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Guest Reviewer: Author Shawn McGuire

Today we have a guest reviewer, author Shawn McGuire.

headshot-1.1-349x360Colorado-based author Shawn McGuire started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that’s episode IV) as a kid. She couldn’t wait for the next installment to come out so wrote her own. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then. Her young adult novels deal with harder issues—dating violence, death of a family member, bullying, and teen suicide. Since those topics can be hard to handle, she infuses a bit of humor as well because she believes that laughter can help you get through just about anything. You can learn more about Shawn and her work at

These Shallow Graves

Back Cover Blurb

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.
    Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his pistol. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was a partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun. 
    The more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. Suicide is the only logical explanation, and of course people have started talking, but Jo’s father would never have resorted to that. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop. 
    The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

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Jennifer’s Bio

Jennifer Donnelly is the author of nine novels – These Shallow GravesDark TideRogue WaveDeep BlueRevolutionA Northern LightThe Tea RoseThe Winter Rose and The Wild Rose – and Humble Pie, a picture book for children. She grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History.

Read more about Jennifer and her work here:

Shawn’s Review

Everything I’ve read of Jennifer Donnelly’s I loved, and These Shallow Graves is no different. With this novel, Donnelly takes us to both the richest and the poorest parts of 1890 New York City. Jo Montfort is our heroine. She’s a high-society girl whose bored with her stifling life and has dreams of becoming a newspaper reporter. The story opens with Jo being called home from finishing school because her father has died. Her nose-for-news soon has her snooping around the crime scene, and she learns that her father didn’t simply die, he was murdered.

Jo’s investigative trails lead her to Eddie Gallagher, a reporter with the newspaper her father owned. Together, Jo and Eddie sleuth their way through the streets of New York, uncovering clues that slowly reveal truths about Jo’s family she’s not happy to learn. Making things even more twisty, Jo and Eddie start to fall in love, despite the fact that Jo is engaged to one of the most eligible bachelors in the city.

A trip back in time, a mystery, and a girl not afraid to step outside of her appointed societal box. That adds up to a plotline that I could easily fall in love with. Every time I had to set the book down, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. I read this one slowly, savoring my trip back in history and time with Jo’s family.

Some bits of the story were a little cliché. A rich society girl falling for a possible bad boy has been done and overdone, but Donnelly’s writing is so addictive, I didn’t give it a second thought. While parts stretched my belief a little – How was it possible for Jo to sneak out of the house that many times without getting caught? – Again, I let it go because the mystery kept my attention so well. The ending was highly satisfying for me. I’ve read that Donnelly hopes to write a sequel, and I hope she does. I’ll snatch it up right away!

I would gladly read this book again, and I probably will at some point. For that and many other reasons, I give it five stars.

Thanks Shawn for the wonderful review! I need to add this one to my TBR.

Are you an author who has read a great book and wouldn’t mind sharing your review? Contact me and let me know. Once or twice a month I’ll be featuring authors sharing books they’ve read. It’s a nice way for readers to know what their favorite authors are reading.

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