Monday's Muse, 47th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): A Stray Child by Yuki Kajiura [.hack//SIGN 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:
Instrument/Music 2.0.

Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph.

High school senior Teresa Adams is so painfully shy that she dreads speaking to anyone in the hallways or getting called on in class. But in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks out—doing mock broadcasts for Miami's hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up at The SLAM, Tere surprises herself by blossoming behind the mike into confident, sassy Sweet T—and to everyone’s shock, she’s a hit! Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ’s awesome taste in music. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest—and a prom date with Sweet T is the grand prize—Sweet T’s dream could turn into Tere’s worst nightmare....

What a Song Can Do: 12 Riffs on the Power of Music edited by Jennifer Armstrong.

Armstrong offers a dozen perspectives on music's life-altering possibilities in this short-story collection. Ron Koertge's "Variations on a Theme" cleverly gives voice to what motivates various students to join a school band and how that decision affects their lives. A gay teen shares his inner struggle to accept his own sexuality in David Levithan's sensitive "What a Song Can Do." The pain of being forced into the role of child prodigy in one musical form until one's own true voice can be heard underlies Jude Mandell's verse selection. Music's connection to life is seen from myriad angles without overpowering the stories, which all have interesting plots and well-developed characters. Brief biographical sketches of the authors are appended and include a description of the importance of music in their lives. This collection will certainly speak to many teens on a very personal level and will open the eyes and the ears of its readers.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ, School Library Journal.

Troll Bridge: A Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple.

A wicked adventure--or deadly…trollble

For sixteen-year-old harpist prodigy Moira, the annual Dairy Princess event in Vanderby is just another lame publicity "op." Moira a dairy princess? Get real. Twelve girls have been selected to have their likeness carved in butter and displayed on the Trollholm Bridge. It's a Vanderby State Fair tradition that has been going on for, like, ever.As far as Moira is concerned, the sooner it's over with the butter--er--better.

About the same time and not far away, three brothers--members of the sensationally popular teen boy band The Griffsons--are in the middle of a much needed road trip to relax from the pressures of their latest tour.

In a flash, however, the kids are suddenly transported to a strange and mystical wilderness where they find themselves in the middle of a deadly tug-of-war struggle between a magical fox named Fossegrim and the monstrous troll Aenmarr of Austraegir. At the heart of the feud is a battle for possession of a mysterious magical fiddle--and an ancient compact between Trollholm and the outer world.

Whatever. All Moira cares about is that eleven of her fellow princesses have been enchanted into a slumber and Moira needs to figure out a way to awaken them…and get home.

Unfortunately for Moira and the Griffsons, nothing in Trollholm is as it seems. Finding a way out of Trollholm may be a lot more difficult than they think.

The Black Canary by Jane Louise Curry.

Growing up in a close-knit, biracial American family with parents and grandparents professionally and personally engrossed in musical pursuits, 13-year-old James feels overprotected and pushed in the direction of their interests. He secretly resents the way his parents' careers absorb their time, and he resists developing his own musical talent. While staying in a London flat, James discovers a mysterious portal, steps through, and lands in Elizabethan times. Forced to fend for himself, he begins to explore his identity apart from his family's expectations, finding within himself an unexpected passion for singing. This is one of the few time-travel fantasies for children with a biracial character, let alone protagonist, and it includes James' acute observations of Elizabethan Londoners' reactions to him. Race, though, is only one of James' concerns as he struggles to survive where even the simple question "Where are you from?" leaves him scrambling to avoid pitfalls. James is a sympathetic character in both worlds, and readers will gladly follow him for the pleasure of his company as well as the need to know what will happen next. A genuinely good story that conveys a sense of darkness and mystery in the textured backdrop of a storied time and place.--Carolyn Phelan, Booklist.

Shanghai Shadows by Lois Ruby.

It's 1939, and the Shpann family has escaped their home in hopes of a better life in occupied China. Ilse, her brother, and their parents are shocked at the small size of their new lodgings, in which they practically live on top of each other and their neighbors; only then does Ilse start to realize that their life here as stateless refugees will be far more harsh than expected. Their family strains to make end meet as her mother finds only part-time work in a bakery, while her musician father cannot find work at all. Ilse soon learns that her brother, Erich, has joined REACT, an underground resistance organization that masterminds sabotage missions and smuggles information. She fears for her brother's safety, but craves adventure herself and talks her way into running occasional missions, as a gutsy if unlikely spy. Life grows tighter and tighter for the Shpanns as they are forced to relocate to Shanghai's Jewish ghetto, but the family always manages to take solace in one another--that is until a mother's secret threatens to tear them all apart. In this gripping historical novel from Lois Ruby, a young gril struggles to grow up while her family struggles just to survive as European Jews against the unforgiving and alien backdrop of World War II China.

The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones.

Mimi Shapiro had a disturbing freshman year at NYU, thanks to a foolish affair with a professor who still haunts her caller ID. So when her artist father, Marc, offers the use of his remote Canadian cottage, she’s glad to hop in her Mini Cooper and drive up north. The house is fairy-tale quaint, and the key is hidden right where her dad said it would be, so she’s shocked to fi nd someone already living there — Jay, a young musician, who is equally startled to meet Mimi and immediately accuses her of leaving strange and threatening tokens inside: a dead bird, a snakeskin, a cricket sound track embedded in his latest composition. But Mimi has just arrived, so who is responsible? And more alarmingly, what does the intruder want? Part gripping thriller, part family drama, this fast-paced novel plays out in alternating viewpoints, in a pastoral setting that is evocative and eerie — a mysterious character in its own right.

Nightsong: The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice by Michael Cadnum.

Cadnum follows Starfall: Phaeton and the Chariot of the Sun (2004) with another novel-length retelling of a classical myth. With vibrant detail, he embellishes events in the original story, creating a strong sense of place in each scene, from the sun-drenched countryside, where wandering Orpheus first meets the princess Eurydice, to the horrific underworld, where Orpheus travels to reclaim Eurydice after her fatal snakebite. Readers who claim disinterest in the classical myths will be easily swept up by the powerful love story, the perilous quests, the heartbreaking tragedy, and the magic, while romantics and aspiring artists may feel heartened by the well-paced story's messages about art's enduring, healing power. Send readers who want more about classical gods and mortals to Stephanie Spinner's Quiver (2002) and other titles listed in the "Read-alikes: Grrrls of the Ancient World" in the January 2003 issue of --Gillian Engberg, Booklist.

Othello [manga - 7 volumes] by Satomi Ikezawa.

Yaya is timid, apologetic, and socially awkward. She feels like herself only when she can hang out in gothic dress with other fans of her favorite band on Sundays. However, inside Yaya lurks Nana, the vibrant, aggressive, fearless side of her personality. When Yaya gets a headache or sees her reflection, Nana comes out to get revenge on anyone who hurt her. And although Nana knows about Yaya, Yaya always wakes with no memory of what just happened. Ikezawa's art is polished and skillful, though it bears a more-than-passing resemblance to Miwa Ueda's "Peach Girl" books(Tokyopop), luminous eyes and all. Still, this is a fun romp and original in its own way.–Susan Salpini, TASIS–The American School in England, School Library Journal.

Heartsinger by Karlijn Stoffels (author) and Laura Watkinson (translator).

A deeply romantic and hopeful fairy tale about the power of love and of music.

Mee was born with a great gift: the ability to sing other people's stories and heal their pain. But Mee also carries his own pain -- his failure to reach his deaf mother and heal her grief at his father's death. As he travels the country, he eases many people's sorrows, but he cannot connect with anyone himself.

Mitou also has a gift: spreading joy through a few notes from her accordion. When she hears about Mee--who was born on the same day she was--she knows that surely they belong together, each of them helping others through their music.

Amplified by Tara Kelly.

When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . . .


Marie Dalgaard said...

Shrinking Violet is gonna go up the charts now that Disney are making a movie of it... I still want to read the book though (:

Heather Zundel said...

I just heard about that! I've been wanting to read that one for a while. It looks so cute. :)