Monday's Muse, 33rd edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Storm by René Dupéré [KA 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 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:

Mercy's Birds by Linda Holeman.

Mercy, her mother Pearl, and her Aunt "Moo" have been on a downward socioeconomic slide for some time. As the novel opens, the teen is adjusting to yet another new school and to the realization that her aunt's boyfriend, who made sexual advances toward Mercy and threatened to hurt her if she told anyone, is due to return from an overseas job. Like her mother, who has become clinically depressed, and her aunt, who has retreated into an alcoholic haze, the girl begins to withdraw. A new friend and her employer keep reaching out to her and, to her credit, she hangs on to the ropes they throw. When Mercy's mother is hospitalized for her depression and her aunt's boyfriend returns, Mercy finds the strength to stand up to him. The novel deals with issues of poverty, depression, suicide, molestation, and alcoholism with delicacy, but without glossing over the harsh realities. Aunt Moo and Pearl are unconventional yet believable. The situations at school, especially when Mercy is interacting with her peers or the school counselor, are painfully realistic. The only weaknesses are in a few minor details, including the bird image of the title that is awkwardly woven into several scenes. Even though there is no Hollywood ending, readers are left with the hope that this family will find ways to rebuild the unit they almost lost.--Lucinda Lockwood, Thomas Haney Secondary School, Maple Ridge, BC, School Library Journal

Broken Moon by Kim Antieau.

Scarred physically and psychologically by Pakistani traditionalists who avenged her brother's alleged assault on another girl by cutting his sister's face and body, Nadira accepts that she has been ruined. Now 18, she focuses her love on her 6-year-old brother, entertaining him with stories from A Thousand and One Nights. Her father is dead and she works as a servant in a Karachi household to support Umar and their mother, who live with cruel Uncle Rubel. When he sells Umar to kidnappers who take children to the desert to become camel jockeys, she disguises herself as a boy to follow him. In the Bedouin country she tames young bullies as well as the fastest camel, hoping to be allowed to go to the races where she might encounter her brother and win their freedom. Nadira's forbearance and skillful storytelling make her sad situation bearable, and the romantically happy ending will satisfy readers caught up in her life. The first-person account is presented as a narrative written for Umar to read at some later date. Details of Nadira's daily life are smoothly woven in, but they are not the sort of thing–descriptions of clothing and the ingredients for masala chai, for example–that would ordinarily be emphasized by a sister writing to her brother. Although this is clearly an outsider's view of life in Pakistan and on the Arab peninsula, it may entice readers to explore that world further.–Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD, School Library Journal

Justice N Mercy by Min-Woo Hyung.

Featuring sketches that Mr. Hyung had stashed away, he was convinced to make this artbook.

I couldn't be happier.

His art style isfresh and gives a breath of life into a foreign comic economy that seems to be filled with too many big eyed anime creeps.

His style is often harsh, and gives a since of surrealism in it's details. If you are fan of his currently published comic "Priest" you will love this artbook.

Featuring over 100 pages of amazing art, this is a truly wonderful buy whether you just like Min-Woo Hyjng or just enjoy artbooks. --Jacob Kohl ( review)

Mercy Lily by Lisa Albert.

A poetic, moving story about a teen who must make an unimaginable choice

Mama has slowly been losing herself to MS. After traditional treatment fails, she takes bee sting therapy, administered by Lily, to alleviate her pain. Lily is trained as a veterinary assistant, so she can easily handle the treatments. What she can't handle is what happens when the bee sting therapy fails and it becomes clear that Mama wants to die.

One beautiful spring day, Lily's mother asks her for the most impossible thing of all—mercy. They live in Oregon, where the Death with Dignity Act allows a patient to make the decision to end their own life.

While navigating first love, friendship, and the other normal worries faced by high school sophomores, Lily also has to choose: grant Mama's request, or cling to Mama's fading life for all it's worth.

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill.

Hemphill follows her Printz Honor Book Your Own, Sylvia (2007) with another bold verse novel based on historical figures. Here, her voices belong to the “afflicted” girls of Salem, whose accusations of witchcraft led to the hangings of 19 townspeople in 1692. Once again, Hemphill's raw, intimate poetry probes behind the abstract facts and creates characters that pulse with complex emotion. According to an appended author's note, unresolved theories about the causes of the girls' behavior range from bread-mold-induced hallucinations to bird flu. In Hemphill's story, the girls fake their afflictions, and the book's great strength lies in its masterful unveiling of the girls' wholly believable motivations: romantic jealousy; boredom; a yearning for friendship, affection, and attention; and most of all, empowerment in a highly constricting and stratified society that left few opportunities for women. Layering the girls' voices in interspersed, lyrical poems that slowly build the psychological drama, Hemphill requires patience from her readers. What emerge are richly developed portraits of Puritanical mean girls, and teens will easily recognize the contemporary parallels in the authentic clique dynamics. An excellent supplementary choice for curricular studies of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, this will also find readers outside the classroom, who will savor the accessible, unsettling, piercing lines that connect past and present with timeless conflicts and truths.--Gillian Engberg, Booklist