Review: 13 to Life

13 to Life is the first book in a new series by author Shannon Delany. It was released on June 22, 2010 and is available in paperback or eBook formats.

The second book in the series, Secrets and Shadows will be released on February 15, 2011 and the third book Bargains and Betrayals will be out on August 16, 2011.

Goodreads description:

Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing.  Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent—he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town.  It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid…

Everything changed the day that Pietr Rusakova walked into Junction High, and not for the better according to Jessica Gillmansen. She was perfectly happy with the way things were – being a writer, taking care of her mother’s horses, assisting the elderly for her Service Learning assignment, helping her friend Sarah recover from her accident, pining after her latest crush Derek and just trying to cope with the loss of her mother.

Pietr’s arrival has turned everything upside down and that is definitely not where Jessie wants to be. She just wants to finish school and then get out of Junction. But Pietr’s presence is forcing Jessie to confront some very real issues and feelings that she hasn’t wanted to address about her friends, herself and her mother’s death. His arrival has also coincided with the conclusion of some very bizarre events in the neighboring town of Farthington, mysterious events that now seem to be happening in Junction.


13 to Life is a captivating mystery by author Shannon Delany. As events begin to unfold and pieces to the puzzle become clear, the story really begins to develop its own personality and begins to distinguish itself from other similar themed tales.

Ms. Delany is a superb writer. There is something about her writing style that keeps you connected with the heroine, Jess Gillmansen, even though she can be a stubborn, frustrating, purposefully obtuse young girl with a case of self-imposed martyrdom.

13 to Life is a bit longer than many of the stories in this genre, but it doesn’t feel that way. There is an easy rhythm to the writing that makes the pages just fly by. Some of the story becomes a bit confusing at times – such as Sarah’s accident, the events in Farthington and the presence of the Russian Mafia – and perhaps needed a bit more explanation early on, but much of that is cleared up by the end of this book.

Another source of some confusion is that the secondary character names are a tad too similar – there is a Sarah, Stella, Sasha (who is also called Alexi) and a Sophia – and the two main female characters in competition for Derek’s affection are Jessie and Jenny. But once you get to know the characters as the story progresses it becomes less of an issue.

And yes, this story does include a love triangle, with both Derek and Pietr showing an interest in Jessie, but it is not one that is resolved in this book and is hopefully “to be continued” in a subsequent book in the series.

13 to Life has a few lovable and not-so-lovable characters that make for an exciting new series. With a cliffhanger ending, many questions that remain and a number of loose ends regarding Derek, Sarah and some unexplained visitors that Jess has had, the next installment in this series can’t come too soon. Fortunately the next book comes out in February and will hopefully answer all of these questions.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=4]

On a personal note:

I went into this story with absolutely no expectations. I started reading it without even really knowing what it was about. I had some idea from reading Beasts and BFFs but aside from that brief introduction to the characters I had no clue where the story would lead. I had not read the description before purchasing or reading and did not read any other reviews. (I almost always like to keep a completely open mind before reading something and will only look at other viewpoints after I’ve read a book.)

I was pleasantly surprised by the story and didn’t think that was possible. I’ve read so many stories in this genre that I didn’t think there could be another one that would be memorable. This one definitely is. I like Pietr although he is still quite the mystery. I’m still wondering what made him fall for Jessie above all the other girls and why Jessie isn’t as drawn to him as everyone else. Why is she the one?

I also love the fact that I don’t particularly like Jessie. In almost every story I read I love the heroine. Not so much with Jessie. Through half the story I wanted to knock some sense into her and cheered her friend Amy on for doing just that. Being the martyr does not suit her. And for someone who has such an active interest in the mystery surrounding Farthington and professes to be a writer she never even tried to put two and two together and never actually wrote anything. Don’t get me wrong, she is not detestable, I just didn’t get those initial warm and fuzzies toward her. But she did start to grow on me as the story went on.

This series is one I will definitely follow to its conclusion.


How I “discovered” this book:

13 to Life is a “Just Discovered” just got a chance to read book.

This was another Amazon recommends for me. I bought it just as it was released but it ended up further down on my TBR pile as I had a few “must reads” ahead of it. This was also another book that I started a couple of times but my attention was pulled to other series that I was already invested in, and so it got lost in the eBook shuffle.

The recent release of the prequel novella Beasts and BFFs was actually what got this book moved to the top of the list. Even in a season with over ten new releases that are my “must reads,” seven books on my book club list, and nine ARC’s in the pile, I just had to find out the full story that I was only briefly introduced to in the novella.

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like


All content - except for guest posts and guest reviews - has been written by me and can not be copied or used without permission. All graphics and images used on my site – aside from book covers used for purposes of discussion – have either been given to me by authors, publishers or bloggers for guest posts, blog tours, interviews or promotion, have been sourced, have been designed by me or have been purchased for my exclusive use. Aside from images with a “grab code” beneath, no images can be used or displayed without permission.


All reviews on this website are unbiased and reviewers are in no way compensated for their reviews by the author, publisher, or any other agencies. While some reviews may be based on receipt of ARC copies of an authors work, a fair and impartial review is always given by the reviewer. Most of the reviews, however, are based upon books purchased after publication date.