Stick Figure Fiction!! Hansel & Gretel

I would love some ideas for future Stick Figure Fiction strips. Just post in the comments and be ready for something that isn’t the story.

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Blog Tour: To Right The Wrongs by Sheryl Scarborough

Barely three weeks after catching the killer of Erin’s mother and their biology teacher, Erin and her crew are back, up to their elbows in forensics projects. But this time it’s with the full approval of their parents.

With Uncle Victor at the helm, Erin and her best friends, Spam and Lysa, are prepping a new classroom for CSI summer camp, where they will serve as camp counselors. Meanwhile, Erin’s super-hot new boyfriend, Journey, is graduating, just in time for him to take a position as Victor’s intern in the new CSI lab on campus. Journey and Victor are going to take another look at the evidence in the murder trial that sent Journey’s father to prison. The girls are under strict orders not to meddle with the murder case, but that’s easier said than done…

Praise for TO RIGHT THE WRONGS

“Scarborough has written an intense, engrossing debut. Readers will root for Erin to find answers, laugh at her friends’ antics as they play detective, and struggle to identify the killer in a plot full of red herrings and multiple suspects. This solid mystery will easily grab the attention of fans of the genre.” ―Booklist

“To Catch a Killer is a tense, storming heartbeat of a thriller. Scarborough’s tightly woven story merges forensic intrigue with friendship, romance, and family, nailing the dynamic stylings of Veronica Mars and the playful spirit of Bones. I could not put it down.” ―Cori McCarthy, author of Breaking Sky

“The fast-paced plot and Veronica Mars-esque protagonist make this book a good fit for avid mystery readers.” ―School Library Journal

“A relatable cast and well thought-out plot make this mystery a Sherlockian puzzle sure to impress the most hardened crime-procedural fanatic. Don your deer-stalker caps, gumshoes, you’re in for a twisty ride.” ―Mary Elizabeth Summer, author of Trust Me, I’m Lying

“Scarborough brings Erin to life as a teenager with a damaged past…there are enough red herrings and forensic activity to keep everyone entertained all the way through the climatic end.” ―VOYA

“A compulsive read. Scarborough has created a thrilling book brimming with life, murder, and adventure.” —Carrie Jones, New York Times bestselling author of Flying

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

MY REVIEW

First, I want to say thank you to Jean Book Nerd for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. I want to also thank Tor for the book so that I could review it. What follows is my honest opinion of the book. I wasn’t compensated in any way. With that out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff.

To Right the Wrongs is one of those sequels that ups the ante from the first. In the first one, we meet Erin and her group of friends. The main mystery dealt with Erin’s science teacher’s murder and the friends were more of just supporting sounding boards. In this one, they not only kept with their supporting role, but also grew as characters themselves.

We get to see more of Lysa and Spam’s genius. Which I absolutely loved. Some of Spam’s inventions do seem a little advanced, but given with today’s technology, they aren’t that out of reach. I wish I had a girl like Spam in my high school. That would have been fun. Really, I wish we had a Lysa and Erin too.

The trio’s friendship is only stronger in this one. You see little mannerisms and inside jokes that don’t leave you out of the loop. They are a real group of friends and I wanted to join in. Add their incest need to solve a mystery and they are awesome.

The mystery is definitely upped in this book. In the first, we only really have one murder to solve that happened to solve another. In this one, we have the mysterious identity of “The Skateboarder”  and the investigation of freeing Journey’s father from prison. As if that wasn’t enough, we also have the girls prepping for CSI camp and the normal every day family drama.

Just like with the first book, it was easy to start and run through the whole book. I seriously enjoyed myself with this book. The characters only become that much more interesting as the world unfolds. For fans of the first book, they won’t be disappointed. For fans of crime books and snarky teens, you won’t be disappointed.

The downside about this book? That the third one isn’t in my hands yet.

Final Rating: 4/5

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sheryl Scarborough

SHERYL SCARBOROUGH is an award-winning writer for children’s television. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, lives in Washington state, and has always had an obsession with forensics. When she was twelve, her home was the target of a Peeping Tom. Sheryl diligently photographed his footprints and collected the candy wrappers he left behind. Unfortunately, he was never caught. But the desire to use evidence to solve a great mystery was sparked inside Scarborough all the same. To Catch a Killer is her debut.

WEBSITE: http://www.sherylscarborough.com/
TWITTER:  @scarbo_author
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/148975.Sheryl_Scarborough
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/mediasherpa
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/scarbo_author/

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Giveaway ends April 14, 2018

Check out the other hosts for the tour here.

Writing Wednesday: This Reading Thing

It is a tale as old as time: Authors advising the aspiring writers to read. Yes, read.

Why this reading thing?

Well, you need to know your audience. That’s a biggie. And you might get some great inspiration from what you read (both good and bad). But really, I feel it’s to keep the author from going mad.

But, you guys probably already know this. So, why am I talking about it? Because I just did a reading thing! I set aside life and read for 24 hours.

No, it wasn’t yesterday. It was this past Saturday. I figured it was a great move where the blog is concerned and for myself as an author. I haven’t been reading much recently and it was beginning to bug me. I could feel the madness crawling and creeping out of the back of my mind. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that a friend of mine was doing it and I wanted to join in on the torture.

So, how did my 24-hour readathon go? Oh, let me tell you.

Let’s begin with my list of books. This is important. One mustn’t go into a readathon without a battle plan. And I’m all about battle plans. What was my plan?

Note. This is the list I started with. It was subject to change.

And how well did it go? Oh, let me tell you…

11:40pm- Woke up from my nap. Made my coffee and a bagel and I was ready to get to work.

12am- Started reading The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

2am- Started nodding off. Paused The Belles and plugged in Persuasion by Jane Austen from Audible. Did some chores to get the blood flowing.

3:30am- Went back to The Belles. Ate two Snickers. And promptly messaged Mack about my thoughts on the book (she refuses to spoil this book for me which only makes me want to finish because dammit, I won’t know unless I do or get spoiled).

4:00am- I’m getting tired. I know that in a few more hours Bug will be up and I would have to be Mom again. While reading. And no sleep. Yeah, I think this isn’t going well. Mack suggests I change it to 24 hours of reading in 48 hours. Far more doable. She, on the other hand, is still kicking ass.

4:30am- I caved. I went to bed.

So, yep, the beginning was an epic fail. I had decided to do what Mack suggested and also finish certain books.

Really, it’s not the hour challenge that matters, it’s that I’m reading. It’s sad to say that I’ve read more in this than I did all week. That alone is saying something. I just needed that push to just sit and read.

So, that was my reading thing. Any suggestions for others?

Book #18: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

When I get oversaturated in fantasy or romance, I tend to go back to my direct roots of reading: the mystery/thriller or horror. It’s a genre I love and would love to eventually write more of. I’m all about murders and solving them. My favorite movies tend to be that genre, my favorite random facts are true crime facts, basically, I’m an ID (Investigation Discovery) Fan to the max.

That said, I haven’t delved into the young adult mystery/thriller all that much. So, when I got the opportunity to read To Catch a Killer, I went for it.

I’m glad I did.

To Catch a Killer read like a quick mystery/thriller episode. There are snarky characters, your reasonable sidekick and the quirky sidekick, there are the characters who try to stop the MC & Co from solving the crime. It was like a cozy mystery meets forensics meets high school. And it was a fun read.

Yes, there is a bit of a budding romance, but it is the mystery that is the focus. What I really loved about this book is that it leaned heavily on forensics. It made forensics fun and interesting and really simple to do if you know what you’re doing.

I’m also going to add that the characters are fun to get to know. Erin is snarky, smart, and a bit tunnel vision focus. She also has trust issues. Her best friends are the reasonable Lysa and spunky and nutty Spam. The love interest, Journey, is a charming young man who seems to have more in his head than most literary jocks.

I was pulled into the story quickly and kept in the book until the very end. It’s a definite recommendation for anyone who loves a mystery and YA books.

Final Rating: 4/5

Book #17: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

I have heard a lot of good things about this book and, to be honest, I knew nothing. All anyone would tell me was that it “was good” was “a space opera” and there was “a batshit crazy A.I.” Other comments that followed was: “Omg you have to read this” and “You don’t like the cover?!”

The last one is correct. I don’t like the cover. It does nothing for me in the spectrum of grabbing my attention. I’m not sure what kind of cover would be for this book, but I didn’t care for the cover. I did open said cover though and . . . again, I wasn’t grabbed.

There’s a reason for that. I’m not big on epistolary styled books. Epistolary, for those who don’t know, is a book styled like a compendium of letters, memos, or other forms of documentation that comprised together makes a cohesive work. A good example would be Bram Stoker’s Dracula or really, many other books from the turn of the century. Though this is the time period I love, I am not in love with this style of literature.

I think it’s because it’s hard for me to get into the characters. And maybe, it’s because they read like a nonfiction and not a fiction. Nonfiction is difficult for me. Anyways, because of this, I was very hesitant to read Illuminae.

However, when you have the audio on hand . . . oh, dear God! It’s amazing. No joke. It really is. The book is indeed a space opera, has a batshit crazy A.I. (whom I really love, by the way), and a virus that reminds me of 28 Days Later meets PTSD. Yep, we’ve got angry bloodthirsty mobs, space travel, a war, and a HAL like character.

What makes the audio even better is that it has a full cast reading it and there’s background noise. You are in the spaceships. You are with Kady and Ezra. There’s one part in the audio where they are reading a partial list of the dead. One voice reads and as it fades, another takes its place. This goes on for a few minutes. There is no music with it. Just the fading voices listing people’s names.

It’s heartbreaking.

As for the characters . . . this is a problem with epistolary, in my opinion, you don’t get a full grasp of the characters. Even though Kady Grant is the main character and heroine, I didn’t really get her. Sure, she’s badass and stubborn and probably should take a few chill pills, but she didn’t feel alive. Not in the way Ezra or the background characters did. That said, they did help uplift her to a point that I did root for her.

What you see in epistolary is only a glimpse into their lives, a segment of the grander scheme. It can dampen a reader’s connection to the characters. Ezra was kind of the same, to be honest, he’s goofy and funny, but aside from that . . . who is he?

In a way, this helps the reader become the characters themselves. In a way, it dampens the story. I don’t know how I would have felt about the book if I had the print version in my hands, but I do know the audio only strengthened the characters. I did feel something for Kady. I did feel something for Ezra. Hell, I felt something for AIDAN (again, I love the batshit A.I.).

Do I recommend this book? Yes. Yes. YES. Am I reading the sequel? Just waiting for it to be in my library. I currently have the only hold, it just needs to move from one place to the other. Would I read the third and final book? I think so.

What more, I am also going to buy the print copy. It’s aesthetically pleasing in the pages. That is unless someone can find me prints of just the ships. Because the Hypatia is gorgeous.

Final rating: 5/5 I’d totally read this book again. Gotta buy it in audio!

Stick Figure Fiction!

You may not have known this, but I make a mean stick figure. During college, I used my stick figure comics in my notes. They are a great way to paraphrase what a historical event or story is all about.

I talked it out with a bunch of friends and I was asked to do my stick figure comics. And so, Fridays will be Stick Figure Fiction days or Stick Figure History.

Note. These are grossly bastardizations of events and stories. They are by no means an actual representation of the source material. Especially the historical events, those are definitely going to be inaccurate. With that in mind here is the first STICK FIGURE FICTION!!!

Writing Wednesday: The Pen Name

I forgot to do last week’s Writing Wednesday and for that, I’m sorry. There really isn’t a reason. Just that I forgot.

That said, I decided to write about a topic that has been on my mind lately, the pen name. Also known as the pseudonym, the pen name is a name given to the author by the author to separate themselves from either their other author name or just their life in general.

For me, this has been an ongoing wonderment. Did I want to use my actual name for my works or did I want a pen name? I decided to poll my friends on Facebook about it. For one certain genre, it was decided that I should rock my name, but I also decided that I would use a pen name (compiled by family names) and use that for that genre.

What’s the genre? Well, it leans to the 18+ crowd, let’s just say that. And they probably wouldn’t be very romance either. Leaning towards the dark. So, you can get an idea of what I’m doing.

What is the name? Well, I haven’t announced it yet and I’m not sure I should. That will probably be another poll. I may announce it one day in the future though.

What about my regular name? I think I’m going to keep with the fantasy and horror stories with my name. It’s me.

Really, a pen name should be used as a means of branding yourself. I’m still figuring out my brand, but I have an idea. Maybe I’ll do the next Writing Wednesday about brands. Especially since I may have the concept figured out by then.

Hopefully…

Book #16: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

The Hazel Wood is the first book for March’s book club reads. I’ll be honest, I bought it for the cover and that a fictional world is coming alive. Who doesn’t love that?

That said, the book met my expectations in the beginning. I can understand why others say it’s slow pacing in the beginning. In comparison to the last quarter of the book, the pacing is dramatically on different spectrums. It was like a slow burn of darkness and a fairy tale feel and then BAM rush, rush, rush, END. It felt like this book would have been better if it was longer, kept the pacing the same or maybe rush in some parts to better relate to the end.

What kept me reading? It was the ambiance and the concept that kept me going. It doesn’t go into details, but from what I understand, there are different layers of both fictional and natural worlds intertwining together. This concept really grabbed me and still keeps me wondering.

The ambiance of the book was dark and confusing. There are bits of dark fairy tales retold and I have to say, I LOVED THEM. Loved. There’s no other thing I loved more than those fairy tales. I want to know more about them. I want a book of the fairy tales.

I should note that Alice is prickly person. She isn’t easy to love. With that in mind, it’s not hard to get into her mindset. I actually liked her as a character. She knows she’s not easy and does she try to be? Sometimes, but it’s just hard for her. It’s easier for her to say things that she knows is wrong just so she can push them away. She’s not very prickly with the people who matter: her mother.

I said earlier that there was a weird pace near the end of the book. There is. It felt rushed and it’s the only reason why I didn’t go five star with it. I wanted to see more of the world Albert had introduced us to and was bummed out that we didn’t get the same treatment as we did for the journey. However, it’s always the journey that matters in a fairy tale and that might be what Albert was going for.

I do know that there is a second book slated. I’ve heard that the second is going to be the book of fairy tales (YES PLEASE!), but I’ve also heard that the second book will be a continuation to the worlds Albert has crafted. If it’s the former, just take my money now. If it’s the former, I will gladly hand my money over if we are delving into the different universes. I feel Alice’s story is done as an MC.

There’s also a movie deal in the works. I’ll just sit here and gather up my funds for that one! Just please, make it a dark horror like story. Don’t go typical YA movie with cutesie love and comedy. The book doesn’t have it and the story would be lost.

Book #15: Blue by Sarah Jayne Carr

Blue Brennan is a runner. 
She runs from her problems. 
She runs from love. 
She runs from her past. 
What Blue doesn’t anticipate is running toward her hometown of Steele Falls, Washington, especially after she’d vowed to never go back. 

Adam Rockwell is a fighter. 
He fights his demons. 
He fights for validation. 
He fights for his future. 
What Adam doesn’t anticipate is fighting for Blue Brennan, especially when he vowed to never let love get in his way again.

I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and my opinion only.

This book has so many emotions that you are either reading through the whole thing in one setting or setting it aside to gather what you’ve just read. I happen to have been the latter.

The beginning of Blue instantly caught me off guard. It reminded me of a similar experience and I had to bust out laughing. I got what Blue was saying and there was no doubt it was worth every giggle and guffaw.

And then came the rest of the book . . .

Talk about a spree of emotions. This is not a comedy. It is a drama. You will find yourself cheering on the characters, getting angry at the characters, and laughing at them. You will want to toss the book, pick it back up, read, and toss it again.

And the ending . . . .

Oh, that horrible and beautiful and . . . dear God, it’s hard to explain without giving anything away. Just be sure to have a box of kleenex nearby.

So, who is Blue? Blue is a girl running away from her troubles. She is snarky and fucked up. She is a prickly character who is hard to love. Luckily, Carr fixes that by showing tidbits of Blue’s softer nature. It’s shown close in the beginning too, so, you are able to have some kind of relationship with the main character.

Would I read this book again? I think I would. I would need some time away from it though. Do I recommend the read? Definitely for the peeps who aren’t afraid to cry while reading.

Book #14: Avalon High by Meg Cabot

To newcomer Ellie, Avalon High seems like a typical American high school, complete with jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, and even the obligatory senior class president, quarterback, and all-around good guy. But it doesn’t take Ellie long to suspect that something weird is going on beneath the glossy surface of this tranquil hall of learning. As she pieces together the meaning of this unfolding drama, she begins to recognize some haunting Arthurian echoes, causing her to worry that she has become just a pawn in mythic history. A powerful novel by the author of The Princess Diaries.

Okay, so I’ve been trying to read this book a few times now. Not sure how many attempts I’ve made, but this one was the longest I’ve lasted (about halfway) and I am officially saying I will not continue this read. I will not try again.

What was my problem with the book? Well, first I will say that the audiobook is annoying. I don’t know if the narrator herself is (this is the first book I’ve listened to her in), but this was definitely not the book for her. The voices were annoying and I didn’t feel like I was in the book.

Cabot’s writing itself isn’t bad. She writes well and the book does have a younger YA or middle grade feel to it. Avalon High is the Mediator series, but the writing isn’t too bad.

That said, the story does lack, in my opinion. Ellie is only subpar as the main character. She doesn’t seem to get into the groove of the story and only seems to think about A.Will Wagner. Will, on the other hand, is too special. He’s the all American guy. He’s the guy you see in the 40’s and 50’s tv shows who is “aw shucks”. There really isn’t a bad thing about him. It’s disgusting.

For the whole first half of the book, we are met with Ellie and her high opinions on A. Will Wagner. The King Arthur storyline is more like an afterthought instead of the focus. I likened the book to a contemporary romance that just mentions some kind of fantasy to it. Not the fantasy book it is making itself sound like.

So, if you’re looking for a contemporary romance, it’s fluffy enough you might like it. If you’re looking for a bit of magic and fantasy, it fails. In truth, I actually love the Disney movie adaptation to the book (which has a completely different storyline to the book). If you want the contemporary, read the book. If you want the fantasy, watch the movie.