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

Found – Fleur Ferris

Found

Author: Fleur Ferris

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Fleur Ferris fans will love this book because it has all of Ferris’ signature elements – tense, exciting, thrilling.

It is difficult to combine an action-packed book and to develop characters, but Ferris has done an admirable job of both, Yes, there is more action and drama than character development, but you still care for the main character Beth and her family & friends.

The story follows seventeen-year-old Beth, whose most significant problem is telling her parents she has been seeing local boy, Jonah, for the past few weeks. Beth’s parents are strict and her parents have a stringent set of rules in place that she must follow. Before Beth gets a chance to tell her parents about Jonah something happens which turns her world upside down and throws her life into confusion. Beth has lived an idyllic life with her parents and suddenly she learns that her parents have been keeping secrets from her and it those secrets that have Beth and her parents fighting for their lives.

Beth is a strong character – she’s smart, tough, funny and athletic. She goes through a gamut of emotions in this book. Beth’s roller-coaster of emotions is authentic and that’s what makes Beth feel so real. Her emotions are raw and it is hard not to feel for her when she is wrestling with these feelings.

Beth’s parents are great characters and Ferris does a great job of warming you to these two characters early in the novel. Not once did my support for her mum and dad waver.

I loved Beth’s dad, affectionately known as Bear. He’s a six-foot-four muscled shaved-head giant. Bear runs the local karate school and gun clubs. He often takes the local kids out bush for survival skills camps and all the young guys in town want to be him and are terrified of him.

The supporting characters add to the book and they also give that sense of community to the book. A small town that looks out for each other. If you could bottle that community spirit and protectiveness you’d be a millionaire and Ferris makes you as a reader understand this sense of community through her book.

Yes, the book is an action-packed thriller but it also has moments of great humour – mainly through Jonah and Beth’s interaction with the supporting characters. It is also a book about the richness of small town living and it is this that makes the book unique and not just another action-packed thriller.

People Like Us

Author: Dana Mele

Publisher: Putnam

People Like Us is one of those books that checks all the boxes.

Great cover ♥

Intriguing blurb ♥

Setting (private boarding school) ♥

So it was with great excitement I began reading this book, I was keen to immerse myself in the world of prep school drama, but this is a book that is lacking.  Don’t get me wrong it isn’t a bad book but nor is it a great book. It is an easy read, but I don’t think there was any time that I felt shocked or surprised. It is one of those books that you kind of see all the twists and turns coming. It is hard to give a proper review without giving away what happens in the book, but suffice to say that the book is predictable rather than unpredictable.

Yes, there is murder, backstabbing, revenge, alcohol and sex but somehow it is all a little contrived and a bit too polished. There is nothing authentic in this book. Mele does create a cast of razor-sharp and intelligent students and I do believe she handled the fluid sexuality of the characters well, but when I finished the book, I immediately forgot about the characters and didn’t think of them again. The characters are a little too ‘Gossip Girl’ and nothing is surprising, unusual or distinctive about any of them. You don’t feel drawn to any of the characters.

Though, maybe it is just me. Looking at the ‘Goodreads’ reviews, this was a popular and well-liked book. Personally, I like my books to be more raw and gripping rather than predictable and sophisticated. And that was another thing there was no humour. Yes, I know it is meant to be a creepy, disconcerting thriller but still all books need humour. There needs to be light and shade to balance out the dark and dense, but this book lacked the nuances needed to make it moving or gut-wrenching.

For me, this book lacked the creepiness that was needed to make it a genuine thriller. Not once was I on the edge of my seat with anticipation of what was to come next. I wanted edgy brilliance and instead, I was given a good but not excellent prep school drama.

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Ballad For A Mad Girl

Grace Foley is the girl who lives by her own rules. She’s the prankster in her small group of misfit friends. Grace is the one who always pushes the boundaries. Her friends ground her and they may be the misfits of the town, but they each have a place in their small circle – Grace is the funny one. The trouble is that Grace’s small group is growing up and they are changing and unlike Grace, they want more than what their group can offer them. Grace fears change because change has not been kind to Grace Foley.

Wakefield draws you into Grace’s narrative immediately when in the opening pages of the book Grace sneaks out of home to defend her position as the record holder for the fastest time crossing the 40-metre pipe running 15- metres above a gully at the local quarry. Grace has completed the pipeline run hundreds of times and she is fearless when it comes to this challenge, but this particular night she freezes and is paralysed with fear.

“I stop, steady myself, blink. Stretch my arms and wait for the edges of the world to come back. Fear is in front of me now, and to the side, above and below.”

Not only is Grace paralysed with fear. A strange blue mist has crept in and Grace begins to see, feel and experience the presence of another.

“I trace the word with my finger. It shimmers. A sharp impact near my ribs knocks me sideways and the pipe seems to buckle and twist. My legs lose grip. Close by, someone is sobbing as if their heart could break.”

After that night Grace begins to change, even though she’s desperately trying to hold on to the world, she knows. Grace learns of a mystery that is associated with the gully – a twenty-year-old mystery. A blonde, blue-eyed teenager named Hannah Holt disappeared without a trace and it’s rumoured she’s buried in the gully.

Grace is convinced that Hannah is haunting her. Hannah wants Grace to reveal the truth of what happened that night. That until Grace can do this, she won’t be free of Hannah.

Wakefield writes so beautifully and hauntingly; you feel the creepiness of what is happening to Hannah so vividly.

“A lone crow drifts in lazy circles above. Overhead, the powerlines are humming, and the pitch is maddening. I cup my hands over my ears and lean against the tree. My vision is leached – it’s as if I’m the only person breathing in an abandoned world.”

Wakefield writes her characters so tenderly that you truly ache for them and the dilemmas they find themselves in and Grace is no exception. Wakefield’s characters are real and nuanced.

Vikki Wakefield’s writing is to be appreciated and though this is a book that you want to read quickly because of the riveting mystery. Do yourself a favour and slow down because you may miss those moments that only add to Wakefield’s brilliance. Savour her writing.

Ballad For a Mad Girl is a beautifully creepy book. There is Wakefield’s usual edgy brilliance combined with a thrilling mystery. Ballad For a Mad Girl is Vikki Wakefield at her best – brilliant, edgy and disturbing.

Ballad