Robyn Harding’s Her Pretty Face

From the author of the bestselling novel, The Party, comes a chilling new novel of domestic suspense that revolves around two suburban women and the long-buried, dark secrets that they hold.

When Frances Metcalfe met Kate Randolph, she thought she had found a lifelong best friend.  Overweight and insecure, Frances prefers to hide in the background instead of standing up for herself.  Kate is everything that Frances is not: strong, beautiful, confident.  Kate makes Frances want to be a better wife and mother and homemaker.  Best of all, Frances’ troubled son finds a friend in Kate’s son, and stops being labeled as the outcast in the elite private school they attend.  But one of these women is not who she says she is, and her secret – once out – has the power to destroy everything in its path.

Can people ever really change, or are we all stuck in our past, constantly making the same mistakes and never learning from them?  Or, knowing that we’re making these mistakes but not caring enough to change, or worse, not wanting to change.  This is just one of many questions brought up in Her Pretty Face.  Like most of us, I would like to think that, under the right circumstances, everyone is capable of change.  Not just that.  That everyone is capable to want to change.  In the novel, we are introduced to two women – both running away from their pasts – who form a bond.  Neither of them share their secrets with each other, but they don’t need to.  They understand each other in ways that no one else could: the friendship they’ve always been looking for.  Some things are unforgivable, but are they really?  Can their friendship stand the ultimate test?

Told in three narratives, once you pick this book up, it’s difficult to put back down.  I carried it around in my purse for about a week, but read it in three days.  Out now from Scout Press, I cannot wait to see what Robyn Harding does next.

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Robyn Harding’s Her Pretty Face.  Scout Press.  July 2018
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Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway

All too often I find an author who writes a few great books and then goes downhill.  I’m not sure if it’s because they’re out of good ideas, bored with the genre, or just assume that their readers will continue to follow them no matter what and simply stop trying.

All that being said, I’m always impressed when an author continues to grow, whether they change genres or combine them, because then I feel like I can continue to read and enjoy – and Ruth Ware is one of these.  In her fourth novel, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, she continues to stay in the psychological suspense genre, but adds another layer to her writing which makes it all that much better.

After taking over her dead mother’s psychic reading booth and borrowing money from a loan shark, Hal Westaway’s life is anything but stable.  Just as she’s about to give up, she receives a letter regarding an inheritance from a family she never knew existed.  Despite the fact that she believes it to be some sort of mistake, Hal’s desperation gets the better of her and she sets out to collect.   Once in the midst of it, Hal realizes that nothing is what it seems, and this family and inheritance may very well be the death of her.

Filled with her signature twists and turns, you are kept guessing (and changing your opinion!) until the very end.  Fans of Ware’s previous works, The Lying Game, The Woman in Cabin 10, and In a Dark, Dark Woods will NOT want to miss this!

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. May 2018 @ Scout Press

Andi Dorfman’s Single State of Mind

For all you Bachelor/Bachelorette fans out there, or single girls who are tired of the dating scene and feel like you’re all alone, this new memoir out by The Bachelorette alum Andi Dorfman is THE book for you.

In Single State of Mind, Andi continues to share her journey of life after The Bachelorette, after her broken engagement, AND after she packed her belongings and moved to NYC for a fresh start.  From searching for an apartment/apartment woes (seriously, who doesn’t have a crappy apartment or bad landlord story) to her sometimes hilarious dating stories (me, ALL the time) to her obsession with wine (ummm, do you need to ask? #winesnob), Andi really is just like you and me – mostly.  With a little fame wrapped in.

I had the pleasure of meeting Andi last week when she popped into my office to see her editor – we talked, she signed a book and took a photo with me.  I’ve met a few celebrities in my 3+ years in book publishing, but none were as down-to-earth and real as Andi was.  Love you Andi!

I don’t want to give anything away (because I WANT you to read it), but don’t worry, there’s a little Bachelor gossip in there as well. 😉  AND, since the new season of The Bachelor has just started, all the more reason to read!

Single State of Mind is out today.  Pick up a copy.  NOW!  You know you want to!

 

Single State of Mind by Andi Dorfman. January 2018. Gallery Books.

Andi Dorfman’s It’s Not Okay

Normally, I’m not one to read memoirs, or nonfiction of any kind, even if the subject is interesting to me. I feel that they are hard to hold my attention and therefore strictly read fiction. Then I heard about Andi Dorfman’s book and, being a fan of the Bachelor/Bachelorette, I HAD to get my hands on it – and, since it was being published in-house, it only took a few emails and a short walk to obtain a pre-pub copy.

I started reading it, put it down, read three or four novels, than picked it back up. It seemed fitting that I finish it by the time the new season of the Bachelorette premiered, which is exactly what I did. For those of you who are fans of the show – even if you didn’t love Andi’s season – this is a MUST read. Not only are you given a behind the scenes look at the show, but you also get a glimpse at life after the show, beyond the interviews and public appearances.

If you will remember, Andi ended up choosing former baseball player Josh Murray over the season’s villain, Nick Vail, and everyone’s (then) favorite farmer, Chris Soules. I say then favorite, because Chris went on to become the next Bachelor, and turned out to be much more of a playboy than I had expected – but I digress! As I was never a fan of Nick or Josh, I was Chris all the way, so you can imagine my sadness at her final choice. There was just something about Josh that I didn’t trust; he was too perfect, too polite, too southern. It felt like a façade to me and I was disappointed that Andi couldn’t see that.

When news of their split surfaced, I wasn’t all that surprised. And, not to give anything away, but while reading It’s Not Okay, I found my self equally as unsurprised by the behind-the-scenes aspects of their relationship and his behavior that ultimately was the breaking point for them.

Andi fell in love and got her heat broken, something that most of us has experienced at one point or another in our lives. Though it’s been quite a while since mine was last broken, I still can remember the pain and agony that I endured. I wanted to crawl into bed next to Andi and pass a bottle of wine back-and-forth with her, because I felt for her.

She fell in love. She got her heart broken. She survived.

 

“No matter how bad it gets, no matter how tumultuous and painful the end of a relationship can be, no matter how much you think your life is over and you are forever damaged, there comes a moment when you find that the storm has finally passed. The sunshine has dried up all the rain, and you, my friend, have survived. It’s the moment where you look at the scar that care from heartbreak, and see it not as a scar of weakness but as a scar of resiliency and strength. It’s the moment when you finally realize that maybe, just maybe, it is okay.”

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It’s Not Okay by Andi Dorfman.  Gallery Books.  May 2016. Available now.

Mary Alice Monroe’s The Summer Girls

No matter where you go in the world, you cannot run away from the people that are close to your heart and the secrets that they keep for you.  In Mary Alice Monroe’s The Summer Girls, we are shown just that with the reunion of three half-sisters Dora, Carson and Harper, at the request of their grandmother, Mamaw, for her eightieth birthday.  All three girls travel to Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina, to their beloved Sea Breeze, in search of a glimpse into the carefree summers of their youth, and rediscover the bonds they once shared with each other.

Dora is a stay-at-home mom, caring for her autistic son, Nate, and facing the start of a divorce from her husband, who claims that she didn’t pay enough attention to him, which was true.  She is obsessed with caring for Nate, who is a smart child, but at the same time isn’t comfortable in group settings and, heartbreaking to Dora, can’t stand to be touched.  Dora lives in South Carolina, under an hour away from Mamaw, and therefore is the only one of the granddaughters that still visits every summer.  She brings Nate to Sullivan’s Island even though the invitation specified that it was a girls’ only weekend, because he husband refused to spend any time with him.  Dora is depressed over the way that her life has turned out and becomes jealous when she sees her son bonding with Carson.

Carson is a photographer living in California who recently lost her job due to the cancelation of the show that she was working on, and is in need of a change of scenery.  Unlike her sisters, Carson grew up a bit differently.  Her mother died in a fire when she was little, which led to her spending a few years with Mamaw at Sea Breeze (the name for Mamaw’s house on Sullivan’s Island) before her father (their father) Parker, came back to claim her and they moved to California.  Carson loves the ocean, and takes out her surfboard whenever she has a chance, until a close encounter with a shark frightens her and she retreats to the bay.  There is a good thing that comes out of the shark though; Carson makes a new friend, a dolphin, whom she names Delphine – which is how she and Nate start to connect a little: the dolphin fascinated him.  Carson starts dating Blake, a marine biologist who works with dolphins, and struggles with the possibility that, like her father, she too may have an addiction to alcohol.

Harper lives in New York with her mother, working at a major trade publisher as her mother’s assistant, describing their work relationship as Andy Sachs and Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.  Harper’s mother was displeased that she had decided to go to Sullivan’s Island, making it clear that she was only to be gone for one weekend.  After a phone call between the two, Harper decides to quit her job – further angering her mother – and stay for the duration of the summer.

From the beginning, Mamaw seems like she is hiding something, that this visit with her granddaughters is more than what it seems.  She unearths family secrets – mainly of Parker – that had long been buried, which threaten to pull them even further apart than they already had become…but will they be able to resurrect their strong bonds in order to move forward together?

The Summer Girls is a great novel for the end of the summer season, because throughout it, you get a sense that something is fleeting, life as each of these characters knows it is fleeting, and I feel like that sense that something is fleeting is felt around this time of the year.  The carefree days of summer are fading and the winter is on the horizon, moving towards us faster than we would like.  Monroe brings us back to the beginning of the summer season, where the hopes and anticipation still exist, and, as this is the first book in a trilogy that is set to revolve around these characters, it is only the beginning.