A 3rd Time to Die by George Bernstein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had previously read Trapped by the same author and I loved it. I loved the strength in his lead character and the way it was written. I was looking forward to his second book but I was disappointed. Most of the story and how it was presented was as if the author was trying to rush completion of the book.
Two significant sections of the book point me in this direction. First, the Ashley-Craig back and forth didn't have to go on for so many pages. If they did in fact feel that strongly for each other and nothing for their spouses, it wouldn't have taken that long to part ways. Really. I've seen marriages with more emotions than theirs part ways sooner.
Second, (and this was my biggest peeve about this book) the formatting was beyond wonky. You had a variety of symbols for text. I figured I would I just buy a copy on Amazon, the copy there was just as dodgy which leads me to think - write a book, upload and go. If the formatting had been fine, I may have been more tolerant of the characters. Maybe. We'll never know.
Would I recommend this read? Not at all. But to be fair, I know some of my book club members who are currently reading this book who have a cleaner copy than the one I was given. Their reviews might be better.
Offensive content?: Based on language and settings I would say this book is best suited for readers 13 years and older.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author. I did not receive any payment in exchange for this review nor was I obliged to write a positive one.
View all my reviews
Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Have you always enjoyed writing?
My personal feeling is that if anyone enjoys writing, they’re doing it wrong. I enjoy coming up with story ideas, and I certainly enjoy finishing a big writing project—heck, there are times I even enjoy the fine-toothed-combing of that final edit, weeding out the unnecessary adverbs and eliminating passive verbs, etcetera—but that first draft is never what I’d call enjoyable. It’s worth it, of course it’s worth it, but the process of churning out those chunks of words every day? At best it’s tedious; at worst it’s agonizing.
What motivates you to write?
Fear of failure. I’m inherently lazy, but I’m driven by a craven fear of not meeting expectations and not getting things done. Not counting the books I’ve ghostwritten, I’ve written six novels. Four have been published; the other two will be published at some point. There’s one book, however, that I’ve never finished—I wrote a blisteringly awful first draft maybe ten years ago, and I’ve never had the guts to revisit it. I hate that it’s unfinished. It sits there like a canker sore in my writing history. One of these days, that hatred will probably grow strong enough to motivate me to sit down, dust it off, and finish it once and for all.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing. Tell us where you grew up and where you now live.
I grew up in Spokane; I currently live in New York City. The place that’s had the most influence on my writing by far, however, is Los Angeles, where I lived for twenty years. Two of my books—Charlotte Dent and Wrong City—are primarily set in Los Angeles; the city is crucial to the storylines of both. If Charlotte were a New York-based actress, say, instead of an L.A.-based one, her story would be dramatically different.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
I’ve worked at a bunch of jobs in the entertainment industry—for instance, I was an associate producer on the E! Entertainment Television show “Talk Soup” and a production coordinator on ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” I’ve been a legal assistant, both inside and outside the entertainment industry. I’ve churned out articles for an online content mill. I’ve ghostwritten books. I’ve temped at an awful lot of places. I’ve answered phones at agencies, I’ve sold popcorn at a movie theater, I’ve mopped floors at a rehab clinic.
How often do you write? And when do you write?
I write daily. When I’m between books, I write essays and reviews for my blog, Preppies of the Apocalypse. Mornings tend to be my most productive time, but I’ve worked very hard to train myself to be able to write whenever and wherever I can. Flexibility is one of the most useful traits a writer can have; being able to mix up my routine—write in the morning, write at night, write on a laptop, write in a notebook, write at a desk, write at a coffee shop, write on a plane or in a hotel room—serves me well.
Who designed the cover?
The cover for Charlotte Dent is a wonderful oil painting by my aunt, Elsbeth Monnett. The subject is my beautiful cousin Katie, and something about her posture, her eyes, the way she’s clutching the towel around her body just seemed right for Charlotte. In the actual painting, Katie is smiling; Charlotte is not necessarily the smiley type, so the title bar on my cover is placed over her mouth to make her expression more of a mystery.
Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?
Of all my books thus far, Charlotte Dent comes closest to reflecting my life experiences. I am not Charlotte, but there’s some overlap: I lived in Los Angeles and worked in the entertainment industry, I was once cast in a play that was canceled just before performances started, I once worked as a legal assistant, I’ve taken some fairly worthless acting classes. I have a lot of friends who are professional actors, so I also drew upon their life experiences—bad auditions, appearances at fan conventions, long hours wasted on freezing cold film sets—to shape Charlotte’s journey.
When struggling actress Charlotte Dent is cast as a leggy killer robot in a big, brainless summer blockbuster, the subsequent hiccup of fame sends a shock wave through her life. The perks of entry-level celebrity are balanced by the drawbacks: destructive filmmakers, online ridicule, entitled costars, and an awkward, unsatisfying relationship with the film’s fragile leading man. Self-aware to a fault, Charlotte fights to carve out a unique identity in an industry determined to categorize her as just another starlet, disposable and replaceable. But unless she can find a way to turn her small burst of good fortune into a durable career, she’s destined to sink back into obscurity.
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Genre - General Fiction, Chick Lit
Rating - PG
Friday, 18 April 2014
ONCE UPON OUR time, there existed an abundant, sagacious old wood where misshapen time gambolled capriciously in the hidden furrows of memory.
In the distance, imbedded amongst the broad greenery roamed a young woman whose acute dishevelment painted a picture of tribulation. The torn black silky night gown that hung precariously on her slight frame, told immediately, that this excursion was not deliberate in nature.
As she continued on a pathway that to a willing visitor would have delighted, her discomposure was made evident by erratic movement. Her dark probing eyes darted to and fro upon the foreign landscape, as coarse scrub brushed against her weary body.
A plethora of wispy ferns surrounded the path, the gossamer foliage of which glistened through cylindrical shafts of light. Shadows were in pursuit, as the busy wood sang in a cacophony of scurrying birds, warning of night’s entrance.
She gazed up and saw a remote and distant sky, the blue horizon so unfathomable, that is could have been a faraway sea. Her legs were heavy with fatigue, but resignedly she sallied forth, as a somnambulist along an unchartered route. With only time, illusive as the shadow of a fleeting lover, accompanying her.
From afar, suddenly a figure appeared. The desire for illumination prompted the desperate woman to cry out, but her voice would not travel. Again she tried and again, but to no avail.
It was as if she were trapped within a nightmare, where fear itself had intervened and stymied all chance for salvation. Jumping and frantically waving her arms about, she attempted to attract the young man’s attention, only to fail, for he continued in the opposite direction. Sadly, a mass of thorny, impenetrable scrub prevented her from following him.
Apparelled in historical costume from a period long gone, he resembled a character from a Georgian novel. He wore a bright burgundy velvet coat, the intensity of which was exaggerated by the contrasting presence of a pearly satin brocaded waistcoat matched by a cravat wrapped up to the chin, tight cream britches, and black riding boots. He radiated a physical beauty that defied gender. Tall and svelte, his fair long hair framed eyes that emulated a clear blue sky.
The sight of this man took her aback. His concentrated gaze however, much to the desperate woman’s chagrin, kept looking forward. Breathlessly she stood shaking her head in silent despair as the ethereal figure floated further, and further away, until disappearing completely into the arcane forest.
The House is an adult fairy tale rich in mystery and intrigue.
Here is a tale of a woman so absorbed with historical novels that her own reality ceases to offer any hope of romance and beauty.
Until one day this dreamy idealist finds herself in a mysterious forest. How she arrived there is unknown. Soon she encounters a dilapidated house, within whose ancient walls magical rooms that transport to parallel worlds lie in wait. There she is transmigrated to 18th century England, where our heroine interacts with an odd mix of characters whose dysfunctional lives become immediately apparent.
Her first tribulation involves a nefarious lord, an archetype of the monstrous characters one encounters in fairy tales. The ramification from this confrontation sets the tone for the narrative.
A magic portal finally enables escape from the austere Georgian dwelling. She is then spirited back to the enigmatic house, and a journey to Regency London follows, where a large cast of eccentric identities present themselves.
Late one night, following a long stay in Florence, a young, heart-broken poet arrives. His introduction to the beautiful time traveller offers promise of restoration and love. But there are several more obstacles ahead before her destiny in this curious adventure is made apparent.
In the end an unexpected twist is revealed. But like all good fairy tales, this surprising conclusion is pleasing, even though the means of getting there are dark, and at times sinister.
Genre - Historical, Fantasy, Romance
Rating - PG-16
Have you always enjoyed writing?
I’ve been making up stories ever since I can remember. There was a period in high school when I wanted to become an author, but I decided instead to pursue a career in science. Still, I never stopped writing creatively as a way to escape and pass the time.
What writing are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my latest novel High Maga, the companion to Eolyn. High Maga is a darker novel than Eolyn, more entrenched in the brutal realities of war. The collective journey of the characters tests the limits of love and endurance. The story features some truly nefarious villains, and magic is used in terrible and destructive ways. This was a difficult but very rewarding novel to write. I am looking forward to seeing how readers respond to its characters and their stories.
What books did you love growing up?
The list is almost endless, but with respect to fantasy probably the most important were Grimm’s Fairy Tales and The Once and Future King by T.H. White. In high school I read a lot of historical fiction and historical romance, as well as science fiction and some fantasy. Many of those titles I no longer remember, but I suspect they still influence me today as a writer.
Who is your favorite author?
There have been so many, it would be impossible to list them all here. J.R.R. Tolkien has inspired me just as he has inspired every author of fantasy. I am also very fond of the work of the Nicaraguan author Gioconda Belli, particularly The Country Beneath my Skin¸ her memoir of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua.
Among historical fiction authors, my favorites include including Halide’s Gift by Frances Kazan and The Queen’s Vow by C.W. Gortner. I also love reading history, particularly women’s history. Some books that have stuck with me from this genre are Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starky, Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy, and The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev.
In the genre of fantasy, I have very much enjoyed the novel series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (although I have not yet read the fifth book). I also really like Patricia McKillip, especially her novel Winter Rose. My list of favorite novels would not be complete without mentioning T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, from which I drew much inspiration when writing my first novel, Eolyn.
What book genre of books do you adore?
My favorite genres are historical fiction and history. Although I do not pick (or refuse) books by their genre, these are the two I keep coming back to.
What book should everybody read at least once?
The Country Beneath My Skin by Gioconda Belli.
Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?
There is no genre I avoid consciously, but if I pick up a book and am not captured as a reader by the first chapter or two, I put it back down. Life is too short to spend time reading books I don’t like.
Lands Ravaged. Dreams destroyed. Demons set loose upon the earth.
War strikes at the heart of women’s magic in Moisehén. Eolyn’s fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.
Devastated yet undaunted, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. But even a High Maga cannot survive this enemy alone. Aided by the enigmatic Mage Corey, Eolyn battles the darkest forces of the Underworld, only to discover she is a mere path to the magic that most ignites their hunger.
What can stop this tide of terror and vengeance? The answer lies in Eolyn’s forgotten love, and in its power to engender seeds of renewed hope.
HIGH MAGA is the companion novel to EOLYN, also available from Hadley Rille Books.
Genre – Epic Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
It was the first time in weeks Dan hadn’t woken up shivering with dread. Giving up on sleep, Dan had pulled on his jeans and a tee-shirt, and tip-toed out the back door, boots tucked under one arm and the camera swinging from his neck. The truck started third go, regular as clockwork, lurched to the end of the drive and chugged passed ranches and through desert, and along the historical park’s neatly tarred tourist road. The sky was starting to gray out by the time he reached the trail leading up the mesa wall and he decided to put the kiva off a little longer to take pictures of the dawn.
Now the voice in his dreams echoed through his mind. He sighed and prepared to move on. His grandfather had spoken to him only once about the images and voices plaguing his sleep. Gruff and spare, the old man had confided that his own mother had been so gifted.
“Listen. Most times the dreams’ll be rubbish. Young boys got lots of big thoughts rollin’ ‘round their head. But you got to listen always, ‘cause sometimes it’ll be the spirits an’ they get mighty pissed when you don’t pay ‘em no mind.”
Dan didn’t like what his grandfather had said and he didn’t really believe in it. But he couldn’t ignore it. His mother had eased his worries with stories, long walks and lots of hugs, but that wasn’t going to happen this time. Dan was all grown up. His mother was long dead. He had to face the dreams alone.
Again the woodhen squawked and Dan lowered his camera to look across at the nest. It was then that Nick Somers stepped into his life. Rocks slid from behind, gravel and dried wood crunched beneath a heavy footfall, and Dan forgot both birds and dreams.
“You a photographer, a hermit or just plain lost?”
Dan nearly dropped the camera. “Shit!”
“Sorry to interrupt.”
Dan turned to see a pair of denim legs and earth-stained hiking boots standing behind him. “What?” He struggled to his feet, off-balance with the surprise of finding he had company. “That’s not what I meant. Where the hell did you come from?” He squinted up at the man, studying his face for a moment before looking past him. The stranger was alone and Dan relaxed with relief.
The man, his face shaded by a purple Minnesota Vikings cap, grinned and jerked his thumb back toward the main tourist trail. “Down there,” he answered. “Figured I’d have the place to myself for a few hours. That your truck in the parking lot?”
Dan slung the camera strap over his shoulder and wiped his hands down his thighs before resting them on his hips. “Yeah, it is. This area’s off limits to tourists, y’know. You’ll get kicked out if you’re caught.” He dragged his gaze back to the man’s face and noticed the tired lines that creased outward from eyes and mouth. Straw-blond hair poked from beneath the cap and disappeared under the upturned collar of an old college letters jacket. Thin beneath the jacket if the gauntness of the face was anything to go by.
The man’s lips shifted into a smile caught somewhere between not quite happy and wryly amused. “You’re here.”
“I work here.”
“Well, I guess I’m caught then. You going to kick me out now?”
Dan thought about it. He’d like to. The man had shattered his morning quiet; only problem was that Dan didn’t really work for the park. He was on the books sure enough, but only as a seasonal laborer and guide, and the season had been over for two weeks.
“This time you’re off the hook.”
They grinned at each other, the stranger’s mouth settling into a friendlier shape that altered the hard edges of his face into something more approachable. Dan decided right then that he liked the man and stuck his hand out.
“I’m Dan Tenney.”
The man looked from Dan’s face down to his hand and back again before he returned the gesture and they shook hands.
“Nick Somers.” Nick’s gaze stayed on the move, staring past Dan and at the dawn he was now missing.
Dan turned to the horizon and the white sun breeching distant hills. “She’s a beauty, isn’t she?”
“That she is.”
“My mother used to call it ‘God’s Picture’.” Dan heard Nick shift beside him, felt the man
direct his eyes from the landscape to him. He snuck a look. Yep, the guy was staring at him.
He felt like he was back in boot camp. Somers had the same all-seeing hawkish gaze as his old drill sergeant. His back automatically straightened, chest puffed out a little. He’d lost a lot of weight since his discharge but he was still in pretty good shape.
Prophetic dreams have haunted Dan Tenney since childhood, foretelling him of a life-changing event that is soon to take place. But before he can learn the meaning of his visions, he is attacked by a shadowy group of extremists: the Brotherhood of the Grail.
Finding sanctuary underground, an ancient relic comes into his possession and Dan begins to understand the path his visions have laid out before him. His quest will be fraught with an otherworldly people and an event that could tip the balance in favour of human existence-or disastrously against it. The mysterious Brotherhood will do everything in their power to prevent Dan from fulfilling his destiny as the Bearer of Ouroboros
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Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG-13