Tag Archives: psychological thriller

Book Review: For You and Only You (You #4) by Caroline Kepnes

For You and Only You (You #4)       

Author: Caroline Kepnes

Publisher: Random House

American release date:  April 25, 2023

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Psychological Thriller/448 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Tiring of the bookshop in Florida, Joe Goldberg decides that instead of selling books, he is going to write them! To that end, he applies for and receives a fellowship to Harvard, so it’s off to Boston for Joe! How prestigious is that? The fellowship is being led by an actual well-known author, Glenn Shoddy, of Scabies for Breakfast fame. But that isn’t the best part. When Joe meets his fellow authors, of various backgrounds and various genres, his heart goes thump when he spies her, the girl of his dreams…Wonder Parish. Back in love, Joe does what Joe does best – he stalks the girl. To get to know her better, of course.

Wonder works at a Dunkin’ Donuts and loves Coolattas – she drinks them like they’re going out of style. She lives with her father, whom she buys scratchers for on a regular basis. She has a sister named Cherish, who has a little girl named Karidad. Wonder is working on a book called Faithful, and she is afraid to let anyone read it, but of course that has to happen – that’s the point of the fellowship. Not all the authors are as reticent as she is, and some have actually been published, and think they’re better than the rest. Joe, of course, sees through them. And that includes Glenn.

But Joe isn’t stupid, and he’ll do what he needs to do in order to be published, to be acknowledged as the great writer that he is. Even if it means toadying up to Glenn Shoddy, running errands for him, and even biking with him – ye gods! However, even Joe has his breaking point. When he meets Glenn’s wife Sly, who is also an author, having written an obscure and unsuccessful novel called Flour Girls, Joe learns some interesting truths. And knowledge, as they say is power.

But even with the fellowship under new leadership, bumpy roads lie ahead. True crime writer Mary Beth (rhymes with Death) is on to Joe. In a moment of weakness, he confesses all, which she captures on tape. So now she has proof of his dark deeds! So, what will she do with the information? And what will Joe do with Mary Beth? How can he protect Wonder from undeserved criticism, protect and boost her fragile ego, convince her she is a wonderful writer, and make her see that he is the greatest thing to ever come into her life, all while becoming published himself and staying out of prison? Joe has got his work cut out for him.

I think I enjoyed the fourth Joe Goldberg novel even more than the third. How bold of Joe to yearn to enter the spotlight, to reveal himself to the world at large, when he has left a trail of dead bodies a mile wide. Surely that is bound to catch up with him at some point? Or does he lead a truly charmed life? Joe is a delight, as always. I find his taste in women somewhat lacking, but at the same time, somewhat similar. I don’t believe I’ve liked any of them.

If you’re also watching the series, you’ll notice a great divergence, as the series has taken a left turn. I think I stopped watching after the second season because of that, and not wanting to confuse the books with the series. That being said, Penn Badgley is simply brilliant as Joe. I just wish they’d stuck to the books (I have the same complaint in regard to Lucifer and the Witcher series. At least the Witcher followed it for a while, but Lucifer never did. But I digress). Fantastic novel, looking forward to more. I have to believe that at some point, Joe will have to face the consequences of his actions. It will take more than a silver tongue and a strong sense of self-preservation to help him then.

Book Review: You Love Me (You #3) by Caroline Kepnes

You Love Me (You #3)     

Author: Caroline Kepnes

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

American release date:  April 6, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Psychological Thriller/400 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Joe Goldberg’s dreams of a forever love with Love Quinn, mother of his future child, have been crushed following the death of Love’s twin brother Forty and Joe’s arrest on suspicion of murder—namely RIP Beck and RIP Peach. But thanks to the wealthy Quinn family, Joe is freed and given 4 million dollars to go away, with the proviso that he sign a paper that says he must stay away from his son, whom Love names Forty in honor of her brother.

Joe winds up moving to Bainbridge Island, Washington, in a house bought for him by the Quinns, where he becomes a volunteer at the local library and falls madly in love with librarian Mary Kay DiMarco. Mary Kay comes with baggage, in the form of teen-age daughter Nomi,  whom Joe refers to as the Meerkat, but so what? Joe can deal with that. But MK (as he calls her) is hiding something else from him, something that is an even greater obstacle to their happiness, in the form of a has-been rock star husband named Phil.

Simple enough for Joe Goldberg, right? Not like he hasn’t killed people before, he has. But Joe has turned over a new leaf. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, much less kill them. He’s a good boy, he is. But suddenly, people are dying, and none of it’s his fault. So why is he being made to suffer for their deaths?

The third book of the You series is just as delightful as the first two, with the deliciously psychotic Joe Goldberg as the main attraction. I love reading Joe’s voice, and his humor, even if I don’t get all the references (I do get a lot of them, though). Joe’s trying to do the right thing but the universe seems determined to get him, and his growing softness might just be the end of him.

More interesting characters along with some very unexpected events. Definite roller coaster ride with its ups and downs, and never knowing how things will turn out for Joe. Will surely be reading the next one whenever it comes out. I know this is not the end of the line for our hero, and I look forward to reading more as I wonder what he will be up to next.


Book Review: You by Caroline Kepnes


Author: Caroline Kepnes

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

American release date:  October 13, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Serial Killer Thriller/448 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


The moment Guinivere Beck walked into the NYC bookstore that Joe Goldberg manages, she becomes his instant obsession. His new love. What else can he do, in her best interest, other than to find out everything he can about her and stalk her? And Joe is very good at what he does.

Determined that Beck love him as much as he loves her, he goes about learning what makes her tick. So naturally he needs to spy on her inside her apartment (good thing she doesn’t believe in curtains). A stroke of fortune (or is it Fate?) finds him in possession of her cell phone, so now he can follow her every message, tweet, and email. He gets to know her friends, the most obnoxious of whom is Peach, an entitled rich beeyatch. And then there’s Benji, the surfer-looking dude with his own artisanal water company who seems to be a friend with benefits.

Good thing Joe has the patience of a saint, because the road to winning Beck’s heart is not going to be an easy one. And if, well, he has to kill a few people along the way, all in a day’s work, right?

You pulls you in from the first page with its compelling first person narration. Joe Goldberg is “likeable”… in that charming, demented, narcissistic serial killer kind of way. Poor Joe. Sometimes it seems as though he takes one step forward and three steps back in his pursuit of the elusive Beck. After a while, you begin to wonder just what it is he sees in her that makes him so crazy.

Oh, and just to be clear, this is not his first rodeo, as he plainly admits. So maybe he just wants to get it right this time… unless things don’t work out, and then he can just start again, right?

This book will make you laugh and will also horrify you… and leave you hoping you never meet any people like these. But it’s definitely a fun, wild ride, a psychological rollercoaster that will leave you wanting more. And luckily, there is a second book. Looking forward to reading it.

Book Review: Audition by Ryu Murakami


Author: Ryu Murakami

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company

American release date:  June 7, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Psychological Thriller/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


After seven years of being alone, widower Aoyama decides, after being prompted by his fifteen-year-old son Shige, to consider marrying again. However, Aoyama doesn’t know just how to go about looking for a wife, as he confides to his close friend, Yoshikawa. Wanting to see his friend happy, Yoshikawa hits on the perfect solution—he’ll announce an audition for a romantic movie (which may  never get made, but that’s show business, right?), and Aoyama can look through the resumes that are submitted and select about thirty or so for the two men to audition for the “role” of Aoyama’s future wife.


One resume in particular catches Aoyama’s eye, and he barely gives any of the other applicants the time of day, so intent is he on meeting Yamasaki Asami. And when he does, she is even more than he could have hoped for. Of course, he has to let her know she didn’t get the part, and hope that she won’t be too disappointed.


Is she Aoyama’s next great love… or a nightmare waiting to happen?


This is my second book by this author, the first being Piercing. Both are psychological thrillers which take us deep into the protagonist’s psyche. Audition is slow-paced, but well worth the time it takes to come to a boil. I’ve seen the movie, as well, and have to say I like the book just a little bit better, although the movie is good too. It’s a good read, and well done, and I plan to read more of this author’s books. The ending may be too graphic for some, so know that going into it. This story is not for everyone, but I really liked it.



Book Review: Piercing by Ryu Murakami


Author: Ryu Murakami

Publisher: Penguin Books

American release date:  March 27, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Psychological Thriller/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes


New father Kawashima Masayuki stands beside the bed of his infant daughter every night, in the still of the night, and tells himself he will not stab her with the ice pick he holds in his hand.

His wife has no idea of his thoughts, and would naturally be horrified if she only knew. Kawashima has to do something to rid himself of this urge. Better a complete stranger than his child, right? Not like he hasn’t done that before.

Kawashima is a very methodical man, as is very evident in the way he goes about making plants to inflict his urges on a prostitute he intends to hire. Nothing can be left to chance, and nothing can ever lead back to him. It won’t, not if he plays his cards right. And when he succeeds, his baby and wife will be safe, right?

This psychological thriller by Ryu Murakami explores the thought processes in this man, who otherwise appears to be normal, but beneath it all is filled with personal demons he struggles to control. Namely the impulse to cause harm with an ice pick. And then there is the prostitute he hires through an agency, Chiaki, who has demons of her own. A woman bold enough to pierce her own nipple.

This is my first book by this author, but it won’t be my last. I am currently reading Audition, also by him. I honestly had no idea what was going to happen, as we explore the minds of these two people, brought together by chance, both of whom struggle with painful pasts. I hope the movie is half as good as the book.

This book is very well written and flows smoothly, one of those hard to put down books you are too anxious to find out what happens next. I highly recommend it.