Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Njosnavelin by Sigur Ros.
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.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.
A clever, scary, little-bit-sexy beginning to a series that takes Louisiana teen Rory to London.Rory's parents are teaching for a year at the University of Bristol, so she gets to spend senior year at Wexford, a London boarding school. She recounts her story, from mining her colorful relatives for stories to wow her English classmates, coming to grips with heavier course loads and making a couple of fairly adorable friends. But London is soon caught up in fear, as a copycat killer has begun recreating Jack the Ripper's bloody murders in gruesome detail. Johnson fearlessly takes readers from what seems like a cool innocent-abroad-with-iPod story to supernatural thriller, when Rory sees a man no one else does on campus the night of one of those murders. Enter a trio of young folks who are ghost hunters of a very specific sort. The tension ramps up exquisitely among cups of tea, library visits and the London Underground. The explosive ending is genuinely terrifying but never loses the wit, verve and humor that Rory carries with her throughout. While this tale does conclude, it does so with a complicated revelation that will have readers madly eager for the next installment.Nice touches about friendship, kissing, research and the way a boy's curls might touch his collar fully integrate with a clear-eyed look at a pitiless killer. Kirkus (August 15, 2011).
Death Note (series) by Tsugumi Oba.
(Note: I've read part of this series, and Light is freaking creepy).
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.
This haunting, suspenseful novel follows the parallel stories of Fergus, facing the final high-school exams that will decide his future, and a murdered Iron Age "bogchild" he names Mel after he discovers her well-preserved body in a peat marsh. Living in Northern Ireland in 1981, Fergus is deeply involved in the Troubles between warring factions, as his imprisoned Republican older brother Joe joins a hunger strike. Fergus reluctantly becomes a smuggler of possible explosives in an attempt to protect both Joe and a Welsh border guard he's befriended. At the same time he begins a relationship with Cora, the conflicted daughter of the archaeologist researching Mel's death. Mel haunts Fergus's dreams, relating her own tragic but brave end; her story provides additional resonance to a tale that ends with a glimmer of hope for a better future. A sense of doom, perfectly captured, and images of sacrifice hang over the well-developed characters, making this a painful and moving read. Pitch-perfect in capturing the often futile struggles for the many victims of Irish independence over the millennia. Kirkus (July 15, 2008).
The Killer's Cousin by Nancy Werlin.
In this utterly terrifying psychodrama, a teenager already laboring under a crushing load of guilt finds himself cleverly, relentlessly stalked by his 11-year-old cousin. David killed his lover. The fact that it was accidental and that he's been acquitted of her murder, matters to him not at all. To finish high school and perhaps find a way to live with himself, he moves away from home to stay with Massachusetts relatives, where, in an attic apartment that may be haunted, he lives above a family driven seriously dysfunctional by a daughter's apparent suicide four years before. His hosts' remaining daughter, Lily, greets him coldly and starts a campaign of surreptitious harassment designed to enrage him beyond control. Why? Powerless to stop her and unable to make her parents believe that she needs help, David hangs on grimly, meanwhile trying to fit in at a new school and finding there an unexpected friend. Positioning her characters in an intricate, shadowy web of secrets, deception, bad choices, family feuds, and ghostly warnings, Werlin winds the tension to an excruciating point, then releases it in a fiery climax: realizing in the nick of time that he's not the only killer in the family, David races into a burning house to save Lily from suicide, then promises her that she won't be alone with her anguish any longer. With this tautly plotted thriller, rich in complex, finely drawn characters, Werlin more than fulfills the promise of her first novel, Are You Alone on Purpose? --John Peters, Booklist. (September 1, 1998).
The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks.
Ruben Ford, 14, feels things. When his sister is murdered on the English moors, he knows she's dead even though he's home in London. He and his brother, Cole, 17, are freakishly linked by Ruben's power to feel what Cole feels. The teens travel to Dartmoor to find Rachel's killer and bring her body home. They're received by a Dickensian assortment of sadistic thugs, greasy criminals, and corrupt cops, all hiding something. Brooks's feel for mood and setting is as masterful here as in his taut, noir Martyn Pig (Scholastic, 2002). A haunting, tense drama builds from the first line and only lets up for scenes of brutal, vivid violence that bring readers back down to earth. The murder is all but solved by the second half ofthe book, and the pace falters a bit as the resolution becomes obvious. However, Brooks sustains a mythical aura throughout, and rapid-fire action should keep teens engrossed. Ruben is vintage Brooks: sensitive, strange, and wholly three-dimensional. The dialogue between the brothers is crisp and natural, and often funny and touching at once. Cole is perfectly drawn as Ruben's tough, detached counterbalance. Brooks shows that the real magic between the brothers is their ferocious love for one another, and he does so brilliantly.–Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library --Johanna Lewis, School Library Journal (vol 52, issue 4, pg. 134. April 1, 2006).
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman.
In this polished thriller, Nora, an emotionally scarred teenager, interns with an eccentric college professor who has dedicated his life to decoding the Voynich manuscript, a mysterious (real-life) 15th-century document written in an unknown language. One night, Nora stumbles upon the gruesome murder of her close friend Chris, with his girlfriend, Adriane, crouched catatonic in his blood. Nora’s boyfriend, Max, has disappeared, and the police think he’s the murderer. Nora, investigating on her own, comes to believe that the crime was committed by the Hledaci, an ancient Czech cult dedicated to finding the Lumen Dei, an alchemical machine. With the cult possibly coming for Nora next, she and Adriane head for Prague—the heart of the deadly mystery—to find answers and save Max. Wasserman (the Cold Awakening trilogy) has written an intricate and tense tale that combines code breaking, a well-realized and genuinely creepy Czech background, and plenty of believable action and tragic turns. Readers who enjoy fast-paced, bloody, historically inflected thrillers in the vein of Dan Brown will be riveted. Publisher's Weekly.
The Killer's Tears by Anne-Laure Bondoux.
This poignant, lyrical story tells of an adult's discovery of love more than of a child's growth. Paolo is an unloved child on a desolate farm in southern Chile, whose life unexpectedly takes a turn for the better when Angel Allegria, a ruthless murderer, kills Paolo's parents merely to steal their home. Angel is unwilling to kill a child, and Paolo's grave silences touch his rarely used emotions. An unlikely friendship grows between the two, with Angel determined to win Paolo's love. Other potential father figures—the traveler who teaches Paolo to read, the poetic and literary old lumberjack—compete for Paolo's affections. Though Angel is redeemed and reborn through his relationship with Paolo, he can't outrun his past crimes. This spare but emotionally charged story is stylistically adult; the child protagonist acts primarily as an innocent prop to allow Angel's redemption. Once he enters his own adulthood, Paolo emerges as a fully formed character, a product of the men he met in his youth. A lovely story for the right audience. Kirkus (Reviews, February 1, 2006).
The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredricks.
When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just "party girl." As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick's mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.
Ripper by Stephan Petrucha.
Adopted by famous Pinkerton Agency Detective Hawking in 1895 New York, fourteen-year-old Carver Young hopes to find his birth father, but when he becomes involved in the pursuit of notorious killer Jack the Ripper Carver discovers that finding the truth can be worse than ignorance.