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Muffins and Mayhem by Suzanne Beecher Book Cover

Title:  Muffins and Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy (if Disorderly) Life

Author:  Suzanne Beecher

No. of Pages:  233

First Released:
  June 2010

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “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.”

Comments and Critique:
  Known for her columns, one chapter into Muffins and Mayhem and the reader gets a clear understanding why Ms. Beecher is so popular.  Her personality leaps off of the page, reaching out to readers of every age, shape, and size, and making Muffins and Mayhem a true pleasure to read.

Ms. Beecher has such a refreshing outlook on life.  Her success is definitely attributable to her ability to take chances and constantly try new things.  The reader cannot help but pick up at least some life lessons because Ms. Beecher’s “make lemonade out of lemons” approach to life is so infectious.

Being the columnist that she is, I could not help but think feel that at times, I was reading nothing but a collection of her columns.  She bounces from stories to vignettes and back to longer, more complete stories.  The reader never knows what the chapter will hold or how it will be structured.  For me, this was one of the detractions from the overall memoir.  I personally would have preferred a more cohesive structure rather than the hops and skips throughout time.

One cannot finish a review of Muffins and Mayhem without discussing the recipes.  Oh my, the recipes!  They are, hands down, some of the best I’ve read in a memoir.  I absolutely cannot wait to try them.  They cover all meals and cooking abilities from breakfast cinnamon rolls (I see a weekend brunch with those) to full-course ethnic dinners like Beef and Broccoli.  Ms. Beecher’s directions are simple to follow and specific, making them a delightful addition to the book.

In all, I found Ms. Beecher’s stroll down memory lane delightful and fun.  She has an amusing, irreverent quality about her that makes her seem more real and approachable.  Ms. Beecher is like the quirky best friend of the family that you are always happy to see at family events.  The reader will delight in her recipes, her memories of childhood, the challenges she has overcome as an adult, and her continued success.  At 233 pages, Muffins and Mayhem is a quick read, made even shorter by her conversational writing style and the short vignettes scattered throughout the pages.  If you are looking for a fun and engaging memoir this summer, Muffins and Mayhem fits the bill.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for my review copy!

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