Monday's Muse, 70th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Don't Give Up by Eagle Eye Cherry [Holes 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 one of several places, 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:

This one I may need your help on, guys. There HAS to be more books that deal with the subject of 'honor' than this. New, old, popular, unknown - it doesn't matter. Brainstorm with me! :D

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo.

Thomas Peaceful, like many other English soldiers in World War I, is too young to fight, but he lies about his age. Now at the front in France with his older brother Charlie he stands a lonely nighttime vigil for reasons that are not explained until the book's end, watching the minutes tick by and reflecting on his past. Using first-person narration, Morpurgo draws readers into this young man's life, relating memories that are idyllic, sobering, and poignant. Tommo thinks upon the role he played in his father's accidental death, the adventures that he shared with Charlie, his relationship with his childhood friend Molly, and the experiences that he has had since entering the war. Finally, he describes how Charlie disobeyed a direct order to stay with him after he was wounded in action, fully aware of this decision's dire consequences. While this story is not based on any one individual, Morpurgo has personalized the British tactic of executing their own soldiers "for cowardice or desertion," memorializing these men without passing judgment. While readers see the events through Tommo's eyes, the author does not lose sight of the war's effects on the teen's friends and family. Reminders come in the form of letters from home, relationships with other soldiers, and observations of battles. This thoughtful novel touches on themes of humanity and duty, and features brilliant characters whose personal decisions have earned them their very own badges of honor.–Delia Fritz, Mercersburg Academy, PA, School Library Journal (Nov 11, 2004 vol 50, issue 11, pg 150).

 Three Kingdoms 1: Heroes and Chaos by Wei Dong Chen & Xiao Long Liang.

At the end of the second century, the lands of ancient China are thrown into turmoil when the Han Dynasty collapses, and when a tyrant overthrows the weak emperor, a group of regional lords forms an army to restore the nation. But bravery and valor are soon stifled by ambition and cunning, and the coalition dissolves before the battle is even won. Now, a new group of heroes must emerge if China is to survive.

The Grave Doug Freshley by Josh Hechinger.

The clich√©d Western hero can't be bested in a gun battle, and neither can Doug Freshley—because he's already dead. Zombies don't usually get to play John Wayne, and in tapping the potential of the Undead for superheroics, Hechinger reverses a second clich√© with a lighthearted touch. Freshley is a retired schoolteacher, hired to tutor mouthy young Bat McNally. Then the Delancey Gang kills Bat's parents and puts a bullet through Freshley's head, too. Our hero had sworn to protect Bat, and somehow that promise keeps him ambulatory. And even if rigor mortis slows down his quick draw, it does keep his shooting arm steady enough to serve up a little frontier justice to the wrongdoers. Later, Freshley must confront a challenge from the Deadliest Gun in the West: the Grim Reaper. VERDICT A spaghetti Western crossed with a zombie buddy story, Doug Freshley infuses new blood in genre stereotypes. Its quirky charm should appeal to teens through adults who like Westerns, soft horror, and original twists on old themes. mpMann (Ianna's Tears ) uses a sketchy, sepia/daguerreotype-toned art that suits the story just fine.— M.C. --Martha Cornog, Library Journal (Jan 1, 2012) vol 136, issue 21, pg. 83).

The Way of the Warrior by Andrew Matthews.

In 1565, when Jimmu is 10 years old, he witnesses his father commit seppuku, a ritual suicide, to avoid bringing dishonor to his family. Before he dies, Lord Kensu tells his son that his bodyguard will now be responsible for his upbringing. Jimmu spends the next seven years learning the art of the samurai at Nichiren's side, with the sole intention of avenging his father by killing Lord Ankan, the man Nichiren blames for betraying Lord Kensu and taking from Jimmu all that was rightfully his. Jimmu reports to Mitsukage Castle under the pretense of wanting to work for Lord Ankan, and, impressing the captain of the guard with his swordsmanship, is allowed to stay. But as Jimmu gets to know Lord Ankan, he finds him to be a principled and courageous leader rather than the monster that Nichiren described. Complicating matters further, Jimmu is drawn to Lord Ankan's impetuous daughter. The resulting story is an honest and engaging portrayal of a young man's struggle to do the right thing—even when it is not clear what that is. The cast of characters includes Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga, two renowned military leaders from the Sengoku period. The vivid depictions of a soldier's life in 16th-century Japan will captivate samurai enthusiasts, and the amount of action that Matthews packs into this relatively short novel will appeal to reluctant readers.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA --Kim Dare, School Library Journal (Jan 1, 2009) vol 55, issue 1, pg. 112).

Feature Fun Friday - Lindsey Stirling "Crystallize"

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling (of course). :)

There are some times on this blog where I have to show you something that has nothing to do with books or writing whatsoever, simply because it is so wonderful, cool, or because I love it oh so much. This is one of those times. With great pleasure, I present the phenomenal dubstep violinist (and dancer!), Lindsey Stirling. I play the viola, so my jaw was dropping through this the entire time. SHE BENDS OVER BACKWARDS, PEOPLE. This video was my first and the one where I fell insta-in love. Present!

Austenland and Fan Art, Baby!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Ace of Swords by Alan Parsons Project.

Ever since finding out author Shannon Hale's indie film Austenland (which she helped make by the way. How cool is that?!) not only was accepted into the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, I've been doing cartwheels for her. And when I found out yesterday that because of Sundance, Sony Pictures has picked it up for distribution(!!!) and I've been pretty much smiling like an idiot ever since. It honestly could not have happened to a sweeter person. If you ever get a chance to meet her, you should. No question. She also does some of the best signings I've ever had the privilege of going to. And since I cannot get it out of my mind now, you are all getting some of my favorite fanart from her Bayern series.

This first girl, fabiolagarza, created these fantastic illustrations for an assignment in her university class.

And here is one I found just today while making sure I hadn't missed any of that series. This one is by MandieLaRue. Isn't it stunning? I love the emotion she's put into the piece without us ever seeing Ani/Isi's face!

You guys, you have no idea how much I LOVE what fans can create. It's freaking brilliant.

Signed Divergent Winner!

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

Drumroll please...

Should I be very mean?

Nah... :)


And truly, thank you EVERYONE who commented. It was an enormous help, and hopefully I can bring you some new comic content soon.

Same rules as usual apply, DebZ. Email me your addy within two days or I'll need to draw a new winner. I want to get you this book as soon as possible!

Feature Fun Friday - Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Bound for the Promised Land by Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

This something very cool, and surprisingly underground (at the moment). :) There is a book called HOLD STILL by Nina LaCour. Here is the trailer:

When I saw it back in 2009 (I know, ancient, right?) I was quite impressed. But this is not where the story ends. You know how you sometimes love a book and wish Hollywood would just perk up it's head long enough to realize how amazing story X would be as a film? Well, Nina LaCour decided to go to kickstarter and see if she could get the movie made by herself. And guess what? SHE DID IT. I have no idea how far along they are in production right now, but it is happening. And even cooler? The actors that are in the book trailer *glances up* are going to be the actors in the movie. Talk about coming full circle. Know you're in the know for something cool and sekkrit going on in the YA world right under our noses. *secret fist bump* Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Contest Reminder!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): As I Am by Goo Goo Dolls.

Don't forget about the signed hardcover of DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth still going on! There's been a great response so far (because you guys are awesome. No no, don't deny it. It's true). I just wanted to give you one last head's up. You have until tomorrow at midnight! Yes, just like Cinderella. :)

You know you want me.

Monday's Muse, 69th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Wrongful Blame by James Horner [Spitfire Grill 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 one of several places, 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:

(all descriptions are taken from the website Novelist today)

Wake (/Fade/Gone) by Lisa McMann.

Ever since she was eight years old, high school student Janie Hannagan has been uncontrollably drawn into other people's dreams, but it is not until she befriends an elderly nursing home patient and becomes involved with an enigmatic fellow-student that she discovers her true power.

The Wild Things by Dave Eggers.

During a fight at home, young Max flees and runs away into the woods. He finds a boat there, jumps in, and ends up on the open sea, destination unknown. He lands on the island of the Wild Things, and soon he becomes their king. But things get complicatedwhen Max realizes that the Wild Things want as much from him as he wants from them. Based loosely on the storybook by Maurice Sendak and the screenplay co-written with Spike Jonze.

The Other Wind (Earthsea series #6) by Ursula Le Guin.

Haunted by dreams of the dead who seek to invade Earthsea through him, the sorcerer Alder enlists the aid of Ged, a former Archmage, who advises him to find the holiest place in the world, which holds the key to preserving Earthsea.

Dreamhunter (& Dreamquake) by Elizabeth Knox.

In a world where select people can enter "The Place" and find dreams of every kind to share with others for a fee, a fifteen-year-old girl is training to be a dreamhunter when her father disappears, leaving her to carry on his mysterious mission.

White Cat (Curse Workers trilogy) by Holly Black.

Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of criminals and "curse workers," people who practice magic illegally and can alter others' luck or memories with a single touch. Cassel, who doesn't seem to have inherited his family's talents, tries very hard to convince his private-school classmates that he's just a regular guy. But he's haunted by a dirty secret from his past, and a white cat that keeps appearing in his nightmares.  (description by Ellen Foreman).

Alphabet of Dreams by Susan Fletcher.

Fourteen-year-old Mitra, of royal Persian lineage, and her five-year-old brother Babak, whose dreams foretell the future, flee for their lives in the company of the magus Melchoir and two other Zoroastrian priests, traveling through Persia as they follow star signs leading to a newly-born king in Bethlehem.

Dreamrider by Barry Jonsberg.

Harangued by his father about his weight and bullied in all the many schools he has attended, teenaged Michael finds some comfort in his ability to experience "lucid" dreaming but then starts to notice that the things that happen in his dreams are starting to occur in the real world as well.

Sleeper Code by Tom Sniegoski.

Just when he has met a beautiful girl and his outlook is improving, sixteen-year-old narcoleptic Tom Lovett begins to suspect that his dreams and hallucinations of killing people may be something more real and terrifying.

Union Spark by Andy Marino.

Fifteen-year-old Mistletoe lives in the sub-canopy zone amid poverty and outdated technology, but when she meets Ambrose Truax, the privileged sixteen-year-old heir to the Unison empire and they discover they share a sinister link, they begin a frightening journey into the uncharted territory of the Unison 3.0 upgrade.

 Witch Dreams by Vivian Vande Velde.

Sixteen-year-old Nyssa uses her ability to see into people's dreams to discover who murdered her parents six years ago.

The Red Thread by Rod Townley.

Bothered by insomnia, nightmares, and claustrophobia, sixteen-year-old Dana sees a therapist who hypnotizes her into remembering past lives, involving her in an age-old mystery and causing her to question what kind of person she is.

On Thin Ice by Jamie Bastedo.

Set in Canada's far north, this book is a fascinating blend of both fact and fiction. Sixteen year old Ashley, who's from Inuit and French Canadian descent, is haunted by strange, ominous dreams. When a classmate's mangled body is found outside of her Arctic town, Ashley's dreams take on a frightening twist. Plunged into the mysterious underworld of ancient Inuit legends, Ashley strives to understand her changing world.

The Dream Merchant by Isabel Hoving.

Having been hired by a mysterious corporation called Gippart, twelve-year-old Josh--along with two friends and the ghost of his dead twin sister--finds himself trapped in "umaya," a place between dreams, time, and reality.

Sleepless by Cyn Balog.

Eron, a supernatural being known as a Sandman whose purpose is to seduce humans to sleep, falls in love with a sad teenaged girl who is mourning her boyfriend's death.

Feature Fun Friday - A Special Beth Revis Book Trailer

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Still Alive by Lisa Miskovsky.

You guys get a special treat today. This is perhaps one of my favorite books trailers of all time for one of my favorite trilogies to come out in the last three years. Beth Revis thrilled me with Across the Universe, and then blew me away with A Million Suns. Seriously. Do you know how rare it is when a sequel is better than its original? Beth Revis did not disappoint. And now I'm DYING--not literally. She tends to kill off too many characters as it is. I don't want to be added to the list--to get my little hands on Shades of Earth. And since it comes out THIS TUESDAY, the wait is finally finally over! :D *dances* So here is the Across the Universe book trailer, released in Germany. And even cooler? Today is 1.11, marking the third year anniversary when this, her debut was first released. How cool is that?!

I've had a close friend who speaks fluent German translate it for us, which makes it even better by a level of quadrillion. But even just listening to the two characters and the emotion in their voices is fantastic.

So here we go. Anything in brackets  [ ] are written words on the screen while lines without them are actual dialogue. Enjoy, and have an absolutely amazing weekend, everyone!

I am silent as death. It is the silence that makes me crazy.

[300 Years in Eternal Darkness]

Maybe I am dead already.

That is my greatest fear.

[Far removed from the earth, underway in an uncertain future]

After 301 years when my body thaws, and I stay exactly the same as I am now...

I touch the glass in which she lays, and notice just now how cold it is.

[But something is not going according to plan]

I just want to scream!

She is the most beautiful being that I have ever seen… but also the strangest.

[For she is awakened too early]

I want to open my eyes and awake, but… I cannot.

[50 years too early.]

She must wake up.

[A great love, the dream of freedom, and deadly dangers]

Available in stores August 2011

Contest? Okay. How About a SIGNED Copy of DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Mission Street by Vienna Teng.

I know you have all been waiting patiently for this. I am fairly famous for doing contests after accomplishing something great. Or just for fun. I'm known for that too. :)

So how does this bad boy look?

Now what if it was SIGNED?

Indeed, this is a genu-ine signed book that was no easy feat to come by. Did you know at Veronica Roth's signings she makes you go through all the trials Tris does just to get that pretty signature? (I jest. Or do I?). In any case, this little lady is signed, filled to the brim with golden ink (it's black actually) of her runaway achievement. And it's hardcover to boot. Oh yes. You can maim someone with this guy, and then read it as you sit on top of their twitching, misbegotten form of whoever dared mess with you.

Do I have your interest yet? *grins like a Cheshire*

This is for all my followers who so bravely put up with my crazy antics. If you're new here, I really can't blame you. So any follower, new or old is eligible to enter! I'm trying this whole rafflecopter thing, because apparently it's the bee's knees and super easy or something like that.

Now you also get an extra entry for spreading the word (+1 for every way), and you get +5 extra entries if you comment on this post (or here if the comment link gets covered so you can't get to it) about what you thought of my book comics for the end of the world (here, here, here, here, here, oh and here).  I need to know! That wacom tablet is hanging in the balance! Of course, be honest. If you think my sense of humor is stinky, you can say so. I don't mind. I just want to know if you would like more visual-type stuff like this on the blog.

So enter away! And may the odds be ever in your favor. Wait. Wrong series...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feature Fun Friday - Elsie Chapman Takes A Dare

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling.

It's a new year! We survived the apocalypse! Wooohoo!! And that of course means diving headlong into all of the awesome books coming out. And why not sidestep trailers for a week and go straight to the fun stuff that makes authors squirm? Because it is lucky year 13, the debut authors of this year are doing a Truth of Dare-a-thon of mega proprotions. You really want to check out their site. They are an awesome bunch (and some of their books are already out. :D Woot to Ellen Oh's PROPHECY!).

Are we doing a Dare? Oh, you know it.

This is Elsie Chapman, whose book DUALED I am quite looking forward to, eating chicken sashimi (raw chicken slices for the uninitiated). Oh yes, this is going to be fun. *rubs hands together gleefully* Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Cybils Recap Post!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons.

When you have a second go on a judging panel for the same award, it's hard not to compare the experiences even though they are like pears and creme puffs (you thought I was going to say apples and oranges, didn't you?). :) I can actually say that because the pears (year 1 - Science Fiction and Fantasy) was completely different than the creme puff medium (year 2 - graphic novels). Both delicious, but different beasts entirely. Click here for a recap of my SFF panel of INSANITY. You know, I rather forgot that I didn't eat for those three months. :)

That post is really cool and very thorough on the complete insider's scoop to a judging panel, if you were ever curious.

This year was fun, and different. Graphic novels are half visual. As such they are generally faster to read. Add to that fewer nominees than the SFF group*and something really cool happened. I was able to read almost every book on the nomination list in its entirety. I could read multiple books in a day. Do you realize how cool this was? I would sit at lunch, munching on my fantastic PB&J sandwich, and go "Hey, I just finished Baby Mouse, Lunch Lady, and Squish all in one hour. I AM A BOSS. Bring on the Big Bad Irondclads!**"

This was so cool. I was able to absorb the full story and feel I could give a really valid argument as to why or why not something should make it to the next round. Confidence builder, I tell you.

That was one thing, I have to say, I was frustrated with during my first panel. It is nothing against the Cybils at all. It is pure logistics. You have to understand the sheer magnitude of the books nominated for that category. There are so many books nominated, it is difficult at best to read them all, and literally impossible to read them all in their entirety. 180+ books in three months? You get this face - o.O - on an almost daily basis.

But the thing that is hard is the thing I really have to commend the Cybils for. Not only can anyone nominate a book, which offers HUGE reservoirs for uncovering brilliant hidden gems (woot!), but publishers can also highlight books they think might have been missed. And on top of that, each book has to be read by at least two panelists. And since we just didn't have the time to read all of the book, once it was read by two panelists, you moved onto one that hadn't been given any love. It was like a tag team race, and it was crazy fast. Because in that panel, we dedicated the last month to reading ALL the books the various judges had shortlisted on their personal list. So scratch my previous estimate. 180+ in two months. This wasn't a problem with the graphic novel panel, and that is one thing I absolutely loved this time around. In fact most books were read by almost all the judges. Made for some lively discussions. :)

I loved being able to weight the drawings alongside the words and see just what they could do with this incredible medium. That is another thing that made this quite different, though I cannot tell you how much I loved being on the SFF panel. Both made me rather giddy at times. :) I also loved seeing the sheer variety of stories this year - a historical next to a fantasy next to a memoir. They were all unique and I adored every second of it.

Now I know you want to know all the secret inner workings of a judging panel this year. The truth? A lot of scrolling. :)

Yep. Lots and lots of scrolling. That's because come dooms day, we gathered in a tiny little chat room and began pelting out our favorites and for the life of me I could not make my little chat box go bigger. And when you have seven hardcore passionate people advocating the little lovelies they think should make the list, let's just say you get a lot of chatter really fast. My little roller ball on my mouse got quite the workout that night.

That is probably the other (real) secret you should know. This list (and I suspect all award lists) are not unanimous decisions. Yes, some were obvious shoo-ins and required very little, if any thought. But others were hot contenders and a couple made it in by the skin of their teeth after a whole mess of discussion (and scrolling). So it is an agreed consensus, and a very strong list. I think all of us are very proud of it.

There were a couple of books that missed my personal favorite list, but the others on the panel had some really good points on why they should not make it. So as award season hits us in full swing in the next few weeks, namely with the behemoth of the Neberry/Printz/Morris/etc. coming out very soon, remember it was probably very much the same. There was probably someone fighting just as hard behind the scenes for that wonderful book you love, and you have no idea how close it came to making it. Because really, it often comes down to the wire. And that is a very comforting thought for me. :)

And NOW! SINCE I am done with the Cybils finally, that means a contest is in order! A promise is a promise. Now it is only one book, but it is one I think you will really like.

Oh, also - what did you think of the comic series I posted for the end of the world? It was... an experiment, and let's just say a wacom tablet is riding on your responses. Did you like them? Were they funny? Would you like to see more cartoons/drawings on the blog? Be honest!

*Dude, nothing can top them. Outside of picture books, they have the highest number of nominees every year. Like I said, insanity.

**Note: Not read in this order. Yes, I remember things like that. :)