Review: The Wild Oats Project by Robin Rinaldi

18525795*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: The Wild Oats Project

Author: Robin Rinaldi

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9780385681056

The Wild Oats Project

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The project was simple: An attractive, successful magazine journalist, Robin Rinaldi, would move into a San Francisco apartment, join a dating site, and get laid. Never mind that she already owned a beautiful flat a few blocks away, that she was forty-four, or that she was married to a man she’d been in love with for eighteen years. What followed—a year of sex, heartbreak, and unexpected revelation—is the topic of this riveting memoir, The Wild Oats Project. An open marriage was never one of Rinaldi’s goals—her priority as she approached midlife was to start a family. But when her husband insisted on a vasectomy, she decided that she could remain married only on her own terms. If I can’t have children, she told herself, then I’m going to have lovers. During the week she would live alone, seduce men (and women), attend erotic workshops, and partake in wall-banging sex. On the weekends, she would go home and be a wife.

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Wow this is quite the rush of a novel, and after a whirlwind read over the last two days, I’m torn about my feelings for this book.

It’s hard to rate and review this book because from a moral standpoint, I’m not able to get behind this author. I think her decision is a selfish one. I think it’s a wonderful thing for her to want to explore her sexuality and her femininity, to get to know herself better, to face her demons head on. But she wants the best of both worlds without consequence. She wants the love and support of her husband, and the passion and excitement of sexual encounters with other men. She asks the world of her husband when she requests the freedom of an open marriage, a request he doesn’t take lightly, but ultimately grants out of love. I wanted to see more respect on Rinaldi’s part for her husband. If her path was to explore her sexuality apart from her husband, than I think it needed to be as part of a separation or divorce. No in between world where both parties pretend like everything is ok.

On the other hand, I couldn’t put this book down because Rinaldi is clearly a very talented writer. She’s a story teller. Her style has an ease and flow about it, leading you into the next page. Her portrayal of her feelings and experiences sucks you right in. She’s a woman who’s not afraid to try anything and she puts you right in the thick of her year long experiment, no holds barred. Her stories are gripping and intriguing. She presents a new and unusual world as an outsider, learning and experiencing for the first time. Her memoir balances story with personal thoughts and insights, creating a contemplative structure with a quite, fiery power behind it. In her words alone, you can sense Rinaldi’s presence. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

But do I rate this memoir based on it’s qualities as a written work, or on the actions of the writer. Logic dictates I take the merits of the work itself, but my heart leaves me uncertain. I’ve decided to go with a solid 3 stars on this one.

Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

8138845Title: Still Alice

Author: Lisa Genova

Publisher: originally self-published, later acquired by Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 2007

ISBN: 9780595440092

Still Alice

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life–and her relationship with her family and the world–forever.

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I’ve read a few stories about Alzheimer’s Disease, but the perspective has always been the same: the family watching their loved one slowly lose their memories and selves to the disease. Still Alice was different and it was shocking and often frightening to read. Genova’s story gets you right into Alice Howland’s head as her mind begins to slip away from her, slowly at first, but increasingly quicker. I felt like this perspective was eye opening and really honest. Although a work of fiction, Genova’s novel made me feels Alice’s fear, her despair, and her confusion at the loss of those precious memories that make up a life. When Alice is lost or disoriented, I did too. When she was devastated, I was too. I couldn’t help but connect with the family as their mother slipped away from them only little bit at a time.

I know many others have called this book “clinical” or felt like it was “professor telling you the story” rather than the patient telling the story. I however, must completely disagree. Alice’s whole world is about knowledge and teaching. As a Harvard professor, she is driven to understand the disease as a whole. Learning about the disease in a more “clinical” fashion only serves to strengthen the story. It makes Alice real and it makes her suffering even greater. A wonderfully told story.

Review: Awakening by Rebel Miller

25796475*Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Awakening

Author: Rebel Miller

Publisher: Rebel Miller Books

Publication Date: June 15, 2015

ISBN: 9780994770202

Awakening: Book One of Kira's Story

Synopsis from Goodreads:
*Book is for mature audiences.* Kira Metallurgist has always felt she was meant for more. Hoping to strike out on her own, she sets out on a new career at a time when world goes through unprecedented change. In a system that is based on castes and predetermined position, Kira embarks on a tumultuous journey that leads her toward a destiny that involves two men who call to her heart in different, yet powerful ways.
Tai Corporal was born to a family of warriors. Like his father, he aspires to take on the highest military position in the Realm. A man of his word and with a stubborn sense of duty, he is surprised to find that all in the Realm is not as black and white as he thought. He’s even more surprised to realize that the woman he’s loved for years is the one who reveals it to him.
Gannon Consul knows the meaning of power. As next in line for leadership in his caste, he is well acquainted with the lengths to which the Realm will go to stop someone from reaching above their station. Gannon senses that change is coming. He just never expected that it would come in the form of the one woman who calls to him like no other.

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I always appreciate the effort, dedication, and talent it takes to write and produce a novel. Self-publishing especially calls for hard work and commitment on the part of the author. Rebel Miller has created a world hundreds of years in the future. A complicated political caste system is in place, ruling how citizens interact and where they end up in their careers. At the time we enter the story, the universe is in a turbulent state as the Realm expels one of it’s planets for illegal exploration. The government’s decision hits close to home for the protagonist, Kira Metallurgist, as her uncle’s family is forced to return to their planet. In tandem to this, Kira begins to make her way in the world. Her career gains steam and she quickly gains the confidence of her team and coworkers. At the centre of this story is the love triangle between Kira, her brother’s friend Tai, and the consul, Gannon.

I have to say, I was so intrigued by the political system that Miller has created. Setting up this community in a caste system creates strict dynamics between the characters which I would have loved to explore more in depth. Kira finds herself in a position of power in this system, close to someone influential on the inside, and able to affect change. Miller shows us Kira as she grows, gaining confidence in her work life and striving to improve. Other characters recognize her ability and urge her to push to try her hardest.

However, after reading Awakening, I’ve decided that the New Adult genre is not for me. I’m grateful to Rebel for sharing her story with me and giving me the chance to try out this foreign genre. I’ve been so tempted in the past to jump in and try New Adult fiction and I’m glad I did. But the overall style, not just what I’ve read in Awakening, but also what I’ve discovered in investigating other titles, is not really up my alley. My interest and expertise is in literary fiction. It’s what I’ve studied, worked in, and reviewed and it’s what I know. It’s what I’ll continue to stick with, but I’m happy that I’ve had the chance to branch out and try something new.