Synopses & Reviews
Stacey Ballis cooks up a delicious broth of a novel about a woman whose perfect life falls apart in spectacular fashion--leaving her with a house to restore, an antique cookbook (but no cooking talent), and one very unhappy schnauzer. For fans of Jen Lancaster, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin. and#160;and#160;
To an outside observer, Anneke Stroudt is a messand#151;her shirts are stained, her fingernails stubby, her language colorful. But, despite her flaws, Annekeand#8217;s life is close to perfect. She has a beautiful historic house to restore and a loving fiancand#233; who cooks like a dream.
Until Annekeand#8217;s charmed existence falls apart when she loses both her job and her future husband in one terrible day. In need of a new start, she packs up her disgruntled schnauzer and moves into her half-finished home, where she throws her pent-up frustrationand#151;and what little savings she hasand#151;into finishing the renovation.
But at the first step into the houseand#8217;s overhaul, Anneke is sidetracked when she discovers a mysterious leather-bound book, long hidden away, filled with tempting recipes and steamy secrets from Emma Ditmore-Smythe, the cook for the houseand#8217;s original owners. Slowly, with the help of some delicious food and Emmaand#8217;s life lessons, Anneke begins to realize that, just like a flawless recipe, sheand#8217;s been waiting for the right ingredients to cook up a perfect life all alongand#133;
and#147;With the perfect blend of humor and heart, Ballisand#8217;s writing is powerfully honest and genuinely hilarious.and#8221;--Jen Lancaster
Melanie Hoffman and her husband Andrew have been happily married for almost 10 years but when Melanie slims down to a trim size 6 after once tipping the scale at 290 pounds her hubby leaves her for another chubby lady. Now divorced the 39 year old finds solace in her successful Chicago restaurant serving healthy gourmet fare. She has a small support group there consisting of her energetic gay sous chef Kai a ballsy part time cook Delia and her new roomie a 24 year old whimsical vagabond named Nadia. As Melanie slowly sweeps up the crumbs of fallen love she finds Nathan and the handsome documentary filmmaker helps her overcome her body image issues. Ballis's (The Spinster Sisters) use of the enjoyment of cooking and eating as a continuous theme with featured recipes in the back is a nice addition but the heart of her book lies within the jagged mind of Melanie and her daily struggle that most women fat or thin endure. Women will savor the brutal honesty of how Melanie sees her body her battles with food her failed marriage and her fear of new love. (Sept.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"Melanie Hoffman and her husband Andrew have been happily married for almost 10 years but when Melanie slims down to a trim size 6 after once tipping the scale at 290 pounds, her hubby leaves her for another chubby lady. Now divorced, the 39 year-old finds solace in her successful Chicago restaurant serving healthy gourmet fare. She has a small support group there consisting of her energetic, gay sous chef, Kai, a ballsy part-time cook, Delia, and her new roomie, a 24-year-old whimsical vagabond named Nadia. As Melanie slowly sweeps up the crumbs of fallen love, she finds Nathan and the handsome documentary filmmaker helps her overcome her body image issues. Ballis's (The Spinster Sisters) use of the enjoyment of cooking and eating as a continuous theme with featured recipes in the back is a nice addition, but the heart of her book lies within the jagged mind of Melanie and her daily struggle that most women, fat or thin, endure. Women will savor the brutal honesty of how Melanie sees her body, her battles with food, her failed marriage, and her fear of new love.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
“Stacey Ballis knows her readers like books smart and funny—and she always delivers.”—Laurie Gwen Shapiro, author of The Matzo Ball Heiress
“Stacey Ballis is warm, witty and wise…Her books suck you in and won’t let you go.”—Cara Lockwood, author of I Do But I Don’t
“Wickedly funny and brutally honest, Stacey Ballis is the thinking woman’s writer.” —Jennifer O’Connell, author of Off the Record
“Stacey Ballis dishes up another fabulous and soul-satisfying meal in her newest novel. With the perfect blend of humor and heart, Ballis' writing is powerfully honest and genuinely hilarious, and embodies everything I love about contemporary women's fiction. Off the Menu is an irresistibly delicious five-course read!”--Jen Lancaster, New York Times Bestselling Author
“Witty and tender, brash and seriously clever, Stacey Ballis’ characters are our friends, our neighbors or, in some cases, that sardonic colleague the next cubicle over…Her storytelling will have you alternately turning pages and calling your friends urging them to come along for the ride. And in Stacey Ballis’ talented hands, oh what a wonderful ride it is.” --Elizabeth Flock, New York Times Bestselling Author
"Stacey Ballis knows her readers like books smart and funny—and she always delivers." --Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Author of Brand X: The Boyfriend Account
"A wonderfully joyful ode to good food, best friends, tough choices and great love. Off the Menu = one delicious read...that comes complete with recipes! So much fun." --Alison Pace, author of You Tell Your Dog First
Praise forand#160;OUT TO LUNCH
"Ballis delves again into foodie womenand#8217;s lit with flavorful results. Some of the story's pleasure derives from the sheer Pinterest-quality abundance of goodsand#8212;cookies, cashmere andand#160;Chicagoand#160;restaurants abound. A recipe index is offered for aspiring chefs. But Ballis has real things to say about relationships and grief, and at its best, this book is honest and touching. A cozy meal, with dessert."and#8212;Kirkus Reviews
"A unique and satisfying story which slowly gains momentum like a carefully cooked meal."and#8212;Booklist
and#8220;Heartfelt and hilariousand#8230;.A deeply satisfying look at food, friendships and the families you create for yourself when you need them most.and#8221;and#8212;Jen Lancaster, author ofand#160;The Tao of Marthaand#160;andand#160;Here I go Again "A sparkling, heartwarming novel with all the elements of a can't-put-it-down read--a heroine you'll root for, unexpected plot twists, and dangerously good descriptions of food!"and#8212;Sarah Pekkanen, author ofand#160;The Best of Us "A funny and heartfelt tale of friendship, food, and how difficult it can be to open yourself up to love, youand#8217;ll want to devourand#160;Out to Lunchand#160;in one delicious bite. This is Stacey Ballis at her witty and chef-tastic best."and#8212;Amy Hatvany, author ofand#160;Heart Like Mineand#160;andand#160;Best Kept Secret
The last thing Melanie expected to lose when she went on a diet was her husband.
Former lawyer Melanie Hoffman lost half her body weight and opened a gourmet take-out café specializing in healthy and delicious food. Then her husband left her-for a woman twice her size. Immediately afterwards, she's blindsided by a financial crisis. Melanie reaches out to a quirky roommate with a ton of baggage and becomes involved in a budding romance with a local documentary filmmaker.
In this warm and often laugh-out-loud novel, Melanie discovers that she still has a lot to learn about her friends, her relationships with men, and herself-and that her weight loss was just the beginning of an amazing journey that will transform her life from the inside out..
Stacey Ballis tackles home improvement and reality TV—and reminds us that sometimes life and love are better left unscripted…
What do you get when you give two hopeful singles fashion consultants and interior designers, allow them four days to perk up each other’s homes and get a total style overhaul, then let their single friends celebrate the results at a fabulous party? You get Swap/Meet, the newest reality show on the network block, where major changes are either embraced or embarrassing—and Lily Allen’s dream job turned nightmare.
At first, Lily was thrilled to appear on Swap/Meet. What better way for a Chicago interior designer to promote her business and enjoy some pseudo-celebrity? She just didn’t think she’d be doing take after take with the ditzy host, dodging sabotage attempts, and getting caught in the middle of the fashion czars’ lovers’ spat. Plus, the cute, curmudgeonly carpenter on her team knows just how to push her buttons. Episode by episode, through do-it-yourself disasters and matchmaking miracles, Lily discovers that a little bit of controlled chaos is the spice of life—and love…
Jodi and Jill Spingold are the Spinster Sisters. With a radio show, speaking engagements, DVDs, and two bestselling books, they've built a thriving cottage industry helping other single women find happiness. Their futures have never been brighter-until Jill turns out the lights on Jodi by announcing her engagement.
Jodi is stunned. How can they be the Spinster Sisters if one of them is married? Complicating things is her own love life, involving three vastly different paramours offering three different kinds of happiness-none of which Jodi is sure she wants. And her ex-husband, backed by his lawyer girlfriend, may be angling for a piece of the Spinster Sisters empire.
Now, Jodi must make some tough decisions, keep the business afloat, and get to the altar to stand by her sister-even if means that from now on she'll be single all by herself.
As the executive culinary assistant to celebrity Chicago chef Patrick Conlon, Alana Ostermann works behind the scenes—and that’s just the way she likes it. But with developing recipes for Patrick’s cookbooks, training his sous chefs, picking out the perfect birthday gifts for his ex-mother-in-law, and dealing with the fallout from his romantic escapades, she barely has a personal life, much less time to spend with her combo platter of a mutt, Dumpling.
Then a fluke online connection brings her RJ, a transplant from Tennessee, who adds some Southern spice to her life. Suddenly Alana’s priorities shift, and Patrick—and Dumpling—find themselves facing a rival for her time and affection. With RJ in the mix, and some serious decisions to make about her personal and professional future, Alana must discover the perfect balance of work and play, money and meaning, to bring it all to the table—one delicious dish at a time…
About the Author
Stacy Ballis is the author of six foodie novels: Inappropriate Men, Sleeping Over, Room For Improvement, The Spinster Sisters, Good Enough to Eat, and Off the Menu. She is a contributing author to three non-fiction anthologies: Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume, and Living Jewishly. She is currently at work on two new works of full-length fiction for Berkley/Penguin. She was an educator for over fifteen years in Chicago including teaching high school English in the Chicago Public Schools and serving as Director of Education and Community Programs for Goodman Theatre for seven seasons before pursuing a full-time career in writing and consulting.