Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Take Me Away by Globus.
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.
Good Enough by Paula Yoo.
How to make your Korean parents happy:
1. Get a perfect score on the SATs.
2. Get into HarvardYalePrinceton.
3. Don't talk to boys.*
Patti's parents expect nothing less than the best from their Korean-American daughter. Everything she does affects her chances of getting into an Ivy League school. So winning assistant concertmaster in her All-State violin competition and earning less than 2300 on her SATs is simply not good enough.
But Patti's discovering that there's more to life than the Ivy League. To start with, there's Cute Trumpet Guy. He's funny, he's talented, and he looks exactly like the lead singer of Patti's favorite band. Then, of course, there's her love of the violin. Not to mention cool rock concerts. And anyway, what if Patti doesn't want to go to HarvardYalePrinceton after all?
Paula Yoo scores big in her hilarious debut novel about an overachiever who longs to fit in and strives to stand out. The pressure is on!
*Boys will distract you from your studies.
Notes From the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick.
After drinking some vodka and taking his mom's car for a spin to his father's girlfriend's house, who just happens to be his former third-grade teacher, 16-year-old Alex Gregory finds himself on his neighbors' lawn with police yelling at him and a broken gnome under his car. It is hard to believe that Alex would do anything like this; most of the time he hangs out with his friend Laurie, a sassy petite karate expert, and plays guitar in the school jazz band. He is also trying to get over his parents' recent split. For drinking and driving, Alex is sentenced to 100 hours of community service at a nursing home with Solomon Lewis. Sol is a difficult, crotchety, eccentric old man with emphysema who lashes out at Alex in strange Yiddish phrases. Soon Alex grows found of Sol, who teaches him something about the guitar, respecting the elderly, and taking responsibility for his actions. Alex's voice is fresh and funny, but doesn't downplay the serious situations. The other characters in the book are well defined and add interesting touches to the story. Fans of Sonnenblick's Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie (Turning Tide, 2004) will be pleased with this follow-up book in which Steven and Annette make a few brief appearances.–Shannon Seglin, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA, School Library Journal.
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez.
Grammy-winning, world-touring violinist Carmen Bianchi, 17, has outgrown child-prodigy status. To transition to an adult career as a virtuoso soloist, she must win the Guarneri Competition. If she loses, she'll be just another former prodigy.
Reflecting on the peculiar fame belonging to classical-music prodigies, Jeremy King—another ambitious ex-wunderkind with an equally intimidating resume—tells Carmen, "You're a god to two percent of the population and a nobody to everyone else." Carmen embodies this strange dichotomy. She's homeschooled, has never dated, lacks close friends and depends on anti-anxiety drugs. She also has a vocation she loves, a Stradivarius violin and a posse of adults dedicated to advancing her career. Chief among these is Carmen's mother and manager, Diana, whose operatic career ended early. As the competition approaches, Carmen and Jeremy—each ardently competitive and deeply smitten—form a deep but wary bond that Diana, ruled by anxious passions and an iron determination to win, bitterly opposes. Carmen's struggles to succeed with integrity remind readers that "virtue" is the root of "virtuosity," a fragile truth often lost when valuable prizes are at stake.
Former child violin prodigy Martinez brings this overwrought world to tense, quivering life and guides readers through it confidently. A brilliant debut.--Kirkus.
Fires of the Faithful by Naomi Kritzer.
For sixteen-year-old Eliana, life at her conservatory of music is a pleasant interlude between youth and adulthood, with the hope of a prestigious Imperial Court appointment at the end. But beyond the conservatory walls is a land blighted by war and inexplicable famine and dominated by a fearsome religious order known as the Fedeli, who are systematically stamping out all traces of the land’s old beliefs. Soon not even the conservatory walls can hold out reality. When one classmate is brutally killed by the Fedeli for clinging to the forbidden ways and another is kidnapped by the Circle--the mysterious and powerful mages who rule the land--Eliana can take no more. Especially not after she learns one of the Circle’s most closely guarded secrets.
Now, determined to escape the Circle’s power, burning with rage at the Fedeli, and drawn herself to the beliefs of the Old Way, Eliana embarks on a treacherous journey to spread the truth. And what she finds shakes her to her core: a past destroyed, a future in doubt, and a desperate people in need of a leader--no matter how young or inexperienced....
The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby.
An enchanted green violin, an automaton that comes to life, and a hidden treasure . . . THE CLOCKWORK THREE is a richly woven adventure story that is sure to become a classic!
Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil padrone in the U.S. But when a mysterious green violin enters his life he begins to imagine a life of freedom.
Hannah is a soft-hearted, strong-willed girl from the tenements, who supports her family as a hotel maid when tragedy strikes and her father can no longer work. She learns about a hidden treasure, which she knows will save her family -- if she can find it.
And Frederick, the talented and intense clockmaker's apprentice, seeks to learn the truth about his mother while trying to forget the nightmares of the orphanage where she left him. He is determined to build an automaton and enter the clockmakers' guild -- if only he can create a working head.
Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.
Vanished by Sheela Chari.
Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument was a gift from her grandmother—intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.
When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, strange clues surface: a tea kettle ornamented with a familiar pointy-faced dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela’s instrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. Even if Neela does track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?
Sheela Chari’s debut novel is a finely tuned story of coincidence and fate, trust and deceit, music and mystery.
Sky by Roderick Townley.
Alec Schuyler has two immediate problems: what to do with the rest of his life, and what to do about Suze Matheson. She's his date for the Winter Dance. And she's got trouble of her own. The English teacher, Mr. "Call me Mark" Truscott, has made a move on her, a move which Sky has witnessed from his hiding place in a coat closet.
Fifteen-year-old Sky is not one for making scenes -- or even speaking up. Instead he speaks through his music, his jazz piano. This novel, in three sets and an encore, plays all the chords and paradiddles of Sky's life -- at the moment, the life of a runaway in New York City, 1959. So how come he's hiding in a tenth-grade homeroom coat closet?
Since his mother died, Sky and his father have had their umpteenth fight about the future. Like many a kid, Sky must leave home to get home. For him it's the world of Beat poetry and cool jazz. Along the way, he discovers an unexpected guide -- a blind musician who shows Sky how to see -- and learns what he has to lose to gain his own voice.