Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Reading Update: Page 1


Some early afternoon tacos and a debut rom-com to get me through this hump day. 

Olivia is taking over her grandmother's matchmaking business when L.A.'s most eligible bachelor develops an app that takes her PĆ² Po's traditional Chinese zodiac approach and makes it about "animal attraction". 
Bennett believes traditions are meant to be broken, so these two make a deal, find a match for each other and whoever falls in love loses. 

I can feel those rivals-to-lovers sparking emotions heating up! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Review: When Life Gives You Vampires

When Life Gives You Vampires When Life Gives You Vampires by Gloria Duke
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received this book for free, this does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

I'm sorry, but how is it even possible that I'm absolutely jonesing for a big, tall glass of A positive?

When Lily wakes up after having slept through the day, craving blood, no reflection in the mirror, and no memory of what happened after she went out with her bestfriend Cat, they both can only think, vampire. When Cat takes her to a blood bank that she volunteers at to feed, Lily gets her memory back from the energy the blood gives her. Suddenly Lily's dealing with being one of the undead, a 400 year old hottie that acts like he likes her, and a Grand Master of the North American Vampire Council wanting to exact revenge on her. 

He moves closer, getting in my face. “Why do you insist on being the prickly heroine who pushes everyone away? 

Told all from Lily's point-of-view and in a stream of conscious that felt chaotic and uneven, Lily worries more about her weight than being turned into a vampire, this didn't quite capture me into the story. We get the flashback of Lily meeting Tristan in a bar and then when he walks her home, he thinks he's using his Influence on her and starts to drink from her neck. Lily, aware of what is happening, decides to bite him back and accidentally performs the ceremony needed to change her into a vampire. She runs from Tristan, goes to Cat the next night and then Tristan catches back up with her to give her some information. It's against the vampire council rules to create a “newborn” without their say so and the Grand Master, Gideon, just so happens to be Tristan's enemy, so it's on with Gideon hunting them to kill them both. 

Tristan Newberry bit me two nights ago. But when, exactly, did he start getting under my skin? 

For being the male main character and the whole catalyst for what happens and changes Lily's life, Tristan actually felt like a nonentity for a lot of the story. The story being from Lily's pov didn't help getting to know him, we don't get a lot about him or his past, and the way his character didn't really do much had him feeling barely sketched out. After Lily drinks from him, which causes insatiable desire and has them having a bedroom scene around the 65% mark, Lily also learns from Tristan's blood that he had a great love that died. Since Lily has strong insecurities stemming from her weight, she just can't believe Tristan loves her and has her constantly pushing or running from him. 

Maybe I like him...a little. 

Gideon hunting Lily and Tristan consisted of two threatening notes to Lily and then kidnapping her mother, Gideon was a pretty off to the side villain. We got a little world-building with Tristan explaining the vampire council and then how when a newborn is created a vampire slayer is automatically made, usually the newborn's nemesis in someway. Lily's nemesis was a work colleague and he makes a small appearance to bring in some danger and a little secondary romance with Cat. 

Maybe my power was there all along. And I just needed to embrace it. 

The last 15% has the big showdown between Gideon, Lily and Tristan. It was an ok battle scene but since Gideon was off screen so much, I'm not sure I really felt the stakes. Lily's mom has a 180 degree character change, she'd been big in fat shaming Lily all her life and even reveals the big secret about Lily's father. I really never felt the emotional development between Lily and Tristan, he's hot and Lily thinks he does caring things here and there between being too protective and Tristan says here and there that he likes Lily. Since I didn't feel there was substance between them, I didn't believe in the I love yous that were thrown out in the end and this couple ended up feeling pretty meh. Lily does bring up her insecurities repeatedly throughout the book and the nonchalant way she took becoming a vampire, her personal weight issues more on her mind at times than becoming undead, just didn't personally jive with me. The tone is supposed to feel fast paced and frivolous but it felt off and chaotic in a way to me that just didn't have the story landing with me. 

For the first time, I see that I am so much more.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Reading Update: Page 1


Yep, I'm finishing up my Halloween reads at the end of November 

It feels right for the Monday after American Thanksgiving break. Snacking on some dip, cyber Monday-ing, and reading this afternoon trying to get back into the swing of things. 

Have a great week, all! 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Review: Clytemnestra

Clytemnestra Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book for free, this does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

There is no peace for a woman with ambition 

Known as the daughter of King Tyndareus and Leda, twin sister of Helen, princess of Sparta, and eventual wife of Agamemnon and Queen of Mycenae, Clytemnestra has been portrayed as a schemer and murderer. Following, fairly faithfully, to the works of Aeschylus, the author takes these Greek mythology tales and gives us a historical fiction feeling story that colors in all those spaces between the better known highlights, such as the Trojan War. I enjoyed how this take stripped away the more mythology fantasy elements and focused on seeing these characters from their mortal human sides. Clytemnestra doesn't necessarily believe in the Gods but subsequently finds her life impacted by them all the same because of the “Gods will” delivered through the all too human priestess and priests. 

Is this what happens when one falls in love and marries? Clytemnestra wonders. Is this what a woman gives up? All her life she has been taught courage, strength, resilience, but must those qualities be kept at bay with a husband? 

Divided up into five parts, the first starts off with a movie 300 like scene of Clytemnestra hunting a lynx and showing how she was raised in Sparta. It lays the ground work for how Clytemnestra will think further on in the story, her warrior mentality and always seeing herself on equal footing with men. The family dynamics of her mother drinking away her pain, closeness with siblings, and how it does seem that Clytemnestra is their father's favorite. Clytemnestra's, probably more known, sister Helen, also features predominately, which does make sense as the Trojan War plays a large role. Part one ends with Clytemnestra marrying for love. 

“You must learn your place among men, Clytemnestra,” he says. His words are whips, slashing at her hurting throat. “You are too proud, too arrogant.” 

Part two starts with Clytemnestra pregnant and her husband gone back to his kingdom to prepare them for her arrival. It also gives us the arrival of brothers Menelaus and Agamemnon, they lost their kingdom to a traitor and are looking for help from Sparta. This part shows how Agamemnon wants Clytemnestra and the underling sense of trouble brewing for our lead character Clytemnestra, but not to be missed, is how his brother Menelaus wants Helen and when she picks him as her husband, the other rejected men were forced to agree to a pact to support whoever she picked as husband. A pact that obviously comes back to play a huge part in why Greece went to war. We also get an introduction to Odysseus and his eventual romance with Clytemnestra's cousin Penelope, you've maybe heard of them? This part ends with the murder of Clytemnestra's husband and baby and her marriage to Agamemnon. Since the family dynamics were so well explored in the first part, the betrayal from Clytemnestra's father is really felt and how this immediately and in the future affects the whole family. 

She gazes at Agamemnon and says, “I do not forget.” 

Part three jumps fifteen years and we're in Mycenae with Clytemnestra and her four children. There's no love in her marriage but Clytemnestra does what she needs to in order to survive, she's strong and works with Agamemnon to rule the kingdom but you can feel the hatred in her that she keeps on simmer and always seemingly ready to boil. I thought it was interesting of the author to put little subtleties in where the reader gets the impression that Agamemnon does love Clytemnestra but he does it in such a selfish way, the whole killing her first husband and child because he wanted her. It added a layer to Agamemnon that improved the story, instead of just keeping him a one dimensional brute. Clytemnestra's father dies and she goes back to Sparta and we get updates on her siblings and at 56% Paris arrives in Sparta. Helen of Troy comes to fruition and we get our war. Part three ends with the sacrifice of Clytemnestra's daughter Iphigenia by Agamemnon by order of a priest so they can appease the gods and you can feel the simmering in Clytemnestra's gut boil throughout her body. 

He desired her strength because it was a challenge to him. He wished to bend her to his own will, break her. He wanted to show he was stronger by subjugating her. Some men can be like that.

Part four starts with letters from Clytemnestra's family to her about the murder of her daughter and the reader gets a glimpse of how Clytemnestra mourned, not eating, not sleeping, raging, wanting to kill herself. Her personal guard, Leon, gets her through it, along with her other children and we jump nine years. With Helen getting some focus, it felt like a lot of lead up to the Trojan War and I was a little surprised how the story mostly skips the action of it, we get the highlights, Achilles, Odysseus' horse, but mostly the 10yrs is blew by. Clytemnestra used the time to solidify her ruling in Mycenae and the traitor to Agamemnon and his brother, Aegisthus, shows up and Clytemnestra and him start an affair. 

A woman can't afford to close her eyes for long. 

The last part has Clytemnestra abandoned by her long time guard Leon because of her affair with Aegisthus and her daughter Electra hating her and her son Orestes emitting some of those brewing danger feelings. Agamemnon comes home after victory in the Trojan War and Clytemnestra uses all those harbored inner boiling emotions and acts on them. After traveling with Clytemnestra through all she endured, it was a satisfactory scene. Again, I enjoyed how this take muted the fantastical mythological elements and focused on the mortal human character emotions and actions. Clytemnestra grew up learning how to physically fight and eventually had to learn how to hide and when to show her strengths because of being a woman in a man's society. The character's strength, knowing how she's seen, cruel and unfaithful, but holding onto her inner truth showed beautifully strong. Clytemnestra is a character I think gets overshadowed by her sister and the war, I'm glad this iteration colored her in and hushed the gods in favor of her agency.

As for queens, they are either hated or forgotten. She already knows which option suits her better. Let her be hated forever.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Reading Update: Page 1


Starting the week off with some historical fiction mythology. 

Clytemnestra, married to a tyrant but ready to take her power back. 
Notorious and legendary! 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Review: Never Rescue a Rogue

Never Rescue a Rogue Never Rescue a Rogue by Virginia Heath
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this book for free, this does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

“Even if I wasn’t in such a precarious position and I was able to offer something— which obviously I cannot— I’d have to be a fool to have a romantic entanglement with a headstrong and opinionated harpy like you. Talk about incompatible.” 
“We come from different worlds.” She nodded, playing with the tassels of her shawl for all she was worth. “Not that I have any interest in a romantic entanglement, either, but if I did suddenly feel the urge, it wouldn’t be with a privileged idiot such as you. I barely like you.” 
“And I barely like you, too, harridan.” The forced chuckle grated like rusty nails in his throat. 

The Merriwell sisters come from poverty, a father who was an alcoholic and forger, and growing up this way has left a mark on the middle sister Diana. When her older sister Minerva marries an Earl (Never Fall for Your Fiancee) their fortunes change drastically but Diana doesn't lose that hardened shell. I had no problems jumping into the series here but I do wonder if I missed some of the beginning building attraction between Diana and our hero Giles, friend to Diana's new brother-in-law. Diana and Giles have a teasing, sarcastic back and forth that has their family and friends side-eyeing them and Diana and Giles doth protesting too much. 

Inside, she would always be the scrappy forger’s daughter from Clerkenwell, more comfortable amongst the flotsam and jetsam than she ever would be here in Mayfair. 

Diana works for the London Tribune, she claims she just checks the grammar on articles but her family knows she writes the cheeky society columns, using her ability to blend into the background at functions to get the good gossip. What they don't know is that she is also The Sentinel, a column that outs aristocrats and businessmen for their dastardly deeds, a much more dangerous undertaking. Giles is the heir to a duke but has a very strained relationship with his father, while extremely successful in the business world, Giles hides that and pretends to be a ne'er-do-well. Diana sees past this and even though she sasses him about his rogue persona, she sees behind the mask and Giles may poke at her wallflower persona, he is attracted to her sharp mind. Giles also has a secret, four years ago on her deathbed, his mother told him that she wasn't really his mother. Confronting his father, Giles learns his mother was a “harlot” and that he is illegitimate, endangering his claim to the dukedom with this Dirty Secret

The more he got to know her, the more he became convinced she read him like a book, and that really galled. Because Giles liked to think he was always the canniest person in any room and several paces ahead of the crowd— but she was always hot on his heels. Or more often, he trailed on hers … 

What I really liked about their relationship was how much of a solid friendship these two had. The author laid out their background, Diana growing up losing trust in the people supposed to care for her and having to support and protect her two sisters, especially the youngest Venus. Diana also has the pain of a sexual assault in her past, we get the full context of it around the last 15%, but what really bonds these two together is the pain of never having a healthy relationship with their fathers. They also are masters of masks and show the mask to the world and keep their private selves hidden. So when they start to see each other's hidden self, we get that great having someone see the true me, which I think can hit the best in reading romance relationships. I did miss seeing some of the attraction heating up and coming to love the person building blocks as I think these two started off already attracted that way. When we get the “I love you”, it didn't feel particularly moving or sparking. 

“I am afraid I come as the bearer of grave tidings. Very grave tidings indeed . . . Your Grace.” 

The main plot, which has them hopping from London to Shropshire and back, is Diana coming to Giles to tell him she's uncovered that he's engaged to a debutante. Giles, angry, confronts his father and learns it's actually his father who is engaged. His father is fearing something and wanting to shore up the line of succession with a “true” heir; Giles senses someone is blackmailing him. Unfortunately, Giles' father dies before he can learn more as he takes over the dukedom, it becomes his mission to find out who the blackmailer is and find the proof about his birth. Diana comes along on the mission to help because of her skills as a reporter and we have a reason for our couple to be together. 

Dukes and forger’s daughters were a laughable combination. Ridiculous in fact. Why on earth would she want to kiss him when he vexed her so? But of their own accord, her lips tingled at the idea . . .

In the later first half, Giles learns Diana is The Sentinel and is furious because of the danger and insists that his valet/friend Dalton accompany her back to London when she has to leave Shropshire, Diana learns his secret of possibly not being the true heir, and they have tipsy late night make-out session that pretty much convinces them their attraction is real. There is some “I can't marry you!” from Giles because of the uncertainty of his birth and Diana not wanting to lose her freedom but that's more or less just lingering in the background. I really liked the side character of Dalton and wouldn't have minded at least a novella of him but he gets a behind the scenes romance here. 

She didn’t want him to care, had never wanted any man to care about her nor care about him in return, but now that she knew he did, it ran riot with her emotions. 

About midway the, mostly obvious, villain is revealed to be Giles' uncle, who was banished after kidnapping a woman to Gretna Green to marry, and his son, Galahad. It's a race to get the information about Giles' true mother before them and we add Wales to the hopping spots. Diana's younger sister Vee (Venus) gets added and it seems like her and Galahad may have some friction between them that alludes to a future book three couple. The last twenty percent gives us reveals on Giles' mother, Diana giving into her feelings, a bedroom scene, and a heel turn. 

Giles studied her with interest. “I am starting to think that my Goddess of the Hunt is as much a rescuer as she is a Kicker of Hornets.” 

The last 10% was a very quick wrap-up, too quick for me, and I wonder if the opium case The Sentinel (Diana) was wrapping up will make an appearance in the third. If you're looking for a couple that had a solid friendship and believable connectivity, if not fireworks, Diana and Giles were very warm in that regard. I also enjoyed the world setting in this, the author brought in elements that helped to set the time period and have me feel it. The alluding to who younger sister Vee might be paired up with has me very excited to read her book, some of that sparking that I felt was missing a little here, seems like it could be in her relationship in spades.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Reading Update: Page 1


A chilly Thursday afternoon calls for stew and romance. 

Diana and Giles have that bickering energy that has everyone side-eyeing because of those sparks. They claim its solid disdain. When Giles gets blackmailed, it's Diana who can help him. 

Sparks, intrigue, and truths that are going to have to be faced. 

Happy Thursday, everyone! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Review: The Rainbow Season

The Rainbow Season The Rainbow Season by Lisa Gregory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.7 stars 

*This is a TBRChallenge review, there will be spoilers, I don't spoil everything but enough, because I treat these reviews as a bookclub discussion. 

"That Turner boy is back." 

I originally had a different book picked out for this month's theme, Lies, but it was a HarperCollins and I'm not reading or reviewing any from that publisher until they agree to a deal that pays their employees a fair living wage. On short notice, I decided to go with The Rainbow Season, one that I have seen so many talk about. It's romance, it has to have a lie in there somewhere right? Well, I'm going to say this fits the theme of Lies because our main male character, Luke Turner, was accused and found guilty of rape when he was eighteen years old but he was innocent. Not a particular lie that feels great to read about right now and especially in the way the woman who accused him of the rape is talked about, she's apparently “loose” with her morals and known to sleep with a bunch of men, so the thought is, “Why would Luke have to rape her?”. I cringed every time that character and prevailing thought was mentioned but the author used Luke's jail time and false accusation more to bring in the discussion that because Luke was from the other side of the tracks, poor and having an alcoholic father, he must be guilty. Blood tells, right? Luke's whole struggle was internalizing that hate and disgust from the townspeople but trying to show he didn't care, while obviously feeling so, and eventually gaining strength from the trust and love he got from Sarah and her family. 

"People always expected him to be bad, just because he was Turner's boy," 

The book starts with Luke getting out of jail, he was eighteen when he was found guilty and now twenty-three. The town gossip rushes to tell Sarah and her older sister Jennifer. This is where the author really pushes how Sarah pales in comparison in the looks department to her older sister and we learn that at sixteen, Sarah fell in love with Jennifer's eventual husband Stu. It's pretty obvious Sarah's love is more school girl crush, hero worship because Jennifer has a family, love and care, that Sarah wants and she sees Stu as the giver of that. At twenty-five Sarah feels like she's already an old maid and even though one of Stu's friends is trying to court her, she doesn't really like him. Sarah lives at home with her parents and it's a situation of idolizing Stu and Jennifer in school girl way and because of that focus on Stu, not being able to open her eyes to any other man. 

Sarah felt a sort of kinship to outlaw types like Digger Turner. There were times when she, too, felt excluded and looked down upon, overshadowed as she had always been by her sister. 

Luke goes around town trying to find a farm to hire out to and Sarah's father ends up being the only one to hire him. I loved Henry, the father. He has this little speech: How do you think you would have done, Stu, if you had grown up in a tarpaper shack instead of that nice house your parents own? Or if you had had a drunken loafer for a father instead of a respected citizen and store owner?" 
Stu, of course, still can't look past his own prejudices, along with a lot of the town and some from Sarah's mom and sister, which leaves Henry and Sarah being the ones left to try and warm up to Luke. I loved how the author showed why Sarah might be open to Luke right away. Sarah feeling like she doesn't match up to her sister in the looks department but also giving us a look into Sarah's inner thoughts of how she's got a “dark side” to her thoughts and emotions. The dark side is mostly Sarah having sexual desire or the wicked thoughts of coveting her sister's husband, again, mostly the ideal of Jennifer's situation. Oh the wonders of sex ed and informing girls/women of their own bodies and not repressing or shaming; this is mostly Sarah's issues. It works to draw her and open her up to Luke. 

It was just that sometimes he had to hit something or he would go crazy. 

When Henry hires Luke on at the farm, we get a better look at him. How his pride has him trying to work twice as hard to prove he's not one of those “lazy good for nothing Turners” but this pride also works against him as the insults rile him up and the anger has him also wanting to show them all that they're right. Luke has a temper that has him either running away when he gets steamed or getting into fights. His young age and background of growing up with abuse give layers to his emotional immaturity and as he gets shown trust and love from Sarah and her family, you can see him grow from the experiences. He does have some volatility to his personality that caused a good amount of melodrama, especially in the latter second half. But what comes through the most, was his sweetness. He's that lost little hurt boy that is just begging for love and affection. Probably a thesis is required on how he fits the “But I can change him!”, the most important thing is that he never abuses Sarah in any physical or emotional way. His mess ups are running when his own insecurities take over his reason. His fighting men, is his release for all the emotional turmoil inside. 

The dangerous Luke Turner, indeed— blushing and scrabbling for his shirt because a lady had seen him barechested. 

Eventually, Luke breaks his foot and he's forced to stay in a room above the barn, making him stay in Sarah's orbit so they can get to know each other more. Sarah being older, by two years, and being the one coming from the loving family gave her the advantage with Luke, which I think was important since he has that rape accusation, even though the reader knows it is false. She's the one who has the edge and most of the control and Luke is almost scared of her because he doesn't want to lose how she looks at him, like a normal human being worthy of respect. He's of course physically attracted to her but places her respect above that. Lead by Henry and Sarah, her parents eventually grow to trust Luke enough that when they leave for a two day trip, they leave Luke to watch over Sarah alone. And as parents are wont to do in romances, they end up dying to help along our main couple's relationship. In a scene that was pretty emotionally powerful: Something broke in him at the wild, desperate look in her eyes, and he squatted beside her, taking her face between his hands. "I'll find her, Sarah. All right? Don't fret, I'll get her out." 
It's pouring rain and Sarah's looking at the body of her father who drowned and people are saying it's too dangerous to find her mother's body but all Luke sees is no one comforting Sarah and how numb and lost she is and knowing how important it is to her that her mother's body is recovered. Luke slings a rope around his waist to dive repeatedly in the river, almost dying to recover her mother. It was a storm pounding rush feeling but the emotion underneath throbbed, I teared up. 

He looked at her; for an instant Sarah saw the sparkle of a tear in his eye and she hurt for all his hard, lonely past. 

With her parents gone, everyone around Sarah is saying she's going to have to sell the farm and live with Jennifer and Stu. Sarah hates this idea because she loves the farm and also thinks of how hard it would be to live with a man she covets. Sarah gets a little tipsy with Luke to drown some of her sorrow and they come up with the idea to marry. At 50% we get our marriage of convenience. Of course, everyone is up in arms over her wanting to marry Luke, which fires up her stubbornness and makes her want to do it even more. She ends up telling Luke her feelings for Stu and this crushes him a bit but he still agrees to marry her because while he has the beginnings of feelings for her, he's telling himself it's to protect her and he'll have a farm. These silly kids go for awhile liking their friendship marriage but slowly the sexual tension is getting too thick to breathe in. 

She laughed, and he, after adjusting his gloves and wiping the sweat from his forehead, went back to cutting wood. Sarah sat down beneath the elm and leaned against the trunk, content to sit and watch the beautiful symmetry of his movement as he arched back and up, then flung his axe down to bite into the log. He split each piece neatly, then tossed it on the pile and set another in its place to be split. His motions were precise, economical, and steady. There were doubtless many things she ought to be doing, but Sarah decided not to think about them. She preferred to sit here lazily and dream and watch Luke work. 

Honestly, everyone should just chop wood in front of whoever they want to attract, works every time. This middle second half got a little slow for me with some melodrama vibes but there were some good scenes in there with Sarah forcing Luke to introduce her to his family and new neighbors moving in to force a one bed situation. When Luke gets tipsy from a party at the neighbors, it makes all his pent up desire spill over and we get their first sex scene. Sarah's into it but battles those feelings of shame and fear because of her society's teachings and ignorance. Luke's too tipsy to go slow for Sarah to work through what she's feeling and the beginning has some uncomfortable vibes but Sarah physically likes the sensations, if not mentally and emotionally allowing herself too. Towards the end, she starts to get into it but then it's all over. The next morning has Sarah remembering the night in a positive light, which I'm not sure felt right but she's too embarrassed to face Luke and goes to the kitchen. Luke of course wakes up and starts the self-loathing and interrupts Sarah's feelings of embarrassment as fear for what he did and does his best to not be in her presence for days, the whole running from his emotions and situations thing. Sarah thinks Luke is disgusted with himself and her feelings of always paling in comparison to her sister has her interpreting his feelings as not being attracted to her. 

To none of them could he confide his innermost dreams and fears and emotions, and so with them he always felt a certain separateness, aloneness. 

Since Sarah is the one the author wisely gave control to, she's the one to try and break the disconnect and begins teasing Luke, trying to get him to touch her the way he did that night. The ending has them reconnecting, disconnecting as Sarah's confession of loving Stu misinterprets a moment for Luke, and finally through a drought reconnecting to their happily ever after. This was a very good story about impetuous young love, the newness of certain feelings having to be worked through because of immaturity and Luke not having a foundation and experience of love. What stuck out the most to me was how sweet, earnest, and gentle the tone of the story was, especially Luke's character. For me, a romance mostly shines by how much I believe in the leads' love, do they fit together, what draws and keeps them together, and their chemistry. Sarah and Luke had me tearing up and smiling, I felt and believed in their emotions. The sequel looks to be about Luke's sister Julia, we never meet this character but hear about she was forced into marriage to escape having a baby out of wedlock, and I'm definitely going to pick up that one after how good this one was.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Review: Uphill: A Memoir

Uphill: A Memoir Uphill: A Memoir by Jemele Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book for free, this does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

Writing allowed me to breath. 

Jemele Hill is a writer and tv personality that people in the sports world probably already knew about because of her excellent work on the network ESPN. In 2017 when she tweeted out about Donald Trump being a white supremacist, and then later Trump tweeted about her, Hill found herself more front and center in the battle already engulfing America about civil rights and conservative medias line of too much “woke”. While Hill leads with what probably garnered her the most name recognition, she quickly goes back to her childhood and tells how it all began for her. 

I realized the power of journalism, and the power of truth. 

When Hill's mother talks about it possibly being unresolved anger that lead Hill to tweeting, Hill looks back at her childhood and the first half of the book is her unpacking those emotions as she tells her story to readers. There was some of her mother and grandmother's past told and I think it's a great idea to add. It's necessary to understand other people's journey, especially the mothers and grandmothers that play such a big role in our lives, because it often has such an impact on those relationships. Hill talks about those two women's own struggles and how that of course affected her own childhood. Her mother battled drug addiction and PTSD from sexual assaults that at times had their relationship in contention. However, the love between the two always was felt and I loved the tradition Hill's mother kept of taking Hill to at least one Detroit Tiger's game a year. There was love but Hill also talked about how the stress of her childhood lead her afraid to open up and being hardened because of being let down by people you trust and love. 

Journalists are always taught to prioritize objectivity, but sometimes journalists hide behind that to avoid exposing hard truths. Adding perspective and context is far more important. 

The second half gives us more of her career journey, from Michigan State, to Free Press, Orlando, and ESPN. The drive and pride in doing something meaningful shown through and it's clear why Hill has become as notable as she has. She talked about her mistakes, not thinking through some of the things she wrote and said, the apologies and regret but ultimately growing from the experiences. We also get a story of Hill talking about her abortion that feels extra important and brave to share right now and some of her personal romantic relationships. When her career leads her to ESPN, she talks about not wanting to be a tv personality but seeing how much money it could provide and the stress of working in a business that is predominantly white. Her friendship with Michael Smith and how much their show His & Hers meant to her and the eventual end of her time at ESPN as she felt her growth was now stunted there. For ESPN fans, there is a tiny amount of tea spilled about some behind the scenes but this was Hill's story all the way. UpHill revealed the personal journey that lead to Jemele Hill's professional success.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Reading Update: Page 1


I'm a sports gal and grew up watching a ton of ESPN. Hockey is my favorite sport, so seeing Linda Cohn talk shop always delighted me and then when more women got opportunities at the network, Jemele Hill emerged as a favorite too. 

Jemele Hill expressed herself in the world of sports in a way that many probably wanted to but didn't quite have the courage. Listening to her podcast is like sitting around with my friends and discussing the world with sports always creeping in. 

Can't wait to see an even more personal side to Hill in her memoir.