Monday's Muse, 12th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Breaking the Silence by Loreena McKennit.

This was originally an idea from Au Courant started in March, an idea she has graciously let me run with.

The idea 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:

Thomas Riley by Nick Valentino.

Thomas Riley is a splendid mixture of fantasy, steampunk, weapons, bombs, weird gelatinous masses, crazy alchemists, trapped souls, a two decade long war, and ingenuity. Nick Valentino has perfected the clipped british dialogue and humorous characters. I dare say I want to go out and buy a pair of googles for myself.

Thomas and Cynthia are weapons masters. They are doing quite fine in their lab trying to find the antidote to a bacteria when soldiers rush them. Along with the soldiers is the Duke's almost dead daughter. Thomas is ordered to perform Lifeblood (an alchemey) that never goes right. Sure enough the Duke's daughter ends up taking up residence in Cynthia's body. The only thing for the two to do is kidnap their enemy's alchemist. Who by the way is a crazy little bugger. Their entire journey from there is pure luck, bad events, and some misfortune. At no time was I bored or wishing that the plot would move along. The scene changes were detailed, from the air ship to the enemy palace. I also loved the attention to detail in regards to the different weapons Thomas and Cynthia created. I felt like although they were fantastical I could see what they might have looked like if they did exist.--Jessie Potts (Amazon reviewer).

The Planet Pirates by Stephen Hickman (Illustrator), Anne McCaffrey
Anne McCaffrey (Collaborator), Jody Lynn Nye (Collaborator), Elizabeth Moon (Collaborator).

The Planet Pirates traces the careers of two remarkable women. Sassinak escaped from slavery to freedom, and then used that freedom to fight the evil that had wrecked her world, first as a cadet, later as a captain, and finally as an Admiral of the Fleet. Lunzie, one of the galaxy's greatest healers, is Sassinak's great grandmother--but in actual years she is her junior; Lunzie spent nearly a century in coldsleep waiting for rescue when her ship was destroyed. Imagine their mutual surprise when Sassinak rescued her. How together Sassinak and Lunzie save first a world, and then a confederation of worlds--and almost in passing establish amity between the genetically engineered Heavy Worlders and normal reality--is the story of The Planet Pirates.

The Big Big Big Book of Tashi (Tashi series) by Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg, and Kim Gamble.

Imported from Australia, this rollicking omnibus unites seven books, many of them bestsellers Down Under, and their popularity is easy to understand. A boy named Jack describes his new friend, Tashi, who arrives one day on the back of a swan from a magical country populated with giants, dragons, ghosts and all sorts of other things that go bump in the night. Tashi mesmerizes Jack (and Jack mesmerizes his parents) with tales of his exploits about outwitting a succession of deliciously horrible villains ("I'll pluck out your nose hairs, one by one," a bandit threatens Tashi. Sometimes Tashi tells a story, to Jack; sometimes Jack recounts a Tashi adventure to his parents. In an amusing role reversal, Jack's parents hang breathlessly on their son's every word ("So tell us," Jack's father says. "After Tashi tricked those giants and teased the bandits, how did he meet these ghosts?"), and the dialogue between the storyteller and his audience invisibly tightens the narrative tension. Teasers end each tale (" `So that's the end of the story,' said Jack sadly. `And everyone was safe and happy again.' `Yes,' said Tashi, `that is, until the bandits arrived' "). Appearing one or two to each page, Gamble's playful b&w drawings are an integral part of the fun, making this outsize volume a prime choice for shipping to summer camp with newly independent readers. Best of all, the answers to those cliffhangers are only a turn of a page away. Ages 6-10. (Publisher's Weekly).

"Think Lord of the Rings lite." —The Modesto Bee

Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney.

The dramatic and bloody siege of Troy is one of the oldest and best of human stories, and in Goddess of Yesterday Caroline Cooney tells it afresh through the eyes of Anaxander, the daughter of the king of a tiny Greek island. As a child she is taken as a hostage to the island of King Nicander. When she is 13, marauding pirates sack the palace, killing everyone but her. Anaxander frightens them off by pretending to be the goddess Medusa, with the help of an octopus as a hairdo. When she is rescued by the ships of King Menalaus, she assumes the identity of a princess, Nicander's daughter, and becomes a royal guest. When Menalaus's cold and vain wife, Helen, runs off to Troy with her lover, Paris, Anaxander goes along to protect Helen's baby son. Within the walls of Troy, she is torn with conflicting loyalties as the bronze-clad warriors of Menalaus land their ships on the plains below the city and war is imminent.

The Glassmaker's Daughter by V. Briceland.

This captivating fantasy takes place in a city rich in history and sensory detail. Cassforte, reminiscent of medieval Venice, is protected by an ancient enchantment tying the king to the seven caza, noble families of craftsmen, by virtue of a nightly fealty rite. Missing the rite is disastrous, and when the king disappears and the prince stages a coup, imprisoning the cazzari and their heirs, everyone is in danger. Risa Divetri, the youngest daughter of Caza Divetri, has always felt misunderstood: her glasswork is different from her family’s, and because neither god chose her during the ceremony all children of the Seven undergo, she can’t learn the Divetri’s glasswork enchantments. At first ashamed and humiliated, Risa is now the only one who can save Cassaforte, and she realizes that the gods have another fate in mind for her. Risa is a willful, capable, and caring heroine, and her bantering relationship with a cheeky guard provides a nice touch of romance. With suspenseful plotting and a marvelous cast of characters, this is a strong addition to female-centered fantasies.--Krista Hutley (Booklist).


PJ Hoover said...

Thomas Riley had a huge table at the VA Book fest and the author and another gal were even dressed up steampunk. I was totally intrigued.