Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review: "Girl Before a Mirror" by Liza Palmer

Girl Before a Mirror Liza Palmer
Published: January 27, 2015
ISBN: 9780062297242
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours

An account executive in a Mad Men world, Anna Wyatt is at a crossroads. Recently divorced, she’s done a lot of emotional housecleaning, including a self-imposed dating sabbatical. But now that she’s turned forty, she’s struggling to figure out what her life needs. Brainstorming to win over an important new client, she discovers a self-help book—Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero—that offers her unexpected insights and leads her to a most unlikely place: a romance writers’ conference. If she can sign the Romance Cover Model of the Year Pageant winner for her campaign—and meet the author who has inspired her to take control of her life—she’ll win the account. 

For Anna, taking control means taking chances, including getting to know Sasha, her pretty young colleague on the project, and indulging in a steamy elevator ride with Lincoln Mallory, a dashing financial consultant she meets in the hotel. When the conference ends, Anna and Lincoln must decide if their intense connection is strong enough to survive outside the romantic fantasy they’ve created. Yet Lincoln is only one of Anna’s dilemmas. Now that her campaign is off the ground, others in the office want to steal her success, and her alcoholic brother, Ferdie, is spiraling out of control. 

To have the life she wants-to be happy without guilt, to be accepted for herself, to love and to be loved, to just be—she has to put herself first, accept her imperfections, embrace her passions, and finally be the heroine of her own story. 

My Thoughts:
It has only been in the last year or so that I discovered Liza Palmer and I've enjoyed how she is willing to dig into deeper issues than many contemporary writers.  When I read the synopsis of this novel, I will admit that it did sound a little light, but I figured that Palmer would be able to go deeper than first appearances.  I do believe that Palmer tried to flesh this plot out as much as possible.  Unfortunately, the pieces of this book just didn't fit together as well as I would have liked.

There were definitely positives to this book.  I thought Anna was a well drawn character and I did relate to her and all her issues.  Palmer was successful in creating a realistic character in Anna and she is worthy of her own book.

Palmer's writing style does shine--she can deal with tough issues and still throw out a biting line of dry humor.  If someone was looking for a book to bridge from "chick lit" to something a little heavier, I would recommend one of Palmer's books and, in that area, this book fits the bill.

But here's where the trouble started for me.  There are a lot of pieces to the plot of this book, which in itself if not necessarily a bad thing.  However, I never felt like the pieces all came together as we should.  For example, a big chunk of this book revolves around Anna and Sasha trying to set up a marketing campaign for a body wash and, to do this, they are somehow enlisting some male romance cover models.  The theme of the campaign is "Just Be."  Folks, I have absolutely no idea how this works.  I think the gist is that women are all great the way they are and they should "just be."  Okay, then, what is with the male models and how does that fit in?  I tried over and over again while reading this book and I could never come up with any idea of what this campaign is.

Anna's relationship with Lincoln could work, but it really just feels shoe-horned into this book.  I think that Lincoln could have fit well with Anna and her "issues," but there was something--and it may have been the fact that the relationship starts as a one- (or three-) night stand while Anna is staying at a hotel for a Romance Novelists convention--that was just too cliche and I couldn't completely buy it.

Then, in the midst of all this, we have Anna's addict brother--an issue that just sort of pops up on you-- and her toxic friends.  All these floating pieces really kept me from enjoying this book the way I wish I had.

I'm the first to admit that I'm a critical reader and my experience with this book may have been negatively impacted by that.  Other readers may not have the issues that I did with this book.  I still consider my self a fan of Liza Palmer, but this one just didn't work for me.

About the Author:
Liza Palmer is the author of the international bestseller Conversations with the Fat Girl, as well as Seeing Me Naked, A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents, and More Like Her. An Emmy-nominated writer, she lives in Los Angeles, California, and is hard at work on her next novel and several film and television projects.

Find out more about Liza at her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.

Want to read some more thoughts on this book?  Please visit some of the other stops on the book tour (links go to the blogs, not the specific review):

Wednesday, January 28th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, January 29th: Walking With Nora
Friday, January 30th: Vox Libris
Monday, February 2nd: Drey’s Library
Tuesday, February 3rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, February 4th: Thoughts On This ‘n That
Thursday, February 5th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Monday, February 9th: Unshelfish
Tuesday, February 10th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, February 11th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, February 16th: 5 Minutes For Books

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