D: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse series)

D

My apologies for the delayed D and E posts. Came down with some awful cold this weekend. Now for your D post!!

Dead Until Dark CHarris
Dead Until Dark
By: Charlaine Harris
Copyright: 2001
Published by: Berkley Publishing Group
Format of Book: Physical (Good ol’ crinking-pages, hardcover, hold-it-in-your-hands, smells-like-a book)

“Dead Until Dark” is a great mystery/comedy/fantasy blended story about Sookie Stackhouse, a cocktail waitress from Bon Temps, Louisiana. She’s adorable, small, feisty and quite attractive. She has one small flaw… she can read people’s minds. This has been an issue for her throughout her entire life, causing her to be sort of a loner. One can imagine that such a “disability” can hurt the dating world, as well. Enter Bill Compton – tall, mysterious, handsome.. and the greatest part? She can’t hear a single one of his thoughts. Bill also has something of his own to contend with – he’s a vampire. Vamps have just come out into the open. “Dead Until Dark” is the first story in the Sookie Stackhouse series and influence of the HBO hit series “True Blood.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. This was my second time reading “Dead Until Dark” and I loved it even more this time around. Sookie Stackhouse, Bill Compton, Sam Merlotte, and other great characters help round out a rather intriguing storyline. As a huge fan of True Blood, I can attest to the fact that, while the tv show is inspired by the book series, the books are VERY different. Even more important – this book is NOT Twilight. This is an adult’s look into the world of vampires. No one sparkles.

The Final Countdown
Characterization  –  3.5/5 Stars
Between the mysterious characters who we only have a surface skimming to those who we are given an in depth background of, I felt highly satiated as the reader. I felt like I knew Sookie and her lifelong plights. How horrible it must feel to be completely invaded by people’s thoughts each and every day. The level of mystery throughout the book allows for those holes in the story, knowing that at some point they will be filled.

Sookie is an excellent character. She’s outspoken, defends herself, and simply wants to experience love. Enter Bill Compton, most people’s dreamy, undead fantasy. Not mine. He’s very well-developed, but he rubs me the wrong way. I find him to be a bit more controlling that I prefer in a man.

My favorite character of the bunch in this story is Sam Merlotte, the owner of Sookie’s place of work, Merlotte’s. He cares about Sookie, has a secret of his own (who doesn’t?) and is confident (but not cocky.)

Dialogue  –  3/5 Stars
Where the rest of the countdown thrives, the dialogue isn’t as strong. That’s not to say it’s bad – I am thoroughly entertained by the dialogue throughout the Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie is filled with bite and her many years of practicing keeping her face from reacting to the thoughts of others comes through in her tongue-in-cheek responses to those who get on her last nerve. She isn’t afraid to stick up for herself, even in a life-or-death situation, which leads to some great moments between her and some of the Big Bads throughout the story.

Plot  –  3/5 Stars
This book has all of my favorites – fantasy, mystery, romance, plot twists, great characters, and real time. There are great plot drivers, such as Sookie’s telepathy, the relationship between Sookie and each of the males in her life, the vampire’s entrance into society (or not), and a whole mess of other things. With so many different storylines, it’s amazing that the story doesn’t get jumbled. Charlaine Harris manages her plot points well, ensuring to close any loose ends that need closing and leaving open those that drive the reader toward the next book in the series.

Visual Imagery  –  2/5 Stars
The imagery in this story is lacking. I love the fast-paced movement of the book, but I am missing those various descriptions to make the visuals easier. I have a foundation of how everything appears, but I am missing the added detail. I can picture a general floorplan of Sookie’s house and Merlotte’s, but I wanted a bit more detail. Having watch True Blood since the beginning of the show, I am not at a loss for visuals, but I would like to read more instead of have the tv show dictate what I see.

Ending  3.5/5 Stars
I enjoyed the ending. After a very action-packed book, I felt fulfilled by the way the story rounded out.

Total: 15/25 Stars

Why read this book?

As I mentioned above, this story is such a great mix of so many genres – fantasy, mystery, romance, drama, comedy. With all of this, there’s bound to be something in the story that you like. This isn’t your average vampire story – Firstly, no one sparkles. Secondly, there’s SO much more to it than what meets the eye. And finally, it’s for adults. This stands alone from the tv show, as I mentioned before. If you love True Blood, you’ll enjoy these books. If you haven’t seen the show, you can still enjoy Sookie’s adventures into this new world.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

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Book Review: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

The Devil Wears Prada
By: Lauren Weisberger
Copyright 2003
Published by: Doubleday
Format of Book: Physical (Good ol’ crinking-pages, hardcover, hold-it-in-your-hands, smells-like-a book)

*Please note that this may contain some colorful language and tongue-in-cheek statements.

Let me start out by saying “Yes, I have seen the movie and I loved it.” There… now I feel better. As someone who typically prefers to “read first, watch later” it’s always hard for me to read a book after I’ve seen the movie. You can’t help but visualize the characters as they are depicted in the movie and little is left to the imagination. I try to avoid this scenario whenever possible. “The Devil Wears Prada” by Lauren Weisberger, however, is one of those anomalies. One of my co-workers recommended it, so as I was perusing an amazing used bookstore in Burlington, MA, I stumbled upon it and figured, “Sure. What have I got to lose?”

“The Devil Wears Prada” is about Andrea Sachs, an aspiring journalist, who has just graduated from college and is hired as the assistant to Miranda Priestly, the highly visible, well-known editor of Runway magazine. With the promise of a great work recommendation from Miranda if she makes it through a year working as her junior assistant, Andrea sets herself up for the long haul. After all, how hard can the job really be? We very quickly come to find out that Andrea isn’t just Miranda’s assistant – she’s Miranda’s bitch. The reader gets to experience events unfolding through Andrea’s witty and wholly sarcastic narrations. We read as Andrea struggles with potentially compromising her integrity, makes poor life choices, fights for her future, etc.

I can’t say that I loved this book, but I didn’t hate it either. There were moments that had me laughing out loud, while others had me perplexed and struggling to maintain focus. I would recommend this book as a decent read, but I won’t be raving about it. Some of the best scenes in the book were when Eduardo, the security guard, made Andrea have to earn her way into the office through song. I will forever thing of “Material Girl” when I think of this book.

The Final Countdown

Characterization  –  2/5 Stars
At times, I found myself empathizing with Andrea, but mostly I was frustrated with her character. In my eyes, she was a weak character surrounded by a weak supporting cast. Andrea does little to win the audience over. She consistently puts those who care about her on the back burner in lieu of her career. She complains incessantly about her job choices and consistently judges those around her, placing herself on a pedestal.

In general, the characters simply weren’t built on. We were introduced to various moments, but very rarely did I have a moment where I found myself thinking “Oh, that’s why this characters responds in such a way.” It would have been nice to see more back story.

The star in this book is Miranda Priestly; she wins the show with her incessant need to challenge her assistants and have them submit to her overt dominance. We get hints of Miranda’s life outside of Runway and I found myself wanting to know even more about her back story.

Dialogue  –  3.5/5 Stars
I found the dialogue to be thoughtful, sarcastic and witty. I enjoyed that this was a book that was obviously written for an older audience. I prefer the gritty, trash-mouthed reactions over the fluffed up version that was in the movie, mainly because it brings the reactions of characters to a more realistic level.

I found there was a lot of filler consisting of more monotonous explanation versus a substantial amount of dialogue. Perhaps if there was a bit more dialogue in the novel, I would be a bit more favorable to the story as a whole.

Plot  –  2.5/5 Stars
Sure, the book is about a very material world, but overall the story came across as superficial. I wish that there was more than just a surface explanation of what was happening in the world of Runway and Andrea’s life. Girl gets job that “a million girls would die for” > Girl has boss who is the equivalent of Satan > Girl judges and gets angsty about those around her > Girl changes and hurts people > etc > etc>.  This left me wanting more, but not in a good way. I wanted to get behind the psychology of it all.

The repetition throughout the book was bothersome – Andrea’s routine tasks throughout the day appeared over and over, with very few exciting scenarios. Wrapping bottles, getting lunch, grabbing coffee, angst, etc. I did enjoy moments throughout – such as the Harry Potter reference early on. (Then again, anything that references Harry Potter will probably be a highlight to me..)

Visual Imagery  –  3.5/5 Stars
Overall, the visual imagery was done fairly well. Any scene set in Runway placed a great vision in my mind while I was reading. I particularly enjoyed the sample closet of designer clothing, shoes and accessories. I’d love to have access to such a thing for my current job.

Ending  1.5/5 Stars
Blah! With so much going on throughout the book, the end felt rushed and lacking. Without giving anything away, I found it to be predictable. After reading such an angsty book, the ending didn’t fit the puzzle.

TOTAL: 13/25 Stars

Why read this book?

While I wasn’t a huge fan, I know some folks who did enjoy this read and couldn’t wait to get their hands on the sequel. There are some really great moments that occur throughout this book, such as our glimpses into Miranda’s life. It’s sort of like when you were a student and you saw your teacher at the grocery store. That moment of “Wait a second… they have a life outside of school?” Like I said earlier, Miranda is the star of this book.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?