Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

18964920My love for Liza Palmer is clearly documented on this blog, but I think this is my favorite book since Seeing Me Naked. At first I wasn’t on board with the concept — an ad exec trying to get an account ends up at “RomanceCon,” a convention for romance novel enthusiasts — dismissing the genre much like our protagonist, Anna Wyatt.

But on page 30, Liza Palmer writes a paragraph that just hit me straight in the chest and made me tear up a bit:

What do I want?

I want to be happy and not feel guilty about it. I want to be curious without being called indulgent. I want to be accepted regardless of what I look like, what I do for a living, my marital status, whether I have kids, or whether you think I’m nice enough, hospitable enough, or humble enough to measure up to your impossible standards. I want purpose. I want contentment. I want to be loved and give love unreservedly in return. I want to be seen. I want to matter. I want freedom.

From then on, I was IN. I loved Anna and Sasha’s relationship, from colleagues to friends to business partners, working toward a common goal and something they themselves want to believe in. It seems hard to believe that their “Just Be.” campaign would be as wildly successful as it appears to be – we’re just too cynical these days – but maybe it hit women the way this book hit me. Anna comes to a revelation toward the end of the book that just had me wanting to high five her and got me right where I live. And when things start to just turn around and happen for her, I was nearly crying in the laundromat.

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Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer

15813537I was so excited to learn that Liza Palmer had a new book out last month. It took a few weeks for it to become available at the library, but I snapped it up as soon as I could.

Queen Elizabeth Wake is from a small town in Texas and she has spent most of her adult life trying to leave it all behind. She returns to North Star when she gets fired from another chef job, having to face her past, her family and possibly her future. I was riveted from the time Queenie arrives back in North Star, sitting at the one blinking red light in town. It reminded me a lot of the tiny town where my fake cousins grew up. Everyone knows everyone’s business, even when you think you’ve been secretive about it.

Queenie’s unusual job offer took me by surprise as it’s not something I ever really thought about. But being Texas, it seems exactly right. Queenie’s love interests weren’t quite surprising and I wish we had gotten just a little bit more about them both. It seemed a little easy that she went from one to the other. But at the same time, I thought it was really great that while she was thinking all these things about Everett, he was thinking similar things about her. Even though the ending was quick in coming, I didn’t want to leave the world. Can’t wait for Ms. Palmer’s next adventure!

More Like Her by Liza Palmer

10252845I was so excited to see that my favorite author, Liza Palmer, had a new book out. Her characters always hit me righthere and I just can’t put them down.

Because she’s my favorite author, I didn’t bother to read the summary or the back of the book at all, because, hey, it’s Liza Palmer! I’m sure I’ll love it! So, then I read the prologue, which is the 911 transcript of a shooting at a school, and I had to put the book down and walk a away for a couple days. I’m glad I picked it back up and the actual circumstances of the shooting didn’t push my buttons the way I thought it might (though the real test will be when I try to go to sleep tonight).

Frannie Reid is so much like me, it’s a little ridiculous (and I’m not going to go back to read my other review of Palmer’s books because I’m sure I say that about all her protagonists), so it was a nice journey to see where she was when the book started, how she handled THE EVENT and the fallout from there. Her friends were a trip as well as the peripheral characters and I found myself not able to book the put down, not wanting to give up that world until I saw it through to the end.

It comes together a little quickly at the end for me, not near enough emotional resolution considering what happens and how. The characters had reality shoved upon them in the most awful way, and I suppose a happy ending is the least they deserve for surviving at all.

A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer

6411595The only good thing about going to the laundromat on beautiful, sunny Sunday is that I can read about half a novel in the time it takes to wash and dry two loads of clothes and sheets. I came home after grocery shopping and burned through the rest of the book in a couple of hours. It’s a quick read, but powerful nonetheless.

It was hard for me to relate to the main character as we got to know her in the midst of a family crisis. But as we get into the meat of the story, well, I don’t know her, but I recognize her fear, her desperation, her anxiety. Unfortunately, thinking about wills, powers of attorney and interloping “family” members are all too real problems, and I think every family has to deal with them, even if you weren’t abandoned 22 years ago.

Though the characters and plot line may not be the best, the writing is solid and evocative. I definitely teared up as the book drew to a close. Thinking about my parents’ mortality (see, I can’t say it either) is something I may joke about with them, but face with the real thing, I think I probably understand how the characters end up where they are. I can only hope I have the same support that Grace ends up with. Trying situations really do bring out the true colors.