Monday's Muse, 27th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode.

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:

Stuck On Earth by David Klass

Before being vaporized by a Gagnerian Death Ray, humans (aka “the laughingstock of the universe”) get a last chance to prove their worth when superintelligent alien Ketchvar III arrives for an evaluation. The size of a snail, Ketchvar crawls into the nose and inhabits the brain of 14-year-old Tom, a bullied nerd living in suburban New Jersey. In theory, this gives Ketchvar the opportunity to operate covertly, though his stiff new speech patterns have everyone thinking Tom’s acting even weirder than normal (“Let us live in harmony, like the moss and the lichen,” he implores his bratty sister). Between the shocking violence of the “voluntary daily incarceration” known as school and examinations into the “empty constructs” of war and love, Ketchvar reports to his mothership via e-mails with subject headings like “Old Hip-Hop Songs That Sucked.” Klass even manages to work in an effective environmental message. There are no major surprises—the sweet “earth girl next door” wins Earth another chance—but that doesn’t hamper this fast-moving and irascible comedy. --Booklist

As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynn Rae Perkins

Up This is a story of one misfortune after another. As the book opens, Ry, a 16-year-old Wisconsin resident en route to camp, is left behind in Middle-of-Nowhere, MT, as his stalled train pulls out and he recounts the events that led him to leave the train in the first place. Bad goes to worse: he loses a shoe and his phone charger, his grandfather back home is injured, and his parents are having their own misadventures in the Caribbean. A superhero of a fix-it guy named Del helps Ry to put his life back together. Along the way, readers learn that there is more to Del than initially meets the eye. The story is told in a traditional, episodic style, bouncing from one calamity to the next. The narration occasionally switches perspective to include the grandfather's tale of woe as well as well-drawn graphic-style portrayals of the family dogs' mishaps. The style is reminiscent of Chris Crutcher's, and the action is evocative of Gary Paulsen, but the freewheeling prose, quirky humor, and subtle life lessons are all Perkins's own. This novel is not going to be every teen boy's cup of tea, but its charms are undeniable. --School Library Journal, Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL

The Earth Kitchen by Sharon Bryant

Twelve-year-old Gwen, a patient in a state psychiatric hospital in the early 1960s, worries that there will be an atom bomb attack. She believes that her parents were killed in one that she survived, but there was actually a catastrophic automobile accident that she has repressed from memory. Early in the story, reality and Gwen's fantasy world blur together. When a little bird flies by her window with something in its beak that drops to the ground, the child goes in search of the object, a little gold key, which she picks up and keeps hidden. The key is symbolic to her, but only much later is its full significance revealed. As the plot progresses and she emerges from a stay in a fantasized forest, in a room in a tree where all her needs are met, Dr. Stone helps Gwen, and, thankfully, readers, to understand that for months she has been "gone," living in a safe place in her mind while sorting out her parents' deaths. This is a complex book that may require too much of its audience, who may fail to make the connections needed for a true understanding of the story. The mixing of reality with Gwen's confusing inner world is difficult to follow. Further, modern children need far more background than the story provides about the Cold War era. The prose is lovely, especially the descriptions of Gwen's time in the "earth kitchen." However, this is definitely a book with a small potential audience, for a few special readers. --School Library Journal, Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC