Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Ancient Stones by Jeremy Soule [Skyrim 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.
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang.
An unsettling dystopian adventure of two souls trapped in a single body. Like all children, Addie and Eva were born as two souls in the same body. As young children, the two personalities were both loved and indulged by their parents, but, unlike all the other children, Addie and Eva didn't "settle." In settling, the dominant soul takes over the single body and the recessive soul fades away. Children who don't settle are labeled hybrids and institutionalized. At age 6, Addie and Eva started seeing specialists to hasten the settling process, but the years of treatments have been unsuccessful. To hide their shame, Addie takes the dominant role and Eva becomes invisible to the outside world, thereby convincing society that they are not a hybrid. However, when an experiment with their classmates goes wrong, Addie/Eva find themselves institutionalized and wrestling with what it means to have a voice. Brackets within the text differentiate Addie's external communication and Eva's internal dialogue with Addie, helping to clarify who is speaking when. Worldbuilding is a little on the thin side, but Addie and Eva's emotions are more than enough to carry readers along. A thought-provoking first installment in a series that unflinchingly takes on ethically challenging topics.--Kirkus (August 1, 2012).
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst.
When a summoning goes awry, Liyana must try to save her people and learn how to live for herself, in this sweeping adventure. Chosen as a "vessel" to host the Goat Clan's goddess, Bayla, and abandoned when Bayla doesn't come, Liyana finds herself alone in the desert. Korbyn, god of the Raven Clan, rescues Liyana and provides her with a purpose: find the four other vessels who are also missing deities. Soon, Liyana and Korbyn pick up stalwart Fennik (horse god Sendar), princess-y Pia (silk goddess Oyri) and angry Raan (scorpion goddess Maara). Besides the desert's many dangers, the ragtag group faces the massed army of the Crescent Empire, led by a young Emperor and his malicious magician, Mulaf. The tribes need their gods to save them from illness, starvation and drought, but the gods need to possess vessels to work magic--an arrangement whose logic several characters begin to question. Liyana is self-sacrificing but not a saint; stubborn, loyal, and curious, she finds new reasons to live even as she faces death. Durst offers a meditation on leadership and power and a vivid story set outside the typical Western European fantasy milieu. From the gripping first line, a fast-paced, thought-provoking and stirring story of sacrifice.--Kirkus (July 15, 2012).
Dualed by Elsie Chapman.
The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life. But then a tragic misstep shakes West's confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she's no longer certain that she's the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her. Elsie Chapman's suspenseful debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna.
Fifteen-year-old Eva is the ultimate insurance policy: she's an echo, created by the "Weavers" to be an exact replica of her original, an Indian girl named Amarra. Eva's entire life has been dedicated to studying Amarra's life; should Amarra die, Eva will replace her, with only Amarra's family the wiser. Shortly after Eva and Amarra turn 16, Eva is ripped from everything and everyone she holds dear to move from England to India, where echoes are illegal, to fulfill her purpose. Mandanna's debut novel is lovely and at times heartbreaking, though there are some hiccups with her premise. Given the danger surrounding the discovery of an echo, Eva's upbringing doesn't seem nearly strict enough, her exposure to British culture and slang only opening the door for potential slipups (it's similarly puzzling why the Weavers would brand echoes with an identifying mark in a fairly visible spot on their bodies). But the novel rises above these and other illogical moments, offering a thoughtful study of both a girl's search for her identity and the human reaction to death. Ages 13–up. Agent: Melissa Sarver, Elizabeth Kaplan Agency. --Publisher's Weekly (August 20, 2012).
Doppelganger by David Stahler.
What makes someone a monster–actions or instincts? In this story, a doppelganger is a shape-shifter that kills its victims, claims their identity, and takes over their lives from a month up to a year. When high school jock Chris Parker attacks a helpless old man by the tracks, he makes a fatal error. The doppelganger that takes his place is a different person. As this Chris Parker learns about the family he is living with, he begins to ask some probing questions–does being a monster mean hitting your family, ignoring abuse, or accepting it? If such behavior is instinctual, does that make it acceptable? As the teen embraces his current form and falls for the deceased Chris’s girlfriend, he chooses to do something about the monsters around him. Can love make a difference in life–even if you are a monster? Does everyone deserve a second chance? This is a compelling horror story about making choices and the difference that certain decisions can make in life.--June H. Keuhn, Corning East High School, NY, School Library Journal (June 1, 2006 vol 52, issue 6, p166).
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.