Book Review: Deathless

navy peasant blouse red skirt brown sandals by 14 shades of grey

I first found out about Catherynne Valente’s “Deathless”, strangely enough, not from recommendations after reading The Grisha Trilogy (both deal with Russian mythology so you would think it’s natural to go from one book to the other), but from a quote I saw somewhere on tumblr. The language immediately draws me in, so I decided to check it out. And while it’s also steeped in Russian myth, “Deathless” is completely different from The Grisha Trilogy. It is the story of Marya Morevna, who is blessed (or cursed) with the ability of seeing the world as it really is – full of magical creatures, neither evil or benign, but all representing something much more desirable than her own bleak existence in Leningrad during the Revolution. It all changes when Koschei the Deathless sweeps Marya away to his kingdom to be his bride, but Marya learns that even in this Country of Life, her two worlds are still closely linked, and war and death and destruction are never far away.

navy peasant blouse red skirt by 14 shades of greynavy peasant blouse red skirt brown sandals by 14 shades of grey

Now I can’t tell you what exactly happens in the book, not because of spoilers, but because sometimes I’m not entirely sure myself. There is a lot of ambiguity and the characters’ actions don’t always make sense. Usually that would drive me up the wall, but somehow with “Deathless” I didn’t mind it. The book combines the magical elements with some of the darkest pages in the actual history of Russia to create a world that is beautiful, quirky, but also dark and cruel (the way it portrays the magical creatures actually reminds me of the Studio Ghibli’s films a lot), so of course I love it. Plus the writing is so beautiful that I became totally immersed in the story, and a bit of confusion actually adds to the overall fantastical atmosphere. Highly recommended.

navy peasant blouse red skirt by 14 shades of greynavy peasant blouse red skirt by 14 shades of grey

As for the outfit, I again tried to do something Russian-inspired (but not too costume-y) with the embroidered peasant blouse, full skirt, and rich colors usually found in traditional Russian clothing. Even my sandals can count as an interpretation of the woven shoes (lapti) usually worn by Russian peasants.

red skirt brown sandals by 14 shades of grey

Top: tailor, Skirt: vintage, Sandals: thrifted

And This Is Why…

The cat is totally giving me a “What the hell are you doing?” look

… you don’t pose with your easily excitable dog while taking outfit photos. Usually Taco’s love for dancing is not a problem, but I was wearing a dark shirt this time, and in minutes was covered in dusty paw prints and dog’s hair. Luckily I’d already got enough shots.

Blouse: tailor-made, Jeans: thrifted, Sneakers: Payless

My First Sandals In 12 Years

When I was little, I used to wear sandals pretty much all year, except in winter. Then when I started middle school, I had to bring in sneakers to change for gym class, and it was such a hassle that I decided I’d just wear the sneakers. So I stopped wearing sandals from then on.

My legs are so white is not even funny.

So, this is my first pair of sandals after 12 years (12? 13? I don’t remember.) I like them because they’re not open-toed (I have this thing about open-toed shoes, which probably came from working on movie sets, where you’re not allowed to wear open-toed shoes – unless you’re acting, of course – for fear of accidents. I just find open-toed shoes too casual.) Also, the ankle straps add a retro/vintage feel to it, which I’m a total sucker for.

Shirt: from home, remixed
Skirt: thrifted, remixed
Belt: thrifted
Sandals: Easy Spirit thrifted

I really like the lighting in this one. Looks almost like an old photo. Next time I must remember to point the camera at the sun…

Mid-week Humdrum And Rubber Band Therapy

I’ve heard that phrase so many times before but never really experienced it… Until today.

I just wasn’t feeling inspired. I had an outfit (or an idea for an outfit) picked for Monday, Tuesday and Friday (Thursday is the one day I have nowhere to go, not counting the weekend), but for some reason I completely forgot about Wednesday. Or, rather, my thought process was, “I had to pick something for Monday because it’s the first day of the week, for Tuesday because I’m going to be out late at night and it’s going to be cold, and for Friday because it’s going to be hot (weather plays a large, or should I say, the main role in how I dress), so I’ll find something on Wednesday.” Well, the result is me trying out various cardigans/jackets this morning without finding one that really worked, so I just threw on “one that goes with everything” and called it a day.

Blouse: from home, remixed (texture, pattern, color – I thought I’d count my “4 Elements” here rather than do it separately)
Skinny: Urban Outfitters, remixed
Cardigan: Target, remixed (texture)
Coat: Ann Taylor Loft thrifted, remixed (color, pattern)
Boots: Reflection, remixed
Bracelet: homemade (shine)

Yes, I wear the same shirt with the same pair of pants before, even though I’m determined not to do that. See, the easy solution would just be to throw together a completely new outfit, but I don’t want to bring out a new shirt or pair of jeans before recycling through these items first (they have to earn their place in the laundry bin.) So I tried to at least style them in a different way, no matter how marginally.

And thank God for the embroidered panel on the shirt, because otherwise I will fail my “4 Elements” checklist. Where’s the “Shine” element you might ask? I kind of cheated a bit and called this my “Shine”:

The bracelet, not the watch. The watch is not part of my outfit, it’s more like my keys or wallet – I don’t leave the house without it.

I’m cheating, because I’m actually wearing the bracelet as a sort of “rubber band therapy” to tell myself to stop window shop so damn much (mostly because it’s a waste of time.) So far it hasn’t been working. Maybe because it’s not an actual rubber band 😛

Anybody got the same problem? (either with the mid-week slackness or the self-control in shopping?)

Focus, Damn It!

My 17-50mm lens is so frustrating. OK, it’s maybe not its fault, but it doesn’t zoom anymore, and whenever I take my pictures in front of the bookshelf, it will focus on the bookshelf instead of me. And I tried to focus it with the manual focus beforehand, but it’s hard to do when the lens is so wide and doesn’t zoom. So annoying.

Anyway, one out-of-focus picture:

Cardigan: Bloomingdale’s thrifted, remixed
Shirt: from home
Skinny pants: Urban Outfitters (it was hot today so I didn’t feel like wearing jeans)
Flats: Payless

OK, I’m out. Like I said, it’s hot, and I have a bunch of things to hand-wash. Fun times.