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


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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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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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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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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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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.



  
From a random review:

  

« Rose, M.J.: The Reincarnationist | Main | Cheney, Annie: Body Brokers »

Landy, Derek: Skulduggery Pleasant

  

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Harper Collins © 2007, 392 pages [amazon]
4 stars

After 12-year-old Stephanie Edgley inherits her uncle's estate she discovers that the eccentric author who doted on her had a lot more going on in his life than she could have imagined. As it turns out, the novels Gordon Edgley wrote about "horrible monsters and scary stuff and bad people doing worse things" were based largely on his own real-life experiences. Alone in Gordon's house, Stephanie is suddenly and violently introduced to the world he wrote about, and saved, not for the last time, by Gordon's old friend Skulduggery Pleasant. Skulduggery is a skeleton who manages to look less conspicuous when the situation requires by wrapping himself up, Invisible Man-like, in a coat and scarf, a frizzy wig and wide-brimmed hat. He is also a detective, investigating transgressions in the magical world he inhabits, and Stephanie becomes in due course his assistant. Dangerous adventures ensue, with nothing less than the fate of the world at stake.

[INSET TEXT: Skulduggery is a skeleton who manages to look less conspicuous when the situation requires by wrapping himself up, Invisible Man-like, in a coat and scarf, a frizzy wig and wide-brimmed hat.] Skulduggery Pleasant is the first in a new series featuring Stephanie and the skeletal detective. It's easy to imagine a successful string of books following from this introduction: more magic and monsters; Stephanie's exploration of Skulduggery's world and of her own abilities; the "normal" world's incomprehension of and even hostility toward magic. There are some superficial similarities between Landy's story and the Harry Potter books: a pre-teen protagonist with as yet unrealized powers and some kind of magical birthright is thrust into a supernatural realm that exists alongside our own reality. But the world Landy has created is not as complex as the Potter universe, and his characters are unlikely to inspire debate among adult readers about their motivations. But unfair comparison with Rowling's oeuvre aside, Landy's Skulduggery is a well-written and above all charming book. What makes it shine is the playful interaction between Skulduggery and Stephanie:

"You can't leave me alone," she said, following him into the living room.

"No," he corrected, "I can. You'll be perfectly safe."

"The front door's off!"

"Well, yes. You'll be perfectly safe as long as they don't come through the front door."

He pulled on his coat, but she snatched his hat away.

"Are you taking my hat hostage?" he asked doubtfully.

The relationship is fun to watch because of the banter and because Skulduggery, while the older of the two by far, is not above being childishly irresponsible. Landy also occasionally ratchets up the tension. There are a great many fight scenes, with the good guys using their various powers to combat different sorts of monsters. But the best bit of suspense--it certainly got my 11-year-old excited about the book--comes near the beginning of the story, when Stephanie so unwisely spends the night alone in Gordon Edgley's creepy mansion. You know that can't end well....

Landy's Skulduggery won't assume the Potter mantle--if such a thing were even possible--but it is highly readable and funny, a charming page-turner for the YA crowd.

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Comments

1.

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2.

This book has definately perked my interest and I'll be adding it to my wishlist asap. It's actually getting hard to find any decent YA books in the fantasy section anymore. Perhaps Rowling has spoiled us for other reads?

3.

If you haven't already discovered it check out the blog Bookshelves of Doom: http://bookshelvesofdoom.blogs.com

She writes about YA books a lot and she's quite funny.

4.

This book is being very heavily promoted in the UK at the moment, and on Amazon (was their book of the week the other week on the UK site). I showed it to Jenny in the bookshop the other day and she was repelled by the "packaging".
Maybe more of a boy's book?

5.

Well, the protagonist is a 12-year-old girl who acts more like she's 15 or 16, so in that sense I'd say more of a girl's book. On the other hand, there's a lot of fighting with magical powers, which might appeal to boys.... But the writing is clever, which might appeal to girls.... I don't think she should be turned off by it.

6.

I have this book in my hands at the moment! I can't wait to begin but I want to wait until tomorrow as I'm off on holidays.....but I don't know if I will be able to keep to that. This book sounds absolutly amazing and with the harry potter series finished it's sure to fill the void.

7.

Hi, Nicola. Well, I hope you enjoy it! I don't think it's going to inspire the affection Harry Potter inspires.... Well, that pretty much goes without saying, because the HP phenomenon was one of a kind. But it was a good read.




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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.