From a random review:


Note: Links pointing to Amazon contain my affiliate ID. Sales resulting from clicks on those links will earn me a small percentage of the purchase price.

Navigate the site:
Click here for a complete list of books reviewed or select below:
Search the site:
The ratings:
5 stars  excellent
4 stars  very good
3 stars  good
2 stars  fair
1 stars  poor

Blog stats:

About the blogger:
Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

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)

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


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

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)





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



Book Notices | Drowning with Others by Linda Keir / Arsenic Under the Elms by Virginia A. McConnell / A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

Linda Keir, Drowning with Others

  Amazon  

Andi and Ian Copeland were the "it" couple at Glenlake Academy. Twenty years and one seemingly perfect marriage later, their daughter Cassidy is a senior at the prep school. But when a car is pulled from a lake near campus, the ensuing investigations—both that conducted by the police and the one undertaken as a project by Cassidy's journalism class—rip open old wounds and threaten to expose some long-buried secrets. Andi and Ian have a stake in the proceedings, and their relationship is tested more than it has been since their senior year. The story is punctuated by passages from Andi and Ian's high school journals, from which we get first-person accounts of the events leading up to that car's plunge into the lake. But we're still kept guessing about what happened until close to the end. This book was very readable, and I enjoyed it as a whole, but I found the resolution somewhat unsatisfying.

Virginia A. McConnell, Arsenic Under the Elms: Murder in Victorian New Haven

  Amazon  

In Arsenic Under the Elms, Virginia McConnell writes about two infamous murder trials that took place in New Haven County in the late 19th century. The first was the murder of Mary Stannard in 1878 near her home in Rockland, Connecticut, some 15-20 miles northeast of New Haven. Mary's neighbor, the slick Reverend Herbert Hayden, was arrested for the crime, and a sensational trial ensued. According to the prosecution, Hayden poisoned Mary with arsenic (and clubbed her in the head and slit her throat) because she was pregnant by him and he wanted to protect his reputation. McConnell walks us through the crime and trial and the legal procedures of the day. I found the introductory chapters, detailing the crime, more interesting than the author's account of the trial, which got bogged down a bit in details. It's clear from her account where the author stands on the question of Hayden's guilt, but we're still left guessing until the end of the story about what the jury's verdict would be. 

Jenny Cramer was killed three years later, in 1881, her body found in West Haven's Savin Rock area. There was arsenic in her system as well. Members of an illustrious New Haven family were implicated in the crime: Walter Malley, scion of the Malley's Department Store family, and his cousin Jimmy were arrested in connection with her death. This account too gets bogged down in the trial chapters, and so while I'm glad to have read the book—particularly because I'm local to the area—it wasn't always easy to make progress in it. One final note is that it's not always clear when reading to what extent the narrative is based on verifiable fact versus inference. McConnell cites her sources and is honest about her inferences, but you have to dig in the footnotes to find her comments, and many readers may not bother. For example, p. 135: "Mrs. Cramer was very much aware that her daughter's beauty might well be her ticket to a higher class, and so she took great pains to highlight it and show it off." With footnote 3 on p. 238: "This is an assumption based on Mrs. Cramer's actions and statements concerning her daughter, including her disapproval of one of Jennie's suitors because of his lowly occupation (barber)."

Mark Haddon, A Spot of Bother

  Amazon  

An upcoming wedding forms the scaffolding of Mark Haddon’s A Spot of Bother. Katie and Ray are the newlyweds-to-be—unless they break up for good before the wedding. Jamie, Katie’s brother, is likewise on shaky ground with his boyfriend, Tony. And George and Jean are the parents of the bride, now in their sixties, retired, and having health and marital problems. There’s a lot of arguing and drinking, doctors‘ visits and drama, but it’s all rather light in tone—three different love stories hung on that wedding backdrop. My only complaint has to do with the number of names tossed around in the book—so many first names that, fifty pages in, I resorted to drawing a family tree on my bookmark. (It helped, but there were a lot of names of minor characters mentioned too, too many to write down, so I finally gave up caring who they were.) Apart from the name issue, the story was fine, though I don’t expect I’ll remember much about the book in a year’s time.

Comments

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In