We Loves The Bookses Forever!

Last post about books for now. Next up will be video games.

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Published by Square Fish.

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Published by Square Fish.

I’d been hearing great things about Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak ever since I started working with YA literature; one friend even placing it right up with S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders in terms of its importance to the YA genre. I stumbled across a copy one day and decided to finally see what all the fuss was about, and I was definitely not disappointed.

Melinda Sordino is a normal teenage girl even if she is a tad on the dorky side. At least she was normal until the party over the summer that she broke up by calling the police. Now Melinda finds herself isolated at school. Her friends shun and mock her and her reputation as a spoilsport casts its shadow over the eyes of other students that don’t know her personally. What Melinda isn’t telling them all is that she had a very good reason for calling the cops the night of the party, but she is too traumatized to be able to say anything about that night. As the months go by, Melinda’s social and academic life continue to deteriorate due to her repressed emotions. But when she notices one of her old friends headed for trouble, Melinda must choose to either speak out or let her friend get hurt.

I was immediately impressed by Speak. Anderson really knows how to write in a voice that is familiar and comfortable to teens, and Melinda is a wonderfully complex character battling demons both within and without. The circumstances for the plot aren’t contrived or unrealistic at all. In fact, the realism is one of the major reasons that I was drawn into this book. What happens to Melinda can happen. It has happened before, and sadly it will continue to happen. Speak is a fantastic book in the sense that it can let the victims of sexual abuse know that they aren’t alone in the world, and that it isn’t shameful for them to let the world know what happened to them.

Justice for the Damned, by Priscilla Royal. Published by Poisoned Pen Press.

Justice for the Damned, by Priscilla Royal. Published by Poisoned Pen Press.

Justice for the Damned is the 4th in Priscilla Royal’s Medieval Mystery series. I first learned of this series while working as an intern at the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press. The novelty of a monk and nun solving murder mysteries in 13th century England was too good to pass up, and I first read the 8th book in the series, A Killing Season, and was pleasantly surprised by it. Royal is an expert at crafting a setting, and, while the mysteries themselves aren’t very complex, the characters are believable and lovable as readers follow them through their struggles and adventures. I was impressed by A Killing Season, so I started reading the series from the 1st book shortly after completing the 8th.

Prioress Eleanor of Tyndale Abbey has returned to her aunt’s home in Amesbury to recover from a deadly fever she’d had during winter. Her friend and healer, Sister Anne, has journeyed with her, and Anne alongside the warming weather of Spring are helping Eleanor to recover. Brother Thomas, the handsome young monk, has also come to Amesbury with Prioress Eleanor and Sister Anne with a mission from his mysterious superiors to investigate rumors that a valuable manuscript is in danger of being stolen. But much more awaits the trio in Amesbury than a recuperative rest and rumors of thievery. Shortly after their arrival, they hear rumors that a vengeful ghost of a local woman (who supposedly committed suicide haunting) the surrounding area. The ghost turns deadly when a man is found beheaded nearby, and Eleanor’s aunt asks the trio to help investigate the murder to determine who or what committed the foul deed. But with Thomas’s own covert mission, and Eleanor’s weakened state, the group will need all the help, divine or otherwise, to protect others and themselves from the murderous specter.

As I already stated, the mysteries in this series are not complex, and, with the small cast of characters and small community, it may be easy for readers to point out the murderer pretty early into the story. Royal does a good job though of giving readers enough red-herrings to keep them occupied. Meanwhile, the Prioress and Brother Thomas are once again facing their own trials. Eleanor laments her physical attraction to Thomas, while Thomas continues to face the consequences of his battle with same-sex attraction. These two characters in particular are richly drawn, and very relatable for readers. A book, or story, will never be good if the characters that populate it are not well-rounded and dynamic, and this book easily succeeds.

That’s it for the books. Next up I’m going to write about Batman: Arkham Origins.

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