Bonus photo

F.’s Thesis, finished:

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Submitted in multiple copy at 4.15PM, 28th June 2013. Huzzah!

It’s been graduation week here, and as I see newly minted PhDs walk with the procession down the street in their blue gowns, I’ve been thinking: Next year, this will be me. (And this will be F., in November!)

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Favourite things

Tall towers:

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St Salvator’s tower on a sunny evening.

Solstice Wood

Opening line: ‘Gram called at five in the morning. She never remembered the time difference.’

Solstice WoodSylvia Lynn moved to West Coast the first chance she could, and has refused her grandmother’s requests to come home to East Coast for seven years. Until her grandfather dies, and Sylvia flies back for his funeral. Once back in her childhood home, again the old mysteries resurface, and the wood behind Lynn Hall is full of secrets. Intermixed in this family drama are stories of magic, dreams, and impossibilities. Are there fairies in the wood? And what do they want? And who was Sylvia’s father, after all?

Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip is unlike her other fantasy novels. Instead of being set in a magical, fictional other world, Solstice Wood bring magic into our own world. McKillip’s prose was less lyrical in this novel and more down to earth, probably due to its setting. The book never says which states they’re in, but you can guess that Sylvia probably moved to Los Angeles and her family is somewhere in the Appalachians (though Wikipedia says New York). Even so, I found it difficult to believe that fairies would exist in America; I kept wanting to make Sylvia’s hometown be in England, and she had moved to the U.S., but that wouldn’t fit with the four hour time difference mentioned in the novel. To me, fairies are a very European, if not insular, tradition, and as someone who studies fairies in literature I found it difficult to transpose them to the New World. The story is good anyway, and all other aspects of the fairies felt true to tradition.

The novel is told from several points of view: Sylvia, her grandmother Iris, her cousin Tyler, and a family friend, Owen. Each adds their own perspective and shows how the family secrets affect far more than just the Lynn family. Each character also has their own distinct voice; even though this novel may be less poetic than McKillip’s other novels, it certainly isn’t lacking craftsmanship in the storytelling. Apparently Solstice Wood serves as a sequel to Winter Rose. I haven’t read Winter Rose, but now I’m curious to.

Favourite things

Swinging:

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That swing set is over 60-years old, and it’s been standing in my back garden seat-less for who knows how long. That is, until F. made a seat for it for my birthday. Since then I’ve enjoyed swinging in my very own back garden whenever I want.

The Creature in the Case

Opening line: ‘I am going back to the Old Kingdom, Uncle,’ said Nicholas Sayre.

The Creature in the CaseSix months later, Nicholas Sayre is still recovering from the strange event at Forwin Mill. Something to do with magic and the Old Kingdom, with the Abhorsen, King Touchstone, and the Disreputable Dog. Nicholas thought he could stay in Ancelstierre and try to forget those unusual events he got mixed up in, but he was wrong. He just didn’t know how wrong he was — that is, until he went to a house party and found an unusual creature in a case. The Free Magic creature was waking up… with no Charter Mage or Abhorsen nearby to help him.

I read the Abhorsen trilogy two years ago, and was crestfallen when I finished reading it. Imagine my excitement when I saw that the used bookstore had The Creature in the Case by Garth Nix. The Creature in the Case is a novella set six months after the end of Abhorsen, the last book in the Abhorsen triology. You do need to have read the trilogy to read this book. Nicholas was never my favourite character, but I did enjoy seeing more of Ancelstierre in this book. I’m also pleased to discover that Nix has another novella set in the Old Kingdom series, To Hold the Bridge, and also that he has another novel coming out in 2014. Now, where to find the novella in the meantime…?

Numbers

I just realised that even though I tend to get into the office around 10.00AM (though I’m always happier when I get in at 9.30 or 9.00AM), I stay until 6.30-7.00PM. That means I’m working a 33-hour work week Tuesday-Friday, with 13-hour work weekends at MUSA.

That’s roughly a 45-49-hour work week, folks.

And that’s not even taking into account choir rehearsals and PGCF and I don’t even remember what else during term time.

No wonder I’m exhausted.