Flip This Zombie by Jesse Petersen – Book Review

Flip This Zombie by Jesse Petersen
Published by Orbit Books, an imprint of Hachette

This is the second book in the Living With the Dead series. My review of Married With Zombies.

Sarah and David are back, and still more or less surviving the zombie apocalypse. With the skills they honed in the early days of the end times, they have actually set up quite a nice little business for themselves, ZombieBusters. There may not be very much cash to be made in the zombie apocalypse, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing at all to be gained.

“We ended up with quite a haul as pre-payment for the bionic zombie job. Two large first aid kits with actual antibiotics ointment (quite the coup because infection took down as many survivors as zombies did by this point) and a three-pack of Ramen. Doesn’t sound like much to you? Well, sit there in your non-zombie paradise and judge then.” -p. 16 (Nook edition)

Things begin to get a little tense, though, when Sarah and David are called out to the outskirts of town by a mysterious note, their services retained by a man who is clearly a mad scientist. David is convinced that his request for ambulatory zombies is related to the rise of so-called super zombies and proof of evil mad scientist status, but Sarah feels their potential reward is greater than the risk, so off they go, hunting for the living undead.

In the same way that Married with Zombies mimicked the style of relationship books, Flip This Zombie ventured into the motivation/job-related self-help realm, with chapter headings like:

“The seven habits of highly effective zombies. Hint: Most of them involve eating your brain.” -p. 132 (Nook edition) – Chapter 14 heading

This worked very well, although it was not quite as entertaining as the marriage advice chapter headings in Married with Zombies, but overall Flip This Zombie was equally as strong as Married with Zombies. I’m very much looking forward to Eat Slay Love, coming out at the end of June. Recommended.

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Source: Personal copy.
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Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy – Book Review

Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy
Published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin

The first book in the Manor of Murder Mystery series

All Grace’s life, she has dreamed of working at Marshfield Manor. She is finally the assistant curator and at this point, it is really the only thing she has going for her, after losing her mother to cancer and her fiance to someone else in quick succession. She loves her job and her roommates, even if money is still a bit tight and the roof needs replacing. All things considered, things are going well over all. Until, that is, the head curator of Marshfield Manor is killed in the private quarters during a disturbance downstairs. Now Grace must step into two new roles: running the manor as head curator, and trying to solve a murder, before anyone else is targeted.

Grace is a fabulous character, tough, yet vulnerable. Great at her job, but a little bit hopeless in her personal life. She is so engaging that I fell immediately under her spell, completely identifying her and rapt by the things that were challenging her. The mystery itself was well-constructed, with sufficient clues that I did not feel the answer came out of nowhere, but enough intrigue and suspense that I did not guess the perpetrator before Grace did.

I very much enjoyed the first two books I read in Hyzy’s White House Chef series, but good as they were, I think that Grace Under Pressure is that much better. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Grace Interrupted which is out in June of 2011.

Highly recommended.

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Source: Personal copy.
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Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen – Book Review

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen
Published by Orbit, an imprint of Hachette
Series: Living with the Dead, book 1

Sarah is about ready to kill her husband David. There is basically nothing he does anymore that doesn’t completely annoy her and, it seems, the reverse is true for David of Sarah. They are in couples’ counseling, but it doesn’t really seem to be taking and, in all honesty, they are about one bad cd away from divorce. Until their counseling appointment on August 10th, that is. The first thing that seems off is the traffic, or lack thereof. It is 4:30 in the afternoon in Seattle, after all. Even that, though, it not as strange as walking into your marriage counselor’s office and seeing her eating the couple with the appointment before yours.

It isn’t until they’ve had to kill their therapist and a few other people that Sarah and David start to realize what is going on. As Seattle quickly becomes overrun, they decide it is time to strike out for a place that is less infested with the undead – assuming they can make it out alive.

Funniest. Zombie book. Ever.

Petersen, through her character Sarah, has a fantastic acerbic wit, that made want to just keep turning the pages. Really, what fun is the end of the world if you can’t be sarcastic about it? Well, you know, other than the other obvious benefits:

I should have known that having “end of the world” sex wouldn’t solve our problems. Though, it was pretty great and I highly recommend it. It’s one of the big benefits of an apocalypse that no one tells you about. It just makes everything…better, because you know it might be the last time every time. -p. 64

Perhaps the best part of Married with Zombies, is that Petersen was completely went with the fact that her characters needed major help in the relationship department. Each chapter would begin with a piece of advice straight out of a typical relationship self-help book. Well, straight out with a bit of a zombie apocalypse spin:

Find creative ways to have fun together. Looting is really underrated. -p. 142

This was an incredibly fun and well-done book. If you like to laugh out loud at your zombie apocalypses, this is definitely for you. I’m already planning to read the sequel, and I can’t wait for the third book in the series to come out. Recommended.

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Source: personal copy.
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Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear – Book Review

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Picador, an imprint of Macmillan

My reviews of the first five books in the series: Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies, Messenger of Truth, An Incomplete Revenge.

Christmas, 1931. Not the happiest of holidays. Doreen, the wife of Maisie’s assistant Billy Beale, is still suffering severe mental anguish about the death of their daughter a year ago, to the point where she can barely care for their two boys. And yet, the Beales are in a better position than many in London. There are men everywhere with war injuries both physical and psychological. This is something Maisie knows all too well after her own wartime injuries and the psychological scar that is only just now healing. The pain of so many, though, is brought into stark relief when a man commits suicide with a grenade on a busy street right in front of Maisie, knocking her unconscious. As if a concussion wasn’t bad enough, an anonymous letter writer threatening the lives of Members of Parliament if something is not done to draw attention to the plight of the invisible veterans. Now Maisie must give up her solitary ways and work with Scotland Yard in order to find this man before he unleashes havoc on all of London.

This is the part where I start to get all gushy about this series. I said in my review of An Incomplete Revenge that I really, really liked it, and that it was the best of the series so far. Well, Among the Mad blew An Incomplete Revenge out of the water. Part of the appeal of Among the Mad was the necessary immediacy, the initial note giving them only two days before the writer began taking unspecified action. Unlike the other Maisie Dobbs books, it had elements of a police procedural, but it also got even deeper into the psychological ramifications of the war on the British people than any of the previous books.

Between the focus on shell shock and psychological affects of warfare and the increased sense of danger and anticipation, I could simply not put Among the Mad down and I absolutely cannot wait to pick up the next book in the series.

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Source: Personal copy.
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