The New Year is shiny and bright and it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions.
Lose some more weight
Go running to lose weight
And finally, tone up
And it’s really great for awhile. You get new jogging pants for the holidays and your running shoes lace on tight. And then, one thing leads to another and you just decide one day, probably a rainy day, that you don’t feel like running. And you think, it’s just one day. I deserve a day of rest after all.
Until it turns into two days, then a week, and then it’s February, March, April, May, June, and holy crap, it’s bathing suit season again.
Well, I’m here to tell you that I get it – that’s exactly what happened with this blog. I took a break. And then I took another one. And another one. And suddenly, it’s now 2020. Which is fine. Except…When I really looked back on my 2019, I couldn’t say it was all bad. I bought my first house, celebrated my first wedding anniversary, watched my sister get engaged, stayed at my great job, watched one of my other best friends get engaged, and just generally had a great time hanging out with the people I love.
But I didn’t have anything to show for 2019 either. I’m still writing a book that has taken me a decade to write. (I’m not even out of the first draft yet.) I usually keep a jar things I’m grateful for, and this past year, I had three things in it. Three. From a whole year!
So, I’ve decided to take this blog back. Back from the dust. Back from the hanging, snarled ivy. I love BaileyDailey, and I’m proud of it. I don’t even know who reads this besides my mom. But if you’re reading this right now, then I thank you.
But I want you to know, with all my heart, that your body will ALWAYS be ready for a bathing suit at any time, and please know that you can always start again.
So, here we go 2020. Bailey Dailey revisited.
You know the drill: I post Mon-Thurs, and I get the weekends off (to hopefully write my book).
One of my greatest fears is that I will die before finishing the book I’m currently reading. I mean, how tragic, right? Not knowing what happens in the sequel, let alone if there is a sequel? It’s like reverse George R.R. Martin syndrome: We think he’ll die before the last books are written; I think I’ll die before I finish reading them.
(Come to think of it, that will probably be my first question when I arrive up at those pearly gates:
God/Higher Being/Morgan Freeman: Ask me anything, Soul #389482923.
Me: Yeah, I know it was supposed to be a shocking ending, but what happened in Gone Girl? I had like 20 pages left. Should I just skip to the movie?
Morgan Freeman: Rosamund Pike is a babe.
Me: Tell me something I don’t know.)
And that’s not because I walk around with an intense premonition that I will die any day now. It’s just that I ensure that I always finish the book I’m reading. I may put it down for months at a time, but I very, very, very, very, very rarely stop reading it altogether. Which means that I’ve read some really awful stories. I mean, like, terrible.
What were some of the worst?
Three Cups of Tea
Crime & Punishment
Izzy, Willy Nilly
And the best?
The Book Thief
The Knife of Never Letting Go
And as you couldn’t see but could probably guess, my favorites sprang to mind and were typed out much quicker than the bad titles. The good ones certainly stick with me while the bad ones fade to black.
But I can tap them out all the same because I’ve read every word of them. I’ve analyzed their metaphors, I’ve caught their drifts, I’ve found their extensive typos. And so I am able to make an informed opinion about their excellence or mediocrity.
Of course, I know what you’re thinking, what’s the point of reading a book that isn’t very good? That you hate, even?
The short answer? Because it has something to teach you. The long answer? It teaches you empathy. When you read a small bit of a book, you’re only getting one side of the coin, a spoonful of the truth. When you read the entire thing, you suddenly know what the weaknesses and strengths of any character in it are. And you can defend or condemn them as easily as you want. (A skill you can translate to reality, too.)
But really, reading an entire book is having the ability to say I know the shape of another human being’s soul. And I have not played God/Higher Being/Morgan Freeman by passing judgment on it until the very end. Which is the only thing that any of us can really hope for when we truly bare ourselves to an audience.
If I had my way, I would spend about 90% of my time reading. And if I could spend even less time reading but still be able to experience books in all of their undeniable sublimity (perhaps due to some book osmosis that I prayed for when I had an anatomy final the next day in high school), then I would engage in such an activity every day. Seriously, someone much smarter than me should get on that…
But a serious question from a less than serious blogger: how does a bookworm keep up? E-readers have certainly helped people to stay on top of his or her book game, but the Internet has given voice to many more people and topics than ever before. So, how do we cut through the din? How do we account for a steady diet of the written word when there is a bigger feast than anyone can handle? Tell me, what makes the “paper cut”?
Reader to Theater
Not surprisingly, many readers are at the theater, as they look to film to inform their next read. Movies have become 2 hour advertisements for 200 page books that are adapted past the author’s ability to stomach their own creation. We watch the film/television version almost to judge whether we will want to spend precious time on the book itself. And when I say precious time, I actually mean a precious lifetime if Game of Thrones serves as an example.
There has been a complete role reversal; students used to watch the film instead of read the book to save time. Now, we go to the movies in the hopes of liking the movie enough to read the book. Do we not trust our own instincts? Do we not trust the authors to deliver a satisfying read? Do we really trust Hollywood to do our characters justice?
Perhaps, I do. I’ve watched four seasons of Game of Thrones with only about five chapters read in the first book and with little intention to keep reading when HBO breathes gold dust into Martin’s story and colors in between the literal lines of text. I did not read Harry Potter at all until I saw the first movie, some three years after the book’s publication, but I did eventually find out what I was missing. The Hunger Games only beeped onto my radar when the indomitable and loveable J Law crashed onto the Hollywood scene in all of her ungraceful glory as Katniss. In many ways, I’ve failed my fellow readers. And at the same time, I’ve seen stories reproduced on the big and small screen that far outpaced my own imagination.
The Fault In Our Books
And now, even with my literary to movie pedigree, I am absolutely fearful of picking up John Green’s teen love story, The Fault in our Stars. Even though I ran to catch up with my fair share of book bandwagons in the past, I can’t help but watch this one roll away and kick up some dust. From what I can tell from the trailers, (and maybe I’m just bitter about Shailene Woodley because the Divergent fan club loved her first) it is this generation’s A Walk to Remember but with a horrid twist that makes people absolutely lose it. So, excuse me if I don’t go running to the library to cry my eyes out. I did read The Book Thief, after all.(And if you haven’t read Zusak’s masterpiece, you need to. I mean, now. Go.)
However, I’m not one to judge a book by its cover, by its movie, or its fan club, for that matter. (If I made decisions on that last one, I wouldn’t be looking at you, the Bible). So, maybe when the crickets grow silent in the theater and TFIOS leaves the bestseller rack and slips back into the YA section, I’ll give it a read. But for now, it’s all I can do to dodge The Fault in our Stars and not find the faults in all of the reading material that has been barraging us lately. So, would I call watching the movie before reading the book blasphemy? No, I would call it smart. But these days, a movie ticket costs as much as a paperback, so be careful how you spend your money and your time.
As an avid fan of Holly Black, including her imaginative faerie foray, Tithe, not many people could have been as excited as I was at the news that the mistress of darkness, gore, and all that glitters with ruby red droplets of blood was going to be penning another masterpiece. As one of my YA heroes, I was starting to cancel plans and clear my schedule so that when The Coldest Girl in Cold Town came out on September 3rd, I could read it straight through.
That is, until I actually got my hands on a copy.
It has been a few weeks since the release of her title, and so I suggest that you go out and get it straight away, if only to marvel over how bad it is. I was incredibly disappointed and bored by the plot and premise. However, in defense of Black, she is a master of her craft, and I sincerely look forward to her next endeavor. If only we could skip this one completely…
No Spoilers, Just Disappointment
I first learned of the title’s release while interning at Running Press in Philadelphia over the summer. I quietly squealed in my desk when a promotional copy was given to me in order to learn about cover copy. I ran my hand over the smooth jacket, and stared longingly at the elegant, but effective cover design. I read the inside synopsis. I was entirely infatuated with this tale of darkness, seduction, and a fine line between humanity and monsters.
Uhm, hell yes.
However, to my horror and dismay, and this is not a spoiler, it is a warning: it is thoroughly and completely about vampires.
Fantasy at its Finest?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have engaged fully with fantasy for as long as I can remember. The moment I could even pronounce “unicorn,” I wanted to learn more. Yet, pop culture has been making murderous mistakes in this genre. Similar to the ending of Mice and Men, their targets of affection are squeezed to death with adoration. Hollywood, in particular, has been repeatedly adopting a specific, fantastical trope and then taking their proverbial tire iron and beating the everliving crap out of it. Zombies, as you can see from the popularity of The Walking Dead and World War Z, have been the latest victims.
Sorry, Brad Pitt. It isn’t simply your good looks that are contributing to the ratings of your latest acting masterpiece. It’s a fascination with the undead at its core. A fascination I even share, if you would like to refer to my other blog.
And thus, to some degree, I have the authority and ability to criticize Black’s venture as a horribly timed mistake. My only conclusion for such a sloppy work is that she must have began writing this when Twilight was at its zenith (in which, I have read all of the books, and have reluctantly seen all of the movies) and when True Blood was titillating house wives (and admittedly, cooped-up college girls like myself) with Anna Paquin and Bill Moyer’s love at the height of its popularity.
Fair enough, that is not a good enough reason to use the word “titillating” on my part, but I would argue that the astronomical ratings for these similar vampire adventures were not a good enough reason to suck this genre dry of originality by adding another work to its list. Unfortunately, the market has already been awash with the seductive transferral of blood and sex that the thin line between predator and prey as been criss-crossed so many times that it resembles a flight map of the United States, and so Black is not the most culpable. She is simply the most recent criminal in a long line of startlingly bad literary offenses.
The only redeeming fact of this piece is that Holly Black delivers an interesting take on the vampire myth. She is refreshing only because she ironically adheres to the old perceptions of the vampire, (returning to vampiric roots is now retro and cool?) and because she is a Goddess of the Ghouls and Ghosts. But sadly, not of unparalleled genius.
In short, I believe the shame should not be placed on Holly Black, but on the copy writers who refused to use any buzzword related to vampirism on the jacket. Except for maybe the word “bloody” which was a retrospective hint, for me. If I had known what I was getting into, maybe I wouldn’t have regarded this work as harshly. But then again, maybe not. Perhaps, they too were afraid of getting lumped into the vampire market. However, in this day in age, they are fooling themselves if they think they can capture the attention of their audiences with the same recycled horrors.
So, go on, read it. Receive your Holly Black fix. I purposely did not provide too many distinct details so that you, dear reader, can form your own opinion. Yet, proceed with caution. I will be giving The Coldest Girl in Coldtown the cold shoulder from now on. And also a medal for redundancy.
The Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.