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Pay Your Blood Debts

Blood Debt by Tanya Huff is the fifth book in the Blood Book series, and it is the most emotional yet for the reader, especially if you are invested in the Henry and Vicki portion of the triangle. How does one repay their lover or friend for changing their life so profoundly? That is the greater question that comes to mind after reading this book.

I’ve read on the Web that Vicki chooses one of these men, but thus far, I have not seen a conscious choice made on her part. In fact, this book to me shows the choice being made for her. She is forced to accept a decision made for her at the end of the last book and the beginning of this one.

****Spoiler Alert***

The bodies are piling up again with organs missing. The clinic and philanthropist involved with a surgeon are selling organs to the rich and powerful. The bodies become ghosts that haunt Fitzroy and he’s forced to call in Vicki from Toronto. She and Celluci, who reluctantly agrees to come along, jump into a van with a blacked out room in the back to drive across Canada to Vancouver.

The trip across the country is nearly as eventful as when they arrive in Vancouver and Vicki and Henry are forced to occupy the same city, let along small space. You may have guessed by now that this is the book where you find out Vicki is no longer mortal and she and Henry cannot live in the same city because they are territorial beings, except when engaged in mass killings of gang members and murderers.

My one qualm with this book is that it starts the year after the change occurs in Vicki, leaving the reader in the dark about the love and teaching that must go on between Henry and Vicki as he teaches her how to feed and control her dangerous urges. I do love how she no longer has to deal with the eye degeneration. That was something I expected when I presumed on my own that she would become immortal. I only wish that had been her choice and not that of the men in her life.

***End Spoiler Alert***

The questions this book raised for me were how does one repay their friend or lover for changing his/her life so profoundly and irrevocably? I’m not simply wondering this from a vampire/child point of view, so much as a friend impacting another friend. Vicki’s profound effect on Fitzroy’s traditions and notions about how his kind reacts and interacts with the world around him, allow him to hopefully evolve beyond his own imaginings and consider alternative ways of being. It’s not that Fitzroy is out of control and killing anything that walks, but he does hold specific notions about how his kind operates in the world and with one another. He never once questioned whether those notions or teachings were accurate or impossible to circumvent until he requests Vicki’s assistance with the ghosts.

The dynamic between these characters goes beyond the sexual tension and jealousy of a love triangle and illuminates how human interaction–or inhuman in this case–can improve an individual’s outlook on life and their ability to improve their own interactions with others, as well as how they can impact traditions and humanity as a whole.

It’s now onto the next read Blood Bank.

Blood Ties That Unwind a Confused Love


Tanya Huff‘s Blood Pact is the best of the books thus far. I read through this book quickly, and though I knew the inevitability of the series, I was unprepared for the final outcome. Throughout the series, there have been werewolves, mummies, vampires, and now Frankenstein monsters. When you deal in the unknown, mad scientists are bound to come out of the woodwork. I guess I never expected the mad scientist to be so young. Though Catherine is a genius, she is utterly naive about her work and why the administrator, Dr. Burke is interested in her work. While many of us like to think we are smart and on the verge of discovery or just great work, we often fail to recognize our own motivations or those of our colleagues and bosses. Even now, this may be the case.

****Spoiler Alert*****

Vickie Nelson’s mother is in trouble, worse than a life or death situation can be. Marjory, who has driven her daughter crazy with her questions and advice, becomes a scientific experiment of a young graduate student at the Life Sciences unit. The conspiracy to create Frankenstein-like creatures goes beyond the graduate student’s ideas and genius to reach up into the upper ranks of the University’s bureaucracy.

Vicki finds her mother’s body has been stolen and she buries the pain of loss to search for her mother’s “kidnappers.” The struggle to keep the loss inside and remain removed from the situation enough to find her mother’s body and the criminals who took her is apparent in all of her actions and interactions with Henry and Celluci.

The love triangle also rears its ugly head in this book, though both men agree to be civil to one another and put Vicki first. It’s admirable, but in the end, one of them has to choose to let her go and leave her forever.

****End Spoiler Alert****

Now, in this series, there is one particular tidbit of the Vampire reality that I do not find very conducive to love stories per se, but I can see why it was written into the story because the love triangle would never have ended. For all of Vicki’s strength, she has this uncanny ability at being unable to commit. She cannot commit in her personal life and she is inevitably forced to commit because of circumstances within and yet beyond her control.

There is a great deal of inner turmoil in this book. Vicki, Celluci, Henry, and even Dr. Burke. It also highlights some of the most interesting problems in graduate schools among naive yet intelligent students and faculty. I cannot wait to see what happens in the fifth book, Blood Debt.

Can We Understand Our Own Lunar Eclipses?

Carol Dine’s Trying to Understand the Lunar Eclipse is like many other works of poetry. It is wrought with imagery and vagaries, leading the reader to come to their own conclusions about the subject matter. However, what sets this book of poems apart from others is that it is not pretentious. It deals with real-life issues in images easily understood and pictured in a layman’s mind. This is not a book merely for academics. It is not the tactile nature of this book that captures my attention, on the other hand.

There is an undercurrent or a subtext throughout the poems reflecting an inner turmoil regarding her past, her present, and her future as a mother, daughter, wife, lover, and woman.

For instance, “In the Everglades” begins with a woman on a journey to find her former self and through images of the swamp, heat, and groves of trees, she finds the “Pods burst, perfect seed,/moss and sea water,/a daughter/curled like a fern.//” The narrator finds herself curled like a fern, though ferns are not the first image one would expect to find in the Everglades. So I wondered about this poem and whether it was an actual journey a woman went on or if it was a metaphorical journey into herself and the heat and swamp she faces are those memories and regrets we each carry with us about our life choices.

Another of my favorites from this book “Woman in the Cafe” is an observation piece of an older woman sitting in a cafe with a tattoo on her arm. But it is the end of the poem that reveals the observation is much more than a look at body art on someone in her 70s. Its a testament to the stains, the memories, the life choices made by each of us that we can either bury within or carry on our sleeves.

The more personal pieces, or what I would consider personal pieces about her family, and in particular about her father, are especially revealing. The undercurrent of not so much rage as disappointment and misunderstanding come bubbling to the surface. “On a Self-Portrait by Jim Dine” the lines that illustrate this are “Where the robe knots,/I see him burning at the stake/made from an easel.” But in “My Father’s Voice on Tape,” which is broken into parts marked Side 1 and Side 2, the eerie lines “Seven years and still you’re speaking/from behind your throat like an oboe.//” and “The sun lights your face./You close your eyes, too sad/to be the ice cream man.//” mix images of beauty with grim images of a man tormented or as a hidden tormentor.

Finally, “Painting Abstracts” symbolizes to me a rebirth of sorts. In it the narrator shapes items, colors objects, and generally is free to do what she pleases. “I cover the landscape with oils and marble dust,/deep green and earth brown.// I break up colors and shapes:/cloud caught in a tree, the pull of tree from sky./” Though not the last poem in the book, I think it propels the undercurrent toward a resolution, though it may not be an immediate resolution.

I highly recommend this book for even the casual poetry reader.

Draw Blood Lines Through It

Blood Lines by Tanya Huff, the third book in the Blood Books Series, has one of the most disturbing scenes in it. I read the first two books without cringing, but there is one section in this book that had me cringing even after the section was gone.

Vicki Nelson, Henry Fitzroy, and Mike Celluci return in this book to fight an ancient Egyptian mummy. Yes, not only are werewolves and demons in the same book as a vampire, but now a walking mummy. This mummy isn’t just wandering around in ancient rags terrorizing the city, he has a purpose, and that purpose is to feed on souls and resurrect a god.

***Spoiler Alert***

Henry’s ka, or soul, attracts the mummy because it burns brightly, and Henry is almost tempted to take the mummy up on his offer of companionship, until he finally realizes that he is not the one in need of companionship. This book also sheds further light on the triangle created by Vicki, Henry, and Celluci. Vicki is very torn between the two, and the men are very aware of how each feels for her, which raises the tensions between them even further–especially when they work together to corral the mummy.

***End Spoiler Alert***

I will not go into detail about the disturbing section of the book, but I will say Vicki is a much stronger woman or better at hiding her pain than I would ever be. After her ordeal, she does not curl into a ball or dissolve into a puddle when it ends. If anything, she fortifies an even stiffer protective wall around herself, which I’m sure plays into her overall character development throughout the series.

I can’t wait to start the fourth book in the series, Blood Pact.

Where There Are Vampires, There Are Werewolves, Naturally


Follow a vampire long enough and you are bound to enter the world of werewolves. While many books pit these creatures against one another, there have been a few cases in which authors and movie script writers bring these factions together for the greater good of “humanity.” Blood Trail by Tanya Huff is no different in this respect, but the werewolves in this book and Henry Fitzroy do not merely set aside their differences for a specific event, but are friends and have been friends longer than Vicki Nelson has been in the picture.

***Spoiler Alert***

Rather than Vicki seeking the help of her new vamp friend, it is he who turns to her for help. He ropes her into more supernatural events, but this time with werewolves. The wer family live in the country on a farm, which is a far cry from Vicki’s city existence and very dim in terms of lighting. Henry needs her to investigate during the day, while he sleeps in a storage closet at the home, and he can hunt for the mysterious hunter killing his friends by moonlight.

This book develops these characters and their relationships even further, and it is apparent that Vicki struggles internally not only with the supernatural world she has stumbled upon, but also with her feelings for Henry and Celluci. Most of the book is spent on the farm and Celluci is no where to be found, but it is when she needs him most that he appears in his armor to save her and her friends in spite of his suspicions about Henry. The only spoiler I will put in here that you may not want to know is that Celluci believes Henry is involved in Organized Crime. This cracked me up to no end. I could not stop laughing every time he mentioned it to Vicki or to himself. How this man is a detective and cannot figure out this man is a vampire I have no idea. It’s fun to watch his deduction skills in action though.

***End Spoiler***

Again, the dialogue and interactions between these characters kept me reading. Blood Trail leads you and Vicki into the woods and does not lose its grip on you until the very end. I couldn’t stop reading last night because I knew I was near the end of the novel. I cannot wait to start Blood Lines today.

As for Blood Ties on Lifetime, I recommend readers check out the show because the actors do such a great job portraying the essence of these characters as they are written. It appears the show is struggling ratings wise, which would disappointment me if it was cancelled. I just love the show and generally these shows become cult classics, but I think the stories and the characterizations are enough to hold onto the attention of mainstream audiences if they know what channel to watch.

Sensual and Sarcastic Vamps


Photo Copyright of the Blood Ties television show.

Tanya Huff is a whiz with characterization. I thought I loved watching Vicky Nelson and Henry Fitzroy on the television screen, but I enjoy reading about them even more. Book 1, Blood Price, does not disappoint. There is certainly enough blood to go around. Poor Vicky; she gets so beat up in this first book. It makes you wonder how she copes with the supernatural in later books, but I guess she toughens up after this first experience with the demons.

***Spoiler Alert***

Vicky is full of sarcasm and equally arrogant about her abilities despite her loss of peripheral vision, and her ex-partner, ex-lover, Mike Celluci is pigheaded and arrogant as well. Coupled with the ageless Henry Fitzroy how could the supernatural possibly win out. Have I mentioned that Fitzroy, who prefers to be called Henry, happens to be a Vampire? Much of the book focuses on Vicky’s story and how she stumbles upon a murder on the subway, and how because she quit the police force she feels abandoned and useless. She left the force of her own accord and continues to fight the feeling of uselessness throughout the book until she comes to a realization at the end that she is not useless and that she has a great many skills to use in solving even supernatural crimes.

Mike takes turns as the bad guy reminding her that she left the job she loved and reminding her that she is still needed by him, at least. While Henry spends a great deal of time trying to place her; where has he seen her before; why has she entered his solitary life; and how should he deal with this newly budding relationship. Henry is drawn to her, not only as prey but also as a companion in the modern world.

***End Spoiler***

I won’t spoil the whole story for you, but I will tell you that the book is fast paced. The dialogue and interactions between Vicky and Henry are hilarious and had me laughing for much of the book’s latter half. I was equally amused by the conversations with Celluci and Vicky. Even the supporting characters, like Coreen and Norman, are quirky but not beyond total belief in this horror/fantasy novel.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in vampires or great characters.

The Quickie

How shabby can a plot or characters get? I remember a book I read long ago by Zane in which the character was not well created and everything under the sun happened to her by the end of the book. The Quickie by James Patterson is much like the title suggests, a quickly written novel to fill the space between two better written novels. I already reviewed Step on a Crack and You’ve Been Warned.

Unlike those two books, which has suspense and plot twists, The Quickie was a roller coaster ride you wanted to get off quickly. When I reached about halfway through the novel and it ended in a shootout with the bad guy, I thought thank goodness that is over. But it wasn’t over. I handled the transition to the subplot behind Detective Scott Thayer’s odd behavior and ultimately his death relatively well, but I could not absorb the other twists thrown my way.

***Spoiler Alert***

Lead character Detective Lauren Stillwell of the NYPD is not a good detective at all. She had no idea Scott Thayer was playing on her vulnerabilities and insecurities, and she is a “tough as nails” cop. She was equally blind where her husband was concerned, and still wanted to save his sorry butt even after learning he has another “wife and child” with twins on the way, not to mention he committed robbery, shipped off millions to be laundered in a foreign nation, oh and killed her lover boy Scott Thayer. Nevermind, Paul’s sordid past.

How is it that Patterson can write this many novels in one year without making mistakes? At one point she is driving around in her mini cooper when she has to head home to tend to “brownies” when she leaves to return to the scene she has a completely different car–did she misplace the mini, was it beamed away while she was looking for her husband or hiding the evidence that he killed Scott, or was it the editors and Patterson forgetting to keep the story consistent? Miraculously, and this is the part that really got me thinking about Patterson’s production levels this year, Lauren gets pregnant and it is determined she’s been pregnant a lot longer than she initially thinks, especially given she just slept with Thayer 6 days before the news. However, many places in the book, the character refers to her and her husband’s stagnant love life at home…which leads the reader to believe they are not sleeping together. So, I ask you how did she get pregnant? Immaculate conception or his sperm jumped through the air when they passed one another in the mornings. I have no idea.

There are so many plot twists and subplots in this book, it was driving me insane. The narration was all over the place and not tied together tightly enough for me to believe in it. The main character is a detective; Patterson writes about them all the time, but this one has to be the dumbest detective I have run across.

***End Spoiler***

I suggest you skip this one and read one of the other two I have mentioned. They are much better books.

Someone asked me if I think it is James Patterson’s use of co-authors that has hindered the plots and entertainment of some of his latest books, but I can tell you that is not the case. Step on a Crack had the same co-author, Michael Ledwidge, as the Quickie and it was a better book. I think it has more to do with Patterson’s schedule; he is cranking out too many books per year these days. I say slow down man, we can wait for a better book.

Solar v. Lunar Eclipse

The third installment in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, Eclipse, does not disappoint with even more action and drama than the last two over an even greater length of pages–629 in the volume I picked up at Borders. I tried to slow down and take in the entire book, but found the pages flying by as I grew more eager to discover what choice Bella would ultimately make between her werewolf and her vampire.

***Spoiler Alert****

Vampire clans in Italy are an imminent threat to Bella and Edward if she is not changed, while other vampires closer to home are on a rampage on their way to kill her for revenge. Meanwhile, Bella’s love for Edward continues to be the center of her night sky. I think what irked me about this book is how dense Bella seemed. It wasn’t until page 327 that she realized Jacob was in love with her. Could she possibly be that obtuse? She had glimmers of intelligence throughout the book when it came to deducing which vampire clan was after her and which were not, but she had no idea that her “friend” loved her. Granted she is a teenage character, and she may not be that perceptive, but I would have given Bella more credit than that.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Jacob takes it upon himself to kiss Bella to prove that she feels the same way, and she hits him in the jaw, only to have her own hand broken in several places. The teenage unpredictability is endearing in her because she is so emotional and where’s her heart on her sleeve. Despite her inability to control her emotional outbursts with regard to Jacob’s advances and Edward’s caution, she is still unaware of her own feelings for Jacob for about another 200 pages. This bit of ignorance on her part, however, is believable because they are teenagers and many times I remember confusing friendship for something more or pretending that there wasn’t more in favor of mere friendship.

The choice is inevitable for Bella in the end, but I still wonder if there is not more to her choice. Perhaps she does not need to choose the path Alice sees for her. Perhaps there are alternatives despite her love for both men in her life. I can tell you if I were caught in between I would have a tough time choosing, though I think I would have walked away from both of them at some point to clear my head and figure out the best choice for myself rather than plunge into a decision head first, blindly. However, that is probably why these characters are teenages, minus the few hundred years Edward has spent as a 17-year-old vampire.

***End Spoiler Alert****

Despite my passion about Edward Cullen, Bella Swan, and Jacob Black, my favorite character is Edward’s sister, Alice. She is such a giddy schoolgirl when it comes to human events and coming of age incidents. Bella always reprimands her for going overboard about proms, dances, graduation, and birthdays, among other parties. She wants a sister she can dress up and “play” with it seems, and she has found that with Bella. What I enjoy most about this character is the interplay she has with her brother, Edward. She sees the future to a certain extent and he can read minds, it makes for an interesting dynamic. Who will win their little tet-e-tets? It’s a fun bunch of dialogue, and the dialogue between Edward and Jacob in the latter portion of the book is equally amusing.

As for the Solar and Lunar Eclipse title of this post, it alludes to the eclipse of Bella, her true self by both sides of the coin, the moon (Edward) and the sun (Jacob). I feel as though she has lost herself in the midst of this struggle between her two loves and herself.

I had a great time reading these books and can’t wait for the next installment, tentatively titled Breaking Dawn. It is expected to come out in Fall 2008.

This Book Also Was Reviewed Here:

The Bookworm

New Moon Rises

The second book, New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, is read. Yes, in a day and a half. I have uncovered another passion for an author and these characters. I can understand her passion for her characters and their voices like a writer should.

***SPOILER Alert***

Edward and Isabella reunite in this book, but their world has changed.

Its akin to a teenage, vampire-werewolf Romeo and Juliet in the modern world. Jacob Black, the family friend’s son stars in much of the first portion of New Moon, with Bella at his side. He comes of age and their relationship changes, but she is not ready to move on. She merely wants to wallow in her pain and her memories of Edward. Jacob won’t let her because he loves her too much. While the feelings are not reciprocated, it does not matter. The adventures in this book are more heart-racing and adventurous than the last.

I was riveted to the words on the page and stayed up until 1am to read to page 400. On the way to pick up the little niece and her mom, I read in the car and finished the book this afternoon. I have never been enthralled with two characters before. Ok, that may not be entirely true. My passion for Edward and Isabella is akin to my passion for Heathcliff and Catherine in Wuthering Heights.

To think, I have read over 1,000 pages in the last three days, and all I have is another 600 to go in the third book. And no, I have not started it yet. I will be.

I love the red and white flower cover on this book and its depiction of how the passion and innocence of the characters is comingled. Their interactions are much like young teenagers, rash and passionate, but at the same time an enduring love and understanding binds them to one another. Edward aptly says in the book that there is a new moon lighting his night sky when he is with Isabella, and without her the sky is black and devoid of stars and moonlight. I can’t wait to get to Eclipse.

This Book Also Was Reviewed Here:

The Bookworm

Not the Twilight of Your Life

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer has to be one of the best vampire books I have read in a long time since giving up on Anne Rice and her vampire series. I won’t disparage Rice’s work in this entry, but I will praise Meyer for a job well done. It has been several months since a book has captivated my attention to the point where I lose track of time. I read over 200 pages of the book yesterday evening and said to my husband as he walked through the door, “Boy, you are home early.” To which he replied, “I’m a half hour late.” Where did the time go? Into reading about Edward Cullen and Isabella Swan, perhaps.

Unlike other vampire novels, the main vampire in this book, Edward Cullen, is a teenage boy, and Bella is also a teen. The unique morality that drives the Cullen family to hunt animals rather than humans is endearing, and certainly naive. However, readers must remember vampires, most of them anyway, were humans at one time and probably have a hard time adjusting to their new lives. So despite the moral compass governing their lives in Forks in the Pacific Northwest, they still desire human blood. The concept is simple, a boy and a girl meet and fall in love even though they are not supposed to, a boy from the wrongside of the tracks or a girl from the wrong side of the tracks; it really doesn’t matter.

The writing is very descriptive and intense. The energy between the couple leaps off the page. It is electric to follow them through the town of Forks. Their interactions with other classmates, their attempts to hid their true feelings from one another and their fellow classmates–something teenagers often do in high school in the first place–and their quirky introductions to parents., even his vampire parents. You might think I am giving away too many details about this book, but there is so much more beneath the surface.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in vampires or merely in human relationships, and yes Edward is human to an extent. It is the combination of those human qualities and his vampire attributes that attracts Bella, and who wouldn’t be attracted to him and his charisma.


I finished Twilight by Stephenie Meyer as you know. I have given a lot of thought to the cover choice for the book, which depicts of a pair of young arms with hands cupped around an apple. Oftentimes, I find book covers either have little to do with the book’s contents or are lame in many respects, but this cover has significant meaning given the themes in the book.

First off, Isabella Swan is forbidden fruit for Edward Cullen, much like the apple in the Garden of Eden was for Adam and Eve. However, Bella also represents his prey; the dichotomy of their relationship is summed up easily in the cover choice.

I just want to applaud the publishing house and the author for a wise choice. The image above is borrowed from the Stephenie Meyer Website.

This Book Also Was Reviewed Here:

The Bookworm

Warning…for Readers

I finished James Patterson’s You’ve Been Warned in record time while on a mini-vacation with the parents in town. So what did I think of the latest creation from Patterson? It was an odd read. I was confused much of the time while reading it. It’s suspenseful, but annoying at the same time because you are confused much of the time you are reading it, particularly when you are wondering what the main point of the story is and who is chasing the main character, Kristin Burns. This is not an Alex Cross or Women’s Murder Club or Michael Bennett novel of cops and robbers, though the mentality of those cops is carried slightly over into the Burns character who hopes to unravel the mystery. The best part for me with the character of Burns is her love of photography, which I can totally relate to. She just clicks away on her camera, much like I do sometimes…the urge is there to just keep shooting, probably why film got to be too expensive for me and I switched over to digital–though there are some things I prefer about film photography.

She seeks the identity of the man who continues to warn her throughout the novel and continues to avoid the cop following her, but does she do it successfully? You’ll have to read the book to find out. I will tell you this about the new book. It was a great twist at the end; one I had an inkling about; but it was still a great end. You’ll also have to read to figure out if this novel is one of the better experiments run by Patterson over the years.

He’s tried romantic novels with Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas and Sam’s Letters to Jennifer–one faring much better than the other. I really loved Suzanne’s Diary, but really hated Sam’s Letters. Then he attempted a historical novel, The Jester, which I really enjoyed as well. I think some of his bread and butter series, like Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club, have fallen a little flat as of late, but the recent You’ve been Warned novel indicates there is a muse at work behind Patterson’s writing still, he just needs to pay closer attention when writing the series his readers’ love.

Don’t Break Momma’s Back

Step on a Crack by James Patterson was a quick read and the lead character Michael Bennett is a breath of fresh air–a NYPD detective who actually isn’t the job. Alex Cross is the reason I began reading James Patterson books in the first place, and the Women’s Murder Club series kept me interested in his books with their camaraderie. Those characters forsake their families, lovers, and friends for the sake of catching the bad guy and making the big arrest, but Mike Bennett is different. His wife is his center and the kids are hers, but the job still takes precedence most of the time. When it counts and when he is needed at home, he’s there for the kids. Don’t get me wrong, you know the main point of the books is the suspense and the unraveling of the crime at hand, but the emotions of the characters need to develop beyond surface dedication to the family and the job.

Mike Bennett is a well developed character who made me hope along with him that his wife would not die, and strive to solve the successful kidnapping, though he was distracted. He held fast against the anguish in his heart to pump up the spirits of his brood and still remain dedicated to tracking down the hijackers. There were several points near the end of the book where my emotions nearly burst forth through my eyes as the unthinkable happened.

***spoiler ALERT**

He held his dying wife in his arms at the end of her life just after failing to take down the hijackers and discover their true identities. Her life slipped away quietly in the hospital room.

This was the one and only time I have seen Patterson take a leap and kill off a character he incited readers to believe would make it in the spirit of Christmas and rebirth. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed, but I think the loss may strengthen the drive of Mike Bennett should Patterson choose to create yet another detective series.

***End Spoiler***

While of late I have had a hard time keeping interested in James Patterson books because he puts so many of them out per year, with dare I say not so captivating prose in many cases, Step on a Crack held my attention and made me wonder what will happen next for the main character and his Irish brood.