Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Life Less Ordinary by Victoria Bernadine (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Buy The Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for A Life Less Ordinary by Author Victoria Bernadine!

Author Guest Post

Good morning! Thanks for hosting me today!

I’ve written before about “casting” actors in the roles of my characters. It’s one of the tricks I use to maintain my emotional connection to a character while I’m writing, and especially while I’m editing. It’s a tool to help me visualize their ideal mannerisms and hear their voice.

Okay, it also helps me remember the colour of their eyes and hair – LOL. Seriously. I’m working on a new book, and until I “cast” her, one of the supporting characters had at least three different eye colours and kept changing from blonde to brunette and back again. Once I settled on what she looked like by “casting” her, it became a lot easier!

Most of the time I “cast” the actor based on the character. When I already have a firm character in mind, I don’t even need to know the actor or their work, because what I’m looking for is an emotional response when I look at them, the same emotional response I get when I think of the character.

In the case of A Life Less Ordinary, however, a list of actors was given to me as part of a writing challenge (come up with a TV series starring those seven actors). My online friend gave me Megan Follows, Karl Urban, Esai Morales, Meg Ryan, Gillian Anderson, Michaela Conlin and Kevin Bacon, and she was brilliant in her choices for me. I already had the idea of Manny and her mid-life crisis, but I had no idea what the story would actually be about. This list of actors caused the creative floodgates to open and I had each character outlined in about an hour.

That rush of creativity was a great feeling, but I also discovered that whenever I got stuck while I was writing, I could simply visualize the actors talking to each other, and the floodgates would open again.

I find it’s an easy trick for me to use to maintain the emotional zone I need for a particular story. Well, once I settle on the actor(s), of course. (I once had a character who started off looking like Woody Harrelson and ended up looking like Robert Downey Jr. He morphed just a little bit.)

What about you and your readers? What tricks do you use to keep the creativity flowing? What tricks would you suggest, even if you’ve never tried them?

About The Author

Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a “woman of a certain age”. After twenty-something years of writer’s block, she began writing again in 2008. Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody’s guess. She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt). A Life Less Ordinary is the first novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild.


Book Review

A Life Less Ordinary by Victoria Bernadine
Publisher: Love of Words Publishing Inc.
Publication Date: December 10, 2012
Format: Paperback - 371 pages / Kindle - 644 KB / Nook - 773 KB
ISBN: 099181021X
Genre: Chick Lit / Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: A Life Less Ordinary

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Buy The Book Tours.

Book Description:

For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. She turned her back on her youthful fancies and focused on her career. But now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house and cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.

After placing a personal ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most-read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-magazine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time. Leaving it all behind for six months is just an added bonus.

Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.

Book Excerpt:

“All I ever wanted was a life less ordinary.”

Manny lay flat on her back, eyes wide, staring at the ceiling while she waited for her clock to hit 6:00. Another day of work, she thought. Another day older and deeper in debt.

She had the alarm timed to the millisecond. The jarring noise had barely begun when she clicked it off. She sighed then threw back the covers and got out of bed.

She padded into the bathroom, glanced without interest in the full-length mirror that doubled as her shower doors and took her morning inventory.

Plain face? Check.

Looking tired? Check.

Thirty pounds overweight? Check.

Dark circles under deer-caught-in-headlights eyes? Check and check.

She shook her head at her limp, mousy hair and wondered when she’d gotten so old.

She sighed in resignation then conjured up her Perfect Fantasy Man–or Harvey, as she liked to call him–to give her a morning lift. She cocked her head to one side as she stared into the mirror and imagined him standing behind her. She smiled at the handsome man, and he smiled back, putting his hands on her shoulders. Everything about him was warm, in stark contrast to the cold shades of grey in which she lived her life. He had warm brown eyes, warm brown skin, and a warm smooth voice that always reminded her of golden honey. Today his hair was black with greying temples, and yes, even that seemed warm to her.

He was perfect, everything she considered ideal in a man–and extra-perfect, of course, because he was a fantasy. Just the thought of trying to establish a relationship with an actual man felt too much like work.

She sighed and Harvey disappeared.

“Instead I ended up in a rut–everything planned and executed to the minute.”

She finished her shower and padded out to the kitchen wrapped in a worn terrycloth robe just as the coffee pot finished perking her morning coffee. She pulled a white cup out of the cupboard, filled it and took it with her to the bedroom, where she drank her coffee while she dressed and pulled her hair into its habitual bun high on the back of her head. At 6:45 sharp, she was back in the kitchen where she rinsed out the cup and put it on the rack next to the other three cups from earlier in the week; they marked the passage of time like scratches on a prison wall.

She walked out the door at 6:55 as usual, called good morning to Mr. Abinash from next door, as usual, got into her car and drove to work. As usual. She walked in at 7:37, called good morning to those of her staff already at their desks, and settled herself in her office.

As usual.

She sighed silently as she logged on to her computer and realized she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a sick day or had come in late. Even her car and traffic and the sometimes-harsh Edmonton winters had given up trying to throw off her schedule.

She sighed again as she rifled through her stacks of paper, searching for the information she needed to review before the staff meeting at nine. The last staff meeting before their new boss arrived at ten, and Manny went back to her old position. She’d enjoyed being the boss and thought she’d had a good chance to win the promotion. If she was honest with herself, though, she hadn’t really been surprised with the decision to offer the job to Steph. If she had the energy, she’d almost wonder why she didn’t even care that much.

“I told myself it was security. But all I was doing was sleeping with my eyes open.”

Manny glanced up as her assistant energetically bounced in.

“Morning, Manny.”

“Morning, Roxie. How was your evening?”

“Great–went to that new Robert Downey Jr. movie–rrrooowwwrrrr! Phil wasn’t too impressed with my drooling though.”

Manny laughed. “I’d expect not. I guess I need to go see it then.”

“Yeah, sure. When was the last time you actually went to a movie in the theatre?”

Manny paused, considering the question then shrugged carelessly. “Can’t remember, actually.”

Roxie shook her head in exasperated fondness and sat down in front of Manny’s desk. She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “So, the new boss starts today?”

“Yep,” Manny replied absently, reviewing the e-mails in her inbox.

“Are you going to be okay with this? I mean, you–”

“Of course I’m okay with it. Steph’s a nice person, bright, energetic, competent, levelheaded, full of new ideas. She may have a bit of a learning curve ahead of her, but she’ll do just fine. She may be just what we need around here. Perk us up a bit.”

“Yeah, but you–”

Manny took her hands off the keyboard and turned to face Roxie directly. She gave her a reassuring smile and calmly held her gaze.

“I’m okay with it,” she said. “Really. I didn’t want to be the boss anyway.” She paused then continued. “Everything’s going to be fine. You’ll see. A new boss will be fun!”

Roxie grimaced cynically and Manny shook her head in mock disapproval.

“We should get to work,” she urged gently.

Roxie nodded and stood. “Yeah, that at least never changes. But Manny…”

Manny raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“It should’ve been you.”

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, A Life Less Ordinary, author Victoria Bernadine weaves an entertaining story of self-discovery that will keep the reader in stitches!

Forty-five year old Rose "Manny" Mankowski's life is stuck in a rut. After working for fifteen years at the same company, Manny is passed over for a promotion that she deserved. Feeling tired and worn out with her ordinary life, she's had enough. Giving in to her mid-life crisis, Rose quits her job, cashes in her pension, sells her house, and decides that she is going on a six month road trip to destinations unknown that will challenge her to meet new people and try new things, get her outside of her comfort zone, help her rediscover herself, and put some spark back into her life. But she doesn't want to go on the adventure alone, so she places a personal ad online for a male travelling companion who can pay his own way and share in the expenses.

Ezekiel "Zeke" Powell is a thirty-five year old freelance blogger with the e-magazine "What Women Want." Zeke's publisher wants him to go on the road trip and document Manny's adventure on his blog along with Manny guest blogging updates on her journey. Zeke thinks that Manny is a prudish, boring, and repressed middle-aged woman, and that the adventure will be a non-story, because he doesn't think Manny will go on the road trip, let alone be able to survive six months on the road. Will the six month road trip adventure challenge Manny and Zeke to discover who they really are, and teach them that they can live a life less ordinary?

This was a fun story to read, it kept me entertained as I followed Manny and Zeke on their road trip. What made their story even more entertaining is Manny's imaginary fantasy man Harvey, who is outspoken and engages Manny in an ongoing humorous banter. Manny and Zeke's adventure turns out to be a journey of self-discovery that will change both of their lives. While Manny and Zeke are away, their families and friends are dealing with their own complicated life issues. I found it interesting that the author would interweave the various characters' individual storylines so that her novel actually turns into a story within a story that kept me on my toes.

A Life Less Ordinary is a lighthearted and thoroughly entertaining story about learning to rediscover yourself and live an adventurous and less ordinary life.


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

Monday, February 3, 2014
Authors’ Cafe {Author Interview}

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
M.J. Schiller, Romance Author {Guest Post}

Thursday, February 6, 2014
For Whom The Books Toll {Guest Post}

Friday, February 7, 2014
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! {Spotlight}

Monday, February 10, 2014
Eden Ashe {Guest Post}

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
What Readers Want {Spotlight}

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Fundinmental {Spotlight}

Friday, February 14, 2014
A Chick Who Reads {Guest Post & Review}

Monday, February 17, 2014
Loralee Lillibridge – Blogging Across the Back Fence {Spotlight}

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The Most Happy Reader {Spotlight}
Zee Monodee – Author’s Corner {Guest Post & Review}

Thursday, February 20, 2014
Diane Burton – Adventure and Romance…in this world and beyond {Author Interview}

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Christine’s Words {Guest Post}

Monday, March 3, 2014
Inksugar {Author Interview & Review}

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Finding Fantastical Books {Spotlight}

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Christa Reads and Writes {Guest Post & Review}

Thursday, March 6, 2014
Margo Hoornstra – Writing Inside & Out {Spotlight}

Friday, March 7, 2014
Readers’ Muse {Book Review}

Monday, March 10, 2014
Jersey Girl Book Reviews {Guest Post & Review}

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
My Devotional Thoughts {Spotlight}
Booklover Sue {Author Interview}

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Sharon C. Cooper, Just Thinking… {Spotlight}

Friday, March 14, 2014
Romance Me {Spotlight}

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway


  1. Thanks for hosting me this morning! It's greatly appreciated - and I'm very happy you enjoyed the book! :D

    1. Hi Victoria! Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. A Life Less Ordinary was a really fun book to read. I loved the witty banter between Manny & Zeke as well as her inner banter with Harvey, it kept me in stitches. I was intrigued by all of the characters' personal struggles, you touched on a lot of social issues that are easy for the reader to relate to. :)

    2. Thank you! :D I had so much fun writing the dialogue. Considering the book started as a series of scripts, the dialogue was all I had for the longest time - LOL. Ah, Harvey - I adore him. I think we all deserve a Harvey!

      I'm glad you enjoyed all the storylines in the book. When I started writing the scripts, I deliberately set out to give each character or set of characters their own journey. I didn't want them to end up as props for Manny/Zeke and their story. Well, I was writing it as a challenge, after all, and I wanted to make it a real challenge - LOL. I'm glad it succeeded! :D