NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson #psychologicalthriller #catandmouse #twisty


It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever… done something I shouldn’t.

But Amy Whey has done something she shouldn’t. And Roux, the glamorous newcomer to Amy’s suburban neighbourhood, knows exactly what that is.

Roux promises she will go away. She will take herself and her son, who is already growing dangerously close to Amy’s teenage stepdaughter, and she will go. If Amy plays by her rules.

But Amy isn’t prepared to lose everything she’s built. She’s going to fight back, and in this escalating game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.

My Review

Amy and Char are both mothers of young children who live in the same street, and despite their age gap (Amy is older) the pair are the best of friends. Char loves classical literature and runs a book club (from Amy’s house), which is planned down to the last minute . She also likes to sit in her own special chair, which all the other women in the book-club daren’t sit in. So when Roux, the mysterious newcomer to the area, arrives unannounced at their book-club one evening and takes over – including sitting in Char’s chair – Char is put out to say the least.  Before Char and Amy know it, the evening has come to an end and Char’s chosen book has barely been mentioned. But it is after Char has gone home that things really hot up!

The author has already set the scene that Roux is out to cause trouble. When she instigates a game of ‘Never Have I Ever’ one of the other women in the group admits to kissing another man and Roux stores away this piece of information to use in the future. The next day, Roux turns her attention to Amy, and reveals she knows exactly what Amy did in her past, blackmailing her to hand over her inheritance or risk losing everything she holds dear. However, Roux hasn’t banked on Amy’s feistiness and she may just have possibly picked on the wrong one this time.

What was unique about this narrative was that it was solely from Amy’s perspective and (apart from a flashback scene early on) it is set in the present. I thought this was quite interesting because although it is an event from Amy’s past that has given Roux the first spark of amunition against Amy, it is her ongoing actions since then, including the here and now, that raises the stakes. Most psychological thrillers juxtapose the perspective of the protagonist alongside that of the antagonist; asking the question as to who is telling the truth. But this was not the case here. Roux’s background is a complete mystery and is only brought to light through Amy’s detective work and personal psychoanalysis of her. Rather than internal monologue, the author reveals Roux’s inner thoughts by coming in so close that every tiny facial twitch tells a miniature story, revealing whether Roux is nervous or lying.

I really liked Amy, she’s done some stupid things in the past, but a big twist reveals just what a big heart she has and just exactly how much she could lose though Roux’s evil determination to destroy her: this is much more than what is revealed early on. Although initially at her wits end as to what she is going to do,  Amy soon decides to fight back by digging into Roux’s own closet – quite literally. And what she finds out is far more shocking than anything Amy has done. Readers are in for a real treat with this twisty turn in this tale of cat and mouse.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson’s newest book, Never Have I Ever, will launch in July of 2019. You can check out her previous eight novels and other work here. Joshilyn’s books have been translated into a dozen languages, have won SIBA’s Novel of the Year award, have three times been #1 Book Sense Pick, have twice won Georgia Author of the Year awards, have three times been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and have been a finalist for the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.

A former actor, Jackson reads the audio versions of both her own novels and the books of other writers; her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, won three Earphones awards, made the 2012 Audible All-Star list for highest listener ranks/reviews, and garnered three Listen Up awards from Publisher’s Weekly.

She serves on the board of Reforming Arts, a nonprofit that runs education-in-prison and reentry programs. Reforming Arts fosters the development of critical and creative thinking skills, encouraging students to build livable lives both during and post-incarceration. Through this organization, Joshilyn has taught creative writing, composition, and literature inside Georgia’s maximum security facility for women.

Joshilyn learned to scuba-dive in order to write Never Have I Ever, and now she and her husband Scott are both avid divers. They live in Decatur, Georgia with their two kids, two entitled cats, and a modestly-sized dog.


#psychologicalthriller #bookreview #literaturelove

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Penguin

Published: 28th Nov 2019 (paperback)

27th June 2019 (ebook)

Reviewed: 28th July 2019


Leah is in love. It should be the happiest summer of her life, but she can’t help feeling lonely with Jake’s attention divided between her, his ex-wife and his young son. As insomnia sets in, the walls of their new basement flat feel as if they’re closing in around her. Until she meets her upstairs neighbour, Anton, who has recently moved back in after a long absence from the street. He’s a sympathetic ear when Jake can’t be, and even though others on the street seem strangely hostile towards him, Leah soon comes to rely on Anton and their secret conversations in the night.

Leah has no idea that nineteen years before, Anton was convicted of killing his wife. A wife who looked a little bit like Leah. He has always said he didn’t do it. Is Leah his redemption? Or is she befriending a killer intent on luring her closer and closer?

My Review

Written in third-person from the limited perspectives of Leah, Anton, and Hilary, Come A Little Closer is a spine tingling narrative that had me changing my mind and guessing right up to the very end. Although my first thought was the correct one, there were many times throughout the book where I thought the complete opposite. And there was a thought I had which I was certain would be the big twist but it turned out to be a red herring. I won’t say what that was in case other readers have this same thought!

Leah has a secret past of her own, a past that her boyfriend (Jake), knows nothing about, so when her new landlord (Anton) claims he is innocent of murdering his wife (Charlotte), a crime he has spent the last 19 years in prison for, she is quick to give him the benefit of the doubt. But with Leah being similar in appearance to Charlotte, he soon becomes infatuated with her; and with neighbour Hilary obsessed with Anton, Leah is in a very dangerous place within this creepy triangle.

Certain events are repeated, being told from the different points of view of one or more of the characters. I really liked this narrative form; how one character saw something another didn’t, or how another character was privy to something that another character knew nothing about. It is through this form of dramatic irony that the truth about Charlotte’s fate is gradually revealed. The narrative also includes quite a lot of internal monologue, especially from Hilary’s perspective, with certain events triggering past memories. This meant the narrative did jump around quite a lot from past to present within the same chapter, which was a little confusing in places but not overly so. The steady pacing throughout the first part of the story meant that actions of the characters were more believable: one small act, leading to another, building to terrifyingly disturbing scenes and a fast-paced climax.

I really enjoyed reading this book, even more so than Your Closest Friend, and would recommend this for fans of Ella Drummond or Shalini Boland.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

Karen Perry is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Your Closest Friend, Can You Keep a Secret?, Girl Unknown, Only We Know and The Boy That Never Was, which was selected for the Simon Mayo Radio 2 Book Club. She lives in Dublin with her family.

Post Settings


# bookreview #psychologicalthriller #twisty

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Bookouture

Published: 21st June 2019

Reviewed: 10th July 2019


When I first set eyes on Westhill House with its breath-taking views of the sea I knew it was the perfect place for a fresh start. The place may be falling apart, but it can be fixed with some tender loving care. And as Jack and I work to repair this beautiful building, maybe we can repair our relationship too. Maybe we can make Westhill House a refuge from all the tragedies that came before.

Lori has come to Westhill House for shelter too. She says it used to be a place where women went for safety. How can I turn her away, when violence waits for her outside these high walls?

But the longer Lori stays, the more time Jack spends away. And the more she helps me restore the house, the more secrets start to be revealed. Like the children’s drawings under the wallpaper in the back bedroom, and the hidden papers underneath the floorboards in the turret room. But why does Lori know so much about Westhill House, if she’s never been here before? What does she really need protection from?

And now I’ve invited her into my dream house, is there any escape for either of us?

My thoughts

Beginning with a prologue where a girl escapes to an isolated place to give birth, the story switches back and forth between the present-day/first-person perspective of Stella – and the past/third-person limited perspective of Kay.

A year ago Stella’s parents were killed in a hit and run, and still grieving, Stella has bought a huge neglected house with the inheritance her parents have left her. As foster carers, her parents worked tirelessly to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but it is clear Stella is hiding a secret from her past that has left her dredged in guilt. When a stranger (Lori) turns up on the doorstep covered in bruises and claiming to be a victim of domestic abuse, Stella sees this as an opportunity to redeem herself from whatever it is she has done, but with Stella’s boyfriend, Jack, believing Lori has a hidden agenda, Stella soon starts telling white lies to keep Lori hidden from him. True to the psychological thriller genre, these small lies soon escalate and before we know it there is a whole cast of unreliable characters. Jack might not trust Lori, but Lori doesn’t trust him either, and with Stella’s first-person narrative putting the reader right in her shoes, it is difficult to know exactly who she can trust. And then there’s the builder: a great bloke, salt of the earth, so why does he go missing as soon as the police start sniffing around?

The past timeline tells the story of Kay who got pregnant when she was fifteen. At first I thought this related to the prologue but we soon learn that fifteen-year-old Kay has supportive parents (well sort of) so it can’t be. Kay goes on to marry an abusive ‘man’ who everybody thinks is wonderful, unaware of what goes on behind closed doors. This part of the story deals with some dark and gritty issues and with such a slow build up, where Kay’s husband goes from being somebody who is over-attentive to somebody who is controlling and violent, this makes you consider relationships in the present timeline. Is Jack’s behaviour because he is genuinely concerned for Stella or because he is controlling? It also links to the present timeline theme of things not being as they appear to the outside world.

Ping-ponging between past and present, The Dream House made for one hell of a read. I’m usually pretty good at second guessing what happens but this was full of surprisingly clever plot twists. For most of the story, Lori’s identity is kept secret but once it is revealed, everything (including the prologue) all makes sense. I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it for anybody who likes Lisa Jewell, Louise Jensen, or Jo Ullah.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

How to buy this book

SLEEP by C L Taylor

#Psychologicalthriller #bookreview #bookbloggers #literaturelove

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Avon Books UK

Published: 4th April 2019

Reviewed: 25th June 2019


All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna. Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

My Review

Well, this wasn’t the read I was expecting at all. It was even better!

After reading the blurb, I thought the story’s title related to Anna, the protagonist, being too scared to go to sleep. To an extent it is, but the plot is much more complex than that and it wasn’t until the story reached its climax that the title of Sleep really hit me as being quite clever. I won’t say why as this would be a spoiler; but when you read it, it will make sense!

The author’s skilful use of language and sentence structure makes this an enjoyable read that sucks you right into the narrative, which combined with its fast paced plot made it difficult to find a natural break where I could put the book down without itching to pick it back up again for another sneaky read. There are a lot of flawed and damaged characters who feature prominently in the story, and with the four women guests having names that weren’t tied down to a particular age group, at times it was difficult to keep track of who was who. However, this kind of added to the story’s overall sense of confusion and unease. Anna knows one of the guests is out to get her but she doesn’t know which one.

Anna narrates through first-person, and the other characters are brought to life through limited third-person perspectives. This is the case not only for guests at the Bay View Hotel but also for characters from Anna’s past. This multiple narrative works particularly well for this ‘whodunnit’ type thriller. The first-person narration puts the reader in Anna’s shoes, feeling her guilt, whilst the third-person narration allows access to information that Anna isn’t privy to. To a degree, the guilt Anna feels isn’t justified, and the way she has been treated by both her colleagues and her boyfriend, adds to the sense of injustice. Following the climax, the story temporarily switches to first-person narration from the antagonist’s point of view. In complete contrast to Anna’s overwhelming yet unjustifiable guilt, the antagonist (sorry not going to name them here!) feels their psychotic perspective is rational. The author’s decision to portray this directly through the antagonist’s twisted sense of right and wrong really is quite chilling to the core.

The sense of claustrophobia and panic is intensified by the novel’s setting. Whilst the island of Rum is surrounded by wide open spaces, this is juxtaposed with it being cut off from the mainland. Modern technology is unreliable at the best of times on the island, but with the storm raging, communication with the outside world is impossible. With no immediate neighbours and no way of calling for help, this makes this ordinarily fresh rural setting a place of intense fear that is impossible to escape.

Whilst C L Taylor is in a league of her own, Sleep is an addictive and twisty read recommended for anybody who likes traditional Agatha Christy type thrillers as well as more contemporary thrillers such as An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author