Love, Lie, Repeat – a psychological thriller.

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Author: Catherine Greer
Publisher: Penguin

Love, Lie, Repeat is a gripping read from start to finish. It is an action-packed thriller, so if that’s your thing, then you will like this book. I wanted to like the book and I admit that it was easy to read, it hooked you from the beginning and when you realised what was really happening, you wanted to know more, but there were lots of things about this book that I just didn’t like.

Australian author Catherine Greer introduces us to three beautiful, rich teens whose lives seem perfect, of course they aren’t, and as you delve deeper into the novel, you realise that girls live quite toxic lives.

Annie and her two best friends, Ash and Ruby, have everything – on the surface. The girls are rich, attractive and talented. The girls are supportive of each other and it would appear that their bond is strong. The girls call themselves the Sirens (which really, really irritated me). The Sirens are there for each other – they have survived divorces, mothers, boys, step-mothers and mishaps. It would appear that the girls have an unwavering bond.

Suddenly there is a new arrival on the scene. Ash’s step-dad brings his son home to live with them in Australia. The appearance of Trip throws the girls and their friendship into chaos. Trip is beautiful, charismatic, smart and has a dangerous past that he can’t seem to escape from. Annie is immediately attracted to Trip and he has a profound effect on all the Sirens. Annie falls hard for Trip, but she finds it hard to trust him and this where most of the drama, twist and turns occur – in Annie’s lack of ability to truly trust those around her. Does Annie trust the Sirens? Is their friendship built on a solid foundation or just a foundation that Annie has been able to manipulate and control? As the plot unravels, more is discovered about Trip, Annie, Ash and Ruby.

Love, Lie, Repeat is a thrilling, psychological drama filled with lots of twists and turns. Of course, as the old saying goes, nothing is what it appears to be and this is true for the Sirens’ friendship. Underneath this seemingly unbreakable friendship, there lies jealousy, aggression, guilt and betrayal.

What I didn’t like

  • I know that Catherine Greer wanted to show the many different layers of friendships that exist between girls and she successfully did this, but I found the whole premise of the book a little bit too dramatic. I found it all a little jarring. The relationship between the girls was unhealthy and the power play between them was toxic. I didn’t enjoy this aspect of the book. I know that manipulation, backstabbing and secrets are standard amongst girl friendship groups, but this book was all very over the top and I found all the drama too much at times.
  • I found the constant body shaming unnecessary and I didn’t truly see the point of it – particularly when a lot of the body shaming came from the mothers. I don’t think it was needed in the book, or it could have been handled differently. I am not sure that Catherine Greer succeeded in wherever she was going with this plot line.
  • I didn’t like any of the characters. Annie was troubled, vindictive, hateful and a victim and I really hate victims.
  • Ruby’s character seemed pointless except for the fact that she was needed to show off Annie’s manipulation and need for control.
  • Ash, I’m assuming is the girl that we were meant to empathise with the most, but she was a bit meh and I didn’t feel anything too much for her at all. I think I was meant to want to protect Ash, but I didn’t care what happened to her.
  • The parents were all one dimensional and lacked believability.

What I liked…

  • It is an intense novel.
  • The friendship, in the beginning, is impressive and you are hooked into the idea of these three girls forming this unbreakable trio.
  • The sinister, creepy feeling that Catherine Greer creates in the novel – right from the start.
  • Catherine Greer succeeds in making the book disturbing and yet addictive reading.
  • Greer maintains a reliable voice throughout the novel, the novel never wavers and it remains unsettling from start to finish.
  • I loved Dashie, the dog and I was on tenterhooks the whole time expecting something awful to happen to Dashie.

The book was a look at a world that I wouldn’t want to be a part of and I genuinely hope that our wealthy and privileged do not live lives like this because if they did that would be truly troubling. If you are after a break from reality and you like a psychological thriller, then this is the novel for you.

Truth, Lies, Philosophy, Wisdom

Tin Heart – Shivaun Plozza

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During a trip to Maleny recently we stopped at the local bookshop, and I bought a copy of Tin Heart by Shivaun Plozza. My expectations for this book were high. I was a huge fan of Frankie. I remember reading it in my role as CBCA judge, and I immediately knew within a few pages that it was going to be a short-listed book. I was nervous about reading Tin Heart and can only imagine how Shivaun Plozza felt about writing and publishing ‘the difficult second book’. I was not to be disappointed, Tin Heart like Frankie is gritty, funny and moving.

One of the reasons that I loved Frankie so much was because she was a character that you both enjoyed and disliked. At times it was confusing to like Frankie because of her attitude and the choices she made, but deep down you knew that she didn’t mean to hurt anyone and there was no malice in her. Marlowe in Tin Heart is very similar to Frankie in this regard, but in every other way, they are different. When I talked to boys about the character of Frankie, I would say that she was the type of girl you should want to date or be best friends with and I also think Marlowe would make a great girlfriend/best-friend.

In her second novel, Tin Heart (Penguin), Shivaun Plozza tells the story of seventeen-year-old Marlowe who undergoes an organ transplant. Marlowe Jensen was The Dying Girl, and now she has a second chance at life, but Marlowe is finding it hard to move on with her new life when she now has someone else’s heart beating in her chest. She feels an overwhelming need to know more about her donor and so sets off on a quest to find her donor’s family, disregarding their request for no contact. Of course, Marlowe’s determination to get to know her donor and his family creates emotional chaos and sets in motion a chain of events that will impact on everyone around her.

Despite these strong themes, Tin Heart remains light-hearted and funny. It is gorgeously written and has a cast of engaging characters that will delight and charm you. There is Pip, Marlowe’s younger brother who likes dressing up in costumes but with a twist – gingham pinafore, red wig, combat boots and tiger-face paint (Jungle Anne of Green Gables, of course). Her mum, the vegan warrior who has just opened her dream vegan-organic-wellness store (Blissfully Aware) and who lives her life as vegan/mother warrior. Oh, and of course Blissfully Aware just happens to be next door to Bert’s quality butcher. Then there is Zan, the Chinese-Australian girl who is ‘the coolest of cool’. And Leo, the butcher’s son who Marlowe finds endearing and exasperating. Plozza has a gift for writing flawed but adorable characters that stay with you long after you finish the book.

Frankie was the novel that introduced us to Shivaun Plozza, and as readers, we quickly realise what immense talent she was, and Tin Heart only reinforces this and makes us understand that Plozza is a captivating voice in YA fiction and will continue to find a place in our hearts with her gorgeous books.

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