Review of The Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #2) by Marie Brennan

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From Goodreads:

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, in which she lost her husband, the widowed Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the savage, war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell – where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.

Published February 17th 2015 by Tor Books (first published March 4th 2014)

My Review

4/5 stars

It’s been a while since I read the first in this series so I couldn’t remember just what I was in for or wasn’t. At times I wished the story itself would pick up and I really wanted to read more about dragons than anything else. All in all though this book ended really well, so if you’re feeling a little dissatisfied, hold on I think you’ll appreciate finishing it.

This book is not a bad book, it’s written well, simply put it’s just not your average story. Imagine dragons are real but they haven’t been well studied, if much at all. Now go back in time, let’s say like early 1900s, and imagine a woman scientist, naturalist whose life revolves around dragons. She’s a young woman, in her 20s, with a young son this time around. She’s very likable, an adventurer who doesn’t always make the best choices, and she’s dedicated to dragons, their well being, and her study of them. While she’s always pushing the boundaries she has to live within the restrictions of a world that doesn’t encourage women in science (she had to publish her work under her husband’s name) let alone trousers. This is a story about her adventures and studies so it’s not always exciting but IMHO it’s very interesting. Reading it I felt like I could very well be reading a real memoir, it was fun to imagine and helped me get through the slower parts of the story. And it’s not even that this is a slow story by any means, every chapter is full of a new development, I’m just pouting because I wanted more dragon time. That said the people of the Green Hell, the swamp of Mouleen, are themselves quite interesting. I think it’s fair to say this story has a long lead up to a great conclusion.

If you want to read about a world with dragons from a natural history perspective, that includes all aspects of such expeditions to study them, then you’ll really enjoy this. There’s a lot more than dragons going on here and they’re not the same dragons you read about in all the other fantasy stories you’ve come across. Again, think real world dragons. One of the best parts, I think, is that this is a world with dragons across the globe in all kinds of environments. There’s different species of dragons, not just the one kind like we’re used to hearing about. Most other stories treat dragons like there’s only ever one kind of dragon. That is not the case here.

I’ll be starting the next The Voyage of the Basilisk sooner than later because I’d like to stay in the vein of this kind of writing, this book ended with an excerpt from the next, and I already have it in my possession. 😀 Check my 2019 TBR for Voyage of the Basilisk and more!

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For more of my reviews CLICK HERE!

Adventures in a Bookish World

On Goodreads you can sign up for the annual reading challenge and create your personal goal. Last year I didn’t read as much as I would have liked so this year I set my goal low, 20 books. So far I’ve read five! That’s awesome if you ask me. 😀 Now I have to admit two of those I started at the end of 2018 and finished in 2019, so they count but they’re right on the line. At this rate I’m going to kick butt. I just finished “Semiosis” by Sue Burke, great book, I gave it 5/5 stars. I do recommend it. Book two is expected out this year so we’ll see.

At present I’m reading three books. One non-fiction, “My Age of Anxiety”, a steampunk novel, “Everfair”, and “The Five Times I Met Myself”, just started it yesterday. I have a page for my 2019 TBR, CLICK HERE. The list is and will be subject to change, that I can promise you. I’m excited to see where they take me, non-fiction and fiction alike. I’m excited what this reading will do for my writing, for me, heck for you and the blog.

Where do you find your books? Podcasts, websites, magazines, newspapers, friends, family, the bookstore? How do you pick them? How do you prefer to read, physical or electronic? Or perhaps both? Who are your favorites? Why? What kind of books are you looking for? What are you willing to give a shot to? Wondering about fantasy? Want some science-fiction? What tickles your fancy?

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I find books ALL OVER THE PLACE. For real, everywhere. I like to visit book stores. I love books, the way they feel, look, and smell. Some of my most fond memories from school involve books, namely the Book Fair. OH MY GOD I loved book fair. A beautiful way into the bookish world. They bring their shelves on wheels in to school and fill up the library with loads of new books. Just looking at them I got excited. I knew then that reading and books were an unstoppable love. Stories are infinite. The variety astounded me. I was especially fascinated seeing series. How could I ever get through them all? Come back in a few weeks for my post about the books I read as a kid, many I got from these book fairs.

Book Stores

Of course book stores are like Christmas while Book Fair was an event. Bookstores are an all the time bookish world. Places where all the world can go and take their pick, much like the library. So how do you pick them? Do you go to the bookstore only when you have a specific book in mind, or particular author? Or are you like me and you’ll go just to find something? I mean of course I go in search of a target book or author, but I think I’ve gone more and found books at random. I’ve definitely picked books from their titles and/or covers. Read the blurb or back matter and make your selection. That leads to pulling out books around the other ones you’ve found. Or turning to the shelf behind you. Do you ever smell books in the store? Yup. (Hand raised.)

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Other People

Sometimes I get recommendations from people for books though most books I find myself. Perhaps you have a certain person who’s always giving recommendations? I like to exchange ideas with people and make some notes wherever I can from their suggestions. The funny thing about recommendations is that there are SO MANY books I find it near impossible to even take book suggestions. I always find something interesting so I don’t always like getting books that are widely popular. Now that doesn’t mean I won’t read them; I’m a fan of Jodi Picoult and she’s a widely read author. Maybe if you read in the same circles you always take suggestions from your friends? I don’t know, tell me about it, how do you do it?

Podcasts & BookTube

My newest methods for finding books, over the last year or so, is through podcasts and sometimes BookTube. I have found a number of books and authors through the people I follow. BookTube is kind of controversial. It appears there’s a lot of drama behind the scenes with a lot of people getting paid to read and review books. No one should be surprised that people make videos about the books they’ve read in hopes they’ll get loads of followers and maybe make some money. Some people do, but what then of integrity?

Eh, another day… but wait! I have thanks to a BookTuber I found Book Outlet. Great source for bargain books. (Follow this link to the left and I’ll get some points for referring people. Thank you! And no that’s not WHY I’m referring you there, I really do like shopping at Book Outlet. I just got a new shipment, nine books for $42!) I’m all for buying local but if you can save some money on some books, why not? You see, Book Outlet gets overstock or damaged books from bookstores and other suppliers. This allows them to reduce the prices significantly. They don’t have every book you can think of, their selection is limited. So, my strategy? Find what books you can on Book Outlet and the rest you get from book stores. ;D Simple!

The podcasts I follow are all writing and/or reading related, always trying to keep writing on my mind. “Life Inside My Mind”, a collection of personal essays by 31 authors, I heard of through the podcast “Writing Excuses”. Podcasts are a great source for books. Almost all the ones I listen to are centered around some kind of interview with an author. It’s great to hear the author in their own words (as if their writing isn’t their own!) their background, the background of their story and their writing career, their thoughts on writing, their process, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. You can check out the podcasts I listen to by clicking here.

Goodreads

Of course there’s Goodreads, a great big community of readers. Goodreads is its own bookish world. There are innumerable ways to connect with other readers, authors, and books on there. You could just post books on your shelves, leave ratings and reviews, browse recommendations. Or you could link up with like-minded people, follow authors, ask them questions. Then there’s groups, oh Lord there are groups! I’m not a big group person though I’ve joined some. This year I’ve joined some great reading challenges. Should be fun. Groups are an interesting place to see just how much we do or do not have in common. One more testament to just how many books there are out there. I’ll post more on Goodreads later this spring.

And to think I’ve not even mentioned the free books I’ve gotten through Amazon. They used to offer you one free a month, granted from four pre-selected books. Now they offer two I think it is of early reader copies, again from pre-selected books. I’ve only read a couple of the free ones I’ve chosen and I have to be honest, I don’t know who selects them or how but they need a new job…enough said, though I may elaborate at a later time.

Libraries

To think I haven’t mentioned libraries. Oh dear…admittedly I don’t go to the library much. Not because I don’t like to or I’ve got anything against library books, I just don’t. But libraries are fabulous. They are the epicenter to our bookish world at large! They’re way more dangerous than bookstores because you have to buy books to leave the store with them and that means emptying out your wallet if you love books like I do. Whereas once you’re all signed up and happy with your library card it’s all you and the books. When I go to the library I kind of lose my mind, completely awestruck. I just want to walk around and look at all the books. That said, I am not so good at returning things…that is a problem. But we’ll make a trip to the library soon and share my adventure here. 😉

This has been a taste of life in my bookish world. Be sure to come back soon as I’ll be adding a new post every week. Don’t forget to check out my TBR list and let me know if you’re planning to read any of them. Or maybe you plan to read a book by the same authors? Do you have other means for finding books? I’d love to hear how you find yourself in a bookish world. For now happy writing, reading, and exploring. And should you be so lucky to be in the frigid cold, stay warm and safe. Protect those you love.