Winter Haven by Athol Dickson 2008 (333 pgs)
Vera is called to a remote island off the coast of Maine when her brother’s body is discovered on the shore. He’s been missing for 13 years, and Vera has out of necessity blocked all thoughts of his fate. But when she arrives, a hard duty becomes nearly impossible. Her older brother looks like a teenager, unchanged from the day he disappeared. And that’s not the only mystery on the island.
I was keeping a wary eye on this one, in case it turned sappy and life-affirming. (The author won a Christian fiction award for a previous book.) It did, but not until the very end. The bulk of the novel was an easy and enjoyable gothic-light (in the traditional “wife in the attic/bleeding wallpaper” sense) suspense story. I was disappointed in the too pat “it all happens for a reason” tie-up, but otherwise it was fairly entertaining.
The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) c.1955 (202 pgs)
What does this make, re-read number 28? At least. I devoured the Narnia books repeatedly as a kid and still love to pick them up again every once in a while. The adventures are always fun, and grounded enough that you could imagine yourself in them. The religious overtones (which I don’t remember noticing as a kid) are light and never overpower the story itself. This volume (although written after the rest) is where it all began- with an attic room, an evil uncle, and a pair of magical rings.
Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff by Rosemary Mahoney 2007 (273 pgs)
Enjoyable travelogue of a woman’s frustrated efforts to row solo from Aswan to Luxor. She wants to experience the Nile they way ordinary people have for milennia: by self-powered rowboat. It’s an interesting shift in focus; she’s not preoccupied with the architecture and historical sites. She’s looking to connect with the everyday people who make their livings within reach of the Nile as well as make her own connection to the river. Along her journey, she ruminates on the epic force of this life-enabling river throughout history and touches on historical travellers experiences, which makes for an interesting read.
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists by Gideon Defoe 2006 (176 pgs)
A re-read of the hilarious third adventure of The Pirate Captain and his stalwart crew- including The Pirate With the Scarf, The Albino Pirate, and The Pirate With the Nut Allergy. Hijinks ensue as they try to rescue Karl Marx (he of the alarming hairyness) from the mysterious statuesque blonde women who seem determined to blame the Communists for drowning kittens and bad weather, among other things.