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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


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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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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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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:

  

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May, Jane: Hooked

  

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Kensington Fiction © 2007, 245 pages [amazon]
3 stars

Jane May's frothy novel Hooked is an adaptation and modernization of "The Fisherman and his Wife." In the fairy tale, a poor fisherman spares the life of an enchanted prince turned fish who has the power to grant wishes. Though the fisherman is content with his lot, his grasping wife induces him to make increasingly extravagant requests of the fish until, in an ironic turn, a wish lands the couple back at square one. May's book tells more or less the same story, with a few twists. The fisherman of her tale is nice guy "Woody" Woods, a 28-year-old assistant dock master at a Miami yacht club. Woody falls head-over-heels for Madalina, a Romanian gold-digger, shortly before going fishing with a client. What he reels in isn't an enchanted prince, but a foul-mouthed former car salesman--now a skipjack tuna--by the name of Raymond Prince, whose philandering landed him quite literally in deep water and who is of course endowed with the power to make things happen.

[INSET TEXT: Presumably the author is going for light-hearted romp rather than yuck, get a room.] May has done a decent job of transferring the story to modern-day Miami, though she seems to have forgotten about the wonders of the internet:

"A perfect night for chilling out, only Woody could not relax until he had the answer to a very BIG question: was this Raymond Prince the real deal or a figment of his very active imagination?

"The only way to find out, of course, was to engage in behavior which might, to an innocent observer, appear psychotic [i.e., summoning the fish]"

Surely a modern-day twenty-something would think to Google "Raymond Prince car sales" to see if his fish's story held up?

Unfortunately, May's characters are poorly developed and for the most part boorish. Woody's blind attraction to Madalina, however large her breasts, strains credibility. And the book's dialogue is also frequently unbelievable. Two women in their sixties, for example, are not likely to have a chat like this:

"'You cheap old coot! I told you that you should have sprung for new glasses.'

"'Go suck an egg. It's not about the money.'

"'Sooner or later, honey, it's always about the money.'"

Madalina's dialogue, meanwhile, is heavily accented and salty:

"'I do not mean to make dis on you, Voody. Was shit thing to do. Shame for me. My mana, she always say to me, Madalina, you speak like water run from pipe is broken.'

"In a contrite gesture, Madalina tenderly touched Woody's arm. Heat waves shot down to his toes and back up to his crotch singeing the pubes on his testicles."

I've nothing against swearing or sex per se, but the effect of their introduction into the narrative should not be cringe-inducing, as in the above example. Presumably the author is going for light-hearted romp rather than yuck, get a room. And maybe another reader will think the book great fun. But I found myself grimacing more often than I would have liked.

The idea behind Hooked is a clever one: I like the idea of translating fairy tales to a modern stage. Readers less stodgy than I might want to give this quick read a spin.

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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/).

Comments

1.

I have to admit, that last bit you quoted was indeed cringeworthy.

2.

I'm glad I'm not the only one!

Thanks for blogging about the October read-a-thon. Having seen your mention I checked it out and entered.

3.

Excellent! It does look like fun. I know I won't be able to do the whole 24 hours, but even a few hours would be enjoyable. :)




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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.