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Girl Before a Mirror

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The author of Conversations with a Fat Girl—optioned for HBO—returns with the hilarious and heartfelt story of a woman who must learn how to be the heroine of her own life-a journey that will teach her priceless lessons about love, friendship, family, work, and her own heart

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.

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 27, 2015

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About the author

Liza Palmer

14 books498 followers
Liza Palmer is the internationally bestselling author of Conversations with the Fat Girl , which has been optioned for series by HBO.

Library Journal said Palmer’s “blend of humor and sadness is realistic and gripping,..”

After earning two Emmy nominations writing for the first season of VH1’s Pop Up Video, she now knows far too much about Fergie.

Palmer’s fifth novel, Nowhere but Home, is about a failed chef who decides to make last meals for the condemned in Texas. Nowhere but Home won the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction in 2013.

Liza's seventh novel, The F Word, came out through Flatiron Books April 25, 2017.

Liza lives in Los Angeles and when she's not drinking tea and talking about The Great British Bake Off, she works at BuzzFeed.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 166 reviews
Profile Image for Angie.
645 reviews993 followers
January 16, 2015
Originally reviewed here @ Angieville

It's not that I haven't made my feelings about Liza Palmer's books abundantly clear, because I know that I have. It's that her latest novel—Girl Before a Mirror—is so good it's giving her others a run for their money as my favorite (and I honestly didn't think my love for Nowhere But Home could be surpassed). So good I've already reread it once and am fending off a second reread even as I type this. There are other books out there, and they all deserve a chance. I know this, and I feel their call keenly. But. I had supreme difficulty letting go of this one, and I can see myself diving back in regularly and indefinitely just to spend time with these characters again and to experience Anna's hilarious and thoughtful journey along with her once more. It was just as good the second time around, and I know it will only wear better with time.

Anna Wyatt finds herself in the unenviable position of not having a clue what to wish for as she blows out the candle on her 40th birthday. Surrounded by her friends, their spouses, and her beloved (if beleaguered) younger brother Ferdie, Anna feels affectionate but a bit blank. A year into a self-imposed dating sabbatical, she's been taking stock of her life and cleaning house of anything (or anyone) extraneous. The result is she finds herself in an undeniably clean, but somewhat sterile place, in need of inspiration and not sure where to look. Hoping to advance at the ad agency where she works, she tracks down Lumineux Shower Gel—a dying product in need of revival. Saddled with hopeful newbie graphic designer/sidekick Sasha, Anna finds inspiration in the unlikely form of Sasha's well-read copy of bestselling romance novelist Helen Brubaker's new self-help book Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero. And before they know it, Anna and Sasha are on their way to Arizona and the annual RomanceCon. Pairing up with the con and Ms. Brubaker herself, Anna and Sasha wind up judging the Mr. RomanceCon competition, with the winner slated to be the new spokesman for Lumineux Shower Gel. Determined to seal the deal and make it out of Romance Land alive, Anna is in no way prepared for the exuberance of the convention, the viciousness of the Arizona heat, and the charming Britishness of one Mr. Lincoln Mallory with his blue oxford cloth shirts and his steady gaze.

The thing about Liza Palmer's protagonists is that they're all so very different, from each other and from me. They're in advertising, and they're pastry chefs, they work in prisons or in art restoration. And yet they are so very real, so full of the same questions and vague but earnest hopes and fears that I feel on a daily basis. And so we are comrades. And I care. I care so much from the very start. And Anna Wyatt, with her self-control and her clever mind and her Miss Marple Theory, was no exception. I had her back from page one, as she gazed around at the faces of her friends and tried not to let the gathering uncertainty show on her face. Her story is so compelling because it addresses, so humorously and with unadorned frankness, questions of control, empowerment, guilt, success, and love. Add in some seriously wonderful explorations of female friendship and sibling love and one truly epic romance convention, and you have got the kind of tale I couldn't look away from if my life depended on it. And then . . . there's Lincoln Mallory, who I love so much I start to drift when I think about him too closely. With those oxford cloth shirts and those tense hands in his pockets. At one point there are suspenders involved and . . . well. You'll meet him on your own, but here is one of my favorite of their hilarious and charming exchanges:
I stand in the lobby, flipping my phone around in my hands. I pull Lincoln's business card out of my purse. Again. I flip the card over and dial. My fingers are tingling and this terrified numbness pings throughout my body, settling in my toes. I swallow. And swallow. Blink my eyes. It's like I'm giving myself errands to run around my body so I won't—

"This is Lincoln Mallory." Vomit.

"Hey, hi. It's Anna. Anna Wyatt from the other night. From the . . . um . . . from the elevator? And the apple . . . breakfast time—"

"I'm going to stop you there, love. I know who you are even without the reminder of apple breakfast time," he says. His voice is even better than I remember it.

"I apologize for my late call," I say, still not having taken a breath now going on nine minutes.

"I assumed you were busy at your Booty Ball." Lincoln Mallory saying booty will go down in history as one of my favorite things in the world.

"You still hungry?" I ask.

"I've already eaten, but I did manage to get something for dessert."

"And what's that then?"

"It's a surprise," he says. My face flushes. "When your Booty Ball ran long—a sentence I never thought I'd say, quite frankly—I had to strike out on the field trip on my own."

"So you're holding this dessert hostage."

"You make it sound so devious."

I scan the lobby. The hotel bar. The kiss. I close my eyes.

And leap.

"What's your room number?"


"I'll be right up."

"Cheers," he says.

"But just for dessert."

"I do like a woman with her priorities in order." Silence. "Anna?"

"I didn't know if you'd hung up," I say.

"I hadn't."


"But I will now."

"Sure. Okay," I say. Silence. "Hello?"

"It's never not funny, is it?"

"I mean . . . ," I say, unable to keep from laughing.

These two. I mean. And it's always like this with them. The entire time I was reading I alternated between helpless laughter and a sort of fierce longing for their fears to be allayed, for their paths to somehow continue intersecting despite . . . everything. Because, of course, Lincoln's history is as mesmerizing and complicated as Anna's, and I felt every ounce of their combined and individual uneasiness and wanting. It is endlessly relieving to read about characters you would genuinely want to know, would want to sit with in a hotel bar or on a Manhattan sidewalk and just talk to. And I will never not appreciate how these two said what they wanted to, even if it came out mangled and fumbling, how they pursued their truth with an intentness I admire. For example:
I shut the car off and take a second, the blistering heat sitting on the top of my head like I'm under a heat lamp. I am walking toward the meet and greet when the phone rings.

"Anna Wyatt," I say, knowing exactly who it is without even looking at the screen.

"This is my formal apology," Lincoln says.

"Go ahead then," I say.

"I'm sorry." I like that Lincoln doesn't elaborate or get lost in a maze of buts and excuses for why what he did was actually okay. A simple I'm sorry is the most beautiful thing in the world.

"Thank you," I say.

It's these simple, thoughtful moments that make me pause as I'm reading to mark their effect (and possibly read them aloud to the nearest warm body so that I'm not alone in my wonder). Girl Before a Mirror is filled with them. I've decided the only way to start a new year is with an instant and permanent resident on my beloved bookshelf. Done and done.
Profile Image for Melinda.
1,020 reviews
September 1, 2016
Part metamorphosis, introspection, coming of age, and empowerment of not just Anna but other characters as well.

Palmer skillfully inserts wry humor to offset the weight of varying characters issues otherwise the narrative and players would have been in excess.

I enjoyed all the characters with their assorted issues but after a while I felt as if they were a dog chasing its tail - droning on and on about their challenges, taking two steps forward yet returning hastily to the starting point. Discovering deep seeded problems with really no resolve, I wanted more 'show' along with farsightedness action. I appreciate the severity of the premise, however, monotony quickly ruled.

Enterprising effort on Palmer's part with overabundance of matters each character struggles with, with no real verdict.
Profile Image for Sarah.
820 reviews151 followers
January 17, 2015
It was really effing stupid of me to stay up reason this because now I have no more Liza Palmer books to read.

I have a lot of (positive) thoughts on this, but since it's not out for ages and ages, I'll just say that this resonated a lot with me, especially the career-related plot.

*taps fingers impatiently*
Profile Image for Chachic.
582 reviews205 followers
February 1, 2015
Lovely, as expected. Anna, Lincoln, Sasha, Helen and Ferdie were all great characters. Kept highlighting passages of the book because the writing was just so good. Will work on a full review.
Profile Image for Danielle.
249 reviews124 followers
June 23, 2015
Read more reviews at What Danielle Did Next

Never have I read a book that was so gloriously positive and empowering towards women and female friendships. I have never felt so passionate about a book and its importance and just want to walk around yelling "read it, read it, read it, I tell you, read it!!!”

A book about a woman's journey to accepting herself for who she is and learning to just be. Anna has just turned forty, recently divorced; she's at a crossroads in her relationships, her career and her life. When she comes across a self-help book that is all about finding your inner heroine, she realises she can use its advice in landing a major account. Teaming up with younger colleague Sasha, Anna discovers throughout her endeavours that friendship, love and support are real possibilities even when life doesn't go according to plan.

The friendship between Anna and Sasha was by far my favourite part of the book. I loved how Palmer subverted the usual trope of pitting women against each other and showed (quite rightly) how supportive and vital such friendships are. Equally the mentorship between the author Helen and Anna was a joy to watch unfold as Helen advised Anna on how to take the plunge and believe in her strengths.

The weakest part of the book for me was the romance. In a book that focuses so much on the female aspects; it was almost an unwelcome distraction when Anna's paramour Lincoln was introduced. It felt a little clumpy and muddled compared to the easy flow of the rest of the book.

This book tackles so many important issues from self-belief, empowerment, sexism, career satisfaction, and addiction and family relationships and does so in a warm, witty way that engages the reader from start to finish.

I adored this book so much and cannot stress how important it is to give yourself a gift and read it as I truly believe every woman can identify wholeheartedly with the issues and feelings raised in this book (and male readers will enjoy it too lol).

Beautifully written, with relatable characters, and a story that will stir emotions within, GIRL BEFORE A MIRROR is one not to be missed.

Profile Image for Myrna.
703 reviews
September 18, 2015
A good story about a woman who wants more out of her personal and professional life. Although the book tends to be a bit chick-lit, it’s more than just a simple love story. I found Anna sympathetic and was pulling for her as well as Sasha. I would recommend it for anyone who is looking for an easy, touching, humorous book with LOTS of imperceptiveness and inner thoughts. Ultimately a story about love, family, friendship, sincerity, and woman power.
Profile Image for Kristine.
700 reviews15 followers
January 25, 2015
Original review can be found at http://kristineandterri.blogspot.ca/2...

I received an advanced readers copy from William Morrow via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book "Marpled" me! You have to read the book to understand what that means. In other words, it was unassuming and caught me off guard. Out of nowhere it surprised me and blew me away.

This is the first book by Palmer for me and I am excited to say that I think I found a new author to enjoy. I loved her writing style and thoroughly enjoyed the humour that she used in her story telling. The plot and the characters were well developed and engaging and I was in Anna's corner every step of the way.

The story isn't just about Anna and her career but her journey of self discovery. It is about her learning to be comfortable in her own skin, relinquishing her tight control on everything and figuring out how to be truly happy. Throughout her journey there are many missteps and comical errors that had me giggling out loud. The Romance Conference was a favourite part of the story for me. There seemed to be a perfect balance between the serious and not so serious to keep the story interesting without losing sight of the big picture.

I don't think that I can put my thoughts on this book into words and do it justice. What I have written above and even the synopsis did not capture all that this book is in my opinion. It was serious, funny, sad, unique and empowering all wrapped into 384 pages. This book was like a breath of fresh air when I really needed one. I loved every minute of it and will be reading the rest of Palmer's books.

Profile Image for Lindsey Lynn (thepagemistress).
373 reviews93 followers
July 26, 2015
I went into this book a little apprehensive because I'm not the biggest contemporary/romance fan. But this was so much more than that. The book was about power and finding the strength to love and be happy with yourself. That really resonated with me. I don't think I could have read this book at a better time. It's amazing to see what Anna went through and her reactions to the situations because they were so raw and real. I related in more ways that I thought I would. Thank you so much Goodreads for giving me the chance to read this book from your first reads giveaway!
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,095 reviews10.9k followers
December 3, 2015
FIRST THOUGHTS: I cannot even tell you all how much I love Girl Before a Mirror. It is the first time ever where an adult novel really reflected an experience, an emotion, a thought process I could completely relate to. Everything Anna, or even Sasha, felt bore an uncanny resemblance to myself -- and the intensity of it made me ache, made me feel everything so gosh darn deeply. Beautifully done, Liza.
Profile Image for Holly.
529 reviews62 followers
February 25, 2015
Once Anna and Sasha arrived at the romance novel convention I couldn't put it down. There was so much empowering truth for women in Anna's insights - from pop music to romance novels to the demands we place on ourselves. I was sold. I can't help wishing that the Just Be campaign existed in real life. I need to read the rest of Liza Palmers' other novels, stat.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,675 reviews917 followers
January 21, 2015
I have loved previous Liza Palmer books, seriously go out and read Conversations with the Fat Girl and Seeing Me Naked. Some of her books I could not get into fully, see A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents and others I just didn't care for at all, see More Like Her.

I thought that Girl Before a Mirror was at times brilliant and other times frustrating. I really did love reading how Anna came to see romance novels as not something to be ashamed of, but something to celebrate and that the whole concept of "be your own heroine" is something that many women need to be in their day to day lives.

I did find the first few chapters a bit stilted at first, but after Anna meets Sasha and they begin their campaign idea together the book started flowing much better. Sadly, the times that Anna is with Lincoln the book seemed to turn itself into another book entirely so I often found those passages to also be super slow and they did not flow very well in my eyes.

There was another side plot going on with Anna having a very popular romance writer becoming her mentor but it seemed to fizzle out. I still can't understand how this woman was Anna's mentor. She seemed to just be a person that Ms. Palmer inserted to be Anna's fairy godmother.

I think the book would have worked much better without that being indulged in since the whole concept of this character coming along and doing what she does in the end took me completely out of the book. Everything else in the book I found to be very realistic except this part.

The idea that many women do sit and wait for that guy to come along and be our white knight instead of sitting up and being their own knight and then finding the guy was very thought provoking.

I at times read a passage in this book and would just find myself nodding along. Anna in a way is a perfect stand in for many women who have been through a marriage and divorce in their early 40s still trying to figure out what do they want. I thought her getting her eyes opened during a romance writer's conference was great and I loved that many people talked about how they were treated differently be people when they found out that they read romance novels. Also the parts dealing with women who are afraid to admit that they like the things that they do since they want to be thought of as smart as intelligent and not less than other people was a very good discussion.

However, to go from that aspect of this book to one in which Anna is trying to decide to just take a chance on Lincoln was in my eyes aggravating.

There was no real obstacle between Anna and Lincoln being together besides Anna's own self imposed obstacles she threw up so I was pretty much over the 'what are we going to do dance' she kept indulging in. One thing that always bugs me in romance novels is when the heroine and hero have no real reason to be kept apart, but the author keeps them apart to just lengthen the book. If the Anna/Lincoln relationship had been the only thing going on with this book I would have marked it down to 2 stars. However, besides Anna taking a hard look at her life and how to be her own heroine, I loved her friendship with Sasha and her finally acknowledging that her brother needs help. I did tear up at one key scene with Anna and her brother and I know exactly how she feels when you want to fix everything for your sibling, but know that you cannot.

In summary, I liked the writing, the character of Anna, and thought her romance with Lincoln actually took away from the overall book.

I also really love the idea of "be the heroine, find your hero".

Please note that I received this book via the Amazon Vine Program and this book will be released on January 27, 2015.
Profile Image for Amara Luciano.
Author 8 books170 followers
August 4, 2015
8/2/15: So happy I read this. It's such an empowering place to lose yourself in. I feel good, I feel confident and up-lifted. I feel like I deserve more than I tell myself. I feel like I'm not actually a fanciful airhead or a hopeless dreamer or an imperfectly imperfect human.

Instead I feel the opposite of all that. I feel REAL. And that's what Girl Before A Mirror is -- a big fucking dose of real, with all the thrills and joys and awkwardness, all the Elevator Kissing and Pec-Goggling and Romance Celebrating and Naked Picture Sending and Addict Rehabing and Sleepless Nights in the Car, REAL really entails.

Brava, Liza Palmer, you've done it again.

3/7/15: I'm putting this to the side, since I'm not ready for it and I refuse to let my mood tarnish a Liza Palmer book.
Profile Image for Michelle.
616 reviews130 followers
February 20, 2015
This book contained so much goodness, I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it. I just know I keep wanting to hug it to my chest or march around chanting "Just BE!" or attend a romance book convention. Loved everything about this story.
Profile Image for Estelle.
852 reviews81 followers
March 9, 2015
Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading:

Sometimes a book comes along at the perfect moment — when you are sad, when you are seeking a bit of strength, and when you are grappling to understand the changes going on around you. Girl Before a Mirror is that book. As someone who reads plenty, I’ll admit to saying this before but it’s funny — ever since I finished this particular title I find myself recommending it right and left. It’s so relevant to so many situations I’m hearing about and even — the world — where a major motion picture event is based on a self-published book about BDSM and people love standing on their high horse and judging what other people deem as entertainment.

Main character Anna is coming off a year of zero dating, she’s eliminating problematic friends from her life, and she’s taking control of her work situation. As an account executive, she seem the males at her job constantly patted on the back, and she determined to bring in a new account and make a splash. Without genuine support from her firm, she sets out with a rookie colleague (Sasha) to land a body wash account in a surprising place — a popular romance novel convention in Phoenix.

So how does this all connect?

Marketing is all about making two things click, and I don’t think Anna realizes just how great she is at this kind of thing. Taking a washed-up product (ha) and making it new? Sound familiar? This product, in ways, is a reflection of her — uninspired, unsettled, and a bit lost. She, too, is in need of refreshing and the first part of her answer comes in an unexpected form — Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero — the current “it” book urging woman to be the heroes of their own stories. Anna decides to use it as a launching pad for her new campaign — which is how she finds herself meeting the Elaine Stritch-like author, attending pirate booty themed parties, making out with a hot guy in an elevator, and hanging with the mysterious yet capable Sasha at a romance novel convention.

Like many, Anna judges the readers who fancy romance novels and even begrudges the writers who write them. She believes them to be nothing more than a guilty pleasure, and not something people would actually admit to being great stories. So much of what Anna has built herself to be is challenged on this trip. Why does she have to stick her nose up at everything? When did she become THAT person who stomps on those things that make other people happy? Who is she to deem one thing better than another?

In ways, this passion project forces Anna to find her compassion. It forces her to be her own advocate, even when her decisions put her in precarious situations. She must let loose and truly listen to get what she wants, to find some kind of happiness. In truth, she’s only in Phoenix for a few days but it’s such a catalyst for the rest of the story. Ya know, Palmer could have decided to end her book when the conference did, but she pushed Anna to her breaking point. She pushed her to learn more about herself and her limits.

Life is this messy monster, and Palmer speaks that truth in the two books of hers that I’ve read. So much that I found myself questioning my own decisions and wondering if I tried enough, did I think enough about the other person, or was I right to think it was time for me to bow out and try something new? From career decisions to falling in love to friend breakups and fade outs, Girl Before a Mirror spoke to so many of my vulnerabilities but it also urged me to be strong. In a world where women are constantly brought down because of their emotions or mistakes, it’s a revelation to come into contact with characters who are feeling powerless, floundering a little bit, but making the big step to ask themselves the big questions and make things right — no matter how long it takes, no matter how many heartbreaks it takes to get there. Not only this deep stuff, but I can’t forget about how important it is to embrace what you love and continuing to hold it dear even when others don’t understand. There’s a reason why we are gravitate to certain things, and, we shouldn’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves.

There are limitless discussions and feelings to be unearthed in Girl Before a Mirror, and I have a feeling its not quite done with me yet.
533 reviews6 followers
February 15, 2015
Better, smart women's fiction.This is the first Liza Palmer novel I have read. While I have found funnier women's fiction this book did get me to do some thinking of what do women want.

The main of character of the book is Anna Wyatt who works in advertising and just turned forty. She is a bit of a control freak and is very achievement oriented. In her career she feels frustrated because she feels she is put into the pink collar ghetto.

To further her career, she plans to maneuver to obtain a large pharmaceutical company account by re-marketing is original product a shower gel used by women. If the campaign is for shower gel is successful Anna Wyatt feels it will put her into the "major" league of the advertising world which is male dominated,

There are two entertaining side characters. The first is Audrey. While she is the sometimes victim of the male hierarchy she is basically a female backstabbing saboteur. The second is Sasha who is young and talented but not taken seriously because she is very good looking.

The better parts about in the novel are about empowering women in the business world. I think many women may indentify with being pushed into the pink collar ghetto.

Like the book's heroine, I don't read "romance" novels. The Romance novel's fan convention in the book was probably put into the book to add some humor. The heroine of the novel does have a romance but it is not the major part of the novel.

The better parts of the book dealt with questions about what women really want and what has derailed women's childhood images of themselves as being powerful princesses.
Profile Image for Ellice Y..
175 reviews26 followers
December 18, 2015
My God. Where do I start? Liza Palmer is my literary hero. The queen of women’s fiction. I thought there was no way that she would ever manage to write a novel that evoked as much emotion, empathy and understanding from me as she did with Nowhere But Home, but damn it, she’s done it again with her latest novel, Girl Before a Mirror...

See my full review here at Paper Riot.

Another AMAZING book by Liza Palmer. I don't know if I have the ability to write a review that will do this book justice, but stay tuned for my thoughts, coming soon...
Profile Image for Melanie.
916 reviews33 followers
March 3, 2015
I think I'm alone in not really liking this book. Everyone else is all four stars.... I just was underwhelmed. I didn't care a speck about the romance, it felt forced and all the crying? really? The characters were just blah, too. They didn't feel real and fleshed out to me. I did like the ad campaign, I could totally get behind that slogan, but that's about it.
Profile Image for Camille Flores.
219 reviews17 followers
March 15, 2015
My first Liza Palmer book and I really, really liked it! Anna, the main character, is someone I know and someone I haven't met yet, all at the same time. Does that even make sense? lol :) I know her because I can completely relate with her, her feelings, her rambling thoughts and yet she's someone I haven't met yet and this is in the sense of not meeting a character quite like her or how she has been written by author Liza Palmer, if that makes more sense. And so many quotable quotes from this one that I fell in love with.

Full review:

Why did I want to read this book?

I was totally hooked with the book blurb. I haven’t read that many women’s fiction books but this one was really calling out to me. I want to know what Anna does with the rest of her life, what her decisions would be, how she will reconcile everything in her life towards happiness and contentment.

What worked for me?

This was really Anna’s book. I mean, everyone who reads the blurb would know that she’s the main character but it’s only with reading the actual book and following Anna as her life unfolds within those pages that you would really realize that this book is hers. HERS. We see her face the usual aspects of what makes a life, like her career in advertising, her relationship with her friends, her relationship with her family, her love life. There were those few times where I would start to think that I’ve read all of these before in other books, same set-up, same demons to face, so to speak, even familiar characters, but the more I read through the story, the more the realization dawns on me of how all these seeming familiarity actually makes for a unique reading experience for me. This is my first Liza Palmer book and while her writing style is something I had to get used to in the beginning, after passing the 1/3 mark, I was pretty much invested in her achieving her heart’s innermost desires.

I also love the glimpse into the world of advertising that this book gives us. And I love the whole women empowerment theme that Anna and her associate, Sasha had going on with their campaign. They pitched and truly believed in the slogan that they had created for the product, which is to Just Be. It’s about women being able to live every aspect of their life without judgment or reprisal or misplaced expectations and to live life just Being. It’s so inspiring in itself. I love this particular mantra that brought the whole campaign theme to Anna:

“What do I want?

I want to be happy and not feel guilty about it. I want to be curious without being called indulgent. I want to be accepted regardless of what I look like, what I do for a living, my marital status, whether I have kids, or whether you think I’m nice enough, hospitable enough, or humble enough to measure up to your impossible standards. I want purpose. I want contentment. I want to be loved and give love unreservedly in return. I want to be seen. I want to matter. I want freedom.”

And how totally cool that much of the story takes place when Anna and Sasha had to attend a Romance Convention in Texas. So we get all these references to what may or may not happen during these events (sad for me, I haven’t attended any yet since I’m on the other side of the planet) and it was interesting to experience it second-hand through Anna’s eyes. There were discussions on the nature and reception of the romance genre in books and I can just feel the energy there, being a romance lover myself.

In the end, I love taking this whole journey with Anna. I was with her every step of the way, being on the edge of my seat waiting to see if she lands her biggest client to date, cheering her on when she comes up with a great campaign or when she stands up for herself and her friends, hurting for and with her when those moments of loneliness or fear get a little too much and too heavy to bear, being happy for her when she finds herself a chance at love, feeling for her when she starts to learn how to let herself go, how to let herself feel vulnerable, how to let herself just be. Every up and down was so worth it by the end.

What did not work for me?

I wouldn’t exactly call it as something that did not work for me but it took me a little while to get used to Liza Palmer’s writing style. It’s not something that I’m familiar with seeing as this was my first book from her. Especially in the beginning, it was a little bit confusing for me but isn’t hard to get used to.

My over-all take on it?

There are so many things to gush about and to just love about this story. I think the great things about this book for me are all the things and nuggets of wisdom or food for thoughts that I was able to take away after finishing the book. I think there’s a little bit of Anna in all of us and that’s one of the things that I love about her character and why I would think many would be able to relate with her. Plus, she kicks a**. I’m definitely looking forward to checking Liza Palmer’s backlist.

My rating:

4 stars

Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. Yes, these are my honest and personal thoughts on this book.

Profile Image for bookrockbetty.
249 reviews79 followers
January 30, 2015
Easy 4.5 stars!

I freaking loved this book. Liza Palmer’s writing is so perfectly balanced. There’s humor. There’s romance. There’s a solid plot with well executed subplots (what up Sasha and Ferdie!). Best of all, there is always a life lesson to be learned that seems to punch me in the face! Just as I felt after reading Nowhere But Home, I was left sitting on the couch with the book closed on my lap, lost in thought. This particular book inspires me to JUST BE… I don’t have to be the perfect mom, perfect wife, perfect blogger, perfect ANYTHING. I just need to be who I am and be happy doing it. I need to be my own perfect. People tend to put themselves in a box in attempt to be what others need them to be. We let life become stagnant and get lost in routine. We stop taking risks! We start living for everyone except ourselves. Sometimes we lose who we are completely in order to seek the approval of others! Screw other people’s approval. If we don’t, we screw ourselves out of the life we deserve to have! This message ties the pages of the book together beautifully. Anna takes a good look at her life from multiple angles and experiences some hardcore self discovery! I was challenged to examine my own life and was left with a sense of empowerment and self worth!

On a side note, Liza Palmer is incredibly talented. Every book she writes is completely different. Her characters and themes never feel repetitive. Even the tone of her books differ, yet end up equally meaningful. Read this book. Read Nowhere But Home. You won’t regret it!

For full review on blog: http://bookrockbetty.com/2015/01/16/r...
Profile Image for Maryann.
611 reviews6 followers
November 5, 2014
I have loved Liza Palmer's work since her first book. Her writing is incredibly real and speaks to the heart of being a human in our messy, confusing, emotional world. Too much "chick lit" portrays women in unattainable ways- too perfect, too fairy tale-ish, too much a caricature instead of someone to relate to. Palmer continues to focus on who a woman is, not what she looks like.

Anna works for an ad agency and she is working according to plan- work her way up, make partner, maybe find love again. She married the "right" guy, but that didn't make for love, unfortunately. She takes a risk- pitches an ad campaign to a company that isn't looking for it for one of their oldest products, Lumineux shower gel- and they accept, launching her and a brand new hire from the art department into their new venture, which includes a trip to RomanceCon, a convention for romance novels and their fans. Anna is faced with reconsidering herself, her life, her perceptions and her approach to her future.

Food: iced caramel coffee, milk and two Splenda. Or whatever your favorite caffeinated beverage is (but NOT soda). It's comforting because it's familiar, but energizing at the same time. It's delicious, makes you feel more like yourself.
Profile Image for The Book Maven.
496 reviews50 followers
August 15, 2015
It's been a while--like, a good few years--since I've read much by way of chicklit. The world has changed a lot. And so have I. Yet, apparently, I haven't changed so much that I cannot appreciate a semi-frothy book about a woman finding herself as she navigates family, friends, romance, work, and pop culture.

In some ways, this book feels a little more mature than some of the chicklit I've read in the past. The protagonist, Anna is 40. She's divorced. She's at least semi-competent, and by her own admission is past the painful insecure fluctuations of her 20s, with the attendant incompetent bosses, lousy apartments, and major insecurities. Her main hurdle appears to be that she's an emotionally stunted person, cut off from the risks of romance and love. Or something. However, her bid for an ad campaign catapults her into the wildly-different world of RomanceCon, where she has to navigate studly models, themed parties, a take-no-prisoners self-help author who may or may not be the answer to Anna's problems...and an unexpected fling that threatens to leave her heart flayed and exposed in all its frozen vulnerability.

So far, it's a surprisingly resonant book (might have to do with where I'm at in my life) and a fun story.
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,178 reviews317 followers
November 12, 2016
A quick list:

1) This book is funny. Heroine Anna made me laugh so much. But not only that, I felt like I was part of her journey through this book: the amusing, awkward, heartbreaking and soul searching moments.
2) This book highlights friendships, especially female friendships. I loved the friendship that develops between Anna and her much younger colleague Sasha.
3) This book celebrates romance novels, and argues that you can learn a lot from them.
4) These characters go to a romance novel convention to judge a male cover model competition. All sorts of hilarity happens in here, but also intense personal reflection.
5) This book is thoughtful and empowering. Anna goes through a huge emotional, personal and professional journey in this book, as she examines herself and her life, her family and her friends. I was moved and inspired.
6) Get ready to swoon. Thankfully, no lo love triangles to be found!

Full review to come.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,433 reviews
January 29, 2015
I enjoyed this novel about a woman’s journey to accepting herself for who she really is – not the person she thought she should strive to be in order to be accepted by others (her parents, professors, boss, etc.). Liza Palmer’s story is funny, heartbreaking, poignant, and ultimately uplifting. I think many women will relate to some aspect of Anna’s personal life or career issues. I found her likable and sympathized with her struggles.

I love the way Palmer tells a story and she didn’t disappoint with Girl Before a Mirror. I liked it all. From Anna’s cheerful colleague, Sasha, to Lincoln, the dashing hero, to Helen, the encouraging and inspiring mentor – they all combined to help Anna figure things out. It’s an entertaining novel that I’ll recommend to friends.
Profile Image for Carrie.
1,055 reviews39 followers
February 25, 2015
I LOVED this book so much. If you follow me on Twitter, I'm sure you saw all the quotes I posted.There were just so many great lines in this book, I simply had to share them. Anna was a great character. I could relate to her quite a bit. I found the overall theme of this book an inspiring one. There is romance of course but I found myself rooting for Anna first and foremost. Don't get me wrong, Lincoln is swoony and had me choked up at times but Girl Before a Mirror is definitely about Anna's journey. This book has it all; humor, romance, important topics and girl power.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Boyle.
Author 59 books1,964 followers
April 17, 2015
Loved it, as I love all of Liza Palmer's books. She writes straight from the heart and her gut. Love, love, love her stories.
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,039 reviews462 followers
October 10, 2018
That I got out of this book: I agree with this author that Women's Fiction is often unfairly scorned - by men and women alike.
We have to stop labeling and sneering at things we don't know enough about. I will read just about anything so long as I find a ring of truth, emotional authenticity and and intelligence in the writing. I am not overly fond of fantasy and sci fi novels, but I try to expose myself to a few every once in a while: it is all about opening ourselves to a different way of thinking/feeling/seeing. I love to lose myself in a novel, and will even forgive a few trite love scenes or contrived happy endings. Novels where the hero or heroine dies at the end are just HOPELESS, in both senses of the word. Who needs hopeless and despair like that? We need to know that hope, faith and love will live yet another day to fight on to the glorious finish! I agree with Palmer's character in this novel: that nothing is wrong with wanting a happy ending: life is hard enough. I enjoy escaping into a good novel: we should never be ashamed of what we are reading, but we should also expose ourselves to a broad spectrum/genre of books. I am thankful for my local book club. I may not enjoy all of the books we've read in the past couple of years, but some of them have been real gems. I felt like I struck spiritual and emotional gold with Richard Wagamese's Medicine Walk and the sequel, Starlight. I have no interest in books that are bland, emotionless or delight in describing torture scenes or depravity. So, three cheers for women's fiction! I would give this book 3.5 stars for the descriptions of the outrageous partying at the RomCom festival in Phoenix. Too funny!
Profile Image for Brenda.
454 reviews3 followers
January 12, 2018
I enjoyed this light and fun book. pretty predictable in places, but it was worth the short amount of time it took me to read it.
Profile Image for Nan.
839 reviews73 followers
July 16, 2021
This book Marpled me. It snuck in, like Christie's Miss Marple, and before I knew it was a threat to my time, I was reading at 1 a.m.

I really enjoyed this book, and I will be thinking about it for days.
Profile Image for Miranda Lynn.
789 reviews95 followers
April 19, 2015
3.5 stars

I have to start off this review by explaining that, while I actually quite enjoyed this book, I was a little disappointed when I first started reading it. The cover design and blurb of this book are VERY misleading!

You tell me that the main character lives in a "Mad Men world", and then the cover has old books, a pair of old-fashioned shoes, and '60s-style wallpaper? Well, I'm for sure going to think that it's historical fiction! But...it wasn't. It was a contemporary Chick Lit. So...that was not exactly what I was expecting.

But I plowed on anyway, and it turned out to actually be a decent book! I'm not a huge fan of the "Chick Lit" genre (and seriously hate calling it that. I wish there was another term for this type of fiction), although I did read a substantial amount of it back in middle school, during the time when the YA genre still sucked and there wasn't much else to satisfy my voracious reading habits until I discovered Jodi Picoult and Philippa Gregory in high school. I went through quite a V.C. Andrews phase when I was about 11. I'm still horrified that my parents ever let me read that stuff, although I'm also thankful that they never really censored my reading.

Back to the book, though! Girl Before a Mirror was a hilarious and on-point book about the world of advertising and how women feel the need to edit themselves in order to look better in front of other people...like only playing Katy Perry when you're in the car by yourself, and walking around with Tolstoy in your purse but Nora Roberts in your nightstand.

This is a phenomenon that I think all women can almost-too-easily relate to. I find myself personally having much more self confidence lately — I don't think that I "edit" myself very much anymore. But I used to do this A LOT, so I was able to strongly relate to the main character, even though she was 20 years older than me and we have almost nothing else in common.

All the characters in this book were awesome, and that was probably my favorite part of it. everybody was multidimensional, quirky, and had a journey to take over the course of the novel.

Something that fell into the negative column for this book was its pacing. I loved the writing itself, but the book seemed to meander in some places, speed up in others, and I think it could've been edited down a bit. I really liked most of the plot, but towards the end, the author introduced a few different new elements that only served to weigh everything down and make it take longer to wrap up. I kept thinking that it was about to end, only to realize I still had 50 or so more pages left to read. I think that the side story about Anna's brother could've been taken out completely. I liked that part, but it seemed very out of place with the rest of the story.

So, while this definitely wasn't the book that I was expecting to be reading, Girl Before a Mirror surprised me in how poignant, witty and fun of a read it was. If you're already a fan of "Chick Lit," I'd definitely recommend checking this one out, and if you're not...well, then maybe this would be a good starting point if you're looking for something a little bit outside of your comfort zone.
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