Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




 Challenge ParticipantFrequently Auto-Approved80%Reviews PublishedProfessional Reader













Good guide

Who's Buried Where in London - Peter Matthews

This is a pretty good guide to where to find the graves of the famous in London. It also includes a glossary and further reading list. Matthews includes access information as well as photos. The brief biographical information for the various people is pretty general but there are some interesting tidbits


Richard Burton's tombstone is a tent!

Superheroes Anonymous - Lexie Dunne

At 80% in, I realized that I didn't give a damn about any of the characters. Gail was boring. The love story made little sense. It had potential at the beginning, but the Gail just became like every other super special heroine. She was more interesting when she didn't have powers

Free books for kindle World book Day




Most likely me

Ruin of Angels - Max Gladstone

For some reason the second half of this Craft book didn't grab the way the others did.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe because I waited too long after reading Kai's first outing.  


Gladstone is still good, but not my favorite in the series.  But that might change.

Poor Paris!




and RIP Gene Wolfe

So Booklikes is closing?

Well, that would suck considering how much time the dedicated put in for the catalog.


You can also find me :









Okay so I need to

The Juniper Tree - Barbara Comyns

The Juniper Tree” is a Brothers Grimm story that is at once both unremembered and remembered.  Many people think they don’t know, but when you tell them the plot, they go, “oh yeah”.  It is also a rather bloody piece of work.  (Not as bloody as their story about playing pig slaughter).  Barbara Comyns reinvents the tale from an almost feminist perspective.  She might not be as rich in language as Angela Carter, but despite its short length the book is far deeper than it first appears.


                On one level, it is the story of Bella who is mother to an out of wedlock child at a time when that mattered more than it does now, and said child is mixed race.  Bella has also been scarred in an automobile accident, caused by her boyfriend who comes across as a douche on so many levels.  Bella has moved and finally found a job.  She makes new friends- Gertrude and Bernard who are better off and take it upon themselves to improve Bella and her life.


                Things get a bit complicated when Gertrude becomes pregnant, finally after years of trying.


                On one hand, the book is about a woman’s place, or to be more exact what a woman’s place should be according to the men around her.  This isn’t just true of Bella, but also have her mother and Gertrude as well.  It appears to be somewhat less true of two women friends that Bella has, but it should be noted that these women are not married.


                On the other hand, the story is a Grimms’s’ tale transplanted to an English countryside that reminds one a bit of Christie.  It is very English with an important shift at the end.


                Yet again, the book also reminds me of The Yellow Wallpaper or any of those books where women are lock in the attic.

Tara is back

Four Roads Cross - Max Gladstone

Tara is back and she kicks butt.  


Lovely installment.  Nice look at belief.

Good fantasy series you should be reading

Last First Snow (Craft Sequence) - Max Gladstone

The Craft Sequence is part fantasy look at religion, part lawyer fantasy, and part political fantasy.  You would think it wouldn't work, but it does.  This installment is a bit of back story about Eylanne.  It addresses the question of rights to rebellion and how to quash rebellions.  The ending sequence is particularly powerful.  The King in Red also has some great lines.

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez, Gregory Rabassa

While this book is one the surface a novel about a family, it is hard to shake the idea that the book is also about the power of reading.  In some ways, the story is about the power of the reader to create life, to give the characters life beyond what the writer of the story can do.  It is important that the book starts and ends with a sense of memory because in many ways that is what reading is.


                The history of the Buendia family is strange, wonderful, and horrifying.  It involves numerous children, possible saints, lovely women, mistresses and out of wedlock births.  The family lives in a village that is both cut off when the world and part of it.  It is the solitude, the smallness of place that time passes over.  There is a sense of the story and the family reaching end and this is like a book, just like how a story will change depending on who is reading the book, or even how they feel that day.


                In part this is because one of themes is the conflict between love and solitude, which in many ways what reading is about.  It is in many cases, a solitary pursuit, but it is also one that makes people more empathic in general, studies prove this.  So, it is a solitary pursuit that has ramifications when it comes to love.


                The repetitive use of names does add to the magic realism, but it also makes some of the characters too similar, which does seem to be in part the point.  The women, too, with a few expectations fall into the virgin/whore choice, which is usually the most common stories for women in works by men.

The Queen's Rival: Lettice Knollys (The Tudor Court) - Laura Dowers

More of an almost 3.

Part of the problem I have with this book is the language is almost too modern. There isn't anything glaring, but there is a modern sense to it.

Part of the problem is that it is more telling not showing. I know it's a short story so cramming in Knollys' life would be pretty much telling, but so much is pretty glossed over so that there is a sense of better story wanting to be a longer story.

That said, it is a pretty convincing catching of Knollys' spirit. Balance between a woman with flaws and one that was slight more sinned against than sinning.

Punishing the Criminal Corpse, 1700-1840: Aggravated Forms of the Death Penalty in England (Palgrave Historical Studies in the Criminal Corpse and its Afterlife) - Peter King
A good scholarly look at the use of the death penalty. Good historical information.  Very exhaustive look.
Haunted Martinsburg (Haunted America) - Justin Stevens

Good little collection of ghost stories from Martinsburg. Good inclusion of photos. It's important because it includes stories that perhaps the city doesn't want to remember - such as the lynching of an innocent man.

Reading about La Corriveau

Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse (Palgrave Historical Studies in the Criminal Corpse and its Afterlife) - Sarah Tarlow, Emma Battell Lowman

Very good look at how public displays of corpses or the passing of a body to an anatomists was used in England. Also includes how the English used it in the Empire. It is an excellent edition to the Palgrave series

#2 is good too

Code Runner (The Amy Lane Mysteries) - Rosie Claverton

The second installment in the Amy Lane series moves the timeline forward a bit and, of course, complicates Jason’s life a bit more. It isn’t just Amy, who finds her world opening just a bit more than she thought.

It’s nice to see both Amy and Jason develop as characters and to see Amy’s world expand just a little.

It’s also funny and sad to see drugged Amy. She drugged herself so it’s not a creepy drugging.

What I particularly enjoyed about this installment is the increase in communication that Amy has with other women, which to a degree was a weak point in the first novel. Amy hasn’t just accepted Jason; she has taken too his mother and his sister. Jason’s sister also grows in this novel and we find out more about the detective’s duo. What is also important is that the foursome’s trust in each other is tested.

The speed of development between Amy and Jason’s relationship is well done. While Claverton plays with the “will they get together”, she keeps it real. Both Amy and Jason have problems, and Amy’s mental and emotional issues are factored into her reactions/actions towards Jason. This is also complicated by the arrival of her sister.

The pacing is a bit faster than the first novel, though the plot could have been a bit tighter. There are times when it feels like you it is one thing too many. The ending, however, is great.

My kindle edition included a short story where everyone gets together to celebrate Jason’s birthday. Amy’s present and Jason’s reaction to are good, but I loved the interaction between Amy and Jason’s mum.

Having trouble uploading cover

Big Lonely Doug: The Story of One of Canada’s Last Great Trees - Harley Rustad

Big Lonely Doug is a big lonely tree on Vancouver Island. It is a Douglas Fir and has become a symbol of the need for forest preservation.

The book is slightly, only slightly mistitled. While Doug is the focal point, the actual text covers quite about forests, trees, conservation, and logging in Canada. It is worth noting that the sections that deal with logging are relatively even handed. True, it is impossible to less the impact of Doug standing alone in the midst of a clear cut, but Rustad does not demonize loggers or the logging companies per se. In part, this is because Big Lonely Doug was, in fact, saved by a man who worked for logging companies but whom is portrayed as a rather interesting and wonderful man.

This isn’t to say that Rustad isn’t critical when it is called for- he is. His analysis about various movements to save a forest include a great look at the advertisements that logging companies used to try to win public opinion.

But the book is the most interesting when Rustad writes about trees. Maybe it’s because I’ve read Powers’ Overstory, but there is such power when Rustad writes about connections between the trees and between the area where the trees live.

As an American, I really hadn’t heard of the Walrus before, but I am definitely paying attention to them now.