Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Review: Silent to the Bone by E. L. Konigsburg

Here we are for a Rebellious Writing book review! It is amazing that this site has been up for over a month! Thank you so much to everyone who made this happen!!

I was kind of nervous when I picked up this book because sometimes I really like E. L. Konigsburg's works, and sometimes I really don't, there is not really a happy medium.


Silent to the Bone

Author: E. L. Konigsburg
Originally Published: 2000
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Genre: Young Adult Novel, Mystery.
Age Range: Young Adult
Pages: 206
Connor is sure his best friend, Branwell, couldn't have hurt Branwell's baby half sister, Nikki. But Nikki lies in a coma, and Branwell is in a juvenile behavioral center, suspected of a horrible crime and unable to utter the words to tell what really happened. Connor is the only one who might be able to break through Branwell's wall of silence. But how can he prove Branwell didn't commit the unspeakable act of which he's accused-- when Branwell can't speak for himself?



Language:



Abuse:


(There is quite a bit of smoking, but they do say that is it bad.)

Lust: 


(There is A LOT. And "putting clothing back on." In sort of a way they say that it is very bad, but not really. Some people get the consequences, but some don't.)

Book Review:



Branwell has stopped talking.

After dropping his six month old little sister, Nikki, he goes to call 911 but when then can't say anything, and his au pair, Vivian, has to take over. 

Branwell is sent to a Behavioral Center, but he still won't say anything. His dad, Dr. Zamborska, asks Branwell's best friend Conner Kane to try to get Branwell to talk.

Connor comes up with a way to comunicate using the technique that Jean-Dominique Bauby used in writing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Connor writes flash cards with random words he thought of, and his idea is that he will point to each card and the one that Branwell blinks at, he will try to find out more. Branwell loves words and agrees to right away.

Branwell first chooses Margaret, Conner's have sister, where she knows more things about him and can relate to him. Together Margaret and Connor track down the facts, with tapes, Vivian, Branwell's grandparents, and many people. The story actually started a long time ago, where the truth is a lot different.

This book was really not that good. It had a lot of bad stuff in it. This is why we are rebelling, because it is a good idea, but it was really poorly executed. And E. L. Konigsburg is an excellent author, why did she have to write a book with such bad things? Two of her books are some of my favorite books ever, and two are some of my least favorite ever. Why did she have to do the bad ones? Why can't they all be good?

Rebel with us!!!!

Yours &c.
Clare A.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mountains and Mirrors



I’m not the hiking type. I know some people who always seem to be either half up a mountain or planning their next hike, but that is not me at all. Having my feet firmly planted on the ground is fine, thank you very much. Bugs, long hours uphill, the chance of falling or injuring yourself so far from civilization...Not my thing. Thankfully, today I won’t be sharing about the joys of hiking.


Today we’re going to be talking about mountains, and mirrors.


I know what you’re thinking; Melissa, where on earth are you going with this? What do hunks of soil and rocks have to do with reflective surfaces?


My friend, I have two words to answer your question: character arcs.


First off, what is a character arc? According to my lovely friends Professor Google and Wikipedia, the definition is:


A character arc is the transformation or inner journey of a character over the course of a story. If a story has a character arc, the character begins as one sort of person and gradually transforms into a different sort of person in response to changing developments in the story.


In some stories, a character may not change at all (making them a static character) but we’re not going to worry about them right now. The majority of characters in fiction experience a change, whether for better, or for worse. But growing, or falling, does not come easily. For the sake of my upcoming metaphor, let’s say that you want your main character to grow. To learn a lesson.


Welcome to your story’s mountain.


So how do you create a character arc? To put it simply, you need three parts of a mountain: the rise, the cliff, and the peak.


1) The rise

It’s common sense to know that to come down, you must first go up. There needs to be a problem or goal for your character throughout the story, and that is the base of the mountain; the rocks and dirt.


Change should not be an easy process. Your character should not just wake up one day in your story with a completely different attitude to life and themselves. It doesn’t happen in real life, so it shouldn’t happen in your story. There has to be steps in your character’s journey. There has to be trials and tribulations. Their feet need to slip on loose soil as they cling to the side of the mountain, rocks tumbling down beside them, prayers whispering on their breath.


The rise could be anything, from other characters pointing out their negative actions, to the character being exposed to the consequences of their decisions, to viewing a horrific act done by the antagonist. It should be something that forces them to begin to change or makes them want to change. This change can be anything, from their attitude, to their perception of society or a person, to their beliefs.


That brings us to the cliff.


2) The cliff

As much as the small trials are crucial for slowly developing the character's change, there has to be a moment when the character faces a decision with massive consequences. I refer to this as the “cliff moment”. In my (singular and seven hour long) hiking experience, there was a point where the path became a foot wide. On either side, there was not one, no, but two cliffs. And to top it all off, a mammoth tree fell, right in the middle of the path.


Don’t worry, I’m still alive.


But in that moment, when the path began to crumble under my feet and I had no choice but to fall down the side of the mountain (and most likely die; I’m not joking), or climb over the tree, I was nevertheless faced with a choice. I could continue on, or I could fall.


In your story, the character must be faced with a choice whether or not to continue with their arc. While the rise might push them towards change, the decision to change must be theirs. No one else’s. Only when they truly decide to keep going despite the greatest threat possible, can they completely change.


3) The peak (and mirrors?)

Now that the character has totally decided to change, they need to actually change. At some point they need to finally finish grappling with trees and rocks and get to the highest point. Not only do they need to change, (this is reaching the peak), something else needs to happen too.


They need to pull out their cosmetic mirror from their bag, and check that their lipstick is still on.


I’m kidding. (Maybe)

There is no need in your story for a scene where your character literally stares into the mirror and narrates how their appearance has changed. Yet somewhere near the end, one of two things needs to happen. One: in a situation that mirrors a similar situation to one in the beginning of the story, the character needs makes an opposite choice to what they would have decided in the beginning.

Or two: they or another character acknowledges the change. I’m not saying they should announce “Oh wow, I’m such a better person now!” I mean the way they think, they act, they treat others must show this change. Did they kill without hesitation in the beginning? Show them now hesitating, and doing everything in their power to avoid murder. Did they feel afraid? Show them being brave and stepping outside of their comfort zone.


Character arcs are tricky things, and of course, my suggestions will not apply to every single story ever out there. I simply hope that if you’re struggling with characters arcs and what they entail, I’ve given you a basic, stripped down guide to them, using the help of mountains, and mirrors.



Are you a big fan or a big hater of hiking? Do you struggle with character arcs? Has this changed *wink wink* they way you view them? How is your writing going?



~~ Melissa Gravitis ~~

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Book Scout Bulletin #1




Hello fellow rebels!

Well, here it is! The first installment of our Book Scout Bulletins! These little bits of intelligence were received between August 9th and August 31 from our drop-point (AKA our contact form).

Many thanks to our book scouts for providing these for us!!!! *round of applause*

Also, HUGE round of applause to our Goodreads Coordinator and techy formatting genius, Abby!!! She sacrificed a lot of time trying to find images and synopses for these books and formatting them to look just right. *team hug*

Without any further ado, let us see the reports!


Cold Summer

Author: Gwen Cole
Language: ✩✩✩✩✩
Abuse: ✩
Lust: ✩✩
Review of the Book: ✩✩✩
Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.
Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

The Raven Boys

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Language: ✩✩✩✩
Abuse: ✩✩
Lust: ✩✩
Review of the Book: ✩✩✩✩
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Reviews provided by: Allison 

My name is Allison and I'm seventeen. I am passionate about finding good, quality, clean YA books. I am disgusted why what people can "quality" YA literature, and just by perusing the YA section of our library. I am currently a rising junior and I am homeschooled. :) I love reading and writing. I have written several stories (none of which are finished *guilty look*), and I hope to one day publish them.

UPDATE (2/19/2018): We at RW need to put in a heavy content warning for these books. There is a homosexual character in them (Ronan), there is a lot of lustful overtones and heavy amounts of domestic and child abuse.  


Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer
Language: ✩✩✩✩
Abuse: ✩✩✩✩✩
Lust: ✩✩✩✩
Review of the Book: ✩✩✩✩✩
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder's brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it "a matter of national security," but Cinder suspects it's more serious than he's letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an "honor" that no one has survived.

But it doesn't take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

Review provided by: Daisy Louise Paquet

Daisy Louise Paquet is an Internet-addicted, self-proclaimed nerd. She likes coffee, books, and sci-fi movies. She may accidentally attack you with sarcasm and Batman references from time to time, but she promises to be nice. She currently resides in a galaxy far, far away with her family and cat. You can check out Daisy's blog HERE.


Boston Jane: An Adventure

Author Name: Jennifer L. Holm
Language: ✩✩✩✩✩
Abuse: ✩✩✩✩✩
Lust: ✩✩✩✩✩
Review of the Book: ✩✩✩✩✩
Sixteen-year-old Jane Peck has ventured to the unknown wilds of the Northwest to wed her childhood idol, William Baldt. But her impeccable training at Miss Hepplewhite's Young Ladies Academy in Philadelphia is hardly preparation for the colorful characters and crude life that await her in Washington Territory.

Thrown upon her wits in the wild, Jane must determine for herself whether she is truly proper Miss Jane Peck of Philadelphia, faultless young lady and fiancee, or Boston Jane, as the Chinook dub her, fearless and loyal woman of the frontier.

An exciting new novel from Jennifer L. Holm, author of the Newbery Honor Book Our Only May Amelia.

Boston Jane: Wilderness Days

Author Name: Jennifer L. Holm
Language: ✩✩✩✩✩
Abuse: ✩✩✩✩✩
Lust: ✩✩✩✩✩
Review of the Book: ✩✩✩✩✩
"Remember -- you make your own luck." Abandoned on the frontier by her faithless fiance, Jane Peck prepares to head home, only to learn that the Philadelphia life she once knew is no more. But can a proper young lady find happiness as the only woman in a primitive pioneer settlement? Armed with only a finishing-school education and her natural determination, Jane must endure life with her flea-bitten landlord, a perilous manhunt, and the traps and hazards of a blossoming romance.

Will Jane survive the challenges of the wild, uncharted frontiers of friendship, love, and the Washington Territory?

Reviews provided by: Kenzie

Hello, I am Kenzie Ross. I grew up in a Christian family, and have been raised all my life to be very aware of the evil in this world and to avoid it as much as possible. That includes books, movies, music, etc. I was taught that I am a light in this world, and should live accordingly. You can usually find me crocheting, training my dog, and most commonly doing school or reading.
You can view Kenzie's blog HERE.

Soar

Author's Name: Joan Bauer
Language: ✩✩✩✩✩
Abuse: ✩✩✩✩✩
Lust: ✩✩✩✩✩
Review of the Book: ✩✩✩✩
Jeremiah is the world’s biggest baseball fan. He really loves baseball and he knows just about everything there is to know about his favorite sport. So when he’s told he can’t play baseball following an operation on his heart, Jeremiah decides he’ll do the next best thing and become a coach.

Hillcrest, where Jeremiah and his father Walt have just moved, is a town known for its championship baseball team. But Jeremiah finds the town caught up in a scandal and about ready to give up on baseball. It’s up to Jeremiah and his can-do spirit to get the town – and the team – back in the game.

No More Dead Dogs

Author Name: Gordon Korman
Synopsis: Language: ✩✩✩✩✩
Abuse: ✩✩✩✩✩
Lust: ✩✩✩✩✩
Review of the Book: ✩✩✩✩
Nobody understands Wallace Wallace. This reluctant school football hero has been suspended from the team for writing an unfavorable book report of Old Shep, My Pal. But Wallace won't tell a lie -- he hated every minute of the book! Why does the dog in every classic novel have to croak at the end?

After refusing to do a rewrite, his English teacher, who happens to be directing the school play Old Shep, My Pal, forces him go to the rehearsals as punishment. Although Wallace doesn't change his mind, he does end up changing the play into a rock-and-roll rendition, complete with Rollerblades and a moped!

Reviews provided by: Libby

I'm Libby! I grew up my whole life in an amazing Christian family and so many qualities and ideas have been instilled in me that I feel beyond blessed. I've been trained to have a conscience about reading material since I was a young girl and I feel like I can help others keep themselves clean in mind and in spirit. I hope my posts and reviews give you something to think about and consider. Cheerio! You can check out Libby's blog HERE.


Rules of Murder

Author Name: Julianna Deering
Language: ✩✩✩✩✩
Abuse: ✩✩✩✩✩
Lust: ✩✩✩✩✩
Rating of the Book: ✩✩✩✩✩
Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.

Soon, financial irregularities at Drew’s stepfather’s company come to light and it’s clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer–and trying harder to impress Madeline– Drew must decide how far to take this game.

Review provided by: Rachel Kovaciny

Rachel Kovaciny lives in Virginia with her husband and their three homeschooled children. She will be independently publishing her book "Cloaked" this fall, a western re-imagining of "Little Red Riding Hood." In her free time, Rachel writes for the online magazine Femnista, reads, bakes, blogs, watches movies, and daydreams. You can check out Rachel's blog HERE.

And that is all, folks!

For those of you who have submitted a guest post idea - please don't worry! We haven't forgotten about you guys. It's just that our schedule is mapped out until December. We will be reviewing your ideas in the coming weeks.

Would you like to be a book scout? Check out the Collaborate page under the Mission header! We look forward to receiving more intelligence from y'all!




Saturday, September 9, 2017

Foul Words in Young Adult: Do We Need Them?




 Everyone can agree that we all have a different opinion and world view, thus, a word I might think wrong to say, someone else might say all the time, seeing nothing wrong with it, and vise versa.

  However, we can also agree that everyone knows what a potty mouth is.

  Yes. I'm talking about that kid. That kid you know that can't say a single sentence without making some mother walking by cringe. That kid you know who has no filter. That kid who, if you're around young children, you feel embarrassed of their behavior and loud words. Let's all be honest, we all know this person. Maybe not well, maybe you've only met them once at a party, or maybe they're your best friend, but either way, this person is out there.

   Now, picture a YA book. Too often nowadays, YA books are turning into that person. I do understand that everyone has a different view. And I do understand that everyone has different boundaries.

  And maybe I am more sheltered.
  Maybe I am just a common homeschooler.
  Maybe I'm naive.

But you know what? Even if I am, it doesn't make this right.

  Since forever, words have reflected bits of truth. Words merely cage the truth of our society, and they mirror the world we live in. It doesn't matter what genre, bits and pieces of the author and their lives always, always seep into the ink. It is a sad world we live in, if the only way we know how to describe our emotions is through four letter words.

   Think about it. Millions upon millions of words are out there for us to use, but we can't figure out how to express feelings any other way than through vile language.

  Why are more and more books encouraging this? I pick up a YA book off of the library shelves, and am disappointed by the fact that the character is too stupid to describe emotion beyond cuss words. It teaches teens to do the same. How are we suppose to learn how to speak with clarity and intelligence, when the message we are constantly reading is that the only way to communicate is this way?

In the end, smutty words don't make anyone cool.


  You can say that word? That's cool, so can a five year old.

  You can write that word? So can a little kid, if taught.

  You or your characters can flip me off? Cute. So can anyone else, who is blessed with middle fingers.

  Do you see how ridiculous this whole thing is? I am so sick and tired of reading about supposedly “witty” and “sarcastic” characters that only have enough brain cells to know how to swear. And how “rough” characters are only rough because they can drop the f-bomb.


  Your character is sarcastic? Prove it. But not with a potty mouth. I want punchlines. I want laughter and smirks. I want epic comebacks that I can read to my siblings, while crying from laughing so hard. I want intelligence. I want wit.


  Your character is rough? Show me. Show me their scars, their skills. Show me their endurance, their weakness, their strengths. Show me their souls, because that is way harder to write than a swear word.


  Writers, readers, and everyone,

When did we start lowering our standards? This isn't how people are suppose to write. There is an old writing rule most people know: Show don't tell.

  When I read a book that has swear words, it is the definition of too much telling.

   It tells me that people care more about being obscene than clever.

  It tells me that readers and writers no longer know how to write correctly-that their talent, that once flourished, is dying.

  It tells me that people care more about money than morals.

  It tells me that whoever wrote the book was too lazy to describe feelings, so they cheated and stuck some foul words here and there.

  Yes, I am angry. No, I am not ashamed of that fact. Writing is dying. Emotions are dying. Words connect us, and they are being squandered constantly. This must stop.

  I am done playing by society’s rules.
  I am done reading by their rules.
  And most importantly, I am done writing by their rules.

Are you?



Saturday, September 2, 2017

Busy Bee Reading: September Thoughts


The Story

Humor me and imagine this slightly improbable fictional moment. Two fuzzy bees burst from their hive with excited buzzing.

"Stripes!" Amelia bee squeaks. "I can't wait to gather nectar!"

"Me neither!" Stripes yells back zipping away to attack a cluster of honeysuckle.

The day simmers away as noon draws close Stripes begins to search for Amelia Bee. He zips from flower to flower bemoaning the little pollen dust that falls from his legs, if only she had come to him he would have wasted none! 

"Amelia Bee!" He shrieks finding her deep in sucking the sweet nectar from a tiger lily.

"Wha-at?" She mumbles going back to her nectar.

"Come on home! We're late!" Stripes buzzes indignantly.

"Just a second." She murmurs. Finally a few minutes later she gets up and lifts her little wings to attempt flight but plummets down back onto the flower petal. 

"Aaargh!" She groans trying again. After a few attempts Amelia bee flies off the flower and Stripes joins her in shocked silence. Amelia bee's stomach hangs from nectar and her flight looks like that of what an inebriated bee would conduct.

"Amelia bee! What did you do?" He whispers as other bees fly in from each direction to return to their hive.

"What?" She whispers back innocently.

"You ate too much nectar!" 

"There can never be too much nectar!" Amelia bee protests, zig zagging precariously just to plummet down right at the door of their hive. 

The Questions


I'm sure everyone is a bit confused by now, nectar...bees! What does all this have to do with reading and writing? But you might have just caught the point, if you suspect my illustration hints that we gather metaphorical nectar in our heads instead of our stomachs, you're right!

Let's admit it. We probably all love reading, and there can NEVER be too much pf reading. Or...can there be?

Time to enter the controversial zone...

Especially in this season of life as we are all leaving summer vacations and going back to school or jobs, we are busy. Our minds are consumed with a lot of other things and September is well known as stress season.

Reading is great, but many times we get into the point where we are reading too much for our own good.

Have you been skimming lately?

Skimming blog posts or books or articles?

That's a good sign that you need a break. We miss out so much on the meaning of something, like Amelia bee missed out on the sweetness of a just right amount of nectar, when she binged. 

Has your brain been swirling between the fictional and the real world?

Of course that can be fun, but its important to not be lost in another world when there are tasks at hand. Being stuck and forgetting instructions on job is no fun. (and for those of you doubting this could ever happen, ask a very avid bookworm) Read a chapter when there's no stress around to reward yourself for a good hard day of work.


Keep flipping back to find what you've missed in the plot?

Either it's a bad book or there's a very big chance you're reading too fast. Slow down your reading and enjoy. Rushing for a review? I promise you your review will be better if you comprehend what you're reading.


Conclusion

Nectar is great and wonderful, it is what makes honey! It's the same way with books, they are absolutely wonderful and they bring us insight, wisdom, and enjoyment.
 But too much honey? If you've ever done that you know how yucky that can be. Too much honey equates a bad stomach ache and sometimes worse.
 Sometimes slowing down gives our brain the time to grasp concepts and precious little moments we would have totally missed otherwise.

I remember that as a child I was a wild bookworm, books wouldn't dawdle long in my hands. But it did have consequences, my brain was tired and I'd often be more fussy and annoyed with people interrupting my reading time. As time went by and I began high school, I just didn't have time to read so avidly anymore and surprisingly I found that reading was so much better and so much more rewarding in moderation. In addition I gained clearer understanding with hard texts and concepts. I would return to books I skimmed through earlier and gain real value from them by slowing down my reading rate. I would fall in love with scenes and quotes I totally missed from previous readings.

Whether it's blog reading, fiction reading, nonfiction reading, news reading....ANY sort of reading. Slow down and let it soak in. Your brain will thank you, and so will your bookish taste buds.

Just think how lucky we are to have such an easy access to books and reading. Remember back in the time when books were treasured? Abraham Lincoln worked many days in the fields for accidentally ruining one, Mary Jones walked miles and miles over mountains barefoot just for the chance of getting a book, in Fahrenheit 451 books are burned and people risk their lives to keep them.Think of what people do to be able to read? A teenage Chinese boy skips his once a day lunch just to be able to go to school and learn to read, African children take on extra work so they can make it to school, this story repeats a million times all across the globe and applies to all the ages.

With no doubt, books are treasures.
Reading is an incredible privilege.

This month I challenge you to find deep satisfaction in reading with moderation. Don't binge like Amelia Bee and collapse. Appreciate in moderation and thrive.


P.S. Goodreads won't send mutants to avenge your failures if you fall behind your book reading goal...I solemnly promise. ;)



~ ANNA C. S. ~