“While it’s well known that food and stories make for a great combination, Muffins & Mayhem takes their relationship to a whole new level. Brimming over with the stuff of life, this is a book to curl up with and devour.” JOEL BEN IZZY, storyteller and author of The Beggar King and The Secret of Happiness. Suzanne Beecher’s happy, loving voice has brought more than 350,000 people to her online book club at DearReader.com, where her daily column offers her candid, thought-provoking reflections on life, inspiring countless readers to look at their “ordinary” lives in a new way. By turns funny and poignant, Suzanne is the reassuring friend across the kitchen table with a refreshing, jaunty attitude about life, even in the face of whatever difficulties it may bring. Suzanne has had her own share of troubles to overcome. Left home alone at an early age, she struggled with difficult and distant parents, dealt with heartbreak, became a hard-working single mom, and overcame two substance addictions and a physical impairment. But along the way, she found comfort in baking and sharing food with her friends and family. She learned to take the good with the bad, and her life is now inspiring proof that faith and persistence are the keys to success. This beautifully written celebration of food, friends, and family will nourish Suzanne’s numerous fans and those who have yet to discover her simple, homespun magic.
I have one copy to giveaway of Muffins and Mayhem by Suzanne Beecher. Please comment on this post (include your email address), RT on Twitter, or comment on Facebook to be entered. The winner will be announced Thursday, August 5th.
The winner of Muffins and Mayhem is Jules McNubbin. Thanks to all who entered!
Jessica Z by Shawn Klomparens will be a good read for those who like chick lit with a bit of edge to the story. Jessica Zorich is a twenty-eight year old living in San Francisco, and the plot follows the chick lit pattern for a few chapters. She is trying to find love with her upstairs neighbor, trying to be happy with her job as a copy-writer, and trying to please her family, especially her mother and sister. But the plot takes a thrilling twist when terrorism is introduced, and the intensity is heightened.
When downstairs neighbor Patrick announces he has a girlfriend, Jessica finds herself a new potential suitor. Josh is a dark character, a lithographer with a passion for art, and the relationship between Jessica and Josh is fast-paced and borderline confusing. Hints are sprinkled along the way that Josh may actually be involved with the terrorism that is sweeping the US, and the conclusion is unsettling. There were times during the reading that I couldn’t take my eyes away from the pages, I had to keep reading to see what happened next. But there were also times where I didn’t even want to pick up the book, the plot was too confusing and spotty that I began to lose interest. I appreciate the edgy chick lit, and that a male author could write about the heroine with seemingly ease. An engaging plot, but not enough consistency to keep my attention throughout.
Melissa Rycroft is pregnant! The former Bachelorette star and Dancing With the Stars contestant announced the good news Wednesday on Good Morning America, saying, “Apparently Tye and I wanted to see how many life-changing events we could fit into one calendar year. From getting engaged, married, new job, and we are now pregnant.” Rycroft, 27, married Tye Strickland in Mexico this past December.
Photo Credit: Denise Trucello/WireImage
I recently posted an article on McDonald’s new fruit smoothies, and after checking out their nutritional information, decided that making my own would be the healthiest choice. So I got myself a blender, bought some fruit, and searched for a healthy recipe online. Putting in the words ‘strawberry banana smoothie’ got me pages and pages of link and ideas. And while I of course couldn’t read through them all, I got ideas and suggestions from many of the sites to put my own spin on my smoothie. Here is the recipe I came up with, and that I have been drinking faithfully for the past few days.
6 large strawberries
1 banana (any size)
1 cup low-fat yogurt (I used plain yogurt)
1 cup orange juice
1 tbsp sugar
I blended all the ingredients on low until they were well mixed, then added in two handfuls of ice and used the ice crush mode on my blender. This recipe made me four glasses, and taste yummy. I love the fact that I am using real fruits to make this, instead of a sugared up pureed blend as opposed to McDonalds. I have seen that people use different types of yogurt, strawberry was a popular one, so I might try out some of those in the future. Hope you enjoy!
The Cougar Club by Susan McBride isn’t to be passed just because you aren’t a cougar! A cougar, a term coined popular by celebrities such as Demi Moore, is when an older woman hooks a young man, such as Ashton Kutcher. The three characters in this novel are high school friends that drifted apart but are now coming back together, all in their 40’s and at a crucial point in their lives. Kat has just been fired from her cushy job and broke off her relationship with her younger man, and ran from New York to her hometown of St. Louis in need of the comfort from her family and friends. Carla is the top anchorwoman that is determined not to let a much younger bimbo steal her job and spotlight, and Elise is watching her marriage fall apart, convinced her husband is having an affair. The three friends tighten their bond and help one another through their separate journeys.
I found The Cougar Club to be a smart, witty, and thought-provoking novel. The characters are all extremely likeable and down to earth, making it easy to feel their problems and search for the solutions along with them. I am not in the “cougar” age yet, but that didn’t hinder my reading experience at all. The life lessons, love lessons, and overall meaning of what true friendships are all about makes this book a must read for chick lit fans.
In My Mailbox: Week of July 25, 2010
Title: Dating Mr. December
Author: Phillipa Ashley
Received: Danielle Jackson @ Sourcebooks
Synopsis: Emma Tremayne leaves her high-powered PR job and moves to the Lake District looking for peace, quiet-and celibacy. So perhaps it’s not the best idea when, in the spirit of “community-mindedness,” she agrees to help the local mountain rescue team fund raise by putting together a “tasteful” nude calendar. Especially since quite a lot of the community seems to mind what she’s up to-including the tall, dark and handsome Mr. December, Will Tennant, who appears to have gotten the wrong impression about Emma’s intentions. So how does she convince him that he’s more than just the flavor of the month?
Title: A Desirable Residence
Author: Madeleine Wickham
Received: From Sallie Madden @ St. Martin’s Press for review and giveaway
Synopsis: The asking price for this house includes a stunning renovation of hearts and dreams….Liz and Jonathan Chambers were stuck with two mortgages, mounting debts, and a miserable adolescent daughter. Then realtor Marcus Witherstone came into their lives—and it seemed he would solve all their problems. He knew the perfect tenants from London who would rent their old house: a glamorous PR girl, Ginny, and her almost-famous husband, Piers.
But soon Liz is lost in blissful dreams of Marcus, Jonathan is left to run their business, and neither of them has time to notice that their teenage daughter is developing an unhealthy passion for the tenants, Piers and Ginny. Everyone is tangled up with everyone else, and in the most awkward possible way. As events close in, they all begin to realize that some deceptions are just a bit too close to home.
Author: Lisa Unger
Received: From Amanda Parker @ BookSparks PR
Synopsis: Everybody knows everybody in The Hollows, a quaint, charming town outside of New York City. It’s a place where neighbors keep an eye on one another’s kids, where people say hello in the grocery store, and where high school cliques and antics are never quite forgotten. As a child, Maggie found living under the microscope of small-town life stifling. But as a wife and mother, she has happily returned to The Hollows’s insular embrace. As a psychologist, her knowledge of family histories provides powerful insights into her patients’ lives. So when the girlfriend of her teenage son, Rick, disappears, Maggie’s intuitive gift proves useful to the case—and also dangerous. Eerie parallels soon emerge between Charlene’s disappearance and the abduction of another local girl that shook the community years ago when Maggie was a teenager. The investigation has her husband, Jones, the lead detective on the case, acting strangely. Rick, already a brooding teenager, becomes even more withdrawn. In a town where the past is always present, nobody is above suspicion, not even a son in the eyes of his father. “I know how a moment can spiral out of control,” Jones says to a shocked Maggie as he searches Rick’s room for incriminating evidence. “How the consequences of one careless action can cost you everything.” As she tries to reassure him that Rick embodies his father in all of the important ways, Maggie realizes this might be exactly what Jones fears most. Determined to uncover the truth, Maggie pursues her own leads into Charlene’s disappearance and exposes a long-buried town secret—one that could destroy everything she holds dear. This thrilling novel about one community’s intricate yet fragile bonds will leave readers asking, How well do I know the people I love? and How far would I go to protect them?
Author: Robert Rave
Received: From Matt Walker @ Period Media
Synopsis: Waxed is the story of three relationship-challenged sisters working together at New York’s hottest waxing salon, catering to socialites, actresses, and regular folk alike. Yank. On the surface, glamorous Carolina Impresario—big sister and owner of Impresarios—unapologetically wants it all, but secretly she is caught between her successful boyfriend and the only man she has ever truly loved. Pluck. After a painful divorce, middle sister Anna reluctantly reenters the workforce and puts on a brave face while attempting to raise her children, one of whom is decidedly different. Tear. Newlywed Sofia is a hybrid of her two older sisters: She loves the idea of a domestic life like Anna’s, but is entranced by New York nightlife and a new best friend, resulting in some major complications at home. Amid the sticky confines of a perfectly manicured world, these three sisters search for love, friendship, and better versions of themselves. Waxed is a funny and heartfelt novel that illustrates the lengths to which some women will go to present a seemingly flawless exterior, even when it involves pain. . . .
Title: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Her Brother’s Shotgun Wedding
Author: Noreen Riley
Received: From Noreen Riley
Synopsis: “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Her Brother’s Shotgun Wedding” is the story of Evelyn Dunleavy, her close knit circle of family and city-dwelling friends, and the chaos that ensues when her oldest sibling, Michael, announces that he is getting married. In London, where he now lives, to the girlfriend no one really knows. And by the way…she’s pregnant. The rest of the story follows Evie over to London for a few months as the official family delegate charged with getting to know her soon to be sister-in-law. It certainly doesn’t hurt that because of his cramped living quarters her brother has lined up a room for her in the apartment of one of his groomsmen, Nate, that Evie feels an instant attraction to…despite his love of the music group ABBA, or the fact that he chooses curries over pizza. It doesn’t help that Michael still considers his sister to be off-limits from the advances of his friends. She comes to the quick conclusion that wedding planning can be stressful no matter which side of the Pond you hail from, and it’s always more fun to have your best friends around you for a bachelorette party, especially when the bride-to-be is seven months pregnant.
Title: Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo
Author: Heather Wardell
Received: From Heather Wardell
Synopsis: When Candice’s in-laws died in a car accident eight months ago, she lost her husband Ian too. After only two years of marriage their guilt and pain have left them living together but apart. During Ian’s month-long trip overseas, Candice plans to decide if her marriage can be saved, but when the first man she ever loved is the new client at work, she wonders what she truly wants from life and love.
Muffins and Mayhem: Recipes For a Happy (if Disorderly) Life by Suzanne Beecher is a part memoir, part cookbook of Suzanne’s truly disorderly life. With absent parents, a teenage pregnancy, drug addictions, and a physical impairment, Suzanne’s story of how to overcome so many obstacles makes her novel an inspiring and emotional read. While she highlights the many pitfalls in her life, along with the glory days of opening her own restaurant and finding her husband, readers can see her compassion for baking and cooking, and how her love for the kitchen helped her along the way. Suzanne is a beautiful writer, even comedic at times, but I thought the plot jumped around a little too much for my taste. There are so many events and people that she wants to touch on, that at times the characters got all jumbled around. I did like the many recipes she shares with readers (I hope to try a few out myself) and the wisdom Suzanne evokes. I would recommend Muffins and Mayhem on that alone, but it also is an entertaining, quick read that I think chick lit fans could enjoy.
Getting his start as a New York publicist working at one of the city’s most renowned firms, Robert Rave takes his behind-the-scenes view of the world of high-society and celebrity elite to set the stage for his light-hearted, witty literary adventures.
In his first novel, Spin, Rave chronicled the life of Taylor Green – a young corn fed publicist trying to make a name for himself in the cut-throat world of high-stakes PR. As Taylor finds himself in increasingly bizarre yet hilarious situations for the sake of his job, he is forced to weigh the fame and fortune he seeks against his own character and moral code. Dubbed “a Devil Wear’s Prada for straight guys” by Entertainment Weekly, Spin was acclaimed by critics as a must-have summer beach read, and established Rave as one-to-watch on the “chick-lit” scene.
On August 3rd Rave will release Waxed, an equally titillating novel which follows the Impresario sisters who run New York’s hottest waxing salon. Against the backdrop of this sexy yet taboo vocation, Rave tells a textured story of the three women as they struggle with relationships and strive for personal fulfillment. With equal parts wit, wisdom and humor, Rave layers in charming cameos by the many women (and men) who visit the salon, to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable read. Rave also launched www.youvebeenwaxed.com, a companion website to the novel. The site serves as a meeting place for women and men to share their often funny, and sometimes painful anecdotes of personal grooming.
Rave, recently named a Forty Under Forty by The Advocate, is also a regular contributor to the The Huffington Post. Rave currently resides in Los Angeles with his two French Bulldogs, Stanley and Freddy.
Bio written by Robert Rave
I went to the dermatologist today to get my first full body check. I have frequented tanning beds in the past, and do occasionally go outside without slathering on the SPF, and read in my Shape magazine that annual derm checks are a smart idea. I had also found a spot under my right eyelid that was causing me concern. Again while reading Shape, I came across a story a young woman had wrote in about her experience with skin cancer. She had a found a spot on her eyelid that looked like a pimple, but couldn’t pop it and it never went away. Months later when she finally had it checked out, it ended up being skin cancer. The spot under my eyelid looks like a pimple but I can’t pop it, and has been there for about six months now. After reading that article, I called my dermatologist the very next to schedule my appointment.
The first thing my doctor did was check out that spot. Luckily, I had good news- no skin cancer. He said it was simply a small cyst that could come from a clogged pore. Popped it with a needle, and it was done. Relief. Next came the full body check. I wasn’t even really sure what this was, or what I was going to have to do, but it was really simple. The nurse gave me a gown that I put on, and the doctor checked out my whole body- my feet, scalp, armpits, etc. He asked if I had any moles or freckles that I had noticed that were changing, to which I answered no. I actually don’t have a whole lot of moles or freckles, probably only five that I can see on my body, so I really wasn’t too worried about the check. But, with the UV tanning I have done in the past, I would much rather be safe than sorry. The body check took less than three minutes and the doc gave me the all clear. Good for another year, unless I should notice any spots changing. It’s important for everyone to keep tabs on their skin, that way you can tell if a mole is changing in size or color. Thanks to Shape for consistently bringing up the topic of skin cancer and the importance of getting body checks!
I was pressed for time this morning, rushing to get off to a doctor’s appointment after letting myself sleep in for a few minutes, so I wasn’t able to make myself a nice blended drink at home like I had anticipated the night before. When I left my doctors office, the first place I saw was, of course, McDonalds. They are everywhere. I had recently seen their commercials for their new fruit smoothies, and I thought that would be perfect for breakfast. So I swung through and grabbed a small, 12 oz. cup for $2.79 of the strawberry/banana smoothie. My first impression on the taste: YUM! I thought it was delicious, so good in fact I had to immediately check out if this drink truly was healthy. My taste buds enjoy foods that are not good for me: junk food, fast food, etc. so I thought there could be no way I was actually drinking something healthy. Turns out, I was sort of right. The McDonalds fruit smoothies are not quite as healthy as the ones I can make for myself at home, mainly because of the sugar content. The smoothie consists of a banana/strawberry puree blend, low-fat yogurt, and ice. Both the fruit blend and yogurt contain sugar, 44 grams total. The total calories for the drink were 210, but you do get about 70% of your daily value of Vitamin C from the drink. So it may be better to stick with the real fruit smoothies I make home, with my fresh strawberries, banana, and yogurt, without all that added sugar to it. The McDonalds version could be a good choice on some occasions, but probably best to stick to my at home blend!