July was spent trying to dig my way through an enormous pile of magazines that have been growing on my coffee table, and reading for my book club. This was my choice for us July and August, and while it was a bit of a stretch given the focus of my book group, I think it was a nice palette cleansing genre for us to try.
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey There were several reasons I chose Riders of the Purple Sage for my book group this month: it was a western, a genre we had not read in the 7 or so years we've been together; Zane Grey lived in Arizona for a few years, and as I do, too, it seemed proper to give a local guy some attention; we recently moved our criteria to include books published one hundred years before the current calendar year, and this would move us into a more modern era. It was written in a surprisingly clear, modern, stripped down tone. Grey's descriptions of the southwest were perfect--evocative and moody, and my living in that same part of the world meant I could see the landscape he so lovingly and minutely described. The anti-Mormonism was a surprise, as was the over romanticism of the piece. The focus on two women as central characters was surprising, but they were the flat, two-dimensional characters I expected any woman in a western to be. I'd read a book by Zane Grey as a child when my English teacher said I was reading too many mysteries for my school book reports. It's not a genre I plan on revisiting often (so far, it's been one every 40 years or so), but with such a vivid description of the landscape outside my window, I enjoyed this brief foray.
An Unkindness of Ravens by Ruth Rendell I listened to this classic by Ruth Rendell, first published in 1985, while gardening and cleaning. Inspector Wexford is one of my fictional crushes--decent, hard working, trustworthy, but even he can be fooled sometimes, and that is the case in this novel. Wexford placates his wife by looking into the disappearance of a neighbor, whom he thinks is just a bored husband who ran away as part of a mid life crisis. Of course, it turns out to be much more sinister that that. Rendell parallels the investigation of the feminist group Arria with Wexford's assistant's personal crisis, and that's the part of the book I disliked intensely. Really, in 1985, in England, a British woman would be so adamantly against being pregnant with a girl and so misogynistic? Really? What a distasteful and unpleasant subplot.
Cat Trick (A Magical Cats Mystery) by Sophie Kelly Another cosy listened to while gardening. Cat lover that I am, I decided to give paranormal, pet-centric sub-genre entries another try, mainly because Kathleen's cats are named Hercules and Owen, and I'm a fan of giving pets big, human names like these, and because Kathleen is a librarian. The mystery was so-so, I could have done without a cat with the magical ability to walk through walls (nope, not making that up), but the sweet, slow romance was nice, the reader was okay, and the supporting characters were people I liked and wanted to know better. I may listen or read to another, and just roll my eyes through the magical cat part.
I've also been reading a mystery that I've not been enjoying much, but I'm trying to slog through it. Stay tuned to see if I make it.