Never Have I Ever: A Novel

by Joshilyn Jackson

Hardcover, 2019




William Morrow (2019), 352 pages


Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it, teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy's sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night. Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it's naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way, a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.… (more)


½ (208 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member jmchshannon
I confess. I almost stopped reading Never Have I Ever several times before I reached the halfway point. I didn’t trust Joshilyn Jackson enough and thought the blackmail story was rather stupid. Plus, I never could figure out why the secret was worthy of blackmail in the first place. However, I
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kept with it and was rewarded with a fantastic story of secrets, guilt and much more. The elements devoted to self-worth and the definition of family alone were well worth the efforts of sticking with the book. Plus, Ms. Jackson’s descriptions of scuba diving make it sound worth the effort it would take for me to overcome my fear of deep water. Any activity that forces you to focus on the present and the peace that brings is attractive, and Ms. Jackson’s descriptions are enticing. I especially adore how she tackles some fairly sticky topics with gentle reminders that every type of lifestyle that incorporates love has value. There is so much gray area in her characters though that I can see this being the darling of the book club world. I am heartily glad I stuck with the novel, and I will never doubt Ms. Jackson’s writing choices again.
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LibraryThing member AmalieTurner
I was sent an early copy of this and I am very grateful!

At the start of this novel you will think you know the twist, and you'll be right but also so wrong. This book reveals a lot towards the beginning and teaches you to assume nothing. I was pleasantly surprised by many of the aspects of this
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novel. It did a lot of unique things in terms of reveals. There are many types of mystery/thrillers and this one falls in the category that I don't always enjoy. I can't say why because I don't want to give much away but I think fans of Karen Slaughter will really like this one!
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LibraryThing member phyllis.shepherd
I have long been a fan of Joshilyn Jackson's books, so was eagerly anticipating this one, especially since it was advertised as being "different" from her others. It is indeed different, with the dark twist of the stranger Angelina Roux threatening to reveal Amy's secret and well-hidden past. The
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settings, character development, and writing style are reliably familiar, however, which for me is a good thing. I was engrossed in the plot, and thought that the denouement was rather predictable, but still interesting. This is definitely a book worth reading, though not quite so compelling that I could give it a 5-star review.
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LibraryThing member beckyhaase
NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson
If you are looking for a fast read that starts slowly, but builds to a thrilling conclusion, Then this is the book for you. The characters are pretty stock and the conversations stilted. The situations have way too many coincidences and barely believable
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occurrences, but for an escapist afternoon or two this one fills the bill.
Amy was a wild child with a past who worked on rehabilitating herself. Then a newcomer crashes her book group, takes over and threatens (nicely) everyone present. The newcomer seems to have the goods on Amy and then the fun begins. If you think there are too many cliques in this post, don’t read NEVER HAVE I EVER.
3 of 5 stars
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LibraryThing member crabbylibrarian
Our story begins with a book club meeting (sounds innocuous enough, right?), but with a new neighbor present, quickly spirals down into a game of 'Never Have I Ever'. (For those uninitiated, it's a drinking game where someone starts out with...never have I ever...then fills in the blank e.g., never
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have I ever gone skinny dipping. Those that have, answer yes by drinking their libation.) For the most part, the group thinks this a naughty, but innocent game. However, upon leaving, the new neighbor, Angelica Roux (or just Roux as she tells the others) whispers to the hostess, Amy Whey, to come see her soon so they can finish the game. Roux manages to root around in her new neighbors' lives and find some tasty blackmail morsels to feed her checking account and Amy Whey for one has some truths from her youth that she'd rather the others not know.

This is a wicked thriller that had me reading late into the night, right up to the bitter-sweet end.

Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the very enjoyable read! #neverhaveiever #joshilynjackson #netgalley
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LibraryThing member Beamis12
It starts when s new member shows up at the book club. A game, Never have i Ever, a secret kept for many years. What if someone knows your secret? Is willing to do anything to win the game, and get your money? Would you know how to play? Could you find a way to win?

I've read this author for years,
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has the undeniable knack of creating fully realistic characters. Women and situations that could be taken out of the newspapers, maybe even our own lives, our neighborhoods. These women seem real because they are multilayered, not all good, not all bad.

I found this story, absorbing, addicting. Times I thought I knew where it was going, how I felt, something was revealed that I didn't see coming, and my feelings changed again. Couldn't wait to see how this was going to end. Both women had much to lose, so who would come out on top? Such a spider web of s story, expertly plotted, and expertly executed. Step, by step.

ARC from Book browse.
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LibraryThing member BettyTaylor56
Amy has a comfortable life with her loving husband, stepdaughter Maddie, and baby Oliver. Then one night at the monthly neighborhood book club meeting a stranger threatens her life as she knows it. Amy has a secret that she has kept hidden…until now. Roux knows what she did and wants retribution.
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But Amy has too much to lose so she fights back. But as it says on the cover of the book “In this game, even winning can be deadly.”

This book is a departure from Joshilyn Jackson’s usual Southern women fiction. However, Jackson brings to her debut thriller aspects of her previous novels that her fans love – the strong female friendships, the witty bantering, and the characters you love to hate. She brings us two equally strong women who are ready to do battle – a battle of wits. Both with secrets they will do anything to keep hidden. Her mastery of this genre-flip may well attract readers not familiar with her previous works.

The story quickly grabbed me and took me on an exhilarating ride. It kept me on the edge of my seat as their cat-and-mouse game was played out. I do hope she will write more books of this genre.

Thank you to BookBrowse and William Morrow Books for the advance copy. Opinions expressed here are totally mine.
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LibraryThing member JKJ94
I had never read anything by this author before Never Have I Ever, so this is a new author for me that I have added to my favorite author's list. It did start off a bit slow, but man after it picked up I was hooked. Let's join a book club and to get to know one another better lets play a game. Do
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you remember the game never have I ever? Well, believe me, Ms. Jackson will take you on a thrilling tour of how this book club plays this game. I enjoyed this book once it really took off it was hard to put down. I won an ARC of Never Have I Ever on Goodreads.
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LibraryThing member bearette24
I wanted to like this, and at first I did. Jackson portrays a typical suburban neighborhood, including a book club for moms, with juicy tensions. Then the plot took a couple of unrealistic turns, and I found myself losing interest.
LibraryThing member Kimaoverstreet
Until I saw Joshilyn Jackson on a book tour in Wichita years ago, I had dismissed her work as chick lit - not my genre. I was so impressed with her wit, compassion, and storytelling skills that I became a lifelong fan. My guess is that even her grocery list is entertaining reading!

This is the story
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of Amy Whey, a thirty-some young mom and diving instructor with a secret in her past, and a beautiful devious newcomer who threatens to exploit it and ruin everything Amy holds dear. A fast paced, twisty plot makes this book hard to put down. Recommended as a great beach read!
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LibraryThing member cwhisenant11
I’m a big fan of Joshilyn Jacksons’s writing. Her sassy, southern style is completely unique and unmistakable. This story was a little different from her usual, but still written with her signature complex, flawed southern characters and witty southernisms like only she can do. I learn so much
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from her writing. Her main characters usually have some interesting career or hobby that I learn about and in this book it was scuba diving. I also love how her books make me think about all the grey areas in life and see different points of view on important themes like justice and forgiveness. Her writing speaks to me in a way like no other—when I’m reading, I’m thinking she knows me and she gets me. Her characters feel like family and her books feel like home.

Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewer program for a free copy in exchange for review. I will still be purchasing the audio version when it’s released in July so that I can hear her tell the story in her own voice. If you have never listened to Joshilyn as a narrator—you’re missing out!
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LibraryThing member nbmars
Amy Whey, 42, feels lucky to have a solid, loving family with her husband Davis, stepdaughter Maddie, and her eight-month old baby Oliver. She has a nice home and a best friend in Charlotte Baxter, who has a little girl of her own. But Amy has a secret past that isn’t so nice. She thinks there is
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no way anyone will know, until a newcomer, Angelica Roux, comes to her neighborhood bookclub, and hints that she knows all about Amy. Amy’s world, that she thought was safe and protected, is about to be upended, unless she can come up with a way out. But “Roux” as Angelica calls herself, brings pathological skills and hard-core experience to this game she is playing with Amy, and Amy fears she will lose everything good in her life.

Amy is much like the characters we are used to from Joshilyn Jackson - full of overflowing, nurturing love for family and friends. But Amy does have a dark past that takes this character beyond the more quotidian flaws of previous protagonists. Roux, on the other hand, is something new for Jackson: a repugnant and remorseless spider who snares everyone she can into her web and then coldly devours their lives.

Tension and twists keep readers on the edge of their seats until an unexpected revelation about Roux changes the nature of the game.

Evaluation: The writing is as good as usual for Jackson, but some of the characters are beyond despicable, so it’s hard to say I “liked” the story. I’m also still not sure how I felt about Amy’s past. Somewhat ironically, since the story begins with a book club meeting (gone bad), a (normal) book club meeting is exactly where I would love to dissect this story and hear the thoughts of other readers.
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LibraryThing member tara35
I was really excited to read this book! I’m not sure it lived up to my expectations. This is a suburban mom thriller - what if someone threatened to reveal your worst secret, how far would you go to stop them. It might be that this just wasn’t the perfect book for me but I wanted more nuance
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from the reading experience. The storyline went back and forth: the two protagonists would spar, then the threatened one would take care of her baby, make dinner, and come up with a strategy, then repeat. The secondary characters were not well developed, maybe no one was? There were some clever twists and turns but overall this was not a totally satisfying read.
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LibraryThing member maggie1961
I have only read a preview of this book courtesy of net galley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review and I am hooked.
Wine and truth games together are not a good idea.
What starts as a monthly book club meeting with numerous women in a neighbourhood is quickly taken over by a newcomer
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to the area. Amy is hosting the book club that her best friend Char runs. The newcomer, Roux is charismatic and the book to be discussed is cast aside as the women are drawn to Roux’s every word.
As the crowd thins, it becomes a different kind of night as a game similar to “never have I ever” is initiated by Roux. What started out as just fun, quickly became more than any of them anticipated. Some secrets should stay silent. But what is Roux’s motive? We get only a tiny hint.
Although this was only a preview, I was instantly grasped by the story and will have to patiently wait for the full book when it’s released. This portion I read is a five star for me.
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LibraryThing member Beecharmer
I absolutely loved this book. I've read all of Joshilyn Jackson's books but I think this is my favorite. Edge of your seat the whole way with a surprising twist at the end. Amy has a good safe life but she is keeping a secret from all her friends and family. Something she is so ashamed of she has
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carried it with her every day. When a new woman and her son move into a rental in the neighborhood her secret is at risk and she will do anything to keep it.
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LibraryThing member VhartPowers
I liked parts of this book.

I hated parts of this book.

There were parts of this books that were so disgusting vulgar and vile I hesitated in finishing. OH, it doesn't get better either. The end throws a whopper of disgust. I also hated all of the cussing. I get why the author included the filth,
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but that didn't make the book good.

The parts I liked about the book: the secondary character of the husband Davis who has a funny sense of humor. It's unfortunate he didn't play a bigger part in the story. Without giving any spoilers, I'm glad of some of the choices Amy made.
Also, girls should play "games with their bodies and boys, (and neither should women) is a very good message that I do approve of and very glad that was in the book.
I liked the plot twists, because it did keep me guessing and I liked that I wasn't able to guess. I suppose my mind didn't go that deplorable.

Lastly, I liked the end, but didn't like the very end.

I received this book free from GOODREADS for an honest review.
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LibraryThing member marykuhl
This is the first book I have read by this author, and the first book I received through Early Readers. It took me a little bit to get into this book and I can't say that is was "couldn't put down", but I did enjoy this book. Roux blackmails Amy over something happened 20+ years ago and threatens
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to destroy the life that Amy biult. Amy hits back but Roux aways seems to be one step ahead. I couldn't figure out who Roux was or how she found out about Amy's past. And although I'm not sure we really find out who she is, you can't help but be hooked.
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LibraryThing member jdy
Really enjoyed reading this ARC of Never Have I Ever. It's a typical domestic thriller with a few twists and turns throughout. I appreciate how the author (Joshilyn Jackson) builds up each of the characters and spends time getting the reader involved in their lives. After the book was done, I kept
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wanting to return to each of the characters to see what happens after all is said and done... those are the kinds of books that keep you engaged. Will read more books by this author!
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LibraryThing member justacatandabook
After a childhood where she never felt good enough, Amy Whey finally has her perfect life. A loving husband, a feisty fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, and a sweet baby boy. She even has a best friend, Charlotte, to hang out with in her suburban neighborhood. It's at Charlotte's book group when
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everything changes: with the appearance of Roux, a new neighbor. Roux is gorgeous and charming and soon all the book group ladies are happily drinking wine and spilling their secrets during Roux's Never Have I Ever game. But Amy can sense Roux's sinister side from the start. And sure enough, before she knows it, Roux comes to Amy. She knows Amy isn't so perfect after all. She knows a big, dark secret about Amy's past. And if Amy doesn't give Roux exactly what she wants, she's going to make Amy pay, tearing down the perfect life she's so carefully built.

"The game was Roux's idea. More than an idea. A plan. She made it up herself, this shotgun of a game. She packed it tight with salt and metal, counting on collateral damage, too, but she aimed it straight at me. She said it was like Never Have I Ever, but not any version I'd ever played."

Well, this was an interesting one, I must say. It's the epitome of domestic thriller, I suppose: a mix of character-driven fiction and thriller/mystery. The beginning was tough for me: it felt slow, as I waited for things to heat up. The language is rather flowery at times, making some scenes seem long. And some of the real action felt bogged down by Amy and Roux's interactions, as they chattered and bantered--either in person or in Amy's head--while they played their twisted little games. Enough, enough, just get to the point!

"Her hands were not empty after all. They were holding my history, invisible but so very heavy. I could almost see it in her hands."

That said, once things picked up, I enjoyed this much more. When the twists arrive, they are very twisty and fun, and often quite surprising. Roux is appropriately hateful, and Amy is a bit whiny, but it's okay when everything is collapsing and you're trying to figure out where this is all going. This one trailed dangerously close to my pet peeve of "main character with secret, where the book would have no point if they'd just man up and tell someone," but once some of the twists came out, I could at least understand Amy's point of view, if not exactly empathize with her. Jackson gives us a rather dark tale, which, you know, is appreciated. If these two women are going to battle each other, it might as well be grim, right?

Overall, this book starts slow, but once it gets going it's enjoyable twisty, dark, and macabre. It was a different sort of tale, but worth the read. 3.5 stars.

I received a copy of this novel from William Morrow and Librarything in return for an honest review (thank you!); it's available as of 7/30/2019.
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LibraryThing member JKJ94
I had never read anything by this author before Never Have I Ever, so this is a new author for me that I have added to my favorite author's list. It did start off a bit slow, but man after it picked up I was hooked. Let's join a book club and to get to know one another better let's play a game. Do
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you remember the game never have I ever? Well, believe me, Ms. Jackson will take you on a thrilling tour of how this book club plays this game. I enjoyed this book once it really took off it was hard to put down. I won an ARC of Never Have I Ever on Goodreads.
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LibraryThing member indygo88
Amy is content, living in Florida and working as a dive instructor. She has a husband, a teenage stepdaughter, and an infant son. Life is good. Until the day a new neighbor, Roux, drops in at book club and stirs things up. She somehow knows things, and she knows some of Amy's secrets from her past,
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secrets which no one in her current life know anything about. When Roux begins to blackmail Amy, Amy must decide whether to give in or to try to beat Roux at her own game.

I've read quite a few of Joshilyn Jackson's novels and I'd probably have to say that she ranks up there as one of my favorite authors, or at least one that I enjoy returning to again and again. Most of her books have a nice mix of dysfunctional, southern craziness while exploring fairly serious subject matters. In this one, however, she branches more out into the thriller genre. So there's less crazy, but more suspense. I wasn't pulled in to the story immediately, but the further in I got, the more invested I became, and then I was hooked. Unlike many thrillers, some of the secrets were revealed early on, but there were still enough twists and turns to keep me guessing. I wouldn't say this was my favorite novel of Jackson's, but it was good enough and fairly impressive for her first foray into the thriller/suspense genre.
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LibraryThing member Darcia
This book starts slow, with a lot of repetitive inner monologue from Amy, our narrator. By midway, the story hits its stride, and from there I was hooked.

For me, this book has three major strengths. First, the characters are believable, relatable, and interesting. They feel human and I enjoyed
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getting to know them all.

Second, the plot is something I could see happening. We have depth and just enough complexity to keep us on edge.

And, finally, the twists are a touch of brilliance. I'm not sure if my jaw literally dropped but I felt sucker punched a few times, and I mean that in the best sort of way. Jackson doesn't give us one big reveal at the end. Instead, she slams us with something surprising, lets us adjust, and then throws another curve our way.

I don't want to say more, because I don't want to spoil a thing. Don't let the slower pace at the beginning lull you into complacency. This story is full of surprises!

*I received an ARC from the publisher, via LibraryThing.*
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LibraryThing member shelleyraec
“She smiled and I had no premonition as I smiled back. She didn’t look like my own destruction to me.”

Only after inviting neighborhood newcomer Angelica Roux In to join the members of the Brain-Dead Mommies Bookclub clustered in her basement does Amy Whey realise her mistake. Without a shred
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of humility, and with confidence born of beauty, Roux, as she prefers to be called, disrupts the planned discussion about The House of Mirth, instead leading the women to play an adult game of Never Have I Ever. While a handful of drunken women grow ever more indiscrete, Amy refuses to participate.

“I knew what she was then. Too late, I understood her game.”

Two days later Roux appears again at Amy’s door, but this time she isn’t in the mood for games. Roux demands a quarter of a million dollars or she will reveal a dark secret from Amy’s past that will shatter her well ordered life.

“You owe me. You owe me, and you are going to pay.”

Deftly plotted, offering unexpected twists and turns right up until the last pages, Never Have I Ever is a compelling psychological thriller. Roux’s attempt at blackmail sparks a daring game of cat and mouse between two women who both have a lot to lose.

“She was better at this than I was, more experienced, but I didn’t have to win, after all. I only had to play down to a draw, get enough to make her walk away. I needed two things: a secret and to know who she was hiding it from.”

Amy is not so much interested in winning, as she is in simply ridding herself of the threat Roux poses, but each move she makes is met with a countermove from Roux that escalates the stakes. I’ve always found Jackson’s female characters to have an authentic complexity in thought and behaviour, and it’s no different here. Amy is a sympathetic character, but she refuses to be a victim. As a sociopath, Roux’s actions are more slightly more predictable, she puts her own self interest above everything, except perhaps her son. I was utterly absorbed by the battle of wits as it played out, particularly curious to see just how far Amy was willing to go to protect herself, and those she loves.

“The past remained the same, and so, apparently, had she, but I had come up new.”

Never Have I Ever is a provocative, gripping, and wildly entertaining tale of secrets, betrayal, revenge and redemption. A must read.
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LibraryThing member SilversReviews
A secret from her past and someone who happens to show up that may ruin everything.

During their regular, monthly book club meeting a knock on the door brings a new member who as the evening wears on definitely isn't welcome.

Roux knows something about Amy and innocently suggests they play a game
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called Never Have I Ever.

What dark secret could Amy be hiding, how does Roux know about it, and how did Roux find Amy?

Roux demanded money, and Amy had it. 

Who would have thought after all this time someone would find out and take the time to look into what Amy did as a fifteen-year old?

Roux did just that, and she was pretty clever, but Amy was pretty clever too so the game gets intense for both of them, but who has the most to lose?

Both women are strong and determined. Both know how to play games, but will the winner take all or will both players lose? 

A tiny bit on the slow side at first, but not for long. Ms. Jackson took a nightmarish incident that could very well happen and turned it into a story line that will grab you and will have you wondering how someone would even think about doing something like this to someone and how they were able to acquire the information they found or how they even found the person.

You will be on the edge of your seat as you turn the pages and anxiously await how this game goes.


This book was given to me as an ARC by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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LibraryThing member jmoncton
I enjoy Joshilyn Jackson's stories. They are a good blend of likable characters who are usually slightly flawed, with plenty of dysfunctional family dynamics thrown in to make it an enjoyable 'chick lit' read. But this book was a surprise because it had a dark and twisty mystery thriller component
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that made you glued to the story.

If you're looking for a psychological thriller with some very clever plot twists, then you'll like this book!
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Original language


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Physical description

9 inches


006285531X / 9780062855312
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