Monday, 30 April 2012

The Monster's Muse



Novel by Bradford Tatum

A wonderful mix of horror and reality, The Monster's Muse is a darkly engrossing novel about eternal child Maddy Ulm, the secret behind Hollywood's greatest monster movies.

From her childhood in the deeps of Bavaria, to modelling for Egon Schiele, to her death, resurrection and movie careers in Germany and Hollywood, this book had me hooked. If it hadn't been a digital file on my computer, I probably wouldn't have been able to put it down.

This is a novel for true lovers of Gothic and horror, with wide ranging references to artists, horror novels and film luminaries,and amazingly vivid language and scenes. I was reading this as a digital kindle online (as I don't have a reader)and I kept highlighting phrases and shivering. I loved the dance of death, the the Frankenstein like Mumble. I loved Maddy. I loved the fact that the story had me questioning whether it was true or not, despite the impossibility of some of the events.

The book showed a true love of cinema and cinema history. Having recently studied silent films in my film studies class, it was fascinating to read about it. The description of the first sound film was wonderful!

So far this is my favourite of all the books I have read this year! I wish I could describe it better, but all I can say is that you must read it for yourself!!!

Beastly




YA novel by Alex Flinn
(Kendra Chronicles #0)

I enjoyed this fairytale retelling because of the lesson it taught, that beauty is on the inside, that beautiful people can be ugly inside. One of the flaws with fairytales (much as I love them) is that so many character judgments are made based on looks. The princess is tall and lovely with golden hair- she must be good! Some stories, like Snow white break this, with the evil queen being beautiful (although not as beautiful as Snow White), but in general good= pretty, bad= ugly. Even in the original Beauty and The Beast, where the beast is monstrous but kind, Beauty is still... well, obviously, beautiful, and the beast becomes handsome at the end. Except by Robin McKinley, where he remains beastly in appearance, but a better person than the man he once was. This always felt more true to me, because if Beauty really learned to love the beast as he was, he could have stayed a beast and it wouldn't matter. Francesca Lia Block's short story in the collection Rose and The Beast also has a similar sentiment. If I had my way, the beast would stay the way he is.

The main thing I would have changed is that Lindy would not have ever been attracted to Kyle when he was attractive, because that makes her seem a little shallow, and that Kendra would not have really been beautiful. I'm all for breaking the witch= ugly stereotype, but I also don't think she needed to be beautiful when the main point of this story is not judging by appearance. Still, I liked Kendra, and I would be interested to read more stories about her. I would have liked it had Kyle stayed beastly looking, but I suppose in modern day New York, you really can't get about looking like a beast.

The other thing I loved about this book was the theme of bad parents. Kyle's father practically abandons him after his change, only hiding him away in a house with servants and everything he needs so as not to ruin his own career by people knowing his son is a freak. Lindy's father gives her to a stranger to save his own skin. In the afterword in the edition of the novel I read, Alex Flinn talks about how the father's abandonment of Beauty to her fate never sat well with her. Why sacrifice your daughter to a beast to save yourself? Of course, in some versions of the tale, she goes of her own accord to save her father, but the result is still the same. She sacrifices her freedom to save her father, not knowing what will happen to her.

I think this theme of bad or absent parents is fascinating both in fairytales and modern day life. Hansel and Gretel are left in the woods by their parents, a man cuts of his daughter's hands to give her to the devil, Snow White's stepmother tries to kill her. In the original tale, it was actually her real mother that tried to kill her. She wishes for the little girl, but then feels jealous of her beauty and charm. A be careful what you wish for kind of tale.

The idea of Lindy's father as a drug addict who is willing to give his daughter to a monster to protect himself is a fitting idea for our modern day society, where we hear stories like this all the time.

I have seen the trailers for the movie, and it seems that
1) Kyle rescues Lindy from muggers, removing the whole bad father storyline I found so fascinating (I may be wrong as I have not had a chance to see the movie)
2) Kyle is not 'beastly' at all. He just looks like a bald kid with some wicked looking tattoos.

I can understand why, when you pick an attractive guy like Alex Pettyfer you would want to show him off, and obviously putting him in a hairy beast suit would not be as attractive, but seriously, I keep feeling he could really just move to some place like LA and everyone would just think he was pretty cool. (Please note my knowledge of LA is based purely on Francesca Lia Block's books and a couple of episodes of LA Ink.) I know a lot of the comments on the Youtube video were about how attractive he was. Not beastly at all. It seems to take away from the story and the moral. It's meant to be a story about a guy who has to become ugly to discover real beauty. And he's still beautiful. It seems like the people who made the movie don't get the lesson.

If anyone knows that there is a good reason why they did this, please let me know.

Anyway, all in all, a good book with a good message. I think if more people could take the message to heart, we could start caring less about looks and more about others.

Kept: A Victorian Mystery



Novel by D.J. Taylor

Readers used to a more modern style of writing may find this book a little challenging, but it is well worth persevering!

Kept has a wide range of characters, the connections between which will not be immediately seen, and often uses different forms of writing, such as the epistolatory form of letters which was highly popular during the Victorian Era. It also uses a lot of Victorian turn of phrase, and the style of the omniscient narrator, but sometimes addressing the author personally, breaking the fourth wall, we would say in film. There is also the style common with some older novels, of occasionally lapsing into present tense.

For me, as someone who loves literature and the Victorian era, I found that all these things added to the charm! I really felt like I was reading a novel from the era, and the well-written descriptions and wry humour really helped me become a part of the world. I also liked the mix of events, from crime, to even some rather gothic scenes in the old house. The mysteries of what is going on unravel slowly in a wonderful way.

The author has a great knowledge of all the facts of the era, the artists, authors, newspapers, every detail feels spot on, and I find the references to writers and artists fascinating! He perfectly captures the minutiae of Victorian life in London and Scotland. The book has a very real feeling with palpable descriptions, creating a very real world within its pages.

It was fascinating to watch the stories intertwine as the story reached its conclusion. I must admit, I hoped for a happier ending for some of the characters, even though I knew it was unlikely. The story felt very real, and the endings kept with that. I need to find out which others of the main characters might have been real people, and the author cleverly interwove many real aspects of the time into his work.

The story also deals sensitively with mental illness and its treatment at the time, although, I think, had the character not been of the upper classes, her treatment would have been far worse.

There are so many things I want to talk about in regards to the book, but I don't want to spoil the story, because its unravelling is one of its pleasures. Just take it from me, this book is a must read!

Queen of My Own Kingdom


This was a recent outfit, maybe around the 28th of April.

I was watching a lot of Game of Thrones (my boyfriend and I watched the entire Season 1 in three days), and I wanted to dress like a queen.

I made the headdress myself, it's all separate parrts. It's made of two fake pearl necklaces (I like the fake ones, not the real ones), ribbons tied in my hair, a fake flower brooch pinned in my hair and two cool barettes I was sent by http://www.akisforkate.com/. Thanks Katrina!

The lapis necklace was on sale from a hippie shop, the ankh is Alchemy Gothic, but it's really too heavy and makes my neck hurt if I wear it for long. 

The corset style top and skirt are from second hand shops! I can't believe I found them there, they were such amazing finds!


Closeup of headpiece. You can't see the flower from this side. 




Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Victorian Dreamtime in the Walled Garden

A little light reading:



Some beautiful pictures of Victorian gardens of literary figures, and a really interesting article.

Wednesday

Outfit Wednesday 25th April, 2012.



Dress second hand. I wish the lace trim came out better in the pictures.
Socks from ebay but the tops were too tight and I had to cut them off.
Boots second hand.
Necklace- my favourite cameo necklace, but it keeps hiding in the pictures.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Today's Outfit

Outfit Tuesday 24th April




Ruffled blouse, low-rise knickerbockers thrifted.

Purple knee stockings a present from boyfriend's mum.

I would prefer if the knickerbockers had a higher waist. They're really just knickerbocker-esque pants from probably the 90s. I need some real ones!

My secret for keeping warm in winter- wearing a long sleeved white cotton shirt under dress shirts for extra warmth. That and a warm coat, of course!





Monday, 23 April 2012

Style Inspiration: Galibardy Jewellery


Just look at some of their stuff! I especially love the wax seal necklace and the knight's helmet ring! 

They also made this necklace, which I am pretty sure is exactly the same one that the awesomely geeky and punk Claudia had in Warehouse 13 and which I wish I had the spare $165 to buy! But I have too many books I need to get with my next birthday money!




Style Inspiration: Black Dress


There are no words for how beautiful this dress is! 

I want the hat, too!

Style Inspiration: Goya In Bordeaux

I saw this movie a while back. I loved it. It wasn't as much straight-out history as the journey through the memories and hallucinations of a dying man. A truly amazing movie. I also just realised it is by Carlos Saura, whose film Cria Cuervos (Raise Ravens) is one of my favourites!

I also loved the costumes which roughly fit into the period of upper class Spanish style between about 1795- a bit past 1800 (going by Goya's paintings of Maria Cayetana).

I apologise for the state of the images, being photographed off live television.


Purple dress with black lace trim and purple hair decoration.


I adore all these dresses, but especially the one worn by Cayetana, the duchess of Alba. It is the same one as in Goya's portrait, The White Duchess. 


Goya's candle hat! A hat with candles around the brim for painting when it is dark! Genius! And it looks awesome, too! 

Unfortunately I couldn't get a photo of Goya in his hat from Goya in Bordeaux so I have to settle for this one from Goya's Ghosts.



A self portrait in said candle hat. 



Style Inspiration: Marie Antoinette

Unfortunately I don't have the sewing skill to make clothes like this or you can bet I would be running around in Marie Antoinette dresses with slightly less pouffy skirts that could actually fit through doorways!


I adore the bodices of these dresses, and all the neckbows and chokers! And the little hats!



I'm not sure this is the right era, but I love it!


I think this might be English, but the child's dress is like a simplified version of some of Marie's gowns. A good reference for if I ever learn to sew well enough to make gowns!




Christian Louboutin heels. 





This dress is similar to her Petit Trianon dresses, only with shorter sleeves. I love dresses like this!


Amazing wigs/ hair! I love all the flowers and things in it!


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Yesterday's Outfit

Outfit Sunday 22nd April


Necklace and dress from second hand shop
Underdress came as part of a dress from a discount shop

I love this dress because it looks like a snow scene or the ghosts of trees. 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Today's Outfit

Saturday 21st April


Rose necklace made by me from rose charm

80s does Edwardian top from op shop

It has cool embroidery and ruffles (click on image for slightly larger picture)

White long sleeved top from kmart or something

Black skirt from op shop.


Friday, 20 April 2012

Russian 19th Century Gothic Tales


Short story collection

When we think of the Gothic Genre we are likely to think of writers like Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe. These stories show the talent and style present in Russian writing during the 19th Century, and are more than worth a read! I would recommend this book to everyone!

I want to review these stories separately, as they differ a lot in quality and topic between authors.

The illustrations in this story were really lovely and really added to the pleasure and enchantment!

MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS:

THE LAFERTOVO POPPY-CAKE SELLER
Antony Pogorelsky


This story is both spooky and a little whimsical. I enjoyed the bit about the cat. 5 stars.

TALES OF BURIED TREASURE
Orest Somov

This was quite a long short story, containing many stories within a story, and quite enjoyable. I liked all the contained stories as well as the main one. 5 stars. 

THE WEREWOLF
Orest Somov

A classic Russian tale of silly youth, intelligent girl and dark magic. Amusing. 4 stars.

THE WITCHES OF KIEV
Orest Somov


This one I didn't really enjoy, not much happened. Perhaps I was swayed by the racism and the crude depiction of witches. 2 stars. 

THE TERRIBLE FORTUNE TELLING
Alexander Bestuzhev-Marlinsky

Rather of a cautionary tale, as several in this collection have turned out to be. I did think the superatural bit in the graveyard both spooky and then humourous, which amused me no end. 4 stars. It would have ben 5 if not for the 'it never happened' ending.

THE UNDERTAKER
Alexander Pushkin

A delightfully spooky story. Alas for the frustrating 'it was all a dream' ending! 4 stars. It would have been 5 if not for the ending. 

THE QUEEN OF SPADES
Alexander Pushkin

A very original little tale, very enjoyable. 5 stars.

THE RING
Evgeny Baratynsky

Yet again, very original. I loved the story and the denouement. 5 stars.

ANTAR
Osip Senkovsky

A great example of well-written orientalism. The threefold tale is always pleasurable for me and the story was poignant and touching. 5 stars.

UNEXPECTED GUESTS
Mikhail Zagoskin

A faily typical moral tale with devils. 3 stars.

4338 A.D.
Vladimir Odoyevsky

A wonderfully imagined science fiction story! What is now regarded as Victorian Era Steampunk. A real stand out! I adored every second of this and was sad when it ended! 6 stars out of 5!

THE SYLPHIDE
Vladimir Odoyevsky

Interesting, enjoyed references to arcane teachings. I liked the visions he saw and sadness of the ending. 5 stars.

THE GHOST
Vladimir Odoyevsky

The story within a story within a story technique is a little confusing at times. Also I not sure if the ending was meant to be a little unclear. 4 stars.

THE CITY WITHOUT A NAME
Vladimir Odoyevsky

An engaging and convincing rhetoric against the dangers of obsession with personal gain, told as a story. I loved this, as well as the ending that intimates it will not be taken to heart. I think the lessons good ones as well. 6 stars out of 5. 

THE LIVING CORPSE
Vladimir Odoyevsky

Another tale about the ways people badly influence others and never learn their lesson but I did not enjoy the humourous style. 2 stars.

STUSS
Mikhail Lermontov

Well written but unfinished. 

A NIGHT IN MAY OR THE DROWNED MAIDEN
Nikolai Gogol


It has ghosts but it's not Gothic, it's mostly humour. 2 stars.

THE NOSE
Nikolai Gogol

Absurd and goes nowhere. Really not Gothic. 2 stars. 

THE PORTRAIT
Nikolai Gogl

It can be a little meandering in places but in the end all is revealed. A wonderful narrative about the power art can have. 5 stars.

VAMPIRE
Alexei Tolstoy

Dark family history, supernatural adventures and the obstacles both supernatural and human to a love match. 5 stars.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Help Save Francesca Lia Block's Faerie Cottage!


Please sign this petition to help save Francesca Lia Block's home!!!

http://www.change.org/petitions/save-the-faerie-cottage#

"Why This Is Important
Fans & friends of Francesca Lia Block, please help put pressure on Bank of America to refinance her home, the Faerie Cottage, so she doesn't have to go through foreclosure! Francesca has been trying for over a year to apply for different homeowner's loan modifications, only to be stonewalled at every turn. Read about it at http://savethefaeriecottage.blogspot.com, and sign the petition--please spread the word!
***
THE BASICS:

Dear fans & friends of Francesca Lia Block,

We've decided to create this website to put as much pressure as possible on Bank of America, who are refusing to work with Francesca Lia Block on refinancing her home, which threatens her with foreclosure. You know Francesca as a highly respected working author, teacher, and single mother of two. And if you're a fan of Francesca's books, or one of the many students who've spent time at her home, the Faerie Cottage, you know how important that home is to her work, and you will want to know what's going on, and how you can help.

The story in brief: Francesca has good credit and an up-to-date mortgage for an over-encumbered property (which has declined in value due to current market conditions and the recession). In other words her house is, as they say, "underwater." In order to avoid foreclosure, she has been trying for an entire year to get the bank to modify the existing (and incredibly unfair) interest-only loan on the property, since it has declined so much in value.

You may have heard about Obama’s plan to help people in a similar situation with Bank of America, or read various articles about this situation on the Internet (with Bank of America claiming they are trying to help their customers), so some of what you read about this will sound familiar to you. Click on savethefaeriecottage for a timeline and more information about how unfairly Bank of American has been treating their customer and our friend.

And above all, please help in spreading the word about this situation! Link to this petition and tell other Francesca friends, so we do everything we can to help save the Faerie Cottage for her, her children, their friends, and all of us who love her."

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Echo



YA novel by Francesca Lia Block

This novel was beautiful but terrifying. It is the story of people living a wonderfully idyllic life that I long for, but their happiness is destroyed by cancer. Perhaps Echo always felt invisible next to her beautiful mother, but their house was filled with love and light, her mother's amazing cooking and her father's gorgeous paintings. When her father becomes ill she loses her way, and, while away at university, becomes dangerously ill with an eating disorder.

Throughout this story, we witness many beautiful moments frozen in time and many amazing characters, but the story is also dark, dealing with the personal battles of the characters. It was very poignant and touching. The back story of her parents love made her father's illness all the more painful. In the end, this is a story about hope and transformation, but it is also about reality. Not all the characters know how to heal themselves.

This story is both about the battles people must fight to find their way in a hard world, and the beauty and magic we must try to capture to get us through it.

Yet again, I feel my words hardly fit to describe Francesca Lia Block's writing, and I urge you to read it for yourself!

Psyche in a Dress



YA novel by Francesca Lia Block

I hardly feel equal to ever writing any reviews for Francesca Lia Block's books. How do you write something that does justice to her divine poetry and prose?

Psyche in a Dress is a poetry novel about a young woman trying to find her place. Filled with Francesca Lia Block's trademark mix of magic and reality, and glowing words and images, it sweeps you along for an emotional ride. The characters are beautiful and amazingly talented, but wounded, and need to find their place in the world. All are on their own journeys. I think we can all find a little bit of ourselves in her characters, and all long to find that magic in everyday life that her books evoke!

I can't truly describe it, you have to experience it for yourself.

The Turn of The Screw And Other Stories



Classic Gothic Short Stories by Henry James

One of the interesting things about these stories is the ambiguity. The stories all follow a slow and tense building of events up to the inevitable conclusion, but always leaving room for doubt about the reality of these visions. In these stories we witness social unease, between families, between couples between people and their own emotions and memories. There are repressed emotions that are perhaps unleashed as the seemingly spiritual manifestations.

Whether these stories were truly about ghosts or not I really loved them and I think they are a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the Gothic genre or lovers (like me) of classic Gothic tales.

The Replacement



YA novel by Breanna Yovanoff

I can't think of a single thing that was wrong with this book! Everything was perfect!

Mackie Doyle is a changeling child, a replacement. When he was a baby he was left as a replacement for the real Mackie Doyle, stolen from his crib by fairies. All his life he has felt alone, and struggled to survive when metal- and even human blood- are poison to him.

Then the fairies come into his life. These are not the cute little winged creatures of our childhoods, nor the beautiful, statuesque romantic figures of many other YA novels. No these fairies are dark and scary. Some are mutated and strange looking, some are even dead. And then there are the sinister Lady and The Cutter.

Mackie has found a place where he may belong, but it is a terrifying place, and all he really wants to do is fit in within the world of humans, the world where he truly wants to belong.

I loved the characters, the descriptions, and the names of the places, such as Gentry, the realms of Mayhem and Mystery (also known as Misery). The town history and the bits about music were great. I loved the way Breanna Yovanoff described music in a way that even someone who is not a musician can understand the feeling in it! She made it so visceral!

I loved Mackie, a loner with a good heart, tortured by his identity, I think Breanna Yovanoff really gets what it is like to be a teen and a bit of an outsider. I also adored Mackie's sister Emma, she was smart and kind and so loyal, a really amazing girl! There were other great characters too, but I don't want to give away too much!

This is a wonderful work of dark YA fantasy, very original feeling, and exciting from start to finish!

Update

Wow, I haven't posted in ages! University assignments are keeping me so busy, I'm still getting reading done in my spare time but I've been too tired to really write any reviews. I've read some great books recently, and if you want to see my ratings, you can check out my Goodreads account. I will try to post some reviews soon.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Today's Outfit

Outfit 16th April


Brown velvet dress from op shop.

I love this kind of pattern. I don't know what you call it. Tapestry? Wallpaper? Let me know if you know. 

Today's Outfit

Saturday 15th April


Black lace dress over white satin dress. Both from op shop.

I love the bottom of the lace dress, it has a really lovely pointy pattern in the lace. The main part of the dress has a pattern of flowers that look a bit like lilies.

Belt buckle from op shop.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Today's Outfit




Cravat- black scarf from op shop
Waistcoat- op shop
White shirt- op shop
Skirt- op shop


Purply velvet jacket- op shop
Knee high boots- Shop 55

I need to move my platform boots, they keep getting into photos.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Black, Grey and Crimson

Outfit Wednesday 11th April


Today the colour scheme turned out black, grey and crimson, although it wasn't really intentional.


Velvet scarf- on sale at Strandbags ages ago?
Top- second hand
Skirt- second hand. It's a favourite. I wore it to my friend's birthday party and to the movies earlier this year. It's asymmetrical and has - I don't know how to describe it- sort of cord sewn into it on the ruffles, so it has a really nice shape to it and kind of flares out a bit.

I wore the same coat as the night before, which kept me warm as it's getting really cold now! It's Autumn, but it feels like Winter, already!

I think I must have also worn black tights or knee socks, as it was pretty cold.


Pure Joy!

Outfit Tuesday 10th April


These are some beautiful items I really love!

The necklace is second hand, it's been in some of the previous posts.
Maroon velvet top second hand.
Crimson satiny skirt second hand.
My absolute favourite colours at the moment, and velvet and gorgeous satiny materials are my favourite materials!
Wearing this outfit was pure joy!


Black knee boots from Shop 55.


Grey wool jacket with fake fur collar second hand. So warm for winter, and the lining means I can still wear it, even though wool irritates my skin usually. I've had this one for probably about two years, I almost always wear it to university when it gets cold. 


Monday, 9 April 2012

The Medieval Bestiary

I just discovered this wonderful site! Medieval drawings and information on rare beasties!



“The peridexion tree grows in India. Doves gather in the tree because they like the sweet fruit, and because there they are safe from the dragon. The dragon hates the doves and would harm them if it could, but it fears the shadow of the peridexion tree and stays on the unshaded side of it. The doves that stay in the shadow are safe, but any who leave it are caught and eaten by the dragon.” Medieval Bestiary 

Today's Outfit


Outfit 9th April 2012


White tiered dress with white daisy chain trim over white satin dress. Both opshopped.

I like the dress because it reminds me of a child's dress in the 1800s. I reckon it'd look really cool with long bloomers!

Update

Assignments assignments assignments! I can't wait to finish them! I really need to go back to doing some writing!

On the bright side, I have been getting some great reading done, and I will try and post some reviews soon.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Style Inspiration: Studded Litas

I love these! Studded Jefferey Campbell Litas. At $265 they are well out of my price range, not to mention I doubt I could walk in heels that high. But I love the spiky look, it would totally work as part of a PostApocalyptic Punk outfit!

If I had the money I would get the black pair and the white pair and spray paint the white pair metallic cherry and worn metallic iron grey, so it would look kinda industrial glam.