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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

#allthebookreviews + Q&A: Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding @scoutpressbooks @gallerybooks

Her Pretty Face
by Robyn Harding


Thanks so much to Gallery for these copies! Jessica and I both LOVED this book!
Continue below for our reviews and a personal Q&A from Harding! You'll want to read her answers!
Head over to Jessica's blog: for the other half of the Q&A 

Publisher:  Gallery/Scout Press
Publish Date:  July 10, 2017
352 Pages
Genres: Domestic Thriller, Suspense

Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat.

A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world. But after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before.

Until she meets Kate Randolph.

Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart…because one of these women is not who she seems. Her real name is Amber Kunick. And she’s a murderer.

In her masterful follow-up to The Party, Robyn Harding spins a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal, asking the question: Can people ever change? And even if they can, is it possible to forgive the past?

My Review:

I find myself rating books dependent on my mood right after I'm done.  I'll admit this one didn't WOW me in the sense that it throat punched me with a crazy twist, or went deeply dark and macabre like I tend to like my thrillers.  However, I will say that this was ABSOLUTELY ADDICTIVE.  I started this late last night and did NOT want to put it down.  But I had to because of an early work day (damn, you adulthood! *shakes fist*).. then I spent my morning commute trying not to get hit by a car, a pedestrian or a subway as I finished it on my way into the office.  That's when I know a book has TRULY hooked me and I MUST FINISH! (a bookish Mortal Kombat if you will)

Harding introduces us to Frances, whose self esteem is nil, who has a secret from the past that not even her husband knows about, and who finds solace in Kate, the only woman who befriends her from the mean girl population of other mothers at the school their sons attend.  Kate and Frances - bound by their mutual dislike of these other women, bound by their sons friendship, bound by secrets they both carry - an underlying camaraderie.  But who is who? And whose secret is worse? She also takes us to the past where we learn of a past abduction and murder - where we only see through the eyes of the younger brother of the victim.  How do these all come together?

Seriously you guys, I was hooked from the very beginning. Absolutely enjoyed this domestic thriller that barely touches on nature versus nurture but definitely shows the dark side of the sociopath. 


Jessica's Review:

Ok, so last year I read and really liked THE PARTY by Robyn Harding, and I've been anxious to see what else Harding had in store for us! HER PRETTY FACE will not disappoint. This is one you'll want to clear your schedules for because once you start you'll become addicted!

We jump between different perspectives and timelines throughout this domestic thriller. Frances is a woman with withering self-esteem and seems to have an uphill battle with the other moms at her son's private school. She finds comfort in a new friend, Kate. Both women have a shared dislike for the other moms and form a close friendship. Another thing they have in common is that they are both hiding dark secrets, ones that are buried so deep that their husbands aren't even aware of them. 

We also get a glimpse into a terrible abduction/murder case from the past. These chapters were through the eyes of the younger brother of the victim. These chapters always had me sucked in - the way the case unfolded and the mental and emotional strain the trial put on the family. You become so absorbed. 

I don't want to give away much more detail, because this is one you need to just jump into! Harding did a fantastic job building the suspense, creating twisty and disturbing characters, and had me flying through the 300+ page book. If you want a great domestic thriller that pulls you into the mind of a sociopath, then this needs to be on your summer TBR!

I give this 5/5 stars!

Q&A with Robyn Harding:

Robyn Harding is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller, “The Party”, and “Her Pretty Face”. She has also written and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband, two kids, and a seven-pound dog with no teeth.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process? Your writing Kryptonite?
My writing kryptonite is physical pain! It sounds crazy that such a sedentary job could be so hard on the body, but it is. My forearms are killing me right now. By the afternoon, the pain will have worked its way into my shoulders and I’ll probably have a headache. (This is reminding me to book a massage.)

Do you have any strange writing habits?
In the morning, I get up early, grab a cup of coffee, and head to my office. I turn on a SAD lamp (I read that it’s supposed to help with sleep at night) and I start writing at my stand-up desk. I don’t shower or wash or brush my teeth until I’ve written for about three hours. Then I emerge, looking like a hideous monster, and get ready for the day. (I don’t think this is all that strange though.)

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I don’t have a big ego which means I am riddled with self-doubt, wounded by criticism, and crushed by rejection. But writers who do have big egos are more resistant to editing and advice. An editor’s job is to make your book better, and if a writer’s ego doesn’t allow that, the book will suffer. I have met some aspiring writers who are extremely confident in their work (a.k.a. have big egos about it). They are resistant to changes and suggestions, which could hold them back from getting an agent and a book deal.

How long does it usually take you to write a book?

I’ve gotten myself onto a crazy book a year schedule. It takes me about 9 months to write a novel. The same time it takes to make a baby!

Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I do look at reviews. I sort of skim the bad ones and read the good ones twice to balance it out! I never respond to bad ones, but I sometimes respond to good ones. It is so rewarding when a reader really “gets” what you were going for! To deal with bad reviews, I always remember that an agent believed in my writing enough to represent me, that an editor liked my story enough to buy it, and that a publisher believed in me enough to promote it.

Do you google yourself?

If I admit to this, do I have to change my “I don’t have a big ego” answer? I do, but only in conjunction with my book title.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Giraffe. Slow, steady, chill… (on the outside at least)

What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process? Favorite part?

Negative reviews are no fun. And negative emails sent directly to me are even less fun. I love how social media and the internet have connected authors and readers. I’ve met so many amazing people (like you two!). But I’ve gotten a few critical, antagonistic emails through my website. It makes me feel vulnerable.

But my favorite part is the actual writing. I love, love, love writing so I feel incredibly lucky to do this for a living.

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