A gripping, unsettling, thriller…The Whisper Man by Alex North will have you looking over your shoulder!

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My Review:

The Silence of the Lambs meets The Shining in this gripping, unsettling thriller that is sure to creep you out!

If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.

Tom Kennedy and his young son, Jake move to Featherbank, a small, charming village for a fresh start, but their new location is not as warm and welcoming as they had hoped.  Years ago there had been multiple child abductions and murders in town, and now another boy has disappeared.  Amidst the fear and suspicions, Jake is talking to himself, Tom has a strange visitor at their new house, and unusual voices are being heard.  The boy and his father are struggling to connect with each other after a terrible loss in their family, and at the same time they are battling unseen demons and losing their grip on reality.

This is a fast paced, hair-raising, psychological thriller that also deals with loss, grief and father-son relationships.  If you love to get spooked, check out The Whisper Man, available August 20th.

Q & A with Author Alex North

Q: What was the initial idea that became The Whisper Man? 

A: I wanted to write about fathers and sons. Very specifically, I wanted to write about a widowed father struggling to connect with his grieving son. But I knew that I wanted it to be a crime novel with spooky elements, and I’ve long been a fan of the forums and threads you find online where people list creepy things little kids have come out with. Like saying “that’s where I used to live” when the family is driving past a graveyard, or talking about the man with the long neck in the closet and then the parents discover someone hung themselves in the house years earlier. 

When we moved into our new house, there was a day when my son, who was about four at the time, talked about playing with “the boy in the floor.” That stuck with me, and I eventually decided that Jake in the book would have imaginary friends and some of them would be quite frightening. The story developed from there. 

Q: Describe the writing process— how long did it take you, and what was your writing routine like as you worked on the book? 

A: The book probably took about a year to write, although I’d been thinking about it and planning it a little before then. My routine was – and is – pretty standard. In terms of time, I take my son to school, then head to the gym for an hour. Depending on the weather, I sit in a park and read for another hour or so, then head to a bar or a café and write until it’s time to pick my son up again. In the beginning, I was writing cautiously, a few hundred words a day, but it certainly accelerated as I went along. Towards the end, I was writing and rewriting tens of thousands of words a day and not sleeping all that much. But that suits me fine. I was always the kind of kid that did all his revisions the night before the exam. 

Q: The story offers a very honest portrait of how difficult it can sometimes be for a father to connect with his son. What was it like to write about such a sensitive subject, and how much did you draw from your experience as a father or from people you know? 

A: I don’t think you can help but draw from your own experience. Even if you’re using your imagination, you’re still going to be influenced by everything you’ve seen and read and done. The book’s entirely fictional, in that nothing in it really happened – or at least not the way it does in the story – but it’s inevitable that real life creeps in a little, because I wanted the book to feel honest. 

I’m not sure how sensitive that particular subject is. You have two characters who love each other and want to connect but aren’t sure how, and I think that to some degree that’s probably the norm rather than being unusual. Especially when it comes to children and parents. As a parent, you are suddenly handed this incredible responsibility. There’s a sense that your child is an extension of you, and that it’s your job to guide them based on your own knowledge and experience. But of course, as they grow older, they become much more of a person in their own right, and you have to hold yourself back more and more. They’re not you. In the book, Tom has to fight against his best intentions for Jake and, as he puts it, “just let him be him.” I think that’s pretty key, but also easier said than done sometimes. 

Q: Jake accidentally reads something his father is writing and is disturbed by it. Have you ever been in this situation in real life? Is it something you think about, as a novelist and as a father? 

A: No, I’m incredibly protective of my writing until it’s done. I write in public places,
but I always want my back to a wall, as I don’t want someone looking over my shoulder and reading part of some terrible first draft. It’s important for me to keep it to myself until it’s as good as possible. So, my son is never going to see anything I’ve been writing on a screen; I’m way too careful for that. 

He’s a voracious reader, though, so maybe he’ll read one of my books when he’s older. That’s a bridge I’ll have to cross when I come to it. He’s only eight right now, so it’s a few years until I need to worry about it! 

Q: Rights have now sold in over 23 territories and counting, and film rights have been optioned by the directors behind “Avengers: Infinity War.” What has it been like to see this reaction to The Whisper Man? 

A: It’s been amazing. As I was writing the book, I just wanted to finish it – to get it done – and I had no real expectations about rights or film adaptations. I think if you imagine that kind of thing while you’re writing, you’re setting yourself up for massive disappointment down the line. Better to have much lower expectations and end up being surprised! And I’ve been not just surprised, but slightly humbled. For various reasons, it’s a personal book for me, and I’m enormously pleased that people have connected with it the way they have. 

Q: Are you at work on another book? 

A: I’m writing something at the moment, but I’m superstitious about talking about work in progress. For one thing, a part of me feels that if you talk about a story too much, you rob yourself of the need to write it down; and for another, it will probably change completely by the time I’m done with it. At the moment, it’s another spooky psychological thriller, this time about a violent murder and an impossible disappearance from years earlier. But I’ll have to finish writing it to find out for sure. 

Q &A courtesy of DAVID ADAMS/Celadon Books

The Whisper Man will be available August 20, 2019.  If you enjoy psychological thrillers, check out some great ones by Clare Machintosh!

About the Author:

Alex North was born in Leeds, England, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with “the boy in the floor.” Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.

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Give The Gift of Reading for Father’s Day!

Books for Father's Day

The Dads in your life definitely deserve the benefits of reading, so here are few book recommendations to spark their interest.  From a moving debut set in South Africa to a compilation of Howard Stern’s interviews, there is something for everyone!

FICTION – SOUTH AFRICA

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr

Purchase You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr HERE.

Blurb from Goodreads:  An extraordinary debut that explores legacies of abuse, redemption, and the strength of the human spirit–from the Boer Wars in South Africa to brutal wilderness camps for teenage boys.

Goodreads Summary

NONFICTION – NASA/MUSIC

The Vinyl Frontier

Purchase The Vinyl Frontier by Jonathan Scott HERE.

Blurb from Goodreads: The fascinating story behind the mission, music, and message of NASA’s Voyager Golden Record–humanity’s message to the stars.

Goodreads Summary

THRILLER – PARIS

The Paris Diversion

Purchase The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone HERE.

Blurb from Goodreads:  From the New York Times bestselling author of The Expats. Kate Moore is back in a pulse-pounding thriller to discover that a massive terror attack across Paris is not what it seems – and that it involves her family.

Goodreads Summary

NONFICTION – ENTERTAINMENT

The Battle For Sky

Purchase The Battle For Sky: The Murdochs, Disney, Comcast and the Future of Entertainment by Christopher Williams HERE.

Blurb From Goodreads: The story of how Rupert Murdoch’s Sky became one of Britain’s most successful companies and the hottest property in global entertainment.

Goodreads Summary

NONFICTION – RADIO/HOWARD STERN

Howard Stern Comes Again

Purchase Howard Stern Comes Again HERE.

Blurb from USA TODAY: Howard Stern is revealing why he altered his shock-jock persona in his candid new book, “Howard Stern Comes Again.”

Goodreads Summary

NONFICTION – LIFE-CHANGING LESSONS ABOUT LEADING

Book Nation by Jen with Bobby Herrera, author of The Gift of Struggle

I also recommend The Gift of Struggle by Bobby Herrera…

NONFICTION – FOUNDATIONS FOR LEADING YOUR BEST LIFE

Book Nation by Jen with Israel Ellis, author of Moving Through Walls

and Moving Through Walls by Israel Ellis.

 

In need of a distraction? Look no further…These addictive psychological thrillers keep you hooked right up to the end!

 

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My Review:  Authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen are superstars when it comes to psychological thrillers.  Last year they came out with The Wife Between Us which has you working hard to figure out what is going to happen next, and with unexpected plot twists,  the authors rewards you with continual surprises and unanticipated shocks.  A bitter ex-wife, a younger, prettier replacement…you think you know what’s going on.  But you don’t!  Little tidbits feed your knowledge of what you believe could be the truth but you will be fooled.  Skillfully written with all loose ends tied up by the conclusion, this is impressive writing by the author duo and so much fun to read.

 An Anonymous Girl, their recent bestseller, currently headed to the big screen, delivers continual suspense and gives you much to think about.  A doctor conducting a study on morals and ethics is looking for women volunteers to participate.  The questions are simple but get increasingly more challenging and unpredictable.  Relationships become murky when overcome with jealousy and deceit.  What is real?  And who can be trusted?

Manipulative and oh, so addictive, these two fantastic thrillers are not to be missed!  I read each book in less than 24 hours, one after the other!  All you need is a weekend of no plans – you must cuddle up with these gems and your favorite stress eating snacks (gummy bears and licorice😜)…and dive right in…you will be on the edge of your seat!

Check out this Video interview; Sara Haines of GMA talks with Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen about their writing process and how they work together.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Authors:

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen are the co-authors of the blockbuster New York Times bestseller, THE WIFE BETWEEN US, as well as the forthcoming, AN ANONYMOUS GIRL. AN ANONYMOUS GIRL has been optioned for a television series by eOne, with Sarah and Greer executive producing. THE WIFE BETWEEN US has been optioned for film by Amblin Entertainment, with Sarah and Greer screenwriting the adaptation.

 

Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

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My Review:

In Girls’ Night Out, the thrilling summer read by authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, Ashley invited her old friends Natalie and Lauren to go on a girls’ vacation in Tulum, Mexico… but it is not the easygoing carefree celebratory trip they had wanted.  Ashley and Natalie are best friends that work together and they are in  disagreement about whether or not to sell the company they own.  For personal reasons they have not shared with each other, neither are willing to budge.  Lauren, typically the third wheel in this longtime friendship, had lost her husband the prior year and had a falling out with Ashley at his funeral.  Both were hoping to repair their fractured friendship, but bad feelings run deep.

The ladies plan to spend some quality time together hoping they can mend some fences, but their issues are not exactly fixable with a few cocktails far away from home…despite the beautiful setting and casual atmosphere, problems esclate when a charming local insinuates himself in the midst of their relationships and their planned girl time.  This fast paced thriller will keep your attention as everyone’s secrets are slowly revealed and at the same time physical danger ensues…your pulse will increase as you race to the finish…another fun page-turner by writing team Liz Kenton and Lisa Steinke!

Girls’ Night Out is a perfect summer thriller…a girlfriends trip to Mexico….secrets and tragedy….a fun escape!

Goodreads Summary

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About Liz and Lisa:

Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke are the authors of  Girls’ Night Out and the Amazon Charts bestselling novel, The Good Widow.

Liz and Lisa have been best friends for 30 years.  They have also published three women’s fiction novels with Simon & Schuster/Atria Books. Your Perfect Life is a hilarious and heartwarming story of two childhood best friends who switch bodies at their twenty-year high school reunion. The Status of All Things, is a cautionary tale of a woman who realizes she can change the course of her entire life by what she writes in her Facebook status. And The Year We Turned Forty follows three women who get the chance to relive the year they turned forty, a year they each made decisions that altered the course of their lives.  But a lot happened before their first publishing deal…

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

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As stated in Goodreads:

Fast-paced and addictive, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR announces a major new talent in thriller writing.

You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

My Comments:

The Couple Next Door is an easy to read, thrilling page turner – enjoyable like an episode of CSI…devoured in one sitting!  A couple leaves their baby alone next door, sleeping in her crib, and then she is gone.  Who took her?  Did the parents facilitate the disappearance?  Other family members?  The neighbors?  An intruder?  Someone is hiding something.  Just when you think you figured things out…another twist to keep you racing to the end.  And what an end it was!  A rollercoaster debut thriller from Shari Lapena!