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Off the Menu Paperback – July 3, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
#2. The cover has chocolate cupcakes on it!
#3. Stacey Ballis's writing style is self-assured and wickedly funny, filled with one-line zingers that made coffee shoot out of my nose.
#4. The relationships Alana has with her family and friends are so lovely, so intimately drawn, you feel as though you could walk into any of their houses, take your shoes off, and prop your feet up on their couch.
#5. The glorious descriptions of food will make you drool.
#6. Your heart will ache as you connect with Alana and her desire to find a lasting, meaningful love.
#7. A dog named Dumpling.
#8. Your heart will sing as you watch Alana stumble across an amazing, grown up romantic connection with RJ.
#9. Recipes for all the glorious food descriptions included in the back of the book!
#10. Cat + Fly paper = Hysteria.
I was so enamored with this story! I loved that Alana was fiercely independent, but at the same time vulnerable and sweet. I loved that she wanted to find love, but didn't link her self-esteem to whether or not she did. This is a truly wonderful beach read...Highly recommend!
If you want to read a really funny, smart, well-wriiten book about a woman who has real-life relationships, complete with the accompanying real-life messiness, and better recipes to boot - do yourself a favor and read Nora Effron's HEARTBURN.
As for OFF THE MENU, I think if the protagonist weren't self-described fat and forty, I'd relegate this book to the YA section.
Drawn with rich and layered characters - Alana, her over-the-top wonderful/annoying/loving/asshair/compassionate/jerk boss Patrick, her frankenpup Dumpling and bevy of amazing and colorful friends - the story pulls you in and doesn't want you to let it go.
A true delight in ordering this read off the menu was in the satisfaction of finishing it ... and wanting more. If all "chick lit" could be this good, I wouldn't find the time to go to work. A stunningly fun read. Now, go out and order/buy/pick-it-up - and I mean now.