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4.4 out of 5 stars130
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 4 June 2012
The first thing that attracted me to the book was the fabulous cover. It looks very professional, and is a perfect fit for the story within. And although I normally don't enjoy women's contemporary fiction, I was really intrigued by the blurb, as it sounded really different.

Good Points

The humour! And the humour! Did I mention the humour? Joanne has a real flare for producing a story that is laugh-out-loud funny at all the right moments, and adds just the right amount of snark when it's needed. I also loved the characters, as she made them very believable, complete with flaws just like the rest of us. I loved the main character, Stella. She was very strong, and yet allows us to see her real vulnerabilities throughout this novel. The story also flowed extremely well; it had pace, but didn't rush at all. And as I mentioned above, the storyline for this novel was such a clever idea, and it really rang true, considering all of the economic problems everyone is having at the moment.

Bad Points

This will sound really bad, but...I couldn't really find any! If I had to choose one thing, I might say that the daughter, Lipsy, was a little bit on the annoying side, and was a complete brat! So I disliked her intensely, but this wasn't a bad point, I think the author meant for her to be this way, and she does change towards the end.


I thought this was a brilliant book. Really. And I really don't like women's contemporary fiction. But I would definitely read this again. I hope that Joanne goes from strength to strength with her novels, and gets the next one out soon! I would give this novel....5/5 stars!
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on 17 May 2012
I must say, this is not the genre I would usually choose when purchasing a book to read, but saying that, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it (that's a hint to all you fans of different genre's: buy this book :) at under £2 it's an absolute bargain!).

The characters were hilarious- especially Stella. There's many a time when you're laughing out loud at one of her introspective comments, but know deep down that if you were there with her, you would be stifling the laughter due to the seriousness of the situation. That is what's so great about the story; the humorous plot is ingrained in deep morals of love, respect and appreciation for the things in life that really matter.

Brilliant debut novel, hope to hear of more books from Joanne Phillips soon.
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on 13 August 2012
I read this in a couple of sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it. The novel opens with the horror of the heroine's home going up in flames and the pace never lets up. There's a big cast of characters, the plot's full of surprises and pathos, the dialogue is convincing and often very funny. But the story has depth. Despite the misfortunes that beset her, Stella the disaster-prone heroine (loveable, flawed and so very real) never resorts to self-pity. Stripped of her material possessions, she learns what really matters in life and eventually earns her happy ending.

If you're looking for something with more substance than chick lit, something thoughtful, funny and very well written, try CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT. I shall definitely be looking out for Phillip's next novel.

(And for those who care about these things: this was the first ebook I've read in which I didn't spot a single formatting error.)
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on 2 July 2013
Jeopardy drives the characters of fiction writing; for 37 year old single mum Stella, jeopardy is in the form of a kitchen fire that soon engulfs her whole house. She loses everything. Worse, her teenage daughter, fortunately away at the time, who already hates her mum as teenagers do their parents, suffers the same fate. But stuff to teenagers is their life. Not satisfied there Joanna adds a new twist to Stella's jeopardy when we learn she has no home insurance.

After losing everything Stella begins to make a list of the things she can't live without. And so the message of the book is about what is truly important in life, and what really matters. She as a character, is very strong, and yet we are allowed to see Stella's real vulnerabilities throughout the story.

The whole thing flows extremely well, it has pace but not rushed. A great plot exceedingly well executed. Her writing style is compelling to read. Joanne does a superb job of putting you in the mind and heart of Stella. As an author she plays with the point of view from which the stories told in an unusual yet successful way. An entertaining read...
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on 16 November 2012
After reading Joanne Phillips wonderful book `A Life Unpredicted and other short stories', which I thoroughly enjoyed, I was eager to read `Can't Live Without'. The author treated readers to a sample at the end of her book of short stories, I was instantly engaged and eagerly downloaded.
To say I wasn't disappointed would be an understatement and I would suggest that this book have a subtitle added `Can't Put Me Down!' I literally had to keep reading to find out how the loveable heroine Stella would recover from the dramatic opening chapter where her perfect house burnt down.
This book has everything you could wish for - a fast passed story told partly through the voice of Stella, partly through her teenage daughter Lipsy in her angst ridden diary and also from the perspective of long term friend, boss and possible love interest Paul Smart. The characters are so well developed they spring to life from the pages, believable, flawed and funny. The quality, content and expert storytelling from the author is second to none and I have a feeling that Joanne Phillips will be an author to watch out for, I certainly shall be.
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on 17 November 2012
This romance is the perfect pick-me-up if you're feeling a little down in the dumps for any reason. Well-written, perceptive and funny, it cheered me up on a dark, rainy day.

Stella picks her way around the disasters of losing her home in a fire and losing the trust and respect of her daughter by means of determination and sheer hard work, with a little help from her boss, Paul, who is also the guy she's had a crush on forever. Confused about her relationships with ex-husband, her parents and her brother, she is almost wilfully obtuse when it comes to choosing the right man with whom to spend the rest of her life. Accidents, misunderstandings and family issues add to Stella's problems in this charming and satisfying book.

I loved it!
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on 14 June 2012
Even if you are not a fan of chick lit, I would still recommend this novel. It has strong, opinionated characters, situational humour galore, fast pace and lively, very realistic dialogue. But it also asks some serious questions about consumer culture and learning the true value of things and relationships. The heroine, Stella, is delightful: initially somewhat shallow and forgetful, yet resilient when it really matters, and increasingly confident and compassionate as she progresses through the book. My favourite secondary characters (and I hope to see more of them in the sequel) are: teenage daughter Lipsy and the good-looking but rather obsessive next-door neighbour.
Great debut and an unexpectedly poetic description of Milton Keynes!
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on 12 July 2012
I've often wondered what it would be like to lose all my possessions in a house fire, so I was gripped from the word go with this entertaining book. Joanne Phillips pulls off the difficult trick of writing from several different viewpoints and I ended up sympathising/empathising with all of them. It was an interesting point of difference that the book's setting was unusual for a book of this kind - no glamorous big city or twee country village, but the uncompromising Milton Keynes, about which she wrote with clear affection. A satisfying book to curl up with and enjoy - and one that will have you checking your house insurance policy by the end! This is her first book and I'll definitely be looking out for more from her.
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on 25 August 2012
If you're looking for a good read to curl up with, to accompany a glass of wine or a cup of tea then this is the one.

I really enjoyed every bit of this book. I was sucked in to the fresh character of Stella, with her life of flaws and awkward situations, straight away. The pockets of humour (laugh-out-loud humour) sit well with the cringing situations, which sit well with the serious issues that are raised here. There is a very good balance created throughout which never takes you too far away from Stella and what she really needs in life.

Well done to Joanne Phillips. Very enjoyable read indeed!
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on 20 May 2013
Stella Hill is a sassy, attractive and likably flawed character whose house has just burnt down. She also has a headstrong teenage daughter, a spend-a-holic mum, a non-existent relationship with her estranged dad and a friendship with her boss that's just begun to get complicated. Joanne Phillips takes all of these ingredients and turns them into a funny and engaging story that follows Stella on all her ups and downs as she begins to put her home and family back together, not to mention her love life along the way.

To begin with I wasn't sure about the switches in point of view from Stella's easy-going and often humorous first person narrative to the story being told from Paul Smart's (Stella's boss) and Lipsy's (her daughter) third person point of view. However, I was quickly won over because the voices were believable and it worked well seeing what was happening to Stella through other people's eyes. Lipsy's voice in particular when she was writing in her diary was captured perfectly.

Can't Live Without is an assured, funny and beautifully written debut novel that packs both punch and heart. As a bonus, Phillips has written a follow-up novel, The Family Trap, to continue the story of Stella, Lipsy and co. Now that I can't live without.
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