Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Breathe Easy by Mree.
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.
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst.
Liyana is a vessel, the chosen one, nurtured, trained, and offered up by her clan for a great honor: giving her life so their goddess, Bayla, may return to earth to inhabit her body. But the goddess does not return. At the end of her day of sacrifice, Liyana is still alive, her clan having left her alone, disgraced, and in grave danger in the desert. Vessel is the read-alike for your Hunger Games–obsessed teens. From the quest to find the other clans’ spurned vessels, to the two attractive love interests, to the intelligent, independent young heroine, this folkloric fantasy, while harkening to that ever-popular novel and movie, is unique in its own web of clever, complex characters and attention-absorbing adventure. Its setting alone is so vital that it becomes another character, a part of the action. Readers will feel the desert heat, the earth-numbing droughts, the vicious sandstorms and resulting sandwolves, and the bizarre sensations of a goddess living within the body of its human vessel. Brilliantly riveting, Vessel’s only disappointment is its single volume, a fate that relegates Liyana, her lovers, and her friends to their own vessel, a single book.--Bradburn, Frances, Booklist (October 1, 2012. Vol 109, number 3, pg. 54).
The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson.
This compelling first book in a medieval fantasy trilogy features Elisa, a 16-year-old princess, as she grows from an inexperienced girl who is forced to marry a weak king for political reasons into a confident and capable young woman, destined to be a respected leader in her own right. Shortly after her birth, Elisa received a magical Godstone in her navel, a sign bestowed every 100 years on a chosen one. Despite this, she feels inadequate when compared to her older, more beautiful sister so she eats to compensate for it. She's also very clever, particularly in the strategies of war, but all that most people see is her ample size. The only person who respects her is young Lord Hector, her husband's personal guard. Shortly after her wedding, she's kidnapped and forced to endure an arduous journey through the desert that toughens her. One of her kidnappers is a young man who falls for her and she for him. His people hope that she, as the Godstone bearer, can save them from their constant war against a neighboring enemy. This fast-moving and exciting novel is rife with political conspiracies and machinations. Elisa's maturation and physical transformation echo Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Princess Ben (Houghton Harcourt, 2008). Fans of Tamora Pierce's "Beka Cooper" series (Random) will find a kindred spirit in Elisa as she experiences great adversity and heart-wrenching loss.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton --Sharon Rawlins, School Library Journal (August 1, 2011. Vol 57, issue 8, pg. 98).
The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti.
Frenenqer—a name meaning restraint—was born inside her father’s imagination and sculpted into his vision of the perfect daughter. She has felt his invisible finger between her shoulder blades her whole life, forcing her meek, obedient, and modest actions. To compound the oppression, Frenenqer lives in a blazingly hot oasis in a Middle Eastern desert, marked by dirty white buildings, an unforgiving landscape, and no place to go, save to school and back home again. In an act of defiance, Frenenqer saves a black cat from certain death at the animal souk and brings him home. The cat is a shape-shifter, a Free person whom Frenenqer names Sangris. He has no constraints, no family, no rules to follow. Sangris, often taking the form of a boy, sprouts wings, and Frenenqer flies with him at night to places both real and magical. It’s this juxtaposition of subjugation and freedom that propels Rossetti’s spellbinding debut, as a girl owned by her father begins to experience life outside of narrowly defined spaces. With taut, lush writing (“the wind shut my eyes for me and rioted in my hair”), a stunningly imagined setting, and a premise that’s unique among the stacks of paranormal romances, this one—written when Rossetti was a teenager—feels like a breeze in the desert.--Kelley, Ann, Booklist (September 15, 2012. Vol 109, number 2, pg. 74).
Jim Henson's Tale of Sand by Ramon Perez.
Based on an unproduced feature-length screenplay by legendary visionary Henson and Juhl, this graphic novel follows its hapless protagonist as he is cast out into the desert by the cheerful Sheriff Tate for reasons as baffling to the unnamed hero as the reader. The scruffy hero is a pawn in a game whose rules are concealed from him, pursued across a surrealistic southwest U.S. by an implacable hunter and hindered by the eccentric, bizarre inhabitants of the great desolation. The prize waiting for him at the end of the chase, should he survive to reach the end, is one he will never guess at. While best known as the creator of the Muppets, Henson was a man of multiple gifts. More than two decades after his untimely death, Pérez has brought to life a little-known side of Henson’s storytelling skill. The story eschews extensive dialogue, making events dependent on Pérez’s ability to convey Henson’s vision. Instead of trying to merely make a movie storyboard, Pérez chooses to make this pure comics, using an animated style somewhat reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke and stunning coloring that uses different palettes—muted pastels or striking duotone—to tell the story. An eccentric oddity, lovingly rendered into a haunting story.--Publisher's Weekly (February 13, 2012. Vol 259, issue 07).
The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio by Lloyd Alexander.
This posthumously published novel from Alexander, who died this spring, is an exuberant and compassionate tale of adventure. Kicked out of his merchant uncle’s house, inveterate daydreamer Carlo leaves the island of Magenta (not far from Campania, the mythical setting of The Rope Trick ) to head east on the Road ofGoldenDreams. He travels through Sidya, Marakand and Keshavar (the evocative names are vintage Alexander, subtly blending cartography and legend), all the way to Cathai, where he expects to make his fortune, thanks to the treasure map he found tucked into a book of fantastic tales given him by a mysterious bookseller. Themes that call to mind Alexander’s landmark Prydain Chronicles reappear here, telescoped into a single potent volume: Starting as a callow youth, Carlo gains wisdom and the capacity to love deeply, thanks to his adventures on the road and what he learns from his fellow travelers. The buoyant fantasy is counterpointed by the war and destruction that lurk beyond nearly every bend in the road; the interplay between these elements will keep readers enthralled every step of Alexander’s final literary journey.--Publisher's Weekly (July 23, 2007. Vol 254, issue 29, pg. 66).
Deathwatch by Robb White.
The author of Up Periscope and Torpedo Run switches his locale to the desert for some throat-parching suspense as the young hunting guide Ben becomes human prey after witnessing his hard-boiled client Madec accidentally shoot an old prospector. Instead of dispatching Ben summarily, Madec releases his victim (naked, unarmed and without food or water) -- giving him at least a "sporting" chance to escape being shot and providing an excuse for Ben to stage a novel-length demonstration of physical stamina, cunning and survival savvy. Of course when Ben finally outwits Madec and makes his way back to town, there's still the problem of convincing the sheriff that Madec, not he, is the guilty one, but readers who have managed to undergo this test of endurance thus far will have no doubt about the outcome.--Kirkus (May 1, 1972).
Shaman Warrior. Vol 1. (series) by Chung-gi Pak.
Master wizard Yarong and his faithful servant Batu are sent to remote desert wastelands on a grave mission from their king. These two mysterious warriors have yet to realize that a whirlwind of political movements and secret plots will change their lives forever. When Yarong is mortally injured, Batu must fulfill his promise to leave Yarong's side to protect his master's child. As Batu seeks to find and hide the infant, Yarong reveals another secret to those who have tracked him down to finish him off--the deadly, hidden power of a Shaman Warrior.
The Legend of the Wandering King by Laura Gallego Garcîa.
Before the days of Mohammed and Islam, Arabian prince Walid dreams of being a poet. He organizes an annual contest but loses each year to a humble carpet weaver, Hammad. Bitterly jealous, the prince punishes his rival with impossible tasks, which Hammad miraculously accomplishes, including weaving a carpet containing the entire history ofthe human race. The enchanted rug drives its viewers to madness, though, and after it is stolen, an older, repentant prince, fearful ofthe damage it causes, sets out to find it. As he journeys through Bedouin lands and distant cities, the prince continuously reinvents himself, falls in love, and finds the soul and heart missing in his early poems. Spanish author Garcia writes a captivating, magical tale--a combination of original legend, philosophical meditation, romance, and adventure--steeped in rich cultural specifics, defined in a note and a glossary. Readers will enjoy the thoughtful ruminations on fate and consequence as much as the thrilling, magical action, and they will recognize Walids course of self-discovery: try many identities on for size. --Gillian Engberg, Booklist (October 15, 2005. Vol 102, number 4, pg. 40).