The semester is over and I’m done grading so I’m hoping to pick up my reading pace a bit this summer. This week, I have a contemporary romance, a queer romance set in ancient Greece, and a short story collection that celebrates love and mythology. If you want to see more, you can find my last “Recent Reads” here.
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Genre: Adult contemporary romance
Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sparkling romantic comedy debut.
Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.
When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.
As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.
“Sometimes I wonder if content is really just a synonym for complacent.”
I really love the setting and set-up for this story. It’s such a fun concept. I also found it interesting only being in her head and not knowing what her love interest, Dominic, is thinking. Speaking of Dominic, I think he’s an interesting hero with the cutest family ever. I wish I knew more about them. This romance deals with some serious themes of grief and loneliness and developing and maintaining friendships as an adult so while this is a romance, it also offers up so much more to think about. Shay is my age and seeing her having to think about what she wants to do with her life and work through the “what’s next?” in her late twenties is both relatable and refreshing. She’s also older than Dominic which is cute. It might have just been me, but I think the build up to the romance was a little slow but I didn’t really mind it because I like the payoff. Also, there’s a cute dog named Steve.
The Song of Achilles
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Genre: Adult historical fiction, mythology, fantasy
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.
“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”
Only a few pages into the book I made my first note and it says, “Oh, this is going to break my heart, isn’t it?” Even though I knew what was going to happen, it still had a deep impact on me. It was fun once I started remembering specific plot points of The Iliad, which I haven’t read since undergrad, because I could anticipate what would happen and how it would happen in Madeline Miller’s story. This story is a bit slow moving at the beginning but I was fine with it because I like getting to see Achilles and Patroclus get to know each other as well as explore the building tension between them and Achilles’ goddess mother. When the war started, I think it got a little tedious and I was really unsure of how I felt about Achilles but I do think the way Briseis’ character is explored really adds to that part of the story. I was overwhelmingly sad for Patroclus and really love this story.
Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola
Release Date: August 20, 2020
Genre: Adult romance, short stories, mythology
Discover love from times long ago…
Join Bolu Babalola as she retells the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology in this stunning collection. From the homoromantic Greek myths, to magical Nigerian folktales, to the ancient stories of South Asia, Bolu brings new life to tales that truly show the vibrance and colours of love around the world.
The anthology is a step towards decolonising tropes of love, and celebrates in the wildly beautiful and astonishingly diverse tales of romance and desire that already exist in so many cultures and communities.
Get lost in these mystical worlds and you will soon realise that humanity – like love – comes in technicolour.
“What matters most is that you feel like you are at your fullest.”
Short story collections are often hit or miss for me but this one just might be the best collection I’ve ever read. There isn’t a single story that bored me or that I didn’t like. The writing in these stories is so beautiful. It is so nice to see stories of joy and love for people of color rather than trauma. The women in these stories are largely powerful and have autonomy which you might not always get in older texts such as mythical tales. I wasn’t familiar with many of the source texts but I still really enjoyed reading these stories and want to look more into the stories I don’t know. The first story was a bit confusing but that might have been because I didn’t know the source material so looking up that story might help me fully appreciate it more. Some standout stories in this collection include Scheherazade which is based on 1001 Nights, Zhinu based on The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, and Psyche. For Psyche, imagine your favs from Greek mythology working at a fashion magazine called Olympus! I am so excited to see what else Bolu Babalola writes because this collection is beautiful.
I’m still reading manga just at a bit of a slower pace from last month. I will probably wrap all of those up in an individual post since I’m just working through one series (Blue Exorcist). Have you read any of these? Do you want to? Come chat with me!