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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh a minute!
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...
Published on 17 May 2012 by Ms. E. D. Harrison

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Review: Can't Live Without by Joanne Phillips
A cracking opening had me instantly engaged, and Stella is a character easy to love, despite her flaws. Her first person, present tense narrative is energetic and opinionated, bordering on bitchy in a way that is very amusing. There was clear voice from the very first line, and it didn't take long to think of Stella as an old friend, with a measure of definite fondness as...
Published on 31 Jan. 2013 by Liberty Gilmore


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh a minute!, 17 May 2012
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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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page-turning entertainment, 13 Aug. 2012
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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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hate Chick Lit; Loved This Book, 4 Jun. 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.

Overall

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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Review: Can't Live Without by Joanne Phillips, 31 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Can't Live Without (Paperback)
A cracking opening had me instantly engaged, and Stella is a character easy to love, despite her flaws. Her first person, present tense narrative is energetic and opinionated, bordering on bitchy in a way that is very amusing. There was clear voice from the very first line, and it didn't take long to think of Stella as an old friend, with a measure of definite fondness as she screwed up time and time again.

But then the second chapter jumps to a third person, past tense narrative, following Stella's teenage daughter, who later writes a first person section in her diary, and then there's Paul, Stella's boss and love interest, who also gets a narrative perspective...

I'm not keen on books that swap styles as they swap viewpoints. You have to give your characters a unique viewpoint, yes, but it's my personal opinion that the viewpoints should at least be consistent in terms of tense and perspective. I find it jarring transitioning between the different styles.

That said, I did love Lipsy's diary entries. The stroppy teenager with unrealistic ideas about life was an entertaining view to have, and I preferred it enormously to the third person perspective sections that followed her. It was a nice way of revealing her character development as well, showing her change in attitude across the span of the novel.

And there was tonnes of character development. This wasn't the soggy sort of chick lit that makes me abhor the genre. The characters were realistic, flawed, with definite growth. Some of the more background characters were a little two dimensional (Loretta the office bitch, Billy, Stella's brother) but that's fairly standard for any book, and the major players more than made up for it.

In fact, I doubt I'd have even particularly noticed the background characters if they'd stayed very much in the background, but my second issue with Can't Live Without was the story.

It wasn't the issue that a lot of books I've read lately have: that there is no story. In fact, it was totally the opposite. There was too much. For a relatively short book, it did try to pack in a lot of stuff - teenage rebellion, family in prison, absent fathers, the issues of consumerism, as well as the romance side of things. Any one of these things could have made a good novel, and a couple could have made a great one. I just felt in the rush to pack all these things in, none were really explored in enough detail, and character revelations and epiphanies came thick and fast and usually quite cheesy. Characters changed completely in a page length. Relationships were forged and broken in a chapter. Everything (with the exception of one revelation about Stella's father) made sense, the character changes were logical and understandable, but nothing really had the emotional impact it could have carried.

It's hard to say all this without sounding like I didn't enjoy the book. I did, and I certainly don't feel like it was a waste of the two afternoons it took to read it. And I guess this comes back to my key thing about Self Publishing. I have no expectations. Anything better than absolute tripe is a bonus, and Can't Live Without is a long way above absolute tripe.

Also, it's cheap.

Admittedly, I got this free when Joanne ran a promotion, but I wouldn't have felt too bad about spending £1.91 on it. You can get Self Published books for 79p a lot of the time, so it's not a venture that's going to leave you out of pocket. Can't Live Without isn't as polished or cohesive as some of its published counterparts (but then, it's also a damn sight better than some of its published counterparts - being traditionally published is not always a hallmark of quality) but for the price you're paying it's an enjoyable, light read.

And I definitely think Joanne Phillips is an author to keep an eye on.

Rating: 2.5/5
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you can't stand the heat..., 2 July 2013
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James Minter (Cheltenham, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Britishly Funny!, 9 Jan. 2013
A brilliant easy read which keeps you interested from the start. Books which are predictable loose their audience from the outset, but not 'Can't Live Without' you're hooked from the start which is where Joanne Phillips gets it spot on! Hilarious characters, heart warming story and that predictable ending that makes you smile and say "aww" and "finally!".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A special read., 7 Jan. 2013
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Loved the book from the very first page. Enjoyed the way the story built to an obvious end. A sort of can't live without book. Sorry to have finished it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good read, 2 Dec. 2012
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A. L. Waite (Folkestone UK) - See all my reviews
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I found this book very easy to read and quite difficult to put down. I would highly recommend it. A lovely realistic romance story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Morale Booster, 17 Nov. 2012
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E J Miller (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary Fiction at its very best, 16 Nov. 2012
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C. Plunkett (Brighton UK) - See all my reviews
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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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Can't Live Without
Can't Live Without by Joanne Phillips (Paperback - 9 July 2012)
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