Monday's Muse, 47th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): A Stray Child by Yuki Kajiura [.hack//SIGN soundtrack].

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:
Instrument/Music 2.0.

Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph.

High school senior Teresa Adams is so painfully shy that she dreads speaking to anyone in the hallways or getting called on in class. But in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks out—doing mock broadcasts for Miami's hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up at The SLAM, Tere surprises herself by blossoming behind the mike into confident, sassy Sweet T—and to everyone’s shock, she’s a hit! Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ’s awesome taste in music. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest—and a prom date with Sweet T is the grand prize—Sweet T’s dream could turn into Tere’s worst nightmare....

What a Song Can Do: 12 Riffs on the Power of Music edited by Jennifer Armstrong.

Armstrong offers a dozen perspectives on music's life-altering possibilities in this short-story collection. Ron Koertge's "Variations on a Theme" cleverly gives voice to what motivates various students to join a school band and how that decision affects their lives. A gay teen shares his inner struggle to accept his own sexuality in David Levithan's sensitive "What a Song Can Do." The pain of being forced into the role of child prodigy in one musical form until one's own true voice can be heard underlies Jude Mandell's verse selection. Music's connection to life is seen from myriad angles without overpowering the stories, which all have interesting plots and well-developed characters. Brief biographical sketches of the authors are appended and include a description of the importance of music in their lives. This collection will certainly speak to many teens on a very personal level and will open the eyes and the ears of its readers.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ, School Library Journal.

Troll Bridge: A Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple.

A wicked adventure--or deadly…trollble

For sixteen-year-old harpist prodigy Moira, the annual Dairy Princess event in Vanderby is just another lame publicity "op." Moira a dairy princess? Get real. Twelve girls have been selected to have their likeness carved in butter and displayed on the Trollholm Bridge. It's a Vanderby State Fair tradition that has been going on for, like, ever.As far as Moira is concerned, the sooner it's over with the butter--er--better.

About the same time and not far away, three brothers--members of the sensationally popular teen boy band The Griffsons--are in the middle of a much needed road trip to relax from the pressures of their latest tour.

In a flash, however, the kids are suddenly transported to a strange and mystical wilderness where they find themselves in the middle of a deadly tug-of-war struggle between a magical fox named Fossegrim and the monstrous troll Aenmarr of Austraegir. At the heart of the feud is a battle for possession of a mysterious magical fiddle--and an ancient compact between Trollholm and the outer world.

Whatever. All Moira cares about is that eleven of her fellow princesses have been enchanted into a slumber and Moira needs to figure out a way to awaken them…and get home.

Unfortunately for Moira and the Griffsons, nothing in Trollholm is as it seems. Finding a way out of Trollholm may be a lot more difficult than they think.

The Black Canary by Jane Louise Curry.

Growing up in a close-knit, biracial American family with parents and grandparents professionally and personally engrossed in musical pursuits, 13-year-old James feels overprotected and pushed in the direction of their interests. He secretly resents the way his parents' careers absorb their time, and he resists developing his own musical talent. While staying in a London flat, James discovers a mysterious portal, steps through, and lands in Elizabethan times. Forced to fend for himself, he begins to explore his identity apart from his family's expectations, finding within himself an unexpected passion for singing. This is one of the few time-travel fantasies for children with a biracial character, let alone protagonist, and it includes James' acute observations of Elizabethan Londoners' reactions to him. Race, though, is only one of James' concerns as he struggles to survive where even the simple question "Where are you from?" leaves him scrambling to avoid pitfalls. James is a sympathetic character in both worlds, and readers will gladly follow him for the pleasure of his company as well as the need to know what will happen next. A genuinely good story that conveys a sense of darkness and mystery in the textured backdrop of a storied time and place.--Carolyn Phelan, Booklist.

Shanghai Shadows by Lois Ruby.

It's 1939, and the Shpann family has escaped their home in hopes of a better life in occupied China. Ilse, her brother, and their parents are shocked at the small size of their new lodgings, in which they practically live on top of each other and their neighbors; only then does Ilse start to realize that their life here as stateless refugees will be far more harsh than expected. Their family strains to make end meet as her mother finds only part-time work in a bakery, while her musician father cannot find work at all. Ilse soon learns that her brother, Erich, has joined REACT, an underground resistance organization that masterminds sabotage missions and smuggles information. She fears for her brother's safety, but craves adventure herself and talks her way into running occasional missions, as a gutsy if unlikely spy. Life grows tighter and tighter for the Shpanns as they are forced to relocate to Shanghai's Jewish ghetto, but the family always manages to take solace in one another--that is until a mother's secret threatens to tear them all apart. In this gripping historical novel from Lois Ruby, a young gril struggles to grow up while her family struggles just to survive as European Jews against the unforgiving and alien backdrop of World War II China.

The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones.

Mimi Shapiro had a disturbing freshman year at NYU, thanks to a foolish affair with a professor who still haunts her caller ID. So when her artist father, Marc, offers the use of his remote Canadian cottage, she’s glad to hop in her Mini Cooper and drive up north. The house is fairy-tale quaint, and the key is hidden right where her dad said it would be, so she’s shocked to fi nd someone already living there — Jay, a young musician, who is equally startled to meet Mimi and immediately accuses her of leaving strange and threatening tokens inside: a dead bird, a snakeskin, a cricket sound track embedded in his latest composition. But Mimi has just arrived, so who is responsible? And more alarmingly, what does the intruder want? Part gripping thriller, part family drama, this fast-paced novel plays out in alternating viewpoints, in a pastoral setting that is evocative and eerie — a mysterious character in its own right.

Nightsong: The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice by Michael Cadnum.

Cadnum follows Starfall: Phaeton and the Chariot of the Sun (2004) with another novel-length retelling of a classical myth. With vibrant detail, he embellishes events in the original story, creating a strong sense of place in each scene, from the sun-drenched countryside, where wandering Orpheus first meets the princess Eurydice, to the horrific underworld, where Orpheus travels to reclaim Eurydice after her fatal snakebite. Readers who claim disinterest in the classical myths will be easily swept up by the powerful love story, the perilous quests, the heartbreaking tragedy, and the magic, while romantics and aspiring artists may feel heartened by the well-paced story's messages about art's enduring, healing power. Send readers who want more about classical gods and mortals to Stephanie Spinner's Quiver (2002) and other titles listed in the "Read-alikes: Grrrls of the Ancient World" in the January 2003 issue of --Gillian Engberg, Booklist.

Othello [manga - 7 volumes] by Satomi Ikezawa.

Yaya is timid, apologetic, and socially awkward. She feels like herself only when she can hang out in gothic dress with other fans of her favorite band on Sundays. However, inside Yaya lurks Nana, the vibrant, aggressive, fearless side of her personality. When Yaya gets a headache or sees her reflection, Nana comes out to get revenge on anyone who hurt her. And although Nana knows about Yaya, Yaya always wakes with no memory of what just happened. Ikezawa's art is polished and skillful, though it bears a more-than-passing resemblance to Miwa Ueda's "Peach Girl" books(Tokyopop), luminous eyes and all. Still, this is a fun romp and original in its own way.–Susan Salpini, TASIS–The American School in England, School Library Journal.

Heartsinger by Karlijn Stoffels (author) and Laura Watkinson (translator).

A deeply romantic and hopeful fairy tale about the power of love and of music.

Mee was born with a great gift: the ability to sing other people's stories and heal their pain. But Mee also carries his own pain -- his failure to reach his deaf mother and heal her grief at his father's death. As he travels the country, he eases many people's sorrows, but he cannot connect with anyone himself.

Mitou also has a gift: spreading joy through a few notes from her accordion. When she hears about Mee--who was born on the same day she was--she knows that surely they belong together, each of them helping others through their music.

Amplified by Tara Kelly.

When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . . .

Feature Fun Friday - LIBRARY MONTAGE

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Anchor by Mindy Gledhill.

I so wanted to do a video just like this, but it looks like someone beat me to it. But don't worry, I think they did a better job (especially in the beginning). Mr. Bean, Cookie Monster, Indiana Jones are all represented here. Are there any more library movie scenes they missed? And have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Time For A Contest! For Darkness Shows The Stars ARC Giveaway!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): A New Name... A New Life by John Williams [Memoirs of Geisha soundtrack].

So I promised you a contest, and boy will I deliver.

I have for you today, for your clamoring pleasure , a copy of FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS by Diana Peterfreund. And let me tell you, it was good. The kind of good where I stayed up until 3:00 in the morning to finish because if my family interrupted me one more time I was going to rip someone's head off. And that would have been messy. And I would have felt bad later. Probably. Yeah, that kind of good.

It hit every point of deliciousness that I've been craving in a book for the last little while. For those of you who don't know it is post-(post?)-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. So you already know there is going to be emotional turmoil! misunderstandings! sexual tension stretched to its breaking point! And of course a squee/swoon-worthy happy ending. After your heart has been crushed and wrung out through one of the old-fashioned laundry wringers, of course. There were parts in the book I was mentally screaming at the characters. I was inventing conversations everywhere of what they should be saying to each other because it was obvious they liked each other so why don't they just spit it out already? That doesn't happen very often and nothing I can remember to that degree. Guilty pleasure or not, this was exactly the book I needed right now.

And can I say this, and again very slowly? STAND-ALONE FANTASY. You have not IDEA how much I've needed one of these. No waiting for the next books, no agonizing cliff-hanger. I'll buy the book right there from those two words alone, thank-you-very-much. And as much as I hate to part with it (there may be claw marks in the ARC, I apologize), it can now be yours. Because this book deserves to get as much hype and attention before its release on June 12, 2012.*

I'm making this one simple. Just be a follower and leave a comment with your email below! That's it.

US only (I'm sorry my amazing international followers. I promise an international contest is coming!)

Ends 2/11/12 11:59 EST

*It's not required of course, but it would be wonderful if after you are done that you pass it on to someone else. You know, that whole karma thing. :)

Monday's Muse, 46th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Take Me Away by Globus.

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

Good Enough by Paula Yoo.

How to make your Korean parents happy:

1. Get a perfect score on the SATs.
2. Get into HarvardYalePrinceton.
3. Don't talk to boys.*

Patti's parents expect nothing less than the best from their Korean-American daughter. Everything she does affects her chances of getting into an Ivy League school. So winning assistant concertmaster in her All-State violin competition and earning less than 2300 on her SATs is simply not good enough.

But Patti's discovering that there's more to life than the Ivy League. To start with, there's Cute Trumpet Guy. He's funny, he's talented, and he looks exactly like the lead singer of Patti's favorite band. Then, of course, there's her love of the violin. Not to mention cool rock concerts. And anyway, what if Patti doesn't want to go to HarvardYalePrinceton after all?

Paula Yoo scores big in her hilarious debut novel about an overachiever who longs to fit in and strives to stand out. The pressure is on!

*Boys will distract you from your studies.

Notes From the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick.

After drinking some vodka and taking his mom's car for a spin to his father's girlfriend's house, who just happens to be his former third-grade teacher, 16-year-old Alex Gregory finds himself on his neighbors' lawn with police yelling at him and a broken gnome under his car. It is hard to believe that Alex would do anything like this; most of the time he hangs out with his friend Laurie, a sassy petite karate expert, and plays guitar in the school jazz band. He is also trying to get over his parents' recent split. For drinking and driving, Alex is sentenced to 100 hours of community service at a nursing home with Solomon Lewis. Sol is a difficult, crotchety, eccentric old man with emphysema who lashes out at Alex in strange Yiddish phrases. Soon Alex grows found of Sol, who teaches him something about the guitar, respecting the elderly, and taking responsibility for his actions. Alex's voice is fresh and funny, but doesn't downplay the serious situations. The other characters in the book are well defined and add interesting touches to the story. Fans of Sonnenblick's Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie (Turning Tide, 2004) will be pleased with this follow-up book in which Steven and Annette make a few brief appearances.–Shannon Seglin, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA, School Library Journal.

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez.

Grammy-winning, world-touring violinist Carmen Bianchi, 17, has outgrown child-prodigy status. To transition to an adult career as a virtuoso soloist, she must win the Guarneri Competition. If she loses, she'll be just another former prodigy.

Reflecting on the peculiar fame belonging to classical-music prodigies, Jeremy King—another ambitious ex-wunderkind with an equally intimidating resume—tells Carmen, "You're a god to two percent of the population and a nobody to everyone else." Carmen embodies this strange dichotomy. She's homeschooled, has never dated, lacks close friends and depends on anti-anxiety drugs. She also has a vocation she loves, a Stradivarius violin and a posse of adults dedicated to advancing her career. Chief among these is Carmen's mother and manager, Diana, whose operatic career ended early. As the competition approaches, Carmen and Jeremy—each ardently competitive and deeply smitten—form a deep but wary bond that Diana, ruled by anxious passions and an iron determination to win, bitterly opposes. Carmen's struggles to succeed with integrity remind readers that "virtue" is the root of "virtuosity," a fragile truth often lost when valuable prizes are at stake.

Former child violin prodigy Martinez brings this overwrought world to tense, quivering life and guides readers through it confidently. A brilliant debut.--Kirkus.

Fires of the Faithful by Naomi Kritzer.

For sixteen-year-old Eliana, life at her conservatory of music is a pleasant interlude between youth and adulthood, with the hope of a prestigious Imperial Court appointment at the end. But beyond the conservatory walls is a land blighted by war and inexplicable famine and dominated by a fearsome religious order known as the Fedeli, who are systematically stamping out all traces of the land’s old beliefs. Soon not even the conservatory walls can hold out reality. When one classmate is brutally killed by the Fedeli for clinging to the forbidden ways and another is kidnapped by the Circle--the mysterious and powerful mages who rule the land--Eliana can take no more. Especially not after she learns one of the Circle’s most closely guarded secrets.

Now, determined to escape the Circle’s power, burning with rage at the Fedeli, and drawn herself to the beliefs of the Old Way, Eliana embarks on a treacherous journey to spread the truth. And what she finds shakes her to her core: a past destroyed, a future in doubt, and a desperate people in need of a leader--no matter how young or inexperienced....

The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby.

An enchanted green violin, an automaton that comes to life, and a hidden treasure . . . THE CLOCKWORK THREE is a richly woven adventure story that is sure to become a classic!

Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil padrone in the U.S. But when a mysterious green violin enters his life he begins to imagine a life of freedom.

Hannah is a soft-hearted, strong-willed girl from the tenements, who supports her family as a hotel maid when tragedy strikes and her father can no longer work. She learns about a hidden treasure, which she knows will save her family -- if she can find it.

And Frederick, the talented and intense clockmaker's apprentice, seeks to learn the truth about his mother while trying to forget the nightmares of the orphanage where she left him. He is determined to build an automaton and enter the clockmakers' guild -- if only he can create a working head.

Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.

Vanished by Sheela Chari.

Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument was a gift from her grandmother—intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.

When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, strange clues surface: a tea kettle ornamented with a familiar pointy-faced dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela’s instrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. Even if Neela does track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?

Sheela Chari’s debut novel is a finely tuned story of coincidence and fate, trust and deceit, music and mystery.

Sky by Roderick Townley.

Alec Schuyler has two immediate problems: what to do with the rest of his life, and what to do about Suze Matheson. She's his date for the Winter Dance. And she's got trouble of her own. The English teacher, Mr. "Call me Mark" Truscott, has made a move on her, a move which Sky has witnessed from his hiding place in a coat closet.

Fifteen-year-old Sky is not one for making scenes -- or even speaking up. Instead he speaks through his music, his jazz piano. This novel, in three sets and an encore, plays all the chords and paradiddles of Sky's life -- at the moment, the life of a runaway in New York City, 1959. So how come he's hiding in a tenth-grade homeroom coat closet?

Since his mother died, Sky and his father have had their umpteenth fight about the future. Like many a kid, Sky must leave home to get home. For him it's the world of Beat poetry and cool jazz. Along the way, he discovers an unexpected guide -- a blind musician who shows Sky how to see -- and learns what he has to lose to gain his own voice.

Feature Fun Friday - A Look Inside Scholastic.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Remember Me by Josh Groban.

This is a fascinating look at the inner workings of Scholastic Headquarters. I can't tell you if the store or the roof is my favorite place (though I did love catching a glimpse of David Levithan, editor of The Hunger Games). Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

A Comic With No Name - let's change that.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Anywhere But Here by SafetySuit.

First off, I have an excellent and squee-inducing giveaway coming next week (let's just say it's an ARC for a special book not out for another five months), so you're gonna want to keep your eyes peeled for that. *nods head*

But right now, I need your mad internet hacking skillz.

See this picture? This comic must be named.

It's a comic I found on tv tropes (fantastic website if you haven't been there, especially if you are writing any kind of story. Or if you just like going "oh my gosh! That is so true!" That too).

I love this comic. It makes me laugh and giggle in all sorts of ways. But here's the clincher. I can't remember the name of the it. I've gone through ooooodles of link on tv tropes (yes, there is much enjoyment to be had) and have tried quoting the line directly into google to see if that popped up anything. Nope. Nada. Zilch.

So I turn to you now. Do you know of where this may have come from? I would be forever grateful. *bows* Because this is just too funny to go on nameless.

(Oh, and keep the recipes coming! There are some loud cries for Narnian food out there. So keep them coming!) :D

This is dummy post. You have been warned.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): You Were There by Michiru Oshima [Ico soundtrack].

Feel free to skip this post. This is filler. You know, like how you would tweak the margins just a tenth of an inch more on each side and suddenly your college paper was half a page longer? I'm looking at you. *peers*

There is no purpose to this, other than to hear me ramble and see how freewriting in my mind works (it's kind of a scary place), and also, mainly, to get it so the form in the next blog post (and all it's glorious instructions) on how to nominate your favorite fictional food recipe won't be obscured by links on the right.

This template is pretty. But we do have our spats.

Taking up space...

Taking up space...

(I'm singing this by the way)


(No, seriously, I am)

Taking up space...

Taking up SPAAAAAAAACE!!!!! :D

(Hmm... Songs about space... Reminds me of this video):

(Yes, this is how my mind works. Feel free to be frightened. Or join me. I have cupcakes and licorice over here).

And THERE. That should hopefully be enough. What are you waiting for? Go nominate a recipe you want me to invent! *shoos*

I Have a Hankering To Invent Something

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): My Eyes by Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day [Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog].

So. As you may know, I like to invent recipes. Particularly fictional food recipes. Call it an obsession, a desire to blend mediums. Or that fact that I love food. Take your pick. :)

I have already given you Lamp and Plum Stew from The Hunger Games as well as two kinds of ambrosia from Percy Jackson (one I did not invent, but you'll see why if you clicky both links). And so now I have a need, an itch, to do something again. It's been far too long.

So I've created a form just for you. I'm leaving it up for a week and then I'll announce the winner and then all around deliciousness WILL BE OURS!!! *ahem*

Put as many recipes as you would like to see. Seriously, go to town with it. If you think of something I haven't given in the prompts all the better. I'm so excited. This is going to be fantastic.

Feature Fun Friday - The Joy of Books

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): It's a Life by Burkhard Dallwitz [The Truman Show soundtrack].

Best. Stop-motion book video. Ever. That is all that needs to be said. (oh yes, and I looove the dancing books. I must include that). Bravo to Sean Ohlenkamp, his wife, and every volunteer who re-shelved those books night after night for who knows how many nights. Kudos and bravo.

Review: Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Falling In Love at a Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg (great song by an unknown artist).

My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).

Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
Published: May 1, 2011
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 192
Current Amazon Rank: #279,172

Author's Website:
Want it? Find it here.

The First Line:

Sketchbook Rule #1 - No more excuses! Buy a sketchbook and draw a few pages each week.

My Take:

Proportionally, if you haven't been able to glean from my reviews, you can tell I like graphic novels. Everything from Flight to Crogan's Vengeance to The Arrival and everything in between. It's like a love-fest between two great mediums and the best graphic novels know how to stretch to the limits of both their mediums. Page by Paige is no exception.

Paige Turner (pun intended. Her parents are writers and hoping she will be too) has just moved to New York City from Virginia and is trying to adjust while feeling lost on almost every level. The graphic novel is her sketchbook as she draws her way through and tries to make sense of her life, who she is, what she wants to be, and forge a new path for herself.

The story is most lacking in serious conflict. Even the conflict between her mother has a quick resolution, but overall, I didn't really mind. It isn't what this story/sketchbook is about. It is her journey through the inner pieces of herself and that sets a different pace. So don't expect an Attack of the Squid Monsters From Space! (though actually, that sounds like a fun graphic novel. Please someone, tell me if such a work exists). It made this story refreshing, in that sense (also, a couple instances of mild language for my gentle readers).

I was most taken with the illustrations and how she blended art and story into one. The art becomes an integral part of grasping deeper levels and meanings as Paige draws out her inner and outer self, often coexisting side by side (or upside down). Laura Lee Gulledge's way of manipulating the panels is wonderful and it was often through these extraordinary displays of creativity that I found myself, understanding perfectly what Paige was saying in a way that words were not needed.

I quite enjoyed this book and its foray into a young girl's mind and her journey to discovering herself. And right after I finished reading it, my sisters swiped it from under my hands and read it within the same day.

The Final Word:

Not fast paced or even full of any kind of intense conflict, but the creativity of the illustrations is something not to be missed. Watching this young girl struggle to find herself, I often found pieces of me instead.

You Don't Know What Regret Is When the Empire is Involved

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Cello Wars (Radio Edit) by The Piano Guys (No joke. This was all itunes).

This may be my favorite fanmade demotivator poster ever made. I need a short story on this character now (and the saddest thing is, I never gave him a second glance when watching the movies. Did you?)

And since I am still on a Piano Guys kick, here is a link to their Star Wars song since it popped up so pleasantly in my itunes shuffle.

Monday's Muse, 45th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Both Sides Now by Haley Westenra.

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

New World Order by Ben Jeapes.

Jeapes departs from his usual high-tech, military sf to create an action-packed, low-tech sf-alternative history for the Civil War in the seventeenth-century England. Jeapes employs alien invaders, under the leadership of Dhon Do, to end the English Civil War. The incursion produces a predictable clash of cultures that results in improbable alliances: Charles II and Cromwell, and Dhon Do and his half-English son, Daniel, who sympathize with the conquered English. Jeapes' characterization is first-rate. Both historical and fictional characters are well realized, especially Dhon Do and Daniel, thoughtful men, clearly conflicted about their duties in a new world order--definitely not stock teen action-adventure heroes. The riveting story has enough twists and turns, battles and bloodshed to intrigue even hardcore sf fans, but readers will also get a painless lesson in English history. Give this to teens who have read Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South, in which South Africans from the future alter the outcome of the U.S. Civil War. --Chris Sherman, Booklist.

Chu Ju's House by Gloria Whelan.

One girl too many . . .

When a girl is born to Chu Ju's family, it is quickly determined that the baby must be sent away. After all, the law states that a family may have only two children, and tradition dictates that every family should have a boy. To make room for one, this girl will have to go.

Fourteen-year-old Chu Ju knows she cannot allow this to happen to her sister. Understanding that one girl must leave, she sets out in the middle of the night, vowing not to return.

With luminescent detail, National Book Award-winning author Gloria Whelan transports readers to China, where law conspires with tradition, tearing a young woman from her family, sending her on a remarkable journey to find a home of her own.

Paradise by Joan Elizabeth Goodman.

In 1542, when sixteen-year-old Marguerite is selected by her uncle, the Sieur de Roberval, as one of the young women to accompany him on his voyage to the New World, she seizes the chance to escape the oppressive household of her father. Marguerite persuades her forbidden young lover, Pierre, to join the voyage so they can be wed when they reach Canada. But when Marguerite and Pierre are caught together on the ship, they are banished to the tiny, wild Isle of Demons, off the coast of Quebec—and their voyage to freedom becomes a fight for their very survival. Inspired by the true story of Marguerite de La Rocque, Paradise is a gripping novel of adventure, courage, love, and hardship.

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen.

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.

With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.

The Ring by Bobbie Pyron.

Pyron’s debut introduces Mardie, a 15-year-old who drinks, smokes pot, does poorly in school and generally disappoints her family. Stumbling across the boxing class at her stepmother’s gym isn’t an instant fix, but when she does hit rock bottom (getting arrested for shoplifting shortly after she catches the boy she’s been seeing cheating on her), it offers her a lifeline to help put her life back together. Inspired by her coach, Kitty, Mardie focuses on boxing and her mandated community service at a home for special needs children, becoming physically and emotionally grounded. Mardie’s journey is far from smooth, as her family’s internal struggles and her falling-out with her best friend dominate much of her time. Although the action sequences are well written, it’s Mardie’s character development that will hook readers: she’s plenty capable of making mistakes, but just as able to eventually learn from them. It’s standard problem novel material, but Pyron does an admirable job of conveying teenage troubles while generally avoiding the feel of an after-school special, and hits at social issues like racism and homophobia without proselytizing. Publisher's Weekly.