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Nowhere But Home

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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.

384 pages, Paperback

First published April 2, 2013

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About the author

Liza Palmer

16 books499 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 504 reviews
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,063 reviews478 followers
March 27, 2021
A really enjoyable read. Loved the strong female characters who had nowhere to go but up - if only the people of their small town would let them! Pigeon-holed by the Wake family's scandalous reputation and past misdeeds, Queenie and Merry Carole Wake can never seem to prove to the narrow-minded townsfolk of North Star that they are not the drunken homewrecker their mother had been.

Heartbroken, Queenie leaves North Star for a career as a chef when the love of her life, Wes McKay, bows to family pressure and marries a more socially acceptable candidate.

But, ten years later, nowhere feels like home to her, so after she loses her last job in New York, she returns home, and takes a job as a chef in a nearby prison, serving the last meal for death row prisoners. The description of Queenie's preparation for each last row meal was riveting (and often mouth-watering!)

Queenie refuses to repeat past mistakes with Wes, even though he is now divorced and still very much interested in pursuing a relationship with her. Queenie also won't allow the townsfolk to "put her in her place" on the outer fringes of society. I truly enjoyed Queenie's interior monologues as she fought against giving into temptation and resuming her previous clandestine relationship with Will.

The sparks certainly did fly whenever Queenie found herself in a few romantic encounters -with both her old flame and a new man who enters her life. This truly was an entertaining read and one of my favourite Liza Palmer novels.
Profile Image for Shannon.
1,522 reviews
July 17, 2013
I'll confess that I nearly quit reading this book several times. The main reason? The writing. The dialogue was often stilted and I felt like the author did a lot of telling me things instead of showing me. Because of the thin writing, the characters were a little flat. And one of the central relationships? I never felt their connection because they didn't spend enough time together in the book for me to see any of this supposed passion and chemistry.

So why did I keep reading? I wasn't even really sure until I got to a passage near the end that I think I really needed to read. That one passage didn't make me necessarily like the book any more, nor did it elevate the writing. But it made the book worth my time.

I started reading this book because I have a fair amount in common with Queenie, the main character. I grew up in a small town and hightailed it out of there as soon as possible - using Vanderbilt instead of the University of Texas to get away. Like Queenie, I've spent more time and energy than I realize running from where I'm from. Like Queenie, I use food to share my love with others (especially my family) and I find it to be a source of comfort and reassurance. Food is a very tangible way to love.

Queenie moves back to her hometown after a decade away. Once there, she takes a job making last meals for death row inmates. This job helps her make peace with her memories of her dead mother and the legacy her mother left her. Here's part of the passage I liked best in this book:

"I've heard people talk about loving their kids or friends or parents, but not liking them. As if love is this inalienable right that trumps a person's bad behavior or neglect. Our society needs parents to love their kids. We joke about how hard parenting is, but there's an understanding that parents would do anything for their kids. It's heresy to suggest anything different... As I stand in the ruins of what Mom once built, I know I won't find some secret letter where she finally proclaims her undying love for me... I've tried to fit my mother into society's idea of what a parent should be. And within those parameters, I'm cast as the monster. I'm the unlovable child.

What happens if I switch the paradigm?

What happens if I finally see my mother for who she was?"

It's not my mother that I need to see differently, but these words are helpful nonetheless. If the writing in this passage had been this way throughout, I'm sure Nowhere But Home would have merited three or four stars. As it stands, I am thankful to have finished this book despite its shortcomings. I needed to read these words and begin to shift my paradigm from that of the monster and unlovable child to someone who sees more clearly.

If you are similarly struck by this passage, you might give the book a try. Just don't expect the writing to be strong throughout.
Profile Image for Angie.
645 reviews994 followers
April 10, 2013
Originally reviewed here @ Angieville

I have come to look forward to the latest Liza Palmer book with a vigorous sort of yearning. I discovered her through the hilarious and thoughtful Seeing Me Naked, and I did not look back. I've loved each of Palmer's previous four novels, but this one . . . I think this one is my favorite. It's certainly the one I had the most trouble letting go of, both when I had to stop reading to deal with some real life matter and when I finished the final satisfying page and realized it was over. And this time, as I was sitting there mourning the loss of the characters and my time with them, I started thinking about the adult contemporary authors writing today that I have these feelings for. I've read each book they've written. I've loved them all. And I am at the point where if they have a new book coming out, I buy it. End of story. And you know what? Liza Palmer and Sarah Addison Allen were the two names that stuck in my mind. For their charm, their depth, and their wonderful, wonderful consistency, I am a permanent fan. So there.

Her mother named her Queen Elizabeth Wake. And that first magnificent unkindness sort of exemplifies the whole ghastly course of Queenie's life to date. Always the outcast, along with her big sister Merry Carole, Queenie got the hell out of North Star, Texas just as soon as she possibly could. With a list of regrets a mile long, she struck out for something better. And since that fateful day, it's been a long string of cities and restaurants with no real place to call home. She inherited a knack for cooking from her dissolute mother, but she always winds up on the wrong end of a customer's fool request or a hotel manager's disfavor. After her last spectacular crash and burn, Queenie is forced to pack up her things and return to North Star. Merry Carole stayed and chose to raise her son alone, despite the town's vicious gossip. And though Queenie can't fault her for it, she's determined not to get sucked back in. She'll stay just long enough to find her feet again. And she'll do it as far under the radar as she possibly can. Of course, returning home means returning to every old scandal that town and its uber-traditional inhabitants never forgave her for. It also means running into Everett Coburn again. And that may be the one thing Queenie won't survive. That is until she is offered a job cooking last meals on death row at the local prison . . .

Good night nurse, I loved this book. And it started (as it often does with Palmer's novels) with the following epigraph from The Age of Innocence:
Each time you happen to me all over again.

Right there. Right there I knew this book was going to have its way with me. I was reminded of that line from The Jane Austen Book Club where Prudie cries, "High school is never over." I knew it would be the same for Queenie. She's so strong-willed and weary that I immediately had her back. And I was enormously gratified to see that her sister Merry Carole (and her sweet nephew Cal) did, too. In fact, possibly the most luminous thing about NOWHERE BUT HOME is the exquisitely rendered relationship between these two sisters. Scarred by their growing up years or not, they are survivors in the most visceral sense of the word. I just loved them. And every small scene in which they spoke quietly in the kitchen or awkwardly pressed through their grief at a summer social was a work of art. By the time I was 50 pages in, I'd marked so many pages I was losing track. And then there's Everett. And the last meals. As if two adult sisters struggling to stay above their grief and years of bitterness wasn't enough. Palmer also serves up an old flame worth sighing over and the wide open wound that is working on death row. As for Everett, here's one of my favorite scenes in which he makes an appearance:
"Queenie, come on. He's ridiculous," Everett says, motioning out to where Hudson is standing with the other men.

"I like him. He's nice," I say.

"You like him and he's nice," Everett repeats, slamming his beer down a bit too hard on Reed's tiled counter.

"Yeah. I like him and he's nice. Is that so revolutionary?" I ask.

"Is his shirt tucked in or isn't it? Did he go to the bathroom and not quite tidy himself up after? I mean, I don't get what that look is about," Everett says, gesticulating wildly at Hudson and the offending plaid shirt.

"What's happening over there?" I ask.

"Nothing," Everett says. His voice subdued. Caught.

"How was that nice lady your parents were setting you up with on Sunday? Talk about ridiculous," I say, walking past him and out toward the backyard. Everett reaches out and stops me. He leans down and speaks softly, intimately, into my ear.

"Go ahead and have your fun with Mr. I Like Him and He's Nice. I know how this ends and so does he." Everett's eyes are locked on mine. Green, brown, and yellow pinwheels intense and focused.

"So does he what?" Hudson asks, standing in the open French doors, partygoers hustling past him. Everett straightens and approaches Hudson. In that moment, I honestly don't know what Everett is going to do.

"Everett Coburn," Everett says, extending his hand to Hudson.

"Hudson Bishop," Hudson says, shaking his hand. Everett looms over Hudson, I'm sure reveling in the few inches of height he's got on him.

Oh. My. God.

"I was just saying that I knew how this thing between you two ends," Everett says, his voice low and threatening. He folds his arms and juts his chin high. I'm speechless. I'm struck dumb.

"It seems the only thing between us two is you," Hudson says, walking over to where I am. He slides his arm around my waist and tilts his head just so.

"Damn right," Everett says.

Everett flicks his gaze from Hudson to me and turns and walks outside.

"He seems cool," Hudson says, walking into the kitchen and pulling a couple of beers from the cooler.

"Yeah, he's super sweet."

So, you see. Humor and tension. In equally tangible amounts. Which leads me to the last meals. Each chapter title was a meal. Sometimes it was what Queenie herself ate that day. And sometimes it was the last meal request from a prisoner about to die. At the beginning of those chapters, I had to take a deep breath before continuing on. Palmer handles the whole thing very well, and Queenie's evolving reactions to her job and its ramifications felt entirely organic to me, suffocating in their realness. Her time at the prison forces her to learn a whole new language for letting go. And, somehow, it all ties in to her unfinished issues with her mother, with Everett, and with every grudge she ever held. This book disrupted my focus in the best way. I simply had to curl up with it and accompany Queenie on her unenviable journey. As always with a Liza Palmer story, the painful and the beautiful walk hand in hand. Everything from the relationship between the sisters to the breathless love story to the mouth-watering food is carefully orchestrated and perfectly delivered. NOWHERE BUT HOME waltzed onto my Best of 2013 list before the dust had settled. Recommended for fans of Friday Night Lights, comfort food, and top-notch storytelling.
Profile Image for Myrna.
705 reviews
April 16, 2022
This book hooked me from the opening sentence, “My mother was an unwed teenager from the Texas Hill Country.” The Texas Hill Country you say?!? The Texas Hill Country is a stone’s throw away from where I live. The setting is in the imaginary town of North Star, but the author captured the region so well. I could relate to many things in the book: humidity, family, atmosphere, football, food and culture!! Ok, so this book isn’t only about the great things in Texas, which is a great state by the way. LOL! It’s also an entertaining novel with real characters. Queenie’s journey was a great read and her relationship with her sister was very touching. It’s worth the read if you like your chick lit with some substance.

Favorite quote: “Hatred is not the opposite of love – indifference is.”
Profile Image for Sarah.
820 reviews150 followers
January 17, 2015
Update: I finally wrote an actual review of this fabulous book: http://cleareyesfullshelves.com/blog/...

Love, love, love. This is going to definitely be one of my favorites of 2013. It's aching in the best of ways, and perfect for anyone who has a complicated relationship with their roots. I'll write a longer review on the blog, but Nowhere But Home ticked so many boxes for me, and I adored it so, so, so much. Basically, this is such a "Sarah Book" and I'll be reading the author's backlist ASAP.

From Angie's review - "Recommended for fans of Friday Nights Lights" Obviously, I will be reading this one.
Profile Image for Holly.
967 reviews414 followers
June 9, 2015
I usually like Liza Palmer's books but this one just didn't work for me. Started off ok but as the story went on I found myself getting annoyed with the characters. They were suppose to be in their 30's but acted like immature middle schoolers. I just can't believe that grown adults would behave like they did in this book. I know there are a lot of catty bitchy women in the world but these people were just ridiculous! I didn't care for the "romance" bit either. Just kind of lame, in my opinion. There are a lot of high ratings for this book and for good reason because Liza Palmer is a good author. This just wasn't her best......in my opinion!!
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,116 reviews11.1k followers
July 6, 2016
FIRST THOUGHTS: I've finally read a Liza Palmer book, and she certainly deserves ALL OF THE PRAISE. Splendid characters, real setting, compelling tale - she's completely wow-ed me. Need. More. Now.


(Originally posted on Alexa Loves Books)

Nowhere But Home is a beautiful piece of literature. It captures a setting, a tone, a story so profoundly moving, yet so well-honed in simplicity and restraint. There are no extra bells and whistles here, but just the plain and simple truths of life in a small town as the daughter of a woman who had a reputation. Queenie's story was both heartwarming and heartbreaking, with Palmer managing to maintain a great balance of both.

If there's one thing readers need to know about Queenie, it's that she loves food and she loves preparing it. So, inspired by her love of a good dish, I'm presenting y'all with a menu of the delights that await you when (not if, but when) you picked up Nowhere But Home.

Caesar salad (a fresh combination of characters)

One of the main reasons I cared so deeply about Nowhere But Home was because I fell hard and fast for Queenie Wake, a woman who is trying to get her shit together. She knows what she loves (cooking, her sister Merry Carole, her nephew Cal), but she still hasn't figured out where she wants to be and what she wants to do for the rest of her life. As Palmer cleverly ties together her past, present and future, Queenie's journey from start to finish just kept me running alongside her, cheering her on. And she's not the only character I adore - there's her wonderful elder sister Merry Carole, her kind football star nephew Cal, their friends Fawn and Dee, Queenie's first love Everett, to name a few.

Sweetened iced tea (a Southern setting)

I just wanted to visit North Star, Texas after getting a taste of that small town in Nowhere But Home. Having grown up in a small town, I found so many situations easy to relate to. People certainly talk about you, and have an opinion on your family, your choices, your looks. And it's easy for rumors to get out of hand, and the drama to get really intense. But a small town also means that people are friendly, and familiar for most of your life; in most cases, they're there for you in a pinch. There are town traditions, special things that bring everything together for the occasion. There are things about the place that you just don't see anywhere else, and that's what endeared North Star to me as I experienced it through Queenie. It's intense either way (good or bad), and Palmer captures that spirit perfectly.

Main Courses
Fried chicken (a familiar story)

Nowhere But Home is a combination of multiple plot points. Queenie's search for what to do with her future, even as she is forced to deal with her past. Her romantic entanglements, past and present. Merry Carole's persistence in making a home in North Star. Dealing with the "mean girls" of the town as they torment and tease. These themes have been included in other stories; what makes them unique here is the setting and characters in Palmer's execution. There is nothing wrong with the use of recognizable plots, as it pretty much ensures that a reader will identify with the story, no matter what their circumstances in life.

Mac and cheese (a glance at the past)

As mentioned above, there is a lot of history for Queenie and the rest of the Wakes in North Star - and a lot of it isn't very good. One of the best things about Nowhere But Home is how Queenie must confront the demons of her past. It is, without a doubt, one of the most moving aspects of the novel. Queenie and Merry Carole both have things in their past that are holding them back from embracing the present and future, and watching them work through their issues is a real treat.

Apple pie with vanilla ice cream (sweet relationships)

But key to this novel's real goodness, apart from what's already been mentioned, are the relationships. There are just so many great relationships in Nowhere But Home - whether it's family, friendship or romance. Honestly, Liza Palmer just gets it. She understands the nuances of each type, the way history + circumstance can affect how people treat one another. She tells it like it is, good, bad and everything in between, and the sincerity behind her writing is so clear.

Receipt + Keep the Change

All I'm really trying to tell you is this: read Nowhere But Home. Don't let the hype intimidate you; don't put it off. This adult contemporary novel is seriously great, and I'm still sore at myself for waiting so long to indulge! So, don't follow in my footsteps, instead, take my word for it and snag a copy to read sooner rather than later. Nowhere But Home will charm you completely, and I guarantee you'll fall in love with Queenie, her family and friends and the little town of North Star just as much as I have.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,161 followers
July 13, 2013
Nowhere But Home is the quintessential comfort read and I devoured it in one sitting on this rainy afternoon. Liza Palmer is an author I've had my eye on for awhile but I never seem to have caught hold of her books. As such, when I saw both this and Seeing Me Naked on the shelves of my library earlier this morning, I grabbed them. And I'm so glad I did.

Palmer writes of family, hope, and love. Nowhere But Home is a distinctly character-driven novel, following Queenie Wake as she returns to her small town of North Star that she has been so desperately trying to escape for years. Now, after a series of firings have left her hopeless, she rejoins her older sister, Merry Carole, in celebrating the fact that Cal, Queenie's nephew, is the star quarterback of their football team. The Wake's are the lowest of the low in North Star, forever living under the legacy of their mother, JB Wake, and her whoring days. As such, Queenie and her sister are treated, for the most part, without much respect, and Cal's rising to the ranks of the town elite is a huge thing for the sisters. It may just be, after so many years, their stepping stone to happiness.

In many ways, Nowhere But Home seems like a classic Southern novel. White trash girl returns to her roots, discovers that her life is so much more than she made it out to be, and finds a way to live in the town she thought she hated. Very "Sweet Home Alabama". And yet, Palmer manages to make this novel one infused with warmth, with depth, and with emotion. From the beginning itself, she draws you into Queenie's life, making you feel for her situation despite the fact that it so very out-there and different. It is Palmer's writing and her three-dimensional characters that make this novel simply stand out. Although Queenie may be facing the watching eyes of her town and living under the rotten reputation of her no-good mother, she is still going through other issues too; everything from being jobless to landing at a crossroads in her life, not knowing what to do or what path to take. Stay in North Star? Or run away from her past and troubles yet again? With an honest narration and unflinchingly relate-able voice, Queenie's story becomes your own and her journey of growth, self-discovery, and ultimate love is truly one to behold.

Furthermore, Palmer's latest is a story of family. Merry Carole and Queenie share a tight bond as sisters, one forged by their upbringing, and as Queenie stays on at North Star, their bond only becomes stronger. Not only is it one infused with understanding, but it is a realistic portrayal of sisterhood; not always easy, but always comforting nevertheless. In addition to Queenie and Merry Carole, though, all the women in this book are so very strong. Our classic high school cheerleader-esque women who have grown up and continued to be bitches are revealed to have unexpected layers of depth and the tight-knit group of friends that Queenie forms in her town are a force of love and comfort to be reckoned with. I laughed, nodded, and teared up with these women, so much so that I feel as if I know them intimately myself. It's all just so very real, as is the developing bonds that Queenie forms with her nephew, Cal. I was very pleasantly surprised by the fact that this novel is not merely Queenie's, it is a novel of this town and these people who, despite being at the bottom wrung of the social ladder, have not yet given up.

A novel of this nature, though, wouldn't be complete without a love story. Queenie bumps into her childhood crush, Everett Coburn, on the first day she returns and from that moment on, their tumultuous and passionate past comes crashing back. Everett and Queenie have history - a lot of it - and it is painful. Although Everett and Queenie have only a few interactions throughout the novel, the ones they do have are filled with unspoken words, longing, and carry so much weight. In fact, the bulk of their love story lies in their past and in moving on and finding a way to be together despite it. Everett doesn't need to charm us (his name does a pretty good job, actually), only because Queenie is already in love with him and, as with every emotion in this novel, we feel it so acutely. I love these types of love stories - subtle, yet deep, focusing on the true emotions that inspire long-lasting relationships. Truly, it seems that in every aspect Palmer simply shines. I adored this story of small town Texas and of big city dreams; of passions found and of passions lost; of closing the door to the past and looking ahead to the future. With such beautiful writing, realistic characters, and emotional words, there is no doubt that I will be returning to North Star - and Palmer - very soon.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews152 followers
April 4, 2013
Four and a half stars: A delightful tale that proves sometimes you can go back home.

Queenie Wake has spent the last ten years bouncing from job to job. Never settling down anywhere, never fitting in. She is currently in New York, but her employment abruptly ends after she fights with a patron over putting ketchup on his eggs. Now she is once again out of work, with nowhere to go and no place to live. She decides it is time to go back home to Lone Star, Texas to visit her sister, despite the fact that she has spent all this time running away from her past and all her old ghosts and it is the last place she wants to be. Queenie is about to learn it is never too late to go home, and sometimes people can change. Will Queenie at last find a place to call home?
What I Liked:
*There are so many things that I loved about this book. The small town setting, the characters, the delicious descriptions of Southern food, the romance and the character growth. This is one of those sweet, fun chick lit reads that just makes you feel good. If you need a pick me up read, get this one, but don't think because it is chick lit it is all light and fluffy. There are plenty of deeper issues in this one.
*I loved Queenie's character growth. In the beginning, she is struggling to find her place. She can't hold a job for more than a few months, and she has spent ten years running from all her baggage. Once she returns home, she learns that all her old conflicts are still alive and well in her hometown. Queenie hails from a small town where everyone knows everyone. There are no secrets in this town. Unfortunately, memories are long and no one forgets Queenie's mother and her horrid reputation. Lone Star is not a pleasant place to be, as there is plenty of bad gossip and catty women, but Queenie manages to persevere and prove that she is not her mother. By the end, she has undergone a tremendous transformation. I think she will finally be secure in her own skin, since she learns that no matter how far you run you can't escape your roots or change the past. However, you can come to terms with it, and not let it dictate the rest of your life.
*One of my favorite parts of this book was seeing Queenie and her sister, Merrie Carole, finally stand up to the women who have looked down their noses at them their entire lives. Standing up to Piggy Peggy and Lauren and all the rest of the women reveals that everyone has their issues, and no one has the perfect life, and picking on others is just a way to hide one's own insecurities.
*The romance in this one, even though predictable, was sweet and satisfying. The moment Queenie arrives back in town, she comes face to face with her childhood sweetheart, the very man she has been running away from all these years. What follows is a delicate dance of longing and regret, until it ultimately culminates into everything you expect. Part of the fun is wondering at each encounter if this will be that moment.
*I absolutely loved the Texas setting and learning all things about the South. I am a Western girl, and sadly I have never been to the South. I adore books that feature Southern cuisine and all things pertinent to the Southern lifestyle. The food descriptions will make your mouth water! If you love hearty Southern food, and storytelling, grab this one.
*Finally, even though this book may sound like a typical chick lit, it actually has depth and substance. The town has plenty of secrets which come bursting forth, and I liked how everything worked out. At the heart of the story, is an intriguing little story line that really made me stop and think. Queenie ends up taking a job at the prison cooking last meals for inmates who are being executed. This storyline really got me thinking about the whole death penalty and questioning its validity. It is a thought provoking topic for sure. I think you will have a different perspective on the death penalty after reading this one.
And The Not So Much:
*As I mentioned, the romance in this one is very predictable. You know from the first introduction that there is only way it is going to end. I didn't mind that it was predictable because it is sweet and satisfying.
*I wish that there was an Epilogue at the end so I could see how everything turned out for Queenie. She is just beginning to realize her dreams and start her future when the book ends. After all the struggle, I wanted to relish a bit more of the sweet spoils.
*Queenie briefly dates a professor and he is an interesting to character. I felt like that he was hiding something and I was disappointed that I didn't get to find out what his true agenda really was.
*This is a small observation, I don't get the cover. It does not reflect the story and it just doesn't fit at all in my opinion.

Nowhere But Home ended up being the perfect pick me up read. This is a great book to cleanse your palate after reading something dark and gritty. It has a sweet romance, great Southern flavors, and wonderful character growth. This is a book that reminds you that your roots are permanent but they don't have to dictate who you can become and how far you can go. If you enjoy a good chick lit book with a bit of substance, I would very much recommend this book.

Favorite Quotations:
"I realize that New York has taught me one thing: hatred is not the opposite of love---indifference is. Being forgettable is way worse."
"She wouldn't dream of going to the mailbox without her face on. I have visions of her house catching on fire and she takes a quick second to check her face in the mirror before fleeing."
"At eleven, we learned we could be who we really were only in the murky edges of North Star, but out in the light we had to be strangers."
"It's one thing to run from ghosts, it's quite another to let them catch you."
"I've lived my life based on what "they' think. who are they? they don't love me. They don't know me. And they sure as shit don't care about what happens to me. Yet every decision involves thinking about what the judgmental and anonymous "they" would think."
"It's a simple equation really: the amount of money you have corresponds directly to the recognition of your family's....shall we say, eccentricities."
"You scratch the surface of any family and you're going to find dirt."
"Angry. Sad. Angry is just sad's bodyguard."
"What happens if I finally see my mother for who she was? A woman so incapable of love that her entire life was about what she wanted, how she'd been wronged, and how the world owed her. Merry Carole and I were just two rusty nails her dress got snagged on as she searched for her real life."

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Published@ Rainy Day Ramblings.

Profile Image for Nasty Lady MJ.
1,057 reviews16 followers
December 31, 2016
To see review with gif click here.

Liza Palmer’s book Seeing Me Naked is one of my favorite books of all time. I’ve been meaning to check out her backlist for awhile and picked up Nowhere But Home on a whim.

The result.


The writing itself is enjoyable and as readable as ever. Palmer knows how to make a book readable that in itself gave the book a huge plus.

On the downside though, the story itself is extremely trite. I could predict almost everything that was going to happen before it did. And there was nothing surprising or unusual to set the book aside from the blandness that it was.

Even the character development was lacking.

Arguably, you could say that Queenie’s arc was decent character development. The thing is though, is that I thought a lot of her character’s development felt rushed and unrealistic at best. Especially how things wrap up.

That was a big fat no for me when I read that Queenie went through with that, I was like are you shitting me? Because who in their mother fucking right mind would cook their mother’s murderer’s last meal.

And yes, I know that was her job at the prison where she was working, but come on. No one would do that, but I had a bad feeling when I found out about Queenie’s mom’s death and her new job this was what Palmer was going to do.

And it didn’t work. It was stupid.

Much like the love triangle in this book. Honestly, Queenie’s whole romance could’ve been scraped all together and the book might’ve been better off for it. I get that Everett was a part of her past, but in the present he barely makes an impression on me throughout the whole story so how things got resolved between them seemed a little WTF to me.

Really, all the character development was like that. All the secrets that were to come out, apparently didn’t need to come out since everyone knew them already. It was like what’s the point.

You read the book for the reveal and the reactions of the reveal, and the reveals had already been done.

To be fair though, a part of me really did enjoy this one. Like I said, the writing was good and as unrealistic as the town Queenie lived in felt, for what it was worth it was atmospheric. I did get emerged in the setting, but from my experience with Texas and small towns that town would likely only exist in a Hallmark movie.

I’m being honest here. I just found it so difficult to buy some of the conflicts that went on with the community and the added bonus of Texas big hair made it feel even faker.

I guess what I’m saying is even though I had a lot of problems with Nowhere But Home, is that if you can look passed all the cliches and a plot that doesn’t surprise you, you might want to give it a try. Like I said, Palmer does have a quality about her writing that makes is charming and hard to put down. But if you are one to get swept up into decent writing and you start noticing all the flaws you might not like this one that much.
Profile Image for Lucie Simone.
Author 7 books44 followers
April 17, 2013
It's been a long time since I've read a book that had me sobbing like a baby in the middle of the night, unable to tear myself away from the pages. But that's what happened with Liza Palmer's Nowhere But Home. Liza is one of my favorite authors, so I had no doubt that she would deliver a stellar read. But wow, I wasn't expecting it to hit so close to...well, home. Palmer's writing is so subtle yet digs so deep. Written in first person present tense, Palmer takes the reader into the world of North Star, a small Texas town, and into the mind of Queenie Wake, one of North Star's most notorious residents. Queenie returns home after several years of trying to escape her past, one filled with tragedy and a forbidden love. But coming home, she is forced to face the dark parts of her life and those of others' when she is asked to cook last meals for the local prison. Palmer creates a world so authentic and characters so true to life that you not only feel like you're part of the story, but that the author is actually in your own head, revealing your darkest fears and your deepest hopes. Blending humor with heartache, Nowhere But Home is a loving tribute to the power of family, love, and the places we call home. A beautiful story that will keep you turning the pages until late into the night! A must read!
Profile Image for Chachic.
582 reviews205 followers
October 29, 2013
Originally posted here.

I have been meaning to read another Liza Palmer novel ever since Seeing Me Naked surprised me by how good it was. So many other titles have distracted me and I wasn’t able to get back to her writing until I recently picked up Nowhere But Home. I was feeling a little homesick and thought it would be a good idea to read a book about coming home. I found it funny that the main character is named Queen Elizabeth because this isn’t the first time that I’ve heard of someone with that name – Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao chose that name for his second daughter. I had a feeling it would be interesting getting to know Nowhere But Home's Queenie and I was right. Also, how pretty is that cover? I like the vintage, nostalgic design of it and I think it goes well with the story even though the picture portrayed in it isn't an actual scene in the book.

A few pages in and I knew Nowhere But Home will be a very good read. Right from the start, I kept highlighting lovely passages that stood out for me. Queenie and her sister Merry Carole, grew up with the stigma of being daughters of the town slut. Nothing much was expected of them and Queenie wanted nothing more than to leave all of that behind. Which is why she has been flitting from one city to another, doing any kind of work that would let her stay away from her hometown. My heart went out to Queenie and Merry Carole for the difficult life that they’ve had, for everything that they’ve had to go through because of their mother's reputation. I used to think small towns must be charming with how close-knit and warm everyone is but there’s an ugly side to it. Queenie is such a prickly character at the start of the novel but I liked her right away. She has more than enough reason to be like that. I might not have had the same experience that she did but I understood her reactions. Here’s a passage early on, before Queenie decides to go home, that resonated with me:

“I can't be the only one faking it. I'm not the only lonely small-town girl drowning in this big city. I'm not the only refugee feeling invisible and alone. I'm not the only one who wants to scream, "NOTICE ME! I MATTER!" Maybe everyone is faking it. Maybe they're just better at it than I am.”

THIS. Even though I was born and raised in a city instead of a small town, I get what Queenie feels. Maybe that's why home is such a comforting place - it's where you don't have to feel invisible or alone. Even if being visible means being judged by others, like in Queenie's case. I loved that each chapter heading was about a meal – either one that Queenie just had or one that she cooked. Seeing as I’m a big fan of food, I was able to appreciate this. Queenie is passionate about the meals that she cooks, she believes in the comfort that food is able to provide. When things get too much for her, she also turns to cooking:

“I need to cook something. I need to lose myself in something else besides the fractured light of my own memory.”

Beautiful wording, right? Another instance where I could relate to Queenie – just replace cooking with reading because I lose myself in books all the time. The reason why Queenie cooks is the reason why I read. Nowhere But Home is filled with the heartaches of Queenie’s life but all that pain is soothed away by a strong sense of family and belonging. Plus there’s such a beautiful, bittersweet romance that I was more than happy to devour. If anything, I would have loved for there to be more romance in this book. As it is, I loved spending time with Queenie as she tries to battle her demons and figure out what she's meant to do with her life. Queenie's hometown, North Star, is also very big on football (one character mentioned that it's like Friday Night Lights with how serious everyone is about the sport) and that's something that I'm familiar with and yet it didn't affect my reading experience. I only mention it now because I know some readers might be drawn to the book because of that aspect. I feel like Nowhere But Home is contemporary romance (or literature for women? I'm not really sure what to call it) that has more depth than chick lit. It is more emotionally layered and complex, and can make readers ache and feel for the characters. I would love for more readers to pick up Liza Palmer's novels because I feel like they aren't getting the attention that deserve. Nowhere But Home is one of the best books that I've read this year, I feel like it was exactly what I was looking for when I picked it up. I look forward to reading the rest of the author's back list. I think Nowhere But Home has the same tone and feel as Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols and All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield, it just has older characters instead of teens. I recommend that fans of those two books give Liza Palmer's latest a try.
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,179 reviews316 followers
August 30, 2013
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.

See the rest of the review on my blog Love is not a triangle

Including a list of highlights from the book, favorite moments and movie references.
385 reviews
September 6, 2016
Probably the one word that would describe how I feel about this book is disappointment. After all the glowing, glowing reviews I expected to love it. But I just felt sad.

Sad that the main character was such an idiot. Seriously, I know that chronological age has nothing to do with maturity, but really? This woman is (a much hyped) 31 years old and she's just now figuring out that other people feel things too? She's just now thinking that other people feel deeply, and perhaps differently than she does? And she doesn't seem to be bothered by her inability to be responsible? And how does a chef at a hotel end up castigating a paying diner for putting ketchup on eggs? It's all just so implausible. (And being nit-picky here: the main character talks a lot about the humidity there in their Texas small town. And the swamp coolers that are all around? Really? Could that possibly be true? In my experience with swamp coolers (yes, my entire growing up years) they only work in a dry climate. Water is pumped over pads that then have air blown over them. It actually pumps more humidity into the air! Maybe I'm uneducated here, but it is beyond my comprehension to think they are using swamp coolers in a humid place. The constant reference to them was an issue for me.)

I'm thinking that Ms. Palmer doesn't really know much about the characters she writes.

And the final straw for me was the language. While the offensive words weren't totally pervasive, they were used enough that it really annoyed me. I've exchanged correspondence with other female authors about the kind of language that they use in writing. I've been told that they must use it for "realism". That that is the way everyone talks. Well, I'm here to say that "it ain't so!" There is nothing redeeming, elevating, or literate about using that kind of language. No one in my circles of acquaintance / friendship talks like that. It is particularly bothersome when female authors put those words in female characters mouths. When a teenage boy is better mannered, more well-spoken than the female adults in a book that is a huge problem for me.

The rest of the writing was intriguing enough for me to stick with the book till the end. But I had to intersperse my reading with periods of reading a different non-fiction book that frankly, was more interesting and much better written. Now, however, after a couple days, I'm finding most of this book has disappeared from my memory. Only my distaste for the language lingers.

Hopefully I will remember this author's name and look past any other books by her when I'm looking for a good read.
Profile Image for Patty.
1,601 reviews84 followers
June 18, 2013
Queenie has no where to go...so...she finally goes home.

My thoughts after reading this book...

I thought this book was delightful, heart warming and insightful...Queenie...a chef...gets fired from practically all of her chef jobs...her cooking is great but she can't stop telling people how they should eat. Catsup with eggs? That's a definitive no in Queenie's world so she gets fired again and again and again. So...she finally goes home...to North Star, Texas. Home to her sister, her nephew, her long lost love and a really bad family reputation.

Queenie gets a job, decides to stay and face her past. I think what saves her is her job...she makes last meals for death row inmates. She takes her job seriously...especially when a death row inmate asks for meal Number One...the meal Queenie's own dead mother was famous for.

What I loved about this book...

I loved the small town dynamics...the mean girls, the secrets and the resurrection of Queenie's one true love.

Memorable moments...

Queenie making the last meals was touching to me. Queenie and her sister...I loved their relationship. Cal and Queenie running together...very sweet, indeed.

Final thoughts...

I found this to be an entertaining book, fun, lively and thought provoking. I loved the characters and their situations. It was a sweet
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,102 reviews410 followers
April 17, 2013
3.5 Stars

I liked this book quite a bit more than the first book I read by this author. I liked the relationship between Queenie and her sister, Merry Carol. I enjoyed the quips between two that understand each other regardless of the fact they haven't seen much of each other for the past few years. I didn't find that unbelievable. Sisters and very old friends are like that. I liked the relationship between Queenie and her nephew and between her nephew and his blood half brother. I didn't care much for the "romance" between Queenie and her one true love. It just didn't work for me.

The story is about making peace and coming full circle. There is a scene in the book that I will admit that I teared up over. I won't tell you anything about it but it's what pushed this book to a level that would have given it 4 stars. Small towns are clique-y but I really, really hope they are not THAT clique-y at grown up age. I would really hope that, despite appearances to be maintained, a grown man or woman would have enough on his or her plate with raising children and stresses at jobs along with any kind of marital strife that the cliques would diminish at least to some degree.

I'd recommend the book for a good story overall with low expectations of romance but abundant closure.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,424 reviews39 followers
April 27, 2013
I can't believe William Morrow/Harper Collins published this daring novel. I've read and enjoyed all of Liza Palmer's work but this Bad Girl Returns Home story really pushes the envelope. A heroine who finds her truth and realizes where she belongs while cooking last meals for prisoners on death row? Seriously? But it works. Queenie, her sister Merry Carole, and nephew Cal are such wounded but wonderful characters that you feel their pain and share their triumphs. Small town Texas life is presented with both flaws and benefits, and the cooking is seamlessly integrated into the plot (I hate it when novels that include recipes feel like they can't make up their mind if they want to tell a story or serve as a cookbook). Only the romance falls short.

Next time someone accuses you of reading trash because you like Chick Lit or Women's Fiction, give them a copy of this book (punching them in the face is optional).
Profile Image for Moon .
3,277 reviews204 followers
May 9, 2013
This book is fantastic! I started reading it at 1 am when I bought it thinking, "I'll read the first chapter just so I'll be psyched about reading the rest tomorrow." Ninety minutes later and 24% later, I had to force myself to sleep because I knew if I stayed up until 4 or 5 am finishing the book I'd be a zombie the next day.

To say I devoured this book is an understatement. I finished the book and was left wanting more. It's a beautiful story that raised a lot of questions while and after I was reading. There are so many mini-stories happening all at once in this book that all tie in to the theme of this book.

Everything I have read by Liza Palmer I have loved and I own my own copies. Each book is thought provoking and emotional. I dare you to read this book or any other book by her and not fall in love with her characters and writing like I have. This is one author whose books I do not miss, and you shouldn't either.
Profile Image for Cristina.
376 reviews4 followers
November 23, 2014
I was really excited to read this book, it sounded like it could be great. What started out as a quirky and charming story quickly turned preachy and annoying. I didn't connect with the main character, Queenie, so right off the bat that's not good. The interesting characters became cliche very quickly, and Queenie's sense of humor and witty way with words just got on my nerves after a while, because she never really went anywhere. I kept waiting for the 'big twist' to come and surprise me but this book was predictable right up until the end which itself felt too abrupt for me.
I firmly believe that, Liza Palmer has the capability to be a great writer -I see it. But she should consider writing about a strong female.
June 28, 2021
DNF page 114

Never in all my years of reading have I come across a male love interest (I’m not calling this piece of shit bawbag a hero) quite as disgusting and pathetic as this prick. He is the absolute worst I’ve read and I’ve come across some bastards.

And the heroine????? The biggest doormat in existence. She learns that the man who married another girl instead of her is divorced and her first thought is “oh YAY maybe I can be his dirty little secret again if he still wants me?” Girl…get a fucking spine Jesus Christ.

This book doesn’t deserve such a beautiful cover and I hate myself for buying it partly because of that.

Away to bleach my eyes and my brain and try to forget what I read of this book.

Profile Image for Misti.
970 reviews62 followers
February 22, 2016
So, so good.
I have to laugh because my library put a "love" sticker on it, like many do for romance novels. Romantic love is only one small piece of the different kinds of love this book has. There's also love of home, love of family, and love of self. I've never had any of the experiences Queenie has lived through and yet there are so many things in the book that speak to me. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jennifer C.
231 reviews29 followers
February 1, 2017
What a heart-warming book. I feel honored having shared Queenie's journey with her. People can tell us thing all the want, but until we feel it for ourselves, until we are willing to let ourselves hear the message, we won't. Queenie's journey is a story of just that. Beautifully written.
Profile Image for Jennifer Sommersby.
Author 5 books318 followers
August 30, 2018
I will read the Yellow Pages if they hire Liza Palmer to write it ...

I'm a writer. And a freelance editor. Finding books that grab my attention and really, really bite down is tough -- I'm sure many bibliophiles understand this sentiment all too well. So many books, so little time! I saw Liza Palmer last year at the Surrey International Writers Conference -- she gave a keynote speech that reduced me to tears because SHE WAS SPEAKING RIGHT TO ME, I SWEAR (Velveteen Rabbit forever!). I left the conference that Sunday night energized, as per usual, and Monday, I searched out her books. If that's how she talks, I gotta read her stuff. Posthaste.

This is my third Palmer book so far (The F Word and Girl Before A Mirror are not to be missed; I've ordered her other three), and I just cannot get enough.

Palmer's novels are a master class in pathos, the human condition, understanding nuance in protagonists and in their wildly complicated relationships. She immerses the reader in the main character's internal dialogue, and while so many authors will cut this part short or avoid it completely (resulting in a lackluster, flat main character), Palmer swims in it. She allows the reader to get to know her characters slowly, like a waltz, so that when the Shit Hits the Fan, we feel it right in the gut.

My daily routine allows for a thirty-minute lunch break in which I make a sammich and grab fresh coffee and pet the Very Naughty Cat and READ A BOOK, and these past few months, I've stalked the clock just to get to lunchtime so I could get lost in whatever Palmer book I'm relishing. (Also, I'm short on sleep and behind on my own deadlines. Sshhh. Secrets.) I fell head over heels for Queenie and Merry Carole and Cal and Everett -- AND LIZA, THE COOKING! WHOA! -- the cooking is a character unto itself. I'm from Oregon originally and so that Texas food is a whole new world to me, but I'm sold. I might even go to Texas now. (As long as you do something about the tarantulas before I get there. *shiver*)

Thank you for another incredible book. I just cannot say enough to encourage the discerning reader to pick up NOWHERE BUT HOME. I don't want to sound like a stalkery fangirl here (don't you kids call them "stans" now?), but I wish I could write like this. And I hope Palmer KEEPS writing like this as she is now in my Top Five InstaBuy Authors Ever.

Thank you for a beautiful story. <3
Profile Image for Meg.
420 reviews94 followers
May 2, 2013
Liza Palmer’s Nowhere But Home is an entertaining story I couldn’t put down, even when I eventually wanted to smack Queenie in the head for being such a numbskull. As much about the roles and expectations of family as it is about accepting love, Palmer’s novel is layered and compelling.

As our star of North Star (sorry, that was cheesy), Queenie is the youngest child of a notorious town harlot who met an untimely end years before. Long shadowed by her mother’s seedy life and dramatic death, Queenie wants to avoid her legacy when possible — except in the kitchen. A famed cook just like her mama, Queenie still fields requests for the Number One: her mom’s signature dish. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for this elusive mother, a woman who named her daughter “Queen Elizabeth” so no one could turn their nose up at her. She obviously had issues, poor parenting among them, but had to have done something right to have such kindhearted girls.

Because make no mistake: Queenie is kindhearted. She doesn’t want you to think so, and she’d die before you told her such a thing, but this woman — a narrator who has tried so hard to escape the past, to harden her heart, to avoid pain and confrontation — is really just a broken shell. It takes coming home to North Star, her sister and her star quarterback nephew to begin to put the pieces together again.

“Friday Night Lights” and the Texas football atmosphere are mentioned on the back cover . . . and that scared me a bit. Far from a sports fanatic, the idea of an entire town flipping out over football is foreign to me. But I understand that, you know, Sports Are Great and all; I’m just a book nerd. But Palmer doesn’t go overboard. Queenie’s nephew, Cal, has finally brought honor to the Wake family name — and no one in North Star is psyched about it. But I thought the town dynamics were well-played and interesting, and I wanted to slug the busybodies trophy wives who couldn’t stand to see Merry Carole and Cal happy. What a bunch of jerks.

Overall, this novel is very . . . balanced. Equal parts family dynamics, romance, friendship and dealing with an unsettling past, none of the many plot threads overwhelmed the others. Just as I was getting a little irked with the back-and-forth between Everett and Queenie, we flip over to Queenie dealing with her tumultuous past. Or dealing with the rude parents of her nephew’s teammates. Or pondering her next move. It was easy to read, fast-paced but introspective, and that’s just not something I see too often.

You know, honestly? I’d originally slapped a 3-star rating on this one and called it a day. Though I liked the book, I didn’t think it really resonated with me. But I finished it more than a week before penning this review, and so many details — and emotions — came flooding back just now. It’s rare that a seemingly lighthearted story gives me so much to chew on . . . and that bumped this one up for me. You know, I really liked it. It was really good.

Fans of women’s fiction, small-town dynamics, Texas-set novels and stories that ponder what it means to let go will find much to mull over with Nowhere But Home. Queenie is a heroine as unique as her name, and I wouldn’t hesitate to add this one to your burgeoning to-be-read stack. It’s worth it.
Profile Image for Renae.
1,013 reviews257 followers
July 30, 2020
The hype for this book is simply overwhelming. The blogosphere universally adores Liza Palmer and Nowhere But Home, even Goodreads was pushing this on me at every possible chance. And, it turns out, not without good reason. Though not my typical reading, this book is simply adorable and happy-making in every way. I didn’t wholeheartedly adore this, but it was a close call.

In a sentence, this book is about homecoming and making peace with the past. Protagonist Queenie Wake ran away from her home town, North Star, to get away from the suffocating shame and hurt that happened throughout her growing-up years. Coming back, even if on a “temporary” basis, means she has to confront those same issues all over again. Her mother’s death, the derision of the town, her one true love, her career, her place in this world. Nowhere But Home deals with Queenie’s process of finding closure (a clichéd word she hates) and moving on into her future. It’s a very authentic, if melodramatic at times, journey, with a hugely rewarding payoff.

Liza Palmer really sold everything about this book, to be honest. Some fluffy tale of closure and small towns and drama doesn’t immediately appeal to me. But real characters and a genuine atmosphere really went a long way to set this book up. I mean, I still found the small town drama to be a bit much at times, but that is literally the only issue I had with the entire book. Otherwise, Nowhere But Home is just pure, heartwarming feelings all around. I defy anyone not to read the final paragraph with a huge smile on their face—it simply can’t be done.

In terms of characterization, Queenie and everyone else in this book was perfect, if perhaps viewed through rose-tinted glasses. Even the so-called “mean girls” were given a (deserved) happy ending. Everything in this book was just so happy, and I loved it. The gossipy town setting was also characterized to perfection. There were times that the way Queenie was treated made me so sad and helpless, knowing that other peoples’ opinions shouldn’t matter, but they do. Palmer fully grasps and portrays humanity in this book, and it’s perfection.

In many ways, this reminded me of Sarah Addison Allen’s novels, minus the magical realism. The Southern charm, the less-than-popular woman protagonist, the understated romance, family secrets, cute and oh-so-satisfying conclusion. Nowhere But Home is like chicken soup in book form. It makes everything better, and you feel so amazing when you’ve finished. I can definitely envision this book becoming one of my go-to comfort reads in the future.

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Profile Image for Miki.
1,125 reviews
July 16, 2013
Well, this was different. Queenie (Queen Elizabeth)ran away from her hometown and her past 20 years ago. Her mother- notorious in town for her wild ways- was killed by her own best friend for having an affair with the friend's husband, leaving Queenie and her sister to live with the town's contempt, and Queenie's "soul mate" and the love of her life dumped her to marry another girl because his father told him to.

Now she is a chef who is fired from every job she gets, doesn't fit in anywhere she goes, and who has to go back home because she has nowhere else to go. Through a friend, she gets a job cooking "last meals" for prisoners on death row until she gets back on her feet and can leave again. To complicate matters, her boyfriend is now divorced and says he still loves her.

There is a lot of conflict here - Queenie has to deal with her mother's killer,(for whom she has to cook that last meal), the effect the affair and murder had on Queenie and her sister, and the persistence of the boyfriend to re-enter her life.

It wasn't amazing but it certainly kept my attention. I didn't find a lot of humor here - somehow the subject matter doesn't strike me as funny. Still can't decide if I liked it or not.

However, I do like the cover.
Profile Image for Kari.
3,588 reviews84 followers
April 25, 2013
Nowhere But Home is a wonderful book. It's a well written and very heartwarming story. Queenie Wake has been running for ten years. Running from a town who sees her as no better than her mother, the love of her life, and really from herself. Now she is coming back home to figure things out. What I loved about this book is that it was such and honest look at the past and how it can affect who we are in this moment and who we become in the future.

As Queenie learns, the only way to look forward and grab what you want is to make peace with the past. I loved Queenie. Even though she has a lot to deal with, she is such a strong character. I enjoyed her journey as she works through her feelings about the past. Her realization that the only things that are important is love and her family was such a great aha moment. The other characters in the book were wonderful. I especially liked the relationship between Queenie and her sister.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a heart warming story about finding your true self and your way back home. You can't help but find yourself rooting for Queenie and the town of North Star, Texas!
Profile Image for Felicia.
301 reviews
September 10, 2014
2-3 stars
I found the characters kind of pathetic and a majority of the plot cliche. A few aspects were interesting: an absent and emotionally abusive mother murdered, Queenie making last meals... but overall I just didn't get why they didn't move away from north star together. if everett knew Queenie left and was divorced why didn't he reach out? How could Queenie not move on at all from Everett in 15 years being away?? So Cal doesn't get any recognition from his father?
I guess the whole small town mentality goes over my head.
Profile Image for Rick.
Author 115 books1,011 followers
December 18, 2014
How could I not love a book that combines personal growth, romance and....food? Liza Palmer is a new author to me, but I was blown away by her ability to make me care so much about her very human, very flawed characters and root for them to find their path. Funny, beautiful, and real.... I'll be looking for more by Ms. Palmer.
Profile Image for Brooke Moss.
Author 19 books338 followers
April 12, 2013
I can't write a coherent review right now. This book was too good, to heart wrenching, to touching, to amazing to condense into a short review. It should be sufficient for me to say: Buy this book now. It is worth every cent, and then some. You'll thank me. I promise you that.
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