Monday, February 26, 2007

"Born on a Blue Day" by Daniel Tammet

If you've watched any of the morning news programs lately, you've probably seen Mr. Tammet talking about his book. I saw him on Good Morning America and was so intrigued by the interview done by Diane Sawyer that I immediately put the book on my reserve list here at work. And it certainly is an interesting book.

For those not familiar with him, Tammet is an autistic savant, much like the character Dustin Hoffman made famous in Rainman. Tammet is drawn to numbers and often thinks of them for hours. He likes routine, eating the same type and amount of cereal each morning for breakfast, drinking tea at set times each day, brushing his teeth for exactly two minutes, etc. But there is one very big difference between Tammet and the Rainman; Tammet is highly functioning, so much so that he can actually explain what is going on in his head to scientists. This is a huge thing for those studying autism, an often mysterious and difficult condition. Tammet is able to give them concrete descriptions on how he "sees" numbers, colors for words, etc, something that opens a whole new window in this study.

Tammet has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism that is not as severely debilitating as others. He is also a savant, being able to immediately calculate dates, add figures, etc, without the use of any tools such as paper, pencil, or in my case, calculator. He literally "sees" numbers - they each have a certain shape, color, texture, etc. He told Diane Sawyer that she was 23, bright and sort of gold, sparkly, very warm-feeling. He sees 9 as a huge thing, sort of like a giant. Some numbers are small and timid, others are bright and brave. There are those that make him uncomfortable, too. When he adds sums, he doesn't see the numbers themselves, he sees a landscape created by them and knows the answer based on that landscape.

In other words, his brain does not work like the average person, certainly not like mine.

The book covers his life thus far, from birth up until a trip to Iceland. Most of it is the usual sort of "this is my life" kind of thing, and those parts are just fine. It's Tammet's descriptions of how him mind works where the book becomes just fascinating. Reading about how he learns a new language (which typically takes him no more than a month - ONE MONTH!), how words have colors that he sees in his head when he thinks about a certain word or hears it said, and especially the numbers. Numbers are his safe haven, his comfort zone. I've known some math geeks in my day, but Tammet is all about the numbers. They are, in a way, his security blanket. When he becomes agitated by noise or by getting lost (something he does frequently), he begins to count numbers. He also has some "typical" autistic behaviors, such as humming and rocking himself back and forth. But these are minor compared to the numbers. Once he's counted for a few minutes, he has calmed down enough to continue on with his activity.

It really is worth the time to pick up this book. It's a very unique and insightful description of an autistic's world, as well a short read, just over 200 pages. I think for anyone who's curious about autism (and let's face it, we hear about it more and more each day), it provides a glimpse into a very different world, one that is occasionally strange, yet beautiful.

"I Only Have Fangs for You" by Kathy Love

This is the third book in the Young brothers trilogy, and maybe the last. It's hard to tell, as the ending leaves it open to do yet another book, albeit from a bit of a different perspective. I won't give anything away, but yeah, Love could still have the Youngs coming back for more.

This round goes to the baby, Sebastian Young. His older brothers Rhys and Christian have found their soul mates in the previous books ("Fangs for the Memories" and "Fangs but No Fangs") and are worried about baby bro. He's always been a ladies' man and has been worse ever since crossing over. They think he should settle down and start to take life seriously. He thinks they are both horribly fang-whipped and need to leave him alone.

Enter Wilhemina Weiss, a plain-looking, somewhat clumsy vampiress who is working at Sebastian's club, Carfax Abbey, undercover. She has infiltrated his evil world as a waitress, not a very good one at that, in an attempt to close down the establishment. Being a member of the Society of Preternaturals Against the Mistreatment of Mortals, she knows that Sebastian is the third most dangerous being in the city, using his club to lure unsuspecting humans to their death and doom. Or that's what she thinks is happening at the club. Once she starts working there, she notices that things are not quite as she was led to believe: humans come in willingly and are alive when they leave, they seem to want to be there, and her coworkers are actually very nice to her. And then there's the owner himself, #3 on the SPAMM hit list. He certainly looks bad, in a very good way, one that has her thinking of him in various romantic scenarios, rather than being staked through the heart.

Sebastian, for his part, is also drawn to this mousy little vampiress, which is thoroughly confusing to him. She's nothing like his usual conquests, although he can remember her name. Too often, as it turns out for him. He too seems to be thinking of her in ways he thinks he shouldn't be, ways that seem all too possessive and, dare he think it, like a "boyfriend". He spends more and more time with "Mina", but is confused by her mixed signals. And there is the small hurdle of her trying to sabotage his club...................

Of course, this is a romantic comedy, so all will turn out for the best. The interesting thing here is that there's a very serious reason that Mina is sending her mixed signals, one that I think human women can relate to all too well - being forced into something. I won't say what, but it certainly explains a lot. Also, she gives quite a sad story regarding her family, one that broke my heart (as well as Sebastian's). I don't remember either of the other two entries in the series being quite so serious as this, but again, this is just a small part of the book. The rest is quite humorous, and I've really enjoyed getting to know the three brothers Young. Check them out today!

Friday, February 23, 2007

"Sleep with the Fishes" by Brian Wiprud

This is a short little entry from Brian Wiprud, author of novels full of quirky characters and usually one-word titles, such as "Pipsqueak", "Stuffed", and "Crooked". I thought this was a new novel, but it sure didn't feel like it when I was reading it. After a bit of digging this morning, I know why - this was originally written and published on demand back in 2001. Probably makes this his first book to hit the public, and I hate to say it, but it shows.

Sid "Sleep" Bifulco is a retired hit-man. He refused to go into the Witness Protection Program, preferring to cut a deal with not only the justice system but also a rival mob family. He figures with all these deals, he'll have it made when he gets out of jail (he serves a fairly short sentence for his crimes). While in jail, he wanted to learn to fish, but was denied access to any water. However, the warden did let him have lots of magazines and even let him start up some of his collection of gear, making Sid perhaps the only mobster airmchair fisherman.

After getting sprung, Sid just wants to find a nice quiet place to live, preferably one near a lake or a river, so he can start being a real fisherman. Enter the town of Hellbender Eddy and the crazy folks that live there. Sid's neighbor, Russ, is the local "fish guide" who knows all the sweet spots. Russ and Sid have a past, although they don't realize it at first. There's also Big Bob and Little Bob, two highway construction workers who figure prominently into the action, particularly Little Bob's new videocamera. There's Chik, the local diner owner/operator, who also has a thing for videocameras, especially writing, directing and starring in home movies that require little in the way of costumes. There's Jenny, who runs a fish farm and keeps the local lakes stocked. And then there's Omer Phillips, another mob-connected man, who comes in trying to keep all the players straight and hopefully alive.

It should be a bunch of wacky fun. I'll admit, there were some funny parts, but overall, I found this to be less fun than his other books. I mused over it and think I came up with why - character development. There are a lot of people on the canvas here, and I don't really feel like I know any of them any better than when I started the book. Also, they felt a bit stereotypical, which is a bummer. Perhaps it was because the book was short, just barely clocking in over 200 pages. That's not a lot of time to develop this many characters. Or perhaps it's because this was an earlier work (and definitely felt it). I may never know. But I think the lack of development is what hurts this book.

I went to Wiprud's website, and it turns out he's planning on writing a "long-awaited" sequel to this book, tentatively titled "Dirt Nap". I'll visit with Sid and the gang again, I'm sure, but I'm hoping that there's more to them this go around. In the meantime, look for "Tailed" coming in May this year - our fave taxidermist Garth Carson is back for more mayhem!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Shards of Crimson" by Liz Maverick, Patti O'Shea, Carolyn Jewel, & Jade Lee

Fans of the Crimson City series have a small reason to celebrate - Shards of Crimson! This is a collection of 4 short stories/novellas about our beloved Crimson City and some of the characters therein.

For those unfamiliar with CC, some background. This is another series of paranormal romance, albeit with a twist - there are different authors for each book, with the creator, Liz Maverick, writing the first and last books in the series. There are 6 total, and they are very good, although some are a bit better than others. Hey, I can have my favorites! This is where I discovered Marjorie Liu, and we know how much I like her stuff.

It would be difficult to describe each story, so suffice to say I enjoyed this book and recommend it. I will say that if you haven't read anything in the CC series, this might not appeal to you - it's a bit difficult to understand all the various alliances and factions that are present in each story. I highly recommend the Crimson City series itself, and this makes a nice companion piece. Also, for hardcore CC fans, especially those of Jill and Marius, Ms. Maverick has a dedication before her offering that indicates we will be finding out what happens with those two. Seems to me that the series is not finished as we thought!

"You Suck" by Christopher Moore

They're back! This is actually a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends, my first foray into CM territory, back at the turn of the century. No, not THAT century, silly readers, this one! The year was 2000 and I was a happy little bookseller at a used bookstore back in the heartland. I came across this little beauty and picked it up for a song, I think no more than $1. WOW! Moore is a crazy guy and he writes a crazy story, but he's also very, very good.

This book picks up the story of Thomas C. Flood, would-be writer, overnight stock-boy at Safeway, and vampire minion. The vamp in question is Jody, who was turned into a vamp not all that long ago herself. She recruited Flood to be her "daywalker" if you will, because vamps still have to do silly, mundane things like pay bills, find an apartment, etc. In the very opening paragraph of YS, Jody has bitten and turned Flood into a fellow vamp, and he's none too happy about it. In fact, his exact phrase is "You bitch, you killed me! You suck!", thus giving the book its title.

Although Jody is a young vamp, only a few months old, she's already realized that she's going to be very lonely if she doesn't have someone to love, another vamp. It's definitely not going to be the old, evil thing that turned her - he was "vanquished" in the first book (and yes, those quotes are there for a reason - don't these people ever watch old vamp movies? They can't be killed that easily!) So she's turned Flood, which has created all sorts of new problems. For instance, now they need a minion, and Flood finds a doozie.

Abby Normal is a teen Goth girl, although one of her best friends declares she's still too "perky" to be a true Goth. You don't really get any descriptions of Abby in the third person - all of hers are pretty much from her diary, which makes up various chapters of the book. And let me tell you, Abby is THE BOMB. She has some really good ideas, she gets all the best lines, and she's very serious about being a good minion. I would love to see her get her own book next!

There are more wild and wacky characters as well as sub-plots going on here. There's The Animals, aka the stock crew at Safeway that Tommy has been working with. Obviously, he can't work there now - he's a vampire. And these are the guys that helped him "kill" Jody's sire in the first book. There's also a hooker picked up by The Animals while they're celebrating in Vegas (the old vamp had a lot of art on a yacht that they converted into cash, a sort payment for slaying the vamp). Blue is normal except for the fact that she's blue from head to toe, a decision made by her to give her a unique look and a niche market in the biz. Don't worry, it's just some sort of blue dye she's using, nothing magical about it. And there are three vamps that show up late in the game, looking for the obviously-not-vanquished old vamp that turned Jody. It's all great fun and the plot, while fantastical, comes together nicely.

If you're familiar with Moore's work, you know he's a bit like Stephen King in that previous characters make an appearance every now and again. Look for the Emperor of San Francisco along with his "troops" and the main character of "A Dirty Job", Charlie Asher, to make appearances. As usual, this book gives Moore an out to write about these characters again, but not in a way that leaves you saying "hurry up and get the next book out!". If you want an excellent laugh and an over-the-top funny vampire read, check out "You Suck" today.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"I'm the Vampire, That's Why" by Michelle Bardsley

This book was sent to me by a good friend, and she knows who she is, with a note that said it was cute and quick. I didn't really want to read it; have to be honest - not being a mother myself, I didn't see how I'd be able to relate to the lead character, Jessica Mathews, mom and now vampire. And it looked like one of those romances that calls itself "paranormal" by just making the characters vamps. Sigh.

Said friend said to give it a shot, she still thought I'd like it. And she was right (darn her!) I'm not saying it was the best book I've ever read, but it was certainly better than some of the other paranormal fluff out there!

Jessica Mathews is minding her own business (and taking out the trash, something her son Bryan has failed to do yet again) when she is attacked by something. When she regains consciousness, she finds herself sucking on the thigh of a very gorgeous and very naked man, one who also happens to be chained to a wall. She realizes pretty quickly she's a vampire, but can't understand why or what this man is doing in her life. Well, men, really - there's a whole bunch of male vampires, one very bitchy female vamp, some human scientists, and some lycanthropes about. All in the tiny, dying town of Broken Heart, Oklahoma. What in the hell is going on?

Turns out the vamps have been helping the city "die" as they want to set up shop there. A sort of "safe zone" for creatures no longer entirely human. There are seven vampire families and every vampire on the earth can trace their lineage to one of those families. The older you are, the closer to the head of one of the families, the more powerful you are. Which doesn't really matter for Jessica - she's a newbie, also known as a Turn-blood. Patrick O'Halloran, the man with the wonderful thighs, is not only her master but possibly her soul mate. There's a lot of Irish history here, both real and magical, as well as a lot of Gaelic dialogue (with a convenient glossary in the back). And there are Wraiths, which are basically bad vamps, as well as a vamp disease called The Taint.

This book surprised me. I thought it would be the usual "kids, what kids?" as Jessica and Patrick got down to do the horizontal mambo with some fanging to boot. But Jessica has a dead ex-husband and a lot of issues that go along with that whole scene, so while she's attracted to Patrick, she's also very wary of getting involved with him. Patrick, to his credit, is a vamp with a heart - he doesn't want her to do anything she doesn't want to do. And there is a well-thought-out history that explains why these two are soul mates - it's not just an attraction thing. The kids, while not heavily present, were not sent off scene nearly as much as I had expected, and some of the scenes of Jessica trying to explain what's happened to her to those kids was just heart-wrenching. No parent wants to be thought of as a monster.

Kudos to my friend, who was totally right - this is cute and it is a quick read. I think you'll like Jessica, and Patrick's not so bad himself!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging" by Louise Rennison

This is a very cute, young adult version of Bridget Jone's Diary. Chick-lit for the younger set, if you will. Why on earth is the Bookbabe reading this, you ask? Well, because I think anyone female can relate. Yes, 14 was a long, long time ago - but one doesn't forget the awkwardness of the early teen years.

The book is the diary/journal of one Georgia Nicolson, 14-yr-old daughter and sister to Libby, who is pretty much a pain at the ripe old age of 3. And a poo monster, as Georgia tells us over and over again. Seems Libby is still being dressed in garments not conducive to emergency potty trips. And poor Georgia has to babysit, clean up, etc, her little sis quite often.

She has a best friend, Jas, and they talk about boys quite a bit. They go to Latimer and Ridgley, an all-girls school, and are often ogling the Foxwood boys from, yes - you guessed it!, the all-boys school. Two of the lads in particular are of great interest, Tom and Robbie Jennings, brothers who work at the local deli owned by their parents. Jas likes Tom, and it first appears that Georgia might too, until his older brother Robbie walks in. Robbie is henceforth known in the diary as The Sex God. Not that Georgia has ever had sex. Not that she's even been kissed. But she imagines that he is basically sex walking on two legs.

This is pretty much what every girl thinks about when she's 14, or at least, I think so! I remember having crushes, being worried about my looks, thinking my parents were daft (they aren't - they are, in fact, both geniuses and I've told them as much now that I can appreciate their wisdom), worrying about school dances, etc. Clothes are a big deal in Georgia's world, as are the latest hairstyles and who's dating whom. It's a cute, very funny book. Don't be put off by the market demographic - anyone who has been a teen will appreciate Georgia's dilemmas. And because it's marketed to teens, it's short - barely clocking in at just under 250 pages. It's also smaller than the normal hardback, so those pages don't have as much on them as a normal "adult" read. There's also a very convenient "dictionary" to explain some of the British slang, but trust me, you'll get what this girl is talking about. Check out Georgia today!

Monday, February 12, 2007

"Smoke and Ashes" by Tanya Huff

This is the third book in the Tony Foster series by Huff, and it's fantastic! Tony is first introduced in the Vicky Nelson series by Huff, as is Henry Fitzroy, vampire/romance novelist. That's not a bad series, and if you like Tony, it might be worth your time to go back and explore his beginnings. However, it's not necessary to read those books to enjoy the Tony series. I would suggest reading the other two Tony books before this one, mainly to get a feel for all the characters involved. It's a bit like "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer", in that Tony has a group of people around him who end up helping him each time, a regular cast of characters. Well, not regular - they are in television, after all!

This time around, Tony has been promoted to TAD, Trainee Assistant Director, on the show Darkest Night, a syndicated work about a vampire detective. While excited at the new title, Tony quickly realizes that it just means more work, as his boss, Chester "CB" Banes, has yet to hire anyone to take Tony's old position. In the midst of the usual television set chaos, enter Leah Burnett, a stuntwoman who is much more than she appears. And older too, say about 3500 years older than anyone would guess. Leah was a handmaiden to Ryne Cyratane, a Demonlord back in the day who slaughtered an entire village and created a Demongate for himself. Leah is the Gate, with a tattoo of runes on her stomach that protects the Gate from destruction. Ryne missed his mark, though, as the tattoo literally protects the gate, ie Leah herself. She cannot die or be hurt, only by a demon or by her own hand. Since she decided she wanted to live despite her anger and grief, Ryne has been waiting a very, very long time for this Gate to open. And there are no demons to worry about, so Ryne has no access to this world.

Or didn't. Turns out, there's a Demonic Convergence about to happen, and Leah needs Tony's help/protection to ensure that she isn't snuffed out and the Gate opened. Oh yeah, Tony just happens to be a wizard. Well, a wizard in training, much like his position with the show. That's where the first two books come in, giving the reader a good idea of how Tony comes into his power, etc. He does his best to determine how to send all the demons popping up back to their proper hells, while not blowing himself out - turns out that it takes a lot of power to be a wizard.

There's really too much going on to tell you a proper synopsis. Suffice to say I read this book, almost 400 pages, in just about 2 days. It's good writing, Tony is a cool guy, and the rest of the characters are good, too. I would definitely recommend this and the rest of the series to those out there that enjoy a good "alternative reality" book!

"Verse of the Vampyre" by Diana Killian

Grace Hollister is back, and yes, she's still in England. Having found herself smitten with Peter Fox (and he with her), she has taken a sabbatical from her position at a girls' school and is staying in the Lake District to research a book. She has also been asked to be an advisor on a local production of "The Vampyre", a play written by Lord Byron's doctor, Polidori.

Peter has been acting strange, withdrawn almost, and so Grace follows him to a graveyard at midnight, thus opening the novel. She doesn't see Peter meet a woman, but she does see the mysterious director of the play, Lord Ruthven - he's there, dressed in a cape and lurking about. There are several "accidents", all involving the wife of the director, and then a dead body shows up (of course!) at a masquerade ball, a body that has some pretty suspicious puncture wounds on its neck. Could there be a real vampire on the loose? Will Peter stop acting strange and confess to Grace what is on his mind? What is the connection between Peter and Catriona Ruthven, the director's wife? Has Peter gone back to his thieving ways? Will Grace go back to the States alone and dejected?

Fear not, dear reader. This is the 2nd in the Poetic Death series by Killian, and Grace is back. The mystery is neatly wrapped up, as usual, although this time there are two mysteries - who is Catriona and who killed the woman at the party? The answer may be the same person or not, which is what Grace comes to realize. There are plenty of red herrings, and truthfully, not enough romance between the lead characters. I like Grace and Peter when they're together, not so much when they're apart. However, her worry over him not fancying her after all did ring true - she's still an American and it's not as if they were married at the end of the first book. I'm anxious to see what happens next to Grace, and if Peter's still along for the ride.

Friday, February 9, 2007

"How to Remodel a Man" by W. Bruce Cameron

I thought this sounded interesting and hopeful, so I got it from work. I didn't dare take it home, so I read it here while on lunch breaks. The subtitle is "Tips and Techniques on Accomplishing Something You Know Is Impossible but Want to Try Anyway" - something I totally agreed with. Not that the Hubster isn't wonderful just the way he is, but if you can improve on perfection, why not? (that noise you hear is those that know the Hubster trying to snort back their laughter, myself included!)

Anyway, I'm disappointed. This book didn't teach me anything useful! No great hints, not one fabulous tip! Sigh.

However, I'll still give it a high recommendation, because it's hilarious. And if I'd read the author's blurb before delving into the book, I would have known that it was meant to be comical - Cameron is a nationally syndicated columnist whose works were the basis for the TV show "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter". Again, that should've been a sure sign to me that his book would be tongue-in-cheek tips, not real tips.

And he does a great job at explaining how he's come to be a "Remodeled" man. See, he was having trouble getting second dates, so he thought he'd ask some of the women in his life what he was doing wrong, get a little bit of advice to give him the advantage. Well, he certainly got more than he bargained for - his sister, his daughters, his mother, and even his co-workers got in on the act, coming up with over 178 things that he could "fix". Which would be fine, except that he only came up with four. Obviously, someone isn't being entirely honest with himself about his faults. Or maybe the women are just being overly picky - which is doubtful!

Cameron tries to cover all the bases, from why men won't do housework to communication. There's a particularly funny chapter called "The Kids Want a Cool Dad: A Project That Was Doomed from the Start" - I laughed so much reading it that I was continuously in coughing fits. (yes, I am still trying to get over the plague that my own Hubster ever so lovingly brought home last week). Cameron also explains how to get your man to change a roll of toilet paper, how to get him to update his wardrobe, and how to learn to live with sports as a metaphor for life.

This is a very funny book, and if you have a man in your life, or have had one, or think you might want one, I would highly recommend you pick this up. It won't be any help in getting him to do what you want him to do, but it will certainly provide you with comic relief, something you'll need when you're ready to rip his head off for the millionth time.

"High Rhymes and Misdemeanors" by Diana Killian

Ah, a good old fashioned mystery! No vamps, no were-things, no witches, just a bit of a bumbling English teacher who gets involved in a mystery when she finds a man drowning in a stream.

Grace Hollister is on holiday in England's Lake District when she decides to take a walk in the woods by her inn. She stumbles across the body of Peter Fox, another hotel guest, and immediately realizes that he is near death, having been hit on the head and left in the stream to drown, hopefully to look like an accidental death. She rescues him, of course, and thus the mystery begins. Who hit him? Why doesn't he want to go to the police? Who are the men that run her off the road the next day wanting to know where the "geegaws" are? How has her life been turned upside-down by such a simple event?

Peter has a bit of a past, a bit of an understatement. He's left his thieving ways behind him and gone straight as an antiques dealer. Or has he? Grace isn't entirely sure she can trust him, but the bad men certainly think she's working with him, so work with him she must. She's supposed to be enjoying her holiday, not running for her life! And Peter is awfully cute in that oh so British sort of way.....................

This is the first of the Grace Hollister mysteries by Killian. It's cute, an easy read, and I rather liked Grace, even if she does jump to conclusions too often. For example, one of the possible suspects is described as wearing a turban, which she immediately associates with "terrorist". Cut to an Indiana restaurant, whose owner wears a turban, and Grace is assuming that he is the bad guy! Peter is sufficiently mysterious, but you get the feeling early on that he's not a bad guy. The romantic play between the two lead characters is cute, and doesn't detract from the plot. And it's just as old-fashioned as the mystery itself - I think they might kiss by the end of the book. A nice change from some of the other titles I've been reading lately where the romantic interests are falling into bed within the first few chapters!

Stay tuned for a review of the 2nd Grace book!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

"Dragon's Teeth" by James A. Hetley

This is going to be a brief review, because it turns out you really, really need to read the first book! "Dragon's Eye" gives most of the backstory of the Morgan and Haskell families, the various relations (sometimes felt like I needed a scorecard!) and introduces the villian of both books, Tupash, an evil sorcerer.

Both books take place in Stonefort, Maine, a small coastal community that has a rich history for both families. And neither family is exactly what they seem to be. The Morgans are essentially pirates, stealing and selling items over and over again for lots of money. But they also belong to the Dragon, a mysterious thing deep in the waters under Morgan's Castle, a being that delivers what are known as Dragon's Tears to those it deems worthy. The tears are worn by members of the Morgans that are not just human - they are selkie, or seals. No, this isn't a were-being kind of thing, at least, not that I could see. It's more of a trait that appears after a near-death experience, and it's described like a change of puberty almost. Of course, being seals at times has definitely helped the Morgans in their thieving, allowing them to slip in and out of places they wouldn't ordinarily be able to go.

The Haskells live in The House and have for centuries. There has always been a Haskell Witch, always of Naskeag descent, and always willing to help out with births, deaths, and women trying to get away from danger. If a woman leaves her husband and goes to The House, he knows not to try to get her back. The House protects the Witch and those that live with her, and it doesn't look too kindly on men. The Haskell Witch is just that - a witch, although not a bad one. The role is passed down through the ages, and there are rarely any fathers or father figures in the lives of Haskell women.

So, what are the books about, you ask. Into Stonefort comes Tupash, the evil brujo, seeking Power. Yes, that is meant to be Power, not power. The entity that is Tupash has worn many bodies over the years, and has used that Power to extend the life of each one. He has been working with the Pratts, another family of thieves, to try to get the Dragon. He kidnaps Daniel Morgan, the patriarch, in hopes of finding the Dragon. When Daniel won't break, he kidnaps Dan's daughters and all hell breaks loose when the Morgans and the Haskells team up to defeat Tupash. Which they do, sort of.

And that's where "Dragon's Teeth" comes in. Slowly but surely, the two families realize that they were not successful in their attempts from the first book. Tupash is still alive, but not in the body they destroyed. They need to be sure that he really is dead, because bodies are showing up in Stonefort, bodies that are missing their hearts and that are drained of blood. This second installment wraps up everything and does it fairly well. It would be hard to describe just how without giving away most of the plot.

I highly recommend both books, if you're into a sort of alternative-reality kind of writing. They were in our Science Fiction section here at work. The first book is better, in my opinion - thought the writing was tighter and the characters were well developed. This book is good, too, but there are more people involved this time, and the point of view is told from just about every one of them, so it was a bit disjointed at times. Also, I'm not sure what was going on with the editing, but there was what I thought a gross overuse of italics. I don't remember that being a big deal in the first book, so either it really wasn't or the story was gripping enough that I was able to overlook it. This time, though, it was glaringly obvious. I don't mind the use of italics, but they do need to be used sparingly, I think, otherwise they lose their impact. Again, I don't know if this was the author's decision or if it was an editor's, but either way, I hope it's toned down in any future installments. Still, both books are well worth the time!