Monday's Muse, 14th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Dry Your Tears, Afrika by John Williams [Amistad soundtrack].

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:

Second Sight by Gary Blackwood and James Hamilton.

Blackwood weaves an absorbing tale of espionage, conspiracy, and political intrigue. Set in Washington, DC, in 1864, the story focuses on Nicholas and Joseph Ehrlich, a father and son who develop a mind-reading act using a secret coded alphabet. They become successful performers who skillfully trick audiences into believing that they have extraordinary powers. Through their show-business career, they become acquainted with John Wilkes Booth and other political activists. Eventually Joseph meets Cassandra Quinn, a girl who seems to have true powers of clairvoyance. Through her second sight, she senses that something terrible is going to happen to President Lincoln, and Joseph becomes involved with her in trying to prevent a catastrophe. It is at this juncture that Blackwood begins to twist history with some surprising results. This is a well-researched, engrossing story grounded in historical detail. Many true historical figures interact with the fleshed-out fictional characters that move the story along. Overall, the narrator's conversational, candid asides are refreshing and entertaining, but at times they do interrupt the narrative flow. This is a minor drawback in an otherwise gripping tale that could be used as a springboard for some interesting class discussions.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

A Deadly Game of Magic by Joan Lowery Nixon.

Four teens who while on their way back from a competition are forced to pull over at a lonesome house after a rather bad storm arises. A flood occurs and although they would really rather leave, they are forced to stay in this house after their ride finds something unnerving in the dark room down the hall and leaves them stranded. Later, they realize they aren't alone in the house like they were led to believe in the beginning...

Ms. Nixon can make your skin crawl with fear with just the right amount of realism that makes a good mystery a great read. The house in the middle of nowhere, car trouble, a stormy night, a magician's house, the phone line going dead and the missing guillotine? What more could you ask for? The characters are very believable. You fear turning to the next page but the writing sweeps you into it out of shear terror as the story mounts to its climax. This is a must read for mystery readers of any age from 11 through adult. --review combo from Anonymous and MysteryLadyRA on

Double or Nothing by Marc Talbert.

This tender and sensitive novel celebrates a boy's devotion, faith and wonder. Although Uncle Frank's death has left Sam with a tremendous sense of loss, grief becomes mingled with excitement when the nine-year-old receives a large collection of magic tricks--the tools of his uncle's trade. Already an amateur magician, Sam prepares a one-man show to commemorate his late uncle's birthday. During his debut, Sam discovers a new kind of magic that is produced by his captive audience. Even though the real star of this novel--Phantasmagoric Frank--is dead when the story begins, his whimsy and wisdom will be felt as his nephew recalls past events. While focusing on Sam's attempts to emulate his idol, Talbert ( Toby ; The Paper Knife ) expresses poetic, keenly perceptive ideas about people and their visions of the world.

A Trick of the Dark by Kenneth Lillington.

A darkly humorous and macabre story of obsession and revenge. Kate was eight when she first saw the elf, but nobody else could see it. The second time was ten years later, and this time it was real.

Kid-B by Linden Dalecki.

B-boying is the only thing seventeen-year-old Kid B has ever been any good at—but that’s nothin’ to floss about in his racially charged eastern Texas town in the rust belt. He’s been called “wigger” and “jigaboo,” but race doesn’t matter to Kid. Or his krew. What matters is that they represent at the upcoming Throw Down—one of the most cutthroat hip-hop dance competitions in the nation—and that they hold their own against rivals Magno Clique, the roughest gang of b-boyers in town.

Over a hot summer, friendly challenges between the two gangs turn bloody. And though he’s just trying to keep it together with his messed-up family, his friends, and his new girlfriend, Kid is forced to figure out the next steps in his life.


Katie said...

Found you through the First Novels Club and saw your pics from Thailand. Where did you go? I've been to Thailand multiple times, and I think it might be my favorite place on Earth. We worked in two of the king's schools in northern Thailand - one in Mae Ai and one in Mae Hong Son. Who did you go with? Sorry for asking so many questions. I just thought it was exciting to see someone else had been there. :)

Heather Zundel said...

You've been to Thailand!? Hello new buddy! ^_^

I went on a humanitarian mission to help rebuild parts hit by the 2004 tsunami. So we focused pretty heavily around the Khao Lak region. I am absolutely in love with the place. So gorgeous, and the people there are simple incredible.

I didn't get a chance to go to Northern Thailand. Is it just as beautiful there?

I'm trying to remember our coordinator there. Something to do with Smiles? Anyway. Do you have some pictures on your blog? I'm so glad you found me!

Katie said...

Sadly, no, I didn't post any from last year. But I've got a bazillion from the different years, so I could. Hmm...maybe I'll post some this week as a get-hyped-for-this-year's-trip. :) I believe I just came up with my post for tomorrow.

I went with my church. We're partnering with Asian Alliance International, who also works with the Free Burma Rangers. All the kids we work with are ethnic minorities, a lot of refugees from Burma.

Omg, yes, it's beautiful! I got to go down to Phuket on one trip, and the coast is incredible, too! I'm assuming you guys were close to the beach? Way cool! We work in the mountains, so it's a different kind of beauty but still great. :)

Heather Zundel said...

That is so cool. The mountains would have been fantastic to see. But yes, we were close to the beach. VERY close. :) I loved it. The ocean is one of my favorite places.

I would love to see some of your pictures sometime.