Where Theory Becomes Novel Plot Becomes REALITY.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Take Me Away by Globus.

Holy cow. Holy holy cow. You guys, I'm floored. Most here generally know that my geekiness and nerdifaction tend to know no bounds. This just almost exploded my brain.

Remember how last week I put a book called Airborn by Kenneth Oppel up on my "Top Ten Books for Reluctant Readers" list? Well, it is currently part of a trilogy (I'm seriously hoping for more because I love it so, but he's been busy writing things like a boy/chimp relationship as brothers and the childhood of Dr. Frankenstein. So we'll forgive him). Every book in the trilogy is good, believe me. The third, Starclimber, is my least favorite because of how a certain, particular character acts but I still enjoyed it and I loved the concept he used. These books take place in an alternate 1920s-ish universe, and they build - an elevator into space.

And guess what? It's real.

Here, watch this video (which, even more ironically, I was planning to use for last week's Feature Fun Friday, but Rae Carson's video won out instead).

So cool, huh?! (I sincerely hope you guys could watch that video. Please tell me if you can't!)

And so here I was, already thinking that was such a cool idea for a story, loving it, going on my merry way. And then out pops this article from discovery.com and this wired.com tumblr post and I screamed out loud.

Go Japan. I'll still be alive for this if everything goes according to plan. And from the details from discovery.com article on how long such a trip would take, it sounds remarkably close to Kenneth Oppel's descriptions. So yes - good authors do their research! This makes me want to reread this series again like you wouldn't believe. *eyes bookcase*

Oh, to heck with it. *runs over and grabs books off the shelf*

Nerdy levels are at an all-time maximum. I love life. ^_^

Monday's Muse, 49th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Blinding by Florence + The Machine.

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:

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.

Matteo Alacran was not Born; He was Harvested. His DNA came from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium -- a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt's first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster -- except for El Patron. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself. As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patron's power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect.

The Clone Codes by Patricia and Frederick McKissack.

The Cyborg Wars are over and Earth has peacefully prospered for more than one hundred years. Yet sometimes history must repeat itself until humanity learns from its mistakes. In the year 2170, despite technological and political advances, cyborgs and clones are treated no better than slaves, and an underground abolitionist movement is fighting for freedom. Thirteen-year-old Leanna's entire life is thrown into chaos when The World Federation of Nations discovers her mom is part of the radical Liberty Bell Movement.

After her mother is arrested for treason, Leanna is chased by a ruthless bounty hunter. Soon Leanna finds herself living among the Firsts, and nothing will ever be the same. With help from unlikely sources, Leanna learns The origin of the Liberty Bell Movement and how its members may have answers about her past and her new reality.

Alex Unlimited, Vol. 1: The Vosarak Code by Dan Jolley.

Alexandra Benno has a unique talent: she can instantly summon parallel-dimension versions of herself. But these duplicates are always super-idealized: smart, fast, tough, and often the most beautiful girls in their world--while Alex herself is clumsy, frizzy-haired, and has the body of a twelve-year-old boy! So when the government recruits Alex for top-secret espionage work, it's always her idealized version who gets the action and, consequently, receives all the credit. Sick of being her own sidekick, will Alex be able to crack the Vosarak Code and complete her latest mission . . . or is she destined to live in her own shadow? With pluck and wonder at every turn, Dan Jolley’s smart and action-packed novel series takes the reader on one unforgettable adventure after the next.

Emily the Strange: Stranger and Stranger (Book 2 of the Emily the Strange Series) by Rob Reger.

Emily the Strange, evil genius and skateboarder extraordinaire, has invented many things in her time—golems, working cat translators, great names for bands. But the duplication device may have been a mistake, especially when an accident produces an identical Emily. At first OtherMe is cool and useful, but it quickly becomes apparent that she is evil and will take over the world if not stopped. Emily's second journal, a sequel to The Lost Days (HarperCollins, 2009), is a dark delight, filled with all kinds of Strangeness: a broken leg, a Strange Manifesto that causes the entire town to go loony, an ex-spymaster neighbor, and an oddly understanding and absurdly patient mother, all described with demented wit and great relish, and accompanied by manga-style black-and-white cartoons. Does it all make sense? No, not really. Does it matter? Not at all. Fans of the first book and newcomers alike will thoroughly enjoy the zaniness and clamor for more.—Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library, School Library Journal.

Star Split by Kathryn Lasky.

Thirteen-year-old Darci lives in a future of near genetic perfection. In the year 3028, gene research has reached such heights that terminal diseases no longer exist and celebrated scientists and artists are chosen for "umbellation," or cloning, so that their great brains can live on forever. In Darci's society, genetic laws are made by the Bio Union, a governmental agency that closely tracks all genetic research and severely punishes those who dare to commit the worst crime of all: illegal umbellation. Despite all this, Darci's life is a normal one, if not somewhat boring. After all, she knows all of her traits intimately--she has extensively studied her own DNA and that of her family. What fascinates her is the past, when life wasn't so predictable, "a time of cripples and geniuses ... a time of grace and mystery when not all could be controlled and not all known." Darci soon discovers that she herself has been cloned. Not knowing if or when she will be found out, Darci fears for her life and wonders for the first time about the meaning behind a long-extinct word: soul.

With Star Split, author Kathryn Lasky makes a dramatic departure from her usual historical-fiction fare. Though the story has a few unexplained holes--mostly due to the complicated scientific nature of the setting--Lasky's plot is so thought-provoking that teens won't be able to put it down until Darci's fate is decided. This is an excellent book for teens dealing with the implications of a new millennium. --Jennifer Hubert, Amazon review.

Taylor Five by Ann Halam.

Taylor Walker seems like any ordinary 14-year-old. Ordinary—if you overlook the fact that she lives on the island of Borneo, on a primate reserve run by her parents, and knows how to survive in the jungle. Obviously, Tay isn’t just like everyone else. But she is like one other person. She’s exactly like one other person. Tay is a clone, one of only five in the world, and her clone mother is Pam Taylor, a brilliant scientist.

When rebels attack the reserve, Tay escapes with her younger brother and Uncle, an exceptionally intelligent orangutan. As they flee through the jungle, Tay must look within to find her strength: Pam’s DNA, tempered by Taylor’s extraordinary life. And she looks to Uncle for guidance—for Tay knows that the uncanny bond between Uncle and herself is the key to their survival.

The Bar Code Rebellion (Book 2 of Bar Code Tattoo duology) by Suzanne Weyn.

The second book in the action-packed Bar Code series.

They want your identity. They want your freedom. They can't have them. The bar code rebellion.

Kayla has resisted getting the bar code tattoo, even though it's mean forfeiting a "normal" life. Without the tattoo, she's an exile. But she can't stay an exile for long. . . .

For reasons she doesn't completely understand--but will soon discover--Kayla is at the center of a lethal conspiracy that will soon threaten the very notion of freedom. Kayla can either give in to the bar code, or she can join the resistance and fight it. The choice, for her, is clear.

The Lab by Jack Heath.

Meet a 16-year-old superhuman: Agent Six of Hearts. He's the strongest, most effective agent in the Deck, a team of special agents fighting to uphold justice in a completely corrupt world. Six would be invincible if not for a deadly secret. He is the product of an illegal experiment by the Lab - a ruthless division of the corporation that controls his world. When the Deck begins to investigate the Lab, Six walks a tightrope between his two worlds, trying to keep his origin a secret.

Duplikate by Cherry Cheva.

To Do List:

Ace SATs
Ace finals
Ace AP physics project
Avoid murdering lab partner
Submit Yale application
Resolve possibly evil twin situation

Due date: December 15th
Countdown: 11 days

By the time Kate Larson accidentally fell asleep at three a.m., she'd already done more work in one night than the average high school senior does in a week. Getting into Yale has been her dream for years—and being generally overworked and totally under-rested is the price of admission. But when she opens her eyes the next day, she comes face-to-face with, well, her face—which is attached to her body, which is standing across the room. Wait, what?

Meet Kate's computer-generated twin. Kate doesn't know why she's here or how to put her back where she belongs, but she's real. And she's the last thing Kate has time to deal with right now. Unless . . .

Could having a double be the answer to Kate's prayers? After all, two Kates can do more work than one. Or will keeping her twin a secret turn her dream future into a living nightmare?

Blueprint by Charlotte Kerner, translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford.

Siri is the daughter/twin of Iris and one of the first cloned beings in this seamless translation of German author Kerner's exploration of the psychological reality for cloned humans. A famous pianist and composer, Iris discovers she has Multiple Sclerosis and decides that a child/clone will ensure her immortality. She talks a geneticist into creating the first human clone by implanting her with her own cloned cell. As time goes by, the pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence of Siri are described almost solely focused on the emotional impact of the impossible closeness and the antagonism of the blended egos. Games of"Iyou" and"YouI" become increasingly painful as the child separates from the parent, whose monstrous egotism continues to expect an alternative self for her own use. There is much musing from Siri, who recounts her life in beautifully cadenced and expressive prose. Upon Iris's death there is a miraculous transformation in Siri's life that seems pulled out of thin air and not from Siri's psyche. Until that epilogue the story maintains a steady, wearying descent into frustration and despair at never being loved for who you are, never quite knowing what is your own doing and what is compelled by your genetic code. It is never clear how much of her pain is the result of cloning and how much the result of Iris's ego. Observers of this"monster," as she is called by her grandmother, may debate the ethical questions, ponder the personal dilemmas, and imagine alternative responses, but they will not question the premise. Disturbing and unsettling, this is less a translation of a particular culture than a human face on a question that is intriguing worldwide.--Kirkus.

Afterschool Charisma by Kumiko Suekane.

St. Kleio Academy is a very exclusive school: all of the students are clones of famous historical figures such as Beethoven, Queen Elizabeth I, Napoleon, Mozart, and Freud. All of them, that is, except for Shiro Kamiya. As Shiro struggles to adapt to this unusual campus, St. Kleio's first graduate, the clone of John F. Kennedy, is killed. Are the clones doomed to repeat the fate of their genetic progenitors, or can they create their own destinies? And how does a normal boy like Shiro fit in?

The Goodness Gene by Sonia Levitin.

It's the future (2207) and the world has gone through a devastating chaos; now a seemingly benign dictator is in charge. He has twin sons, who are approaching adulthood, being groomed to share the power with their father. Will is a good speaker, charismatic; Berk is aggressive and somewhat ruthless. Theirs is a world in which an elite group of humans make all the decisions. They live in a highly sheltered environment, drinking nutritional drinks instead of what we would call food, enjoying symsex instead of having physical contact with others, and generally are divorced from reality. The story gets really interesting about a third of the way through when Will travels to another region and learns some hard truths about his own existence: that he and his brother are actually clones of Adolf Hitler. Will meets a rebellious underground group who are trying to keep to old values, such as growing actual food and eating it, protecting children from mercy killing at the whim of the authorities, and thinking for themselves.--Kliatt.

Avril Crump and Her Amazing Clones by Angela Woolfe.

Avril Crump, female scientist, is bald, pink, and round, with a weakness for sweets, whose greatest love of all is chemistry, science, the quest for knowledge, and using that chemistry to fix the world's ills. But one day, while Avril is helping herself to a yummy snack, she accidentally stumbles upon a scientific experiment gone awry. When her uncle's old chemistry set collides with a mysterious metal trunk, three clones are created in the accidental explosion. And with this laboratory accident, Avril's adventure begins. She must save her new friends, the clones, from their own creator.

Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

So my only protection is a kindergarten teacher and a ninety-eight-pound female minister....And they don't even believe I'm in danger.

As Bethany approaches her thirteenth birthday, her parents act more oddly than usual. Her mother cries constantly, and her father barely lets Bethany out of his sight. Then one morning he hustles the entire family into the car, drives across several state lines -- and leaves Bethany with an aunt she never knew existed. Bethany has no idea what's going on. She's worried her mom and dad are running from some kind of trouble, but she can't find out because they won't tell her where they are going.

Bethany's only clue is a few words she overheard her father tell her aunt: "She doesn't know anything about Elizabeth." But Aunt Myrlie won't tell Bethany who Elizabeth is, and she won't explain why people in her small town react to Bethany as if they've seen a ghost. The mystery intensifies when Bethany gets a package from her father containing four different birth certificates from four different states, with four different last names -- and thousands of dollars in cash. And when a strange man shows up asking questions, Bethany realizes she's not the only one who's desperate to unravel the secrets of her past.

Adventures in Turkish Delight

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Silence by Lizz Wright.

Well Edmund (and you, dear readers), you definitely had me scrambling. Turkish Delight is deceptively simple and adrenaline junkie's dream. And you'll get your week's worth of exercise in one go, believe me.

Here is the link to the recipe I used. Tweak as you see fit. I left out the part with the rose water and added a whole lot more to the powder coating at the end. Remember, me and rose water no likey each other. So let's begin!

I was so nervous. I had to take a picture. Remember, Beth Revis says Turkish Delight kills pans. This might be the last time I saw mine alive.

These are not innocent ingredients. These are ingredients of DEATH.

To help ensure the safety and possible life of my pan, I covered the entire thing in shortening (you're supposed to do this anyway). I may or may not have had a bit too much fun and may or may not have drawn math symbols into said shortening. Then I covered the pan in wax paper. And then - I greased the wax paper. Oh yes I did. Sugary goodness is not taking MY pan away from me!

Edmund! Do you realize what this recipe is?! All it IS is sugar, you little fiend! That and a little bit of water and corn starch and flavoring. Holy cow! No wonder you liked it so much. I'm going into a sugar coma just looking at it.

This is the consistency of the mixture once you add the flavoring and water to the sugar. A bit blurry, but I thought this would be the best way to show you visually what you are looking for here in your *ahem* sugar water turkish delight mixture (You'll notice from the sugar line it reduces a lot when you add the water and begin heating it). Take this to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Here is the simmer after the boil. You'll notice it has clarified a lot (so you can see to the bottom). This is where the long haul comes in. You have to wait for it to come to 240 degrees Fahrenheit (this is where you reeeallly want a temperature probe/candy thermometer). It's going to go degree by painful degree up. Seriously. I made a sandwich. And ate it. But don't go very far! And always always keep half an eye on it. Because when things happen in candy making, they happen fast.

While I was waiting, I started to prep the other pot. Throw it in with pizazz! That's half the fun. :)

Of a note, it started to bubble something fierce right around 215 degrees Fahrenheit. Since this is the first time I've ever made this, I thought it important to the documentation process. I am culinary scientist. Hear me roar.

I took it off right at the 240 degree (F) mark. It distilled very quickly (and began to lose heat). (Don't worry, that yellow thing is not anything that has fallen in. It's a reflection from something above it. So don't worry, it doesn't have to be a part of your recipe).

This is where the other pot comes in, with corn starch, cream of tartar and water. It looks like milk but it grows thicker quickly. In fact the recipe said when it got to a "glue" consistency, that was when it was ready (although that is slightly problematic because I started to wonder what kind of glue. Rubber cement? Elmer's?). It started to smell like glue even, but that could just be me, considering the aforementioned thoughts. :)

And this is where my mind jerked to a sudden thought. Beth Revis said Turkish Delight kills pans, so I was so prepped and ready with a pan as slick as greased lightning, but what if she meant a pot instead? Corn starch is a thickener and almost utterly tasteless (remember that if you ever have a sauce that is too thin) and I'd just dumped over a cup into this pot. This was my "oh no..." moment.

Remember how I said when things happen they happen fast? Yeah, that was this time. My fingers were covered in sticky goo and I barely had time to snap off this blurry shot before whipping the bejeezus out this sucker before it took my pot under its sadist grip.

Having a brightly colored whisk helps. :) I beat it into submission and it turned into a lovely smooth texture (albeit a very sticky one).

Yellow food coloring. I thought five drops would do nicely.


And here is where you may want to deviate from my own adventure. You see, the recipe said to mix it for another hour after it gets to the gloop of death stage. o.O You're going to have bi-ceps bigger than your face by the end of it. If you have any big or little helpers in the house, you may want to bribe/switch off with them. I was dying after ten minutes. Energetic music blared loudly is a great friend here. I recommend Jonsi. Or possibly Metallica.

Because in retrospect, this is where I think I made my slip. Because it says you can tell when it is ready when the mixture turns a nice golden color. And I had already added my food coloring. So I don't think I stirred beat into a bloody pulp for nearly long enough. Chancing a mad dash downstairs to my computer I pulled up a YouTube video to see the consistency right before they poured it. It looked the same. But remember, candy making is such a precise art and science. So I would recommend mixing it longer. You may have to graduate to a wooden spoon since my whisk was giving out. But this picture is still pretty close to what you'll see right before you pour it. It's only after the setting overnight you get to see where my real adventure began. :)

Still good! Look at all that sugary goodness, Edmund. It's so pretty...

Then something happened I'd never read about or seen before. You are supposed to let it rest and cool overnight. But not in the fridge. Apparently it absolutely ruins the texture. So I stuck it down in my cellar. That is supposed to give it time for the moisture to settle and distribute evenly through the batch. Most people are afraid of "sweating" which the extra time is supposed to prevent. But this wasn't sweating. This was weeping. (You have to admit, it looks pretty cool though). :)

Again, I don't think I mixed it long enough after combining the two together, not giving the liquid time to set up properly. So once it cooled down, it wept. Openly. I'll assume it saw The Notebook or some other equally sad show while I was out.

But! Determined I was! I just figured I would add a little more corn starch to the coating powder and maybe that would soak up some of the excess moisture. (By the way, several commentators on the recipe I used said the "dusting" they recommend is a bad idea. You need to give these things a veritable bath in the mixture. And after opening the OFFICIAL TURKISH DELIGHT - FROM TURKEY they were drenched in it as well as I presumed they would be since it will keep off moisture and help preserve them. So definitely go that route).

Ooooooo. Real Turkish Delight. *claps* Now for the comparison! (There were definitely more flavors than just lemon in their Turkish Delight).

Tada! I made it and both my pan AND pots survived (run them under hot water immediately after you are done pouring. It should save you from any heart ache/grief). Thanks so much for the adventure, everyone!

Feature Fun Friday - Rae Carson interview

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Road to Lisdoonvarna / Swallowtail Jig / Irish Washerwoman by Tony Elman.

Feature Fun Friday - on MONDAY! Today is an interview with the wonderful Rae Carson, who wrote the equally fantastic Girl of Fire and Thorns. (If you haven't read it yet, you should). Have a great week, everyone!

And in the dragon was a story...

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now) A Thousand Years by Sting.

I will have to thank Meg forever for sending me this story. It is incredible. And it is the mystery I love most of all.

First off, all photos are courtesy of Christ Scott @chrisdonia (and his flickr account) whose amazing photographs brought this story to life.

This story begins in a library. It ends where it began. But it is the journey that makes this story breathtaking. And it all starts with a gift...

Left on a table at the Scottish Poetry Library in early March of last year with a simple but anonymous note bearing the words

It started with your name @byleaveswelive and became a tree.… … We know that a library is so much more than a building full of books… a book is so much more than pages full of words.… This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas….. a gesture (poetic maybe?)

And from there, it grew. 10 in all.

Next came the National Library of Scotland

And then Filmhouse

And the Scottish Storytelling Centre (bearing my favorite note of all)

For @scotstorycenter – A gift in support of libraries, books, works, ideas….. Once upon a time there was a book and in the book was a nest and in the nest was an egg and in the egg was a dragon and in the dragon was a story…..

down to the National Museum of Scotland

before making a final return to the Scottish Poetry Library with a beautiful explanation of a story well and completely told. All in support of libraries and books.

“It’s important that a story is not too long ……does not become tedious …….

‘You need to know when to end a story,’ she thought.

Often a good story ends where it begins. This would mean a return to the Poetry Library. The very place where she had left the first of the ten.

Back to those who had loved that little tree, and so encouraged her to try again …….and again.

Some had wondered who it was, leaving these small strange objects. Some even thought it was a ‘he’! ……. As if!

Others looked among Book Artists, rather good ones actually…….

But they would never find her there. For though she does make things, this was the first time she had dissected books and had used them simply be- cause they seemed fitting….

Most however chose not to know….. which was the point really.

The gift, the place to sit, to look, to wonder, to dream….. of the impossible maybe…….

A tiny gesture in support of the special places…..

So, here, she will end this story, in a special place … A Poetry Library ….. where they are well used to ‘anon.’

But before exiting …a few mentions. There could be more, because we have all colluded to make this work……. Just a few though.

- the twitter community who in some strange way gave rise to the idea in the first place
-@chrisdonia who gave the story a place, a shape and some great pictures

- and not least @Beathhigh whose books and reputation have been shame- lessly utilised in the making of a mystery ……..

…… But hold on. Someone’s left behind a pair of gloves and a cap……….?

Cheers Edinburgh It’s been fun!

If you want the most complete story (and many more pictures. Trust me, you want to see the detail on these. They are exquisite) click here.

Monday's Muse, 48th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Green Island Serenade by Vienna Teng.

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:

(though this is more a celebration of some really good ones with unknown ones mixed in) :)

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon.

Ai Ling can see into other people's minds and reach into their spirits. But she doesn't know why this power has awakened inside her. She only knows that it is growing. It leads her on an epic journey—one that brings her to the edge of the deepest evil.

Chen Yong has a quest of his own, but then his path crosses Ai Ling's. And there's a connection so strong that neither can ignore it.

Now they must face terrifying demons determined to kill them, and battle through treacherous lands. It is their destiny. But can destiny keep them together?

Huntress by Malinda Lo.

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls' destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo's highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins.

Chiko isn't a fighter by nature. He's a book-smart Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. When Chiko is forced into the army by trickery, he must find the courage to survive the mental and physical punishment meted out by the training facility's menacing captain.

Tu Reh can't forget the image of the Burmese soldiers burning his home and the bamboo fields of his oppressed Karenni people, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma. Now living in a Kerenni refugee camp on the Thai border, Tu Reh is consumed by anger and the need for revenge. He can't wait to join his father and the Karenni resistance in the effort to protect their people.

Chiko and Tu Reh's stories come to a violent intersection as each boy is sent on his first mission into the jungle. Extreme circumstances and unlikely friendships force each boy to confront what it means to be a man of his people.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though—Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings the Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it "a matter of national security," but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. The surgeons who turned Cinder into a cyborg had been hiding something. Something others would kill for.

Inside out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.

No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.

For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.

But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, HÀ discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.

This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.

Little Sister/The Heavenward Path by Kara Dalkey.

As a girl in the Japanese imperial court of medieval Japan, Mitsuko is shielded from reality. But when Mitsuko’s family is attacked by outlaws and her brother-in-law is murdered, she alone finds the courage to venture into the netherworld to find her sister’s wandering spirit. With the aid of Goranu, a shape-shifter, and other magical creatures from Japanese myths, Mitsuko journeys across a landscape transformed by legend and by her own growing sense of power to become an unwitting hero.


Mitsuko is being haunted by ghosts and bad luck. An angry spirit commands her to keep a forgotten promise and assigns her a series of impossible tasks. She turns to the mischievous shape-shifter Goranu for help. Together they journey through a landscape of Japanese myths and legends made real. This sequel to Little Sister is a mythical tale of adventure and star-crossed love set in twelfth-century Japan.

Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle.

DeLisle's (Pyongyang) latest exploration of Asian life is probably the best possible argument against the ruling junta in the embattled (and now nearly obliterated) nation also known as Myanmar. Readers will find themselves initially shocked and surprised at the country's differences, then awestruck by the new traditions and finally in love with and yet enraged by Burmese daily life. DeLisle's wife is a French aid worker with Medecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), leaving DeLisle alone with their son, Louis, and his cartooning. DeLisle's style is simple but highly eloquent, and he tells more about the depth and breadth of the Burmese experience in the book's little nonfiction vignettes than he ever could in an artificially imposed narrative. Burma Chronicles is not merely a neat piece of cartooning but a valuable artifact of a repressive and highly destructive culture that curtails free speech with unparalleled tenacity. Like Joe Sacco's The Fixer and Safe Area Gorazde, DeLisle uses cartooning to dig into a story that demands to be told.--Publisher's Weekly.

Sign of Qin by L.G. Bass.

This book, a multistranded opener to a trilogy, is teeming with monsters, dragons, deities, tricksters, and demons–drawn largely but not exclusively from Chinese myth–plus an array of larger-than-life heroes and villains of both sexes. Readers are propelled from the lush opulence of the Emperor's palace to the filthy slums outside it, from misty swamps to the Gobi's desolation, from Heaven to the Netherworld dominion of Yamu, god of death. In the tradition of both classical Chinese epics and modern kung fu films, the relentlessly episodic plot takes frequent wrenching turns into set-piece comic or battle scenes, punctuated by eye-popping feats of derring-do. Young Prince Zong, born bearing a birthmark that presages a glittering destiny, grows with magical speed in the care of whiny, capricious Monkey, as his mother, Silver Lotus, flees into exile under a sentence of death. She travels with General Calabash, a monk covered in mobile, prophetic tattoos, and Yamu dispatches a lurid corps of demonic minions to prepare the way for a cataclysmic invasion. Along with bands of colorful outlaws, all eventually converge for a climactic skirmish that leaves Yamu poised to make his move. The action scenes are compellingly wild and woolly, and if, as usual, Monkey steals the show (along with everything else that's not nailed down), all of the main players are equally strong, vivid characters–which bodes well for future installments.–John Peters, New York Public Library, School Library Journal.

The Eye of Jade by Diane Liang.

Present day, Beijing. Mei Wang is a modern, independent woman. She has her own apartment. She owns a car. She has her own business with that most modern of commodities -- a male secretary. Her short career with China's prestigious Ministry for Public Security has given her intimate insight into the complicated and arbitrary world of Beijing's law enforcement. But it is her intuition, curiosity, and her uncanny knack for listening to things said -- and unsaid -- that make Mei Beijing's first successful female private investigator.

Mei is no stranger to the dark side of China. She was six years old when she last saw her father behind the wire fence of one of Mao's remote labor camps. Perhaps as a result, Mei eschews the power plays and cultural mores -- guanxi -- her sister and mother live by...for better and for worse.

Mei's family friend "Uncle" Chen hires her to find a Han dynasty jade of great value: he believes the piece was looted from the Luoyang Museum during the Cultural Revolution -- when the Red Guards swarmed the streets, destroying so many traces of the past -- and that it's currently for sale on the black market. The hunt for the eye of jade leads Mei through banquet halls and back alleys, seedy gambling dens and cheap noodle bars near the Forbidden City. Given the jade's provenance and its journey, Mei knows to treat the investigation as a most delicate matter; she cannot know, however, that this case will force her to delve not only into China's brutal history, but also into her family's dark secrets and into her own tragic separation from the man she loved in equal parts.

The first novel in an exhilarating new detective series, The Eye of Jade is both a thrilling mystery and a sensual and fascinating journey through modern China.