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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


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

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 2017: Book notices | Main

July 2017: Book notices

  

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Jimin Han, A Small Revolution

A Small Revolution was one of Amazon's Kindle First selections a few months ago. I grabbed it because it was free, although I probably wouldn't have otherwise. The book's description had things that appealed and things that didn't. On the plus side, a "tense standoff" with an unhinged gunman. But that was weighed down in my view by "abusive household" and "political protests." Ultimately, my first reaction to the book's description pretty much mirrored my reaction to the book itself. The story is about Korean-American student Yoona Lee, who's a freshman at college back when I was a freshman at college, 1985. The story alternates between the present—that tense standoff I mentioned—and the recent past, the summer that Yoona and her kidnapper spent in South Korea, when Yoona fell in love with Jaesung, another American student on tour there, against a backdrop of violent political protests. But something happened to Jaesung after she left. We find out about that in dribs and drabs as the story jumps back and forth in time, part of it addressed by Yoona to Jaesung as if in a letter. It's difficult to know exactly what happened. Finding out the truth is complicated for Yoona by the questionable evidence hinted at by her captor and by the difficulties inherent in international communication in the 1980s. It all feels very uncertain, in a nightmarish sort of way, as Yoona tries to piece things together in frustratingly small steps. I was frustrated reading it. The story was, to an extent, gripping, at least gripping enough for me to keep reading, bent as I was on reaching some clarity. But I finished the book just as frustrated, without finding any real answers—or at least not satisfying ones. 

Britney King, Water Under the Bridge

Water Under the Bridge is the first in a strange trilogy featuring a couple who find each other and fall in love, bonding, as so many do, over their shared interests. "Kate" (an assumed name) and Jude make a surprisingly endearing twosome considering that what they're primarily interested in is murder. He's an assassin; she gets antsy when she hasn't poisoned anyone in a while. They were made for each other. This outing tracks their relationship in chapters that alternative between his voice and hers, as they recount their shared history in what purports to be a series of letters to one another. The book may not be to everyone's taste, but I appreciate its dark comedy, particularly when Kate and Jude try to make a go of life in the suburbs: it's hard to bury bodies in your backyard when you've got neighbors nosing around the azaleas. Books two and three in the series are already available. I've got a sample of number two, Dead in the Water, warming a spot on my Kindle.

Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

There are some aspects of this book that I love, and some that really disappointed me. On the plus side, there is the setting, a quirky bookstore on an island off Cape Cod. It's run by a curmudgeonly widower, the titular A.J. Fikry, and he is joined by a supporting cast of quirky characters whom I would be happy to get to know better. The best part of the book has to do with Fikry's relationship with a publisher's sales rep, new to the job as the book opens, who periodically visits the island to try to convince him to order titles from her company's catalogue. They are both quick-witted, and their relationship is sweet and marked by charming banter. This is all good. Indeed, I could have spent a twelve-book series in this store and with these people, slowly watching their lives unfold over author events and the small dramas and mysteries of life. Alas, the story I would have enjoyed over 3000 pages is served to us in fewer than 300. There are parts of the book where we skip ahead years, as if the whole life of this A.J. Fikry simply must be shoehorned into the space of a single book. I hate this. For one thing, I find it depressing when whole years flash by with the turn of a page. But I also feel that these jumps forward in time distance us from the characters. The child we're getting to know at 5 is in high school a page or two later, and now we don't know her at all. And I really don't think there's any advantage to this approach, to our being shown so long a stretch of our characters' lives. A sliver of that time, delivered unrushed, would have been far sweeter.

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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.