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Books by the Blogger:

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


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


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

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


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


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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


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


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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:

  

« Dudman, Clare: 98 Reasons for Being | Main | October 2016: Book notices »

September 2016: Book notices

  

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Tim Tigner, Chasing Ivan

Kyle Achilles is a former Olympic biathlete turned CIA operative. In this novella, which I scored for free from the author's website, he's tracking down an elusive Russian bad guy they call Ivan, a man who's so careful to keep in the shadows that he's got contingency plans for his contingency plans. He seems to be set on influencing the outcome of the London mayoral election by getting his hands on the daughter of one of the candidates. Achilles and a colleague--an agent who's just completed training at The Farm--follow the girl to Monaco, and there are some very cool reconnaissance and action scenes on both their parts. I liked this one enough that I've purchased the first full novel in Tigner's Achilles series, Pushing Brilliance. (Wow. I just realized that Chasing Ivan and Pushing Brilliance are both self-published through Amazon. Now, I'm not really a snob when it comes to this--I've self-published myself--but you can usually tell when a manuscript hasn't been through the rigors of traditional publishing, even if it's just from the quality of the cover. Not in this case. I had no idea until now. Very impressed.)

T.H. White, The Once and Future King

I spent the summer reading this along with my daughter, who had been assigned it for summer homework prior to her freshman year in high school. This volume is actually a composite of four books that were initially published separately between 1938 and 1958. The first is rather different from the others. It is about the future King Arthur's experiences as a boy while he was being tutored by Merlyn. It's a series of adventures in which Arthur is turned into various animals by way of educating him about governance. It is the most like a children's story of the four books, and it is very, very dull for the most part--though King Pellinore and his Questing Beast are delightful. The second book tells the story of Arthur's nephews, who are destined to cause problems in the future. They're raised by a witch who--and this is almost the only thing I remember from the book--boils a cat alive for purposes of magic. It's a horrific but superbly written scene. But things actually get good in the third book, when Lancelot is introduced. His relationship with Arthur and Arthur's wife Guenever form the spine of books three and four. Their love triangle--for they all love one another--is tragic and nuanced. The book is over-long, if one can criticize a classic such as this: so much detail; and those tiresome animal stories at the beginning would turn off many a reader. It's as if White wanted to weed out the chaff among his readers and save the better stuff for the hardy few. But ultimately it is worth the read, and it ends well, with the final chapter of book four summing things up well.

Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island

Bill Bryson grew up in Iowa and moved to England in 1973. After twenty years there, he moved back to the U.S., but before he did took a tour of the U.K., mostly by public transport and with a view to writing about his adventures. Hence this book, which is the first I've read from the author (though I did see the Robert Redford movie that resulted from his Appalachian Trail book, A Walk in the Woods). Bryson likes to walk. He admires good architecture. He loves England--its people, its oddities, its land. He's a clever, often outright funny writer, and I now understand why he's had such success as a travel writer. He's curmudgeonly, and every now and again come off as an arrogant jerk, but it's possible that he exaggerates when describing those incidents and isn't in real life as obnoxious as he portrays himself. Reading this book, one feels something of his admiration for England, though I'm prone to that to begin with (albeit having never been there). I do wish that the book included photos of the places he describes, and lots of them, but there are none. Also maps. There are no maps! I very much wanted to follow along with Bryson's journey in some handy way. I think it would also have been a bit more interesting to me if I were familiar with the areas he describes. I'd sign up for a book detailing his jaunts through Connecticut, for example--though I suspect knowing the place would also make a reader more likely to find Bryson's observations annoying, as they are so often negative!

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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.