Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Wednesday Addams

Outfit: Uni Day 2 (Thursday the first of March)

I decided to dress up as a slightly older Wednesday Addams. As a kid I always dreamed of living with the Addams family. That and being a faery changeling.


Dress $10 from a stock sale years ago.
Stockings $2 new from an op shop. They already have a hole in them, too.


Earrings are the cat earrings that I found in the op shop in a previous post.


Necklace from op shop.


Leather jacket from op shop.


Shoes: $2 from op shop. My favourite ankle boots are at the fixers having the heel cap replaced because it fell off a few days ago. I didn't have any sockettes or anything, so they kind of chewed on one of my toes.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Wardian Cases



“He had shown Ash, whom he had met previously in Paris, sitting at his desk, in a three-quarters profile, in a carved mahogany chair. Behind him was a kind of triptych with ferny foliage, to the left and right, enclosing a watery space in which rosy and silver fish shone between pond-weeds. The effect was partly to set the poet amongst the roots of a wood or forest, until, as Mortimer Cropper pointed out, one realised that the background was one of those compartmentalised Wardian cases, in which the Victorians grew plants in controlled environments, or created self-sustaining ponds, in order to study the physiology of plants and fishes.'

From Possession, A Romance, but A. S. Byatt. Chapter Two, p16.

Wardian cases are what might nowadays be called terrariams. Created by – no surprises here- a physican named Dr. Ward, they provided a controlled environment for the plants or animals contained within. This proved invaluable for bringing specimens back from journeys of discovery. They helped keep plants alive over long sea journeys.

Apparently Dr. Ward first came up with the idea when his ferns were dying from the healthy London air, a surfeit of coal smoke and sulphuric acid. He discovered that some fern spores and grass seeds had sprouted in a controlled container in which he kept moth cocoons, and realised that these containers could be used to protect plant life from the ravages of their environs.

Dr. Ward was also a member of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, which I really only mentioned because I really like the name. It has a mysterious sound to it, despite actually being a society of physicians, not some kind of secret society.



Safe and Sound


I really like the white Gothic heroine dress and the desolate forest in Taylor Swift's music video for Safe and Sound. And the tombs she's sitting on. The nail encrusted bridge is a nice touch, too. 

Friday, 24 February 2012

Memory Palaces


When I was watching Sherlock (ssn2, e2) last night, I noticed that Sherlock apparently applies the memory palace technique, which makes sense, given the amazing amount of things he manages to keep in his brain at one time, and access instantaneously.

I first came upon the concept of the memory palace in a novel, The Season of the Witch, by Natasha Monstert. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but some of the characters use this memory palace technique to exponentially increase the strength of their minds. A memory palace is basically a series of rooms within your head, where you store information. Generally these are represented by a symbol of some kind. Monstert cleverly interwove these elements into a dark modern fantasy.

I was fascinated by the concept, and when I looked it up, I discovered that it was real. Now I really don't have the kind of analytical, mathematical, map making mind to really attempt a memory palace, nor do I feel the need to, since my primary joys are reading and writing. But I still find it a fascinating subject, and for those who do, here are some links:

(Also, you should read The Season of the Witch. It is a wonderful combination of science and paranormal.)

Wikipedia definition (although the explanation in The Season of the Witch was much better!)

How to Build a Memory Palace

Another version of how to build a memory palace

A blog post from someone who uses the technique

Steampunk Aether Monitor




Aether:
"Philosphers and physicists have tried for millennia to define aether and prove its existence. To the Ancients the classical element  of aether was a fifth element, lighter than the element of Air, that flowed invisibly through all things and was the carrier for all forces such as light and gravity.
Victorian scientists tested an evolved form of the theory called Luminiferous Aether  which had been proposed by Sir Isaac Newton a century before. Even after an upstart named Albert Einstein pushed aside the Aether in favor of the Special Theory of Relativity, scientists heroically tried to revive it throughout the 20th Century and into the dawn of the 21st.
While Science continues to look for something to label as Aether, Steampunk science fiction keeps it alive and well in our imaginations, where the term is bandied about in Caledon as an alternative to anchronistic terms like "the Internets."
Our IMs are often assumed to be thought waves carried over the aether and shared at some mysterious Central Hub.
Since aether's properties are extremely pliable from the attempts by scientists to redefine it to prove its existence, it is extremely versatile. Aetherships such as the Gygax propel themselves through it in the Deep Space where no other forms of matter exist. It can also be concentrated into a destructive form of energy as an aether cannon or even aether swords."


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Victorian Longing

I found this corset top and skirt at an op shop that time I went to the movies with my friend quite a while back. Here was an ensemble I made with them but never posted.

The lace top is also opshopped and the choker is a piece of black velvet ribbon.





Cool Finds


I found these at the op shop. 
Celtic cross pendant thing, massive plastic cameo and wooden black cat earrings. 

The cameo brooch is about 2 1/2 inches (6cm) high and wide.


Monday, 20 February 2012

The Secret of Moonacre (17th Feb)

I've written a review for this on my other blog, so as not to double up, I'll just paste the outfits here, as this is my style blog, and the other one is my book and film blog.

Some of the beautiful costumes:




Even the underwear is so nice you could wear it out!





I love the slatted bustle thing on her dresses. I'm sure it would have been so hard to walk around or even sit in these, but surely it's worth it? Unless you're fleeing from evil people...

This girl even made an amazing cosplay costume of the dress:


(Note that the girl modelling it isn't the one who made it.)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Blackbringer (Dreamdark #1)



YA Novel by Laini Taylor

An amazing tour de force for a first novel, Laini Taylor's world of Dreamdark is a wonderfully written world with its own creation myths, creatures and magics. A rich, thoroughly engrossing book that will grab you at the start, and not let go until the very finish!

At just over 1000 years of age, Magpie Windwitch is barely more than a sprout (the faerie world for child), yet she has already killed several demons, along with the seven crow brothers who she travels with, and who are like family to her. When a new and terrible creature, far worse than any demon ever seen before, is released from its bottle by the foolish tamperings of men, it takes her back to her childhood home, the forest of Dreamdark, and adventures she never could have imagined.

Magpie Windwitch is just the kind of heroine I love: independent, able to take care of herself, and fiercely loyal to those she cares for. She has a warrior spirit. I love her kinship with the crows, and her spunky character.

I also liked the secondary character of Talon Rathersting. A young faerie man from a warrior tribe, his improperly grown wings make it impossible for him to fly. He has always been left out of raiding parties and battles, and really looked down upon. But he soon proves that, despite his disability, he is as able to fight as the others, and he has other talents, far beyond that of those that surround him. I find him an inspiring character, dealing with the lot that fate dealt him and finding a way to move beyond it, to become more than he would have been had he been born normal.

The crow characters threw me a little at first. I have come upon a lot of anthropomorphic characters, and I am used to furry animals that can use their paws like hands and wear clothes, but I had never come upon bird characters that were as humanised as these. The crows can use their claws to sew, they like coffee, and smoke cigars and dress up in costumes to perform plays. I liked the characters of the crows once I got used to this. I think the cigar thing was the most confusing to me, probably I just don't watch enough cartoons, where, apparently, animals do things like this all the time. Not that this book was at all cartoonish, it was very vivid and imaginatively written.

I also enjoyed the language in this book. Taylor used what seems to be a mix of mostly mild Scottish accents and vocabulary, 'ye', 'ye ken', 'lass', 'lad', and vocabulary for an imaginary faerie and creature language that included things like 'feather' as a polite way to address a bird, 'shivered' for scared, 'sprouts' as children, and 'skive' as a curse word. The names of the faeries were also good, not too pretty. These weren't pretty little useless faeries (at least, not the main characters). While the warrior faeries had tougher names like Talon Rathersting, Nettle, while Magpie Windwitch, a traveller has the name of a bird and the wind. They are all names of things the faeries would see everyday about them, and are both appropriate, and not too cutesy.

There is probably so much more I could say about the book. I love the mix of mythologies, with the faeries, the Djinns and the demons. I loved the idea of the Djinns dreaming things up and the tapestry, but I don't want to give too much away. This is definitely a book you should go read!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Faery Ring

One of the things I like about where I live (among other things that I don't like about where I live) is that while it is fairly close to shops, humanity, etc. it is also not that far to walks beside the river, ferns, and glades where faeries might dance at night, if those damn dogs ever stop yapping. Sure, most of these places are not far from other people's backyards, but it is a glimpse of the magic of nature, and pretty peaceful most of the time. I think I will miss it if I ever move to a more convenient area. 

Anyway, I saw this rather irregular faery ring near the side of the road. It seems that there have been some rather exciting faery revels going on. I was tempted to step inside it, but it looks like it's already broken, and, anyway, I don't think faeries usually take people from the roadside in broad daylight. Then again, you never know...





My Current Desktop Wallpaper


Hopefully it will inspire me to write something wonderful! 
Keep your fingers crossed for me!

The Secret of Moonacre


Family film

The Secret of Moonacre is a re-imagining of the classic, The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge. While the plot differs greatly from the book, it is a delightful movie, and is full of magic, adventure, and cool costumes. I especially love Maria's neck piece and the cut out bustles of her dresses, although I really can't see her running about the woods in most of those outfits she wears.

After the death of her father, Maria Merry weather goes to live with her remaining relative, her uncle, in the country. She learns the story of the Moon Princess, and the curse that is upon the valley. If she cannot set things right before the 5000th moon rises, the valley and it's inhabitants are doomed. (This is the outline of the movie, not the original book, which is slightly different.)

The 5000 moons thing is a little tenuous. I hardly think a spur of the moment curse would be so numerically specific, and that the doom would be set so many years hence when she was angry with the people there and now. But it worked fine with the plot line. I also felt the the de Noir family were shown as just a little too cruel and villainous, trying to kill Maria, and Wrolf, given their role in the ending of the tale. Also at the end, you can see the pearls next to the book, even though they are clearly no longer in the box. However, apart from these few little annoyances, the movie was thoroughly enjoyable.

I was amused that Maria's uncle was changed from a merry and corpulent man in his middle years to a young, dashing and ill-tempered man, rather reminiscent of Mr. Darcy in his abrupt and forbidding character. I thought it was a shame they changed Robin's back story, I liked how in the original book he had known Maria in London, but I can see why they changed it. The whole thing about his parentage would have been a little difficult to explain.

I would recommend both the movie and the book, but not to read/ watch them too close together, as you may find yourself comparing them if you are anything like me. Luckily for me, the movie was good enough that, although I am pretty sure I noticed every single change in the story, I was still able to enjoy it.

The movie was great escapism, a delightful adventure, and the book remains a favourite. I really want to read it again, I need to get hold of a copy!

The book (one of many covers):


Some of the beautiful costumes:





Even the underwear is so nice you could wear it out!





I love the slatted bustle thing on her dresses. I'm sure it would have been so hard to walk around or even sit in these, but surely it's worth it? Unless you're fleeing from evil people...

This girl even made an amazing cosplay costume of the dress:


(Note that the girl modelling it isn't the one who made it.)





Thursday, 16 February 2012

Cybele's Secret (Wildwood #2)



Young Adult Novel by Juliet Marillier

Cover art by Kinuko Y Craft. Check out her truly entrancing work here.

In this brilliant sequel to Wildwood Dancing, Juliet Marillier weaves an enchanting story of magic and intrigue. Set some years after the first novel, the main character of this story is younger sister, Paula, a scholar. Paula dreams of opening her own book business, and is travelling with her father to Istanbul as an assistant. They are looking for an arcane artifact known as Cybele's Gift.  But many others are also looking for it, and there is danger involved. Paula must also undertake her own quest, and travel to a new part of the magical other realm to which she and her sisters travelled in Wildwood dancing.

While this book is certainly good enough to stand on it's own, I would advise reading Wildwood Dancing first, as there are many references in this that will give away the ending of Wildwood Dancing, and it is really too wonderful a story to ruin. This book, while it has a different setting, is also very exciting and magical. It has the kind of flavour of the stories of the Arabian Nights that I loved as a child, but with an independent, intelligent female as the main character, instead of the usual males. There are some interesting characters in this, but I won't give too much away, because I think the character development is an important part of the story. It was also interesting that the story mentioned, not only the lack of rights and opportunities for women in Istanbul, but also in Europe at the time.

The magical elements in this story, as with Wildwood Dancing, felt fresh and original. Juliet Marillier does not write your typical story, she is an amazing storyteller who always keeps me enchanted until the very last page! I am really hoping that there will be a third novel in the series, perhaps focusing on youngest sister, Stela.

This novel gets 6 stars out of 5, brilliant beyond words! A definite must read for adults and young adults alike!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Ecstasia


Young Adult Novel by Francesca Lia Block

Ecstasia is not an easy book to describe, it is hard to do it justice. Like other novels by Francesca Lia Block (especially the Weetzie Bat books), it gets into your heart and soul.

Brother and sister Rafe and Calliope live in Elysia, a place that is all about joy and pleasure. The youth of Ecstasia spend their time visiting circuses, clubs, cafes, eating sweet sugary foods and drinking champagne. But there is a catch. When you start aging, you have to go Under. To the dark subterraneous caverns below the city, a place where nightmares seem real.

Combining heady, surreal beauty and dark horror, ecstasy and pain, with a terrible price that must be payed for the pursuit of beauty and pleasure, Ecstasia is an intense novel. While this novel is short, it took me quite a while to read it, it was so intense I could only read short bits at a time, swept away in a whirlwind of sights and sounds, beauty and terror. This is a book that will stay with you after the last page has been closed.

This book gets 6 stars out of 5! Add it to your MUST READ list!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I Am a (Future) Librarian!


This quote is for all the librarians. You are totally awesome and should be proud of what you are!

Evelyn: Look, I... I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, 
or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O'Connell, but I am proud of what I am. 

Rick: And what is that? 

Evelyn: I... am a librarian. 

From The Mummy.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Big Fish



A novel by Daniel Wallace

Edward Bloom is dying. His son doesn't know him very well, Edward has spent much of his life travelling, doing business, trying to become 'a big fish in a big pond'. Now he is dying, and almost all his son knows of him is the tales his father has told, tall tales of his youth and childhood. When these stories are all he has left, are they the only father he will ever know? Is the truth less important?

The novel of Big Fish is, in my opinion, much better than the movie. While the movie was an adventure, it was more entertaining most of the time than insightful. The book is really more about the son of this man trying to reconcile his father's different characters: the hero of his childhood versus this weak, dying old man, and his father the storyteller versus the real man he never really knew.

His father's life as he know it is a mixture of truth and legend, although, we are never sure how much of it is truth. Who is the man behind all these tall tales? Does it really matter? We see glimpses of what seems like reality between all the tall tales. Tales the father tells seem to reveal his life, and then end up just being a joke. It is clear to see the son's frustration at his father's inability to open up, but in the end, I think, he accepts that his father is the way he is, and cannot be any other way. And I think, also accepts that his father is a part of him, and has made him the person he is.

In parts sad and poignant, in others ridiculous or magical, Big Fish, is, in the end, a tale about the relationship between a father and a son. It is the tale of a man who might have never existed, and the son who loves him.  

Friday, 10 February 2012

Erstwhile Tales


Free online comics

Erstwhile Tales is a collection of short online comics retelling some of the lesser known tales of The Brothers Grimm. So far, there are only a few tales, but hopefully the collection will keep on building. It is well worth checking out!


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Recent Outfit


I wore this to my friend's birthday last weekend. 

The necklace is one you can see in some of the other posts, it was a long ago gift from my boyfriend.

Lace top from op shop.

Black and gold lace up corset style top from op shop. It doesn't have any boning, but it is so well shaped you would think it did.

Skirt from op shop. This is definitely one of my favourites. I love the ruffles and the asymmetrical way it sits. you can wear it so it is shorter at the front or at the side.

I also wore my favourite ankle boots. 


A Great and Terrible Beauty



YA novel by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty is the story of Gemma Doyle. Brought up in India, Gemma longs to go to England, where she believes she will really begin to live. She gets her with, but in the most horrible of ways. On the day her mother is murdered, she has a vision that terrifies her. Not long after that, she is sent away to a grim English boarding school. It is there that she discovers her talent... or her curse...

An engaging YA novel, this book keeps you interested, and has some lovely descriptions, such as London streets described as looking like an impressionist painting, the beautiful: 'as softly as feathers on our snow,' and ' a small dying star fading out of our constellation', and the darkly tongue in cheek 'a leper without a colony.'

I loved the references to myths and stories such as The Lady of Shalott and The Morrigan, a strong and powerful goddess who I admire. I liked Miss Moore who tried to teach the girls to be strong and intelligent and think for themselves. This book does examine some feminist issues such as the role that that girls are trapped in as women of the time, although not bludgeoning you over the head with them.

I was impressed with the sensitive references to one of the characters self-harming, although I think they made the solution- telling her not to do it- a little easy.

I did wonder, though, why some of the main characters had to be mean girls. They really did do some awful things to the other girls, and I found it hard to like them, despite having sympathy for their situations. I guess the idea was that they develop throughout the story, they did become more sympathetic as the book went on.

I am looking forward to reading the next book, which, unfortunately, my library does not have, so I am not sure when I will get to read it.

Literary Nail Art



I absolutely love this literary nail art, especially the Poe nails! If only I was that good at nail art!!!



And need I say how awesome these Lord of The Rings nails are???

Labyrinth: The Ballroom Scene



I love the movie Labyrinth and all the crazy sets, creatures and costumes. I especially love the ballroom scene. I want the dresses and the hair and the masks!

Yes, that is David Bowie!

Monday, 6 February 2012

The Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices #1)


Young Adult Novel by Cassandra Clare

The Clockwork Angel is a Steampunk prequel to Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. While I did really enjoy the original series (or at least the three of them I read, apparently there is a fourth now) I feel that this book is far superior to the initial series. First of all, I enjoy the use of sarcastic humour on the parts of characters Jem and Will. Their wry comments made me laugh many times and I'm not someone who is really into humour. This made them both likeable, despite their secrets and hidden darkness. Although I loved that too.

I enjoyed the setting. I love things set in Victorian England, but I enjoy the Steampunk element because it allows for strong, emancipated female characters, and anachronistic technology and social mores. Clare seemed to have a good handle on both creating the characters and understanding where their behaviour differed from social behaviour of the time and making the reasons for it clear. For instance, the main character, Tessa was surprised at the familiar way that Shadowhunter adults addressed each other by their first names. I also liked the references to Boadicea, the warrior queen.

Tessa is a likeable character because she is strong and determined. She does what she has to to survive, acting with great bravery and initiative. I also liked the characters of Will and Jem, the possible love interests. Although I feel that one is really put forward more strongly as a love interest than the other. Unlike with Simon in the original series, I liked both the main characters in this. Both had a great sarcastic sense of humour, and they both had darkness and tortured pasts, which always makes characters fascinating. It's that sense of wanting to know their secrets and save them from their darkness that draws you to them. I can't wait to learn more about the past of one of them that has not yet been revealed.

I also liked Charlotte, head of the institute and Sophie, and would like to hear more of their stories, and perhaps the back story of Charlotte and Henry. There is some good steamy romance also, although never getting past the PG level, although there are references to sex (assignations).

There hasn't been all that much Steampunk technology yet, nothing out of the ordinary, and the supernatural elements from the earlier books are still at the forefront of the novel, but I think all the elements in the plotline have been well woven together. As usual with Clare's books, I am much more interested in the interplay between the various characters than the particular plots and machinations of the seedy underworld.

I am currently on the library waiting list for the next novel, and very much looking forward to it.

When I was googling an image for the book cover I also found a picture of this amazing girl and her Clockwork Angel costume. Check out her DeviantArt account.




The Lost World



Literary Classic by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


It's  been a long time since I last read The Lost World, probably 10 years or more, so it was about time I read it again. This amazingly imaginative novel, especially for its time- mixes plausible scientific facts with fascinating fictional conjecture.

Alas as an adult, the story is less magical to me than as a child, enchanted by the idea of giant dinosaurs still roaming the earth, but it was still thoroughly enjoyable.

Doubtless this story has inspired countless others, such as the delightful and inventive Dinotopia stories by James Gurney and Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park: The Lost World, for which this book is namesake. There are probably countless other references to it in film and literature, perhaps including the pterodactyl in Torchwood.

Conan Doyle shows his intelligence and sense of humour in the writing of this book, such as in his descriptions of Challenger and his temper, which are humourous indeed, the of the rather farcial audience participation in the lecture. I also enjoyed the part where he refers to the native people as not very intelligent, seemingly making a stereotypical comment of the age, only to continue to say 'than the average Londoner', turning it around on his own people, and instead making fun of their intelligence.  

The frustrating thing about reading books on a computer screen is the screen is quite bright and hurts my eyes after a while. I also find scrolling down rather frustrating, and I miss the feel of a book in my hands, turning the pages, etc. While it is useful to have free books online, I far prefer having a real volume in my hands!

All having been said, this is a work of genius, and I very much recommend you read it!

Charles Dickens' Birthday and The World's Most Beautiful Bookstores


HAPPY 200th BIRTHDAY MR. DICKENS!!!

(7th February, 1812)


A rather sexy drawing of the young Charles Dickens, for lovers of My Dauguerrotype Boyfriend.


The most beautiful bookstores in the world:



I could definitely live in some of these. I love the one with the tree in it, I was thinking of writing something like that into a story, actually. It reminds me of the bedpost in The Odyssey, the knowledge of which confirms to Penelope her husband's identity, and precedes their joyful reunion!

Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend for finding the bookstore post!




Friday, 3 February 2012

What Do You Love About Yourself?

I loved this short article by Radical Self Love blogger Gala Darling, encouraging us to appreciate our good points. We often spend so much time worrying about our 'bad points' that we don't love ourselves for what is great about ourselves! You should really check it out!!!

http://galadarling.com/article/what-do-you-love-about-yourself


"If you’re feeling un peu down on yourself, here’s one really easy way to pull your socks up. Start writing a list of the things you love about yourself. I’m not talking about no 5 item list, either. No! I want you to get to 100 THINGS!

Sound too difficult? It’s not, I promise. If you’re coming up totally blank, here are some ideas to get your juices flowing…

<3 The arch of your eyebrow <3 Super-long arms which can reach any item on any top shelf <3Excellent taste & personal style <3 Personal bravery <3 Killer compassion <3 Your dedication to optimism <3 Strong fingernails <3 Fearless wearing of crazy hats & weird sunglasses, no matter the occasion <3 “Get ‘er done” spirit <3 Excellent tea-making skills <3 Unbeatable list-writing <3Relentless curiousity <3 Vast knowledge of beat poetry <3 Super-responsible pet mama <3 Ability to make complicated concepts easy for others to understand <3 Stellar accessorising…

Start writing it in your radical self love bible, or even on a scrap of paper! Carry it around with you so you can add to it when you have a flash of genius insight. By the way, if it takes you all month to complete this exercise, that’s totally okay. On the flip-side, if you blitz through your list in a day, KUDOS! (Maybe you could help your best friend write his or her own!)

Radical self love starts HERE, with a real & honest appraisal of the things that make YOU so brilliant!"