Category Archives: YA

The Originals


The Originals
Author: Cat Patrick
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 7, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316219436
ISBN-13: 978-0316219433

Trust Cat Patrick to write something wild and crazy, told in the most normal of voices.  I first came into contact with her work when I read Revived and was completely blown away.  When I saw The Originals, I knew I just had to read it.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The Originals tells the story of three sisters who are not triplets…they are clones.  Because their scientist/geneticist mother is on the lam and the FBI is searching for girls of their age masquerading as triplets, they are forced to live a sort of half-life; rather a third of a life.  Each girl takes a part of the day and has to be careful in how they wear their hair, clothes, etc.  One heads to school in the morning, then rushes home at lunch to switch.  The third sister takes over the evening.  Occasionally, they switch to accommodate illness or other issues.  Needless to say, it’s kind of nuts, but they take it in stride. Continue reading

Shannon Muir Reviews The Gift




The Gift (Enhanced Ebook Edition)

Andrea J. Buchanan

Publisher: Open Road Media
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1453220232
ISBN-13: 978-1453220238

Kindle ASIN: B006X7ZU2C

This reviews the media-added ebook version of a tale originally released by Open Road Media last year, in which a young woman named Daisy discovers she has electrically charged powers. Managing those powers and keeping them secret has ended up getting her in trouble and shuttled from school to school. Being asked by one of her teachers to help out a fellow student named Vivi forces her hand, as Vivi claims to have a guardian angel who feeds of Daisy’s energy. Eventually Daisy’s best friend gets pulled in, as well as the teacher’s assistant Kevin, to who Daisy finds herself mysteriously attracted. What follows is a mystery of dreams, past lives, and breaking free to build one’s own future. There are really two strong plots here – Daisy, Vivi, Danielle and the past lives dreams mysteries is one, and a girl with electrical powers struggling to have a boyfriend and a normal life as the other. Daisy’s powers, while part of what it takes to get the past lives story moving, feels forced at points though overall its a fun journey. Continue reading

Shannon Muir Reviews Confessions of an Angry Girl


Confessions of an Angry Girl (Confessions #1)

Author: Louise Rozett

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

ISBN-10:  0373210485

ISBN-13: 978-0373210480


Rose Zarelli,  just entering her freshman year of high school, carries around a lot of issues. Her father went to Iraq as a contractor and ended up dead, and now her older brother is away at college and feels distant and not supportive. Also her best friend completely wants to be a cheerleader and in with the popular crowd, something that brainy Rose would never do. Then again, she never imagined herself falling for an upperclassman jock  who happens to have a possessive girlfriend.  Sometimes Rose seems a little too adult for her age, but part of that may come out of the simple need to survive. Nothing seems to be going right at all, and following Rose’s journey to make sense of the loss in her life on top of normal teenage drama is both heartfelt and dramatically compelling.

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review via Netgalley, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Shannon Muir Reviews Don’t You Wish


Don’t You Wish

Author: Roxanne St. Claire

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (a division of Random House)

ISBN: 978-0-385-74156-9


Annie Nutter lives with an annoying younger brother, a Dad who wants to make the next great “buy on TV” discovery, and a mother holding regrets for passing up the chance to marry a successful plastic-surgeon ex-beau. On a dark and stormy night, while trying to find creative ways to resurrect the laptop her dad tore up for his “latest invention,” Annie finds herself zapped into the life of rich teenager Ayla Monroe… who turns out to be her mother’s daughter but married to the plastic surgeon. Annie needs to make sense of the new life she’s in, and quickly finds she does not behave as Ayla is expected to behave. At first all Annie can focus on is getting out of where she feels trapped and finding her way home, until new friends and situations make her realize she might want to stay. The core of this book is about what defines a person, and outer beauty versus inner beauty. The stretch of a start took a bit to sell, but it paid off both in plot and character development – a surprise read worth the recommend.



Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review via NetGalley, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Lies Beneath

Lies Beneath
Author: Anne Greenwood Brown
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Imprint: Delacorte BFYR
Pub Date: June 12, 2012
ISBN: 9780385742016

This isn’t your mother’s mermaid story. This isn’t a Disney story. This is a story of murder, betrayal and love. LIES BENEATH is dark and delicious.

It is the story of Calder White, a merman who tries to fight his nature. In LIES BENEATH, merfolk are cold-blooded serial killers, draining their victims of their happy emotions and feeding on them much like vampires, without conscience or care. Calder is different. He fights the strong pull, he has a conscience. He also fights the pull of cold Lake Superior, where he must migrate to each year to be with his sisters, one of them unbelievably cruel.

When he receives the call from his sister this year, it is different. The sisters have found a man whom they believe is the son of a man who caused their mother’s death and they are out for vengeance. Reluctantly, Calder sets out to join them in their quest for revenge and in the process falls in love with Lily, daughter of the man he’s to help kill.

I had my doubts about this book at first. Mermaids as serial killers? I mostly read of mermaids as self-sacrificing (Hans Christian Anderson) or Disneyesque. This was a very dark turn. I fell in love with the book in the first chapter and it made me think a bit of an old Tim Powers book I’d fallen in love with in the ’70’s called THE STRESS OF HER REGARD about a murderous Lamia. The writing isn’t like it, nor is the story, but the concept of a mermaid killer brought it to mind.

Calder is a wonderful character. He’s so messed up, intricate and complex that it’s a pleasure going along for the ride in his mind. Lily too, is another interesting character, she’s strong, determined and intelligent. The sisters as well are well-developed and complex. There are some great plot twists and surprises with them that I found to be completely unexpected. The wonderful descriptions of Lake Superior and what lies beneath it were a fantastic element and added so much to the story.

LIES BENEATH is the first in a triology and I’m eagerly looking forward to the second book. Highly recommended for plot, strong characters and an amazing story. I would caution that this is for more mature YA readers as there is violence and some nudity.

Suggested hashtags:  #mermaids #amoxcallireviews #books #ya #fantasy #fiction #annegreenwoodbrown #lakesuperior #fairytales

Check out the great book trailer below:

Book description from the publisher:

The lore of mermaids and mermen is real. Just wait until you meet Calder White in this addictive debut novel that is destined to make a splash!

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters must prey on humans and absorb their positive energy. Usually they select their victims at random, but this time around the underwater clan chooses its target for a reason: revenge. They want to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother’s death.

It’s going to take the whole White family to lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the water. Calder’s job is to gain Hancock’s trust by getting close to his family. Relying on his irresistible good looks and charm, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter Lily. Easy enough, but Calder screws everything up by falling in love—just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined, and just as the mermaids threaten to take matters into their own hands, forcing Calder to choose between family and the girl he loves. One thing’s for sure, whatever Calder decides, the outcome won’t be pretty.

About the author

ANNE GREENWOOD BROWN grew up sailing the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior, leaning over the rail and wondering, with a lake that big, that ancient, what amazing thing might flash by. Now she knows. Lies Beneath is her first novel.

Twitter: @AnneGBrown

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review via NetGalley, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Shannon Muir Reviews Play Ball


Play Ball
Writers: Nunzio Defilippis & Christina Weir
Artist: Jackie Lewis
Publisher: Oni Press
Pub Date: April 25, 2012
ISBN-13: 9781934964798

Dashiell Brody (actual first name Heather) and her older sister adjust to life in a public school after their single Mom can’t afford to keep them in the lifestyle they’d become accustomed to before their parents’ divorce. Back in her old all-girls school, Dashiell had the opportunity to play baseball. Now at her new school, not only does she need to fight to make new friends and fit in, but also must campaign to be able to play the sport she loves. A fast read, with a strong cast of characters that kept me hooked and wanting to turn every page. Though the ground covered may not be entirely new or novel, the story shines in the cast of characters that tell it. The artwork, while not extremely detailed, sets the mood and tone perfectly for this story. Though mainly geared for the YA market, it’s enjoyable for even adult readers.

Suggested hashtags: #amoxcallireviews #graphicnovel #comicbooks #onipress #playball #yareads

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review via NetGalley, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Shannon Muir Reviews Unbreak My Heart



Author: Melissa Walker

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

ISBN-10: 1599905280

ISBN-13: 978-1599905280


Clem (her full name is Clementine) goes out sailing all summer with her family, but instead of it just being to get away from the world, it’s become a way to get away from the mistakes of the past year – including the loss of her longtime best friend which has led to alienation by many of others. Though a lot of the issues are based on misunderstanding, Clem knows she could have prevented some things and beats up on herself so much she can’t enjoy the sailing trip. She meets a father and son who are sailing a similar route, and bonds with the teenage boy James even though she can’t help herself. However, what she doesn’t realize is that James struggles with his own issues in the summer. The book alternates between flashbacks to the past as we learn what led to Clem’s state at the start of the book, and the summer as the mystery of James unravels and to see if Clem can discover love. The characters are believable and the plot interesting to where I just could not put this one down.


Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review via NetGalley, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.


Shannon Muir Reviews The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls



Author: Julie Schumacher

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House)

ISBN-10:  0385737734

ISBN-13: 978-0385737739



This book is told from the point of view of Adrienne Haus, one of four teenage girls from varied backgrounds who find themselves inducted into a summer mother-daughter book club. Adrienne hurts her knee right before  supposed to go on a trip with her best friend Liz, and ends up doing water therapy at the pool, where rich girl (and fellow book club member CeCe) likes to hang out, and fellow member Jill works the snack stand as a summer job.  There’s also a fourth member, Wallis, who remains shrouded in a lot of mystery. As they tackle a variety of subjects in the books they read,  the girls start to learn more things about each other and about life, making missteps along the way – especially Adrienne, who at times finds her relationship with her mother strained as she tries to sort out her identity. The book is a quick, fast read and a bit more enjoyable if you are a avid writer or reader simply because of all the in-jokes Adrienne makes about the craft of writing.

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review via NetGalley, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

A Tale of Time City

A Tale of Time City

Author:  Diana Wynne Jones, Forward by Ursula K. Le Guin

Publisher: Firebird; Reprint edition (April 12, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0142420158

I have always been a big fan of Diana Wynne Jones, and have read most of her books. I was excited to read A TALE OF TIME CITY, and it did not disappoint. One of the things I love about Jones’ books is how a fantastical world can seem so real and believable. Taking a tour of Time City, I was as agog with wonder as Vivian in the story and yet, like Vivian, I fully believed it was real. I didn’t feel lied to or tricked, which sometimes happens when Fantasy writing goes awry.

A TALE OF TIME CITY is the story of Vivian, or V.S who is mistakenly kidnapped from a train station in WWII England where she is being sent to be fostered as were many children during the war to keep them safe from the bombings. Her kidnappers are two young boys, Jonathan and Sam. They think she is someone called the Time Lady who is out to do harm to their city, a curious alternate reality that sits outside of time itself and observes all the eras. Their world is shaking up, becoming uncertain and they are determined to save it.

At first, Vivian is angry and upset, but her anger quickly fades to wonder at her new and fantastic surroundings. A friendship develops with the boys, yet there is always that undercurrent of tension that you often find with siblings. They are the annoying brothers that you love, but exasperate you. She tastes her first butterpie, a magical and delicious creamy concoction on a stick that when you eat it, is both hot and cold. She gets used to the strange clothing and customs as well as struggling through a very common struggle for children – school. As Vivian becomes a part of the boys world, she becomes just as determined as they to save it and an exciting quest ensues. Will they save the city? Who or what is Faber John? Who is the mysterious time ghost who daily tries to climb the clock tower? More importantly, who is the Time Lady and what is Vivian’s role in Time City?

Jones, with her usual magic of deft writing, humor and skillful world-building is at her best in A TALE OF TIME CITY. The book, though published years ago, stands the test of time and is in no way dated though the book was first published back i 1987. Jones manages to bring both the fantastical world of Time City brilliantly to life as well as draw a realistic England in World War II. The Firebird re-issue is beautifully done with a lovely forward by none other than Ursual Le Guin, another incredible writer. There’s a reason Diana Wynne Jones was called the Queen of the Fantastic, and this book is a great example of why.

Highly recommended!

About the Author

Diana Wynne Jones was the multiple award-winning author of many fantasy novels for children, teenagers, and adults. Her book Howl’s Moving Castle was made into an Academy Award-nominated major animated feature by Hayao Miyazaki. She received the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Married to the medievalist J. A. Burrow, with whom she had three sons, she lived for many years in Bristol, the setting for many of her books. Diana Wynne Jones passed away in March 2011, after a long illness.

Ursula K. Le Guin is the revered author of Tales from Earthsea.

Code Name Verity

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Imprint: Hyperion
Pub Date: May 15, 2012
ISBN: 9781423152194

WOW! Wow, wow, wow.

This is one intense, spellbinding book.

The story is about two young women, Julie and Maddie who become fast friends in WWII era England.  The girls are opposites in social strata and, in a normal world they probably would never have met.  But this is the topsy-turvy times of war where nothing is as it seems.  These young woman are both patriotic and foolishly brave, daring to forge a place for themselves in a man’s world.

Maddie is a pilot with an affinity for mechanics and Julie is a spy.

The story of their friendship unfolds under torture, written painfully and painstakingly on sheets of paper, old recipe cards and other scraps from an old French hotel, currently re-purposed as a Gestapo prison. The story richly reveals a multitude of stories: about espionage, England, Scotland, family, friendship, airplane mechanics, being a woman in a man’s world, the French resistance; all from the point of view of this captured young woman, who writes so eloquently. Verity, as she is known calls herself a coward and yet, reading her account, you know she is clearly not.  She’s a fighter and clings to the memories of her friendship to get her through the tortured days of writing and giving up her secrets.  Who is Verity?  What happened to Maddie?  What happened before that plane crash and her capture?

I couldn’t put this book down.  It is rich in historical detail, incredibly well-written and so well done.  The young women and the time they live in comes to life and the reader is pulled into the hearts and minds of each.  At times it was just so visceral and painfully emotional, yet I COULD NOT put it down.  The book does not shy away from incidents of torture which makes it all the more real.  Each sentence is like a highly polished little jewel, drawing the reader in and keeping them reading.  I cared deeply for these young women and wanted to know what happened next.

Code Name Verity is beautifully, achingly written. It’s memorable, elegant and completely engrossing.  Absolutely outstanding.  It won’t only be the teens reading this, as it translates so well into the adult realm.  It’s a perfectly engrossing read and one that will remain with you for a very long time.


Publisher’s blurb:

Oct. 11th, 1943–A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Wein was born in New York City, grew up abroad, and currently lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She is an avid flyer of small planes and is the editor of the Scottish Aero Club’s newsletter. She also holds a PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania.

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review via NetGalley, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.  Thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer.