Life in General, by Becca Rowan (@ravenousreader) #Review

About the book, Life in General Life in General

  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 20, 2014)
  • Paperback: 358 pages

Approaching her 50th birthday in 2006, author Becca Rowan decided to explore her passage into mid-life through writing. She created a blog called Becca’s Byline, and soon connected with other women who were exploring questions about life, family, home, work, and pursuing their dreams.

LIFE IN GENERAL is a collection of essays reflecting on experiences familiar to women in midlife: the empty nest, becoming a grandparent, long term marriage, caring for aging parents, downsizing a home, changes in the workplace, finding a passion for living. Readers will connect with these thoughtful, humorous, and inspiring pieces, and find new hope and ideas to make their own particular lives more fulfilling.

Buy, read, and discuss Life in General

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About the author, Becca Rowan Becca Rowan

Becca Rowan is a writer and creator of the blog Becca’s Byline. She is a senior editor at All Things Girl magazine where she writes about books, popular culture, and home life. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. Born and raised in southeastern Michigan, she currently lives in Northville (a suburb of Detroit) with her husband of 38 years, and their two pampered Shih Tzus, Magic and Molly Mei.

Connect with Becca

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My Thoughts

It’s not often that I get to review a book by someone I consider a friend, but Becca and I have been ‘blog buddies’ for years, and worked together at All Things Girl. Despite this, or maybe because of it, my review is an honest one, and, for the record, I paid for my copy of her book.

In a world where anyone can publish with relative ease, many people look down at self-published work. If you’re one of those people who recoils in horror when you see “CreateSpace” listed as a publisher, and therefore skip this book because of that, then I’m sad for you, because Becca’s collection of essays are candid, witty, beautiful glimpses into the life of a typical American woman, and as much as they are universal, they also prove that there really is no such thing as ‘typical.’

As a long-time reader of Becca’s blog, some of the material in Life in General, more correctly titled Life in General: an American woman reflects on midlife in the 21st century, was familiar to me, but her writing style – that of an old friend you’re meeting for coffee, or a favorite (and very young) aunt offering life-lessons – is so warm and engaging that even the familiar felt new, and the pieces I hadn’t read offered me wonderful insights into her personality and character.

But you don’t have to know Becca, or be familiar with her previous work, to enjoy this book. If you’re already over fifty, you’ll likely find yourself nodding in agreement at some of the things she relates – how her lifestyle has changed now that she and her husband are empty-nesters, for example. If, like me, you’re still a few years shy of fifty, there’s still a lot to appreciate. While her essays are exactly what she calls them: personal reflections, they are also full of ideas, advice, and little tidbits of daily life that make you go, “Hey, I should try that,” or, “wow, that sounds so cozy.”

More than just being an enjoyable read, however, I found that the process of carefully reading Becca’s work made my own fingers itch to be flying over a keyboard again, after weeks (at the time I read it, around Christmas of last year) of not feeling very ‘writey.’

And that’s what good writing does, I think. It educates. It inspires. It says, “hey, this is me and this is my story, but why don’t you tell me your story, too?”

Becca Rowan’s Life in General is really good writing.

Goes well with a pot of tea, a plate of buttery scones, a rainy day, and a dog or two to cuddle.

Review: Fixing Freddie, by Paula Munier

Fixing Freddie
Fixing Freddie
by Paula Munier
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When I was offered the opportunity to review Paula Munier’s wonderful book, Fixing Freddie: a true story about a boy, a mom, and a very, very bad beagle, I was excited. I’ve been in a non-fiction mood lately, and I love dog stories, so this seemed like the perfect match for my tastes.

Like someone already skinny who is taking clinicallix to lose weight, I was not disappointed. Munier’s first person account of her marriage, divorce, cross-country move, and first foray into home ownership and puppy parenthood is told with a blend of candor and humor that felt as if she was sitting in my living room telling me about her life. I could see her son playing video games, smell the roasted chicken that the dogs (Freddie had an older friend named Shakespeare), and see Freddie’s cute face. In fact, I was so caught up in the book that I brought it into the bath with me, despite my personal policy against reading hardcovers in the tub. It was that gripping.

Maybe it’s because I have three dogs of my own, at ages 10, 3 and 1.75, two of which I’ve had since they were eight weeks old (the oldest and the youngest) that I could sympathize when Freddie escaped from the yard, got caught on a frozen lake (my dogs have all done the former; my oldest dog has fallen into the swimming pool several times), or eaten something he shouldn’t (Miss Cleo and my chihuahua, Zorro, now at the Rainbow Bridge have eaten things as diverse as an entire t-shirt, the backs of my suede shoes while I was wearing them, the string from a roast, half a London broil, a stick of butter, and, once, all the topping from a pizza, though they left the crust and closed the box when they’d finished), or maybe it’s just that in Freddie we see the lost puppy in all of us – the part of our human selves that wants someone to direct us where to go, feed and bathe us regularly, and let us curl up in a warm bed, in exchange for mere affection and coming when called.

Or maybe it’s just that any woman who’s ever dated (or married) a man can understand Munier’s frustration with that species.

Or maybe it’s because Munier’s story is universal, and boils down to the search for a safe haven and a cozy home.

Fixing Freddie may be essentially a “dog story,” but it’s also a memoir about life and love and growing up, and letting go.

Even if you’re a cat person – even if you don’t even have a pet rock – you will enjoy this book, and come away from it with a new perspective.

Goes well with: roasted chicken, and a begging dog.