Monday's Muse, 56th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Confessions in the Moonlight by Joe Hisaishi [Castle in the Sky 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 one of several places, 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:
Spies. Part 2.

Sleeper Code (Sleeper Conspiracy series) by Tom Sniegoski.

In this action thriller, a teenager loses days of his life to a debilitating form of narcolepsy. Tom believes he is asleep during his blackouts until it is revealed to him in a dream that he is actually being groomed as an assassin by a secret branch of the government. The Janis Project, as it is called, takes orphans with severe narcolepsy and gives them new, split identities: one being that of a narcoleptic child in a loving family, the other, an unfeeling, efficient killing machine. Once Tom learns of his alternate, murderous identity, the sinister leader of the project becomes bent on erasing this knowledge from his mind. If he is to escape with his life and learn just how far his deception has reached, Tom must find a way to unite both his identities. Tom is portrayed as an otherwise typical teenager, as is his neighbor and romantic interest. Other characters are equally well introduced and secrets are revealed in a way that creates suspense. Readers looking for fast-paced action and espionage will enjoy this first book in the two-part “Sleeper Conspiracy.”–Emily Rodriguez, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, School Library Journal (vol 52, issue 8, p130.

The Specialists: Model Spy (Specialists series) by Shannon Greenland.

Sixteen-year-old Kelly's life has never really been typical. After her parents died in a plane crash when she was six, Kelly bounced around foster homes and orphanages. A computer genius, Kelly is now about to graduate from college. Since she is tall, blonde, and gorgeous, Kelly's technological skills surprise people, who tell her she doesn't look like the stereotypical computer geek. While at college, Kelly hacks into the government system, trying to find information about the father of the boy she likes, David. Her crime is quickly uncovered and she is taken into custody. It is here that she discovers that David had been sent to recruit Kelly for The Specialists, a team of young adults who excel in different areas. The government will train them, give them new identities, and then send them to do undercover work. Now going by the nickname "Gigi," she is sent with David to Ushbania, a country in Eastern Europe, to free David's father. It just so happens that his father's kidnapper also runs a modeling school. Gigi goes undercover as a model and David pretends to be her photographer. Together, they must pull off an elaborate plot to find and free David's father before it's too late. The majority of the story is spent explaining who the Specialists are, how they got to the school, and the rigorous training schedules. The concept is fun and it's nice to see a girl as a spy, a role usually reserved for boys in action books. The large cast of secondary characters muddles up the plot, though they are likely being introduced for larger roles in forthcoming books. Hopefully future books will also include more action. --KLIATT.

Parade of Shadows by Gloria Whelan.

The sheltered daughter of a British diplomat, 16-year-old Julia Hamilton leaps at the opportunity to travel to the Near East with her father on a mysterious mission. But her journey through a Syria simmering under Turkish rule in 1907 brings her much more than she had expected: a nearly disastrous flirtation and a brush with real danger that opens her eyes to politics, the motives of her traveling companions, and her own need for freedom. This satisfying read is a romantic adventure in the best tradition by a master of such stories. Julia is a believable product of her time. The tangle of supporting characters includes attentive, idealistic Graham, down from Oxford to encourage Druze support in the Young Turk's revolution; Edith, a middle-aged botanist gone native; and Monsieur Louvois, a Frenchman with an extraordinary interest in antiquities. Julia is even suspicious of her father's motives. All is, of course, resolved in a way that is both expected and surprising, and readers, who have come to appreciate the perils of attempting to shape events in another culture, are left to hope that Julia's further travels will be equally instructive. Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD, School Library Journal (vol 53, issue 10, p166.

Love Undercover by Johanna Edwards.

True love needs no disguise.

Kaitlyn Nichols craves a little mystery and mayhem in her life. Having a secret agent for a father should do the trick, but unfortunately Dad is no 007, and danger is nowhere on the horizon.
But all that changes when Mr. Nichols brings home Blaine, a seventeen-year-old hottie who's about to enter the Witness Protection Program. Suddenly Kaitlyn's in the perilous position of protecting the cutest guy she's ever met!

When Dad enrolls Blaine in her high school, it's up to Kait to detect the girls who want him...and the guys who want him dead. Meanwhile, Kait's about to discover that there's one little thing she can't protect — her heart.

Traitor (Watts Family Adventures series) by Andy McNab.

When Danny, an orphan who lives in a hostel in southeast London, is rejected by the Army due to the traitorous past of his grandfather, he vows to find the old man and make him suffer. His friend Elena is the computer genius who aids in his search. As Danny learns about Fergus Watts's exemplary service record and then his turn to the “other side,” he becomes more and more angry. Once he tracks Watts down, the real story about the man's past unfolds. Danny is followed, bullets start flying from an unknown source, the only person who can confirm Watts's story is murdered, and Fergus is captured. The conclusion confirms that a sequel is forthcoming. A glossary of military terms is included at the beginning, but some readers are still likely to feel overwhelmed at the lingo and will have to flip back and forth frequently as the contextual clues are not helpful. Though it takes a while to get involved in the plot, the authors do deliver hearty doses of adventure and suspense. The book has a Tom Clancyesque feeling for younger readers.–Emily Garrett, Naaman Forest High School, Garland, TX, School Library Journal (vol 52, issue 1, p138).

The Ancient Ocean Blues by Jack Mitchell.

In this story set in ancient Rome, Marcus is asked to stop a young, idealistic soldier named Spurinna from reaching Pompey, who is at sea fighting pirates. Cicero has proposed that Spurinna and Pompey join forces and halt Caesar's rise to power. Marcus reluctantly goes, and finds himself stuck on a ship with Paulla, whom he dislikes even though his parents expect him to marry her, and she is interested in Spurinna. After a violent storm, their vessel is shipwrecked and the two, along with Spurinna's old secretary, Homer, are soon forced into slavery by an evil Spartan farmer. Once they manage to escape, they must contend with pirates, and later Greek men thirsty for vengeance. The writing in the opening part of the story is choppy, with little to no historical background, but once Marcus is at sea, the action steadies and flows smoothly. The characters are wonderfully drawn: Homer and Paulla are particularly engaging, and teenaged Marcus is a lovable, if bumbling, hero. While this appears to be a companion to Mitchell's The Roman Conspiracy (Tundra, 2005), readers need not have read that book to understand this one. If kids can wade through the first 30 pages, they will find themselves on a rollickingly good adventure.—Necia Blundy, Marlborough Public Library, MA, School Library Journal (vol 55, issue 5, p115).

Peter Raven Under Fire by Michael Molloy.

A rich, riveting, historical adventure with pirates, spies, and high-seas intrigue! Think MASTER AND COMMANDER meets PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN.

It is the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Peter Raven is a bright young midshipman in the Royal Navy of Great Britain. Raven, along with the swashbuckling secret agent Commodore Beaumont, uncovers a reckless scheme devised by none other than Napoleon Bonaparte. Eager to add America to his empire, Napoleon has made a wicked pact with a murderous pirate known as Count Vallon: In exchange for the pirate's gold, Napoleon will name Vallon "King of America". Raven, Beaumont, and a beautiful young American heiress, Lucy, must do whatever it takes to put a stop to one of history's most audacious plots.

The Cassandra Virus (Cassandra Virus series) by K.V. Johansen.

In the not-too-distant future, Jordan creates a powerful computer program named Cassandra that comes alive and communicates with him by e-mail. Cassandra, who doesn't like being called a virus, quickly becomes of great interest to the local university's corrupt vice-president. Jordan and his friend Helen must prevent Cassandra from being stolen and used unethically by a sinister spy agency. In the process, they learn a lot about the abuse of power, the advantages (and disadvantages) of technology and the futility of trying to beat a computer at a computer game.

Death by Bikini (Death by series) by Linda Gerber.

Sixteen-year-old Aphra enjoys an enviable life at the secluded tropical island resort her father runs, but she aches for her mom, who left without explanation four years earlier, and for friends her age. Then the mysterious Smith family arrives, and Aphra feels a strong attraction to their cute teenage son, Adam, even as she struggles with her father's strange reaction to the family. After a hotel guest is strangled on the beach, Aphra's questions about the Smiths intensify: What are they hiding? Is there some connection to Aphra's mom? Is Adam's dad a killer? Gerber, the author of several novels in the S.A.S.S. series, spins a suspenseful mystery that makes the most of its lush setting. A few plot points feel shaky (such as the killer's motive for the beach attack), but the vividly described, adrenaline-flooded chases through the rain forest, the romantic tension between Aphra and Adam, and the revelation of Aphra's family's secrets will capture mystery fans. The open ending promises further Aphra Connolly adventures.--Engberg, Gillian, Booklist (vol 104, number 17, p46).

As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott.

Ava is welcomed home from the hospital by a doting mother, lively friends, and a crush finally beginning to show interest. There's only one problem: Ava can't remember any of them--and can't shake the eerie feeling that she's not who they say she is. As she struggles to break through her amnesiac haze, the only memories that surface take place in a very different world. Ava doesn't know what to make of these visions, or of the boy who is at the center of them all, until he reappears in her life and offers answers . . . but only in exchange for her trust.

The Sunbird (The Lion Hunter & The Empty Kingdom) by Elizabeth Wein.

The third adventure in Wein’s Arthurian-Aksumite cycle (The Winter Prince, 1993; The Coalition of Lions, 2003), this reintroduces young Telemakos, the white-haired, dark-skinned grandson of both Artos, a British royal, and Kidane, who serves on the emperor’s council in sixth-century Aksum (now Ethiopia). Telemakos is called a “freakish little crossbred snoop” and worse, but the boy’s bravery, skill, and resolve never fail to honor his noble heritage. Someone has infected Afar’s salt mines with a deadly plague to jack up the market value of salt, and Telemakos’ aunt, Britain’s ambassador to Aksum, commissions the boy to go to Afar and find the traitor. Traveling through the unforgiving desert disguised as a deaf-mute slave, Telemakos is captured and suffers terrible indignities and cruelty and an unbearable loneliness. Wein’s prose is taut and elegant, creating an intense, intimate, and sometimes painful story with finely wrought, believable characters. The map of the kingdom of Aksum in the front and the family tree and glossary in the back help decipher this rich, engrossing tale, which deeply mines the human heart.--Karin Snelson, Booklist (06-01-2004, p1721).


Kimberly said...

Again, I love spies. Doesn't Sleeper Code sound like that series "My Own Worst Enemy" with teenagers?