Remarkably Bright Creatures: Book Recommendation

It’s been a while since I did a book art post. I just wasn’t feeling it with my last few reads. But Shelby Van Pelt changed that! This piece is inspired by ‘Remarkably Bright Creature’s’ by @shelbyvanpeltwrites – I took some liberty with our dear Marcellus’ coloring just to make it pop on a digital space. That said, Marcellus is truly one of my favorite characters, ever. And the story itself was very meaningful, especially to those of us who have lost a child. I’ll leave it at that. I recomment 5/5 stars. Available anywhere you buy books.

The Turn of The Key

By Laney

If The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware were to be adapted, I hope it’s for the small screen. You can’t fit this mystery/horror into a two hour movie. This story of a governess taking care of three little girls in an old estate has many layers, polarizing characters, and a twist you do not see coming. It would be a crime to rush this story.

A great homage to The Turn Of The Screw.

Dream Cast: 🍿

Rowan Caine: Saiorse Ronan

Sandra Elincourt: Rebecca Hall

Bill Elincourt: Ralph Fiennes

Sage Advice…

“Read. Everything you can get your hands on. Read until words become your friends. Then when you need to find one, they will jump into your mind, waving their hands for you to pick them. And you can select whichever you like, just like a captain choosing a stickball team.”- Karen Witemeyer

‘The Maid’ Review

Wtf did I just read?

Oh dear. If you’re new here, you know I rarely unleash one of my handy “just stop” memes for my book reviews. And that when I do it, it’s for good reason. I’m saddened to report a “wtf book” so early in the year, but here we are. That said, I don’t think many will agree with me when it comes to The Maid by freshman author Nita Prose. The book has already been picked up for a movie adaptation and is high on the NYT Bestsellers List. I can see why people will enjoy this, but I didn’t. It has all the makings of ~the unputdownable~: first person narrative, overcoming the struggles as the underdog, murder, romance, suspense. And still, this fell flatter than a pancake. If you read further, here’s the obligatory 🔥 SPOILER ALERT 🔥.

The story follows Molly the Maid (yep), a character I can only describe as a female mashup of Sheldon Cooper and Forrest Gump, who happily works at a four-star hotel. She is dedicated to bringing rooms back to a “state of perfection”. One day she finds one of the hotel’s prolific and famous guests dead. From there, she unwittingly uncovers a series of dark happenings, all while trying to survive on a measly salary following the death of her grandmother.

What bothered me was the inconsistency with Molly. She was naive and uneducated when it worked for the story, then deceptive, capable, and cunning in the next instant which made her innocence about the most basic of things ridiculous. Molly is a complicated character, which would have been fine had there been any consistency whatsoever. Yes, she was sheltered, had what I can only guess would be considered Asperger’s, and was raised through her grandmother’s endless usage of proverbs and empty platitudes (which you will have to read over and over). But that still doesn’t explain her actions, which led me to believe the author did it to try to create the element of surprise for the reader. And by creating that element of surprise, you lose the believability of your titular character. The other, more disturbing, issue is that if you are going to write a story about a person with autism, be careful to do it justice. Make it clear that wrongdoing, lying, or turning a blind eye to unforgivable harms is a moral compass issue, one that has nothing to do with the disorder the character may have. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating confusion and suspicion about an already misunderstood diagnosis millions of people live with.

Don’t waste your time or money on this maid service. Let this one collect dust.

2/5 stars ⭐️ ⭐️

Holy Crap: Review of Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents

Piece of Lauren Oya Olamina inspired by Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

She died in 2006. That said, I intend no exaggeration when I say Octavia E. Butler saw Trump and his enablers/supporters coming. Ten years after she died, Trump was elected. Within these pages, there is a destructive and incompetent politician, Andrew Steele Jarret, who actually says he wants to Make America Great Again. No lie. And there are even “maggots” that invade safe spaces and destroy the property and lives of those who don’t agree with said politician. (This made me think of “MAGAts”, a term for frothing at the mouth Trump supporters like those who attacked the Capitol). Butler writes of the spread of disease long before COVID reared it’s ugly head. And most important of all, she writes of the tragic impact uneducated demagogues and their vicious refusal to listen to science have on humanity and the planet. The time period of the books is our NOW and the years ahead, and while there are clear differences between reality and Parable, it’s still scary as hell that there are even more similarities. She wrote these books in the 90s.

These are hard books to read, but worth it. The story of Lauren Oya Olamina, the motherless daughter of a Reverend who can feel what you feel. And I mean, really feel it. Her mother was addicted to a drug that left Lauren with the ability to experience what others do. And it’s to her detriment because she’s living in a violent, collapsed America where survival isn’t likely. If people know she can feel another’s pain or sickness, they can use it against her and harm her. As a result, Lauren has no choice to be violent to protect herself and others. She has to kill, look the other way when she knows she shouldn’t, and never, ever let her guard down. People are rabid with sickness and addiction and communities have fractured, and this existence is hell. Life changes for Lauren, who lives in a compound, when she is separated from her family and must survive on her own. Ever the realist, though just a teen, she forges ahead and connects with others who are also looking for safety. Her intentions change when she realizes she wants to start her own belief system called Earthseed, something she started working on as a child but kept secret due to her Reverend father’s religious leanings. Earthseed is a simple but straightforward approach to viewing and making it in our ever-changing world. A world Lauren has realized humans must leave if our species is to survive.

I was torn about Lauren. Is she well intentioned? Not always. Can she be cruel? She must. Is she just another manipulative cult leader? Kinda. Is she a survivor? Absolutely.

Parable represents one of those rare cases where the genre are multiple things at once. Dystopian, science fiction, black American experience, technology, women’s literature, politics, romance, religion, young adult? Yes. All of it. I was left heartbroken, angry, and speechless by these amazing works of fiction. I cared about the characters, flawed as they were. I was also in awe of Butler, who not only gave us something special and timeless, but a red alert warning for what is to come. And here we are. At each other’s throats, confused, and dealing with people who have a ferocious refusal to put health and safety first. I’m not a religious person, but I pray it never gets as bad as Parable. We still have time to turn things around. Why don’t we?

As an aside, I looked into Octavia E. Butler. A black woman who writes science fiction? A fellow nerd and minority? I feel like I would have been best friends with her if I’d ever met her. Maybe I give myself too much credit that someone so talented would want to be friends with me in return. I wish she was here. I wish I could thank her for writing something so very hard, but so extremely necessary. Why I never read her books sooner, I’ll never know. I just didn’t know about her. So don’t be me, don’t wait another moment. Read these books, and know that you will be better for it.

Rating for both books: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

DREAMCAST: 🍿 🎥 🎭

If Hollywood adapted the books, I think it should be a mini-series. You can’t property capture this story in a two or even three hour movie. That said, this is my dream cast. And they all have such kickass names:

Lauren Oya Olamina (Teen/YA): Amandla Stenberg

Lauren Oya Olamina (Adult): Queen Latifah

Doctor Taylor Bankole: Colman Domingo

Reverend Olamina: Samuel L. Jackson

Zahra Moss: Juno Temple

Travis Douglas: Jeffrey Wright

Natividad Douglas: Alexis Bledel

Harry Balter: Domnall Gleeson (older version played by his father Brendan Gleeson)

President Andrew Steele Jarret: Bryan Cranston

Larkin/ Ashe Vere: Zazie Beetz

Marc Olamina: Mahershala Ali