Tag Archives: Mary Janice Davidson

Friday Faceoff – Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world…

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week’s theme is shoes, so I have chosen Undead and Unemployed – Book 2 of the Queen Betsy series by Mary Janice Davidson.

 

undeadandunemployedThis is the cover produced by Berkley in August 2004. It accurately reflects the light-hearted romantic content of this bubbly urban fantasy offering. As well as displaying Betsy’s obsession with shoes… I like it and as this is the cover of the book I read, I’ve a somewhat soft spot for it, though I don’t think it is the best cover here.

 

undeadandunemployed1This cover, published by Piatkus in February 2006, is more effective than the first in that it depicts Betsy’s immortality, clearly flagging that this story has a supernatural element. The colours work better with the night sky in the background and we still have the humour with Betsey looking for a job while surrounded by her beloved shoes.

 

undeadandunemployed2This French edition, published in March 2011 by Milady Poche, has Betsy a lot curvier and wearing significantly less. Though I do like the artwork in this one and the nod to her royal status. I’m also pleased that every cover has her hair colour correct.

 

undeadandunemployed3This German edition, produced in November 2007 by Egmont LYX Verlag, would be yet another enjoyable addition to these cartoon covers, except that the cover designer was clearly colour blind. Or on something. WHAT possessed them to think that a mustard yellow background would work well with her blonde hair, which now looks as if it is doing weird spiky things to the title font…

 

undeadandunemployed4This Italian edition, produced in May 2012 by Delos Books, is the snappiest cover and my favourite. I like the shades of red and pink, indicating that it is a funny chicklit book and the font clearly indicates it is paranormal. The red against the white background works well as does giving us a view of her legs and shopping bags.

 

undeadandunemployed5This is Berkley’s 2011 attempt to update their original cover. This time they have departed from the cartoon effect, by giving us a human version of Betsy. While I like the model’s stance and the backdrop – I think they have ruined it by that ghastly snot-green band running behind the font, which surely could have been made to stand out effectively against the nightscape without resorting to such a clunky solution. And I don’t think you would immediately look at the cover and know you’re getting a humorous read.

Review of Undead and Unemployed – Book 2 of the Queen Betsy series by Mary Janice Davidson

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This is one of the fluffier offerings of chic-spec I’ve read. In a sub-genre that generally doesn’t take itself too seriously, this book is more firmly tongue in cheek than most – think Clueless rather than Buffy. For starters, the protagonist is a ditzy blonde with a thing for shoes. Nothing can make Betsy Taylor give up her shoe fetish – not even dying and rising as the new Queen of the Vampires. Only being royally undead doesn’t mean there aren’t still credit card bills to be paid. Luckily, Betsy lands her dream job selling designer shoes at Macy’s Department Store.

But then there’s a string of vampire murders in town and Betsy has to enlist the help of the one vamp who makes her blood boil: the undead&unemployedoh-so-sexy Eric Sinclair. Only the last time she ran into Sinclair she accidentally fulfilled an ancient prophesy – and ended up married to him…

Written in first person POV, the story might be fairly light-hearted – but it is well crafted and the character is convincingly dim. Which I find endearing – and I am conscious that writing a stupid heroine isn’t as easy as it might seem, having tried it and thrown the result across the room in disgust…

If I have a niggle, it is that Betsy tends to go on and on about how much she dislikes Eric – while the reader knows that in stories of this type that means that it is a sure thing the pair of them will finally get together. I also found the liberal use of the f-word rather jarring. I realise that swearing and graphic sex scenes are par for the course in a lot of books in this sub-genre. But in this particular story, the swearing just didn’t seem to fit the chirpy and humorous mood – having said that, I’m conscious that I’m older by several decades than the target audience.

But do I celebrate the fact that this book – and a slew of others like it is out there? You bet. If only I’d had this sub-genre to fall back on years ago when I wanted to chill out from the grittier stuff – instead of tired old Mills and Boon! Young women brought up on a diet of quality fantasy want something ‘other’ than the clichéd staples of secretaries dating bosses… nurses dating doctors… in their light romances. And now they have it with vamp chicks strutting around, biting/agonising over human lovers and/or solving murders. The love interest might be just as trite – but at least the heroine is less annoyingly vapid and the hero is less worryingly chauvinistic.

And if your taste runs to this sub-genre, you could do a lot worse than Undead and Unemployed.
7/10