Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.




 Challenge ParticipantFrequently Auto-Approved80%Reviews PublishedProfessional Reader













Orange did it again

In case you don't follow women's football (soccer), there is the Woman's World Cup going on, and the US is a favorite (we need to get by France though).  Megan Rapinoe is one of the top players for the US team, she is sometimes the captain, fashion designer, lesbian, and activist.  She is one of the first, if not first, white athletes to follow Colin Kapernick. The only reason why she does not take a knee currently is because US soccer changed the rules and made it illegal.  As a form of protest she does not sing the National Anthem. She is hardly the first player to do so (some US men have not done so) but she might be the first who said why.  It is her form of protesting inequality.


She was asked if she would go to the White House if the US won, and responded, "I'm not going to the fucking White House".  Adding that she doubted the team would be invited.  Needless to say when they won four years ago and Obama was president, they went to the White House.


Also Orange one and his minions got cheesed off about it.  Orange tweeted about it but tagged Megan Rapino (not Rapinoe), who I must say has been handling this whole thing quite well and deserves more twitter followers.

The Investigation

So, Robert Schenkkan adapted the Mueller Report, and it was performed with several actors including Kevin Kline, John Lithgow (as Trump) and Annette Benning.


You can watch it here


The video is at the bottom of the page.


Editted to add this  is the video from the LawWorks website, which did the Livestream.

Essential Reading Part 3

Well, since we are shooting for 1001.  (I  think we should make a book).


1. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

This book is not brief and features more than seven killings.  Truth be told, it takes me about 100 pages to get into a James novel but then I can't put it down.


2.Orlando Furiso by Ariosto and Ariosto by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Orlando Furiso (or Orlando Mad) is about Roland who goes insane because the woman he wants to have sex with will not have sex with him.  It is funny, heroic, and very Italian.  It also features quite a few kick ass women.  Yarbro's book is a historical fantasy about Ariosto himself.


3. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang

This is one of the reasons why I shop at Joseph Fox Bookstore - the best and most dangerous bookstore in Philadelphia. This book about what the title says is one of the best books in the world.  


4. Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales by Claire Booss

This is the best collection ever.  I love this book show much.


5. Anything by Jack Zipes

Yeah, I know it's cheating.  Zipes has some of the best fairy tale collections out there as well as some of the best criticism.  His Spells of Enchantment is wonderful, his Trials and Tribulations of Red Riding Hood his great.  Just read him if you like folk and fairy tales.


6. Complete Works of Hans Christian Andersersen

Not just his fairy tales but his adult tales and travel writing.  


7. Black Beauty  by Anna Sewell and Black Beauty's Family by the Pullein-Thompson sisters

Sewell's book is classic that  will make you weep.  The Pullein-Thompson sisters "sequel" is about horses in Beauty's bloodline both before and after.  Everyone raved about War Horse, but the war horse story in Black Beauty's Family is far superior.


8. Persuasion by Jane Austen

Just because it is one of my favorites.


9. Firestar 1-4 (the first series, done in the 1980s) by Stan Lee et al

I honesty think Lee and DeFalco created Firestar too early.  She was really what Ms Marvel is today.  OR she could have been.  This original series takes the character from her debut in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and puts her into the Marvel Universe.  It's a shame they have never used her as they should.


10. The Norsemen by Helene Guerber and Rhinegold by Stephen Grundy

Guerber's book is an excellent collection of Norse myth.  Grundy's is a wonderful version of the Nibelungieds.


11. French Revolutions by Tim Moore

Man bikes the Tour route.  Misadventure happens.


12. Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly

One of the most unusual "let's go slay a dragon" novels you will ever read.


13. 2666 by Roberto Bolano

I got nervous when reading this book as I was going home.


14. Children of the Alley by Mahfouz

This is the book Mahfouz was attacked over.  He lost the use of his writing arm.  It takes the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran and puts them in an Alley in Cario.


15. The Handmaid's Tale and The Robber Bride by Atwood

I can still remember the first time I read the Handmaid's Tale.  The Robber Bride is Atwood's best novel.


17. Scroll of Saqqara by Pauline Gedge

All of Gedge's historical books are great, but Saqqara takes an ancient Egyptian ghost story as its basis.


18. Possession by A S Byatt

One of the most perfect books ever written.


19. Blood Doctor by Barbara VIne (Ruth Rendell)

The premise of the mystery is totally scary.


20. The Kushiel Series by Jaqueline Carey

Yes, the language is often too breathless; yes, Phedre sometimes takes 25 words to say something when 1 word would work.  But both the original series and the sequel series featuring Phedre's adopted son feature some of the best and realistic views of sex, consent, and rape.


21. The Murder Room by P D James

The use of crime - both historical and recent - in this mystery is great.


22. Ehrengard by Isak Dinesan

The ending of this short book is totally great.


23. The White Cascade by Gary Krist

Great book about a train wreck due to snow.


24. Ways of Seeing by John Berger

Will change the way you look at art.


25. Blackadder the Whole Damn Dynasty by Richard Curtis

It's a cunning plan, it is.





Still free for kindle

Free Comic Book Day - Star Wars Adventures - Collectif Ulysse

Its free, so if you really love Star Wars you might want to check it out.  The best thing about it, however, is the cover.  It is a standard hero stranded on strange world, kid falls for droid tale that we have seen how many times  before.  The second story is another classic droid story.

3 good tales, one meh

Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Witches - S.M. Vidaurri, Kyla Vanderklught, Matthew Dow Smith, Jeff Stokley

Honesty I am giving this four star because the second story was so wonderful. It is a retelling of the Snow Witch from Japan. The first story was good, but the artwork was better than the story. The third story was a let down. The fourth, which features Baba Yaga, was well done.   The illustration for that one, in particular the depiction of Baba Yaga herself, was so well down and creepy.

Peppers will cure what ails you

Little Red Hot - Eric A. Kimmel, Laura Huliska-Beith

This is a nice little twist on Red Riding Hood. I love the use of food in the book, and both Hood and the Grandmother are nicely done. It was fun.

Warlock Holmes #2

Warlock Holmes: The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles: Warlock Holmes 2 - G.L. Denning

This installment of Warlock Holmes finds Warlock and Watson coming to terms with the events of the last volume.  They do this in a rather strange way.  Pinkertons are involved but they are somewhat like a certain famous group of wearers of black.


                The two Holmes stories that are used include, of course, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Silver Blaze, and the Solitary Cyclist. The Cyclist sequence is particularly funny while the Baskervilles give us more detail about Warlock.  It isn’t quite as funny but there are some shining moments. 


                As always, the humor comes from the asides that Watson does.  In this case, Watson deals with issues as complex as fake beards, tricycles, and Canadians.  The charm of the series is Watson’s down to earth musings that deal with issues raised in the original stories – for instance walking sticks.  So, it is like you have an urban historical fantasy novel with a high shot of realism.


                If you like fantasy and Sherlock Holmes, you should read this series.


                Garston’s narration is particularly wonderful.  He doesn’t do silly woman’s voices.  His Watson sounds close enough to Edward Hardwicke to make a connection to Holmes seamless.  His Holmes is not quite what you would think, but is brilliant nonetheless.

#7 in the Watkins Series

The Smile of a Ghost (Merrily Watkins Mysteries Book 7) - Phil Rickman
This is my favorite Merrily Watkins to date. It’s set in the Border country between Wales and England, it features an English castle with Tudor connections (Ludlow), and there is folklore, in particularly that of the ghostly kind.

Merrily and Jane start the book happy. Lol is moving in across the way, and while Jane will be going to uni or leaving home soon, things are pretty ho-hum. That is until there is a death in Ludlow and that is followed by another one. But they could be suicide, except Merrily knows the man who is a relative to two of the victims. Of course, she gets involved. But there is also the question of the Deliverance Office and how certain segments of the church want to shut it down. Then Lol starts to have problems because, well, some people aren’t happy about an ex-mental patient having a relationship with the vicar. He’s also nervous about an up-coming concert.
So, like most Watkins books there is a slew of things going on and part of the wonderment is seeing how they might, just might fit together.

I’ll admit that I was little lukewarm about the series when I started reading, but it has grown on me. There are several reasons for this. The first is that Rickman writes good women. His women are totally believable. They are not always talking about men. It’s true that Jane might be a little advanced for her age and that her relationship with her mother perhaps borders too close on friends, but reasons for this are given in the series. It isn’t just Jane and Merrily’s relationship that is wonderful, but it is also Sophie and Merrily’s, and Sophie’s and Jane’s. The women in the book don’t get upset or jealous simply because another woman is better looking or if their husband spends time with a woman. Their concerns are far greater than simply relationships.

There is also Rickman’s treatment of mental illness. Lol and a few other characters are either recovering from or in the midst of mental illness. The reasons for such illness vary. The important thing is that those that stigmatize mental illness are shown to be wrong. Jane thinks that Lol is damaged and sensitive and must be wrapped in cotton wool, and this is somewhat how she thinks about her mother. Yet, Rickman illustrates that mentally ill does not mean damaged. Both Lol and Merrily aren’t as damaged or as weak as Jane or they themselves might think. The development of Lol over the course of the series has been wonderful. Furthermore, in this volume, also illustrates the cost of mental illness on those who are family.

Lastly, there is Rickman’s use of belief. Jane and Merrily believe different things, but there is a respect for letting someone believe in what they wish. This is true of most of the characters. And whether or not there really was a ghost and to certain degree the mystery itself are left, if not unanswered, then to the reader’s choice. Rickman does not judge.

Article about Amazon

Linda, I think you in particular might want to read it. 




If anyone really wants to read it but hits a paywall, message me and we'll figure something out.


Judith Krantz died today.  I'm pretty sure I never read any of her books, but you had to respect her.


See the source image

Kindle Freebies at least in the US



Seanan Mcguire   (pre-order)


NYC Public library   -this one is pretty interesting

Question about MCU's Thor

Actually it's more about Heimdall  played by Idris Elba.  So he can see all the realms, correct?   Doesn't that mean he can see all the libraries?



Out in Sept

Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change - Robin Stevenson, Allison Steinfeld
Disclaimer: I recieved an ARC of this book as a freebie in an order I had with Quirk Books.

This is a pretty good luck at the youth of people who became activists and some people who became activists as children. There are total of 16 main biographies as well as a total of 12 secondary mentions. For well known people, such as Rosa Parks, the focus in on thier childhood.

While the majority of people discussed are from the USA, the majority of the people discussed are people of color and women. If the book fails anywhere on representation it is having Helen Keller as the only person with a disability.

It is a children's book so the chapters about famous people - such as King - do not always include the assassination or killing of the person (in some cases this could be because of the person's fame). Hamilton's duel, for instance, isn't dealt with. Additionally, some more complicted aspects of the biographies are left out - such as (understandably) Hamilton's unfaithfulness to his wife and the 180 the woman who taught Frederick Douglass how to read did.

It's true that two of the entries feel a bit like a marketing move - these would be Emma Watson and Alexander Hamilton. Not to say what either did or does is not important, it just seems a bit off, especially in regards to Hamilton.

I really like the inclusion of Autumn Peltier - the First Nations member in Canada who focuses on clean and accesible water. Especially when today it seems as if people think the only child focuses on climate is the girl from Sweden - Greta Thunberg (this is not to diminish what she does). Additionally, Stevenson also presents Nelson Mandela's other names as opposed to just the one US citizens know.

The last section focuses on activists who influenced the world as children in recent years, and includes Iqbab Masin (and mentions his death). The book includes a bibliography section with child-friendly sources on the various people.

The only really weird thing was the illustrations for the Hellen Keller chapter. Overall the illustrations are great. The thing is in the Hellen Keller chapter, the illustrations of Keller keep showing her locking eyes with other people which is a bit strange. I'm not saying she should black holes where her eyes are or anything, but she keeps meeting people's gazes with her eyes.
Break Down (informal)
Main Biographies: 16
Male: 7
Female: 9
POC ; 11
Disabled: 1
USA: 11
South Africa, England, Pakistan, Canada : 1 each
First Nation/Indigenous: 1
Secondary People (mentioned after main chapters)
Total: 12
Male: 4
Women: 8
POC: at least 6
LGBT+ - 3
USA- 9
South Africa, France, India - 1 each

Out in Nov 2019

And Go Like This: Stories - John Crowley
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via a Librarything giveaway. I did a happy dance when I found out I won.

Many of my favorite authors I have discovered due to Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. John Crowley is one of those writers. I first read Little, Big. Eventually, I read his Aegypt sequence. He is one those fantasy writers that people who don’t read much fantasy put in literature because for some reason they think literature isn’t fantasy. (Yeah, I don’t know why they think that either).

This collection of short fiction includes stories that have, for the most part, been already published, and if it has a theme, it is about the power reading and the story. In some ways, it reminds me of Dinesen’s Anecdotes of Destiny, another collection of stories about stories.

The collection opens with “The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines” which starts as a story about a theatre intern and morphs into something far more powerful. But honesty, you are most likely going to want to read it for the scene where Beatrice (of Much Ado) confronts pirates. The story makes use not only of a book about the heroines, but also about the authorship debate.

It is followed by a very short story, “In the Tom Mix Museum”. While the shortest one in the collection, it is also a master class in how a story does not have to be long to be powerful and to say much.

The title story, “And Go Like This”, takes the rather interesting idea of NYC’s rooms and overpopulation. The ending sequence is just beautifully rendered. It is followed by “Spring Break” which quite frankly is disturbing on so many levels – but not in a bad read type of way. It has to do with how learning and reading have changed since the rise of the internet – in particular websites like Twitter or Facebook. It isn’t so much fake news that is being looked at but the lack of reading critically and in depth – and important aspect of storytelling.

It is followed by “The Million Monkeys of M Borel” which is a wonderful story about how we read and why the device or format we use is important. It too is one of those stories with a particularly beautiful ending. If you are a reader, this is the type of story that will speak to your story. A somewhat similar point pops in the interlinked stories that make up “Mount Auburn Street”.

“Conversation Hearts” is perhaps the story that most directly confronts storytelling. Not only because the story is about a family where the woman is an author but because Crowley makes use of tropes that populate movies but twists them.

Strangely, I found the last two stories the least interesting. They are not bad. “Flint and Mirror” has Dee in it and “Anosognosia” is a neat story about creation and reality. This is also true of “This is Our Town”.

But the overwhelming theme of the stories is that of love for stories. It makes this collection a thumping good read (to borrow a phrase) for any reader.

Good installment

Princeless Vol 7: Find Yourself - Jeremy Whitley

And back to form.

I love the story of the last sister - from her monster to her intelligence to her hair. I can't say the Black Knight reveal was all that surprising but both the knight and sister show Adrienne different ways, and the Sphinx asks a very important.

Devon's story is good too. It has the right about of drama and humor.

Perhaps the weakest collected volume.

Princeless Vol 6: Make Yourself Part 2 - Jeremy Whitley

Three stars because the main story was short and the side short, while good, the art work didn't quite match what the characters looked like in the main story.

I really like the sisters working together though. I loved that.