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Off the Menu Paperback – July 3, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
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“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
"Alana Ostermann has a great job working as an executive culinary assistant to Patrick Conlon (one of Chicago's top chefs), great friends (including one with whom she has been trading some "special" benefits), a great family and an adorable dog — all of whom love her dearly. So what if she still hasn't met her Mr. Right? But when an online dating service accidentally matches her up with a sweet, sexy transplanted Tennessean named RJ, Alana begins to think she may have found the missing ingredient in the recipe for a perfect life. Readers hungry for cleverly written contemporary romances will definitely want to order Off the Menu."—Chicago Tribune
“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
"ENTICING. Ballis writes a bit like Emily Giffin and Isabel Wolff, and the recipes will please gal foodies as well."—Booklist
"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
"Stacey Ballis knows her readers like books smart and funny—and she always delivers."—Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Author of Brand X: The Boyfriend Account
About the Author
Stacey Ballis is the author of ten foodie novels: Inappropriate Men, Sleeping Over, Room for Improvement, The Spinster Sisters, Good Enough to Eat, Off the Menu, Out to Lunch, Recipe for Disaster, Wedding Girl, and How to Change a Life. She is a contributing author to three nonfiction 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.
Top customer reviews
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My biggest beef is the main character, Alana. I spent an excrutiating twenty-or-so chapters with her and felt no connection whatsoever. She has no problems, she meets the perfect guy a few chapters in, and she has a personality that seems to be constructed of pieces of every chick-lit character in history. RJ, the wonderful stud that enters her life, is just as dull.
What's odd is the way the first half of the book is written, you expect for RJ to turn into a major creep (I was betting on stalker serial-killer...or a con-man who stole someone's identity). I was actively rooting against them to end up together, I expected for her to end up with her boss or to be single at the end of the book.
I don't want to tear apart someone's work, but the top review raves about how wonderful this book is, hopefully this will help keep you from wasting ten bucks. Don't buy this book, it's unmemborable and dull.
There are way too many fringe characters, each with their own back story which has very little to do with the primary action and characters. So many nieces and nephews, for example, that even the author can't remember- she contradicts herself with the youngest nephew's name and age within 2 pages. It's distracting and superfluous.
With all this other stuff going on it's really hard to know who and what is important for the 1st half of the story, and I didn't end up getting attached to Alana like I should have until chapter 22 or so out of 25.
This is my 3rd Stacey Ballis book and probably the last, as it's been so hard to stay involved.
p.s. Personal pet peeve vent - why don't her editors teach her what a semicolon is and when to use it?
I so enjoy SB'swriting style. I love that she writes strong, independent, successful women that have great friends and an immense love of food. To be honest, I cannot get enough of the food- it is written visually and I can taste everything she describes (and want to cook it as well).
OffThe Menu Was a bit different from so many chick lit books- Alana met a great guy (almost too great- seemed to have no flaws) and the relationship was solid and sailed off to where you would want. I kept waiting for something ad to happen butt did not.
The difference here was that her struggle was all about balancing her life and her job. Her love-almost hate relationship with her boss, Patrick was a GREAT story. To some it may seem insane that she would allow him to take advantage of her the way did, but it happens (been there done that but NOT to that extreme). I LOVED Patrick. I loved that he adored her but knew no boundaries ( probably because Alana never established tem). I loved his relationship with her family and his pragmatic view of his success. I could go on and on but you get it- I loved him.
The ONLY part of the book that really bugged me (and I actually skipped) was the list of 100 "reasons". YUCK: we got it at hello and it was too sappy for what I consider a sophisticated author. I m not going to give away the list of 100 since others might love it.
So, that's my review. I devoured this book as I did Out To Lunch. The food writing... Did I already mention how great it was?? Oh-! And I LOVED all of the culinary name dropping!!!!! Fantastic!
If you've read her blog, it kind of falls in line w/her meeting and marrying her husband - including a reference to the baker she used and where they had their rehearsal dinner [...]. Hence, the sugary-sweet, this-man-can't-be-real character RJ. And then the friend based off her real-life friend Jen Lancaster. So while it is fiction, all I could picture was the real-life people of which this book is based.
Basically, the book was okay; nothing exciting, funny or dramatic. You realize how its going to end pretty early on and the journey to get there was routine. Not a bad read, but maybe this type of chick-lit is not for me.