Showing posts with label mary russell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mary russell. Show all posts


Book Style: Garment Of Shadows

Garment Of Shadows

In Garment of Shadows, the 12th and most recent Mary Russell book, by Laurie R. King, we find Russell waking up from the a blow to the head that has led to some retrograde amnesia. She's lost in a foreign city and has no memory of who she is or she got to a North African city. When her natural skills for pick-pocketing, lock picking and self defense kick in, Russell becomes convinced she must belong on the wrong side of the law. This book was a great redemption for me after the fluff of that was Pirate King. Also, the Hazr brothers are back!!!

This seems like the type of outfit I would wear wandering a modern day Moroccan bazaar: Comfy, ladylike layers. The forget-me-knot earrings should be self explanatory, as well as the Moroccan lamp necklace. I had to include a timepiece of some sort with this outfit, as a clock is so central to the plot, and the wrap watch was the perfect fit. The mosaic clutch is a touch blingy for this look, but I love the idea of using a mosaic to convey the idea of a scattered self that amnesia brings on.

So, this is the last Mary Russell that Ms. King has gifted us with. I'll be rereading them all in order to bide the time until the release of Dreaming Spies in February of 2015. And congratulations again, Laurie, on the 20th anniversary of The Beekeeper's Apprentice!!!


Book Style: Pirate King

Pirate King

I will admit, Pirate King, the 11th Mary Russell novel by Laurie R. King, is my least favorite. That being said, it is still a must read for setting up the events that follow in the next book. You will also get The Major-General's Song stuck in your head for days on end. (Below is the delightful '80s rewrite that was the first version I ever learned.)

The convoluted plot of this story has Russell being bullied/guilted by Mycroft, who is still angry with her after the ending of The God of the Hive, into taking an undercover job for a film production company. Like many fellow fans, Russell's reaction to Mycroft's reaction left me questioning Ms. King's turn with her character development. I just don't buy that Russell wouldn't get right back in his face. Be that as it may, Russell finds herself playing the role of matron to a flock of giggling, blonde actresses on the set of a movie, about a movie about Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance. Talk about meta. The director of Flytte Films has made a decision to hire a genuine pirate crew for authenticity, a decision that leads to a kidnapping of the entire crew and a, albeit very nice, hostage situation in Morocco. Russell finds herself being forced to deal with it from the inside out. While, like I said, I don't really love Pirate King for the character development or the plot, it is a fun romp and Ms. King does paint a highly romanticized picture of Morocco. Read it just to set yourself up properly for Garment of Shadows.

I tried dressing Russell for this one and failed. Then I tried dressing a flapper/actress for this one and failed. So instead, I decided to dress myself. As gorgeous as that sunset-colored cover is, it makes for some difficult outfitting. Alright, so Morocco references: earrings, "Marrakesh" ring, and that gorgeous-yet-dainty teardrop ring. Pirate was the overall theme I was going for, so I picked a pair of modern, piratey booties and that All Saints "Wasson Pirate" cardigan. I also added in that lust-inducing pirate skull cameo ring. Finally, the nods to Russell's flock of blonde actresses: "Girls on Film" cuff, vintage 1920's beaded cap, and "Blonde on Blonde" nail lacquer.


Book Style: The God Of The Hive

The God Of The Hive

The God of the Hive is the 10th book by Laurie R. King featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. This one is a continuation of the events that began in The Language of Bees. We have a lot more involvement from Mycroft in this novel than any of the preceding ones and there are also quite a few references to British folklore and mythology sprinkled throughout. Just like in The Language of Bees, I love seeing Russell and Holmes being domesticated by the demands of family, something neither are extremely proficient at.

There isn't a lot of Russell in this outfit, admittedly, but I'm at the 10th book now, and she kind of has a uniform and there are only so many variants on that uniform before I start craving some variety. So, no, I can't really see Russell rocking something so sexy and upscale unless a case called for some undercover work; I fell in love with this watercolor pencil skirt, though, which is the perfect reference to Russell's son-in-law artist, Damien Adler. The Dutch porcelain earrings are meant to conjure up Holmes and Damien's time in Holland whilst Russell is stranded in the forest. A honeycomb necklace was included for the underscoring bee references. That gorgeous "Dark Forest" ring is nod to Russell's harrowing plane crash in, rescue from, and hiatus in the Cumbrian forests with her very own Green Man. The bag is the "Lady Dior Detective Bag". The final touch is the "Granddaughter" bracelet in honor of Russell's very own granddaughter, Estelle, Damien's daughter.


Book Style: The Language Of Bees

The Language Of Bees

I realized as I sat down to get to work on this Book Style for the 9th Mary Russell novel, The Language of Bees, that I really need to do a major reread of everything after Locked Rooms. The details were not nearly as sharp for me as they are for the previous eight books. That being said, what I did remember of this one is superb. Russell and Holmes are back in England and back to the bees when Damien Adler, Holmes' son with The Woman drops in looking a fair bit better than last they saw him, but distressed at the absence of his wife, Yolanda. When Holmes agrees to help Damien track Yolanda down, he and Russell soon find themselves immersed in an insidious plot involving a religious cult and ancient British monuments. Damien's artist community provides a great backdrop for the time spent in London and the ultimate trek up to the Orkney Islands lends so much atmosphere to the story. I personally loved watching Russell and Holmes be more than a bit out of their element with familial concerns. Also, British legend and history for days!

The "Seafarer" jeans are sailor inspired and Russell would probably have found them very useful on her choppy journey to the Orkneys. Practical boots to keep her keep warm and protected over land, air and sea. I topped that red blouse with the lovely draping with a sturdy bomber jacket that could have been borrowed from her pilot. Celtic earrings inspired by the Orkneys, a statement ring inspired by Yolanda's native Shanghai, a cult-inspired bracelet, and a Stonehenge inspired necklace complete the jewelry selection. The final touch is the Jonathan Adler (no relation, I'm sure) horse wallet: A nod to the famous chalk horse and featuring a pattern very reminiscent of a hive.


Book Style: Locked Rooms

Locked Rooms

Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King is the 8th book in the Mary Russell series. This time around Holmes and Russell are back in her hometown of San Francisco and Russell is facing several deeply suppressed demons from her past. I really appreciated this foray into Russell's past and a getting a better look at the mystery surrounding the death of her parents and brother. San Francisco in the 1920s was also a delightful setting to immerse myself in with the added touch of Dashiell Hammett (another genre of crime fiction that Ms. King does delightfully well, check out Touchstone and The Bones of Paris)! The format of this book is a bit different from the previous Mary Russell books as it alternates from being Russell's first-person memoir to a third-person narrative following Holmes.

There's a lot going on in this flapper meets hippie outfit that perfectly embodies the carefree spirit of San Francisco. To start, the dress is a tent dress, chosen, not only because it fits the requirements for flapper meets hippie, but also because of the "city of tents" that populated the city after the 1906 earthquake that Russell had blocked from her memory. The shoes are "Moxy Flapper" platforms, and while Russell would never wear anything so impractical, they are certainly endless amounts of fun! "Chinatown" nail lacquer is a reference to San Fran's Chinatown which pays a pivotal role in the story and Russell's own personal history. The kimono inspired clutch is a nod to the briefly mentioned stop Holmes and Russell made in Japan after The Game and before Locked Rooms (Ms. King, I still want this one recalled in detail, please). The geometric cliff ring is a sad reminder of Russell's family's deaths. That architectural Golden Gate ring/necklace is a lovely nod to the city's most famous landmark; one that, admittedly, didn't exist during the events of Locked Rooms. The key earrings should be a rather obvious reference considering the title of novel, but I'll give you a spoiler, the psychological idea of the memory palace gets a lot of attention here. Finally, some Russell worthy eyewear.


Book Style: The Game

The Game

I do believe I was issued a personal challenge on this one by Mary Russell herself (@mary_russell over on Twitter). I will admit putting together this Book Style for the 7th Mary Russell, The Game by Laurie R. King, was a bit challenging. Russell spends most of this book pretending to be a boy, first a native and then her own twin brother, so I couldn't pull too much direct inspiration from her wardrobe in the narrative. However, purple being my favorite color, and my own personal love of patterns and Asian accessories, makes this my favorite outfit from the whole series!

This stunning silk jacquard dress causes the mind to start dreaming of exotic locales that the fabric could have been imported from, although hopefully not by the East India Company. Giving the outfit these tall, practical boots is exactly what Russell would want, and they balance the potential dressiness of the dress. The cruise ship bangle starts off Holmes and Russell's journey from Sussex to India, offering up some great comedic moments and a few wonderfully executed red herrings on Ms. King's part. The Dutch East India necklace and Maharaja inspired ring are both nods to the history of the subcontinent and the turmoil that helps set the scene for the novel's plot. A recycled sari scarf is another nod to the native culture and its wardrobe staple, one which Russell never wears, incidentally. The juggler ring is a wink towards the first disguise of the case. Finally, the military coat is a lovely, modernized version of what Russell's twin brother might have worn. ;)


Book Style: Justice Hall

Justice Hall

Justice Hall is the sixth book in Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series. This one sets us back into proper chronological order, but there's a reason for the out of sequence O Jerusalem being presented directly prior to this one, we needed to be properly introduced to the Hazr brothers. That's right, Mahmoud and Ali are back. Holmes was right, however, they're not brothers and they're not native to the Middle East; Russell really should have listened to those diphthongs better! The Hughenfort cousins, Marsh and Alistair (we still get to call him Ali) have been called home to England due to issues of inheritance. While Holmes and Russell's involvement originally is that of concerned friends, they quickly uncover a mystery that spans three countries, hidden family secrets and one horrible war.

I present a casual weekend outfit inspired by, my admittedly American idea of, a weekend at an English country estate. You know, very Balmoral, what with hunting and walking and riding and all. I threw in a bit of pizzaz with the military inspired cross-body bag, a nod to Gabriel Hughenfort's service during World War I. The smoking gun necklace will hopefully lead to Marsh's attempted murderer while the pelican ring is an homage to his family motto and symbol. The final touch is that lovely airplane charm bracelet that ties in Gabriel's barn-storming true love.


Book Style: O Jerusalem

O Jerusalem

While I always strive to embody the character of the female lead, if my book of choice sports one, through my Book Styles, historical fiction sometimes works better if I aim for "inspired-by" outfits instead. The fifth Mary Russell novel, O Jerusalem, by Laurie R. King falls into that category. Not only is Russell forced into disguise for pretty much the entire novel, but I also have very little concept of what a young Arab male in 1920s Jerusalem would actually wear. That winding introduction is my long-winded way of explaining that, while it's possible a still 20-year-old Russell in the present day might sport this outfit, this is not what I envision our Russell wearing at all.

The book is set in Jerusalem (in case that title was confusing to you) during the events of the first novel, The Beekeeper's Apprentice. This is Russell and Holmes' sojourn away from England, and they clearly weren't using the time to merely rest, relax and recoup. Since they need a break from the unknown threat back home, Mycroft decides to put them to use for Queen and Country. Russell chooses Jerusalem; she has a yearning to get in touch with her Jewish roots and see her people's homeland. Once they arrive they are entrusted to the care of two local agents, the Hazr brothers. The elder brother, Mahmoud, is taciturn and a well-loved scribe in the region while the younger brother, Ali, is flamboyant and volatile. Gradually they come to except their English burdens; Russell wins them both over with her skills with throwing knives and her loyalty. The quartet work together to thwart a threat to the post-World War I Middle Eastern peace negotiations.

Most of this outfit is very loosely inspired by traditional Middle Eastern fashion without any rhyme or reason. Just the soothing colors of sea, sky and sand all tossed together in something breezy, yet covered. I had to include some sandals, since Russell is cursed with a pair that she is finally allowed to give up in favor of her comfortable and trusted boots. A stunning Jerusalem ring, a dagger necklace, and an initialed bee necklace bring the appropriate amount of shine and shimmer. The dagger necklace for Russell's inherent talent with knives and the bee necklace for her initial and for the beekeeping monks that provide a valuable clue for Holmes. The "Sexy Red" polish is a nice pop for those exposed toes for when Russell goes out in her other disguise of sexy young arrival to the expat scene in Jerusalem. I do so love when she flusters Holmes with her femininity. 

I often tell people that Ms. King captures the feel of place and time better than any other contemporary mystery writer and give them O Jerusalem as a prime example. This book will transport you.


Book Style: The Moor

The Moor

The fourth Mary Russell book, The Moor, has the most direct link to any of the original Conan Doyle stories. This time Laurie R. King has Russell and Holmes revisiting the scene of his previous case, The Hound of the Baskervilles. In a case that involves presumptive heirs, Dartmoor legends, boisterously obnoxious American gold miners, and a touching mention to a real-life Dartmoor historian we get the most haunting of all of the Mary Russell adventures. 

If you're traipsing around a foggy and potentially haunted moor on horseback (well ponyback) you're going to want to stay warm and comfortable. Sturdy, stylish and comfy boots paired with knee-high socks are good for the feet. I love this green tulip skirt so much (ignore the impracticality of it for horseback riding). A warm-camel coat has a very strong '20s silhouette while maintaining a modern vibe. One stylish trilby to keep the water off her eyeglasses and a scarf printed with text from The Hound of the Baskervilles to keep that pesky cold at bay. A paw print necklace pays homage to the creepy legend of the devil hound and the hedgehog ring had to be included, because there is an adorable and super important hedgehog in this story!


Book Style: A Letter Of Mary

A Letter Of Mary

Next up in my Mary Russell Book Style series is the third book, A Letter of Mary. This time around Russell and Holmes find themselves visited by an old friend from their sojourn in Israel and Palestine during the events of The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Dorothy Ruskin, a spunky archeologist, leaves the pair with a mysterious gift, an ancient manuscript that could be the missing Gospel of Mary Magdalene. When Miss Ruskin is killed in a hit and run Russell and Holmes work frantically to uncover her killer, who may or may not have a link to the establishment-shattering document.

In this adventure, Russell goes undercover in a chauvinistic gentleman's home that requires her to girl-ify her look a bit more than usual, so I felt that a feminine dress was in order with this outfit. The OPI nail lacquer in "First Date at the Golden Gate" is a nod to Russell's San Francisco roots, which we get to discover a bit more of in this story. I included a sports car pendant for Russell's passion for automobiles and for the grisly murder weapon. Those earrings, oh how I need those earrings, are a Holmes reference via the new BBC rendition: They're yellow smiley faces on a wallpaper background!


Book Style: A Monstrous Regiment Of Women

A Monstrous Regiment Of Women

I've been in a weird reading slump lately; I've started so many excellent books recently and have managed to finish exactly none of them. Reading ADD or something. So I decided to revisit some of my favorite series. I already posted a Book Style for the first book in my favorite series ever, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, so I thought I'd work my way through the other eleven books in Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series. Since this year marks the 20th anniversary of The Beekeeper's Apprentice, even better!

The second book, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, sets up the format that the series takes on after Beekeeper's and introduces us to Mary post-university as she comes into her inheritance and embarks on her adult life. The plot involves a charismatic female preacher, the women's liberation movement, and a heroin smuggler. I loved that this book helped address Holmes' former addiction and Mary's past. The scenes where Mary is being held captive and the scenes following her rescue are still some of my favorite out of all eleven books. 

This outfit is an update on a ladylike but practical outfit for your gal about town. While Mary would never wear impractical heels or so much jewelry (and she would never brag about her and Holmes' marriage with such an obvious bag)  I like to think I captured her essence a bit here. It's also fair to say, that since I relate so hard to Mary I may be projecting quite a bit of myself into this outfit, too. 


Book Style: The Beekeeper's Apprentice

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

The Mister gave me The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King as a bit of a challenge for this Book Style set. It's one of my favorite books in the whole world because it is the first book in the Mary Russell series, a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. That being said, yellow is my least favorite color ever. But I have wiped the smug smile off my husband's face with this one; he just gave me a nod of approval actually. Guess it helps to know (and love) your characters so well. I wanted to maintain the tomboyish, academic look that Mary embraces throughout most of this first novel. I think I achieved that with her trademark "sturdy boots", walkable shorts, and geek-chic eyewear. The silk material of the shorts and the bling of the, oh-so-appropriate, Alexander McQueen honeybee jewelry harkens to her heiress status. Did you notice that the cozy wrap sweater also sports a honeycomb motif? And no Mary Russell outfit would ever be complete without a nod to Holmes; a 221B necklace does the trick here. Oh, I almost forgot, that delicious chocolate nail varnish is called "The Professor".


Book List

Image via Luna!
If you know me, then you know of my love of the written word. I have been a hardcore book junkie since elementary school when I devoured the entire Little House on the Prairie series in a little over a month one winter and then progressed to ripping my way through Nancy Drews so quickly that my mother had to actually ration out the purchase of the 3-book-sets they sold at (what is now) Costco. I have been an avid reader for years; cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, TV Guides, any magazine in the doctor's waiting room. I don't do aimless sitting well. And as much as I love TV and movies and video games, I will ultimately retire to my bedroom to curl up with a mug of something hot and my current book. My wonderful husband has graciously adapted to my most introverted habit over the course of our 2 1/2 years together, and is even turning into a book junkie himself; although his genres of preference rarely overlap with mine. Our dream home will contain a very substantial library someday since we both prefer to own actual paper books opposed to the digital variety; and while I am a huge user of both library books and Barnes & Noble's rather generous lounge-around-and-read-for-free policy I absolutely must own my favorites.

I'm also partial to book series. I imagine this is the result of becoming so invested in the characters that I hate to say goodbye. I always want to know what happens next. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite book series:

Harry Potter: If you could see my copies you would have no question about how much I love these books. I have reread the entire series at least 6 times now. Also, the film series is probably one of the best book-to-film adaptation I have ever seen.

Mary Russell: I love all things Sherlock Holmes, and when I stumbled across the first book in this series on a sale table, I was hooked. Mary Russell is a brilliant young woman coming of age during the Great War in southern England who happens to, literally, stumble across the great detective. Their relationship and cases are the subject of these books. Laurie R. King does an excellent job of staying true to the essence of Holmes and of writing the books true to Russell's voice. Ms. King is still writing new additions to this collection too!

Lord of the Rings/ The Hobbit: Confession, I had read the Hobbit prior to seeing Peter Jackson's most excellent adaptation of The Fellowship in theaters, so I had an idea of Middle Earth, but I did not pick up a copy of the trilogy until after the second film was already on its way to DVD. Tolkien created a whole new world with this series which is rich in languages, peoples, histories, and settings all of its own. If you've only seen the films, you are depriving yourself of so much more if you don't read the originals.

The Parasol Protectorate: This is a new series for me, and one I'm still reading my way through. It's a bit more campy than my usual choices, but with vampires, werewolves, Queen Victoria, steampunk and a good dose of mystery I can't resist. Gail Carriger is a very witty writer, a fact that is evident just from reading her author bio, and these books are definitely ones I'm thrilled to have discovered.

The Looking Glass Wars: This is a three book series based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It's an alternate reality/fantasy that focuses on the adult Alyss (as it is correctly spelled) who finds herself removed from the protection of Victorian British society to return to her rightful place on the royal throne in an alternative dimension and the ensuing battle for power with her Aunt Redd. If you love all things Alice like I do, then you must check out this series by Frank Beddor.


What are some of your favorite series? Have you read any of these?