Weekly Capsule 36.2 & Book Review: The Grace Of Kings

green blouse black pants black heels by 14 shades of grey

This book has been mentioned around the sci-fi & fantasy circle under the term “silkpunk“, which is how I was drawn to it in the first place. You know how steampunk is influenced by the Industrial Revolution? Well, silkpunk is influenced by the myths and technology found in East Asian antiquity, resulting in things like battle kites, airships made from silk and bamboo, and mechanical whales. Now that I had to check out.

Also, I grew up with all the classical Chinese novels, so I wanted to see how a modern author might draw inspirations from those. In fact, I would say “The Grace of Kings” is very much Romance of the Three Kingdoms meets Game of Thrones, and it features plenty of characters or even plot lines similar to Three Kingdoms. The main plot revolves around a rebellion against a tyrannical regime in a world reminiscent of the Warring States period of ancient China, specifically the two men at the head and heart of it – Kuni Garu, a street-smart commoner who rises to the top thanks to his wiles, and Mata Zyndu, the last remaining heir in a line of proud warriors who perished under the current emperor.

My verdict? I could’ve liked it a lot more. Like GoT, it deals with interesting themes like the cost of peace, the effect of power, and men’s moral ambiguity, and there are some kick-ass female characters – always a plus for me. But I cannot get pass the writing, which is super flat and rushed. Everything the characters think or feel is told to us; storylines are set up and resolved within the same chapter. The funny thing is, those classical Chinese novels use the same third person omnipresent voice and are similarly episodic, yet somehow I don’t have a problem with them. Maybe it’s the language. I read an English translation of Dream of the Red Chamber once and thought it dryer than dust. I guess English is just not suitable for this kind of storytelling.

3/5 stars. But I would still read the next book.

About the outfit inspired by the book, I pulled this top out of the deep dark corner of my closet because of the embroidered design, which is reminiscent of Chinese scrolls, and added my yellow flower brooch to represent the dandelion – after all, the series is called “Dandelion Dynasty”. The rest of the outfit I kept simple, mostly because I have no idea how else to style this top. I have paired with black almost every single time I wore it. Maybe that’s the reason it was shoved in the corner in the first place.

green blouse yellow flower brooch by 14 shades of greygreen blouse black pants by 14 shades of grey

black pants black heels by 14 shades of grey

Blouse & Heels: local shops, Pants: thrifted, Brooch: vintage



green blouse black skirt leopard print flats by 14 shades of grey

I’m typing this with six fingers (insert your own Princess Bride reference here) because I have quite stupidly scalded all but the thumb on my left hand. It’s not serious, but it also means there’s a bowl of water right next to the computer for me to dunk my hand in every few minutes. Given my clumsiness, that’s probably not a good place to put the water… so if  there’s no new post on Monday, you’ll know why 😀

Anyway, I gotta go catch up on Elementary. Have a good weekend!

green blouse black skirt by 14 shades of greygreen blouse black skirt by 14 shades of greyleopard print flats by 14 shades of greygreen blouse bird bracelet by 14 shades of grey

Top & Belt: Vietnamese shops, Skirt: hand-me-down, Flats: LA Fashion District, Bracelet: self-made (from a Michael’s charm)

Green On Green

Sorry for the late post, but I want to give everybody more time to send in their outfit photos for this week’s Style Imitating Art. Is it bad form to take a break from the 30×30 challenge when I’ve got just one outfit under my belt? Well, I have to, because today is my turn to host. The inspiration painting is Still Life with Asparagus by Adriaen Coorte:

I actually wore this outfit last week, on the one day it was cool, almost fall-like (of course, by the time I got around to taking photos, the sun was out again and I still sweated like a pig.) Like I said, I picked this specific painting because I have a shirt in that exact color. It proved to be a little difficult to photograph, because our garden is green everywhere as well, but I can’t complain about that 🙂

Shirt: Vietnamese shop, Pants: thrifted, Flats: Payless
Belt: borrowed from a Target skirt, Bracelet: self-made

Let’s see what my fellow bloggers come up with, shall we? First up is Pao of Project Minima. I love how she always makes sure her photos match the inspiration painting:

Then it’s Rebekah of From the Mixed-up Files. Isn’t that an adorable dress?

Here’s my lovely co-creator Jess of Animated Cardigan:

And last but not least, our awesome guest-host, Vivienne of Thrifted Shift:

I’m so happy to see how much this little idea of ours has grown. And remember, if you want to host, or simply want to suggest a painting, shoot me and/or Jess an email! Thank you!

La Fée Verte

I’m not sure if this blouse qualifies me for the ABC’s of Style challenge, “S for Sheer”, or not, but it is the sheerest thing I have.

I remembered asking my mom when she sent the blouse to me, “What were you thinking?! When did I ever wear a blouse, and a sheer one at that?” That was back when I wore nothing but T-shirts and jeans. Seriously, a plaid button-up was my idea of non-casual. How things have changed, right? My mom must be so proud.

Blouse: from home; Jeans: Charlotte Russe
Booties: Madden Girl, thrifted; Bracelet: thrifted
Post title: song by Kasabian (it means “The Green Fairy”, another name for absinthe.)

I, Coriander

Last week the lovely E. of Academichic called up all fashion-minded bookworms to join her in creating a look inspired by a book cover. Of course I jumped at it. And that was when I realized, I have a lot of favorite books, but in terms of favorite book covers, I only have two: the US edition of “I, Coriander” by Sally Gardner, and the UK/European edition of “Fragile Things” by Neil Gaiman.

After debating, I finally went with “I, Coriander.” Confession: I actually bought the book because of the cover. Luckily it turns out to be a pretty good story too 🙂

Yes, technically this is very similar to my “Flower Child” outfit, so I replaced my enamel brooch with this pin that I made myself from a fabric flower (just hot-glued a fabric flower to a brooch back, that’s it!) I think the darker orange matches the hair of the girl on the cover better than the bright orange of the enamel brooch. Also, I didn’t want to go too literal by wearing pearls (I’m not a pearl kind of girl anyway), so I represent that color by the belt.

I might do the “Fragile Things” cover one of these days.

Blouse: from home, remixed
Cardigan: thrifted, remixed
Jeans: The Limited thrifted, remixed
Flats: Me Too, thrifted
Belt: thrifted
Flower Pin: self-made, from Michael’s fabric flower

A Very Steampunk Party

Yesterday was Debbi’s birthday, but it was also book sale + diner Saturday. I knew I was going to dress up all steampunk for the party (we were going to the bar converted from Edison’s old factory, after all), but I didn’t want to lug around a bunch of clothes with me in the morning, so I had to find a look that would translate into “steampunk” with a few simple changes.

So I went with a Roaring Twenties-inspired outfit in the morning…

Blouse: from home
Skirt: thrifted, remixed
Flats & Cloche: Payless, remixed
Cameo necklace: Forever21

… and La Belle Époque at night:

Add a blazer (thrifted), a pair of boots (Journee via Amazon, remixed) and a fascinator (Icing), and I’m ready to party as a steampunk socialite! (It’s Debbi’s birthday, so I let her put my hair down. Enjoy people, because this might be the only time you get to see it.)

Debbi and Emma were equally fabulous:

We then met up at the Edison bar. And the place is, I’m telling you, awesome. There are screens on the wall where they show silent movies, and a lady with green fairy wings going around selling absinthe.

Even their bathroom is cool!

And here are the rest of the party:

This is the only group shot I managed to get. From left: Cary, Alec, Debbi and Matt (there were more people, but my guess is that they were too busy at the bar…)

Alec is wondering how to steal the table… I know, Alec. Me too.

The birthday girl!

Oh and before I forget, this is my birthday present for Debbi:

It’s a shirt that says “Keep Calm and Then Exterminate Exterminate Exterminate.” It’s perfect for an Anglophile and Doctor Who fan.

Debbi and her crappy car. She insisted that it deserved a spot on my blog.