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on 2 September 2013
I liked the story, House burns down, daughter is seeing a man old enough to be her dad, mother had a shopping addiction, dad is inside and brother is AWOL. She is in love with a man who is in love with her, but both don't have a clue!

Stella wakes up to find her kitchen on fire, gets out of the house to find help, when her neighbour Joshua, finds her, he stops her from going back in. She goes to live with her mum, finds out that her daughter's boyfriend is twice her age! and she doesn't like it one bit, but she does not get any support from her mum. She gets more help and support from her best friend, not just any friend, but long standing since Senior school. Paul Smart who also happens to be her boss.

After dealing with the loss of her home, she starts to build a new life, but oh my word DRAMA seems to be her middle name, nothing seems to run smooth, its one disaster after another.

She makes a pass at Paul, who thinks the right thing to do is reject her advances, then his life makes a u-turn, and he realises he's in live with her.

Oh! Paul and Stella needed their heads bashing in, Paul listened to everyone except Stella, jumped to the wrong conclusions, was there for her almost all the time except for the one time she really needed him, when her daughter was in the emergency room at the hospital, although her brother Billy told him a few home truths, they still kept their distance from each other.

Stella, finally started to get her 'new' home in order, her relationships with her dad, mum, brother and daughter were beginning to go in the right direction, and she decided to have one last word with Paul, she followed him jogging, told him exactly how he felt, to my shock he stood there and was muted eventually she walked away, and I can't say I blamed her, he had humiliated her before, she couldn't take any more!

We do end up with a happy ending, and I hope things continue on for them all.

The writing was good, and I enjoyed their story, it had me symphasisng, laughing, smiling, had butterflies followed by frustration. I just had to finish the book, willing them to get it on and reveal their true feelings for each other.
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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 25 November 2013
I thought this was an interesting read and thought provoking in that it would certainly force others to dwell upon what was actually important in life - what list would we make in regard to what we couldn't live without?

An engaging character within a well written story.

Worth reading.
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on 5 July 2014
Well written and so readable didn't want to put it down, just wished I had known about this book before I read the second one!
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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.

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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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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Stella Hill is a single mother who has worked so very hard to create a home for herself and her teenage daughter Lipsy. One morning, Stella plods downstairs with the intention of making herself a cup of tea, only to find that her kitchen is on fire. After the shock of standing outside in one of Lipsy's short night-dresses, surrounded by her neighbours whilst watching her beloved house burn down, Stella is now faced with the prospect of starting all over again. Now attending work in her little-bit-too-tight gym clothes because that is all she has left, and with little money to her name, Stella is faced with not only putting her home back together, but dealing with a variety of other issues in her life. can Stella manage to put the pieces of her life back together?

I absolutely LOVED this story! Personally - the house setting on fire is actually one of my worst nightmares, I like to think that I'd know what to do if the time arose, but like Stella, I'd probably go into shock and panic - so this had me completely hooked from the first page! I was desperate to know how she'd cope! Would she know what to do? What would you do when everything you own has been burnt to ashes? Where do you even start to put your life back together? It is something people never really think about, so it was absolutely fascinating for it to be included in a book and to read about how Stella does deal with it, what a brilliant idea for a novel.

The writing style is so compelling to read. Joanne does a superb job of putting us in the mind and heart of Stella, and she is a character I warmed to straight away. She was so well-written that it was like I was transported to the scenes in the book and was stood next to her watching them unfold. I really liked Stella's personality. Sometimes in books you have the perfect character who has stunning looks or the perfect man or everything going right for her - and with Stella we were given a normal, average woman who is trying to juggle life, her daughter, and deal with the loss of her home all at once. It is refreshing, it is raw and it is true-to-life, something we can all relate to - this only drew me in to the character of Stella even more and I found I developed a strong bond with her. Throughout the book I went on an emotional roller-coaster with Stella - I laughed with her, I cried with her and I cringed with her at some of the situations she was in.

I loved the idea of the list. When Stella loses everything in the fire, she begins to make a list of the things she can't live without. Stella's list is sometimes quite hilarious and it had me thinking all the way through about what I would put on mine.

The other characters are brilliant. I enjoyed the mix of them and how different they were from each other. Stella's family were an enjoyable bunch to read about: there is Lipsy, Stella's teenage daughter who is devastated that everything she owns has gone up in flames and therefore her life is ruined. We also meet Stella's mother who has a serious shopping addiction and learn that Stella's father is currently in prison. There are also other characters who play a valuable part in Stella's journey, such as Joshua, the handsome next-door neighbour and Paul who is Stella's boss and her best friend. I LOVED Paul - I wish I knew him in real life! I loved his relationship with Stella, the way they interacted with each other and the vibes that he gave out, it was truly wonderful to read and it was exciting and comforting at the same time. I always looked forward to the parts where Paul featured and I was quite sad to finish the book, I wanted to carry on reading about their lives and sharing their journey! I am ever so excited about Joanne's future releases!

Can't Live Without is so much more than what it may first appear. It is heart-warming, it is funny and it will have you laughing one minute and reaching out to the characters the next. I have not felt this emotionally connected to a book in a long time, it entertained me but it also moved me. It is beautifully written with a lovely underlying message about what is truly important in life, and what really matters. A wonderful novel!
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