“What I’m reading” Wednesday | 5/20/2020

Happy Wednesday, all. I hope your week has been good so far and that you’re safe and well wherever you are.

I thought I’d check in with what I’m currently reading this week since I finished all the books I mentioned in my post from last week.

Paris For One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
Published: October 18, 2016  by Pamela Dorman Books
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Genres: Fiction, Short Stories, Romance, Chick Lit
Goodreads | Amazon

My progress: 50% completed

Paris For One follows a young woman who heads to Paris for a romantic getaway with her boyfriend, except he fails to show up after her arrival. She meets an aspiring French writer who helps her make the most of her trip and learn more about herself.

I am an Adult Services librarian, and one of the virtual resources we’re offering during our closure is “adult story times.” My colleagues and I all selected a short story to read aloud and I was a bit nervous, at first, because I don’t read short stories at all. I looked into a couple short story authors my colleagues recommended and accidentally came across Jojo Moyes’ Paris For One & Other Stories in my search for short story collections in our Overdrive library.

I enjoyed Moyes’ Me Before You series and was eager to look into this one. Paris For One is the featured story here with multiple chapters and it is complemented by various shorter stories, each one being its own chapter. The selection I actually chose to record for my adult story time is called Crocodile Shoes which is a funny little one about a woman who accidentally swaps gym bags and has to spend the rest of her day wearing a pair of Louboutins.

Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid
(Winston Brothers #5)
Release Date: November 8, 2018 by Cipher-Naught
Run time: 12 hours, 29 minutes
Narrator: Chris Brinkley, Chloe Miller
Goodreads | Amazon

My Progress: 2 hours and 49 minutes completed

The youngest Winston brother, Roscoe, is a sweet veterinarian pained by the unrequited love he has had for Simone Payton. She only comes home once in a while, so avoiding her is easy. But Simone has come home for longer than Roscoe expected and she seems to be everywhere he is.

So the second installment in this series, Grin and Beard It, featured Sienna Diaz, a strong-willed, saucy and curvy Latinx female protagonist. Dr. Strange Beard features Simone Payton, a black female protagonist who is FBI. If you’re wondering the same thing I was, the answer is “yes!” Simone is voiced by a black woman–thank goodness.

There is a moment when Simone is pulled over by a racist cop because she is a black woman driving an expensive car. Her white friend Ashley calls out the cop on his racist behavior and explains to Simone that he was recently suspended for his racist behavior toward Sienna’s brother Juan when he came to visit their town.

While I appreciate that Ashley stood up for her friend, I was left with just a slightly sour taste in my mouth because while she had good intentions, Ashley clearly exhibited signs of being a white savior. But Reid surprised me–Simone thanks her friend for speaking up, then follows her thanks with some gentle advice on the difference between speaking for someone and amplifying someone else’s voice. Simone details why it’s important that people of color are given a chance to defend themselves first, rather than white people (regardless of their intentions) stepping in for them. My heart was so full after reading this part.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
Published: March 3, 2020  by Ballantine Books
Advanced Readers Copy, 377 pages
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Chick Lit
Goodreads | Amazon

My progress: 100 pages completed.

My copy is an ARC, so there may or may not be some slight differences to the published version.

A woman grieving the death of her boyfriend discovers an alternate life where he still lives.

I finally picked this one up again after a hiatus. I struggle with reading books about grief because they often make me frustrated despite how empathetic I may be for the protagonist experiencing it. Grief is so complex because like many other human themes and experiences, everyone copes differently. Lydia is still in the almost debilitating stage where getting out of bed and returning to her daily life seems nearly impossible. She goes back and forth between snapping at her family and friends and being apologetic toward them. She is still a bit selfish and inconsiderate, but the overarching truth is that Lydia is a woman struggling to accept her boyfriend’s death and let him go. She learns that taking sleeping pills leads her into a dream world where her boyfriend is still alive, and so she begins to take her pills during the day to ensure that she can be with him when he is also awake. I have reached a point where she understands that this is can become a dangerous addiction, but I’m still worried about the choices she will make going forward. Regardless, I find this difficult to put down each time I pick it up.

51520901. sx318 sy475 The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel
Published: May 12, 2020 by Forever
Paperback, 336 pages
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Chick Lit
Goodreads | Amazon

I received a finished copy of this book from Forever in exchange for an honest review.

My progress: 137 pages completed

Liya Thakkar is a successful and independent woman, qualities that do not endear her to her extremely traditional Indian parents and Indian community. When she comes home one evening to have dinner with her parents, she soon learns that the dinner was set up so she could meet one of their choices for an arranged marriage. Liya escapes her parents’ house, only to come face-to-face with her suitor.

I just started this book last night and I was up until about 2:00 a.m. reading it. If there’s anything that drives me to power through a book, it’s when a strong female protagonist is completely misunderstood and misjudged by everyone around her. Liya is so strong and so brave and it pains me every time someone says anything terrible about her, especially since no one knows how truly abusive her father is toward her mother and that Liya was sexually assaulted by a leader in their community. Jay Shah is an adorable male protagonist and while I’m usually rooting for a handsome hero, it frustrates me how easily he gives into the rumors about Liya.

I fought with myself to put this book down and go to sleep because I just needed to see how far I had to get into it until someone finally realized that Liya’s tough front is a reflection of the pain she feels inside; Jay seems to be getting over himself and a little closer.

I am loving this enemies-to-lovers story featuring Indian-American characters in an Indian community! Patel’s story will really challenge readers to understand and respect another culture’s traditions and social differences, while still questioning the morality of some stances and how they impact the growth of a person. Liya is not ashamed to be Indian, but she deserves to resent her community as a whole which has failed her and continues to fail her in very sad and hurtful ways.

C/W: Mentions of sexual assault and depictions of unwanted sexual advances.

I hope you’ve all been reading some good books this week.

xo jasmine

Instagram | Goodreads | 2020 Reading Goal: 47/100

8 thoughts on ““What I’m reading” Wednesday | 5/20/2020

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