How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

  • Title:  How to Change a Life
  • Author:  Stacey Ballis
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  August 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Eloise is happy with her life as a successful private chef. She has her clients, her corgi, and a recipe for the world’s most perfect chocolate cream pie. What more could she need? But when her long-lost trio of high school friends reunites, Eloise realizes how lonely she really is. 

Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa revamp their senior-class assignment and dare one another to create a list of things to accomplish by the time they each turn forty in a few months. Control freak Lynne has to get a dog, Teresa has to spice up her marriage, and Eloise has to start dating again. 

Enter Shawn, a hunky ex-athlete and the first man Eloise could see herself falling for. Suddenly forty doesn’t seem so lonely—until a chance encounter threatens the budding romance and reveals the true colors of her friends. Will the bucket listers make it to forty still speaking to one another? Or do some friendships come with an expiration date? (publisher)

My take:  Stacey Ballis sets her novels in Chicago and makes delicious food a major part of the main character’s life – she’s usually an amazing cook. How to Change a Life is the story of Eloise. She’s looking at forty and fairly consumed by her life as a professional cook for a wonderful family and one very nice older man. She would do anything for all of them as they would for her. That’s just how she is. When she reconnects with her two best friends from high school at the funeral of their favorite teacher her life gets an unexpected tweak. The three end up in a challenge to meet a few goals before they turn forty. This has mixed results but they all receive the benefit of their efforts. I loved El and how she showed the people in her life that they were special to her through her actions. The bet she makes with her friends forces her to let down her guard that has protected her since she came home from France with a broken heart. And that opens her life up to wonderful new possibilities. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves a big-hearted protagonist, foodie fiction, and a good story. Readers Guide and recipes are included!


 

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Wedding Girl by Stacey Ballis

  • wedding girl (5:19 blog tour)Title:  Wedding Girl: A Novel
  • Author:  Stacey Ballis
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  May 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Top pastry chef Sophie Bernstein and her sommelier fiancé were set to have Chicago’s culinary wedding of the year…until the groom eloped with someone else in a very public debacle, leaving Sophie splashed across the tabloids—fifty grand in debt on her dream wedding and one-hundred percent screwed on her dream life. The icing on the cake was when she lost her job and her home…
 
Laying low, Sophie moves in with her grandmother, Bubbles. That way, she can keep Bubbles and her sweater-wearing pug company and nurse her broken heart. But when Sophie gets a part-time job at the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery, she finds herself up to her elbows in dough and reluctantly giving a wedding cake customer advice on everything from gift bags to guest accommodations. Before she knows it, she’s an online wedding planner. It’s not mousse and macarons, but it pays the bills. But with the arrival of unexpected personal and professional twists, Sophie wonders if she’s really moving forward—or starting over from scratch…  (publisher)

My take: Sophie and her grandmother love an evening spent on the couch watching an old black and white movie. That’s kind of what this novel reminded me of – an entertaining and sweet, feel-good movie.

For the most part I really liked Sophie and I loved Bubbles, her grandmother. Bubbles added colorful comedy to Sophie’s world. She also kept her grounded while Sophie’s entire world  threw her curveballs. Her life does a 180° turn in the opening pages of the novel when her fiancé doesn’t show for their wedding. She’s left holding the bill for the extravagant wedding and eventually loses her job thus setting the plot up for the novel. And that’s just the start of the changes Sophie will deal with. I was cheering her on all the way.

I enjoyed Stacey Ballis’s novel about second chances, reconfigured futures, and unexpected possibilities. Filled with fun secondary characters, cozy Chicago neighborhoods, and fabulous food (and recipes) Wedding Girl was my kind of book. I recommend it to fans of the author, romantic stories, and foodie fiction.

Good Enough To Eat by Stacey Ballis

TItle:  Good Enough To Eat

Author:  Stacey Ballis

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  September 2010 – Berkley

My take:  Melanie lost half her body weight and then lost her husband – to her best friend who is twice Mel’s new size.  Mel already had a new business in the works so when the divorce was final she used her settlement to buy a condo and moved on with her life. She’d been a lawyer but now used her new healthy lifestyle as the basis for her business – Dining By Design – a healthy food take-away store.

The employees of Dining By Design are more than coworkers to Melanie. They’ve all had their own struggles in life and offer  each other unconditional support. I truly enjoyed each character and the depth they added to the novel.

Melanie knew she needed to work through her trust issues – especially with men. She found a chance to do that with a handsome filmmaker.  She also had Carey, a diet/nutrition coach who guided her along the way. Everyone should have a Carey – she really helped Melanie maintain balance in her life .

I really liked this novel. I could relate to Mel’s food issues and I liked the Chicago setting. I think fans of chick lit will enjoy Good Enough to Eat. A treat for readers: recipes!

Source:  Giveaway win.