior and words that get spewed, but also because it is somewhat manipulative.  Look, I understand, but is absolutely exhausting.  And my practice for reading about such characters is very, very thin.  I live with these people, thank you.


                Therefore, while I admire the bravery that Laurin showed in her depiction of Lainey, I was also somewhat frustrated with it.  This frustration made the other problems with the book stand out more.


                Spoilers ahoy!


                Okay, I am sorry, but I don’t buy the American setting, I truly don’t.  I have never been to Seattle, but I am pretty sure there is more than one police station. Do Canadians and Brits just place books in Seattle because, hey it’s just like Canada to most US people, so don’t worry about sounding American?  I also cannot believe a school that does such detailed screening, so detailed that it gets information about a closed adoption and shares it to all the teachers, would not know about the abuse of a student at the hands of her father.  While I understand that many in the school would not want to do anything, there are two teachers where such lack of involvement would seem to be out of character.  Additionally, the whole public-school comment about suspension was just plain stupid.  I’m sorry it was.  I am a product of a public-school system, I teach products of a public school who haven’t students in public schools.  That statement was so crap.  I’m sorry, but it was.


                The whole reveal premise also does not work at all.  It really doesn’t I’m sorry.  I’m asking how too much and the answer, which seems to be the answer, is money for all the hows.  That’s at best sloppy plotting.  Sorry. 


                Okay, but those are quibbles.  The major issue is the relationship that Lainey has with Ortiz, the detective who discovered her when she escaped her rapist.  This is a seriously sick relationship.  If Ortiz is supposed to be the hero, he doesn’t come across as one, especially with his assault of Lainey in the opening section of the book.  Considering why he is there, wouldn’t Lainey’s social worker also be there?  Wouldn’t the social worker be there when she is questioned by the police?  If I am asking all these questions, I’m not being thrilled.  Then she sleeps with him.  Which, okay mental illness, drug addiction, but he is then supposed to be wise and caring.  Sorry, nope.  I really do not like abusive YA romantic leads, and this supposed cop is that.  The relationship would have head a purpose or been less objectionable if there had been some exploration of the problems with it.  But there really wasn’t, not until the sop at the end which doesn’t quite work. 


                              Honesty, this book is like a bad Lifetime movie in many ways, except for the character of Lainey.


                Yet, there is something there in the writing, you can see a spark every now and then.  A hint that the author’s later work will be better.  So, skip the book, keep an eye on the author.


Currently free, at least in the US.



Lovers and Dancers by [Ingman, Heather]


Product Details




Product Details


The Sea Road West by [Rena, Sally]


Dark, Witch & Creamy (BEWITCHED BY CHOCOLATE Mysteries ~ Book 1)


Erstwhile 3

Erstwhile #3 - Gina Biggs, Louisa Roy, Elle Skinner

Disclaimer: I backed this project on Kickstarter.  My name is listed on the thank you page.


                My mother asked me while I needed comic book version of the Grimm tales.  While, I suppose, I don’t really, but I am glad I have this.


                Gina Biggs, Louisa Roy, and Elle Skinner take lesser known Grimm tales and adapted them.  In many cases, the main characters are depicted as minorities, and there are interracial relationships.  The stories themselves are set in a wide variety of places.  Many of the tales have a woman or a girl as the main character.  There is also a drawing on other media.  For instance, Mother Holle would be at home in a Miyazaki movie.


                It is to the volume and Elle Skinner’s credit, that the volume starts strong with a version of “Beauty and the Beast” – “The Singing Springing Lark”.  Unlike many variants, though the trend is changing, Skinner makes the family more supportive of the Belle character. 


                The one that I was surprised to see was “King Thrushbeard”.  I worked on annotating “King Thrushbeard” for Surlalune.  The tale is a patient Griselda type, where a proud princess is taught humility by, basically, being abused by her father and husband.  I have to give Louisa Roy credit for she does an excellent job with this story and sticks to the general plot while giving it a modern test.  It has a very good ending.


                My favorite story is “The Twelve Huntsmen” done by Elle Skinner.  In part, this is because I have always loved the story, but here I am so happy to see a princess who is beautiful but who is not skinny and who has freckles.


                Gina Biggs’ version of “Sweetheart Roland” is well done too, keeping the darkly romantic feel of the story.


                Highly recommended.

Well that was good

The Gunslinger - Stephen King

When I was in high school, I read King. I mean, I really read King. I was told by my mother not to leave the books around the house because the title "The Dead Zone" had freaked out my young brother. Then I read three of his books in row that I didn't like - Deadzone, Salem's Lot, Tommyknockers. It was like a switch had been flipped, and I didn't read King for years.

Years, really, outside of a few non-fiction issues.

Until a close friend gave me a copy of Christine because he thought it was funny considering my first name. Honestly, Stephen King if you are reading this review, you owe me and everyone named Christine who was young when the book and movie came out, an apology. It was horrible. Because this is a close friend who loves King, I read it, eventually, and remembered how good King was. So when the sexiest men alive, Mr Elba, was cast in the movie based on this series, I knew I had to at least try the series.

This edition is the slightly edited version, as King notes in the forward. But I still think, even the earlier edition, would have re-stirred a love for King or at least his version of a western. Because this is at heart a western.

I grew up watching The Big Valley. I was the only student who cried when Barbara Stanwyck died.

It is not a flawless book. In many ways, it is a young man's book. For instance, the role of women in the story - even given the western limitation on women's roles (but Victoria Barkley kicked ass. Audra wasn't a slouch either). Yet, it is also a compelling quest book drawing on Childe Roland as well. The characters are more types than actual characters, at this point. But for a fan of Mag Seven, this is fine. It does get a bit bloody, but it's King.

Love that crow.

A little dry but worth reading

Sunken Gold: A Story of World War I Espionage and the Greatest Treasure Salvage in History - Joseph A. Williams

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley


                Joseph A Williams’ book isn’t so much a chronicle of a sinking, but a history of a salvage mission.  The best parts of the book are the ones that describe the development of diving technology.  It also illuminates a lesser known story about WWI.  The writing is a bit dry when moving beyond driving, but the use of background material does keep the reader interested.

:takes deep breath to ask a touchy question:

I feel safer asking this question here as opposed to twitter (which doesn't get sacrasm and where very few people seem to bother to look at a series of posts) or Facebook.  But I really want to hear the answers to it, and it is a touchy question, or more likly a series of a questions, and it has to do with race.


For the record, I am white, but I also work at a college where nine times out of ten, I am the white person in the classroom, so all my students are minority, majority African-American.  I tend to think about race a bit.  I know that my students have taught me as much, if not more, then I taught them.


So my questions are 


1. What extactly is cultural appropriation?  Look I know the textbook defination, but is a white writer creating a black character doing so?  Is that author simply being diverse?  Is it culutural appropriation only if the writer creates such a character without making the character believable or only creates such characters or only creates a minority character who is minority only in skin color?  There was an op-ed piece in the NYT and I read Marlon James thoughts on it, so is there a hard answer to this one? I am also thinking about the recent art debates.  What do you think?  For instance, if The Hate U Give had been written by a white, Latina, Chinese, person would that have been appropriation? If it had been written by a man and not a woman?  I don't really know the answer to these questions, yet I have students who ask me about these issues.  I realize there probably isn't a hard or fast answer, but it seems like very places are open to discussion without name calling.  And I don't think LIonel Shriver was right either.


2. I understand why Elizabeth Banks is being called out, and she should be.  Forgetting the Color Purple is wrong and white woman feminism.  But why is it therefore okay for everyone to forget Memoirs of a Geisha which Spielberg produced?  Isn't that the same thing?

Out Soon

Surfer Dude: The Legendary Stallion of Chincoteague - Lois Szymanski, Linda Kantjas

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review


                To be honest, this is the time of horse book that I normally hate.  There is a bit too much romanticism to be honest, and the ending sequence is bit too sugary.

                Yet, and it is a big yet.


                Yet, this is actually pretty good.  Part of this is the afterword where Szymanski acknowledges that the story is romanticized This furthered not only by a summary of actual facts but also a page identifying the other horses, each with a brief biography.  There is even detail about other animals on the island with a challenge presented to find them in the illustrations.  These last few pages carry the book from a 3 or 4-star book to a 4 or 5. 


                The basic story is that of Surfer Dude, a stallion on the island of Assateague.  He was popular among residents and tourists because of his good looks.  His life is a little atypical, in particular in regards to one of his sons. 


                The artwork is quite lovely and fits the story quite well.  The animals are well drawn, and the ponies look like ponies as opposed to well-groomed thoroughbreds.  It is quite easy to imagine prints of the illustrations on a wall.


Despite the sometimes-romanticized tone, Szymanski doesn’t shy away from horse herd behavior, in particular the rejection of older colts by stallions.