Monday's Muse, 28th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): This Is War by 30 Seconds to Mars.

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:

Dark Water by Laura McNeal.

This debut solo effort after several collaborations with husband Tom McNeal (The Decoding of Lana Morris, 2007, etc.) stands out in the crowded coming-of-age field. The affecting narrative springs believably from the first-person thoughts of Pearl DeWitt as she recalls her 15th summer, when, entranced by a nearly mute, illegal Mexican migrant worker, the beautiful and gifted teenage Amiel, Pearl makes choices that lead to tragedy. Evocative language electrifies the scenes between the pair, as they develop a relationship both complicated and deepened by their limited verbal communication. Her warnings to readers of impending disaster amplify rather than diminish the impact of the misguided, wrenching decisions she makes when a raging wildfire sweeps through their rural California community. Besides her poignant relationship with Amiel, Pearl navigates her father’s recent abandonment of her and her mother and her complicated relationship with her cousin Robby as he blunderingly deals with his father’s apparent infidelity. Notable for well-drawn characters, an engaging plot and, especially, hauntingly beautiful language, this is an outstanding book --Kirkus Reviews

The Color of Earth (The Story of Life on the Golden Fields) by Dong Hwa Kim.

This manhwa—first in a trilogy—chronicling the lives of a single mother and her daughter in rural Korea is a moving and evocative look at love as seen through the eyes of one feeling it for the first time and another who longs to savor it once more. The story follows daughter Ehwa from age seven up as she discovers the physical differences between boys and girls, grows into young womanhood and undergoes her initial confusing experiences with attraction and romance. Ehwa's interest is piqued by a young Buddhist monk, a lad whose interest is mutual but doomed to futility thanks to his faith's strict code of celibacy. Meanwhile, Ehwa's mother, who was widowed at an early age, finds her loneliness soothed by the attentions of an artistic traveling salesman known only as Picture Man. Their relationship later helps Ehwa understand much about the joys of making a romantic connection. This book has no conflict other than that common to youthful competition over boys, but it is a work of great humanity that sucks the reader in. Kim's artwork is stunning, and seldom has a male writer captured the attitudes, emotions and behavior of female characters so believably. --Publisher's Weekly.

The Waters and the Wild by Francesca Lia Block.

Bee, 13, wants to eat the dirt in her mother's garden; Haze believes that he is half-alien; and Stephanie thinks that she is a reincarnated slave girl from the 1800s whose name was Sarah. One day Bee sees a girl in her room who could be her twin. After the girl says, You are me, she disappears. Bee usually doesn't talk to anyone, but decides to ask Haze about the vanishing figure. He explains that she is a doppelganger and that seeing one means your imminent death. Bee hears Sarah sing a Billie Holiday song about lynching and talks to her. The three loners become friends. They crash a party by deciding to be invisible and enjoy drinking and dancing before being caught. They grab hands, run out of the party, and fly away. When they land, Bee finds a poisonous plant in her pocket. The teens figure out that she is a changeling, and the real Bee is desperate to have her body back. The author does an excellent job of integrating background slices of paranormal history and poetry. This slim novel is comprised of short chapters, is quickly paced, and has a surprise ending. It will appeal to reluctant readers, fans of the bizarre, and teens who feel that they don't quite fit in. –Samantha Larsen Hastings, West Jordan Public Library, UT, School Library Journal.

Haunted Waters by Mary Pope Osborne.

At the opening of this sweepingly romantic novel, its hero, the dashing Lord Huldebrand of Ringstetten, strays off the beaten path as he travels through an ancient forest, only to find himself spurred on by otherworldly forces. So, too, will readers surrender to the irresistible momentum of Osborne's (Mermaid Tales from Around the World) lush narrative, which was inspired by a German fairy tale written by the Baron de la Motte-Fouque in the early 19th century. Huldebrand takes refuge with an elderly fisherman and his mad wife, who turn out to have a spellbindingly beautiful daughter, the guileless Undine. As storms and floods prevent Huldebrand from resuming his journey, he and Undine fall in love; a shipwrecked priest miraculously washes up on the fisherman's shores and performs their marriage ceremony. The newlyweds return to Huldebrand's castle, but their happiness is clouded as evidence quickly mounts that Undine is not mortal but a creature of the sea kingdom. The gifted author unfolds her tale so that its developments seem both inevitable and wholly surprising. She chooses details elegantly and economically, using just a few descriptive phrases to evoke a sumptuously imagined chivalric age. Lustrous as a pearl. --Publisher's Weekly.

The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer (Author), Elizabeth D. Crawford (Translator).

This inventive and original fantasy is set among the canals of a fantastical medieval Venice and grounded by powerful imagery of light and shadow, stone and water. Two orphans are apprenticed to a magical mirror maker. Junipa, 13, is blind, but is given her sight in a magical but dangerous process. Merle, 14, is impulsive, courageous, and already the owner of a magic mirror. She finds herself at the center of the struggle for the survival of Venice in the face of the invading Egyptian army that is besieging it. The city has been kept safe thus far by the Flowing Queen, but now her spirit has been trapped in a glass vial. When Merle comes into possession of this vial, she is commanded by the Flowing Queen to drink the water in it, thus imbibing her spirit and voice. She then has to free Vermithrax, a flying lion of living stone long held prisoner by the Venetian authorities, as the first step in the process of ensuring the safety of the city. A powerful mix of political intrigue, adventure, and magic, the novel is peopled with believable and likable human characters along with mermaids, both feared and enslaved by humans; lions of living stone; and a fearsome and horrifying representative of the Kingdom of Hell. The Water Mirror is a standout in this year's crowded field of fantasy novels, and will have readers clamoring for the next entry in the series. –Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City, School Library Journal.

Healing Water: A Hawaiian Story by Joyce Moyer Hostetter.

Nineteenth-century Hawaii. Thirteen-year-old Pia's life is forever changed by leprosy. Pia has never known his real father. But Kamaka, a family friend, has taught him how to work, explore, and take on physical challenges. Pia believes Kamaka is fearless. He never suspects that a time will come when Kamaka could actually be afraid of him. Neither does he expect his own body to betray him, or his government to tear him from his family and send him into exile. When Pia finds himself abandoned on Moloka'i, in Hawai'i's leprosy settlement, he turns to the skills he learned from Kamaka to help him survive. But the conditions are harsh. Pia discovers that he must choose between lawlessness and aloha, revenge and forgiveness, his own willfulness and the example of someone worthy of being like a father. This fictional account was inspired by the experiences of the many Hawaiians who were sent to Moloka'i's isolated Kalaupapa peninsula starting in 1866 and by the life of Father Damien deVeuster, who chose to live and work there in the late 1800s. The author conducted extensive research, working with experts and visiting the leprosy settlement.

The Shape of Water by Anne Spollen.

"Spollen interweaves elemental, evocative images of what is formless and boundless—water, air, grief, death—with what is solid and limited-earth, objects, human love and forgiveness. This enchanting novel starts quietly, draws the reader in and weaves a seductive spell that holds until the last page."--Kirkus (starred review)

"I had come to know silence well during those months after my mother died. When you sit in silence long enough, you learn that silence has a motion. It glides over you without shape or form, but with weight, exactly like water."

Magda's mother always said the world was full of strange and beautiful secrets only the two of them could see. But now she's gone and Magda's world is flooded with anxiety and loneliness—and maybe, madness. As an imaginary family of bickering fish begins to torment her, Magda's only outlet is starting beautiful but destructive fires in the marshes near her house. The Shape of Water is a darkly lyrical and surprising tapestry of the mundane and the surreal, in which Magda begins to untangle her family's secrets and search for a stable place in the world.


The Politick said...

oo wow thanks, WriterGirl! the book the Water Mirror was a book i had began years ago, and then i misplaced it or gave it away, and totally forgot about it. i actually may have stopped reading it because it scared me. whoa. this brings back memories. :)