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Heidi Frederick

All That’s Gold Does Not Glitter: Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

First up, let me warn you that it’s impossible to talk about Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unmade without revealing some of what went down in the two previous books of The Lynburn Legacy. Consider yourself warned for SPOILERS.

We zoom in on Sorry-in-the-Vale after the cliffhanger of Untold with Jared buried alive in his priest hole and everyone but Kami convinced he’s dead. Repeated forays to the Lynburn evil layer result in rescues, deadly plans, ritual sacrifice, and of course some great quips. Kami and the gang have a modicum of time available to save their town, or to convince the town to save themselves, before Rob Lynburn’s nefarious plotting can be put into action. Can they do it before their hormones take control?

Unmade is rife with broken hearts, broken homes, and a few broken bones, and Sarah Rees Brennan delivers fist pumping moments of awesomeness in a series ending that’ll keep readers glued to the page.

[Why be broken when you can be gold?]

Book Two, Make Out: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

Oh Sarah Rees Brennan, you wily little fox, you. Here I thought reading Untold would be safe. Because I had waited. Waited until I also had Unmade in my hands and could reasonably expect to forgo the emotional torture that was sure to come at the end of such a book if I had to wait for the third, but nooooo.

No, you couldn’t let me have that solace. Instead you had to wring my heart out like the emotional equivalent of a Brawny paper towel throughout the entirety of Untold. It’s a miracle my heart’s not full of holes yet. The truly frightening thing is that you still have plenty of time to torture me further.

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Three Years Worth the Wait: The Caller by Juliet Marillier

With all genre series, but in the YA set in particular, it is so utterly rare to uncover one that truly builds as it goes. But Juliet Marillier’s Shadowfell series does just that, the three books acting as one long, slow-burning story that improves with each step along the way.

It’s a series where I started with little more than disdain for the Care Bear main character, and ended with her burrowed deep into my heart. The final book in the trilogy is part epic revolution, part sweeping romance—The Caller brings to life two characters who risk love for everything rather than risking everything for love.

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All Dogs Go to Heaven: Spirit’s Key by Edith Cohn

I’ve found a book for those of you who were traumatized in youth by Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, and other hopeless dog tales. As a lifetime dog owner and lover, dog books have become my personal cancer books. I just can’t read them without having the heart ripped out of my chest.

When in graduate school my Resources in Children’s Literature prof assigned us Because of Winn-Dixie, we took it with a measure of trepidation and asked her tremulously before we’d begin, “Does anything bad happen to the dog?” Turns out, no, it doesn’t. (Yay!) And turns out, when they tout Spirit’s Key as being Savvy meets Winn-Dixie, they’re not far off. Spirit’s Key is the poignant tale of both a girl coming into her family power and her relationship with a much beloved dog. Edith Cohn’s solution to the much feared dying dog issue? Bump him off before the book even begins—genius!

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Hit the Sand Running: Saltwater Vampires by Kirsty Eagar

So it’s summer (at least here in the northern hemisphere), which means the days are longer, the nights warmer, and readers are busting out their beach reads. So what do I cozy up with as my first pick of the summer? Saltwater Vampires by Aussie YA author, Kirsty Eagar.

If you didn’t find the ocean a tad bit creepy before (and you should, just think of how many people have died in there), you certainly will now. Sign on here for bloodsuckers, revisionist history, secret societies, and of course—some killer waves.

[Some are born immortal, some achieve immortality, and some have immortality thrust upon them.]

Sunrise, Sunset: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Some of you may remember that Fama’s much praised and beloved Monstrous Beauty and I did not get along. At all. For me, that book was like a train wreck, I finished it because I just couldn’t look away from the mess.

But (yes, there is a but!), I have to hand huge props to Elizabeth Fama who reached out to me after I posted one of my nastier reviews, and never once told me I was wrong in my opinion. She only wanted to discuss where she was coming from in the book, and did so in such a resoundingly positive way that I became a massive fan of the author, even if I really disliked Monstrous Beauty itself (I’ll take a sec here to remind you that many many people did love Monstrous Beauty, so don’t let my experience hold you back if you’re thinking of going there).

At any rate, Fama’s awesome attitude convinced me to give her another go, so when Plus One rolled around I (somewhat shakily) raised my hand to volunteer.

[Will there be blood? ]

Fantasy Author With An Urban Makeover: Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

If ever you’re looking to blur the lines between adult and young adult fantasy, look no further than the enigmatic Rachel Neumeier. With a volume of work that can never quite be pinned down neatly into one category and with stories more complex than could be conveyed in any blurb, Neumeier strikes a unique balance between the worlds of children and adults.

Her work is, quite frankly, magical.

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A Nice (Dead) Girl is Hard to Find: The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

From the moment that I saw the stunningly morbid cover of Danica Novgorodoff’s The Undertaking of Lily Chen, I knew I had to read it.

It’s your classic story: a young rapscallion gets into a harmless argument and accidentally kills his older brother (who, let’s face it, was a bit of a twat). Parents insist that young man find beloved brother a wife with whom to spend eternity (or you know, he could end up in prison for murder). Boy goes a hunting, desecrates some graves, finds himself an unsatisfied matchmaker all around. Until she comes into view. Lily Chen, the perfect ghost bride. Too bad she still has a heartbeat.

[Talk about a meet cute!]