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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them. The blog, however, will continue, and if you've got a good first line to share for TwitterLit please do so here.



  
From a random review:

  

« June 2016: Book notices | Main | Miloszewski, Zygmunt: Rage »

July 2016: Book notices

  

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Blake Crouch, Pines

I read several books by Blake Crouch a number of years ago. (I've just realized with some shock that it's been 12 years since I read Desert Places.) They were very good, but I ultimately stopped because they were also very gory, and I decided it was just too much for me. (I still think about one particular scene from Locked Doors frequently when I wake up in the middle of the night.) Time passed, and I was aware that Crouch was publishing more books, in particular the Wayward Pines series. When I learned that the trilogy had spawned a TV series, it occurred to me that the books' broad popularity might mean they weren't as gory as Crouch's earlier work. I gave Wayward Pines a shot, and I'm glad I did. It's been a long time since I was as riveted by a piece of fiction as I've been over the last few days. Secret Service agent Ethan Burke winds up in Wayward Pines while investigating the disappearance of his colleagues. He's injured from a car accident, not thinking clearly, but there's something off about the bucolic town, which sits nestled between towering cliffs somewhere in Idaho. Readers are left scratching their heads over the strangeness along with Ethan--we've actually got more to be confused by than he does--and I, at least, did not anticipate the big reveal at the end. Really looking forward to book two--and then I guess I've got some viewing to do!

Joseph Finder, Plan B

Plan B is a short story featuring Nick Heller, the protagonist of several full-length novels by Joseph Finder. In this quick, enjoyable read, Heller is tasked with retrieving a kidnapped teenager. She's being kept under tight security, so the job requires more brains than brute force. Heller's up to the task, but it still throws him some curves.

Blake Crouch, Wayward

Wayward is the second book in Blake Crouch's Wayward Pines series. It's as readable as the first, if less mysterious: we learn the truth about the town in book one. In this outing Ethan Burke becomes integrated into Wayward Pines and learns more about the resistance movement, locals who aren't happy with the way things are run by the powers that be. The book ends on a cliffhanger, and I've already started reading book three.

Blake Crouch, The Last Town

The Last Town makes an excellent ending to Crouch's trilogy. Ethan Burke and the rest of the population of Wayward Pines are faced with a seemingly impossible situation as the book opens. We see how they deal with it, but Crouch also leaps around in the timeline and lets us know how certain events in the past had unraveled. The conclusion of the book is very satisfying, particularly as it incorporates a character whom most readers probably didn't think much about in the previous two books. I really enjoyed this series, which I think is clear from the speed with which I tore through it. I also gave audible copies of all three books to a friend. I'm hoping she enjoys them as much as I did.

D.W. Ulsterman, The Writer

Adele Plank is a college student who writes for her school paper. She's managed to land an interview with her favorite author, Decklan Stone, who never wrote a second book after his bestselling Mantitoba. He's a recluse who's been holed up in the San Juan Islands since his wife died 27 years earlier. Adele gets on the scene and goes about investigating her death and, well, the mystery is solved by the end of the book. The Writer started out with promise. The core idea of a mystery surrounding Stone's wife was compelling, but there were a lot of problems with the novel as well:

  • The prologue, while gripping, had virtually nothing to do with the rest of the book.
  • There were a bunch of long ass sentences that seriously needed some trimming, including the first sentence of chapter one: "The water was especially calm during twenty-two-year-old Adele Plank’s quarter-mile voyage from Deer Harbor to the private island of her interview subject for the college newspaper assignment she hoped might lead to her much-desired future as a journalist."
  • There's also a fair amount of stilted dialogue, for example: "Sometimes we would talk of things great and small, while other times we said very little and simply enjoyed the moment to ourselves. If I was particularly quiet, Calista would tease me that the world would shake its head if it were to learn that someone who so many perceived to be a man of great words was in fact such a mute."
  • Adele's whole story was hard to swallow. She dove into her investigation, doing dangerous and illegal things that it was hard to believe she'd do. 
  • Basically the entire resolution of the story was difficult to believe, and didn't seem to fit with the first part of the book. And in particular--SPOILER ALERT HERE--it's incredible that a woman kept in a dark, rat-infested, dirt-floored basement for 27 years would bounce back to health and sanity as quickly as she does in this book--or even at all.

So, an odd mix. The author's work shows a lot of promise, but I'd say this book isn't quite there yet.

Jessie Newburn, Uber Chronicles: Field Notes from the Front Seat

Jessie Newburn's Uber Chronicles is a collection of vignettes of some of the rides she's given as an Uber driver in the Baltimore area. It's a quick read, and entertaining enough. It's an interesting idea for a book, and one that every Uber driver could write a version of (assuming they could write reasonably well, of course; Newburn writes pretty well). As the author describes, Uber rides offer drivers a brief window into the lives of their passengers, who come with all manner of different back stories. They are polite or withdrawn or rude (but rarely, in my experience), comfortable to be with or not, and they hold down jobs of all sorts--the tuxedo fitter, the nail art specialist, the wine salesman, the guy who works at Subway. Mostly they're nice people. At any rate, Newburn has collected her vignettes, and along with them she provides her takeaway from each encounter. She's a little more airy--or maybe spiritual--than I would be were I to write the book, and she has a weird penchant for starting rides before riders get in her car--that's a no-no. But one interesting thing about Uber is that the drivers can be as different as their passengers. Vive la différence.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.