The Whisper Man by Alex North | Book Review

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In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

Date Published: August 20, 2019

Publisher: Celadon Books

Date Read: October 6, 2019

No. of Pages: 355

Setting: Featherbank, Horsforth United Kingdom

Genre: Mystery Thriller

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Dark, sinister and unsettling.

I went ahead reading The Whisper Man without knowing anything about it other than it is about a serial killer dubbed as The Whisper Man, in fact that is an enough reason for me to start it. And so I did, and oh boy, I wasn’t prepared for it. It gave me the creeps, and by creeps I mean all my nerves have gone haywire, my heart was beating so fast, hell I held my breath in more than one occasion. If you’re a big fan of true crime documentaries, this one might be for you. It had all the formula of a good thriller book — constantly keeps you at the edge of your seat, your nerves are tingling from the anticipation, you have occasional goosebumps and your mind is just blown how coherent everything was.

Upon finishing The Whisper Man, I was in awe by how much dedication was put into it. Everything was interconnected and made perfect sense. I don’t know if this is a good trait about me or not but I always tend to look for loose ends in a book — you know those things that hardly make sense, those things that are unnecessary and the book could definitely do away with. With The Whisper Man I hardly found loose ends, if there was any. The events made sense and interweaving with each other. A polished book – and you best believe those are hard to come by these days.

The Whisper Man is this very elaborate and intricate story filled with creepiness and heart-thumping scenes. One you could not possibly put down. It will suck you in and before you know it you’re reading until 3am eager to know who this Whisper Man is. The eerie vibe to it only added to the goodness of the book. It will capture your attention and hold it longer than you expected. This book deserves to be made into a movie, yes it is that good. An impressive debut! Alex North is an author you should definitely watch out for. This book has this inexplicable pull that you couldn’t easily get out of. They said it is a different experience listening to audiobook, I would love to try that in the future! 

The varied narration also added texture to this book. I always look forward to Jake’s part of narration, that’s where most of the creepy and eerie stuff comes in. You can’t help but be attached to the characters specially Jake’s. Jake’s misunderstood behaviour, his imaginary friend, his silence were very essential and played an enormous part in making this book much more creepy and much more inviting. I also love that it is about father and son relationships, may it be in the normal or the most twisted sense. Gahhh this book is just superbly made. I am not a wide thriller reader, but this one is just exceptional. I don’t know what else to tell you to convince you. I don’t want to go into details about this book, but just take my word for it and read it! You won’t be disappointed I promise!

 

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“If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.
If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home.
If your window’s left unlatched, you’ll hear him tapping at the glass.
If you’re lonely, sad, and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you.”
― Alex North, The Whisper Man

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THE WHISPER MAN by ALEX NORTH is an August @bookofthemonth selection! ••• Synopsis: . In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town. After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank. But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed "The Whisper Man," for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night. Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter's crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man. And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window… ••• 🦋 Read with the lights on, that’s what they said. Oooh I can feel this is such a great book!! Would squeeze this one this month!!! Which books did you get from @bookofthemonth? 🦋 #bookofthemonth #botm #botmbookbassador #TheWhisperMan #AlexNorth

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The Secret History by Donna Tartt | Book Review

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Storytelling in the grand manner, The Secret History is a debut remarkable for its hypnotic erudition and acute psychological suspense, and for the richness of its emotions, ideas, and language. These are the confessions, years afterward, of a young man who found at a small Vermont college the life of privilege and intellect he’d long coveted – and rarely has the glorious experience of youth infatuated with knowledge and with itself been so achingly realized. Then, amazed, Richard Papen is drawn into the ultimate inner circle: five students, worldly and self-assured, selected by a charismatic classics professor to participate in the search for truth and beauty. Together they study the mysteries of ancient Greek culture and spend long weekends at an old country house, reading, boating, basking in an Indian summer that stretches late into autumn. Mesmerized by his new comrades, Richard is unaware of the crime which they have committed in his dreamy, unwitting presence. But once taken into their confidence, he and the others slowly and inevitably begin to believe in the necessity of murdering the one classmate and friend who might betray both their secret and their future. Hugely ambitious and compulsively readable, this is a chronicle of deception and complicity, of Dionysian abandon, of innocence corrupted by self-love and moral arrogance; and, finally, it is a story of guilt and responsibility. An astonishing achievement by any standard, The Secret History immediately establishes Donna Tartt as a supremely gifted novelist.

Date Published: September 29, 1996

Date Read: July 06, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine Books

No. of Pages: 524

Setting: Vermont, USA

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary, Dark Academia

Get Your Copy Here: Amazon | Book Depository

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Intriguing and lyrical.

The Secret History is the first book I have read by Donna Tartt and for so long I have been intrigued by it, it was so popular it’s already considered a crime if you haven’t read it (ahhh so much puns haha).  The Secret History started off as a solid book for me but ended up as a letdown. Let’s just say I am not a big fan, and I am a minority here, but hear me out. I completely understand why this has been a favorite by many, it was beguiling, lyrical, intriguing and truly engaging. It is the kind of book that once you’ve started reading, you just can’t simply put it down. It demands your attention, and you’ll give it. Much like how I spent hours reading it, it was enigmatic and will just pull you in. You thought you’ve read quite a lot of pages only to find out that in reality you only have read 5 pages or so. It was dense and verbose, so much so that I found it unnecessarily long. The beautiful writing style suffered because of how lengthy the book was. There were too many parts that the book can definitely do away with, it could have been condensed into 300+ page book without losing its essence. Maybe I would have liked it more had it been shorter, there I said it.

Reading The Secret History gave me the feeling that I missed out on important details, but no, I have read the book from the very first page down to the last line and I am positive I didn’t miss out on anything. I even read the part where the book was telling what happened to each characters, much like at the end of a movie. I don’t know if it is for closure’s sake, or what the story required, or I honestly don’t know what was it all for. A huge chunk of it could have been removed and it wouldn’t make any difference to the story.

What I commend about this book though, is the atmosphere set by Donna Tartt. It was equal parts chilling and hypnotizing. She has this way with words that completely enamor her reader, drawing them in like the proverbial moth to a flame. Donna Tartt will capture your interest and hold it for however long she likes. I am a slow reader, I only get to read at night and in between work, but whenever I get the chance to open this book I am filled with this excitement to finish it, I was anticipating how it will end, I have played so many scenarios in my head on how the ending will play out and maybe that’s why I didn’t love it. My mind is already set for something colossal to happen, something gasp-inducing or some mind-fucking extravaganza, and nothing of the sort happened. It was a little flat for me. Such brilliant writing style warranted a twist that would leave its reader in daze, sadly that wasn’t what happened here, at least for me.

Let’s talk about the characters. We have Richard Papen, our narrator. Richard’s point of view completely added some sense of mystery in the story. Reading it felt like I am his character and I am a part of the story. We have Henry, who embodies the word enigmatic. He is the character I expected so much from. The mastermind among them. His character was very distinct, someone you either hate or love. Towards the end I was anticipating some trickery on his part, some kind of grand manipulation and all that, but this didn’t quite reflect on how the book ended. We have the twins Charles and Camilla, characters that are indispensable in the story. Both of them played an enormous part leading to the climax. I can’t say so much without spoiling anything. Then finally we have Bunny, the root cause of the whole book. His character was presented, at least for me, in a way to justify his murder. To make it look like they have all the reasons to commit such a crime. This isn’t a spoiler since his murder is already mentioned the first paragraph of the book. These characters acted way too mature for their ages, they drank a lot, use drugs quite a lot as well, and they have these cunning minds that you would be surprised how callous they do things. Dark academia said to be unofficial name of the genre deals with novels set in campuses with dark underlying theme may it be mystery or murder. Dark Academia is something new to me, I have read quite few books set in campuses but not so much on the darker concept. This genre surely appealed to me, I would want to read more of it. 

Dark Academia novels contain elements of both satire and tragedy, and they tend to focus on the humanities and liberal arts, these tend to play a role as the passions of the main characters, which ends up driving them too far. The genre has a tendency to over-romantizice a liberal arts education, xxx.

Excerpt from LitCrit: Dark Academia by blackhholesbooks

The reverse murder mystery isn’t what I often read in mystery thrillers. We are spared from guessing who killed who and the motive behind all of it. The reverse murder mystery didn’t really work favorably, because of its nature, the readers look forward to how the murder will come about, the before, during and after up to the climax of it all. Readers were led to believe that there would be something colossal that would transpire, at least it felt like that for me and when it ended the way it did I was more annoyed than satisfied.

It would be quite a while for me to pick up another Donna Tartt book, I heard Goldfinch is better than The Secret History but I will be saving that up in the far future. It was a lengthy book and I do feel a little proud that I finished it in a short span of time, sadly I wasn’t turned into a huge fan.

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“There is nothing wrong with the love of Beauty. But Beauty – unless she is wed to something more meaningful – is always superficial.”

― Donna Tartt, The Secret History

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides | Book Review

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Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

Date Published: February 5, 2019

Date Read: April 22, 2019

Publisher: Celadon Books

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Setting: London

Get This Copy Here: Amazon | Book Depository

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Great plot twist!

You know what I like about thrillers? It’s their capability to lure you in and take a hold of you like nothing else in the world matters but what’s going on inside the book – that is The Silent Patient for you. It has this ability to grab your attention until you’re in too deep. The Silent Patient is yet another book that lived up to its hype. It took me 2 months from its release to finally read it, and I am glad I did. I was in the mood for some thriller and The Silent Patient definitely did not disappoint.

What is tricky with thrillers is how they will reveal their respective plot twists. Some we see coming from a mile away,  some would just hit you right in the face without warning. The Silent Patient’s plot twist can best be described as a snake watching you and biding its sweet perfect timing to strike. This is what I loved most about The Silent Patient, how you thought it as was so obvious yet it was able to surprise you in the end. It was sinister and clever just what thrillers should be. It was presented in such unconventional way. The book was well put-together from the beginning to the very end. I love that there were no plot holes, everything was coherent and everything made perfect sense. A solid book! The Silent Patient will keep you guessing, and just when you thought you had it all figured out, the twist will come and laugh at your face.

The characters were varied, never boring always kept you guessing. I love how all of them were somehow related to each other. Alicia Berenson frustrated me at times but also surprised me, I didn’t have that inkling about her character from the beginning so to say I was surprised about it all would be an understatement. You see what’s good about thrillers is you really don’t know who to trust. Everyone has a motive, everyone can be a suspect. The Silent Patient toyed with my mind and I gladly gave in. Other characters gave the book more depth, everyone was an integral part on how the ending will come about. It was well-thought out. The only thing that has been keeping me from giving it full five stars is its pacing. It was a little slow for a thriller. Maybe I was looking for something that would constantly keep me at the edge of my seat. But this one had more of melancholic and a little calm vibe to it, maybe because the narration happened after the fact.

I also loved how Greek mythology came into play. It was well tied up into the story giving more texture and flavor to it. It is indeed a fantastic debut novel. I am sure to watch out for more books from this talented author.

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“About love. About how we often mistake love for fireworks—for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm—and constant.”
― Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

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❝About love. About how we often mistake love for fireworks—for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm—and constant.❞ – Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient . ••• Finished reading this one and oh boy that twist is really something huh? Loved it! That’s what I love about thrillers, its capability to lure you in, to take a hold of you like nothing else matters. The Silent Patient isn’t something I have expected. And though it has a slow pace, I love how everything else is connected. There were no loose ends. And I really appreciate that! Now I am into thriller kick! Any recommendations? 4/5⭐️ ••• #TheSilentPatient #AlexMichaelides #Botm #bookofthemonth #botmbookbassador #nerdytalksreview

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Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan | Book Review

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Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut opens with a murder and shines a spotlight onto life in fictional small-town Japan.

Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister Keiko’s sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate town years ago.

But Ren soon finds himself picking up where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a local cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s catatonic wife.

As he comes to know the figures in Akakawa, from the enigmatic politician to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, Ren delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed, trying to piece together what happened the night of her death. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren struggles to find solace in the void his sister has left behind.

Publisher: Soho Press

Publication Date: March 06, 2018

Setting: Akakawa, Japan

Genre: Mystery, Fiction

Date Read: April 10, 2018

No. of Pages: 323 Pages

Format: Hard Cover

Source: Book of The Month

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It’s the “if you love (insert book here) you will definitely enjoy this” that pushed me into reading this book. A good motivation, really, since I am struggling to finish a book these past few months. And would just look at that gorgeous cover!

The book opened with Keiko Ishida’s murder, our protagonist’s older sister. Now Ren Ishida needs to go to a small town in Japan – Akakawa to learn what happened to his sister that fateful night. A promising premise, if you ask me, but unfortunately the book wasn’t able to sustain the thrill it promised.

Comparison to a Haruki Murakami novel

I was told that if I love Haruki Murakami’s books, then I would definitely enjoy this one. To be compared to a Murakami novel is a big shoes to fill, it sets a high expectation and either it would exceed the expectation or fall behind it. The case here is the latter. While it is true that the book is somehow reminiscent to that of a Murakami novel, there are however striking differences. Both have that subtle, silent, calm quality to it – qualities that would put you at a certain mood and qualities that if you don’t pay too much attention would be lost in you. However Rainbirds felt like it wanted to tell different side stories but the connection or coherence of it all did not meld well, it was a bit forced, to say the least.

Japan in the 90s

I love that the book was set in Japan in the 90s, it added to the mystery of the whole book. It may have been one of its strong suit. The way the author described certain places transports its readers and made them feel as if they were there too. I don’t know if it’s just me or books set in Japan has this melancholic feel to it that I can not pinpoint exactly, all I know is it adds beauty to the book.

 

Great premise, mediocre execution

The premise of the book is what would capture its audience. With an unsolved murder opening the book, it is but natural to draw readers in. The never-ending quest to know who did it will always be something readers crave, I myself included. However I find the execution of the whole novel a bit mediocre, again blame this on the expectation set too high. The loose ends were not as polished as I hoped it to be. The bridge linking the events and the domino effect it tried to provide were not solid enough to make the book more put-together. There were moments when I hardly see the relevance of one event to another. The few chapters toward the end felt a little bit rushed. It felt like everything is crammed up inside a suitcase, all wrinkly and in disarray. Maybe if the book was a little longer, it could have tied all the loose ends better. There were awkward parts as well, for an instance this particular scene warrants a certain reaction, but the characters in it did something cringe-y or something unconventional in the normal course of things – this happened a lot, and was a major turn off for me.

Characters and their likability

Ren Ishida – our main character is just your average guy – young, good looking and intelligent. Easy to like right? However as the story progresses, the book showed a side of  Ren that isn’t likeable. What is it with Ren and all these women? This is something the book can definitely do away with, it did not add anything to the story, if for anything it was a little annoying. Ren isn’t a spectacular character, he was plain and a little boring to be completely honest, his character could have been portrayed well, there are so many things the author could have done to make the main character cut above the rest, but no, it had to be this boring guy who for inexplicable reasons seems to draw the attention of too many women. Then we have Seven Stars or Rio who was portrayed as a rebellious teenager with issues of her own. Another character with great potential that the author failed to maximize. Her connection to the whole story is yet another forced one. Keiko Ishida, was the only one consistent in this story, this is through the recollection of her brother Ren, her character is what I expected it to be, the only character I liked to be completely honest. Other characters such as Ren’s neighbor, Izumi the building manager,  Mr. and Mrs. Katou, Pigtails, Mrs. Katsuragi, Honda, Anzu, Jin, and all others are characters that was supposed to contribute to the story but all fell short and I keep missing their relevance to it all. Again, great characters that the author wasn’t able to fully utilize.

On the fence

I don’t hate the book, but I don’t love it either. And it is such a sad situation where I can’t actually categorize it. Was it a bad book? No it was not, it had great potential just not executed well. Despite the issues I had with this book, I definitely would want to see the author grow and watch out what she will be able to come up with her next books.

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Sadness alone can’t harm anyone. It’s what you do when you’re sad that can hurt you and those around you.
– Clarissa Goenawan

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❝Sadness alone can’t harm anyone. It’s what you do when you’re sad that can hurt you and those around you.❞ – Clarissa Goenawan ••• Finished Rainbirds last night…and it wasn’t what I had expected. I was told if I love Haruki Murakami then I would love this one – that set a big expectation. To be compared to a Murakami novel is quite a big shoes to fill, and it’s either you exceed the expectation or fall behind it. The case here is the latter. I don’t hate the book but I don’t love it either. I am on the fence with this one. There are yes a few resemblance, but it is also quite different, if that even makes sense. I’d stop with the comparison, and focus on the story. It opens with Keiko Ishida’s murder, our protagonist’s sister. It held a lot of promise by this premise alone, but towards the end it just didn’t sustain the thrill of finding out what really happened. It feels like the book wants to tell so many different stories but the connection to it all seemed a bit forced? And the revelation of what really happened and all the secrets surrounding it was a little lackluster. But I do love that it is set in Japan in the 90s, the description of the place is enough to satisfy the reader’s curiosity, it just provides what the story needed. . Rating: 3/5⭐️ . Despite the issues I had with this book, I definitely would want to see the author grow and see what she will be able to come up with her next books. . ••• Full review now posted on my blog! Link in bio 💕🧡 . . . . #Rainbirds #clarissagoenawan #BookOfTheMonth #botm #mybookmark #renishida

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