Posted in about me, blog post, books, changes, checklist, Marvel, tag, words

Mid-Year Look Back On My Bookish New Years Resolutions

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At the beginning of the year, the Top 5 Wednesday group challenged us all to make 5 bookish new years resolutions. As a semi-new reader, trying to improve my reading, I decided to join in and set myself 5 bookish new years resolutions.

I also decided to set myself the target of reading at least 38 books this year, here is my progress on that:

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But, how am I doing with my bookish new year’s resolutions? Well, for some, I’m doing quite well, in others, I’m failing miserably.

Let’s go through each one individually:

  • Read bigger books.

Well, that’s going reasonably well. I’ve dedicated myself to reading larger books (aka anything over 400 pages) this year, and I’ve managed to get through quite a few. These include:

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23299512 464 pages

32075662 510 pages

26114463 429 pages

23437156 462 pages

And that’s without going into the books I started and DNF’d for whatever reason (it wasn’t length, I didn’t wimp out, I swear), and the rest I have planned for the rest of the year!

I’d count that as a firm success, wouldn’t you?

Though… I do have to put my hands up and say that there are a few I’m avoiding because of their length, as I mentioned in this blog post.

  • Read more trilogies in one go.

Er… I sort of have accomplished this, I guess? I sort of expanded this to include series’ after it was pointed out to me that I rarely finish a series over 3 books long. And it’s gone… reasonably well.

I did finish the entire Melrose series in one sitting earlier this year.

I blasted through the Monsters Of Verity duology in a week.

Crooked Kingdom is being read this month, which rounds off the Six Of Crows duology.

As for longer series, trilogies, and anything else I’ve finished? It’s a bit of a different story.

Take His Dark Materials, for example. I was happily going through that, steaming right through, but the last book lost its way for me, and I DNF’d it. I had full intentions of finishing the series, read each book one after the other, but The Amber Spyglass just lost me around 40% of the way through and I couldn’t continue.

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The Lunar Chronicles, I’m on the fence about after reading Cinder. It was interesting, but there was something missing for me, I guess you could say. I have bought Scarlett, though, and I’m willing to give it another chance. Just not right now, as I’m on a book buying ban.

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And the series’ I’m halfway through and really love?

Discworld and Skulduggery Pleasant are series’ I’m stretching out, so they’re not over too soon, so I’m forcing myself to only read two books of each a year.

So far, Going Postal has been ticked off the Discworld list, and I’m looking at Wyrd Sisters as my second of the year.

Skulduggery Pleasant is a different story. I shamefully haven’t picked any up yet, even after The Faceless One‘s cliffhanger. Even got the massive box set in the new covers for my birthday and I still haven’t picked it up yet.

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I will, I’m determined. I will read two more Skulduggery Pleasant. I may have reached my ‘three books read’ limit of attention span, but I’m going to beat it into submission.

  • Read more books outside of my comfort zone.

This one I can safely say I have achieved.

I read the Melrose series, which is very much set in the real world. I wasn’t entirely keen on the entire series, as it was a bit too dark for me, and it messed with my head.

As promised, I also got into Sci-Fi, and I love it! I’ve read books such as

Failure To Communicate

 

I started Illuminae, sadly had to stop because my dyslexic brain could not take the weird layout, but really loved the storyline.

And, as previously mentioned, I’ve also started The Lunar Chronicles and I’ve also read Invictus! It’s been a great introduction to Sci-Fi and I’ve got a lot more on my shelves to read, I’m a complete convert!

As for comic books? I haven’t done too badly on that either!

I’ve branched out into Spiderman, Deadpool, Black Panther and Illuminati in the Marvel universe of comics. I’ve also recently bought Gwenpool, Miss Marvel, House Of M and a tonne more, I’m ridiculously excited to get into them!

Outside of the Marvel universe, I’ve also started the Kick-ass series, the Monstress series, and the Sandman series, so I’d say I’ve branched out pretty well in terms of comics! There’s a lot more I want to look into, but right now, I’m happy with my current choices.

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  • Read more diverse books.

This one I’m certain I’ve covered well this year.

This year, I’ve read non-binary characters (Our Dark Duet), autistic characters (Failure To Communicate), POC characters (Black Panther), LGBT+ characters (Six Of Crows). And not just in these books, in many others, too.

I’ve done my best to seek out diverse books, with characters that aren’t just cis, white and straight. Finding disabled characters has been harder, so much harder, than I imagined it would be if I’m honest. So, like I said in the original post, please do give me some recommendations, I would be incredibly grateful for them.

Either way, I’ve really enjoyed expanding my reading in this way, it’s giving me so many more perspectives on life and on others. I’ve been stuck in such a Western-cultured world, I love seeing things from others perspectives. It’s been fascinating and informative, I just wish that there were more for me to read.

  • Review more.

… This one, I’ve totally, completely and utterly failed at. I’ve made three reviews this year. ThreeThat’s it. Three. And I promised to write reviews for at least 50% of the books I read this year. It’s gone entirely out of the window.

This needs to change, and soon. It doesn’t matter if it’s in blog or booktube form, I just need to make more. I can’t just ignore reviewing the books I read, in favour of the TV show/film/theatre show I’ve recently seen.

need to review more. I leave mini-reviews on Goodreads, but I need to go more in depth, to actually use this blog and my youtube channel for what they were made for – book reviews.

I realise now that trying to review 50% of the books I read is a stretch. So I’m going to say that for the rest of the year, I’m going to try and review at least one book a month. It’s a lot more obtainable as a goal. One book a month, I can manage that… right?

And that was my bookish new year’s resolution check in! How are yours going? Doing better than me? Tell me down below in the comments!

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Posted in about me, blog post, books, tag, words

Top 5 Wednesday – Books You’re Intimidated By

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For some reason, for years, I’ve rarely been comfortable reading a book longer than 400 pages, unless it was by an author I really liked, and I had to really like them to read that much. But, it was keeping me from so many books, that I decided to train myself out of it, to not be intimidated by larger books.

For the most part, I’ve done that.

But there are a few books I’ve been putting off. Many, if I’m being honest. And it’s for one reason – they intimidate me. They don’t just intimidate me, they downright scare me because they’re so big. My poor dyslexic brain completely ‘nopes’ out the minute it sees the page count, so they stay on my shelves for years, unread and lonely, crying out for some love.

So, I thought I’d use this T5W to talk about them.

  1. American Gods. Neil Gaiman. This is my number 1 most intimidating book. It’s 635 pages long, looks like a brick, and feels heavier than I thought possible. I’m literally scared of it, it’s so big. At some point, I want to tackle it this year, but right now, I’m going to leave it alone on my shelf… Until I watch the American Gods TV series, possibly… maybe… Help.

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2. The entire Mortal Instruments universe. Cassandra Clare. The books are relatively okay lengths for my poor brain, it’s more the size of the series. There’s seemingly hundreds of books, with so many spins off books it’s making my head spin. My best friend also recently told me that there’s a special reading order for these books, which involves intertwining the various series’ involved. To say the least, I’m terrified. I’ll get round to this one eventually, too, as I have all of them on my shelves (or at least, most of them), but right now, I’m going to wait until I have the requisite brain power to even fathom the number of books dedicated to this world.

3. The Edge Chronicles. Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. I loved Muddle Earth, absolutely adored it, it reminded me a lot of The Discworld, which is one of my absolute favourite series’ ever. The problem with this particular book is that it’s over 1000 pages long. That’s right, one thousand pages. Just thinking about it makes me feel vaguely ill. The only comforting thing about it is that this is actually a bind-up of three novels, so it doesn’t have to be read in one go. Doesn’t mean I’m not scared of picking the book itself up, I don’t think it’ll even fit in my hands!

4. Eragon. Christopher Paolini. I saw the film ages ago and really enjoyed it, but at 528 pages, I start to ‘nope’ out a bit, especially as the rest of the series seems to be around that length as well. But, my love for dragons will eventually win out with this one, I know it. At least, I’m hoping so.

To be honest, I’m also a little scared of not liking this one. It’s such a beloved series, I’m scared to be the one person who didn’t like it. I’m sure I’ll be fine, doesn’t mean I’m not slightly worried though.

5. The Chaos Walking series. Patrick Ness. I’ve never read a book by Ness before, but I recently picked up this entire series a) because it was on offer, and b) because it’s being adapted into a film series, starring Tom Holland. So, I thought I’d give it a go. And then I saw just how freaking long each book was. They take up a lot of space on my shelf, and thinking about reading them is really rather intimidating. This may be a series I read very slowly, over the course of several months. In fact, it almost most definitely will be a series I read very slowly over the course of several months, with lots of comic book breaks.

You’re probably going to laugh at me for being scared of these books, but they are the ones that worry me the most. I’m going to get to them, and probably take a long time to read them, but I’m going to try.

I mean, I’ve already tackled several large books off my TBR this year, including Leigh Bardugo’s Six Of Crows, so really, I’m not doing too badly. Now it’s just a case of getting to these ones and figuring out just when I’m going to have time to tackle them, and how long it’s going to take me.

But right now, I hope you enjoyed this throwback Top 5 Wednesday post. Do you guys have any intimidating books you want to read? Comment down below with a few, or maybe some tips on how you tackle these books, I’d be grateful for the help!

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Posted in about me, blog post, books, words, writing

Disabled Representation In The Media

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*Cross-posted to Emma Bee’s blog*

In recent years, there’s a huge rise in bringing minorities to the fore in all sorts of popular culture. POC, LGBT+ and mentally ill characters have been exploded onto the scene, especially on the book scene. Books like Love, Simon and Six of Crows have gotten critical acclaim, finally letting teenagers see characters like themselves in the media.

But there’s one minority the book, TV and film industry are almost completely ignoring. The disabled community.

I can think of four books which feature disabled characters – The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher, which features a young wheelchair user as its main character, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon, whose main character is autistic, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, where the titular character has a prosthetic arm and leg, and Failure To Communicate by Kaia Sonderby, whose main character has Asperger’s syndrome. And that’s it. In the thousands of books published every month, there’s painfully few published which mention any sort of disability. Even fewer who get it accurate to the actual experience of being disabled. And that has to change.

I’m a firm believer in the fact that everyone on the planet should be able to see themselves in popular media, in books, TV, film, comics, theatre, games, everything like that. And while it’s been fantastic to see the rise in LGBT+ and POC characters in recent years (though there is still a lack of bisexual, pansexual and asexual characters), we are still lagging behind in the disabled characters front.

You’re probably asking yourself why I care so much about this, why I’m so passionate about disability in the media. It’s because I have Asperger’s syndrome, along with dyslexia and dyspraxia. I also probably have a mild case of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. And I can count on one hand how many characters I have read and watched who are like me, who have a disability like mine.

I was only diagnosed with these conditions at 19, but I had always related to the socially awkward characters, the ones who didn’t fit in, who didn’t ‘get’ people. But so many weren’t said to be on the autistic spectrum, were treated terribly (I’m looking at you, Big Bang Theory), or were just simply thrown aside when they stopped being entertaining. The first character I ever found who was like me was Gary Bell, from a TV show called Alphas. Gary was diagnosed as autistic, and I fell for him incredibly hard. Because he was sweet and funny, and most importantly, he was like me.

He didn’t understand verbal cues, he got upset when his routine was interrupted, or things weren’t exactly how he expected them to be, he had special interests which he could talk for hours about, to anyone who would listen. And that was me, that was completely and utterly me, on so many levels. I was so taken with him, he became one of my special interests for a while. To see him on TV every week was an experience I can’t quite describe.

It was like finally finding someone who understood you, who got what it was like to be inside your head. I loved it, I adored it, and I was heartbroken when the show got cancelled, leaving me with no-one to relate to, again. Sure, I could have looked to Bones’ Temperance Brennan, but was she really on the spectrum? She had never been diagnosed. She didn’t have a routine, didn’t freak out when things happened unexpectedly. BBC Sherlock I could argue, thanks to The Hounds Of The Baskerville episode, specifically the scene where Lestrade and John say that they suspect that Sherlock has Asperger’s, that seeing the same faces in unfamiliar places was a good thing for him.

But they were my two optios, until I read Curious Incident, who coincidently loves the original Arthur Conan Doyle books. Personally, I loved Curious Incident, thought it was brilliant and entirely accurate, but to a lot of others on the spectrum, it’s portrayal of autism is entirely inaccurate. So, they’re still without a related character for themselves.

Failure To Communicate is quite frankly the best portrayal I’ve ever found, and the only book about autism which gives its autistic main character a storyline which isn’t revolving entirely around their condition. But it’s so little known, other autistic people haven’t heard of it. It’s been self-published, and so has had very little advertising and is only found on Amazon, so it’s flying under everyone’s radar.

And as for other disabilities, it’s just as bad, if I’m honest.

I thought that with the rise of the Paralympics after London 2012, there would be a change, bring us more characters with prosthetics, characters who use wheelchairs, characters with invisible illnesses, but I was sadly wrong. I had hoped, but it seems that the industry is still ignoring us all.

When will disabled people get to see themselves in the books the read? When will disabled people get to have multiple characters like them to choose from? When will they get to say, to quote The Greatest Showman, ‘This Is Me’?

When authors, agents, and publishers decide to put an effort into creating stories about disabled people, that’s when.

Now, I’m sure there are hundreds of authors out there with stories in their heads, are hastily writing them down now, plotting and planning them, crafting it into the perfect story. But, how many have asked themselves, ‘Is this character cast entirely able-bodied? And does it have to be that way? Why is my default able-bodied, when so many people aren’t?’

How many have asked that question, or have written a disabled character, put in hours of research, making everything as accurate as they possibly can, only for an agent, a publisher turn the book down, or make them change their disabled character into an able-bodied character instead? How many have been told that disabled characters don’t sell, that nobody wants to read a book about a disabled person?

We’ll never know, but I think that that is where we come in, as a reading community. We need to ask for disabled characters, we need to buy everything which includes a disabled character, we need to do the exact same things we did to get more POC and LGBT+ characters to the forefront of pop culture.

Even if you don’t think it’s important, think of the little girl with a prosthetic leg, wishing that there was a heroine with a blade, the teenage boy wishing that there was a hero who saves the day from his wheelchair. Think of all the boys and girls across the world who have been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, the deaf and/or blind teenagers, looking to read about someone like them.

To read about them going on adventures, saving the world, creating friends, and generally being human. It means the world, trust me when I say it makes all the difference in a young person’s life, to find someone like them in their chosen form of media. They feel less alone, less like an outcast, less like they aren’t actually a part of the human race.

You wouldn’t want to never see yourself represented in books, so let’s give these people the chance to see themselves, too. Let’s continue the book community’s representation drive and give these people the representation they deserve.

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Posted in about me, blog post, books, brilliance, carrie hope fletcher, humour, McFly, tag

Top 5 Wednesday – Auto-Buy Scifi and Fantasy Authors

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Finally, time for another Top 5 Wednesday, it’s been too long! But this is a topic I can really get my teeth into – Auto-Buy Scifi and Fantasy Authors!

I’ve only recently gotten into Scifi, but I’ve been a fan of Fantasy for as long as I can remember. It’s my favourite genre, I practically live in Fantasy novels if I’m honest, and I have several authors I auto-buy without even thinking. I barely look at the synopsis for them, I just see they’ve released a new book and jump right in!

So, without further ado, let’s get into my Top 5 Auto-Buy Scifi and Fantasy Authors!

  • Terry Pratchett.Terry Pratchett

Were you really expecting anything else from me, honestly? I adore Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, they’re the ultimate Fantasy for me. They’re clever, funny, and all-encompassing. He’s sadly no longer with us, but if I ever go into a bookstore and find a Discworld novel I don’t own, I snap it up immediately! I have no room on my Pratchett shelf, the new covers do not match our original covers (they’re not even the same size, and are a mess of paper and hardback covers) but that doesn’t stop me. I won’t stop until I own every single thing Terry wrote. My only exception is the things he co-wrote (with the exception to that rule being Good Omens, because my God that book is good), I’m not keen on anything he wrote with other authors, but anything solo is mine. 

  • V.E. Schwab.V.E. Schwab

Again, any surprises here? No, not really. I have a serious thing for Schwab’s writing, it’s a beautiful mix of incredible world building, impeccable characterisation and brutal violence, which essentially ticks every box on my ‘book needs’ checklist. And that’s without even mentioning how effortlessly diverse her books are, so expertly woven into her incredibly imaginative stories. I simply adore her books, and always look forward to whatever she’ll write next. Whether it be a comic book, a middle-grade novel, or a spin-off from an already-established series, I will always pick up her stories.

  • Derek Landy.Derek Landy

The author of Skulduggery Pleasant, one of the best children’s books series I’ve ever read. I may have only read the first three (to say the least I’m stretching it out as much as possible, so it doesn’t end too quick), but I’m always on the lookout for the latest book in this wonderful series. I’ve also got the first book in his other series, Demon Road, which I am also saving for when I can dedicate a decent amount of time to it. Landy’s writing is so sharp, so quick and never talks down to its reader. It revels in the scary and of the consequences of magic. I have loved his writing ever since I was a child, to the point where I actually dressed as Valkyrie Caine for a World Book Day when I was twelve. Essentially, I adore Derek Landy, especially his Skulduggery series, and will never stop recommending it to others, let alone buying every book he comes out with.

  • Jay Kristoff.Jay Kristoff

I only recently discovered the joys of Jay Kristoff’s books, and even though I’ve only read one and three quarters of another, I have loved every second of his writing style. It’s frank, and doesn’t shy away from brutal murder, or the gore that follows it. Like I said before, I’m a bit of a fan of murder and gore, but Kristoff has a certain talent for it that I cannot help but be drawn to like a moth to the flame. Nevernight is now one of my favourite books of the year, and I’ve basically pushed it on my mum and best friend, insisting they read it ASAP. As for Illuminae, it’s hit me in a way I didn’t expect, forcing me to put it down for a while, but that, to me, just speaks of its quality. I cannot wait to see what else Kristoff comes up with in the future, whatever it’ll be, I’m sure it’s going to be incredible.

  • Skottie Young.

After reading I Hate Fairyland, I’ve decided that Young is a freaking genius with comic books. Somewhere between brilliance, hilarity and OTT violence, Young is an absolutely fantastic writer. Ever since I’ve wanted to pick up every comic book he writes. Alas, I haven’t managed it yet, but I’m constantly on the lookout for everything he’s written (especially the Marvel comics, I’m a bit obsessed…). He’s a great author to read when feeling a little low, or looking for an incredibly quick read. I would recommend him to anyone who’s a fan of Mark Millar, or Deadpool-esque violence and madness.

And that’s my top 5! But I can’t finish this blog post without a few honourable mentions.

  • Tom Fletcher.Tom  Fletcher

Children’s book author with The Christmasaurus and The Creakers, soon to be YA author, too, with Eve Of Man in May, I love this man’s writing. He’s funny, imaginative, and sweeps you into a story in just a few sentences. Between the humour, the fourth wall breaks, and the musical accompaniments, I cannot resist Tom’s books! Also, it helps that he’s a McFly boy, so I auto-buy anything he ever does!

  • Carrie Hope Fletcher.Carrie Hope Fletcher

She deals with more magical-realism, so I have no idea if that really counts as fantasy, but I’m counting her! Carrie makes me actually like romance in a novel and has such a great way of pulling emotions out of me I didn’t know existed. Her second book, All That She Can See, also dealt with mental health issues in such an interesting way I cannot help but love her writing. I’ll buy anything she writes!

As for a few authors, I think will end up on the auto-buy list eventually… well, I have a few.

  • Rick Riordan.Rick Riordan

Please do not judge me, but I’ve never read anything by Riordan… yet. I now am the proud owner of the first five Percy Jackson books, as I had heard so much about them, and saw them down from £40 to £15 (thanks to The Works!), I had to snap them up! They’re one of my top priorities to read after May, and if what everyone else has said is true, I’m going to absolutely love these books, and I cannot wait to get into them and fall in love with Riordan’s writing.

  • Marissa Meyer.Marissa Meyer

Yeah, I know, how the hell have I not read anything by Meyer yet? Simple, I’m an idiot. And slow. But as of Monday morning, the day I type this up, I started Cinder, I’m currently only five chapters in, but I’m enjoying it so far, and I’m hoping it’ll continue. I’ve also got Renegades saved for just before the sequel to be released, so I’m currently semi-confident in my loving her writing. The disability rep is so far great, in my mind at least, in Cinder, it’s just my aversion to love stories that may put me off at this point…

  • Phillip Reeve.Philip Reeve

Finally, an author I have read before. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Larklight by Reeve. I read it cover to cover, and when I finished, I didn’t even pause in starting reading it again. I recently uncovered the book, and I cannot wait to reread it at some point and relive my childhood a bit. Recently, I also bought Mortal Engines, because of the film adaption coming out at the end of the year, so I reckon this is going to kick start my love of Reeve again. I’m very excited to find out.

  • Sarah J Maas.Sarah J. Maas

This is where I beg the book community to not totally shun me for the rest of time, but I’ve never read anything by Maas before. But my interest has been piqued, thanks to almost literally everyone ever. So I bought Throne Of Glass for my birthday, and it’s on my list of ‘things to read in April.’ I have a good feeling about this book at the moment, and about the author in general. I’m hoping it comes through, and I become a die-hard fan too.

I could go on for days, but I’m going to stop there, I’ve already gone over the actual prompt, but I couldn’t really help myself if I’m honest. There’s just so many authors I’m passionate about, or just plain excited to read!

What are you guys auto-buy authors? Anybody, I should check out right this second? Leave me a comment down below so I can check them out, I’m always on the lookout for more authors to read!

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Posted in about me, blog post, books, emotional, review, words, writing

An Autistic’s Thoughts On To Siri, With Love by Judith Newman

I’ve never made a ‘thought post’ like this before, or a discussion post, or anything like this, simply because I haven’t come across something that I’ve felt I was passionate enough about to write about. But this week, I have found it, and it’s for all the wrong reasons.

If you didn’t know, recently, the autistic community has been outraged by a book called To Siri, With Love by Judith Newman. The book is a memoir from a mother of an autistic boy, Gus, and her thoughts on bringing him up. Sounds like a nice, uplifting read about a mother’s love for her child, doesn’t it?

Wrong.

It’s a disgusting, dehumanizing and downright dangerous book, perpetuating stereotypes and applying 1950’s thought to 2017. I have not read the book myself, only seen quotes from it, but the quotes alone made me feel physically sick to my stomach. If you want to see a live tweet from an autistic author, reviewer and editor reading the whole book, I would check out Kaelan Rhywiol’s twitter thread. This blog post is more of an explanation of just how wrong Newman’s thoughts are, and just how dangerous they can be.

You’re probably wondering what qualifies me to make these observations and explanations. I’m just a 21-year-old blogger, what qualifies me to comment and say that these views are wrong?

For starters, I’m autistic. Aspergers, to be exact. Secondly, I’m a writer myself, and hold a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. And thirdly, I’m a human being on planet Earth who actually has a shred of compassion for others with Aspergers, autism, and everything else to do with neurodivergence.

So, personally, I think I’m a little qualified to talk about this, even if I’m not, I’m putting my opinions out there because people need to see that this book is not in any way acceptable or correct.

For starters, the author has not gotten permission from her son to write this book, so he has had no control at all over the content of this book. This takes away his agency and his chance of privacy. The author happily writes about everything, including this child’s toilet training, and she didn’t seek his permission first.

She sought permission from her neurotypical child, but not her neurodivergent one. It’s not like either boy is a child either, they’re 13 at the time of writing, and 15 at the time of publishing, and therefore more than capable of knowing exactly what they want to be published for the world to read. If that doesn’t already warn you of her opinions on her autistic son’s agency, I don’t know what will.

Newman goes on to talk about how:

“One, every person with ASD I’ve ever met has some deficit in his “theory of mind.” Theory of mind is the ability to understand, first, that we have wishes and desires and a way of looking at the world—i.e., self-awareness.”

Now, I can immediately call ‘twaddle’ on that, because I know that we autistics are more than capable of being self-aware. In fact, we’re probably too self-aware. We all know that others have wishes and desires, we understand that the people around us are people, that everyone has thoughts and feelings and emotions. We’re not robots, we may not totally be able to read a person, but we damn well know that they have emotions and thoughts.

To say that we don’t is so dehumanising, it equates us to robots, to automatons with no understanding of the world around us. We understand the world just fine, and we understand that the people around us do not understand us and that we are seen as ‘outsiders’ because of our neurodivergence. And guess what? It makes us feel awful, we feel scared and anxious, because people actually think that we do not have self-awareness.

This is also followed by the so-called conclusions of an undated study, which states this:

Several brain-imaging studies on autistic kids show a pronounced difference in blood flow in the areas of the brain that are thought to be responsible  for certain kinds of story comprehension—the kind that allows us to know what the characters are feeling, and predict what they might do next.

Which is such blatant ignorance and so utterly wrong I want to cry. Do you know how many writers out there are autistic? How many autistics love stories, TV shows, films, and theatre? You’re reading the words of an avid writer and reader, one who loves the written word loves guessing what’s going to happen next and loves writing about character emotions.

Every autistic I’ve ever known loves to read, or loves watching things on TV and generally loves storytelling. Some other people on my creative and professional writing university course were autistic, and guess what? We didn’t fail the course, we didn’t fail to comprehend the books we were reading, we were able to guess character emotions, discuss what may happen next. And we managed to write our own stories – using well-known characters as well as our own – and we were brilliant at it. I got a 2:1 personally, other’s got First Class Degrees. Could we do that if we couldn’t comprehend, predict and understand characters? I think not.

And, on another note, this study has no date, no additional information, not even a researcher name. So the audience cannot look this study up for themselves and see just how far the researcher was talking out of their backside. Never, ever trust a book which talks about scientific studies unless it has references you can look up yourself. That’s how the ‘vaccines cause autism’ myth still lives on to this day.

The author then goes back to the theory of mind rubbish, say that her son loves music, but can’t perform because:

It doesn’t matter how good he gets; I can’t imagine him performing in any way. Or, rather, before he does, he has to have that thing he has yet to develop, that theory of mind, so that he understands he is doing this for others, not just himself. You can’t be a good performer if you haven’t mastered the concept of audience, of playing for the enjoyment of others.

Excuse you, he does have the theory of mind, and would perfectly understand that he would be performing for others not just himself. I’m sure he could be an amazing performer if he wanted to. Ever heard of Mozart? Yeah, he was autistic. Tim Burton? Not a musician, but a writer and director, autistic. Dan Aykroyd? An actor, who has to convey emotions and have comedic timing, autistic. Screw you if you think autistics cannot perform well on stage and screen, or any other creative venture they wish.

Lack of theory of mind can, quite frankly, kiss my autistic ass.

A few chapters later, we come onto the more damaging rhetoric. The rhetoric I cannot believe was allowed to be published in 2017. I’ll only write about this one point and the most damaging part of this book, so I don’t go on forever, but these points have to be pointed out.

What could be worse than what’s already been said? I hear you ask.

Simple, the idea that autistics with ‘odd’ interests become criminals.

Yes, you read that right. This author, a mother of an autistic child, who she supposedly loves and understands, thinks that autism + odd interests = criminality.

What. The. Actual. HELL is this woman thinking?! Who in their right minds decides to write, with absolutely no evidence whatsoever that autistics with odd interests become criminals? Honestly, who decides to write that in a book?! And what kind of editor actually lets it get through the editing process and allows it to be published?!

What kind of editor lets any of this get published?!

That’s an entirely different story quite frankly, but seriously, who thinks that autistics become criminals because of odd interests? What even counts as an ‘odd interest’ anyway?

Does this author have any idea how much damage she can cause by saying something like this? Does she have any idea how many neurotypical people are going to read this book, believe everything she says, and distrust everyone with autism for the rest of their lives? We are already misunderstood enough, let alone without having the idea of being criminals implanted in people’s brains.

We have special interests, some of them are not as ‘normal’ as others, so what? We like what we like, it doesn’t mean we’re going to start stealing things, murdering people, or anything of the sort. We’re probably going to research our special interest, and if we can, use it to make a career of it. I’m using my love of writing to create a freelance writing business, others may use their great interest in crime and criminals to become a police officer or a criminologist.

We’re not going to start stealing, or anything like that, we understand the damn law and the difference between right and wrong. We are not toddlers with no concept of how the world works.

Finally, I reach the worst point possible. The worst, most disgusting, heinous, part of this book. The most dangerous, abhorrent and vile part of this book. The part that made me literally want to throw up in disgust that someone could possibly ever think this, let alone about her own child.

I’ll put a trigger warning here – if you are at all triggered by eugenics, yes eugenics in 2017, stop reading now. This will do nothing but cause more damage to your mental health than this woman is worth.

Because, Judith Newman, mother of an autistic child she supposedly loves (and I highly doubt she actually loves him at all, judging by this book), wants to sterilise her son so he can’t have children. You read that right, this so-called loving mother, doesn’t think her child should have children, simply because he is autistic.

Don’t believe me, here are the quotes on the subject from the book. Go and get a sick bucket before you read them though:

No, the medical issue that really makes me hyperventilate is fertility. It’s a question all parents of special needs kids wrestle with, whether they speak of it or not. What happens when you discover a lack of social skills isn’t a surefire method of birth control? That the kid you think would be entirely unable to find a partner does just that, though his or her ability to understand what it takes to raise another human being is limited?

Not feeling sick enough? Try another one:

Nobody wants to visualize their child that intimately, but when I think of Gus in a sexual situation, it generally has a Benny Hill soundtrack. And anything with that music does not end well. A vasectomy is so easy. A couple of snips, a couple of days of ice in your pants, and voilà. A life free of worry. Or one less worry. For me. How do you say “I’m sterilizing my son” without sounding like a eugenicist?

You don’t. BECAUSE YOU’RE A EUGENICIST WHO SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED ANYWHERE NEAR ANY NEURODIVERGENT PERSON EVER AGAIN YOU AWFUL, DISGUSTING HUMAN BEING.

First of all – who the hell thinks about their child having sex? Second of all, who is this woman to decide whether her child should be allowed to have children? That is his choice, and his choice alone, it has nothing to do with his mother and her wishes, it’s about his. She has absolutely no right to decide to make that decision for him.

Judith Newman doesn’t think her son is capable of finding someone who could love him, capable of loving someone else, or capable of raising a child. She mocks the idea of her child having sex by comparing the idea to a Benny Hill sketch. It is dehumanising, abhorrent, and so utterly wrong it makes me want to throw up.

There are so many autistic parents out there in the world, so many autistic couples out there raising children. Neurotypical people are not the only ones who create children and raise them. Neurodivergent people do too, and they do it damn well. They certainly do a better job than Judist Newman does, especially when they too have neurodivergent children.

Neurodivergent parents are the best people equipped to raise neurodivergent kids, why? Because we understand what they’re going through, we lived through it ourselves when we were their age. We know how to get them diagnosed, we know what kind of help they’ll need if they need any, and we know how to support and love them just as they are. We do not neglect our children, we do not fail to love them, and we certainly do not need our choice decided for us.

Yes, some of us don’t want kids, I’m one of them, but some of us do. And we do a fantastic job at it. We certainly do better than Judith Newman, because we do not think any of the things she does about her autistic child.

If you got to the bottom of this mammoth post, I applaud you, and I hope you agree with me now if you didn’t already. At the very least, I hope you see why To Siri, With Love is a dangerous book. It is filled with stereotypes, outdated information and just plain horrendous opinions. It should not be on the shelves, it should not be read at all. Whoever greenlit this book, and everyone involved in it should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

And Judith Newman, you should be the most ashamed out of everyone. How dare you think any of this about your child, how dare you spread this disgusting rhetoric in a world that already misunderstands autism, how dare you make it worse and profit from it.

And how dare you ever open your child up to such ridicule and bullying, you have given everyone he ever meets in his life the perfect ammunition to demean and bully him, to know all of his darkest secrets, and what you really think of him. You may have just ruined his life more than your awful parenting already did. Congratulations.

If Gus Newman or any other autistic person who faces this kind of prejudice ever reads this, I want you to know that you are brilliant. You are human, you are capable of love, you are capable of being loved. Everything in this book is a lie and should be completely ignored.

You can do anything you set your mind to, including parenting.

You are not a criminal.

You are nothing like what this woman purports you to be.

If anyone tries to tell you that you cannot be something, prove them wrong, if anyone tries to take away your autonomy, fight back, if anyone dares to stereotype you, show them exactly how fantastic you are.

There’s a lot of idiots out there in the world, and you are not one of them. You are loved, and intelligent, and a person. Never let anyone take that away from you.

Posted in about me, blog post, books, brilliance, emotional, fan, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, mystery, school, words, writing, youtube

Happy World Book Day!

I love books, always have done, ever since I was a small kid. I was lucky enough to be brought up by a Mum who is a true bookworm, and so was always being read to, and reading by myself. It was to a point where I was reading on twenty minute car journey’s (without feeling sick, might I add), and I ran out of room on my shelves, so had to get rid of a load (which hurt, a lot). I read so much that by the time I was ten, I had run out of children’s books to read and so started on Kathy Reiches – and I’m really not joking on that one either. At ten, I was reading Kathy Reiches’ Bones series.
As a high schooler, I read nearly the entire Angus, Thongs, And Perfect Snogging books in two weeks, which inspired several more trips to Waterstones to pick up book-to-film/film-to-book adaptions. I had to slow down a bit for my GCSE’s and A levels (and to start writing too, of course), but I still kept at it really quite diligently.
Even now, I’m a big fan of books, I want to be an author when I graduate, so of course I love books. As I write this, I’m listening to a song called Boys In Books Are Better by Carrie Hope Fletcher, because I relate to it so much. If you haven’t heard that song, here’s the link:

But what is it about books that I love so much? Well, that’s a hard question, because there’s so much. 
There’s the escapism element, for a start. I love getting lost in a story line, being completely and utterly swept up in it all. I tend to read teen fiction and things about the supernatural, I love getting so lost in it, I forget that vampires/werewolves/whichever mythical creature is involved isn’t real. 
Falling for the characters is another reason, because as Carrie above says, boys in books really are better. Who wants a real guy when you can read about Finnick Odair or Draco Malfoy? (I’m a Slytherin, what can I say?) Nobody! Fictional men may not be perfect, they may have their flaws, but damn it I love them anyway (even when most of them are dead… and not coming back). 
Finding strength in characters too, I have always looked up to strong female characters. So while I fall for Kili, Draco and Shane Collins, I’m also looking up to Katniss, Eve Rosser and Valkyrie Cain. I love to read about these brilliant outcasts, who come in and save the world. Sometimes I like to imagine that I’d be as amazing as them in the same situation, even when I know that I’d die within five minutes. It’s fun to pretend for a little while, after all. 
Before I spend the next six years telling you all the reasons why I love books, I should probably wrap this up. Basically, I love it all. Books are an incredible thing. They provide hours of entertainment, introduce us to new concepts, inspire us, and so much more. And all of it with just words, just 26 letters, rearranged again and again, to make sentences, which make paragraphs, which makes stories. Honestly, where would we be without stories? Without Harry Potter, without Bilbo Baggins, without Skullduggery Pleasant? Nowhere, we would be bored, we wouldn’t know what adventure and bravery was. 
But with books, we can sail the high seas, fight the Capital, stop Valentine. We fall in love, solve mysteries and crimes, travel to far off places – some of which don’t even exist. We can do all of that and more. For someone like me, who’s socially awkward and doesn’t like to leave the house all too often, a book is a godsend. 
So what is it that I love about books? Everything, really. I love it all. Books are magical things, and if everybody spent more time reading them, I think we would all be that little bit more magical ourselves.