Laura

About Laura: 

Laura Speake is an avid devourer of varying types of literature, though most of her favorites are tragically out of print. She spends much of her free time in the liminal spaces between items on her never ending To Do list. Having been a cat in a previous life, she frequently gets the urge to curl up and take a nap in any given spot of sunshine. In the fall, she will be attempting, once more, to make progress on her Bachelor's in English.

Books: 
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The Inside Battle Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781499809176
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Yellow Jacket - March 3rd, 2020

Laura's November 2019 pick

We have a lot of preconstructed phrases available when we want to heap praise on a new book. "It kept me on the edge of my seat," "It'll leave you wanting more," "This book will change your life." None of this seems quite right to describe the effect that Rebel's story had on me. Watching him struggle to please his father while staying true to himself and what he knows to be right hit me in ways I still can't quite articulate. This book should be taught in schools, read in library book clubs, and given for every sort of gift giving holiday. Despite the cliche, I truly believe that The Inside Battle will keep you on the edge of your seat, that it will leave you wanting more, and that it will change your life.


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The Whispering Wars Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781338255874
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books - October 2019

Laura's October 2019 pick, 1 of 3

I can honestly say that it was a privilege to read this prequel. The interplay between the narrators is delightful, a word I use regularly when describing Jaclyn Moriarty's work. It was a joy to return to the Kingdoms and Empires the previous book. The Whispering Wars is an adventure and a half, and it shows a remarkable awareness of the time in which it is coming into the world. You should absolutely read this crackerjack story; its high stakes will be sure to keep you enthralled.


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Tarnished Are the Stars Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781338312270
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Scholastic Press - October 15th, 2019

Laura's October 2019 pick, 2 of 3

You're going to want to join the Rosiee Thor fandom early. This debut author writes with such power and grace that I could hardly believe this was her first novel. Tarnished Are the Stars hits a beautiful intersectional sweet spot, portraying disabled queer heroes in a way that's had me shouting passionately about this book since about 3 pages in. I can hardly wait to start selling this riveting, high stakes YA novel, and I'm eagerly looking forward to whatever Rosiee Thor comes up with next.


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Beyond the Black Door Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250198747
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Imprint - October 29th, 2019

Laura's October 2019 pick, 3 of 3

It took me a couple of tries to really get into this book (I was coming down off a massive book hangover), but once I did I couldn't put it down. It was so riveting that I stayed up until nearly 3am reading it! Not only does it have a delightfully diverse cast of characters making their way through a high stakes plot, but the world Strickland has built is also brilliantly enchanting. Strickland has created everything a fantasy culture could need, from religion to culinary practices to a poker-like card game that I for one would trade at least half a kidney to be able to play. The author also seamlessly integrates modern ideas of gender and orientation in a way that feels like a veritable breath of fresh air. Beyond the Black Door is truly an enticing read, one I hope fantasy fans everywhere will soon add to their shelves.


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Anya and the Dragon Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780358006077
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Versify - September 24th, 2019

Laura's September 2019 pick

This book is everything I want out of middle grade fantasy. It has magic, adventure, plot twists, slapstick comedy, and a tremendously supportive and loving family. Anya, her mother, and her grandmother are the only Jewish people in their medieval Russian town, and are on the verge of being evicted by the local magistrate. Follow Anya as she strives to earn enough money to save her family farm by helping a newcomer hunt a dangerous river dragon that may not be so evil after all. This book subverts expectations at every turn in the best possible way, and I absolutely loved reading it. I will be sure to recommend it to children and adults alike as soon as it comes out.


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Let’s Call It a Doomsday Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062698902
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - August 6th, 2019

Laura's August 2019 pick, 1 of 2

Reading this book was like looking back in time to see myself at seventeen. I raved about this book to every single one of my coworkers and most of my friends, and I wrote to the author to extol the virtues of her writing before I was even halfway through. I cannot express how important this book is, how revolutionary it feels to see a character with crippling anxiety be the hero.


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The Bone Garden Cover Image
By Heather Kassner, Matt Saunders (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781250296894
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - August 6th, 2019

Laura's August 2019 pick, 2 of 2

The perfect story for fans of Mary Downing Hahn or Neil Gaiman, this book will take you on the most spectacular of journeys. You will fall in love with Iréelle, Guy, and Lass as they try to find a way to free themselves from Miss Vesper, the very woman whose magic brought them to life. Who will survive this harrowing adventure, and who will be buried by the end of the book? Read and find out, but leave the light on when you do.


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Wilder Girls Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780525645580
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Delacorte Press - July 9th, 2019

Laura's July 2019 pick

I read this book in one sitting, and let me tell you, it was a wild ride from start to finish. The narration is choppy and stream of consciousness-esque in a way that works remarkably well, an experience that's made even more impressive when you realize that Wilder Girls is Rory Power's debut. I am amazed at the skill with which this book is written, and that's not even touching on the gripping plot or the achingly raw that feel more real than some actual people I've met. This book has blood, sweat, and tears in some of the most gruesome ways, and is definitely not for younger teens. That said, I highly recommend it to anyone who likes the stakes high and the struggles deadly. You won't be able to put it down.


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With the Fire on High Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062662835
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperTeen - May 7th, 2019

Laura's May 2019 pick, 1 of 3

This is a book about a seventeen year old girl trying to juggle work, school, and parenting her toddler. This, of course, without even mentioning dealing with her child's father's issues with her new friend-who-happens-to-be-a-boy, trying to raise money so that she and the rest of her culinary arts class can afford the trip to Spain, and worrying about her grandmother's frequent doctor's visits. With the Fire on High is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, and might make you want to try out some of Emoni's recipes for yourself.


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Planet Earth Is Blue Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780525646570
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wendy Lamb Books - May 14th, 2019

Laura's May 2019 pick, 2 of 3

This book is Very Good. The main character is nonverbal and autistic and the author (who is also autistic) does a wonderful job of portraying those qualities. This would be a really good book for an autistic kid (or adult), a sibling or parent of an autistic kid, or someone who works with autistic kids, because it gives a really good idea of how our thought processes work and how we communicate. Also, the story is very enthralling, and written so well that you feel every loss that Nova lives through. It's really nice to see a character who thinks like I do in a middle grade book.


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The Lost Coast Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781536200966
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick - May 14th, 2019

Laura's May 2019 pick, 3 of 3

I literally cannot stop talking about this book, or its author. With prose that melts in your mouth and characters as real as your reflection in the mirror, The Lost Coast is an instant classic that will leave you completely satisfied and aching for more all at the same time. Amy Rose expertly weaves modern witchcraft and dark fantasy together in a story that feels like coming home. The first paragraph compares rainbow flags to welcome signs, which honestly feels like an appropriate analogy for the whole book. This is a story for all the lost queer kids, and it's the story I needed when I was a teenager. I love this book, and I hope everyone else does too.


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Mera: Tidebreaker Cover Image
By Danielle Paige, Stephen Byrne (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781401283391
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: DC Ink - April 2nd, 2019

Laura's April 2019 pick, 1 of 2

This is a Little Mermaid retelling like you've never imagined. The art is stunning, the worldbuilding is phenomenal, and the characters feel so much like real people it's almost scary. You will find yourself agonizing over the decisions Mera has to make whether you want to or not, and you will not be able to put this book down until you finish her story.


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The Secret of Zoone Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062845269
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins - April 9th, 2019

Laura's April 2019 pick, 2 of 2

The first book in a trilogy (I can hardly wait to read the second), The Secret of Zoone will have you laughing, crying, and yelling at the main character for being oblivious, all within the first few chapters. It's a delightfully written tale of determined heroism mixed with awkward coming of age, and personally I think everyone everywhere should read it. This book contains some of the most stalwart friends I've met in fiction, as well as mentors that will have you taking a good hard look at your own life. Oh, there's also a talking blue tiger, excuse me, skyger, with wings and a penchant for eating entirely too many waffles in one sitting.


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Once & Future Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316449274
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: jimmy patterson - March 26th, 2019

Laura's March 2019 pick, 1 of 3
 
I don't think a single character in this book is heterosexual, and I couldn't be happier about it. Queer genderbent King Arthur in space may not be something you think you need in your life, but it definitely is. Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy have so masterfully woven their words together that you cannot tell where one begins and the other ends. This is a couple I can't wait to see more from.


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Internment Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316522694
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - March 19th, 2019

Laura's March 2019 pick, 2 of 3

Written in prose so smooth it feels like honey, Internment by Samira Ahmed has the potential to change the world. It follows Layla and her family as they are whisked away from their home in California and plopped in the middle of an internment camp just a few miles away from Manzanar. Their struggles there are almost palpable, and more than a little timely. In a world where people are attacked and children are killed simply for being Muslim, for daring to practice their faith, I think this book belongs in every home, every school, every library. It's important, and I believe this book has the potential to change the way we look at the world.


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We're Not from Here Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781524773045
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown Books for Young Readers - March 5th, 2019

Laura's March 2019 pick, 3 of 3

Let me start off by saying that this book is phenomenal. I read it in a single afternoon, and upon finishing it, immediately told every coworker I could reach that they, too, needed to read it. I said that this book does exactly what sci fi is meant to; that is, it takes a prominent social issue, dresses it up in an alien costume, and invites the audience to learn a little more about themselves. I was absolutely floored by the profound lessons woven into this story, and even more impressed by Rodkey's ability to turn a life and death situation into a comedy. This book is so very good and so very important. I cannot recommend it highly enough.


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The Prophet Calls Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781499807554
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yellow Jacket - November 6th, 2018

Laura's November 2018 pick

Not for the faint of heart, this book centers on Gentry, a young girl growing up in a polygamous Mormon cult in New Mexico. The storys shows all aspects of her community's faith, from the good to the bad to the downright ugly. Despite the heavy nature of its topic, The Prophet Calls has some truly wonderful moments of levity, beauty, and kindness. It also deals with the intersection of disability and faith, as Gentry's younger sister has Down Syndrome.

To be honest, I read this book in one day, in a single sitting. It is poignant and powerful, and I was unable to put it down. I cannot stress how much I want absolutely everyone to read it. It's Melanie Sumrow's debut, and I hope she writes more. There is something breathtakingly important about this book, something I don't quite have a name for.


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Forgotten City Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062696960
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins - October 9th, 2018

Laura's October 2018 pick, 1 of 5

Kobi was, until recently, surviving the toxic Waste outside the high school-turned-bunker with the aid of his father. Now, his father has gone missing, and Kobi must fend for himself. Fast-paced, exciting, and just a bit daring in its take on the apocalypse, this is the book for anyone looking for their next adventure story. For fans of Maze Runner, Divergent, or the Fallout game franchise, I cannot recommend this book enough. I will warn you, though, that the story does contain a betrayal or three, as well as some character death. Also giant wolves and possibly sentient (and hungry) plants. Consider yourself warned, and then consider yourself invited.


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Wicked Nix Cover Image
By Lena Coakley, Jaime Zollars (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781419728693
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - October 9th, 2018

Laura's October 2018 pick, 2 of 5
Nix’s job is to protect the forest. At least, he’s pretty sure that’s his job. Why else would the Fairy Queen have left him there after last year’s Midsummer Night’s festivities? With his hair full of twigs and his penchant for mischief, Nix knows he’s the wickedest and most hideous of the fairies. Now all he has to do is convince the human who’s just moved into his forest. For fans of Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, and for those who grew up hearing tales of the Fey Folk, this book is sure to enchant and delight. It will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat.


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The Brilliant Death Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780451478443
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - October 30th, 2018

Laura's October 2018 pick, 3 of 5

Amy Rose Capetta has created the combination of queer fantasy and political intrigue I have always wanted to see on the shelf. As soon as you read the first page, you are drawn into a world of loyalty, betrayal, magic, and murder, and you find that despite all the dangers in Vinalia, you never want to leave. The politics and mythology are based heavily on medieval Italy, and the story contains twists and turns that would put the machinations of Caesar's court to shame. At the center of it all is Teodora di Sangro, a powerful teenage strega, or witch, forced to hide her gift until she meets another with powers to rival her own. Is Cielo an enemy or an ally? Will Teo be able to navigate the dangers of courtroom politics and find a cure for her poisoned father, all while masquerading as a boy? You simply must read and find out.


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The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338255843
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books - October 9th, 2018

Laura's October 2018 pick, 4 of 5

Jaclyn Moriarty has one of the best imaginations I've encountered in a long time. She has created a main character full of spunk and determination, and a world full of whimsy and chaos. The story starts with Bronte receiving the news that her parents, whom she has never met, have been killed by pirates. According to their will, she must travel across the Kingdoms and Empires to visit her 11 aunts and give them each a gift from her parents. The catch, of course, is that the will is fairy cross stitched, which means that if she doesn't fulfill the exact terms and conditions laid out, her entire hometown will be torn to pieces. Quite a lot of pressure to put on a 10-year-old girl! I would especially recommend this book to fans of Lemony Snicket and Terry Pratchett. All throughout reading of Bronte's fantastical adventures, I kept thinking of one word: delightful. It's truly the best way to describe this book. In fact, I enjoyed the read so much that upon finishing it, I emailed the author to tell her just how delightful an experience it was!


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After the Fire Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781492669791
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - October 2nd, 2018

Laura's October 2018 review, 5 of 5

This is a book about a girl who's lost everything. Her home, she lost in the fire. Her Family, she's been losing bit by bit for years. And her Faith, well. That hasn't been the same since her mother was Banished. Join Moonbeam (yes, that's her name) as she tells a therapist and an FBI agent about life inside the Lord's Legion, a cult led by Father John Parson, said to be a messenger from God.

With some truly remarkable prose, Will Hill has shown us the story of what happens after lifelong trauma, of the not so easily stomached healing process. The book is clearly a labor of love, well researched and as realistic as possible. It shies away from nothing, but never gets so gruesome as to make you want to put down the book entirely. This book is Good and Important, and I truly hope we as an audience give it the attention it deserves.


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Check, Please! Book 1: # Hockey Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781250177964
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: First Second - September 18th, 2018

Laura's September 2018 pick, 1 of 2

I've been reading this in its webcomic form for years, and I'm really excited to be able to take it home with me as a graphic novel! Join Eric Richard "Bitty" Bittle as he starts his first year at Samwell University and finds himself thrown into the world of College Hockey Bros. He spends the book baking, ice skating, and learning how to live with, and love, both himself and his teammates. A great book for anyone who loves stories about team dynamics, falling in love, and coming of age. Also important to note: there's canon LGBT representation, lots of diversity in the main chracters, and both the book and the author handle issues of mental health and addiction with a great deal of respect and well researched accuracy.


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The Good Demon Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781419731273
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - September 18th, 2018

Laura's September 2018 pick, 2 of 2

The book begins shortly after Clare's lifelong companion, a demon, has been exorcised by a local preacher and his son. She's miserable, and all she wants is to get Her back so she can feel whole again. If you pick up this book (which you should), you will find yourself aching for Clare and the connection she's lost. You will find yourself rooting for her as she gets closer to the son of the very man who caused her so much anguish, and you'll be on the edge of your seat as she uncovers far more than she ever bargained for in her quest to reunite with her demon.
 

Clare also reads a lot like someone with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), and it feels like a lot of research went into portraying that accurately and respectfully. As someone with loved ones who deal with DID, those elements made the story even more compelling.


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The House in Poplar Wood Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781452149868
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - August 28th, 2018

Laura's August 2018 pick

If I were organizing by genre, I would put this book squarely in the middle of Realistic Fiction. So masterful is the integration of the fantasy elements that make the story flow that you feel as though it could happen in your own hometown. When you’re reading about Felix and Lee Vickery, thirteen-year-old twins determined to break the Agreement that controls their family’s lives, you forget that the world isn’t full of the Shades and Summoners that run the town of Boon Ridge. As you flip through the pages, you’ll also meet Gretchen Whipple, an outsider in her own family who just wants answers to the question “who killed Essie Hastings?” I sincerely hope your future includes this book and these characters, as I’m certainly glad I took the time to get to know them.


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Pax Cover Image
By Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062377012
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - February 2nd, 2016

Laura's June 2018 pick

If you’re in the market for a heart wrenching animal fantasy novel, this is the one for you. It tells the story of a boy and his pet fox who get separated by an unnamed war. The point of view switches back and forth between Peter (the boy) and Pax (the fox) as they push their way across the countryside in an attempt to reunite. This book features a remarkable cast of side characters, from an outcast wise woman whose passion for marionettes teaches Peter something profound, to a haughty vixen just trying to keep her family together. While I think absolutely everyone everywhere should read this book, I do feel the need to warn that there are somewhat graphic depictions of injuries, as well as some character death. If you give this book a try, I don’t think you’ll be able to put it down.