Jody M. (jodymcgrath) - - Reviews

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Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel
Everything You Want Me to Be: A Novel
Author: Mindy Mejia
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 3/11/2018


Wow. Just wow.

The characters in this book are so real. They are flawed living breathing humans. They grow and change as the books goes through time. The author just blows me away. The plot is definitely character driven, but it has twists and turn and is such a psychological thriller that you get sucked in and become so invested in these people. This is a book that is going to stick with you after you read the last page.

*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and have given an honest an unbiased review *


Fatal Passions
Fatal Passions
Author: Adrian Vincent
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/24/2016


This book looks at 16 love affairs that turned to murder.
The stories are: THE LOVE BUNGALOW (Patrick Mahon), THE CUPBOARD LOVER (Otto Sanhuber and Walburga Oesterreich), THE PYJAMA GIRL (Tony Agostini), A SHIPBOARD ROMANCE (James Camb), A MOTHER'S TENDER CONCERN (Elizabeth Duncan, Augustine Baldonado and Luis Moya), AN IMPOSSIBLE CASE (Tony Mancini), THE KILLER IN THE NIGHT (Sam Sheppard), WHEN EAST MEETS WEST (Madame Fahmy), A NASTY SMELL IN THE HOUSE (Frederick Deeming), CHARMLESS CHARLOTTE (Charlotte Bryant), THE SAUSAGE KING (Adolph Luetgert), MR ROUSE ARRANGES HIS OWN DEATH(Alfred Rouse), A BRICKBAT FOR MRS PARKER (Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme), A PASSION FOR POISON (Nannie Doss), MRS MOWRY'S LAST LOVE (Colin Close AKA Dr Richard Campbell), and A RESPECTABLE HOUSEHOLD (Alma Rattenbury and George Stoner)

This is a fascinating, yet grim, look into murderers and the passion that swayed their choices. It is a fast read and very interesting. I read it in two sittings, only because I had to sleep before I could finish it the first time. If you are a true crime buff looking for a fast, quick fix, I highly recommend this charmingly morbid book. A+

*I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book and have given an honest review *


Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth
Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 8/12/2016
Helpful Score: 1


*I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

John Wilkes Booth is a name everyone still knows today. He was the assassinator of President Abraham Lincoln. Whiles this is a story of that fateful day, it is also so much more. It tells the story of Wilkes' life from the perspective of the 4 women who knew him the best; his beloved mother, his adoring sister, his secret fiancé, and his co-conspirator.

Although it is a fictionalization of his life, the author really put a lot of research and facts into the story. This could be exactly what happened behind the scenes. Jennifer Chiaverini brings these characters to life, the way most history books fail to do. She does not take away the evil acts of John Wilkes Booth, but she reminds us all that he was also a man, who had a life and people who loved him.

She starts her story before Wilkes was even born, with his mother Mary Ann. Mary Ann was written as a mother who loved her son, her favorite son, to the point where she overlooked his flaws. She refused to see the man he was becoming, holding tight to the boy he was.

Next the story is picked up by his sister, Asia. Asia idolized her brother, and loved him even though she saw the path he was heading towards. Even after that fateful night, she still never stopped loving the brother she knew.

Lucy Hale is our third storyteller, and her story is one of romance and love. This was perhaps the most fictionalized portion of the story. Although, it was common knowledge that Wilkes was courting Lucy, most of this naïve love affair is based on rumors and conjectures. Still, it is completely plausible and gives us a different perspective of John Wilkes Booth.

Our last woman storyteller is Mary Surratt, the owner of the boardinghouse where Wilkes planned various traitorous acts. The author is able to make her a sympathetic character, even though she is a knowing participant in certain events.

The action of the assassination is told by Wilkes himself, whom by this time is not only a villian in your mind, but a man fighting for his beliefs, however zealous they might be.

The author wraps up the story beautifully, by alternating points of view to show the aftermath and the effects Wilkes' act brought onto others.

This is not just a story about a day in history, this is the story of a man's life and the lives of those he loved. It is an excellent book and will be adored not only by those who like historical novels, but also those who enjoy literary fiction. I recommend this book strongly, to everyone who knows that there is always two sides of every story.


Flipped For Murder (Country Store, Bk 1)
Flipped For Murder (Country Store, Bk 1)
Author: Maddie Day
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 8/26/2016
Helpful Score: 1


Robbie Jordan has worked so hard to open up her country store restaurant Pans and Pancakes, and it is finally paying off when business begins to boom during her grand opening. The job is long hours and hard on the body but it has always been her dream. When the assistant to the town's mayor is found dead, with one of Robbie's special cheese biscuits shoved in her mouth, she becomes a person of interest in the case. With her dream just starting to be realized, and knowing that town gossip could kill that dream in a second, Robbie sets out to puzzle out who killed Stella and why they would want to frame her for it.

This was a pretty standard cozy mystery, which isn't to say it wasn't good, there was just nothing outstanding about it. Robbie was likable, but she had a few too many TSTL moments. She was independent and feisty though, which I admired. They introduced a love interest, Jim, who I didn't really care for. He seemed like he didn't belong in the Indiana setting, and he was too boring. Perhaps the second love interest, maybe, will be more fun. If the author takes it that way.

Many of the townsfolk were very interesting, some with good back stories, some just introduced to maybe expand on in later novels. The descriptions went a little overboard sometimes. The would describe in detail her biking gear, and it had no relevance to the story. This happened with a lot of ordinary actions. It is weird that it did not get edited out.

Even though the book was a little rough, I liked it enough to read the next installment Grilled for Murder. Hopefully now that the setting and characters have been introduced, the flow will be a bit better. If you like normal cozy mysteries, you will probably enjoy Flipped for Murder.


Fool Moon (Dresden Files, Bk 2)
Fool Moon (Dresden Files, Bk 2)
Author: Jim Butcher
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 757
Review Date: 9/27/2016


Harry the wizard is back. Nope, not that one. Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Wizard for hire. Harry hasn't had a lot of work come his way. He has been on the outs with Murphy his police officer friend who usually gives him work. When he does receive a call from her, he knows it is going to be a bad one. Yep, bad. Mangled corpse. Evisceration. Pools of blood. Oh yeah, and giant paw prints. The full moon brings out more than the crazies!

I love Harry. He is an honest-to-God good guy. But he is flawed. He struggles. He isn't perfect. This book was great. It isn't as straight forward as you think going into it. There are many layers, unveiling more and more evil. I really recommend this book. 5 stars!


The Ghost Bride
The Ghost Bride
Author: Yangsze Choo
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 4/6/2017


Li Lan is a young woman from a family that was once prestigious but is in decline in Malaya, 1893. Unbeknownst to her, she had been betrothed to the second heir of the very rich Lin Family, Tian Bai. But when the first heir dies, the family wants Tian Bai to marry for status and they ask Li Lan's father if she will marry their dead son and become his ghost bride. This is a seldom used custom where a living person is married to a dead person and assumes the role of their widow for the rest of their lives. After refusing, the spirit of the Dead son starts to haunt Li Lan, setting her on a journey she might not recover from.

This book was very interesting. I was unaware of all of these customs and traditions and beliefs. At times I was a little confused because I didn't have any previous knowledge, but Choo does a fantastic job of explaining most things in a way that anyone could understand. My only complaint was that the book ended too soon. I wanted to know what happened next! A great read and I learned a lot about other's culture.


Girl Number One
Girl Number One
Author: Jane Holland
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/3/2016


When Eleanor Blackwood was 6 years old, her mother was brutally strangled in the woods next to their hamlet. Ellie ran like her mother told her to, but she returned and found her mothers body. 18 years later it is the anniversary of her mother's murder. In defiance, she goes for a run in the woods to the spot where it happened so long ago. There, she finds the body of a young woman, also strangled, with the number 3 written in black ink on her forehead. She runs as fast as she can and contacts the police, but when they return the body is gone. They believe she is cracking up, she knows what she saw. Days later, with her on again-off again boyfriend, Tris, they uncover another body in the woods. This one is marked number 2. Now the police believe her, but she doesn't know who to trust, because she is pretty sure she is girl number one.

This was a psychological thriller that had action and suspense right out of the gate. It started off strong and I was completely hooked, until about halfway through the book. The main character, Eleanor, I think is supposed to be an unreliable narrator. But she never was. It was obvious she wasn't crazy, although she was way paranoid. She thought that every man in her life was the killer. Even when there wasn't any reason to think that. The killer is blatantly obvious, and of course the only man she doesn't suspect. The mystery was just way too easy. The author attempted to through in 4 or 5 red herrings, but it was just to obvious.

I rated this 3 stars because I truly liked the beginning and the idea was great. It just seemed to lose steam at the halfway point. Even Eleanor seemed to be strange. One of her best friends disappears, so she goes surfing with her friends? I don't know. Maybe I should've went with a 2...

* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *


The Girl on the Train: A Novel
The Girl on the Train: A Novel
Author: Paula Hawkins
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 446
Review Date: 6/29/2016


I actually really liked this book. The pacing was slow, but the chapters were short so it felt faster. I read it in one sitting. All the characters were flawed, but it seemed an honest portrayal of how these people lived. I usually hate multiple POVs, but this one made sense. This book had a lot of hype and I know it disspointed some, but I loved it!


The Girls Next Door: A gripping, edge-of-your-seat crime thriller (Detective Eden Berrisford crime thriller series) (Volume 1)
Review Date: 3/15/2018


I throughly enjoyed this book. It isn't a mystery, but it is a great character driven thriller with multiple layers. There are different stories going on at the same time but they are connected. My only complaint was that there was too many characters. I got confused at times and couldn't remember who some of them were. I had the main characters down though. Maybe a few less background characters next time. And I do mean next time because there is a sequel that I am definitely reading!

*I requested a copy of this book from Netgalley and have given an honest and unbiased review *


Glimmer (The Black Swan Files) (Volume 1)
Glimmer (The Black Swan Files) (Volume 1)
Author: Tricia Cerrone
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/11/2016


Sunny is just like any other teenage girl. She is friendly and likes mango slushes. Her uncle is overbearing, but she is use to that by now. Oh yeah, and she is a girl who has been scientifically experimented on for the last 13 years or so. She is proficient in multiple martial arts, a language whiz and a train covert operative. Not until she meets a boy, Seth, her own age on the base she is not allowed to leave, does she realize that the government isn't keeping her safe; they are keeping her prisoner.

Georgie is a normal girl, at a normal high school, with a normal job at the movie theater. Her and her BFF Britany, are mourning the death of Britany's aunt who worked at Holliwell Military Base and Scince Lab. She had sent a message before she died and now the girls are involved in something that they can't get out of.

Graeme is the son of a prominent senator and a tech whiz. He has the good life. He has a great family -- mom, dad, brother, and an adopted sister and brother too. He couldn't be happier. Then at a country club party he watches a man follow his dad into the bathroom. Seemingly odd, he follows into the bathroom. The man leaves and his dad is fine, but something, like pictures, have been burnt in the sink. Something is going on, and Graeme can't help but try to figure out what it is.


This novel is a wonderful YA book with elements of action, spies, and dystopian all rolled into one. The main character, Sunny is awesome. She is tough and doesn't back down. All of the side characters merge into her world, with a few others as well. They are all written very well and they each bring something new to the story. I especially loved Lena, AKA Milk. She is super smart, witty, and sarcastic. The ending isn't much of an ending. It is left wide open for a sequel that I hope is coming. I feel lost that I don't know what happens next. There has to be a sequel!!!

I highly recommend this book for lovers of YA action, spy or dystopian lovers. This book rocks!

* I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book*


Grade A Stupis (Darcy Walker, Bk 1)
Grade A Stupis (Darcy Walker, Bk 1)
Author: A. J. Lape
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 11/5/2016


Darcy Walker thinks she is an average, boring girl. Nothing is further from the truth. Darcy is a girl who runs into danger, finds danger, chases danger, taunts danger, rethinks her strategy and does it again. Darcy is trouble. The funny thing is is that she really is a pretty good girl, not a Mary Sue, but definitely not a rebel. When Darcy finds a dead gang member in the dumpster across from her school, instead of immediately calling the cops she investigates the body. Did I mention that Darcy has ADHD, OCD, she is an adrenaline junkie, and she has a genius IQ. When someone she knows is innocent goes down for the crime, Darcy's OCD kicks in and she must get involved. The only downside is that she just doesn't realize how bad things are going to get.

Overall, I really liked this book. It was funny. Darcy was hilarious, even though she was completely socially awkward, and completely...weird. I don't know how else to say it. Her father, sister and nanny (I think it was her sister's nanny...or I hoped so) were great characters. I loved the back short on her father. The mystery portion was a tad drawn out, but I did not know who the big bad was until it was revealed. I like that.

Unfortunately, there was also some negatives in the book. The love quadrangle, the she really is beautiful and doesn't know it, all the hot boys want her, she is completely blind to the fact that her best friend is in love with her, etc. It had all of these overdone cliches that made me want to pull my hair out. It also had a lot of religious undertones, but it wasn't really a religious book. That was strange.

Even though this book had so many bands, I really did enjoy it. I would give it 3 1/2 stars!

*I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book and have given an honest reveiew*


Grilled for Murder (Country Store, Bk 2)
Grilled for Murder (Country Store, Bk 2)
Author: Maddie Day
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 23
Review Date: 8/30/2016
Helpful Score: 1


Grilled for Murder by Maddie Day is the second book in the Country Store Mystery series. Robbie, the owner of a country store diner, Pans N Pancakes, has agreed to cater a welcome home party for Erica Shermer, the widow of Robbie's boyfriend's twin brother. We learn that Jim had a twin brother named Jon who committed suicide about a year ago. (This comes out of nowhere, as it was never even hinted at in the first book, and it seems like a plot device to me, but oh well.) Erica does not seem like a very nice person, flirting with married men, accused of stealing, racial slurs, etc. The next morning, Robbie finds Erica's body in the restaurant and the front window of her store has been busted out also. It seemed like no one liked Erica, but who hated her enough to murder her? And why leave her in her restaurant?

I actually liked this book more than the first. It seems like Ms. Day has worked the kinks out and really found a good rhythm with the series. Most of the characters were consistent with the first book, but some made moves that seemed out of character to me. I think the author wanted to go in a different direction with one aspect of the backstory and just made the pieces fit to do it. It seemed odd to me, but I didn't like that direction in the first book. I must not have been the only one! All the townsfolk are still quirky and charming and her business seems to be doing well.

The mystery aspect of this book, was kind of a joke. It was way easy to solve and if Robbie would have acted like any other person who had a crime scene in their business would have acted, it would have been solved way early. Ms. Day made Robbie oblivious to this giant clue, which al out any reader would figure out instantly and know who the murderer was. There were no twists or anything. And the reason behind the murder, was stupid and also didn't make any sense.

That being said, I really liked the book. I am not sure why, after I really think about everything, but I completely enjoyed it. I am definitely going to read the next book in the series!


Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War
Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War
Author: Mary Roach
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 6/1/2017


Not my favorite Mary Roach novel. Still amazing, I mean it is Mary Roach. I just felt like she could only be a spectator, a reporter for this book, whereas, in so many of her other books she is a huge participant. She did participate when she could, this is Mary, but due to a lot of it being military and government stuff, a lot of the time, she could only tell us other people's stories. Still an amazing book. Mad props to the men and women of the Armed Service and all those who support them, whether it be, family, friends and community, or the unseen volunteers, body donors, janitors, food service personnel and everyone else in between. We get to sleep easier because they all do their job. Thank you all for making my life better.


Heart and Brain: Gut Instincts: An Awkward Yeti Collection
Review Date: 9/3/2016


* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

I have seen some of these cartoons before, whether it be Facebook or somewhere else. They are cute. The heart is a happy-go-lucky carefree entity and the brain is a calculating risk vs. reward type of entity. Some of them are quite humorous but it does get a tad stale seeing pretty much the same thing happen over and over. Quite a few of the strips have a bigger metaphor built into them, but it was still pretty boring. There are some other characters, such as, stomach, gall bladder, bladder, eyes, etc. when they pop up some of the monotony is broken. The best characters are tongue and sweet tooth. Tongue wants what tongue wants regardless of how it makes the others feel and sweet tooth is so sweet he hypnotizes others to get what he wants, which is well, sweets. If it would have been mixed up more it would have been better, but it just dragged.


High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides (Happy Hoofers, Bk 5)
High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides (Happy Hoofers, Bk 5)
Author: Mary McHugh
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 9/13/2016


* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides is the fifth book in Mary McHugh's A Happy Hoofers Mystery series. I haven't read any of the other books in this series, but I don't think you need to really. They do mention a lot of things that happened in previous books, but each book is a separate story. I guess the rotate narrators and this one is narrated by Mary Louise who is a housewife and of course part of the Happy Hoofers.

The Happy Hoofers, a group of 5 dancers in their early 50s, are hired by the Rockettes to dance with them in their Radio Coty Music Hall Christmas performance. When the head Rockette, Glenna is found dead, her body mangled by machinery under the stage, the girls find themselves embroiled in another murder mystery.

I don't think this book was a mystery. It was more like a murder happened and the Happy Hoofers happened to be there and then Mary Louise happened to be told who the murderer was. There was no sleuthing or clues. The murderer was completely obvious and even the twist was obvious from before the murder even happened. Mostly the story centered on her deciding if she loved her husband or the man she was seeing on the side more. First the made her husband a complete jerk, then the did a 180 and made him a sweetheart. Still she was totally stepping out on him. And if she said, "Oh George" or "Oh Mike" or "Oh Peter" any more than she already did, it would have been in every paragraph. I pictured her as Mrs. Brady. The story also went into way to much detail about where everyone went for lunch, and what they had, and what the recipe was, and what the place looked like. Then she took us for a tour of New York. Describing everything. At the end they even spent a chapter talking about free things people. Isiting New York could do. Was this published by the New York PR firm? Even the climax of the story was bad. It started and stopped and started and stopped and started and stopped. And then it was over.

The only reason I am giving this book two stars instead of one, is because I liked the idea behind it. That just because these gales were in their 50s didn't mean they were not still active, desirable adults. I would never recommend this book to anyone unless they were planning a trip to New York.


I Am Josephine: (And I Am a Living Thing)
I Am Josephine: (And I Am a Living Thing)
Author: Jan Thornhill
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 9/14/2016


* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Josephine is a young girl who has learned that although the world is a big place, everything in it is connected. She is learning that she is many things, but she is also special and unique. She starts with linking herself to human beings, then mammals, then animals, and ending with her knowing she is a living thing. She also knows that she even though she is a part of many groups, that she is also an individual.

This book is definitely aimed a very young children. Most of the book does not explain why these groups exist, just what is a part of them. This bothered me. It did have a bullet-point in the back that explained the different groups, but that seemed to be written for much older kids. I think the author could have explained what links certain groups in broad vague terms within each section of the book, that little children would have understood. Then the more difficult part could just be cut from the back.

This book does use quite a lot of repetition, which is great for young children because it makes it easier for them to memorize. The illustrations are bold and colorful, which children will like, but they are not too busy which is nice. I think this would be a good book for preschoolers and maybe kindergartners.


I'm a Lot of Sometimes: A Growing-up Story of Identity
I'm a Lot of Sometimes: A Growing-up Story of Identity
Author: Jack Guinan
Book Type: Library Binding
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 11/17/2016


When you are a child, you are trying to find out who you are. In this picture book, the main character learns that it is okay to be many different things, even if they contradict one another.

This book is for very young children. It is recommended for 3-5 year olds, but I think 2 year olds would also like it. It is about a boy (fox) who learns that sometimes he is one thing and sometimes he is another. Sometimes it is how he feels, like mad and happy, sometimes it is how he acts, like quiet and loud, and sometimes it is perspective, like small and big. It is very repetitive, which is perfect for small children. The illustrations are cute, but not too busy. The only complaint I had was some of the grammar was wrong to keep the repetition accurate. An example would be, "Sometimes...I'm hide. Sometimes...I'm seek." That bothered me some, because children are just learning correct speech and this is not correct.

I would recommend this book though. The message behind the story far outweighs the grammatical inconsistencies.

*I read and ARC of this book from Netgalley and have given an honest review *


The Initiation
The Initiation
Author: Chris Babu
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/22/2018


I could not put this book down! I really enjoyed it!

Drayden was a character I could totally relate to. He was very smart, but struggled with confrontation. He always froze up and let people push him around or let others stand up for him. I could completely identify with him. I loved watching him grow throughout the book.

The backstory was a told in full, although a little suspension of disbelief had to be inacted to believe their world setup, but I feel this way about most dystopian novels. I mean, look at the wonderful Hunger Games. That is downright crazy!

Without spoilers I just have to say that one part of the book sucked. I saw it coming; I understand why it happened, blah, blah, character growth, blah, blah. It still sucked!

I would recommend this book to all fans of dystopian novels and sci-fi books. Or if you enjoyed books like the Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, or Divergent. I can't wait for the next in the series!!!

*I asked for a copy of this book from Netgalley and have given an honest and unbiased review *


Is a Worry Worrying You?
Is a Worry Worrying You?
Author: Ferida Wolff
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 12/18/2017


Worrying is something all kids suffer from, more some than others. It is a hard emotion to describe and an even harder emotion to deal with. In this cute and poignant children's book by Ferida Wolff, she takes shows children different ways worrying can make you feel and how worrying over real things and imaginary things alike can both be impactful feelings to children. She then gives a variety of different ways to deal with these worry. Some all easy as go play and some as hard as to confront it head on. She also gives the sage advice to tell some and ask for help. As a chronic worrier when I was a child, I would have loved this book. I never understood the emotions I was feeling and mistook it for guilt, when I had done nothing wrong. I would definitely buy this book for any under 10 year old I had in my family! Highly recommended!

**I was given a copy of this book and I gave an honest review **


It Ends With Her
It Ends With Her
Author: Brianna Labuskes
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 6/11/2018


I really enjoyed this psychological thriller. Most of the twists and turns were not giant "aha" moments. They were easy to see coming, but that didn't distract from the great plot and honest gritty characters. I read this entire book in one sitting, so I don't agree that it was slow at all. I was really impressed with the pacing. Having it switch from certain POVs and certain times, really fueled the story instead of confusing it which so many other books do. I highly recommend this one!


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