Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Every Tear is a Waterfall by Coldplay.
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.
Angel Burn by L. A. Weatherly.
Weatherly (Child X) launches a supernatural YA trilogy with a terrific, action-packed romantic thriller. Sixteen-year-old Willow is a gifted mechanic and psychic living in upstate New York. When she does a reading for her classmate Beth, who is planning on joining the cultlike Church of Angels, Willow becomes scared; Beth thinks she's been blessed by an angel, but Willow sees that the "angel" feeds on humans' life force, poisoning bodies and damaging minds while leaving the victim euphoric. At 17, Alex has been an angel assassin for years, but when he receives orders to kill Willow, he's confused--she's not his typical target, and he's suspicious about why she's been marked for death. Looking for answers, Alex rescues Willow and takes her on the run, trying to foil the angels' plans before all of humanity is lost. Weatherly's plot and writing are first-rate, adrenaline- fueled while still taking the time to thoughtfully develop the characters and build the romance. This elevated twist on the angel genre deserves to be spread far and wide. Ages 14-up.--Publisher's Weekly
The Big Burn by Jeanette Ingold.
Ingold (Pictures, 1918) captures the momentum of a wildfire in this historical novel about "the big burn" that scorched millions of acres across Idaho and Montana in 1910. Against the atmospheric backdrop of beauty and devastation, each of three teens bravely battles the fire. As a member of the all-black infantry sent to help, Seth conquers his own insecurities; Jarrett, younger brother of a forest ranger, chooses to combat the blaze with the rough-and-tumble, ill-equipped hired crews; while Lizbeth and her guardian cousin reluctantly abandon their homestead, only to face the danger in town. Ingold intersperses the intersecting stories of the teenagers with "field notes" recorded by a ranger and a university professor; these slow the pace but offer illuminating background, including the contrast between the Indian tradition of setting controlled fires annually versus the government's belief that "the only safe way to control fire was to not let it burn in the first place." The narrative flags a bit a romance between Jarrett and Lizabeth never becomes as compelling as their individual struggles but on balance, the triumphs and casualties recounted here will heighten appreciation for the courage and sacrifice of firefighters and settlers; the book may be especially timely in light of this summer's runaway fires in the West.--Publisher's Weekly.
Burn by Suzanne Phillips.
Cameron, a high school freshman, becomes an easy target for the varsity bullies after a chance comment by a coach who notices his short stature and long hair from behind and directs him to the girls' gym. As the taunts of "gay" or "fag" drive most of his friends away, Cameron's anger escalates. When he is assaulted in the locker room and photos of his nude body are posted on the Internet, he begins to break down and his desire to retaliate is explosive. Only his mother's boyfriend, a police officer, is able to understand the post-traumatic stress disorder that Cam is experiencing and offer practical though unwanted support. This is an intense story with brutal descriptions of the abuse Cameron suffers. Phillips provides just enough nuanced details of sexual assault and violence yet masterfully avoids sensationalism. While Burn lacks the eloquence of Nancy Garden's Endgame (Harcourt, 2006) and the broad perspective of Walter Dean Myers's Shooter (HarperCollins, 2004), it instead approaches the inner turmoil of the victim's "real time" during the taunting, humiliation, revenge, and remorse. As Cam's emotional state deteriorates, fantasy and reality blur, effectively conveying his pain and confusion. Reluctant readers will appreciate the fast pace of the book as the disturbing plot unfolds with short day-to-day vignettes. There is understanding to be gained for everyone who reads this timely title.—-Sue Lloyd, Franklin High School, Livonia, MI, School Library Journal.
Camilla d'Errico's Burn by Scott Sanders and Camilla d'Errico.
Burn was once human.
He also had a family and friends, until a metallic angel of death took everything from him. This mechanical monster, Shoftiel, was one of many living machines made to help humanity that revolted and declared war on their creators. It tore through Burn's home and wreaked havoc on his city until the buildings collapsed, crashing down upon them.
Emerging from the rubble, Burn and Shoftiel discover their once separate bodies have become one -- neither human nor machine, but a freak union of both. Internally their minds are caught in a raging battle for control. Just as mankind must struggle against the sentients for survival, Burn must find the strength to overcome Shoftiel's genocidal programming to retain whatever's left of his humanity.
The Kookaburra and Other Stories by Dal Burns.
[Editor's Note: The following is a combined review with OUTBACK.]--Dal Burns left England for Australia as a mere lad of 17. This production is the "story" of his walkabout through the not-so-English colony down under. According to the author, this story includes not only tales of what he did and saw, but also tales of what he wishes he'd seen and done. Launching from Sydney, he journeys to the vast expanse of the Outback, enduring privation as well as meeting a host of colorful characters: a Gallipoli veteran, aborigines, and assorted tough mates. Burns's clear voice is soft and soothing, in contrast to the world he encounters. His adventures are fascinating; a large number of delightful songs set the mood and add color to the incidents he relates. The most memorable is a wonderful performance of "Lime Juice Tub." (This is even accessible via the work's Web site.) KOOKABURRA is Burns's retelling of a number of aboriginal tales. We are told the origin of the kangaroo, how a trickster is himself tricked, and how the cockatiel came into being.--Audiofile.
Pucker by Melanie Gideon.
Thomas Quicksilver (born Thomas Gale) has lived half his 17 years with burn scars that earned him the nickname Pucker. However, neither the scars nor the change in his name is as traumatic as his adventures in the alternative world of Isaura, his birth home. There, Seers hold political power and failed or ruined humans immigrate only to become servants, or Changed, with no personal will. Thomas, who fled Isaura in childhood with his widowed mother, has adapted well to life in contemporary America. However, Serena is losing her life force and sends him on a mission to restore her Seerskin. Once Thomas returns to his homeland purportedly as one of the Changed he must avoid being identified by the natives, fight to keep alive his own will to find the Seerskin and return to Earth, become accustomed to his newly invoked movie-star good looks, and cope with other Changed ones, including a feisty girl with whom he falls in love. Gideon's many characters are nuanced and credible. None is perfect, and even those with major flaws are shown to have positive attributes. The parallel world, with its adherence to late-19th-century technology, offers much to ponder, not only by readers, but also by Thomas. The only shortcoming of this fascinating novel is its abrupt ending, which, at least, comes after he has re-immigrated to Earth and is living with both his recovering mother and his returned keloid scars. --Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA, School Library Journal.