Book Review: How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

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Why This Book 
I won this book via a Goodreads Giveaway a few months ago. In my quest to finish reading all ARCs or Giveaways by 12/31, so 2018 starts off with less stress and a reduced TBR, I read this book over the Christmas holidays. I am quite glad I did, as it was a feel-good type of novel that really helped me prepare my resolutions for 2018.


Plot, Characters & Setting 
Eloise, 39, is a personal chef who takes care of a large, loving family in Chicago. She once had a promising sports career, but had to give it up due to an injury. Since then, she’s drifted, or at least thinks she’s drifted, due to losing connections with two best friends in high school and a married man she’d been having an affair with recently (unknowing he was married). When a former teacher dies, the 3 friends are reunited and make a pact to change their lives. They’ve given each other a list of 5 things to accomplish before their 40th birthday — all items to push their boundaries and emotions. The book is a journey to find oneself again after a number of years where life took you on a course you perhaps hadn’t realized was never truly planned.

Approach & Style 
The book is written in 1st person perspective with a focus on Eloise, the primary character. I read a physical copy which was ~380 pages, inclusive of a few recipes. 24 chapters average about 15 pages each, containing a beautiful voice of a woman I wish I could meet. She’s that wonderful.

Key Opinion 
With a title like this one, I had very high hopes. It absolutely delivered. Consider it a character-driven book, while a bit too fluffy / light in some areas, that will engage you on many levels. Eloise is a brilliant main character; she spoke to me as I begin thinking about my own life and what I am trying to accomplish. Like the main character, I turned 40 this year and had a lot of thoughts about what I wanted to do with my life. The characters drip off the page with love, sadness and hopes. There are so many clever moments, precious times in our lives we don’t always recognize. Eloise’s connection with each member of her family, the family she cooks for, and all the others she meets is heartwarming.

The plot, quite minimal, evolves at a slow pace as you read about Eloise’s every day for a period of a few months. It’s rare I enjoy reading about the very realistic happenings in someone’s life, but Ballis made it refreshing and immersive. I looked forward to hearing what happened on each of her 20 dates. I wanted to know what new social activities she would consider trying. I needed to be side by side with her as she wrote her cookbook. The writing is clear and direct — shows creativity and brings imagery to every page. I could feel the emotions within each relationship. I recommend this book for anyone looking to spend time with a beautiful character and just witness a normal life.

Final Thoughts 
I’d give this book a 4+ rating, as it was quite endearing, charming and inviting. I will definitely read more from this author, given the focus on food and relationships. It’s the type of book where you can let yourself go, immersing your thoughts and dreams in that of a character you will adore.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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8 thoughts on “Book Review: How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

    Mischenko said:
    December 30, 2017 at 5:22 PM

    Fabulous review, James. Sounds like a great book! 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    AJ said:
    December 30, 2017 at 8:10 PM

    I’ve added it to my TBR:)

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      December 30, 2017 at 8:59 PM


      Liked by 1 person

        AJ said:
        December 30, 2017 at 9:31 PM

        I will! I should be doing what you’re doing and working my way through my TBR rather than adding to it!

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        December 31, 2017 at 9:21 AM

        Good Luck. I’m sure you’ll get there. I’m hoping by end of January to be in a current place.

        Liked by 1 person

        AJ said:
        December 31, 2017 at 10:02 AM

        I’m thinking I’ll try tackling one TBR each week:$

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        December 31, 2017 at 10:31 AM



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