Book Style: Jaya and Rasa

Jaya And Rasa

I'm kind of obsessed with this book. Jaya and Rasa is the second book from author Sonia Patel. I'd seen her debut, Rani Patel in Full Effect, several times and was always drawn towards the cover, but I don't have a huge interest in hip hop culture, so I never picked it up. When I crossed paths with Jaya and Rasa and saw the Nirvana links, I knew I had to read this it. And am I glad I did! Here's my review from Book Riot's Best Queer Books of 2017
I rarely, oh so very rarely, appreciate non-fantastical YA. I fell head over heels for Sonia Patel’s newest, Jaya and Rasa, from the moment I spotted its stunning cover in the library. I appreciate so much getting to know these two wounded characters from pre-adolescence. Jaya is a transgender teenage boy, something his traditionally-minded Gujarati family would never accept. Despite not being able open up at home, he manages to find his own identity thanks to Nirvana, guitars, charity work, and a best friend who also doesn’t fit in well at his snooty prep school. Rasa has been forced to grow up too fast thanks to being forced to become provider to her younger siblings. When she thinks things might be looking up, despite CPS separating her from her younger brother and sisters, she finds herself trapped in the life of a high-end prostitute. Jaya and Rasa is less Romeo and Juliet in Honolulu, as it’s been billed, and more of a painfully honest look at what growing up “other” is like. Nothing is sugar-coated, the reality is bleak and honest, but Patel gives us just a bright enough glimmer of hope to keep reading, to keep going.
For this Book Style, I envisioned an evolved and more relaxed Rasa. A Rasa who is finally healing and not feeling the need to be overly sexualized 24/7.  A Rasa who loves, supports, and shares passions with her rock star boyfriend. A Nirvana tee was a must, of course. I paired the t-shirt with a pair of "Love Story" flares and "Oahu" platform slides. So, basically, I made this into my standard high school uniform. Class of 2002, baby! Woo! Anyways, I digress. I also gave Rasa the option of having a swimsuit handy since she loves to surf and free dive. I thought this "Teen Spirit" one piece was kind of perfect. It also makes me want sorbet. 

For the accessories I chose a neon pink "Sweety Charity" bag as a nod to Jaya's charity work and a "Munro Blossom Muse" scarf because I'm pretty sure Jaya wouldn't argue with me calling Rasa a Blossom Muse. Around the neck is a "Pimp Aigrette" stunner of a necklace, around the wrist is an "LGBT Pride Awareness" bracelet, and on the ring finger (or whichever finger) is a guitar wrap ring. For the earrings I decided on mixing two singles together: One ear can rock the "White Widow Leaf" ear jacket, which I chose because I prefer Rasa being a white widow instead of the black widow her mother conditioned her to be, and the other ear can rock a hoop with a chunk of molten rock, apropos of Hawaii, of course. 

For the final touches I went with cosmetics. Elizabeth and James' "Nirvana White" perfume is a floral, slightly exotic scent that is perfect for Rasa. She can coat her nails in a holographic and glittery "Crush on Lava" nail lacquer and coat her lips with "Shame" lipstick (to remind herself that she should never feel ashamed). Top off the look with a retro-tastic pair of "Classic 11 Surf" shades and Rasa's look is complete. 


Book Style: Dune


I haven't done a Book Style in forever and a day and my crazy ass decides to start back up with an all brown one. I just really enjoy the Penguin Galaxy Collection and it's the first Dune cover I actually liked! So here's a Dune Book Style for y'all. The general aesthetic is less related to the book and more of a modern desert traveler vibe. 

Let's start with the outfit proper: A Dune shirt designed by Daretown Kindling is a great base layer under a "Melange" open back sweater. I paired them with a pair of sturdy "Paul" chino trousers in a dreamy chocolate brown. Cinch the waist with a tiger-head belt and throw a pair of "Desert" chukka boots on your feet. On your head, a panama style hat will keep all of the elements out of your eyes. 

For the accessories I chose a tooth ring, a Muad'Dib (aka a mouse) necklace, centipede full-finger ring, and a pair of worm earrings. I added a Dune book cover pin and a Kynes' Imperial Teardrop Mark Of Rank pin (I like the idea of doing several of these). Add a pair of "Jessica" sunglasses and a couple of coats of this metallic "Sand" nail lacquer and you'll be all set to save the empire, or grab coffee with friends. 


Bookmarks Survey

I'm doing research for an article and would really appreciate it if you could answer this brief two-question survey. 



Link Love: 12.14.17

Good googly mooglies! It has been forever since I posted a Link Love. I mean, it's kind of been forever since I posted anything, but, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Let's not dwell on the past, shall we? Here's a round up of some of the best bookish things I've compiled for you over the past couple of months. 




Scratch And Sniff Books For Grown-Ups

This post originally appeared on Book Riot in 2014.

Every November I find myself getting incredibly nostalgic for the one Thanksgiving book I remember reading as a child: Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlín. The really great thing about this particular picture book wasn't the scruffy, gruff captain or the prim, uptight grandmother- it was the scratch-and-sniff aspect. In retrospect, I'm fairly certain our copy was a second-hand edition that probably mostly smelled like paper, ink, and mild mildew by the time it came our way, but I loved the interactive quality of the scratch-and-sniff. Scratch-and-sniff is an underutilized gimmick when it comes to books, but they do still exist, though mostly for children. But they're not all intended for the kiddos. I've rounded up some of the best PG-13 scratch-and-sniff titles for your olfactory pleasure.

DK has put out a their fair share of scratch-and-sniff board books over the years, generally aimed at the still-in-diapers set. But nine-year-old boys, and far more overgrown children will surely appreciate the grosser-than-a-bogey-flavoured-bean The Truly Tasteless Scratch & Sniff BookThis book is disgusting, fascinating, and nauseating. Scents include feces, vomit, halitosis, and gas and are all accompanied by the science behind their foulness. Proceed with caution with this one.

Backstage with Beth and Trina: A Scratch-and-Sniff Adventure by Julie Blattberg. Because who doesn't want a scratch-and-sniff representation of their bad decisions? These scents aren't all pretty; strawberry lipgloss and leather compete with stale beer, smoke, and vomit. No guarantees you won't experience a major, and possibly traumatic, flashback from this one.

My First Book of Smells and Colours: Garden by Orianne Lallemand might be intended for kids, but with clean, poppy design and authentic herb and veggie aromas, wouldn't it make a lovely gift for the home gardener in your life? The smells include rose, lilac, fir tree, onion, strawberry, lavendar, and mint. Other titles in this series are Fruit (strawberry, orange, cherry, apple, peach, banana, and coconut), and Kitchen by Zade Zade (chocolate, banana, onion, vanilla, grapefruit, mint, mango).
The Smelly Old History series by Mary Dobson takes an interesting approach to engaging the reader with history. The series includes Victorian VapoursReeking RoyalsMedieval MuckWartime WhiffsGreek Grime, Mouldy Mummies, Tudor Oudors, Roman Aromas, and Vile Vikings, among others. These books are heavier on text and actually history than on scratch-and-sniff panels, but the combo of history and grotesque aromas is so appealing in its weirdness.

The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That by Richard Betts is one of the most practical uses of scratch-and-sniff technology I've ever seen. This is just brilliant. You can learn genuinely useful skills from this book! It uses the scents to walk your nose through the basic noses: the woods, the fruits, and the earths allowing you to impress people right out of their pants at your next party.

Instant Touch: A Tropical Scratch and Sniff by Belly Kids features some stunning upcoming illustrators' interpretations of your basic fruits (grape, cherry, watermelon, etc.) along with the accompanying aroma. This is as much a piece of sweetly-scented art as it is a children's book. Whether coffee table or nursery bound, it's a multi-sensory experience worth having.

Finally, Harley Quinn Annual #1. It's been dubbed rub-and-smell instead of scratch-and-sniff for legal reasons, but I think it comes off as uber creepy, so I'm henceforth refusing to ever use the term rub-and-smell again. This reboot of Punkin's psychotic right-hand gal is centered around Harley attempting to jailbreak Poison Ivy out of Arkham when she is taken down by a powerful hallucinogen. An Ivy/Harley comic heavy on the nonsense and with scented, fourth-wall-breaking asides from the anti-heroine.


Nancy Drew Review: The Message In The Hollow Oak

It's time for another installment of the Nancy Drew Review project. The Message in the Hollow Oak was my third reread of the 64 original titles. For those of you intrigued by Carolyn Keene not being real, since I keep bringing it up, here's a nice chart that goes over the ghostwriting process for these 64 books. 


Side note: Anybody have any recommendations for me for easy-to-use video editing apps or software? Preferably free. Preferably. 


Nancy Drew Review: The Spider Sapphire Mystery

Okay, I'm back with another video in my Nancy Drew Review project. Apologies for the handheld shakiness, I wanted to sit in my comfy chair and still have good light. I'm going to be a pro at these videos by the time I finish all 64 books!


Nancy Drew Review: The Bungalow Mystery

Introducing the Nancy Drew Review Project. For the next few months - assuming it takes that long - I'll be rereading my way through all of the classic Nancy Drew stories.

I've decided to do a short(ish) video review following each one where I go ever my thoughts on the books, characters, and series as a whole. I'm a terrible rambler, so I'll apologize in advance for that. Below is my first video for the project.

Since I won't be creating a book style for each of these, you should really check out my Book Style for Confessions of a Teen Sleuth by Chelsea Cain.


Book Style: 1984

This post originally appeared on Book Riot in 2015.

When I wrote this post 1.5 years ago, I was fresh off of laughing at the absurdity of Donald Trump throwing his hat into the election ring. Now we have President Trump's staff offering blatant lies "alternative facts"during press conferences. We have scientists being silenced. We have women's reproductive rights being stripped away. This might not be as fictional of a work as it used to be, sadly.


1984, or Nineteen Eighty-Four depending on which edition you have, is one of those novels I would’ve read even if it wasn’t George Orwell’s most famous, or assigned reading in the majority of U.S. high schools (an irony that is not lost on me). 1984 was the year I was born and I can’t not read a book that is named after the year I graced this fair planet with my glorious presence! All not-so-humble bragging aside, I really enjoy good dystopic fiction and satire and Orwell is the king of that genre. Without 1984 and its predecessor, Huxley’s Brave New World, there would be no Hunger Games, The Giver, Divergent, Maze Runner, or their ilk. 1984 brought the concepts and vocabulary of Newspeak, Big Brother, and Thought Police into the public consciousness. If you have ever uttered the phrase “Big Brother is watching you” and haven’t read this novel, shame on you. Fix that nonsense now.

Doing a Book Style for The dystopian novel wasn’t easy. None of these personality-filled wardrobe items would be acceptable for any of Oceania’s residents, but dammit I would try! I’m in the mood for casual weekend wear, so that’s what I focused on here. If you’re reading a novel as cynical and foreboding as 1984, you need to be relaxed and comfy. We have “1984” boyfriend jeans whose tie to the novel should be fairly obvious and a “Gin” sweatshirt tee for Winston’s “Victory” branded gin. A pair of “Julia” sandals, for Winston’s love interest, and a crisp white belt polish off the base outfit. For the accessories I included a “1984” tote bag, some “Propaganda” sunglasses, a “Big Brother Is Watching You” phone case, and two nail lacquers in “Caught Your Eye” (for the ever-watchfulness of the Thought Police) and “Private Weekend” (for Winston and Julia’s failed attempts to keep their affair private). Finishing it all off is the jewelry: an “Orwell” necklace, a “Big Brother Is Watching You” bracelet, an “Obey” cipher ring, and a pair of coral earrings for the shattered coral paperweight *cough* blatant symbolism *cough*.

Now stay aware, alert, and behaved. And remember, WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH!


Book Style: Dracula

This post originally appeared on Book Riot in 2014.


Dracula is THE classic monster novel. The salacious sexuality of the story and of the titular character have been drawing readers, and later moviegoers, by the hundreds for over a century now. While classically depicted in black and white with captivating touches of blood red, this edition from Penguin let me explore a more flamboyant costume for a Lady Dracula (with Winona’s Mina firmly in mind).

There’s a lot going on here, so let’s start with base layers. Sex appeal and vampires go hand-in-hand, so sumptuous lingerie was a must and this “Bat Your Lashes” bra and panty set is kind of perfect. Yellow tights for a kick of color and because, vampire or no, a lady does not expose bare legs to the public. Next up, a silky blouse with a necktie that evokes a gentleman’s cravat, and a flouncy bustled skirt – I know a proper Victorian lady would not be sporting anything above-the-knee, but when scaling buildings to assault woo your love, you need mobility. Some spiky “London” brogues and a lush, fur-collared “Mina” coat complete the main ensemble.

Let’s run through all of the blood-thirsty accessories, too: A Dracula necklace, stake earrings, fang knuckleduster ring, crimson “Blooming Love” engagement ring, “Paranormal” UV reactive nail lacquer, and a batty clutch polish off our Lady Dracula.


Book Style: Heart Of Darkness

This post originally appeared on Book Riot in 2014.

Heart Of Darkness

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has proven to be perpetually controversial, first for its chastisement of colonialism and native subjugation and exploitation, and later for stereotyping race. Personally, while horribly racist in his description and treatment of native characters, I applaud Conrad for trying to bring attention to a horrible system, even if it focused a bit too much on the plight of the white protagonists/antagonists. A book like this will never be written again, for a variety of reasons, and, thanks in part to Apocalypse Now’s enduring popularity, it will continue to be read for years to come.

I wasn’t channeling a particular character this time around. This outfit is mostly inspired by this epically haunting cover design and the West African setting of the novel. The key elements of this outfit are an ethically sourced: an “Africa” print jacket and an easy, travel-friendly jumpsuit. Some “Congo” sandals and “Arrow” purse add the necessary (in my book anyway) gleam, while a silky scarf adds some warmth (or additional protection from mosquitoes). In the jewelry category, we have a pair of ivory skull studs, Africa earrings, an ivory bangle, a rifle necklace, and a “Slave Chain” ring. A pop of “African Violet” nail lacquer finishes up this look.


Book Style: One Kick

This post originally appeared on Book Riot in 2014.

One Kick

I fell in love with Chelsea Cain’s work back when I discovered her Nancy Drew parody, Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, which is now sadly out of print. While I never became as impassioned about her Heartsick series as some of her fans, I’m incredibly thrilled with the launch of her newest novel and series. One Kick is the first of the Kick Lannigan series and if you’re a fan of thrillers you better get off your butt, run out to your local bookstore, and bring one home now. To paraphrase The New York Times review, Kick is comparable to Lisbeth Salander (you know, of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame), but way more relatable. She’s a survivor of kidnapping and child pornography. Almost a decade later, Kick is presented with an unprecedented opportunity to help rescue other children from the same circumstances.

I gave my best effort to keep this outfit fairly true to Kick’s in-novel attire (even when faced with an incredibly sepia-colored cover). She’s a tomboy who lives in denim and hoodies when she’s not training in the dojo. Her tragic tale made her into a celebrity, something her mother continues to exploit, and Kick often sports a cap and glasses to avoid the curious stares of her neighbors. The puppy dog socks aren’t something Kick would let show to many, but they accurately reflect her undying affection for her dog, Monster. The handcuff bracelet is symbolic of her imprisonment as well as her hobby of lock-picking. The tennis ball watch is a bit kitsch but it’s also a nod to Monster and the events that get the plot rolling. The final touch is the Scrabble tile necklace. I’m not going to tell you how that ties in! I don’t want to spoil the suspense.


Book Riot: Sirens of Titan

Sirens of Titan

Wow. I made this one ages ago and I completely forgot to share it with y'all. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut is the subject of today's Book Style. Vonnegut's speculative fiction novel explores the theme of free will with interplanetary conflict and exploration as a backdrop. I wanted this Book Style to be futuristic, but in a vaguely retro way. I think I achieved that.

For the main outfit we'll start with a pair of purple "Rocket" lace panties. Next we have a pair of "Winston" pants and a celestial "Stonehenge" tee. Toss a lemon-hued leather jacket on (those Martian nights get chilly), step into a shimmery pair of "Chrono" boots, and grab your "Beatrice" bag before we move onto jewelry. I added a "Siren" ring, a dog necklace (I personally decided that Kazak the Space Hound is very mastiff like because I prefer mastiffs to dobermans), a pair of "Double Titan" earrings, an "Odette Space" ring, and a sun cuff. A multi-purpose cosmetic stick epitomizes future efficiency and this magenta illuminating stick in "Quantum" is so yummy on all skin tones. Finally, lacquer those nails with vibrant "Code Purple" polish and you're all set for tackling anything the Tralfamadorians throw your way. 


Book Style: Dorothy Must Die

The post originally appeared on Book Riot in 2014.

Dorothy Must Die

I adore a great reimagining of a beloved story. Wicked was the first Oz rewrite, but it wasn’t the last. (We’ll just leave the “best” debate out of this discussion, shall we?) Danielle Paige’s new series kicks off with Dorothy Must Die and transports us back to Oz with Amy Gumm, or “Salvation Amy” to her cruel classmates. The Oz Amy’s twister transports her and her trailer to is vastly different from the Oz Baum introduced us to in his classic tales. This Oz is being slowly destroyed as Dorothy, who managed to find her way back after Kansas wasn’t as glamorous as she desired, and Glinda, are mining too deep and too often for magic. Amy soon finds herself recruited by the Bad side to assassinate the horrid Dorothy and stop this madness. But is bad actually good or not? And what has happened to Ozma? You must read this one if you have a soft spot for Oz. Or just love a good twist on a classic tale. I would apologize for the cliffhanger, but I’m suffering right along with you.

While Amy wears many different guises, and sometimes faces, in the book, I went with her soul here and chose a laidback outfit a midwest teen might actually choose. Gingham was a must, although stealing Dorothy’s signature blue felt wrong. Some well worn jeans would be standard in Amy’s thrift shop wardrobe and adding the flash-style “Mom” patch seemed appropriate given the underlying message of family at the series heart. The shimmer-finish Converse are, of course, a nod to the ruby slippers. A (kick-ass) hat and “Stay All Day” lipgloss add some drama, perfect for such a dramatic landscape, and should also help equip Amy to deal with the unpredictable length of days in Oz. A black magic necklace and “Which is Witch?” nail lacquer are apropos tie-ins to the coalition of bad witches she finds herself part of. The lion satchel and twister ring should be self-explanatory. As should the charms: A trailer, a lion, a witch’s hat, and a sparkly (and teeteringly high) shoe.


Book Style: The Invisible Man

This post originally appeared on Book Riot in 2014.

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man is possibly one of my favorite classic “monster “novel/ellas because Griffin, a.k.a. the Invisible Man, isn’t a monster at all; at least not a supernatural one. He’s human, a brilliant and evil human, which is combination that is ,by far, way creepier than anything else could ever be in my book. I love how well this Penguin edition conveys the subject without resorting to actual bandages on the cover!

Once again, I’ve gone the gender-swap route with the main antagonist: Lady Invisible Man. She needs to be covered head to toe lest we perceive that she’s not actually all there, but I didn’t go full balaclava level coverage because I figured that some (implied) substantial makeup and full cascading wig would create enough distraction once combined with everything I did provide our main mad doctor. Let’s start at the toes and work upward shall we? Opaque tights and over-the-knee boots take care of the legs and feet. A bandage skirt (get it?) fit for an actress gives absolute coverage the lower half. The top portion of the outfit includes elbow length gloves, a vibrant blouse and a dramatic cape. An ample scarf and a wide-brimmed hat offer additional coverage, along with some theater-worthy sunglasses. I also provided our lady villain with an invisible clutch and optics-inspired bangle.


Book Style: American Gods

American Gods

Welcome to the first Book Style of 2017: American Gods by Neil Gaiman. This is one of my perennial favorites and I had been wanting to do a re-read before the television series launches sometime in 2017 - come on Starz, give us a firm date! - and then I stumbled across the new 10th Anniversary mass market edition with the cover art from acclaimed illustrator Robert E. McGinnis and I had to have it. I'm a sucker for pulp/ish art and that vibrant poppy-hued title is so grand! 

This outfit started with Laura in mind, hence the navy dress, but it quickly morphed into a semi- gender-swapped Wednesday. Which makes the "Odin" dress a perfect launch point for this Book Style. A pair of silver "Loki" loafers, an "Ibis Whistler" hat, a "Lucky Charms" scarf, and a "God" clutch round out the accessories. For the jewelry I restrained myself to the following: a "Kali" necklace, a two-finger "Anansi" ring, a "Morning Star" midi ring, a pair of golden disc hoops that reminded me a lot of magic golden coins, a"Jackal" cuff, and a Kobold brand watch. Moody "Sheba" lipstick and "Storm Chaser" nail lacquer finish out this look. Now if it will just get warm enough for me to wear something similar.