A Well-Read Jaunt: The Anthropology Library

awellreadjauntOk so today I’ll briefly explain Oxford’s library system, which has a pyramid structure. The Bodleian is at the top because it’s the library for everyone. It has every subject regardless of your degree level. Below this base are the academic division libraries, such as social sciences, sciences, humanities and so on. Most of these anyone can just enterbut they’re kind of hard to find, so I’ve only seen the social science library. Below this are the department or subject libraries. Some of these are in the bod system (like the Rhodes library which houses regional books on the commonwealth) and some aren’t, such as the Pitt Rivers Museum library (and the Ashmolean too I believe). You get these ranging on every topic imaginable, such as anthropology, mathematics, art history and some pretty obscure ones like “oriental studies”. Then there are college libraries with restricted access, only college members can go to those.

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The Anthropology Library

Today I’m talking about the Anthropology library which isn’t very sexy or exciting, but non-Oxford members can’t get in and I’m determined to scout out Oxford’s libraries for everyone to see. Plus, I spend a stupid amount of time in this place, it’s one of the only libraries with couches and the librarian won’t scream at you if you bring in water- though he will if you bring in food (something I tend to forget because I eat and drink as I work and tend to get kicked out of a lot of places because of it).

Comfort: 4/5
I find this place super comfortable actually, it has couches and chairs. Good desks and a pretty warm carpet. It has a few computers to use and it’s small, yes, but it’s cosy. My biggest quip with this place I also have with essentially the entire Oxford library system: everything is so darn cold sometimes. The heat never works well and those old-fashioned windows let more in than they should.

Sigh, more books. I laid claim to that comfy chair in the corner.

Sigh, more books. I laid claim to that comfy chair in the corner.

Appearance: 4/5
It’s in an old Victorian style building with beautiful brick. It also has a lovely cherry blossom tree in the front that makes everything about it seem so inviting! I didn’t get a shot of the outside because I forgot. Plain and simple. Plus the backyard has an apple tree and we’re allowed to go outside and pick from it!

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Availability: 4/5
All non-anthropology students are allowed to get in though they might have a bit of trouble with the awful door swipe (which never seems to work on cold, wet, rainy days- you know, those days when you’re desperate to get warm and inside). That being said it’s completely accessible! I give it a 4 because of the darn swipe.

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I want no laughing! But those are the books I’m grabbing for my thesis…

For more pictures from my adventures, check out my instagram page.

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YALC (2): YALC in Tweets

YALC mania ensues! In today’s post I am sharing tweets from others and myself, in a timely and orderly fashion, to give you a sense of the excitement and chaos that was YALC (give this post a second to load).

As you can see, I was well prepared. I bought a portable charger and everything.

 

Honorary Tweets from Sunday (I didn’t go to YALC on Sunday)

 

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YALC (1): The Event x My Thoughts

Warning: I will be dragging on my YALC posts, and what I mean by that is that I won’t have 1 giant YALC post. Today’s post is a review of my experiences of YALC and the London Film and Comic Convention (LFCC). However, I’ve written another post concerning my tweets (I did that a lot) and bookish hauls. As I said, I’m dragging it out.

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At YALC they asked us to ‘lie’ to them! So I said that I hated reading. Well it’s a lie right!

I ordered tickets ages ago (Early-Bird for Saturday) and on Saturday I woke up at 5AM to get on a bus to get to the con at 9AM. I got there at 8:45 (Woooot!) and I’d been warned about the awful lines but what I saw was ridiculous. Now, anyone who knows me knows that lines stress me the hell out. They stress me out so much, and when I stress, I stop breathing properly (sucks to my ass-mar!). I was on the line for about an hour and during that time made a complete loop around the building, twice. But finally, at 10, I was in!

And hit with a full onintroverted semi-panic attack. There was heat and a lot of people. A lot, and I was early so I was staggered for a second, what the heck will this place look like when they start letting everyone in?! However, I’d been told by Daphne that YALC was in the back so I kept walking. I was thankful at times that my Bahamian upbringing had taught me the value of pushing through crowds, cause goodness me, I had to push to make it past the wings and capes, and careful not to read on swords or beards or giant shoes. My biggest regret from the day is that I didn’t take more pictures. I’m very careful about having my phone out in public after it was stolen that way!

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Katniss is a bit tired, me thinks.

Claire’s 5 Cents: Next time, either give YALC a bigger space at LFCC or maybe, be its own convention!

The YALC section was amazing! They had signing posts (if you were into that sort of thing), a sectioned area for talks and workshops, lovely bean bag chairs that I forgot to take pictures of, a book wall and my favourite section: books being sold by a few stores! One of my biggest quips from LFCC is that I wish YALC had more space, it was a nice cosy area but felt cramped because there were GIANT queues for people taking photographs with Stan Lee and was also next to some big signing posts for the LFCC part.

IMG_20140712_145812_resizedClaire’s 5 Cents: More book selling sections! Or maybe a blogger section?

I’m not huge into book signings so I was a bit sad to see only a few stalls for books being sold. Waterstones had a huge section and I admit, I dropped a few couple (read: a lot) of pounds on books from Hot Key Books (which will come up in another post). But it was lovely to talk to the staff from these places, so many were enthusiastic and you could see on their faces how much they loved books. If I glanced at a book they didn’t give me the sales pitch but rather went into the story and why they liked it or didn’t and I really appreciated that. So I want more book stalls! And also maybe sections or perks for book bloggers? Maybe a book blogger pass or special tag? I met so many book bloggersbut some people I walked right by and didn’t realise till I went on twitter that they were book bloggers or booktubers!

My friend took this picture. Do you get what I mean now when I say it was crowded.

My friend took this picture. Do you get what I mean now when I say it was crowded.

Claire’s 5 Cents: Better organization!

That line to get in was all kinds of chaos and I don’t blame YALC for that but LFCC. YALC was pretty well organizedbut LFCC was almost a veritable mess. It was confusing and cramped. My biggest quip is that there needed to be better control of queues for photographs, signings and everything. There queues everywhere, oh my goodness it was horrible. There was some lack of organization at YALC as well, though but like I said earlier, it wasn’t so but I do remember hearing complaints about a 2 hour line for Rainbow Rowell…

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Panel at the Fantasy talk.

Claire’s 5 Cents: What’s with calling YA readers teens?

They kept talking about teens in the panels. I’m sure this is my looking to deeply into things and by then I was really exhausted and just happy to have a chair to sit on… but a number of authors referred to YA readers as teens. I get why, the genre is ‘YA’, however, I’m 25. I primarily read YA and I’m not a young adult or teen or anything. Now, I know this is cultural and young adult can encompass a whole range of ages depending on the individual’s perspective, but I know many 5o years olds that read YA. They’re not teens, so I’d like YA readers to be acknowledged as all encompassing. Again. I was tired. I’m interested in hearing about what others thought of this as well.

I found geeky cupcakes!

I found geeky cupcakes!

Overall: FUN!

I enjoyed the event overall though as a relatively shy person I found the environment itself to be a bit challenging. I had so much fun, I was exhausted, my feet ached and though I brought buckets of food and water, it was not enough. I loved every moment of it and I wish I could have gone to the Sunday portion as I hear from Hanna (Broc’s Bookcase) that Sunday was more enjoyable overall because of the smaller crowds. I enjoyed the talks, the range of things discussed, the books, the amazing staff, and of course, meeting all of the book bloggers (coming soon)! If it wasn’t for the amazing people I met, especially Rinn and Hanna whom I hung out with the most, I think I’d have crumpled into a confused heap! YALC is something I’d love to come to again and I’d love to also see it become its own thing, a convention of its own. LFCC was good, but I’d go to that on a Sunday next time, for sure! Below are a few other shots. I apologise for the quality of these pictures!

I got some stares trying to take this shot...

I got some stares trying to take this shot…

Obligatory blurry shot of Adam Brown! I also saw HODOR and PODRICK PAYNE! Ahhhhh for the geeky actors!

Obligatory blurry shot of Adam Brown! I also saw HODOR and PODRICK PAYNE! Ahhhhh for the geeky actors!

Bracelet from chapter 5 books.

Bracelet from chapter 5 books.

Abercrombie signing

Abercrombie signing

Upcoming YALC posts:

  • YALC in a Tweet (or more)
  • Freebies + Bookish Hauls
  • Meeting Fellow Bloggers

For more pictures from my adventures, check out my instagram page.

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My Apocalypse Dream Team

So EpicReads published a post about would be on your Apocalypse Dream Team ages ago. I saved it in my drafts and made a note: I should do a post just like this! The basic premise is this:

So the world is about to end and you only have a couple of hours to assemble your perfect apocalypse team with five fictional characters – who would make the cut?

I’ve thought long and hard about this (actually, not at all, I completely played this by instinct) and have come up with the following.

My Apocalypse Dream Team:

Penryn from Angelfall

I think she’d be an excellent companion for the next 2 women in my group, plus she’s very kick ass. She’s a survivor and you always need people with survival instincts if the world is going to end. She also has a heart and when I’m panicking, I need to be reminded of that.

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games

She’s a survivor and a deadly one to boot. I figure if we need food, she’d know where to find it. If we need defense, she’d do so. If we need to hide, she’d help shove me up a tree (I am abysmal at climbing things). Plus, she has a moral compass and you always need someone to remind you of your humanity when everyone’s trying to kill each other!

Hermoine Granger from Harry Potter

Smart chicks are very necessary when the world falls apart. She‘s help us plan things: goals, locations, help us build protections and be basically invisible from the bad guys. Plus, if she’s your friend she’ll bend over backwards to help. Sometimes loyalty pays more than physical prowess!

Gavriel from the Coldest Girl from Coldtown

Ok so maybe he should be a wild card. I figure I shouldn’t have an all female team and maybe, 1 token guy might help? As a vampire who (if we can make him loyal that is) feels connected to a group would be very useful. There is that strong thing, and extreme speed. We’d have to walk during the nightsbut I figure that’s when you’re most vulnerable anyways!

Wild Card: Arya Stark from A Song Of Ice And Fire

This chick is a total wild card. She’s smart and she’d kick major bad guy butt- but how much would she save me? Or help me? Sorry to be completely and utterly selfish here but if it’s my dream team, I’d like to assume they’d help out and I don’t know if Arya would. She‘s help out if she was in danger sure, but me? Eh.

Wild Card: Meda from Cracked

Evil half demon chick who feasts on souls. I figure, if it’s the end of the world, she’d be a goodie to have… but could we trust her? *cue in evil music*

I notice that my team is made up of… well, killers. But that’s not so bad right? I figure if the world ends chaos will ensue and I’m really not good with chaos. I really am not, so I’d need friends to provide a little bit of body guard duty.

Who is on your Apocalypse Dream Team? Who would you weather the end of the world with?
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Literary Listings: 5 Worlds I’d Like To Live In (1)

I’ve gotten super into fandom stuff lately and had a great time talking with a friend of mine about larping and all the sort of stuff people do to forget that magical worlds aren’t actually real. So it made me think, what worlds would I actually want to live in?

5 Fantasy Worlds I’d Like To Live In

diagon-filmHarry Potter Universe (Preferably Magic London)

Oh yes, yes, yes. This is my #1. I so wish magic were real, and the type of magic specifically found in Rowling’s universe. I have trouble rereading the Harry Potter books because I finish them and know, that at the end of the day it isn’t real.

And it crushes me.

I so, so, want this universe to exist. There is so much good (and bad) about the magic universe! Spells! Magic! Wands! Broomsticks! Butterbeer! Though, I the idea of a pumpkin pastie sounds absolutely revolting, I’d pass on that. But chocolate frogs! Hogwarts! Everything! It’s a dream to go to the Harry Potter theme park in Florida, and right now I’m working on going to the studios in London when I have some free time. My mum doesn’t get it, she’s always asking, really? Still? You’re still into this?! It’s been… 14 years since I first picked up a Harry Potter book and I’ve been hooked since.

llword2Middle Earth Universe (Preferably the Shire)

I don’t want to be an elf. I don’t want to live forever (I say that now as a 25 year old and I bet in 20 years I’ll be switching my tune and cling to elfdom) and the Hobbits of the shire have something in common with me: we like to eat. A lot. I think living in a place with first and second breakfasts is good. Withtea, and elevensies, and dinner and second dinners. It’s all good!

Plus all that green! Beer! Wine! Mead! Short people (I’m short so I’d fit in) with no need for shoes! I’m packing my bags now, I’m moving to the shire.

llworld3The Magicians Universe (But… really Fillory)

The Magicians is a weird love-hate book with me and I’m going to put reviews up on it soon but so far, I’d like to live there. I’d like to live in the magic verse of Brakebills, but specifically, I think my lazy butt would quite enjoy Fillory, don’t you think? It’s relatively safe, people don’t seem to want for much. There isquiet magic and talking animals. I think I could settle in Fillory as a librarian. I’d also drink too much there with the talking bearbut I’d be fine. You’re always fine in Fillory (eh).

llworld4Sailor Moon Universe (MOON KINGDOM ANYONE?!?!?!?!)

Fighting evil by moonlight… errr, well yes. I’m quite a big sailor moon fan as I’ve hoarded the manga since I was a teen (specifically, 11 years ago, man, I feel old!). I would love to be a sailor senshi. I’d love to have powers (I’ve pretty much made up my own senshi in my head that I’d be, all burgundy and dark like!) and wear that stupid little costume and those long princess dresses and save the day!

Reality is I’d be a horrible senshibut a girl can dream right.

llworld5Oz Universe (But McGregor’s Wicked universe specifically)

I haven’t read the original Oz books so what I know probably isn’t canon but an offshoot. I loved, loved, loooooved Wicked and I loved the scholarly intrigue of Elphaba’s world! I think I’d fit right in, green skin or not. Plus, Elphaba and I would have been BFFs. Yes.

What 5 worlds do you want to live in? If you could leave Earth as we know it and enter a magic door to take you to another place, where would you go?! Right now my #1 is the magic universe in Harry Potter, but these other 4 come pretty close! This specific world-building obsession post is a series, so in the upcoming weeks expect to see 5 more worlds I’d love to live in and 5 worlds you’d never catch me dead or alive in.

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A Well-Read Jaunt: The Queen’s College Library

awellreadjauntOn Wednesday I ended up at The Queen’s College because I needed to look at a book. Now the Oxford Library system is a nice thing but it’s different because each college has their own thing, their department has their own library then each division and then the central library. That makes around… 40 libraries of which I only have access to around 10 on  given day. My college, has such a shit library, I can’t even describe it. I hate it. But it’ll show up on a post one day because it’s super pretty, just pointless for anthropology students.

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One of the quads.

So I had to request special permission, meaning I had to fill out an application form, to get access to The Queen’s College library because they were the only place that had the 1 book I needed. So with a sigh I woke up this morning and ran to my appointment (because you need appointments, and to run because it’s on the complete other end of town!). Once I got in I was blow away though, the librarian let me go upstairs as a ‘treat’ and I spent a good hour fangirling.

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A shot while it’s still sunny!

You see a few scenes from Harry Potter were shot here and I nearly died. I pretty much fan-girl-died and went to geek-girl-heaven. It’s made me very determined to visit the other Oxford libraries, especially the other 2 that were used in Harry Potter as well! So this series will not only feature bookish stores and cafes, but libraries as well. Besides that I’ve developed a slight point system.

Comfort: 3/5AWRJ3-4
These old libraries are hardly comfortable and no one ever tells you that. It was warm when I went in, but I know for a fact that it’s because it wasstuffy outside. What does this mean? Come winter it’s freezing. Plus every piece of wood creaked when I stepped on it (or jumped as I tried to get a funny photo…). Plus no water, drinks, pencils and so on allowed. Boooo.

Appearance: 5/5
It was so preeeetty! The ceiling was this gorgeous white with a great design on it (and a piece in gold as well). Don’t ask me what era it’s from I have no idea, but The Queen’s College is one of the older ones, meaning it’s pretty darn old. However, the aesthetic of that room screamed lush history and everything felt so rich and great. They had a number of old books on display which we weren’t allowed to touch of course (though my hands ached too!).

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Availability: 3/5
If you’re a Queen’s student this place is heaven. If you’re a non-Queen’s Oxford student, it takes some wrangling but it’s doable. Non-Oxford student? Goodluck. That doesn’t mean that I’m not plotting though! The library did have good hours though… It also had a good range of books hence why the score was a bit higher on the availability mark.

Overall, it was exciting stumbling into this little piece of history. It’s inspired me to take advantage of where I am and explore some more. I wonder now, how do I get into the Christ Church hall (where they filmed the Great Hall scenes in HP!)

For more pictures from my adventures, check out my instagram page.

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The Oxford Diaries: (7) 4 Digital Anthropology Books

OxfordDiariesI’m continuing from past posts and featuring books I’ve read or would like to recommend whilst in grad school. Today I’m focusing on Digital Anthropology, the new (well it’s not totally new) hot and sexy topic in anthropology. It’s something I’m very interested in and the material culture of digital anthropology (cell phones, laptops, how we interact with technology and so on) is fascinating to me. I’m thinking of submitting a PhD proposal within a digital field. What do you think? To be honest… I was thinking of doing it on book blogging… eeeeep…

4 Material Culture Books I Love:

Digital Anthropology by Heather Horst and Daniel Miller

This is a good reader or introduction into the field of digital anthropology. It’s got a range of articles as most readers do and they feature a variety of topics, from social media to cyborgs and so on. I enjoyed this and used it for my research methods course on Instagram (yes, I did a research methods paper on identity politics in Instagram! Yay for academia!). I’d recommend this as a good starting point.

Summary: Through a range of case studies from Facebook to Second Life to Google Earth, Digital Anthropology explores how human and digital can be defined in relation to one another, from avatars and disability; cultural differences in how we use social networking sites or practise religion; the practical consequences of the digital for politics, museums, design, space and development to new online world and gaming communities. The book also explores the moral universe of the digital, from new anxieties to open-source ideals. Digital Anthropology reveals how only the intense scrutiny of ethnography can overturn assumptions about the impact of digital culture and reveal its profound consequences for everyday life.

Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media edited by Mizuko Ito, Sonja Baumer, Matteo Bittanti, Danah Boyd et all.

I’m surprised the blurb is so small for this because it’s a great read. It’s not necessarily an anthropological text, but it’s great for delving into ‘subculture’ digital use and features a whole host of articles. It even has a great article on Harry Potter podcasting and the creating of an online community! It’s great for those interested in technology, youth and anthropology.

Summary: An examination of young people’s every day new media practices–including video-game playing, text-messaging, digital media production, and social media use.

Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing by Paul Dourish, Genevieve Bell

Man this was difficult to read… so why am I recommending it? Because I’m in academic love with Genevieve Bell and want to work for her someday! She’s a genius, seriouslybut she’s one of the big names in digital anthropology. She’s been great at taking apart the notion of the computer and how people work with it (desktop vs. laptop vs. personal vs. work vs. tablet, etc). So in a sense it’s got a great deal of material culture in it too.

Summary: In Divining a Digital Future, computer scientist Paul Dourish and cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell explore the vision that has driven the ubiquitous computing research program and the contemporary practices that have emerged–both the motivating mythology and the everyday messiness of lived experience. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the authors’ collaboration, the book takes seriously the need to understand ubicomp not only technically but also culturally, socially, politically, and economically. Dourish and Bell map the terrain of contemporary ubiquitous computing, in the research community and in daily life; explore dominant narratives in ubicomp around such topics as infrastructure, mobility, privacy, and domesticity; and suggest directions for future investigation, particularly with respect to methodology and conceptual foundations.

Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human by Tom Boellstorff

So I was recommended this because it is considered a classic in digital anthropology ethnographies (studies). This anthropologist did research in Second Life and decided to interview people from that mainframe. This means that he had to make his own life there, cultivate friends, etc, much as real anthropologists would do in a new or foreign place that they’re examining. It’s gotten some flack because of the digital aspect (how can you tell if people are telling the truth?! but to those nay-sayers, how can you tell if they’re telling the truth in real life though?) but I still think it’s worth a read.

Summary: Coming of Age in Second Life shows how virtual worlds can change ideas about identity and society. Bringing anthropology into territory never before studied, this book demonstrates that in some ways humans have always been virtual, and that virtual worlds in all their rich complexity build upon a human capacity for culture that is as old as humanity itself.

Other books I’ve recommended in this series:
4 Material Culture books

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Review: The Tropic of Serpents (A Memoir by Lady Trent #2)

Book: The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
Publisher: Tor Books, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Kick-Ass-Women
Rating: HalfHeart
Source + Date Read: Library + Finished June 2014
Recommend: Fantasy and dragon lovers, harken forth!
Book Pro’s: A good second installment for the series.
Book Con’s: It so needed more dragons.
Favourite Line“Science is not separate from politics. As much as I would like it to be a pure thing, existing only in some intellectual realm unsullied by human struggle, it will always be entangled with the world we live in.”

Summary: Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the 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.

More Information: GoodReads
Further reading: A Natural History of Dragons (A Memoir by Lady Trent #1) Review

I remember when this first came out, it was before I had read the first book in the series and was like, what’s the big deal? Why is everyone so excited about this book? It was everywhere, everywhere I tell you! When I realised that the local library finally had this book, I sprinted the many miles it took to get there before someone could snatch it up. It was such a funny moment, leaving the house half-dressed because I was on the quest for a book (it scared my housemates who have never seen me quickly move for anything). That’s how excited I was to get my hands on it.

That being said, I’ve been hooked on the series since though this second installment was a tad bit more disappointing than the first in the series. The main fault in the book is that it focuses too heavily (in my opinion) on the politics and drama of the time (which is necessary for great world building, so don’t think I’m hating) but at the expense of interest. About 50% into the book it really picks up but we have to wait for some time before we get into the dragon-drama. In fact, most of the drama in the book is between people, and I’ll be frank, I read a dragon book for dragon-drama not people-drama. That’s why I loved the first book so much! Dragons! Intrigue! Lady scientists! I couldn’t give the story a 4 because it certainly lagged in certain places, but it was much more deserving than a 3, as the plot and characterizations were sheer brilliance.

Brennan is a great writer and the best parts of this book are moments of dialogue nad tension between the 3 main characters. Each is quirky and tortured in their own way, and how they’ve come to deal with each other despite gender, class and personal differences is brilliant. I am fond of Nathalie (I won’t spoil the book, but she’s a great character) who is another example of a heady, strong female unwilling to yield to societal pressures. Isabella is, as usual, a sheer delight. Any independent woman would see a bit of themselves in Isabella or Nathalie.

Illustrations:

Oh, another gripe: I did not enjoy the illustrations in this book as much as I did in the first (different artist?). In the first they were very illustrative whereas they seemed to lack a particular point in the Tropic of Serpents. Plus, Brennan details a particular dragon in the Green Hell and we’re never given an illustration of it. Ummm, why? You have 2 to 3 broad types of dragons depicted in this book (yay!) but illustrations of 1? No fair. However, I am so, so, very excited to read the third book you all have no idea! I’ve included a small shot of the cover for the third book here!

E-Book Vs Physical:

I’d recommend getting the physical version of this book as the front cover wraps around into the back exposing more great portions of the front cover!

All in all, I’d highly recommend this book. It’s great, the world building is fantastic and the drama very real. Dragons are presented as very real creatures, filled with intrigue and danger.
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