Who is the Best Female Villain?

It’s my favorite time of year and I wanted to do something Halloweeny (it’s an actual word, an adjective-who knew!) for this week’s poll. Naturally, I started think of the best villains. Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Leatherface . . . notice a theme here?

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The most common villains are from horror movies. If you do a Google search, you’ll also get plenty of other villains, from gangsters to terrorists, but they’re almost all male. If you search specifically for female villains, they’re mostly from fairy tale, Disney, super hero and comics movies.

What’s going on here? I don’t think we as a culture shy away from portraying women as villains, but it does seem that they aren’t taken as seriously as their male counterparts. So this week I’m asking who you think is the best (realistic) female villain. Feel free to add your own if your pick isn’t represented!

 

The results of last week’s polls:

Which situation would you least like to find yourself in?
* On the side of an empty stretch of highway miles from anything with a broken down vehicle and no cell reception. 45.45%  (5 votes)  
* Any location where I was isolated and by myself with no way to communicate with others. 45.45%  (5 votes)  
* Spending a night in a derelict house believed to be haunted, all by yourself but with a working cell phone. 9.09%  (1 votes)  
* A ski lodge cut off from communicating with the outside world by a blizzard. 0%  (0 votes)  

* An Island resort cut off from communicating with the mainland due to unknown circumstances. 0%  (0 votes) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poll: Which Scenario Do You Find More Unsettling?

For this week’s poll, I’d like to know which of the following scenarios you’d find more unsettling – as in, which would you least like to find yourself in?

The results of last week’s poll were split 25% for each option. While I loved all the books, and found them all eerie and suspenseful, I chose Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. To me, the pages of that book ooze with sinister suspense. I’ve reread it several times, and have never been disappointed!

#Thriller in the Woods #Book Signing and #Author Event

thrillerinwoods1-e1539282021408.jpgI’m fortunate enough to live in an area with an incredible indie bookstore and some fantastic local authors who are kind enough to indulge the local readership with awesome events.

When I heard that White Birch Books was sponsoring “Thriller in the Woods: A Night of Conversation with Lisa Gardner and Lisa Unger,” I knew I couldn’t miss it.

Lisa Gardner launches her book tour in North Conway, NH each year. She’s a great speaker, super personable, and pens thrillers guaranteed to keep you on the edge thrillerinwoods.jpgof your seat! I try to attend any event where she’s featured, because it’s sure to be a blast! This time, the event was held at Theater in the Woods, and she brought a friend!!!

Lisa Gardner and Lisa Unger are both internationally best selling authors. They both write suspenseful thrillers. They’re both named Lisa. Put them in a room together and let the adventure begin!

thrillerinwoods2The event was in celebration of the release of Lisa Unger’s newest novel, Under My Skin, and the paperback release of Lisa Gardner’s novel, Look For Me.

The two authors had an incredibly interesting discussion touching on everything from their different writing processes, where they get their ideas, how they perform their research, how they got their start, and so much more!

Both women are wonderfully dynamic, and the conversation flowed with the natural ease of two old friends having a casual chat. I really enjoy attending book signings and author talks, and have met my fair share of bestselling authors in the process – I cannot stress how genuinely friendly and engaging these ladies are! If you get the chance to see either of them speak, do it! You won’t regret it! #TeamLisa

 

 

 

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas ~ #YA #Mystery #BookReview

40670509It’s been a while since I’ve read a YA book, and after my love affair with the Pretty Little Liars series, I was read for a ‘little’ something, and monsters turned out to be that thing.

This book deals with the usual teenage angst of family issues, feeling like you don’t belong, not fitting in, and feeling like you have to compromise yourself to satisfy the demands of peer pressure, among other issues, yet it takes it one step further with a murder, which creates a mystery.

The plots seems plausible enough. The writing is good, the characters well-developed, and the suspense keeps the pages turning. There was enough angst to satisfy my YA craving. It was good, but not quite everything I was hoping for. (I think my standards for this one may have been impossibly high.) 4 stars.

Ray Bradbury #ShortStories #BookReview

18305955Ray Bradbury was nothing if not prolific. An American author and screenwriter who dabbled in a variety of genres, he’s sure to have written something for everyone.

This anthology was certainly an eclectic mix, and I feel like it gives the reader a good idea of who Bradbury was as a whole, from his likes (Stan and Ollie), to his dreams (flights to Mars), his moral views, his faith, his time spent in Ireland, memories of his boyhood, and everything in between, this man must have always been writing.

Which is why I read this book. Each story didn’t just give you insight into the author, but also his method. The ways in which he made you identify with his characters, his tricks for endearing them to you, investing you in the story and making you care about the outcome even if the story itself wasn’t something you’d normally read. (And let me tell you, I am not a huge sci-fi fan, yet probably 500 pages of this book was about space travel and Mars colonization and a myriad of other subjects I’d usually avoid, and yet I kept reading!) 4 stars!

5 Forensic Tips for Your Fiction

I love getting caught up in a good, suspenseful mystery. I love losing myself in the world the author has created, book (or Kindle) clenched in a white knuckled grasp as the protagonist closes in on the villain. What I don’t love is when the author does a forensic See the source imagebelly flop.

Often times it’s a lack of research, a simple mistake caused by confusion, or a reliance on what is shown on TV shows, but it can jar readers right out of the pages of a story when they trip on a “that’s not right” moment. Conversely, going the extra mile by including some factual science can draw a reader deeper into the story because you’re constructing a more realistic world for them to get lost in.

I no longer work in forensics, and I’ll be the first to admit that my wheels are a little rusty, but here are 5 tips (based on my biggest pet peeves) to strengthen the forensics in your writing.

Image result for blood spatter analysis1) When referencing blood, it’s spatter, not splatter!!! This mistake drives me absolutely insane, probably because it’s so common. Seriously. From TV shows to books released by major publishing houses to those published by indie writers, I see this all the time, and it’s simply not correct. (On a side note, the cast off of a blood pattern can tell a detailed story of an attack – it’s worth a little research to bring this element of your story to life. ) Please, make my world a better place and tell everyone you know – blood spatters, paint splatters.

Image result for dna2) No matter what your sleuth’s connections, they’re not getting immediate DNA results. It just doesn’t work that way. If you need a way to provide a means of getting information into your character’s hands more quickly, check out what serology can tell you.

Image result for forensic burial recovery3) If buried remains are recovered in your story, either skeletal or in any stage of decomposition, the professional recovering the remains isn’t just after the body. Some authors include screening the soil, usually having the analyst recover rivets from jeans, zippers, etc. This is correct, but only a tiny fraction of what the process actually entails. The recovery person or team will pedestal the body, removing the soil from the top and sides of the remains, documenting the location of any artifacts found around the body, and screening the dirt. They will also be looking for insect casings, which can help determine the time of year a body was interred, and they’ll collect soil samples for volatile fatty acid analysis to help establish TSD (time since death). With a little quick research, you can make this scene in your novel or short story much more memorable and impactful.

Image result for fingerprint4) Any time I read a fingerprint scene, it’s so boring! And I’ll admit, fingerprint classification is tedious, but collecting them doesn’t have to be! Check out alternative methods (and the situations they are used in) to add a little spice to your scene. From superglue fumes to metal filings, there’s a more interesting way! (Also, don’t forget that other ‘prints’ can sometimes be lifted, like shoe prints.) But remember – fingerprints aren’t always present, and there are surfaces that do not lend themselves to collection.

Image result for evidence collection5) I’ve read too many books in which evidence collection is just a random handoff of plastic baggies. This is not true! First, the collection of evidence is a very detailed and controlled process. Besides everything being photographed in situ before collection, not just anyone on scene handles the collection. A chain of custody for the evidence must be created and maintained, with certain information either labeled or written on the collection container, including the initials of who collected it. Finally, the container will be sealed with a tamper proof sticker or tape that will not allow the evidence to be opened and contaminated without obvious signs. Also, what a piece of evidence is determines what is used to collect it. For example, a bloody shirt would be collected and packaged in a paper bag, not a plastic evidence container. I’d love to read a story where some really wild stuff is collected as evidence – imagine how creative you could get – or make your characters have to get to collect it!

What are your pet peeves that you hate to read in books? Do you have any items you’d like to add to the list? Any forensic question in particular that you need an answer to? If so, I’d love to hear from you!

Please introduce yourself and what you write if you feel so inclined . . . we’re all in this together and I consider you a member of my #writingcommunity! I look forward to connecting with you here and on social media, and am open to guest bloggers who’d like to share their knowledge or experiences!

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reed ~ #Mystery #BookReview

40605223It seems like I heard a lot of hype about this book, and how good it was supposed to be. Despite the mixed reviews, I gave it a shot.

I liked, (not loved), the beginning. There was something slightly juvenile feeling about it, but the character from whose point of view the story was told was slightly juvenile, so I figured the author was just following his character’s lead.

While there was an underlying feeling of creepiness, I felt more impatient than held in suspense. Three quarters of the way through the book, the impatience was for the book to be over, and when it finally was, I wanted to throw something. I HATED the ending. It seemed like a cop-out to me, even though I would guess that it was the destination where the author had intended to go the whole time. I felt let down. I felt betrayed. I felt like I had wasted my time. That said, the author can write/the book is readable. You might like it better than I did. You might even love it. But I didn’t. 3 stars.

In the Barren Ground by Loreth Anne White ~ #Mystery #BookReview

29243822This is the third book that I’ve read by this author, and I have to say that if you’re looking for suspense, she delivers! I didn’t like this one as much as the other two – I liked the characters and plot from the others better – but this kept my attention AND kept me guessing until the end.

The setting – the far, northern wilds of Canada – is almost a character in itself. It certainly makes for a creepy atmosphere.

This book was fast paced, well plotted, and sinister. Quite honestly, it almost bordered on horror. If you’re looking for a book to keep you up at night, this just might be it! 4 stars!

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn ~ #Mystery #BookReview

40389527I roll my eyes every time a book is hailed as, “The next Gone Girl.” Let’s be clear  – whether you loved it, hated it, or didn’t read it, there’s only one Gone Girl. Novels are creations; each should be considered on it’s own merits. Have you ever heard someone say a painting is going to be the next Mona Lisa?

Rant completed, I will say that while this book wasn’t the next Gone Girl, as advertised, it was good. Really good. I enjoyed it immensely, and was taken by surprise several times.

The story was easy to read. The plot was simple, yet at the same time, elaborate. The character was well developed, and her internal dialogue and memories do a good job of endearing her to readers, whether they like her or not. I felt myself rooting for her. And how can a mystery lover not love the Hitchcock references? This one was time well spent. 5 stars!

The Last Girl by Nick Twist ~ #Mystery #BookReview

38925046This book started off with a bang. It was creepy, suspenseful, and mysterious. What it lacked in certain areas was made up for in others . . . until it wasn’t.

What started off as a promising read slowly spiraled into something else. Something I didn’t want to read. I kept going, hoping that the author would recapture what he initially had going. Eventually, it became clear that wasn’t going to happen; would it be rude to say that the author deviated from a good course to indulge himself?

I gave this book 3.5 stars, rounded to 4 where applicable, because the author has talent and had something good for a minute there. It was action packed and hard to put down at first. By the end, everything about it annoyed me, even things that I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about if the author had delivered. Scratch the previous rating. Writing this review has made me realize how utterly offended I became over the pages of this book. 3 stars.