Monday's Muse, 70th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Don't Give Up by Eagle Eye Cherry [Holes 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:

This one I may need your help on, guys. There HAS to be more books that deal with the subject of 'honor' than this. New, old, popular, unknown - it doesn't matter. Brainstorm with me! :D

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo.

Thomas Peaceful, like many other English soldiers in World War I, is too young to fight, but he lies about his age. Now at the front in France with his older brother Charlie he stands a lonely nighttime vigil for reasons that are not explained until the book's end, watching the minutes tick by and reflecting on his past. Using first-person narration, Morpurgo draws readers into this young man's life, relating memories that are idyllic, sobering, and poignant. Tommo thinks upon the role he played in his father's accidental death, the adventures that he shared with Charlie, his relationship with his childhood friend Molly, and the experiences that he has had since entering the war. Finally, he describes how Charlie disobeyed a direct order to stay with him after he was wounded in action, fully aware of this decision's dire consequences. While this story is not based on any one individual, Morpurgo has personalized the British tactic of executing their own soldiers "for cowardice or desertion," memorializing these men without passing judgment. While readers see the events through Tommo's eyes, the author does not lose sight of the war's effects on the teen's friends and family. Reminders come in the form of letters from home, relationships with other soldiers, and observations of battles. This thoughtful novel touches on themes of humanity and duty, and features brilliant characters whose personal decisions have earned them their very own badges of honor.–Delia Fritz, Mercersburg Academy, PA, School Library Journal (Nov 11, 2004 vol 50, issue 11, pg 150).

 Three Kingdoms 1: Heroes and Chaos by Wei Dong Chen & Xiao Long Liang.

At the end of the second century, the lands of ancient China are thrown into turmoil when the Han Dynasty collapses, and when a tyrant overthrows the weak emperor, a group of regional lords forms an army to restore the nation. But bravery and valor are soon stifled by ambition and cunning, and the coalition dissolves before the battle is even won. Now, a new group of heroes must emerge if China is to survive.

The Grave Doug Freshley by Josh Hechinger.

The clichéd Western hero can't be bested in a gun battle, and neither can Doug Freshley—because he's already dead. Zombies don't usually get to play John Wayne, and in tapping the potential of the Undead for superheroics, Hechinger reverses a second cliché with a lighthearted touch. Freshley is a retired schoolteacher, hired to tutor mouthy young Bat McNally. Then the Delancey Gang kills Bat's parents and puts a bullet through Freshley's head, too. Our hero had sworn to protect Bat, and somehow that promise keeps him ambulatory. And even if rigor mortis slows down his quick draw, it does keep his shooting arm steady enough to serve up a little frontier justice to the wrongdoers. Later, Freshley must confront a challenge from the Deadliest Gun in the West: the Grim Reaper. VERDICT A spaghetti Western crossed with a zombie buddy story, Doug Freshley infuses new blood in genre stereotypes. Its quirky charm should appeal to teens through adults who like Westerns, soft horror, and original twists on old themes. mpMann (Ianna's Tears ) uses a sketchy, sepia/daguerreotype-toned art that suits the story just fine.— M.C. --Martha Cornog, Library Journal (Jan 1, 2012) vol 136, issue 21, pg. 83).

The Way of the Warrior by Andrew Matthews.

In 1565, when Jimmu is 10 years old, he witnesses his father commit seppuku, a ritual suicide, to avoid bringing dishonor to his family. Before he dies, Lord Kensu tells his son that his bodyguard will now be responsible for his upbringing. Jimmu spends the next seven years learning the art of the samurai at Nichiren's side, with the sole intention of avenging his father by killing Lord Ankan, the man Nichiren blames for betraying Lord Kensu and taking from Jimmu all that was rightfully his. Jimmu reports to Mitsukage Castle under the pretense of wanting to work for Lord Ankan, and, impressing the captain of the guard with his swordsmanship, is allowed to stay. But as Jimmu gets to know Lord Ankan, he finds him to be a principled and courageous leader rather than the monster that Nichiren described. Complicating matters further, Jimmu is drawn to Lord Ankan's impetuous daughter. The resulting story is an honest and engaging portrayal of a young man's struggle to do the right thing—even when it is not clear what that is. The cast of characters includes Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga, two renowned military leaders from the Sengoku period. The vivid depictions of a soldier's life in 16th-century Japan will captivate samurai enthusiasts, and the amount of action that Matthews packs into this relatively short novel will appeal to reluctant readers.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA --Kim Dare, School Library Journal (Jan 1, 2009) vol 55, issue 1, pg. 112).