Monday's Muse, 38th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Outside the City by Young Galaxy.

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:

The Shield Ring by Rosemary Sutcliff.

The story takes place in England shortly after the Norman Conquest. High up among the mountains of the Lake District is a secret valley where the Northmen (Vikings) have their last stronghold - or shield ring. The Normans want to crush this last group of Northmen and bring the whole country under their control. To this end they build a castle in Carlisle and send an army north.

Life goes on in the valley: lambing, shearing, spinning, harvesting, and singing and storytelling in the great hall in the evenings - as narrated by two young people. Frytha is a Saxon girl, who fled to the valley after the Normans burnt her home, and Bjorn, the Bear-Cub, is the foster son of the old harper.

As the people of the shield ring go about their lives, they stay ready for a Norman attack. Bjorn's foster father teaches him to play the Sweet-singer, a special harp that the old harper owns, and despite Bjorn's enthusiasm, a secret fear burns inside the boy: if the Normans capture Bjorn, he may succumb to torture and reveal the path to the hidden valley.

When the Northmen need to scout the extent of the Norman army, Bjorn volunteers: he speaks enough Norman to get by and a harper can go anywhere. The young man sets out for the Norman camp, not knowing that Frytha, an ally, follows him. He does know that if the Normans discover his espionage, though, he will be tortured, and his secret fear from childhood may become a reality.

Immortal by Gillian Shields.

Sensible Evie Johnson arrives alone to face her new life at the Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies. Raised by her beloved grandmother, Evie never wanted to attend boarding school, especially one for spoiled rich girls. But Frankie has fallen gravely ill and Evie's father is away in military service, so off to Wyldcliffe she goes. It is as horrible as Evie suspected it would be. The girls mistreat her, the headmistress is a nightmare, and she keeps seeing a girl who looks just like her. Evie's only joy comes from her budding romance with elusive Sebastian, who tells her that he lives near the school. Why will he only meet her at night? What does he know about the mysteries surrounding the school? And who is that shadowy girl? Billed as the first in a paranormal romance series, this lightweight story is filled with romance, mystery, and suspense. The moors provide plenty of atmosphere and Wyldcliffe Abbey and its teachers are downright spooky.–Sharon Grover, Hedberg Public Library, Janesville, WI, School Library Journal.

Shield of Fire by Alice Leader.

A powerful historical adventure set in ancient Greece. Nyresa is forced to leave her island home when the Persians threaten to invade. As she starts a new life in the hustle and bustle of Athens, she begins to make new friends - and finds herself sucked into a dangerous new world of subterfuge, lies and treason. With her beautiful cousin Rhode and a young soldier called Cherson, she uncovers a plot to betray Athens to the Persian army - and as the two armies build up to an unforgettable battle at Marathon, the fate of Athens is in the hands of a 12-year-old girl.

Ben and Gran and the Whole, Wide, Wonderful World by Gillian Shields.

Ben's favourite person in the whole, wide world is Gran, and Gran's favourite person is Ben. There is only one problem - they live a whole, wide world apart. Now Gran is coming to visit. But with rocky rivers, scorching deserts and seasick cats to contend with, will she ever reach Ben's in time for tea? The split page design allows children to follow Gran's amazing journey at the same time as watching Ben busy making his preparations for her visit.

Viking Warrior: Book 1 of the Strongbow Saga by Judson Roberts.

In 9th century Denmark, a child born to a slave is also a slave, and the property of his mother’s master. Halfdan, the son of an Irish noblewoman and the Danish chieftain who captured and enslaved her, has grown up a slave in his own father’s household. But the Norns, the weavers of the fates of all men, have different plans for him, although rarely do they give a gift without exacting a price. The Strongbow Saga is an epic tale of one man’s unstoppable quest for justice and vengeance that carries him across the 9th century world of the Vikings. In Viking Warrior, book one of the Saga, a cruel twist of fate both robs Halfdan of the mother he loves and frees him, setting him upon the path to a new destiny. But a brutal act of treachery and murder upends Halfdan’s new life, sending him on the run with ruthless hunters hot on his trail.