How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

How to Change a Life

Stacey Ballis

Perfect for fans of Jennifer Weiner, Jen Lancaster, and Emily Giffin: a novel that explores themes of friendship, getting older and love.

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A dare between friends leads to startling revelations and simmering tensions in the latest novel from the author of Wedding Girl.

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?

Readers Guide and Recipes Included

Advance Galley Reviews

I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review. I'm pretty sure I guaranteed my copy because I was really excited by the blurb. It didn't quite live up to my expectations though. This book has a whole lot of talk about fancy foods, and at first, the descriptions and rundowns of all the foods included in meals had my mouthwatering. By the middle of the book, those same descriptions and rundowns were becoming tedious. It almost started to feel hoity toity to me and made it harder for me to relate to Eloise. At that point, I got that she was a chef who made fancy dishes and was more interested in her relationships with her friends from high school and her new man, Shawn, but the food lists took me out of those parts of the story. There were a few twists in the story that took me a minute to catch, but I mostly caught them before they were revealed (which always makes me feel smart). One of those twists was kind of a big deal and led to me disliking one of Eloise's friends even more than I already did. The friend already seemed like a toxic person for her life, and that situation just really sealed that deal in my mind. Overall I give How to Change a Life 3.046738486 stars. If you're a real foodie, you'll probably enjoy this book more than I did, but it was still a mostly enjoyable book without being a foodie.

Awesome book. Can't wait to read more from this author

Great chick lit! I loved every moment. I can’t wait to read more from this author. Highly recommend.

Fresh and family friendly, I felt an immediate tie to the reunion motif, if not the personal chef recipes. So much so, I wish I had read the book in reverse! Book timed out just after the three made their pact of life improvement. It wasn't until that moment the book really began to take off and it was too late to finish...but I will resume upon publication and I suggest you do the same.

Chick lit at it's best. There are no surprises with this book, just a well written story about finding yourself, the power of female friendship and learning to love again. Throw in a few great recipes and food writing and you have a great story. I loved reading about Eloise and watching her grow into a confident adult-even at almost 40. At almost 40 myself, I could relate to much of what she was going through-even reconnecting with friends. Female friendships are so very important, you need a partner in crime to lean on when the life gets messy. I loved how Eloise's friends, even though they had their own issues, helped her become a better version of herself. A worthy read for anyone needing a chick lit book to get through these long Fall nights. The recipes at the back are a huge bonus!!

I loved this book. It was a fun and well written "chick lit" about finding your mojo. Three friends from high school are about to turn 40 and decide that they are looking to reignite the spark in their lives. It was a great summer read, and I would definitely recommend for a great story about the bonds of friendship and finding that spark again.

This was a sweet, breezy late summer read. I enjoyed the plot and growth of Eloise. All the food talk had me dying to make some of these recipes. I'll always look forward to Stacey Ballis books, even though this one was not my favorite.

"How to Change a Life...." by Stacey Ballis is a novel that centers on Eloise and her decision to change her life based on a bet with her two best friends from high school that have reunited after a favorite teacher dies. Eloise, Lynne, and Theresa make a bet, a "By 40 bucket list" where each woman has a list of things to better her life that must be completed by the age of 40 ( in 8 months) or pay $5000 to a scholarship fund. Eloise, an unsocial, personal chef, must broaden her social world, further her career and renew her former athletic life. This includes her love life- or lack of it. This book gets more interesting as it goes. I had a hard time caring in the beginning. As time went on it become more emotional and less about cooking. Though the cooking was interesting, it did dominate the book and was very detailed. It became more balanced the further the book moved along. I received this book from in exchange for an honest review. I posted this review on my blog and amazon.

How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis was a sweet, easy read about Eloise, a personal chef for an amazing family and a fun, elderly gentleman, who reconnects with her high school best friends. After learning about the passing of one of Eloise's favorite high school teachers, she reunites with Teresa and Lynne, who she wouldn't have been friends with if it weren't for Mrs. Conner. They find an old assignment from Mrs. Conner's class and they decide to update it for each other on ways they can improve their lives. They each have to complete the list by their 40th birthdays which are all on the same week. Each of their lists have things to get them out of their comfort zones and Eloise has been out of the dating scene for a long while. Until she meets Shawn at a Halloween party and they fall for each other swiftly. Everything seems like it's going great until she hits a rocky spot and worries her old friendship or new relationship will be ruined. A wonderful story about hope, love, friendships and lots of food, this story will keep you turning the pages while cheering for Eloise and everyone else involved in her life. This was my first book by Ballis but will definitely check out her other works. Recommend for readers of chick lit and women's fiction or anyone who wants a light, happy read.

This is one of those books you should read with your best friend, book club, or when you want an easy book to read that isn’t going to add more stress to your already hectic life. Something about the way Ballis writes lets you just kick back and enjoy the ride, as if you’re lounging on the beach and taking in the scenery. She has created some wonderful female characters that symbolize what so many women ponder or want to do when they get to a certain point in their lives. If they’re lucky enough they’ll have someone to share the journey with and within these pages Ballis provides a visual of how all that might shake out. Ballis allows to wonder what it’d be life if we wanted to change our life and actually took steps to do; is it going to be easy, hard or just a dream long gone? What about when you have those friends you’ve known for years; from when you were kids, high school or college? Is it possible to remain friends in the truest sense with someone that long without the relationship just disappearing or worse causing havoc in your life because somewhere along the way one or both of you changed and you haven’t faced it yet? This is one of those books that lets your mind play the what if game, wander over all the potential questions and answers that only women seem to bother with which is good because even while people gazing at the beach your mind still should be intellectually fed. You get to discover how hard but important it is to face your fears rather than stay in the middle of the road with plenty of laughs, fun, treats that aren’t legal everywhere and surprises the way only Ballis knows how to write them. Kick back and enjoy this charming story.

An enjoyable, light read that is perfect for summer. I loved the growth of Eloise's character and how the relationships developed over the course of the story. The food descriptions were wonderful and definitely made me hungry. I felt the food was woven into the story very well. This was my first book by Stacey Ballis and I definitely plan to read more.

How to Change a Life was a delightful read about the life of Eloise & her reconnecting with high school friends after a long time apart coupled with love, loss and changes along the way. I love the depth of characters in this book; very different friends, the people Eloise works for & her family. One of my favorite things in the book was the challenge the three friends set for themselves & each other that really helped them grow more & make changes to their lives before their 40th birthdays. It really made me think about my life & how I might make changes & challenge myself. The other favorite thing was all the delicious recipes described in the book & then finding out there are several of those recipes at the end of the book. Can't wait to try Eloise's Chocolate Cream Pie! I look forward to reading more from Stacey Ballis. I do hope she writes more about the characters in the book. I would love to read about where life takes young chefs Ian & Audrey.

I loved this book! Eloise grows in confidence throughout the novel and I believe she comes to know herself a lot better too. All of the characters in this story are totally awesome and I would love to have been friends with them all. Very enjoyable, summer read sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Sometimes you read a book and when you are finished, you have to think back in what you have read. For How to change a life, this was certainly the case for me. Was it a terrible read? No, definitely not. Was it a breathtaking book? Nope. It was kind of a combination of a sweet childhood story and a cookbook in one. We meet Eloise, a personal chef, working at a lovely family. At the funeral of a former teacher, she encounters two of her besties from high school. Nearing forty they realize the dreams they made as teenagers weren't fulfilled. So they decided to create a new bucketlist to fulfill before their next birthdays. In between all of her cooking (and the extensive descriptions of the recipes) we see Eloise grow in confidence and as a person. We also see that besties from high school can grow apart. In all a nice read, but if you are not a chef (to-be) it can be a bit longwinded. Three out of five stars from me and a thank you to FirstToRead for providing the arc.

This book was delicious! The story centers around Eloise, a 39 year-old personal chef living in Chicago. She has a reunion of sorts with her two best friends from high school, and they decide to shake up their mundane lives by completing a list of tasks before their 40th birthdays. This was such a fun, fast beach read. Beware, though, the descriptions of food may make you hungry. I look forward picking up some of Stacey Ballis's backlist.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. I found it to be sweet and appealingly charming. El is a personal chef who lives a simple, quiet life. She reconnects with old high school friends when she attends the funeral of a beloved teacher. While in school their teacher assigned the girls the task of imagining themselves at the age of 40. They revisit their old hopes and dreams and challenge each other to make those old wishes more of a reality. It is the story of self-discovery, love, betrayal, and friendships. It is not a difficult read and I found the characters to be likeable. I love the language and tone of the book; there is strife and conflict but it is dealt with on a mature, kind level. There is no graphic language or scenes and I found it an extreme joy to read.

A wonderful, light, fun read! Very character driven and really loved how the relationships developed. This is a well thought out story about life and taking chances - a true pleasure to read!

How To Change A Life by Stacey Ballis is a light women's fiction read. Three friends reconnecting after many years apart, challenging each other to mark off some big life milestones by their 40th birthdays is a nice premise. Eloise, the main character/POV is a personal chef. If you are a foodie, or enjoy reading cookbooks just because? This might be the book for you. A lot of space is given to cooking and food throughout the book. I mean A LOT. I enjoyed this book, but felt like it could have easily been shortened by 100 pages (and this from a person that enjoys food and reading cookbooks for pleasure!)

This book started out slowly, showing Eloise's day to day life. She seemed happy with her being a personal chef for two different entities; a family and a single gay man. Then her world is turned upside down when she is reunited with two childhood friends. This is a lovely story about life and taking chances. I really enjoyed this novel.

Stacey Ballis has quickly become one of my "must read" authors. Her books are always filled with well thought out real life characters with everyday problems like you and me. How to Change a Life was especially enjoyable because it centers around three best friends who met in high school, on the eve of their 40th birthdays. I also find myself in the same boat so to speak. Our main character, Eloise is a flawed but very loveable and relatable character. This was a very easy read and one I didn't want to put down. I love the parts with her mom and aunt. Highly recommended to fans of Stacey Ballis and women's fiction. * Thank you to First to Read for a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

A true pleasure to read!!! The characters were likeable and tolerably flawed, and the author gives us multiple story lines to enjoy and anticipate. The dialog is fun and witty, and the challenges and obstacles are believable and relatable. A major plot twist knits the characters together. I have already ordered another book by this author. Thank you to the publisher for allowing me to read an ARC.

I immediately connected with this book. The characters were so well developed and well written. The food was deliciously described, one of my favorite parts of course. And I was entertained and my heart was emotionally involved as well. Perfect way to spend a few days of summer.

This was a nice, light, fun read. I liked the way the relationships were developed and I liked how Eloise's character changed throughout the story. It made me think about things I may have wanted to do way back when and I even reconnected with a few 'old' friends and talked about our dreams and expectations of the time. I definitely am recommending this to my book club and friends!

Delightful read. Three friends reconnect while attending the funeral of their favorite high school teacher. Prior to a get-together, Eloise comes across a senior class assignment which had students detailing how they thought their lives would turn out. Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa decide to update heir 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. Fun to read how each one tackles their bucket list.

This book was such a cute read! Perfect for the summer. If you're heading on vacation, I think this is a great book to grab!

An enjoyable read about food, friendship, and getting out of your comfort zone in order to achieve your goals. What I liked most about this book was it showed that it's normal for your relationships with friends to change over the years. Sometimes people who had a big role in your life when you were younger, aren't always going to be there for you later in life. I thought Eloise at times was a little too unaware at how dating your friend's ex-husband would be uncomfortable for Lynne, and was glad when Teresa pointed it out to her. Thanks First to Read for an advance digital copy!

I enjoyed this book. It's an easy read, perfect for the summer. I loved Eloise. It made me want to be in her circle of friends. Also made me want to cook everything that was in this book!

This was a great summer read. Wonderful story of three long time friends, all at a point tin their lives when they want something more. Add in some great recipes and food references and bucket lists that the friends all want to fulfill and you have a very enjoyable journey with some great characters. I loved the book.

A dog, food, romance, what is not to love? I enjoyed this book. Seemed like a perfect edition for laying out on the beach. Thanks for the opportunity to read this book.

Loved this book! It is definitely character driven. The relationship between Eloise and Shawn is great. The interactions between Teresa, Eloise and Lynne are very realistic-we all know that one person just like Lynne. Eloise's Mom, Aunt Claire, the Farbers and Lawrence are a hoot! But if you don't like a story with a lot of food references, this book may not be your cup of tea. Otherwise, don't miss this great story.

I really enjoyed this book. Eloise is a likable character who is so relatable. The story drew me in. At different times I laughed out loud and sometimes I even cried a little.

Great book about how we all change as we mature. A book that shows sometimes you have to be pushed to realize your full potential, what you can really do if you allow yourself to jump off a cliff and try. A novel that shows that love can be so very different depending on people and circumstances. It was an easy read, but with a bit of an abrupt ending. I am left hoping I am going to be able to look forward to a sequel of this book because I would definitely read it !!

Personal Chef (Eloise) reunites with high school besties (Teresa and Lynne) and dare each other to complete a bucket list of items before turning 40. Will they be able to let go and branch out without hurting themselves, or each other? I am not a huge fan of chick lit, but this one was enjoyable, and would make for a good beach read. Plus, I am a sucker for a book that includes yummy food descriptions sprinkled throughout hehe ?? Bonus: there are some recipes included at the end. 3 stars. Thank you to the author, the publisher, and First to Read for a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review!

I liked this book but I think that it lacked the typical Stacy Ballis humor. It just fell a little flat for me, although it was a good story and fun to read.

I enjoyed this book. It was interesting to read about the interaction among the friends and how their lives had progressed. I am in a phase now where I have more time to try new recipes than I did in the past, so I enjoyed reading all of the details about the dishes that Eloise made and appreciated the recipes at the end of the book. Even without the "foodie" slant, I still would have liked this book. I was happy to have a chance to read it.

Eloise is devastated by the news of her favorite teacher passing. The event becomes bittersweet as it is at this beloved teacher's funeral that she is reunited with her old friends Teresa and Lynne. Can their newly regained friendship survive the first major hurdle that comes their way or has time eroded away at their trust? Eloise, Teresa, and Lynne met in grade school and bonded over their birthdays being right around the same time. Their reunion inspired them to make a bucket list before their upcoming fortieth birthday. It was fun to see the three of them create and execute their own personal bucket lists as well as have an incentive with the donation to their late teacher's charity tied into it. Furthermore, it was interesting to see how each of them accomplished their tasks. However, this book was a quick read-because I skimmed most of it. It relied heavily on adjectives and every detail about every dish that was thrown into the book. The adjective "amazing" was overused to the point of irritation. Additionally, the author seemed to rely heavily on dialogue between characters for character development. Yet the main character still came off as juvenile and shallow to me despite the other characters repeatedly inflating her ego. I would recommend this book for those approaching forty or already over forty as the fortieth birthday was a central theme. Furthermore, I would also recommend this book for those foodie readers out there as the author went into great detail about every meal prepared in the book. There are even recipes in the back of the book. On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who may have shared the same feelings I had about adjective abuse and extreme detail. I also would not recommend this book for those who may be sensitive: there were sexually suggestive scenarios as well as foul language. Please note: I was generously provided with a copy of this book electronically for free through Penguin's First To Read program.

This was a very good women's fiction read. The story of a friendship coming together after many years, as the lives of the 3 main characters has changed in between, is so well drawn. Lives change, goals are met, unmet, reformed and personalities stay the same. The device of the bet before the 40th birthday is a good one to set things in motion in a specified time period. Eloise is forced to confront her past choices and has to act- in many different ways to meet the terms of the bet. She opens herself up to all sorts of new relationships- that go beyond the surface ones she has had up to this point. She finds love despite being closed of to it. She finds family in many places and realizes that she can have the family she wants. Teresa also grows through the bet- trying new foods, new activities and enhances her busy family life. Lynne changes the least and reminds us all that there are people we were close to - for whatever reason, and yet cannot maintain that closeness- through their own devices, not ours, We do gain from our old friendships, but sometimes we do have to move on. Lynne is "left behind" because she doesn't change- the bet is just another check off list for her. I enjoyed the late in life romance between Glenn and Eloise's mother - hope that life does go gone after tragedy. The recipes were an added bonus and the use of food in the book was well done. I really enjoyed reading the book and liked the characters a lot. Thanks to First to Read for the opportunity to read this one.

Thank you First To Read for giving me the opportunity to read How to Change A Life by Stacey Ballis in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book and it is an easy read. Through the story of Eloise we see her grow as a person in just a few months after she reconnects with friends from her high school days. With the three of them soon turning forty the set goals for themselves and each other to complete before the big day. These goals helped Eloise open herself up to others and realize some thing about herself along the way. I would definitely recommend this book to others and can't wait to read more from this author.

This is a very good beach read! Or anything read! Three women reunite and make a bet to shake up their somewhat stagnated lives. They learn new things and meet new people that changes their lives in ways they weren't expecting. Especially since it is all on a bet! The main character, Eloise, is a chef for a family that keeps her busy and another client that encourages her to spread her wings a little. Eloise's Mom and Aunt are genuine characters that add warmth and sage advice to the story. Eloise's friends are a good balance and their take on situations help Eloise and the reader see some perspective's not realized. How the bet, the friendships, the love stories all work out is delightful and make for a very enjoyable read! I recommend this book. So grab a cool drink and a chair by the pool and enjoy!

I enjoyed this book. It brought up a lot of old memories and made me want to look up some old friends from back in the day. It was a solid 3.75/5.0 for me.

I really enjoyed this book. The best part for me was Eloise's growth...she really "changed her life" and was truly happy. She was a bit nicer to Lynne than I would've been!! The food references were aplenty...but I'm sure someone who is a foodie reading this book will love it.

This story was a little lacking for me. I thought it tended to drag on and really did not grab my attention at any point. I thought Eloise was charming, but really could not get into her character either. I think this could use for some more editing and maybe some better language, it seemed wordy to me.

I am a huge fan of Stacey Ballis and even though I was granted access to the ARC of How to Change a Life, I have already ordered a copy to put on my bookshelf along with all of her previous books. How to Change a Life focuses on Eloise, a private chef whose life revolves around her work, her family, her close friends, and her dog. Wounded by heartbreaking events, Eloise doesn’t realize how lonely she is until she reunites with her 2 best friends from high school that she hasn’t seen in decades. A long forgotten high school assignment leads to a bet. Each of the women must complete a list of tasks designed to take them out of their comfort zone by their fortieth birthday which is a few months away. Filled with lovable characters, this book made me want to move into the neighborhood, make friends with the characters, and share a meal with them. The only disappointment was that it ended too soon and now I will have to wait for the next book.

How to Change a Life was basically a nice story and I initially enjoyed all the food references. However, as the plot progressed, it did not seem to have much drama or conflict and merely listed what the characters were eating which became monotonous. I liked the story and characters overall, I just wish there were a bit more challenges or substance to the story.

I liked the idea of this book, that we should set goals for ourselves that make us stretch our comfort level to improve our lives at certain intervals. But I didn't love the author's use of words, it felt stilted. It was an easy read and I think I'll set some goals for myself.

I really enjoyed this book how three friends come together after the death of their teacher. How they each challenge themselves to better their life in a honorable way as their teacher would love them to live. I was able to relate in a way in how you want to improve your life!! So if you want to read a story that bring you to question your choice of life this is the book to read!!

First To Read gave me a great gift by allowing me to review "How to Change a Life." Stacey Ballis not only gives you a delicious story but also delicious descriptions of food including recipes. Three high school friends are reunited when their beloved teacher dies. The friends want to honor her by challenging each other to live the lives their teacher wanted for each of them. The story reflects the complacency in lives not experienced to the fullest and the steps everyone takes to change. This is a story that makes you want to explore changes you can make to improve your own life. Excellent book!

I enjoyed this book tremendously. All the characters were fleshed out and understood. The conversations and thoughts were engaging and well thought out. Half way thru I began to see this book as a great television series. I am not a foodie so didn't care too much about the descriptions, but love how it brought all these people together. This is a very positive, happy book. Nothing negative or bad happens. A world we would all wish to live in. Kudos to Stacey Ballis a fine author. Thanks fir choosing me to read an advance copy of this book.

I really, really liked this book. It's a sweet romance story and a relatable exploration of female friendships. I think the storyline of reconnecting with childhood friends later in life and the issues that can arise from that will really resonate with readers. Beware, though, if you're on any kind of diet - there are SO many delicious descriptions of food! And the addition of recipes at the end was too cute! Even though this was a light, fun read, there were a few parts that had me tearing up. If you're looking for a quick read that will keep you captivated until the end, pick this one up for sure.

Thanks Penguin for the advance copy! This was a quick, light read and the concept of friends reuniting after high school was very relatable. I really liked the main character Eloise and the way her character developed over the course of the story. The descriptions of the various meals were great too! The only thing was that the storyline felt a bit saccharine at times, and you could see the main "twist" a mile off. Still, a fun book!

I really enjoyed this book. I think a lot of women can relate to becoming staid in their lives. When Eloise reunites with her best friends from high school, they bet each other a series of things to complete by their birthday. Eloise comes out of her shell. Finds love, becomes more social, and works toward her goal of creating her own cookbook. She learns to live. What an amazing gift this group of friends gave each other! I think the boyfriend was very stereotypical with his race and some of his mannerisms and that there was a lot of predictability in some parts, however this was a good, solid, quick read that will be great for a book club to enjoy together.


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