‘Voyage of the Basilisk’ by Marie Brennan

My rating: 4 stars

Those who enjoy a fusion of fantasy with scientific and anthropological elements may have already heard of the book series The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. Lady Trent, also known merely as Isabella, is a respected dragon naturalist who is recounting how she managed to achieve that status. Voyage of the Basilisk is the third instalment in the series, after A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents. In order to comprehensively review it, I’ll have to mention some of the events revealed in the two previous books. So, if you haven’t read them, I advise you not to read ahead.

The curiosity of the readers is aroused right since the beginning of the book. In the preface, Isabella introduces what she will recall in this part of her memoirs in a compelling manner. She will reveal what happened during her two-year journey aboard of the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk. Although she has written about it in other occasions, those texts were not totally accurate, since a high-ranking officer in His Majesty’s Royal Navy had forbidden her from telling all the truth at the time of the events. We are also to be given an insight into more personal matters, as it’s requited from a memoir.

Accompanying her during the expedition were her son, Jake, who was then 9 years old, Tom Wilker and Abby, her new governess. Natalie Oscott, who had become her live-in companion, since being disowned by her father for going to Eriga, remained in Scirland. Their purpose was to find draconian species, in order to study their biology and actions, which leads to a discussion about the distinction between true dragons and other draconian creatures. Continue reading

Book Haul – June / July 2018

Ahead of my birthday (which is today!), I bought some books as a gift to myself. I have had almost all of them in my possession for a while now, as I ordered them online and they arrived much earlier than I had anticipated. Nevertheless, I decided to wait until today to reveal my new acquisitions to you. Some of them are representing certain countries at the ‘EU still 28’ reading project, others felt like the perfect books to delve into this summer, and a few were on discount and caught my attention.

Without further ado, these are the eight books that I bought recently:

 

Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

This is the third book in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series. After reading and enjoying the first two books (A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents) last year, I plan to read the Voyage of the Basilisk really soon. I am eager to be absorbed in another adventure of the famous dragon naturalist, Lady Trent. Continue reading

My Summer Reading Plans

Summer is just around the corner and, although I’m not much of a seasonal reader, there are some types of books that I tend to read during the hottest season. For no particular reason other than that I associate them with past holidays, I’m more inclined to read fantasy, adventure and funny books during summer. Below are some of the books that I plan to pick up throughout the following months. The weather has been extremely erratic in Portugal (it has been awfully cloudy and much cooler than usual), but I can already imagine myself reading these while the sun shines on a blue sky!

 

The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirahk

Seeing that this is a book about the arrival of outsiders into a forest full of ancient traditions, myths and legends, I believe that it must have at least some fantasy or magical realism undertones. I’m not really sure what to expect from it, though, since I had never heard of this book before searching for Estonian authors online.

 

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

I don’t know much about the plot of this book by the Swedish author Jonas Jonasson, but I’ve heard that it features quite a few funny moments. According to the blurb, it follows Nombeko Mayeki, who is on the run from a secret service. Continue reading

Dragons in Books

Many books in the fantasy genre feature dragons as real animals and not as mythical creatures no one has ever seen. They are serpentine beings that spew fire and have both reptilian and avian traits. Despite sharing these characteristics, the role they play in a specific story vary according to the world created by each author. In some books dragons can speak or have riders, while in others they are subject to scientific studies. I’ve read a few books which include dragons, all having different parts to play.

When we think about the Harry Potter series the first word that comes to mind is wizards. But the books in this beloved series also feature dragons, although they are not one of the major elements of the world created by J.K. Rowling. They were used as an obstacle to be overcome in the first task of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, for example. Dragons, in the world of the Harry Potter series, are generally considered impossible to either train or domesticate. They are seen as dangerous, since they can kill wizards. Nonetheless, there are people trained to work with them.

Dragons assume a more relevant and totally different role in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan. This is a fantasy and adventure series where the protagonist, Lady Trent, recalls how she became a famous and respected dragon naturalist. So far, I’ve only read the first two books – A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents. However, it is obvious from the very beginning that in this series dragons are not portrayed as magical or mythological creatures, but real wild animals that roam free in various parts of the world and are scientifically studied. Continue reading

My 5 Star TBR Predictions Wrap Up

More or less four months ago, inspired by Mercedes at Mercys Bookish Musings on YouTube, I selected four books from my TBR pile which I then hoped would be five-star reads. I have now read all of them and regret to inform you that not even one has deserved a 5-star rating from me. I still liked them all, they were all 4-star reads, but none of them ended up meeting my high expectations for various reasons.

I can only wonder if I would have appreciated them more for what they are and wouldn’t have paid so much attention to what I perceived as faults, if my expectations had not been so high. It’s true that I don’t rate that many books with 5 stars, as I expect to completely love everything about them to do so, but sometimes expectations influence our way of thinking.

Although I rated all of the following books with 4 stars, I can easily rank them, because I liked some more than others. These are the four books that I expected to love from my most to my least favourite: Continue reading

‘The Tropic of Serpents’ by Marie Brennan

My rating: 4 stars

In the second instalment of The Memoirs of Lady Trent series, titled The Tropic of Serpents, Marie Brennan reveals the story of the journey of the future prominent dragon naturalist Isabella to Eriga. As in the first book, A Natural History of Dragons, an adventure is embroidered with scientific, anthropological and social strands. But it mostly stands out when the focus is on the characters’ feelings and their personal ordeals.

Although it takes place three years after the events reported in the first book (which I will not spoil in this review), it’s connected with it by mentioning how Isabella dealt with the personal consequences of her first trip to Vystrana and how the investigation following her discoveries about dragon bones was disrupted by a robbery.

Isabella’s second adventure, which is detailed in this book, took her to Eriga, but first she had to face a challenge as difficult as her expedition: her family, more precisely her mother and her concerns. Many of the criticisms she faced were related to the existence of different expectations regarding women’s and men’s duties towards family. I have to admit that even I was ready to criticise her (as I would also censure a man in the same circumstances) before she explained how she was remembered of previous suffering by fulfilling her expected family duties. Continue reading

My 5 Star TBR Predictions

I always expect to at least enjoy the books that I have on my to-be-read pile. But for some of the books that are waiting on my shelves to finally be read I have even higher expectations and assume that I will love them and, thus, award them a five-star rating. Inspired by Mercedes at Mercys Bookish Musings on YouTube, I decided to share with you the unread books I have on my shelves that I believe that I will love.

I don’t rate many books with 5 stars, as I can’t fault them on anything in order to do so (you can read my post on why I rate books with 5 stars here). But when I do, I rarely change my mind afterwards.

Whenever I’m debating whether to buy a certain book or not, a possible rating doesn’t usually spring to mind, that is something I only consider while or after reading it. So, I see this exercise as a new and exciting challenge. I’ve chosen four books from my unread ones that I plan to read before the end of the year. When I finally read all of them, I will write a wrap up post discussing my actual ratings. Continue reading

Book Haul – July 2017

I had promised myself not to buy any more books until I found a place to properly store my unread ones (right now they are perilously piled up on top of each other and the risk of them falling down is too real to be overlooked). However, it was my birthday this month and I needed to give myself a present. I could have bought only one book, but that wouldn’t be a proper gift. Five seemed like a good number!

 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

After loving Rebecca, I became eager to read all the books by Daphne du Maurier. To read one every year seemed like a good goal. But when I realised that an adaptation of My Cousin Rachel had just been released, I decided to buy the book and read it this year before seeing the film.

From the blurb, this seems like quite a mysterious story, which involves a widow and her dead husband’s cousin. Continue reading

‘A Natural History of Dragons’ by Marie Brennan

My rating: 4 stars

A Natural History of Dragons, the first book in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan, is a fantasy and adventure story with prominent scientific and anthropological strands. Throughout the novel, many remarks are made about how difficult it was for a woman to be truly accepted by the scientific community. Even though the story takes place in a fictional world, it highly resembles our own some centuries ago, just with dragons flying in the sky.

Lady Trent tells in the first person the story of how she became a famous and respected dragon naturalist. Isabella was the only daughter in a set of six children and wasn’t known for her ladylike ways. She first became obsessed with all animals with wings. Her special interest in dragons began while reading the book ‘A Natural History of Dragons’ by Sir Richard Edgeworth.

Her first reckless adventure took place still in Scirland, where she was born and grew up, when she was 14 years old. Dressed as a boy, she managed to take part in the hunt for a wolf-drake, because she wanted to see it alive and not already dead. From the beginning of the story, we realise that she has always been adventurous, curious, intelligent, a little reckless, but kind-hearted. Continue reading

Book Haul – May 2017

Last month I said that I usually try to keep the number of unread books on my shelves to a minimum. But… I ended up buying a few more books this month and am still wondering where I’m going to put them, as my shelves are full. Apparently, I’m struggling to keep my book buying urges under control!

I bought seven books this month, including fiction, non-fiction, classics and a graphic novel.

 

The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria by Janine di Giovanni

Typically, I don’t tend to read non-fiction books, but I decided to do so this year. I bought The Morning They Came for Us because it focuses on an issue I’m quite interested in, the war in Syria, but that I don’t feel I know enough about in order to fully understand what is happening. Continue reading