Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Watchmaker's Apprentice

Mini top hat, necklace, jacket, jacket and skirt all second hand.

It's hard to tell in the picture, but the skirt is a fishtailed corduroy one with ruffles. I'll try to get a picture of the bottom bit sometime.

Worn with red and black striped tights.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Today's Outfit

Outfit Monday 28th May

Necklace, dress and slip from secondhand shop.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Fern Fever!

A fascinating blog post about pteridomania- the fascination with ferns that swept the Victorian Era!

Still Alive

I'm still alive... barely. Being sick and trying to finish end of term assignments. I'm still getting reading done, and will post some reviews, maybe not until after assignments. I can't wait until uni break, I really need to get some writing done!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Every Me and Every You

Outfit Wednesday 23rd May

Purple top from sale store.
Black dress from second hand shop.
Skull buttons from Ebay, I sewed them on.
I love long, shapely ankle length dresses, so very 90s! The buttons end at about knee lenth or a bit below, so it flares when you walk.

Detail of skull button. It's a kind of Mexican sugar skull style. They're pretty cheap on Ebay, just look up skull buttons, there are quite a few colours!

I couldn't think of a title, so I stole another placebo lyric. From the song of the same title.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A Book Tank???

Make books not war?

Moonlight In Morocco

Sunday 20th May 

Well, obviously I'm not in Morocco, but the shirt had a bit of an exotic image to it, and the book I was reading had scenes in Morocco. It also reminds me of Venice or something.

Both the top and skirt are second hand.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Come Back To Me A While, Change Your Style Again...

Outfit Saturday 19th May

Velvet jacket second hand
Black cross necklace second hand
Clock Winder necklace by Redheart13 on Etsy
Dress from sale shop.

Title: Taste in Men, Placebo. The music of my childhood, yay!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Un Lun Dun

Novel by China Miéville
(Approx. ages 10 and up)

China Miéville is the kind of writer who can take really absurd situations and characters and make them not only believable but sympathetic. The world of UnLondon, and all it's strange and surreal characters and places are so far from anything in this world, born out of an amazing, dream-like imagination. And yet the story easily sucks you in, and soon you are not questioning how and why, but cheering on your favourite characters, and hoping they make it through to the end.

Zanna and Deeba are best friends who live in an English housing estate. But Zanna is the Shwazzy, the chosen one, the one who will defeat the smog and save UnLondon. But when things don't go according to prophecy, it is Deeba, the unchosen one, who must step in.

What do I love about this novel? I love that Deeba is just a normal girl like the rest of us, someone who thinks she is not special, knows she is not chosen, but does what she has to to proetect her friends and family. This makes her a real hero. It's one thing to be talented and special and fight when it's easy, it's another to do it when it's hard.

I love the surreal world of UnLondon, a kind of twin city to London, but utterly different. It's a place where all the unwanted things of London, the trash and treasure, come. Houses are made of junk (A.K.A. moil), there is a tree of fireworks from Guy Fawkes day, and even a town of ghost people from both London and UnLondon. There is so much else...including giraffes...

One of the things that helps with this strange world is the little illustrations throughout the book, drawn by China Miéville himself, which help visualise the strange houses and creatures that fill his world. He creates such a complete world, it's hard to not believe that it might not actually exist, only waiting for us to find a hidden path to it. And apparently there are others of these 'abcities' all around the world.

Among all the other wonderful people and creatures, I really loved the Extreme Librarians or Bookaneers, who work in a gigantic tower of books. It is a dangerous job, searching for books in trips that can take weeks on end. One of them was once even lost and never found again.

Un Lun Dun, like it's namesake, really needs to be experienced to be believed! It is an amazing, totally immersive experience, and one that I enthusiastically recommend!

Red Herrings

I just remembered this poem from a nursery rhyme book I had as a kid

A man in the wilderness once asked me
How many strawberries grow in the sea
I answered him as I thought good
As many as red herrings grow in the wood.

It's Friday I'm In Love...

Outfit Friday 18th May

Necklace, top and dress all opshopped. 

A girl actually came up to me at uni and told me she loved my outfit and I looked beautiful. It made me so happy. It's funny how a small gesture can make someone's day. 

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Garden of Proserpine

I love this blog, and I love this poem!

Incubi and Succubi

Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri

I watched Season 1 of Lost Girl recently, which is a really fun and engaging urban fantasy about fae. In it, creatures like werewolves, sirens, furies and succubi are also fae. I'm dying to see Season 2, but I haven't got hold of it yet. 

Incubi and Succubi (plural of Incubus and Succubus) are always interesting. Generally, they are seen as seducers that feed on sexual energy, but it's always interesting to see different readings. In Beautiful Creatures (The Caster Chronicles #1 by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl), Macon Ravenwood (and how cool is that name!) feeds on dreams. 

Anyway, I chose this video because I noticed the stealing hearts bit was quite a lot like Bo feeding on her victims/ lovers in Lost Girl. The whole sort of spirit sucking through the mouth thing. 

Also the aesthetics are just beautiful. The black and white, the mist/fog, the gorgeous dresses. I think I've said before, I have an unhealthy addiction to tulle!

Interestingly enough, Christina Perri's last name is kind of a type of faerie or daemon. A Peri (with a single R, but still...) is a kind of faerie like creature that is part daemon.They seem pretty interesting, too. Maybe I'll write a story about them someday. 

Wood Angel

YA Novel by Erin Bow
Originally published as Plain Kate

As Emily May (on Goodreads) wrote in her review, the cover of this novel really does not give you a good idea of what the book is like. It seems to have been interpreted from reading the title that the girl is an angel of the forest, hence the glitter and white robes. The title Wood Angel actually refers to the main character, Plain Kate, being a wood carver. In the age in which she lives (Russia of the past) wood carvers are regarded as a little dangerous, maybe possessing dark magic powers.

When she was a girl, Kate's father taught her his wood carving skill. She was so talented, it was thought she would become a master at the art. Then her father died, and the town started to turn against her. Her skill with wood and odd coloured eyes made them wary. When a stranger came to town, he offered her a dangerous bargain, which she had no choice to accept.

Kate goes out into the world, but pain and betrayal seem to follow her everywhere she goes. She is only a girl, but can she find a way to right wrongs, and to stop the terrible thing the stranger is doing?

This book is a harrowing read. So many bad things kept happening, and Kate kept having to find a way to somehow scrape through and survive, while things just got worse and worse around her. Still, if you can get through all that, it is an amazing story and well worth reading. I am amazed and inspired by Kate's strength and resourcefulness. It will all work out eventually.

The dark mood is lightened somewhat by Kate's companion, Taggle, a talking cat. Taggle is adorable and humourous, but not too cutesy. He has been well written, as the things he says are very catlike and exactly what I would imagine a cat saying if it could talk.

This is another story that mentions the cost of magic which always interests me. I like the idea that for there to be balance, everything must be a trade.

I also liked the inclusion and rewriting of elements of Russian myths, such as that of the Rusalka.

The Hunchback Assignments

(The Hunchback Assignments #1)
YA Novel by Arthur Slade

What if Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame worked as a secret agent for a mysterious man protecting the interests of Victorian England? This rollicking Steampunk adventure answers that question, while sweeping through a fast paced series of excitement and adventure.

Modo is an ugly hunchbacked child, rescued by Mr. Socrates from a freak show, due to his amazing ability to shape shift. Brought up in a remote country house, teenage Modo is without warning flung out into the dangerous world of London to fend for himself, a test from Mr. Socrates. There he meets the skilled and beautiful Octavia Milkweed, another agent of Socrates, and must take on another secret society, this one bent on world domination.

The story is enjoyable, although a little fast paced for me, running constantly from one action scene to another. I couldn't help but feel I would have collapsed from exhaustion long before. The final thing that has to be battled feels a little farfetched and needlessly complex, created more for shock inpact than actual feasibility.

There is another literary inspired character, in the form of Mr Hyde, an evil doctor who creates dangerous potions, which is another interesting literary change up.

A good adventure, and definitely worth a read. This would probably be a good one to get the teenage boys reading.

Absinthe Tears

Outfit Tuesday 15th May

Green 'Absinthe Tears' necklace from op shop
Black mesh dress from op shop
Black jumper from op shop.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Black and Blue

Outfit Monday 14th May

Shirt, waistcoat, velvet and lace skirt from second hand shop.
 Clock Winder necklace from Redheart13 on Etsy.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Slipping Through The Shadows

Outfit around 13th May

Necklace- costume jewellery shop
Ruched mess dress- second hand shop
Corset top- Shop 55
Knee socks-Kmart

I didn't wear black for years, but recently I've started wearing it again. If you believe all that stuff about colour, it kind of conserves energy, turns it inward to give you strength. I think it does kind of make me feel bolder. Apart from that, I've always had a bit of an alternative aesthetic, anyway.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

I'll Tell You Mine

YA Novel by Pip Harry

It's nice to read a book about a Goth character where she can come to terms with the problems in her life and not have to suddenly become 'normal'. She is allowed to have her own identity, and be true to herself.

I really liked the book from the get-go. In some ways, Kate reminded me of my teenage self, in others, she was totally different, but she was a character I could identify with. This line really struck me as describing my sense of difference. 'I was lonely and homesick- the new girl who didn't fit in. I liked creative writing and art. The other girls liked boys, pop songs and doing each other's hair (p142).

This story so perfectly evokes that friction between parents and child when they realise you are no longer that little child they wanted you to stay forever. When they realise they hate the way you dress and the friends you keep, but still can't go of trying to turn you back into that child, not accepting that it is gone, and this is a part of growing up.

I loved so many characters in this. I loved Kate, her cool laid back surfie dad, who encouraged her to express herself how she wanted and gave her great rock and Goth rock music to listen to. I couldn't help but wish he was my uncle or something. I liked the backstories and hidden lives of all the different characters, that were slowly revealed throughout the story. The story unwound at just the right pace. The flashbacks were perfectly placed to give an idea of her home life, but to keep the secrets right up until the end.

I found it a little hard to believe that her parents would give her a 'longer leash', but maybe that's just my own personal experiences with overprotective adults. The whole bush thing really wasn't my scene, but it worked well in the story. I liked the sense of hope and building relationships that it ended with.

I finished this book in one evening, it was hard to put down. I thoroughly recommend it, especially for teenagers. While Kate is a Goth, her struggles are those that are experienced by many teenagers, and I think there is something in her that we can all relate to. There is a little G-Girl in all of us.

90s Meets Jazz Age

Outfit Sunday 12th May

Jacket and dress from second hand shop.
Flower headpiece new from second hand shop.
Knee socks from Kmart.
Necklace from costume jewellery shop.
Chunky 90s boots from second hand shop.

Inspiration: 90s meets Jazz Age. I had a dream which mixed Edwardian and Jazz Age style elements and it actually looked great. In it I also lived in a big manor house with a bell tower. I wish!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Attending The Author Event

Outfit Wednesday 9th May

Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to attend a free Author Event in my university library. It was very interesting, and the authors were friendly. I enjoyed it very much, definitely one of the highlights of my university career. The authors were Pip Harry who wrote I'll Tell You Mine and P M Newton who wrote The Old School, both Australian authors. I got a chance to talk to Pip afterwards and she had some good writing advice for me.

Shirt, waistcoat and skirt all second hand.  I love lapels and brocade pattern on the waistcoat, and the cut of the skirt, with the crossover panels and the pleats. It's hard to see in the picture, black never comes out well in photos.

Current favourite jacket, black velvet one from second hand shop.

Madame Xandadu Volume 1: Disenchanted

Graphic novel by 
Matt Wagner (writer), Amy Reeder Hadley (penciller, inker) and Richard Friend (inker)

Madame Xanadu began as a mystic character in DC comicbooks. Before reading this graphic novel I had never heard of her before, but this story offers a more than satisfactory introduction. With beautiful illustrations, costuming, and well-written 'voice over' storytelling, this book is a pleasure to read.

The story takes place in iconic times in history: Arthurian England, The Xanadu of Kubla Kahn, the French Revolution, Victorian London under the threat of Jack The Ripper, Depression Era America...

It's also good to see an 'old friend' (I know, I'm a geek for thinking of book characters as friends), Death from the Sandman Comics, that perky Goth girl who is also the wisest and oldest being in the universe. Of course, no one writes her as well as her creator, Neil Gaiman, but I'm still happy to see her cameo in this.

I didn't enjoy the London chapter as much, apart from the outfits, because the whole Jack The Ripper thing is done so often and feels much less fresh and original than the other chapters.

There are a lot of other characters in this from the comics, who I also don't recognise, and I think it would be interesting to know how this story read from the point of view of someone who already knew all these characters, but I don't think you need to know the characters to enjoy it. I can't imagine it being any better than it was, it was fantastic!

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Those who have followed my blog for a while may know that I loved the book Catwings as a child. Therefore, its is not surprising that I couldn't resist these little figures at the op shop. They aren't metal, but they look like it. Oh, and it's just a total coincidence that they were sitting in front of Poe's Cat.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Echoes of the Past

Outfit Friday 4th May

Together this dress and top are perfect!

The top, dress and brooch are all second hand. The dress also has a black lace rosettle on the front with a lace bow, but it's hard to see in the picture.

I was going for Victoriana, but it also feels a bit 1800s Spain to me, too. Like in the flashbacks of Goya in Bordeaux (although they had longer skirts). 

I am obsessed with this jacket. It's black velvet (velvet and lace being my favourite materials), nipped in at the waist, and has these amazing cold and red beaded buttons.

The earrings didn't come out in the pictures, so I took one of them, too.

The ankh is one of a pair I got when I first had pierced ears. The scarab was apparently brought back from Egypt by my great-grandmother, it had a hole through it so I put in on an earring hook. The skeleton hand is a pendant that I found in my boyfriend's old stuff. I wore it through my sleeper earring.

Cage Corset Belt

I think it was by Alexander McQueen, I can't remember. I can't afford it, but I'd love to have one like it. If anyone knows of something similar or how to make one like this, let me know!

Rings That Look Like Alien Landscapes!

I'm pretty sure these rings are waaay out of my price range, but I can't help but marvel at them. They remind me of dwarven crystal mines and alien landscapes!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Fairy Dress

Outfit from Thursday 3rd May 2012

Dress, black crosses necklace and boots second hand

For a jacket I wore the same black velvet jacket as the day before, and the day after.

Arm warmers and over knee stockings off Ebay.

This was one of my favourite poems as a kid, I remember I once made a photo/ drawing collage based around it. I've always been fascinated by the darker side of Faerie.

The Fairies by William Allingham
Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather.
Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.
High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music,
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen,
Of the gay Northern Lights.
They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back
Between the night and morrow;
They thought she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag leaves,
Watching till she wake.
By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite?
He shall find the thornies set
In his bed at night.
Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

From Neil Gaiman's Journal


Some thoughts on writing, and driving in fog, and the usual

It's a weird thing, writing.

Sometimes you can look out across what you're writing, and it's like looking out over a landscape on a glorious, clear summer's day. You can see every leaf on every tree, and hear the birdsong, and you know where you'll be going on your walk.

And that's wonderful.

Sometimes it's like driving through fog. You can't really see where you're going. You have just enough of the road in front of you to know that you're probably still on the road, and if you drive slowly and keep your headlamps lowered you'll still get where you were going.

And that's hard while you're doing it, but satisfying at the end of a day like that, where you look down and you got 1500 words that didn't exist in that order down on paper, half of what you'd get on a good day, and you drove slowly, but you drove.

And sometimes you come out of the fog into clarity, and you can see just what you're doing and where you're going, and you couldn't see or know any of that five minutes before.

And that's magic.

I'm not getting any writing done at the moment, and it sucks, but university work has to be done. Ah, well, such is life. And if I can just get through this year, I will hopefully be working in a library next year, finally, my dream job!

Paint It Black

Outfit around about 2nd May

Cross necklace and dress from second hand shops. The dress is one of those stretchy ones from the 90s that feels comfortable and hangs perfectly! Why don't they make clothes like that anymore???

Black velvet jacket with red and gold beaded buttons from op shop. Chunky platform boots from op shop.

You can see the difference in lighting between the two pictures. The first was taken in the morning, when there's really good natural light, maybe a tiny bit bright. The second in the evening, when everything comes out really dull, even with all the lights in the house on. The optimum time in my house for taking photos at this time of year appears to be around two p.m.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Blue Velvet

Outfit Tuesday 1st May, I think.

I'm really addicted to velvet. I got this at a second hand shop. It looks a bit old fashioned, which, of course, I love. The gold flower is a pin.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Such A Perfect Day, I'm So Glad I Spent It With You...

Recent outfit, maybe 27, 28, 29 April.

This top never comes out as cool looking in photos as it is in real life. Most of it is purple lace but the cuffs and collar are cherry red shiny faux fur. 

The skirt didn't come out too well, either. It's got different widths of pinstripes and bits of ribbon and a zipper and stuff. It's a bit punky. 

Top and skirt both thrifted.

Title from the song, Perfect Day by Lou Reed.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Sea Hearts

Novel by Margo Lanagan

Also published as The Brides of Rollrock Island

I have always liked stories about witches. Real witches, not just monsters in stories told to scare children. They fascinate me: their strength, their outsider status, ostracised by society. Did they become a witch and then become an outcast, or did their outcast status drive them to witchcraft? What does witch mean, other than an insult for a strong or independant woman, or a woman who is just different from everyone else.

Miskaella was born looking different from the other girls on Rockroll island. She was short and heavy, without their prettiness. And she 'hearkened back' to their shameful history. She was an outcast. When her powers began to develop, even her mother could not look at her the same way. While her motivations in creating the brides may have been selfish, and revenge driven, you can understand her motivations, all that she has lost and never had. This is the kind of character I like, a woman who you can understand, care about. She is flawed and unbeautiful, and so deserving of happiness, it makes me sad. It is fascinating how she becomes what they labelled her as.

A couple of generations on and everything has changed. Not just Miskaella, shaped into a mad, vengeful old witch, but the town itself. Now the normal women are the outcasts.

With a narrative told through a collection of characters, Lanagan paints a vivid picture of small island life and the strange magic that makes it a place apart. There is sympathy for all the characters, including the sea wives who have no choice in the matter. Everyone loses from the bringing of the sea wives. But in the end, life goes on.

Maybe it was right to punish the women by initially bringing the sea-wives (although probably not) but what about all the future pain it causes? Is revenge ever justified?

This is a story about magic that looks at the human cost, showing how the characters lives are changed by what happens. There are many fairytales and old stories about birdwives, swan maidens, squirrel wives, selkies, etc. but often they are about a man getting the woman as a reward for his cleverness or trickery, never about what it is like for them to live together, or how the woman feels about it. Sea Hearts looks at the consequences.