Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Mini Reviews: If I Tell by Janet Gurtler and The Poisoned House by Michael Ford

From Goodreads: Jasmine Evans knows one thing for sure ... people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a onenight stand between a black football player and a blonde princess. Having a young mother who didn't raise her, a father who wants nothing to do with her and living in a small-minded town where she's never fit in hasn't been easy. But she's been surviving. Until she sees her mom's new boyfriend making out with her own best friend. When do you forgive people for being human or give up on them forever?

My Rating: 2.5 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: Janet Gurtler’s If I Tell was okay enough for me to keep reading despite the fact that pretty much every character in the book had a missing or dead parent and the author chose to explore a multitude of issues, including racism, drugs and postpartum depression. Though Gurtler managed to make it all come together somehow; in the end, I thought the book suffered because there was just too much going on.

As well, I found it really hard to connect with Jaz. I get that she’s biracial and has trouble fitting in, but she stressed it so often that I felt like I was being beaten over the head with it. Moreover, in struggling with her identity, Jaz pushes away the people that care about her, which made it even harder to like her. Oh, and let’s not forget that Jaz also lashes out at her mother (e.g. by calling her “the worst mother in the world”) which kind of negates the fact that she’s trying to protect her from a horrible secret because Jaz’s mom is still getting hurt to a certain degree. 

If I Tell was released in October 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley.


From Goodreads: The year is 1856, and orphan Abigail Tamper lives below stairs in Greave Hall, a crumbling manor house in London. Lord Greave is plagued by madness, and with his son Samuel away fighting in the Crimea, the running of Greave Hall is left to Mrs Cotton, the tyrannical housekeeper. The only solace for the beleaguered staff is to frighten Mrs Cotton by pretending the house is haunted. So when a real ghost makes an appearance - that of her beloved mother - no one is more surprised than Abi. But the spirit has a revelation that threatens to destroy Abi’s already fragile existence: she was murdered, and by someone under their very own roof. With Samuel returned to England badly wounded, it’s up to Abi to nurse him back to health, while trying to discover the identity of the killer in their midst. As the chilling truth dawns, Abi’s world is turned upside down.

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Set in Victorian England, The Poisoned House by Michael Ford is a ghost story/murder mystery. Ford does a good job making the setting feel as realistic as possible in terms of the time period, especially considering that most of the story takes place in Greave Hall. Since Abi is a maid however, there’s a lot of description of her chores and not much action. The mundane day-to-day stuff is disrupted by the occasional appearance of Abi’s mother’s ghost who will rest only after her murderer is discovered. Though it was hard to figure out who the murderer was because there weren’t that many clues in the novel, the story ends satisfactorily with all loose ends being tied up neatly.

The Poisoned House was released by Albert Whitman & Company in August 2011.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Albert Whitman & Company) for free via NetGalley.


  1. I guess I'm going to skip over If I Tell, because I don't like over-cluttered stories and annoying MCs.

    And The Poisoned House is being moved up on my to-read pile for being set in Victorian England. But it will go right back down if there's a lack of romance... is there?

    Oh, and I'll see you around for the Historical Fantasy Jubilee ;) That should be awesomesauce!

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  2. Umm...I take real issue with issue books like If I Tell. It's like they want to add to an already hot topic by overdoing it with more hot topics.

    And Jaz sounds a little too "woe is me" for me. Gonna skip it.

    The Poisoned House cover is uber creepy, but really, why would I want to read about doing chores when I have my own to worry about. LOL

  3. I'm not a huge fan of issue books and I most definitely am not into them when there is too much going on, as you say, so I'll be staying away from the first. I'd be more likely to read the second as it seems like it has a lot going for it but just didn't quite make it. Great, concise reviews!

  4. I'll probably read Poisoned House since I have a copy and it's such a small book so seems like a short read.

  5. Wow, that's a lot of issues for one book! Even one of those is enough for me to pass :)

    I liked The Poisoned House, but yeah, I thought there was too much focus on mundane things and not enough tension with the ghost parts. I HATED the pail scene!

  6. I also have If I Tell on my netgalley books but after reading some not-so positive reviews (including yours), I decided to pass.

    Poisoned House sounds quite nice, but I have troubles sticking with horror/mystery books. No matter how interesting I think it's going to be, I always end up taking such a long time to finish it.


I love comments and will reply back via either email or stopping by your blog. Please note that this is an award-free zone.