Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Undead and Unfinished by MaryJanice Davidson

Synopsis: Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor is having a tough time getting through the Book of the Dead -- until the Devil strikes a bargain. She offers Betsy a chance to finish the cursed (literally!) thing, and finally discover all its mysteries. There's just one catch... — Betsy and her half-sister Laura have to go to Hell long enough for Laura to embrace her dark heritage (after a rebellious youth of charity work) and finally make nice with her mother, aka Lucifer. That means interacting with their family's past. In doing so, they're impacting the future in ways they never anticipated. Of course that's what Mother wanted all along. Damn her.

My Thoughts:In this book Betsy goes to Hell. Literally. She agrees to go there so her sister can ask her mother, The Devil, some questions. What then happens is Betsy and Laura (who is now being referred through most of the book as Antichrist) goes on a romp through time (which apparently is now one of Laura's hellish talents). I thought much of the hell part seemed to drag. I felt as if I were being dumped upon with a crap load of information which is just silly considering this is not the first book in the series but the 9th.

Betsy's trip through time was interesting though. I thought her jump into the past was helpful not only to learn more about her husband and first in command Tina but it was an eye opener for Betsy. She is really starting to notice how shallow and self centered she really is. I found that by learning more about Sink Lair I like him a whole lot more too. Tina too for that matter.

As far as the book as a whole, I felt that the situations at the beginning of the book, which actually set up the last part of the book, was obvious in it's attempt to manipulate the storyline. I know that all writers do "manipulate" their story lines to produce the outcome they want but it should not be so obvious in my opinion. I also absolutely, I detested (is that worse than hate?) the epilogue. I was just complaining about the fact that Betsy just isn't maturing as quickly as I would like but Davidson may have gone a little overboard with the learning maturity part. After visiting the past Betsy then visits the future. She meets the future her who is now 1000 years old. What happens, especially in the epilogue, is just ridiculous. Not in a self centered Betsy way but in a MaryJanice Davidson kicked my puppy way. I know she has introduced a new story arc, hence the new covers and several acknowledgement pages telling us readers that there is a new story arc happening. But honestly she took a series that was silly and fun to someplace dark and depressing. It was happening before the epilogue but really it's the epilogue that is the puppy kicker.

So, do I love that Betsy has learned something on her trips to hell, the past, and the future? Yep. But I also hate what is in Betsy's future with a passion. Which may be the point MaryJanice was making. Her next book comes out in July and I am really torn on if I want to read it. I may have to see where Davidson is going with this new arc so I probably will.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen

Meet Sarah and David. — Once upon a time they met and fell in love. But now they're on the verge of divorce and going to couples' counseling. On a routine trip to their counselor, they notice a few odd things - the lack of cars on the highway, the missing security guard, and the fact that their counselor, Dr. Kelly, is ripping out her previous client's throat.

Now, Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. But, just because there are zombies, doesn't mean your other problems go away. If the zombies don't eat their brains, they might just kill each other.
My Thoughts:
I have to say that first off, zombies really freak me out. Not that I believe in zombies but knowing that the human mouth breeds more bacteria than, lets say, your toilet seat I can see why the bite of a zombie could potentially be so terrible. There is just something about a zombie that is beyond creepy. No higher brain functioning than a need to quench it's never ending hunger for brains....a zombie will just keep coming and coming regardless if they only have one arm and stumps for legs.
OK, so lets talk about the book.
Classified on the book's spine as a fantasy I would have to maybe disagree. Perhaps an Urban Fantasy but a classic fantasy...nope. Zombies are not what I think of when I think of fantasy. But then I don't think of Vampires and Werewolves as fantasy either. Oh well, not like it's a big deal or anything. I'm just super anal and had to point that out.
Perhaps not the next noble prize winning book for literature, Jesse Petersen's first book is fun. It's funny. And it has funtastic characters. Perhaps my favorite, although only for a short time, was Amanda, the lovable annoying cheerleader neighbor of Sarah and David. Sarah put up with her. David hated her. But that's OK because Sarah detested Mandy's boyfriend Jack. David was friends with him.
Mandy was one of those characters that you happen to know, for real. You know her. The bubble headed blond that probably couldn't tell you what 2+2 equals but does know the proper way to do a Kick Basket Toss.
Upon Sarah and David's arrival home after being almost eaten by their marriage counselor they explain to Mandy about the zombies. When Mandy still looked at them blankly they asked her if she had been watching TV. She replied that she got bored with TV because all the stations were playing the same show. Out of exasperation Sarah and David then explained that their marriage counselor was a zombie and tried to kill them. Mandy's reaction? "You're in marriage counseling?" which she delivered as if it saddened her.
Is it wrong to love a character that I would want to kick in the head in real life? I think my favorite Mandy-ism would have to be when Sarah apologized for killing Jack, Mandy said "That's OK. I was going to break up with him."
OK, so the book was funny. It cracked me up. But honestly it was a bit thought provoking too. Sarah and David are trying to get out of Seattle to go to his sister's house but the entire time they aren't sure if his sister is still there. If she is alive or if she is now a zombie. The couple have to work together to survive but also make some tough calls. It can't be easy to kill someone you know and love. This is what they go up against. It's one thing to shoot a zombie that you didn't know when they were not infected but something quite different when it is someone you know and like. Possibly even love.
As a first novel this book great. It had momentum that never really stopped. I understood the characters and empathized with them. I did think that the ending was more of a stay tuned for more later type as there is a second book and a third one(which  comes out in a few months). I am looking forward to the next book in the series for the further zombie adventures of David and Sarah.