"The pen is the tongue of the mind." -Miguel de Cervantes

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: Zombie Tag by Hannah Moskowitz

Zombie Tag is a novel that will touch everyone who reads it differently. In my opinion it is genre breaking and makes room for an entire line of edgier middle-grade novels, not to mention more paranormal middle-grade novels.

For some, the edgier part won't be a good thing. For myself I think it is the most amazing thing to happen all year. Hannah Moskowitz already has two great Young Adult novels under her belt. Zombie Tag is her debut middle-grade novel.

Spirited is the best word I can use to describe thirteen-year-old Wil. A boy who appears well-adjusted even though his brother has been dead for six months. Wil and his friends spend much of their time playing a game that Wil and his brother Graham invented called Zombie Tag.

 Wil is obsessed with zombies and even though he has a fear of his brother coming back to eat his brains, he takes a great change and rings a bell he finds in his friend's basement that is said to bring back the dead.

Graham comes back, but not for Wil's brains. Instead he is distant and numb. Now that Graham is back and living with the family, Wil is left to wonder if he has made the right choice, and faced with the challenge of fixing his brother.

Zombie Tag is about decisions. It is about right ones, wrong ones, and dealing with the ones you have made. For that reason I believe anyone can benefit from reading this story. You can't go wrong here. The characters are so true to what children are and what they believe. Though Zombie Tag deals with many BIG issues some parents  try to hide from their kids, I believe the story deals with them in a way children can understand.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fairy Tales, Myths, and Folklore: The Perfect Writing Jumpstart

Fairy tales are big right now. Very big. If you are anything like me, you sigh instantly when you see them in film adaptations and television shows. You like all the stories, like Snow White, Red Riding Hood, and The Three Little Pigs. Sure you do, but inside you wish they were all a bit more twisty.

But what about all the ones you've haven't heard of? Right now on your kindle or kindle phone app you can get dozens of free fairy tale and folklore collection including the complete set of The Brother's Grimm and a few short story collections by Oscar Wilde. Don't have the phone app? Just search them up on Amazon and type them into the search bar.  So maybe you are thinking you know them all, and maybe you do. I was of the belief that I knew every fairy tale in existence. I was wrong, and that isn't something new.

Last night started out very dull. Sure we have Netflix, but there are only so many 80's cartoons you can watch before you go back to being bored. So I pulled out my phone and decided I was going to splurge and buy a new book for my phone app, but first I wanted to mill through the 'free' section. I clicked on half a dozen 'free' fairy tale books and was surprised at how unique and fresh some of the stories felt because I had Never. Heard. Of. Them. One of the stories in the Grimm collection stuck out because the main character had the exact same power as my current MC. He couldn't sense fear and fought all sorts of ghoulies and ghosties during the tale. (The Title is: Oh If I could but Shiver!)

The next morning I woke up much earlier than I usually do, sat down instantly at the computer and wrote 3,432 words in a matter of a few hours. Definitely a personal record. I'm not saying it will work for you, but when you find yourself with a block or your muse took a hike, try looking at some of these stories and fables. Even if you are working on a crime novel or a memoir. They may just give you the spark you need or get you more in touch with your whimsical side.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: Tangerine

First, and I promise it will be short (and I promise it is totally relevant) a little about this semester. My family has fallen on hard times this year. My mother has been in the hospital twice with a broken arm and dislocated shoulder, and my dad recently had to have surgery to help remove a kidney stone.

Last week, I regret to say I lost my job. It is very easy to fall into the cycle of pity. To think like a broken record and say 'Why me? Why me? Why me?' Tangerine by Edward Bloor helped me break out of the 'why me'. It showed me that no matter what happens you can still have a new beginning.

I was reluctant to pick up Tangerine. I was told it was the best thing since HOLES, but I knew that it centered around sports. Lets face it, I'm not into sports. Many writers aren't into sports. By taking a look at the cover and reading the blurb you gain that Tangerine is the story of Paul, a kid that loves soccer but has the eyesight of a bat. It had come as a recommendation from a friend of mine at Absolute Write, because I needed to read some of the edgier middle-grade stories to help with a new work-in-progress.  I was not prepared at how dark a story like this could be.

When Paul moves with his parents and older brother to Tangerine, you start to think 'Oh great, another one of THOSE stories'. New kid in school rises to the top and gains the love of everyone. I was very wrong to think that. The story has an amazing voice, and the secondary characters are fleshed out better than many of the adult novels I read.

The story starts off slow, Paul has memory loss at how he lost his vision, but through *SPOILERS* a lot of build up you find that Paul's older brother Eric was the cause. Tangerine contains murder, abuse, and neglect but only brief strong language. If you are reading this as a parent, I would consider reading Tangerine for yourself because you may not find it suitable for your younger children (stronger readers under age eleven). Otherwise Tangerine is a spectacular read if a little draggy at times.