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review 2019-06-12 00:01
Joplin's Ghost ★★★★☆
Joplin's Ghost - Tananarive Due

I had a wildly uneven experience with this book. It has some of the same problems that I have with most novels that try to tell two interconnected stories, one historical, one contemporary. The historical story was easy to fall into, but I kept losing interest during the contemporary timeline. That might be all me, rather than the book, as I have very little interest in 1990's pop music or the lives of fictional 90's pop stars. I was also a little uncomfortable with (the mercifully few) explicit sex scenes and some dubious consent issues. The payoff toward the end was worth persevering for, though, and the prose lifted the story a little.

 

I think it was the audio performance by Lizan Mitchell that really made this book for me - her pace, her voices, her emotion, even the way she changed the whole persona of the narrator based on who's POV is being revealed - were all outstanding.

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review 2019-02-27 19:47
The Between by Tananarive Due
The Between: Novel, A - Tananarive Due

The Between is a story about a man on the verge of a breakdown. Is this breakdown caused by supernatural forces or is it all in his mind? Well, I’m not going to be jerk who spoils it all for you!

 

I bought this book years and years ago and I’m glad The Ladies of Horror Fiction finally forced me to unearth it, blow off the dust and read all of its pages. This book was their featured Community Wide Readalong and it was a good time. You should all join in on the next one.

 

When Hilton was seven he found his beloved Nana cold and dead on the kitchen floor. He ran to get help and when he arrived back home Nana was alive but she was never quite the same again. Many years later, Hilton is married with children and spends his work hours helping addicts get their lives back together but there is trouble brewing beneath the surface and his dreams are becoming increasingly more disturbing as the days pass.

 

Here’s a little quote snippet that’ll either make you want to read more, make you run screaming or maybe do both!

 

“There’s no joy in fucking the dead.”

 

Still with me? If so, you need to know this is a books rife with stress, marital woes, suspense and a flawed protagonist who makes a lot of mistakes. I’ll be honest, Hilton made me a little crazy angry at times. There's one scene where he nearly lost me because I’m not a very forgiving type when it comes to that particular way of dealing with stress so it may not bother you but it bothered me. It bothered me so much. As the story went along he grew on me and his love for his family was apparent and strong but it was touch and go there for me for a few chapters, I cannot lie. In the end, it is a compelling read with some truly nightmarish and disturbing images and I thought it all ended exactly the way it should’ve ended. There are a lot of surprises that kept our entire group guessing and I can easily recommend it to anyone looking for a nail-biter with some chilling scenes and very strong characterization.

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text 2018-10-25 17:03
Audible Halloween $6.95 Sale!
Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons
The Collector - John Fowles
Joplin's Ghost - Tananarive Due
Secondhand Spirits - Juliet Blackwell
Thornwood House - Anna Romer
The Lottery and Other Stories - Shirley Jackson
FantasticLand - Mike Bockoven
Hell House - Richard Matheson
They Thirst - Robert R. McCammon
Cold Moon Over Babylon - Michael McDowell

Oh boy, I took in a huge book haul. Just when I'm fed up on horror and mystery and ready for nothing but non-fantastical fiction for a while. But oh, well, these will keep until I'm ready for chills and thrills again. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-07 19:33
The Between by Tananarive Due
The Between: Novel, A - Tananarive Due

The Between by Tananarive Due
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When threatening letters soon find their way to his wife, Hilton James becomes seriously afraid for the safety of his family. Being the first African-American judge in Dade County, Florida, it can be any number of individuals that Dede has prosecuted. With tensions running high, and the threats getting worse, Hilton's own picture-perfect life, as well as his own reality, begin to fray at the edges.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

This one wasn’t even remotely on my radar before it was brought to my attention by Mike Thorn, author of Darkest Hours. I decided to pick a random suggested novel, as generally my favourites are books other people have told me to read. That’s the great thing about the community; you never know what you’ll end up with. I found Due’s eerily crafted story to be rather complex, and in all honestly, it was that complexity that intrigued me even further. This wasn’t a typical ghost story, but a breach in one person’s reality. It was emotional, and I oftentimes experienced discomfort in how much Due toyed with the mental states of her characters; their lives truly took a traumatising turn and that downward spiral was dammed scary. I was shocked to find how much I wanted things to work out for the James family, and as events escalated that pesky sense of dread never did subside. You see, when an author can humanise their characters enough for me to regard them like actual living, breathing people, then that’s where my ultimate attachment lies. Much like a family unit they tried desperately to overcome the unexpected, and we all know what that’s like, even if our daily problems aren’t supernatural in origin.

I do have to admit that I found it to have a rocky beginning. Hilton didn’t really leave me with a good first impression, what with secretly lusting after one of his former patients and then complaining about his very busy and stressed out wife. Despite these unappealing actions however, I eventually warmed to him and felt sympathy toward his plight. He had his obvious flaws and whilst some of his mistakes actually disgusted me, I couldn’t help but acknowledge his struggle. The further I progressed into the chapters, the more his life went to ruin - it was akin to watching a trainwreck. Do you ever feel the need to put down a book because it just got too heavy for you? Well, there were moments throughout where I needed a respite. This being my very first encounter with Due's writing, I was thrilled at how captivating her use of prose was. I think, overall, I prefer a less straight-forward structure, and more of an artfully constructed one. Here, it highly benefited the tone of the book.

The plot did well in making me question the legitimacy of Hilton’s bizarre experiences. At times it was left open enough to theorise on if he was actually mentally ill and suffering from some form of schizophrenia, or if he truly was being hunted by reflections of himself. The added aspect of African spirituality also interested me a great deal; I'm always in search of fiction that will prompt me to do research on beliefs I wouldn't otherwise be aware of. As I've already mentioned, the complexity came in the form of certain elements being intentionally vague and left open to interpretation. The dreams, the occurrences that seemed to erase themselves, they all hinted that something very thought provoking was at play.

In conclusion: A heart-wrenching story of one family and the otherworldly forces trying to tear them apart. I found the story-telling to be engaging, endearing, and successful in making my mind whirl. It was however draining at times, to the point I needed time to recover. I definitely want more of Due's works on my shelf though, and here's hoping they're just as emotionally charged.

Notable Scene:

Even with the humidity in the little house and the steam from pots boiling over on top of the stove, their lids bouncing like angry demons, Nana's flesh felt as cold as just-drawn well water. As cold as December. He'd never touched a person who felt that way, and even as a child he knew only dead people turned cold like that.

© Red Lace 2018


Wordpress ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/09/07/the-between-by-tananarive-due
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review 2017-09-27 00:00
The Good House
The Good House - Tananarive Due The Good House was a damn good book. Tananarive Due delivers a story that will make you have every single feel she can drudge up in you. From hope to horror, from tearing down to buildling up, and everything in between. This is a book that will have you going “Oh, Jesus,” and yet unable to look away. The deaths will haunt you. Angela’s journey will rock you.

I’m not a fan of child death in horror. Pretty much anyone who knows me and has listened to me talk about horror knows that. I consider it to be a weak writing prop, and I’ll even snarl at some of my writer acquaintances for it. (Sorry, Mike!) However, sometimes, just sometimes it’s done right. It has shock value – because, hello, child death – but it makes so much sense in the story that you accept it. That’s how it was in The Good House. It wasn’t a couple trying to get a fresh start after a baby’s death. It didn’t linger on a child’s dead body for giggles. The deaths are there, and they are terrible, but they are not lingered upon. And they play a role.

Angela, the primary character in The Good House, is beautiful, flawed, and strong. She’s a woman I spent the majority of the book feeling with. Yes, feeling ‘with’. I know her struggles. The first time I connected with her was when Due writes about her struggles to sleep, and the thoughts and images that bombard her prior to it. Angela is afraid of falling asleep, but not really afraid of sleeping itself, and I get that. I struggle with it every night. I wanted to reach into the pages and share a beer with her, and just say “I know, honey. I know.”

Words have a powerful magic when used well, and Tananarive Due conjures that magic up effortlessly in The Good House. All the characters leap off the page, even if you only meet them for a few moments. There have been several books lately where I’ve had trouble keeping the characters straight or even just remembering their names. There wasn’t a chance of that happening here. Grandma Marie, Myles, Corey, Sean, even Art and Glenn felt so real you would half expect to run into them on the street. And even though the book is set just a short time after the turn of the millenium, the only thing that really dates it is the mention of the music.

Now, mind, I didn’t care for everything in The Good House. There was a lot of sexual stuff involved and that just didn’t do it for me. (Mostly because I was reading this on my downtime at work and didn’t want anyone seeing some heated stuff on my screen! But also, in general, I don’t like sex and horror to mix.) And I have to confess I’m still not entirely sure how Tariq came to play the role that he played in the book. In fact if I could ask the author just one question, it would be to please clarify how he got involved in the very beginning. (But I won’t say more so I don’t spoil anything!)
And, it pains me to say this, but the very end felt like a little bit out of a cop-out in The Good House. I can understand why she did it, but it was just like “Nooo! Don’t weaken it now!”

My favorite quote:

“I’m in the film business, remember — and if this were a movie, this is the part where the audience would be screaming for the woman to get out of the house. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.” – The Good House by Tananarive Due

Overall, even though it didn’t quite hit it out of the park for me, I really enjoyed The Good House. It’s so very well written, beautifully imagined, and almost cinematic in its feel. I’m so happy I finally got around to reading Tananarive Due, and I seriously doubt this will be the last book I read from her.
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