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review 2018-11-29 21:24
The acting bug
So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know - Retta

So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know by Retta is a memoir written in essay form (seems to be the popular format these days). [A/N: If you're unfamiliar with Retta, she played the character of Donna Meagle on Parks & Recreation.]  This book is written more like a friend talking than anything else. While I was reading, I kept wishing that I'd chosen to consume this in audiobook format instead because I think it suits that medium better. (Honestly, I found this book a bit tedious and I'd like to blame it on the written formatting.) Retta covers the gamut from her childhood and what it was like being raised as an immigrant to this country (her family is from Liberia) to her career as an actress being continually put into a box by Hollywood. After reading Amy Poehler's memoir it's impossible for me not to compare the two and this in no way comes close to the awesomeness of that book. It was funny and I especially enjoyed her views on what it's like being a plus sized woman of color working as an actress in Hollywood but it didn't blow me away like Yes, Please. A solid 5/10. 

 

What's Up Next: El Deafo by Cece Bell

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-10-11 07:07
We Have Always Lived in the Castle (audiobook) by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunne
We Have Always Lived in the Castle: Acting Edition - Shirley Jackson

The Blackwood family used to be much bigger, but now there is only 18-year-old Mary Katherine (Merricat), her older sister Constance, their Uncle Julian, and Merricat's cat, Jonas. Merricat is the only Blackwood who ever leaves the house. She does all the grocery shopping and tries her best to act normal and unafraid, but inside she is a seething mass of rage and fear, quietly wishing all the townspeople dead as some of them taunt her. When she is not running errands, she spends all her time playing with Jonas and devising protections for her home that usually involve burying or hanging items around various places on Blackwood land. Meanwhile, Constance cheerfully and patiently cares for her and Uncle Julian, who is unable to walk and who spends his days writing about and obsessing over an event that occurred several years ago. The delicate balance of all their lives is disturbed by the arrival of Charles, Merricat and Constance's cousin and Julian's nephew.

This was a deeply distressing story.

I enjoyed the beginning. The Blackwood family's past was hinted at, and I came up with theories as to what had happened, who was involved, and how they were involved. The pacing didn't always work for me, and the book dragged more than a bit after Charles arrived, primarily because I thought I knew where Jackson was going with the story and I wanted her to finally get on with it.

As it turns out, I was exactly right about what happened to the Blackwood family - it's so easy to guess that I'm not even sure it counts as a spoiler. I was very wrong about where Jackson was planning on going with it all, however. When things finally came to a head, the results were unsettling and utterly horrific.

I don't suppose I liked the pacing after that much better, but it didn't seem to matter as much. I was compelled to find out just how far Jackson would go (thankfully not as far as I feared - I'm not sure I could have taken it). This is only the second work of hers that I've read or listened to, but it's enough to see that she's a master at writing increasingly unsettling heroines. I wouldn't call Merricat likeable, but overall she worked better for me than The Haunting of Hill House's Eleanor. I went from feeling annoyed and frustrated with Merricat and her childishness, to horror at her and Constance's relationship, to nearly crying for the both of them at the end.

By the end of the story, quite a few things are up to the reader's interpretation. Unfortunately, most of the big questions I had were never answered. Like the pacing, this didn't seem to matter as much to me as it should have. I was too raw from listening to Constance and Merricat try to cobble together a new "normal" for themselves to care that I hadn't gotten all the details about the Blackwood family's fate that I'd wanted, or more details about what was going on with Constance.

Bernadette Dunne's narration was great. I enjoyed her voices for all the main characters. The only things that irked me a bit were her voices for the town boys, which sounded cartoonish and contributed to a theory I had (and soon scrapped) that the taunting was all in Merricat's head.

 

Rating Note:

 

I wasn't sure how to rate this. I settled on 4 stars, even though it left me feeling terrible, because of how compelling it was.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-10-11 01:25
Reading progress update: I've listened 332 out of 332 minutes.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle: Acting Edition - Shirley Jackson

This was upsetting. I thought this was better, in a lot of ways, than The Haunting of Hill House, but I don't know that I'd ever want to re-listen to/re-read it. And I just realized that I never did get my biggest questions answered.

 

Edit: Oh, and I need to pick a Halloween Bingo square for this. I'm going to go with 13. I don't know if Jonas was ever described, but on the cover he's a black cat.

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text 2018-10-09 22:55
Reading progress update: I've listened 271 out of 332 minutes.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle: Acting Edition - Shirley Jackson

This is horrific in ways I did not expect it would be.

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text 2018-10-09 21:51
Reading progress update: I've listened 215 out of 332 minutes.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle: Acting Edition - Shirley Jackson

If what Julian said is true, and goodness knows he isn't exactly a reliable source of information, then I'm confused and these people are even more disturbed than I thought.

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