Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer

Nowhere But Home
by Liza Palmer
Read: July 31 - August 1, 2013
Published: April 2, 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Library
Category: Adult, Women's fiction. But great crossover! 


Summary: A brilliant, hilarious, and touching story with a Texas twist from Liza Palmer, author of Conversations With The Fat Girl (optioned for HBO)

Queenie Wake, a country girl from North Star, Texas, has just been fired from her job as a chef for not allowing a customer to use ketchup. Again. Now the only place she has to go is home to North Star. She can hope, maybe things will be different. Maybe her family's reputation as those Wake women will have been forgotten. It's been years since her mother-notorious for stealing your man, your car, and your rent money-was killed. And her sister, who as a teenager was branded as a gold-digging harlot after having a baby with local golden boy Wes McKay, is now the mother of the captain of the high school football team. It can't be that bad…

Who knew that people in small town Texas had such long memories? And of course Queenie wishes that her memory were a little spottier when feelings for her high school love, Everett Coburn, resurface. He broke her heart and made her leave town-can she risk her heart again?

At least she has a new job-sure it's cooking last meals for death row inmates but at least they don't complain!

But when secrets from the past emerge, will Queenie be able to stick by her family or will she leave home again? A fun-filled, touching story of food, football, and fooling around. (From Goodreads)
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Reading on the beach
I've talked about this before, but every summer my entire family goes on vacation, and the object is to relax on the beach for an entire week. For us, that inevitably means reading*, and we usually take stacks of books in which to indulge. Because we're all together, we often end up passing favorites around, and I have fond memories of many years of shared reads. This year, I made the executive decision that my mom and sisters, Allison and Christine, and I were all going to read Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer. Thankfully, everyone liked the idea. I was told by several reliable reader friends that it was excellent. Then when I discovered it features food, family, football and forbidden romance, I knew it had to be a recipe for FUN. (Hint: I was right!)

My summary: In Nowhere But home, Queenie Wake (that's Queen Elizabeth Wake) is forced to move back to her hometown in Texas, after refusing to let a patron put ketchup on his eggs, and spectacularly losing her job as a chef in New York City. Going home is not an easy decision for Queenie. She's spent the past 10 years trying to run away from her town. Including her broken heart over her first and only love, Everett Coburn, and all the gossips that made her life there miserable. You see, Queenie's notorious mother ensured that her family's reputation was forever tarnished. Back in North Star, Queenie slowly reconnects with her family, takes an unconventional job at a prison, and begins to realizes there really is Nowhere But Home (sorry, I couldn't resist). 

Because Queenie is a chef and loves to cook for others, the story includes several shared meals with family and friends. Once my mom, sisters and I all finished Nowhere But Home, we too had an excuse to enjoy a lovely dinner out to discuss the book. By eating together and chatting about this story, I'm pretty sure we experienced the book to the fullest possible measure. Except that our dinner didn't include Texas BBQ, which is sadly lacking in the North East. None of us were going to stay up all night cooking it either. Although Nowhere But Home was a delightful experience from cover to cover, it also brought us together, which is even better. 

My plan was to write out our comunal review, though I'm not very good at writing down conversation, and ours was pretty much exclusively made up of spoilers anyway. But I did manage to capture a few highlights. 

Some unspoilery highlights from our discussion:
  1. We all thought the ending of Nowhere But Home was neat and tidy, not that we're complaining. According to mom, "I mean, look at that title. Of course it's going to be happy."
  2. We all thought Everett was a little weak and maybe should have been slapped around a bit more. "He should have known better." We did think he redeemed himself, though.
  3. Allison felt bad for Laurel "She was as much of a pawn as Queenie."
  4. Christine couldn't believe how ridiculously mean some of the town girls were. They just couldn't break out of their past. That prompted a discussion about people who live in small towns all their lives and how sometimes they forget how much bigger the world is, and how small their place is in it. 
  5. The prison plot line made us all uncomfortable. But we also thought it was a brilliant addition to the book. Christine said, "I wanted her to get the meals right, and then I'd remember, but wait! She's cooking for a murder."
  6. Mom thought the women in the book were much better developed than the men. I wanted to add an amendment for Cal to this statement. LOVED him. And West. Oh I also liked Shawn and Jace. This led us to the realization that what my mom really meant is that, she didn't like Everett or Hudson.
  7. None of us could believe how long Queenie spent cooking every meal! I've never stayed up all night making anything. But, yum!
  8. We talked about how Cal and West turned out so well, despite everything stacked against them. Allison (who teaches high school) said she's met some boys like that in teaching, who are just good kids all around, despite their circumstances. 
  9. The prison Warden weirded us out. But I thought he'd have to be strange to embrace his job the way he has. 
  10. We all liked the Dent boys. Despite former poor choices, they've turned out okay, and we felt happy and a little weepy for them at the end when [spoilers removed].

Our most memorable scenes: 
  • Lauren's took place in a church and involved Cal and West.
  • Allison's occurred when Queenie went running with Cal, and began to see Everett in a different light. 
  • Christine's happened when Queenie follows her nemesis to the bathroom and is hit with a pretty strong revelation about both of them. 
  • Mom's was the moment Queenie realizes that Hudson isn't who she thought he was. 

Then for our own amusement, we made a list of the movies of which we decided Nowhere But Home is a conglomeration:




  1. Sweet Home Alabama - Because sometimes you have to go back home to find yourself. 
  2. Mean Girls - Those high school meanies never grow up. 
  3. Shawshank Redemption - Some people find themselves in the most unlikely places (literally and figuratively). 
  4. Never Been Kissed - If you've seen this movie, you will know. 
  5. Raiders of the Lost Ark - For those times than an interview calls for Bourbon. 
  6. Friday Night Lights - TEXAS FOOTBALL
Bottom line: Reading is fun, but having someone to share it with is even better. 

Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone

*Confession: now that children are involved in our vacations, we get much less reading done than before. I actually didn't do a whole lot of reading on the beach this year. But we still had lots of fun together. 

29 comments:

  1. Oh I LOVE that you, your mom and your sister all read this one, that is awesome!
    I hadn't heard of it before, but I love how you pointed things out that you had all discussed, it gave enough hints to make me super curious, without giving anything away.
    Awesome review!

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    1. NOWHERE BUT HOME is an adult fiction book, but it has wonderful crossover appeal. I hope you do read and like it. It's one of those that will give you a huge smile :).

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  2. So great that you read this as a family-I wonder if my mom and I would enjoy it? My favorite part about this book though is that she got fired for not letting a customer put ketchup on his food-I don't know why but that's just making me laugh.

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    1. HAHA! I know. The whole circumstances around the firing scene are pretty hilarious too. The boss's office is crazy. I don't know what kind of books you guys read, but it definitely celebrates family and is an all around fun story.

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  3. This is such a fun review! I love hearing all your thoughts about the book!

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  4. I thought a lot about both Mean Girls and Sweet Home Alabama while reading this, so I think those two are perfect comparisons. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Lauren. I'm a huge fan of it, only because it captures family so well and I really loved a lot of the unique plot lines. I thought the whole prison involvement brought up so many interesting morality issues, which I appreciated, and I do think Everett redeemed himself by the end too. Your mom will probably like Seeing Me Naked a little better since the love interest in that is downright good and sweet. :) Anyway, wonderful review, Lauren - I think it's amazing your entire family loved this one! Yay!

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    1. Yes. The prison plot really set this book a part for me. It made me think a lot. I just can't even imagine working in that environment ever, but it is a really life changing experience for Queenie. So surprising. I'm definitely excited to see what else this author's written, and SEEING ME NAKED is at the top of that list. Thanks for encouraging me to read this one.

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  5. Finishing a book with family is definitely a reason to dine out -- especially when there's cooking *in* the story (that always makes me hungry and wish I liked cooking). Love the convo you all had about the book!

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    1. HAHA. Yes, exactly. You won't believe how much time and energy Queenie takes for her Texas cooking. I was exhausted thinking about it. BUT I wanted to try her food soooo badly. And we had a great time discussing this one.

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  6. Mom thought the women in the book were much better developed than the men.--this is like what I've been looking for forever. It's always the guys we're swooning over and forgiving their mistakes, but the girls always get our anger and frustration. Almost always. So I'm glad that the girls were somewhat the heart of the story. I think this vacation tradition is so awesome! I always lend my favorite paperbacks/HC-s to my mom and she has a pile next to her bed lol. She usually loves them--Easy by Tammara Webber is now her favorite book;) and we always discuss them afterwards. So awesome that you guys did the same. Too bad that the food wasn't everything what you wanted it to be, but I'm sure the experience itself was amazing:) Sounds so good to me and what I wouldn't trade to have sat with you and discussed until I was too tired to open my eyes and would have fallen asleep then and there. Heh. So happy you enjoyed this pretty:)

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    1. That's a really great point, Siiri. Authors are often harder on the girls than the guys. This book really celebrates women and family for sure (though sometimes they can be horrible too - i.e. the MEAN GIRLS reference). I love that you and your mom share books as well. A love of reading is something that I am so thankful that my parents pushed on me. I don't know what I'd do without it. Someday I'll come for a visit and we can eat and discuss books for hours :).

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  7. What a fun communal review! I love the cover of this one and I'm glad it fits the story. I need to read it ASAP. Thanks for the review!

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    1. I hope you enjoy this one! It is definitely a feel good story.

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  8. Oh my gosh, I LOVE this review! I mean I already wanted to read this book after hearing about it from you, Ash and Hannah, but this review is so much FUN! How wonderful that you and your sisters and mom can share this together--that's really, really cool. makes me wish I had sisters:)

    And I love the list, love your fave parts (and that they were all different!) and love, love,love the movie tie ins:)

    Great review, L! I have to get to this book--I know I am going to love it:)

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    1. Thanks, Heather. I think that you will really love this one. I can't wait until you read this too it is very much a feel good story. You can add your own movie tie ins :).

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  9. I'm so jealous! A week on the beach with family, and good books?!! Can I come next year? Lol! This sounds like a wonderful and well rounded story. I'm wondering why your mother didn't warm up to Everette the love interest, though. I guess he didn't fully redeem himself in her eyes? Lovely, lovely review, Lauren! I'm thrilled you had such a lovely time on your vacation! :)

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    1. Everett DOES redeem himself. I think you will be pleased with his progress, though I think it takes him some time to wake up to things. And I want to go back to the beach! A whole year to wait is too long. Actually, I live a few miles from the ocean, but renting a house for a week, is different from quick trips. But overall, this book is so much fun and a celebration of food and family. Yum!

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  10. It's so weird but this is the first time i'm hearing about this book but after reading your awesome fun review i want to read it so bad. I like the movie list you maded (mean girls, shawshank redemption...I LOVE THEM) I think i'll be keeping my eye open for this one at the library. Great (fun) review :)
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

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    1. I hope you enjoy this one, Lily! It is such a happy book, but it also has some really interesting plot developments. I got it from the library, so I think yours would probably have it too. Or it should anyway!

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  11. You had me at forbidden romance!!! Oh, how much I love them! I've seen this book in my local bookstore but the women's fiction genre is the reason I hesitate so much. I haven't read a book in that genre, but I guess there's a first time for everything. Great review, Lauren! And yay for vacation group reads :)
    Sidenote: I think it's s cool that the MC's name is Queen Elizabeth.

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    1. I think this is the perfect book to ease into Women's Fiction. It actually has a YA feel in some parts, and is a fun, happy read overall. But there's also some really great themes and meet to the story. Definitely pick it up next time you're at the store, or get it from the library!

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  12. I love the idea of your whole family going on vacation together! I'm close to my sister though, so we always read the same books or read together with my nephew. And even though this isn't the sort of book I usually read, I kind of want to read it now. :)

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    1. I think you might like this one, Steph. It is fun and light, but also has some great themes and made me think a lot. The prison plot line is especially thought provoking. And even if you don't read a lot of adult books, this is one that will ease you in nicely. I agree, sharing books is the best, isn't it?

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  13. This sounds like a lot of fun! I like reading the same books as my sister but having a group and discussion sounds nice! The books sounds entertaining, too!

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    1. I really enjoyed NOWHERE BUT HOME, and finding a book that you love and can share with family or friends is the best feeling. I hope you like this one too!

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  14. This is such a fun way to review! I love your last line. I am planning on buying this book on Friday after Books with Cass really really loved it (and texted me immediately after she finished it).

    Oh man, I wish I was on that beach!

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  15. OMG! It's making my heart so happy that so many people are reading and loving this book. I couldn't even review it immediately after I finished it earlier this summer - I loved it that much! It's so sweet, funny, endearing, unique, personal... I can't even begin to describe how much I loved it! I really loved that you read it with your mom and sisters and that they really enjoyed it, too. Loved the uniqueness of this review - made me wish I could read this with a book club and have all the discussions :)

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