Tag Archives: Disability

The Beautiful Books – NaNoWriMo 2017

Image Description: a tinted-blue close-up picture of a type-writer's keypad.

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I’ve been working on the Pushing Boundaries project for two years now.

Describe what your novel is about!
I have a blurb for it:
Operation Nightshade is about to commence, the undercover operatives are moving into position and the target contact, Cassandra Acker, has been acquired. John
Smith’s undercover agent is struggling to establish contact, while John just thinks it’s bad timing, however, James thinks it’s more sinister, especially when he discovers Cassie’s phone number on a piece of paper in Beth’s bedroom.

Beth has absolutely no desire to go undercover, yet is torn between two powerful factions: Uncle John and Justine, fighting for the justice a dead journalist deserves, versus Cassie, a nineteen-year-old woman who is just trying to get out a bad family situation—a situation with which Beth is uncomfortably familiar with.

James feels that Beth is sabotaging Operation Nightshade from within. The more time Beth spends with Cassie, though, the more Beth comes to agree with him. Is it possible for her to help both John Smith and Cassie Acker? Beth doesn’t have all the answers, but she’s going to find out.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Image Description: a picture of the English countryside. The background has stonewall fences outlining green fields with sheep. The foreground contains a stone walking path that bridges across a small creek.


Image Description: a white stone cottage with an open teal-grey door, with a large bushel of red roses growing by the doorway.


Image Description: a leafy path with green leafy trees overhanging the path, a stonewall fence in the middle of the photograph with an open iron gate.

Introduce us to each of your characters!
Beth (Australian University student), James (computer programmer and University teacher/lecturer) and Justine (Private Investigator) are the main characters of the series.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
I attempt to outline, flail about, and stock up on snacks. I attempt to plan out meals for November, that way I don’t have to stop writing for long, however, I’m generally only good at this type of organisation for a couple of weeks.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I think I’m going to enjoy writing chapters where Beth is getting caught up in Cassie’s Drug Selling Drama and is torn between the two different factions, especially the chapters from James’s perspective (who is super suspicious and kinda jealous of Beth’s growing involvement).

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
Kirkby Stephen is a small country town in the UK, it’s well-known for its national parks and walking trails, it’s very green and super scenic, however, it’s also isolated (even by Australian standards). The nearest town with a supermarket is half an hour away by car and the public transport system isn’t very accessible (or at least Google Maps doesn’t seem to think so).

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
~Beth: Beth’s goal is have a “normal” tourist/student experience in the UK and I suppose Cassie, her Uncle John, and James are the ones who are going to interfere with that.
~James: James’ goal is to bring down the Acker Family and reveal them for what they really are. James thinks Beth is interfering with this goal.
~Justine: Justine’s goal is get justice for a journalist that was killed, she thinks Cassie may be in the way of that, but it isn’t correct.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
~Beth: Right now, Beth doesn’t really know what she wants, hopefully by the end of the trilogy, she will know what she wants and will be more confident about herself and her choices.
~James: James is a bit of a dark place at the moment, it’s difficult to mentally heal when you’re in a toxic environment, so hopefully by the end of the series James is in a better place (emotionally and financially) and has more confident in himself and his abilities.
~Justine: Justine is currently dealing with her own issues (Anxiety + PTSD + Other stuff), so I’m hoping that Justine’s mental state becomes a more manageable and she resolves her issues with her ex-girlfriend.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
I feel that this kind of question is for the Reader of the Book, rather than the Writer of the Book, stuff like symbolism and themes aren’t always intentional decisions on the Author’s behalf, however, one of the big ideas I hope to put forward is that Disability doesn’t have an age barrier. Neurological disabilities like Autism and ADHD are for life and they don’t magically disappear just because a person is now legally an adult. I also want to put forward that Ableism, a lack of accessibility (whether that’s accommodations or diagnostic services), and a lack of support (from family and government services) can really hurt people and have far-reaching consequences.

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Career of Evil
Title: Career of Evil (Book 3 in the Cormoran Strike series)
Author: Robert Galbraith
Social Media: Facebook and Twitter
Publisher: Sphere (Ebook) and Hachette Audio UK (Audio-book)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Format and Price: E-book at $17.99 or $14.99 via Audiable (membership price)

About The Book:
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them… Career of Evil is the third in the series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A mystery and also a story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.

Trigger Warning: This book contains mentions of Rape, Sexual Assault, Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), Parental-Child sexual abuse, Incestuous sexual abuse, domestic violence, ableism and Body integrity identity disorder

Spoiler Warning: This review contains spoilers for the novel Career of Evil

Aspects of the Novel I Enjoyed:
~Musical Theme: At the start of every chapter in the Cormoran Strike series, there’s a verse of prose, such as: Robert Galbraith uses quotes from Elizabethan-era plays like The White Devil by John Webster (a revenge tragedy play) to preface chapters in The Silkworm, but in the novel Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith chooses to use lyrics of Blue Oyster Cult, which I enjoyed because I actually know a few songs by Blue Oyster Cult (it turns out J.K. Rowling is a big fan of Blue Oyster Cult and Pattie Smith). My only disappointment was that there was no mention of more Cow-bell.

~Plot-Twist: While the plot takes a longer time than usual to get going (more on this later), however, once the plot begins to gain momentum, I wanted to keep reading, I had invested 17 hours of my time into this audio-book, I wanted to know how all the pieces came together, however, because the ending has such a super-twist ending and while the puzzle pieces do fit together brilliantly in the end, I can see how some readers might see it as an arse-pull.

~Character Development and Expansion: This novel very much centers around Strike’s past, his previous cases with the UK Military Police and his Dark-and-Troubled childhood with his mother, because of the Blue Oyster Cult references. Leda (Strike’s mother) was a huge fan of Blue Oyster Cult and is known in-universe as a super-groupie to various UK-based rock-bands, which is why buried childhood memories are triggered in Strike when a piece of paper with Blue Oyster Cult lyrics written on it was discovered inside the box that contained the severed leg. The reader finds out about Strike’s childhood, Leda’s death (which had previously only been vaguely discussed) and the reader is introduced to Shankers (a shady-gangster character Leda rescued and took in when Strike and Shankers were teenagers).

I enjoyed reading about this character background information about Strike and consequently Shankers, it was engaging and I enjoyed Shankers as an addition to the book (I hope he continues to be a regularly occurring side-character). I think Strike, Shankers and Robin all work well together and Shankers and Robin are good foils for each other. The reader also finds out what transpired to make Robyn leave university and have a long stay at home recovering (more on this further down), it was a little predicable but it was still good to know those missing puzzle pieces of Robyn’s character that had only previously been hinted at.

Aspects of the Novel I had Problems with:
~Change in Narrative Style: This is the first Cormoran Strike Novel where the reader gets to experience chapters from the point of view of the perpetrator, I think it helps to keep the slow plot from stalling, but the guy is utterly repulsive and, while I understand that those chapters are supposed to be repulsive, I found them difficult to read, especially since he targets vulnerable women.

~Slow Plot: The Cormoran Strike series has always been a series that has a stronger emphasis on character than on plot, and while Strike’s and Robyn’s characters and back-stories are being explored and developed, the plot appears to suffer because of it. The plot crawled by in places and I was often asking “what is the point of this chapter?”. While Strike did lampshade the long waiting period between new items of usable information, the last five chapters did make up for the slow pace by going at break-neck speed, I had to re-listen to a couple of those chapters to fully understand what was transpiring.

~Show, Don’t Tell – Part 1: During the investigation of Donald Laing, Noel Brockbank and Jeff Whittaker, Strike and Robyn travel around the UK to interview various agents of exposition and the various interviews show Laing and Brockbank’s potential criminal history. The problem with these perpetrators is that their crimes happened in the past, so either the author has to use flashbacks to show or have a small side-character tell the reader information Strike would already know.

So how does an author make a male character come across as evil or irredeemable with little to no effort? The author presents both male characters mentioned not just as rapists, but rapists with a brutal history of not being held accountable for their actions. I understand that in the UK, the reality is that conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator (and that’s just civilian cases of rape. Military cases of rape have an even lower rate of conviction and are processed outside the civilian justice system in the UK), however, there is a fine line between highlighting the fact that violent men often have a history of minor crimes leading up to more serious crimes and using rape as a cheap shock-tactic to establish Villain Credentials.

With the exception of Holly Brockbank, the reader isn’t introduced directly to Laing’s ex wife or Brittany Brockbank (women who have been brutally abused by Laing and Brockbank), the reader only knows them through Strike’s flashbacks, and as soon as the ex-mother-in-law is done giving background information, both of these characters disappear from the novel. The pain and suffering these women have been forced to experience is used to cause personal drama and anguish for Strike and I can’t help but find it distasteful. Rape victims and survivors shouldn’t be used as props for the development of other characters.

~Show, Don’t Tell – Part 2: Over the course of the novel, Robert Galbraith continues to use the overused unresolved-sexual-tension between Robyn and Strike as a form of conflict between Robyn and Matthew. I was tired of Matthew’s insecurities by the end of The Silkworm and I got the impression that at the end of The Silkworm, Robyn and Matthew had sat down and had a discussion about Robyn’s career path and Matthew had eventually realised the truth of the situation, that Robyn wasn’t romantically inclined towards Strike, that she enjoyed investigative work and wanted to seriously pursue it for her own merits. It turns out, I was wrong and Matthew continues to be an insecure arse-hat through out Career of Evil as well (which got old very quickly).

It’s eventually revealed that when Robyn and Matthew attended University, Robyn was attacked and raped. Robyn eventually left university and developed agoraphobia, however, while Robyn was processing and recovering from being physically attacked and raped, Matthew had cheated on Robyn for 18 months with his university friend. When Robyn found out about this, she terminated the relationship, Matthew also said some extremely insensitive things towards Robyn, however, by the end of the novel their relationship is on the mend and Robyn and Matthew are going through with the wedding. I feel as though they got married at the end of the novel, not because they had resolved their problems but because The Plot Says So. The reader doesn’t get to view the conversation where Robyn and Matthew make-up and resolve their problems so, in my view, it comes across as forced.

In conclusion, this was a conflicting novel for me. I felt the elements of rape and sexual assault were handled clumsily by the author and the relationship problems between Robyn and Matthew could have been handled better. Although the mystery plot itself was well-thought out, complex and intriguing, I have contemplated not continuing with the series, however, Lethal White (the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series) will be coming out this year (the official publishing date is currently unknown). I think I’ll wait for Lethal White to come out and see whether or not the series is redeemable. If there’s a continuation of the Matthew/Robyn/Strike relationship drama, I won’t be continuing with the series.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books | Audiable

The Cormoran Strike series:
01. The Cuckoo’s Calling
02. The Silkworm
03. Career of Evil

Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. There is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book.
Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. There is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book.

Links:
~‘Horrific statistics’: Male rapes common in UK army, MoD data reveals – RT Question More

~More than 200 allegations of rape and other sexual attacks made by military personnel against their colleagues by Wills Robinson

~Military rape: Fighting the invisible war inside the Armed Forces by Radhika Sanghani

~Rape Crisis England & Wales: Headline statistics 2015-16

~Reported rapes in England and Wales double in four years by Vikram Dodd and Helena Bengtsson

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Image Description: The book cover of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. The cover is a picture of a red-brick alley-way with a red-tile flooring, at the end of the alley-way is the black silhouette of a tall man in trench over-coat with his back towards the viewer.
Image Description: The book cover of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. The cover is a picture of a red-brick alley-way with a red-tile flooring, at the end of the alley-way is the black silhouette of a tall man in trench over-coat with his back towards the viewer.
Title: The Silkworm (Book 2 in The Cormoran Strike series)
Author: Robert Galbraith
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group. Imprint: Sphere
Format and Price: Audio-book at $30.73 (for non-members) or $14.95 (for members) – I got it as part of the free 30-day trial via Audible (although I do have the book in Ebook format as well)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About The Book:
When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.
And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before . . .

General Observations:
~Read Diverse Books 2017: The Cormoran Strike series main character is Cormoran Strike, who was previously a soldier in the armed forces and eventually became an investigative officer within the army. During a tour of Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike was in the back of a jeep when the car he was traveling in hit a land-mine and blew up, the result was that Cormoran Strike lost half a leg and left the army shortly after. Readers might be thinking that a white British man missing half a leg might not count as a representation of Diversity, but I will argue that it’s a good depiction of a physical disability.

The disability is shown as having a realistic impact upon the character Cormoran Strike (how it affects him physically and mentally, such as the PTSD moment while he was being driven in the car) and upon the plot of the novel (Cormoran Strike is forced to acknowledge that because of his leg injury and prosthesis, there are just some tasks he can’t do and has to delegate them to Robin). The Cormoran Strike series acknowledges the difficulties and side-effects of having a physical disability, but it also acknowledges that it’s still possible to lead a relatively happy and successful life and I would consider Cormoran Strike successful.

~Door-stopper Material: The physical paperback is about 400 pages and the audio-book is 17 hrs and 16 mins, reading the Cormoran Strike series is a long-term investment of your time. Am I saying it’s an unworthy investment of your time? No. But the sheer size of the book was one of reasons I delayed reading this book and why I eventually decided to go the route of audio-book instead. The audio-book was enjoyable to listen to and I was able to listen to my book as well as perform other valuable tasks at the same time.

~Make or Break: There is a small flaw with the Cormoran Strike series, the characters withhold evidence or thoughts from the reader in order to build suspense for the main case and, while I know some readers of crime fiction who find this intolerable, I was willing to tolerate it, however, this might not be the case for everyone. The majority of the novel has a slow-build-up type of pace, which means all the pieces of the puzzle are slowly being put together and key information is being with-held for the final confrontation. I feel this results in the ending coming across as a bit rushed in comparison to the rest of the narrative pace.

~The Sliding Scale of Plot VS Character: In basic terms, some writers choose to focus more of the plot elements of a book (events that happen leading the character and the reader towards a narrative destination or journey) and the plot is what drives the book, while some authors choose to focus more on the character elements of the novel (how the character feels or reacts to an event), the character (how they think and feel) is what drives the novel, the event is secondary to the method in which the character acts or reacts to the event.

I would consider In the Woods by Tana French to be at the far end of the Character-Focus scale. How the officers felt, thought, and how they interacted with other characters in the novel was the focus of In the Woods and thus presented as more important than the crime itself. I don’t enjoy that kind of novel, I’m more of a plot-orientated reader and writer.

I feel that the Crime/Mystery/Thriller genre is more suited to plot-oriented focus, however, while Robert Galbraith’s writing style does sit slightly more towards the Character-Focus end of the scale, I feel that Robert Galbraith blends the elements of plot and character together in a better attempt at balance. The Cormoran Strike series does have more characterization than plot, but I feel that there is enough plot to keep the reader engaged and the characterization is interesting enough to persuade the reader to continue.

~Authentic Sources of Conflict: While there are slow moments in the books where the personal elements of the main characters Comoran Strike and Robyn’s lives, such as Cormoran Strike’s ex-girlfriend Charlotte getting married and how he feels about that, Robyn’s fiancé Mathew’s insecurities and dislike that Robyn’s job despite the fact that it is a high priority to her, and the personal conflict between Cormoran Strike and Robyn about where they stand professionally and whether or not Cormoran Strike will give Robyn Surveillance and Tracking training.

I think the Strike/Charlotte relationship was resolved as best the circumstances could allow and Robyn and Mathew (after having several arguments about the subject) were able to to come to an understanding about Robyn’s career choices. These conflicts were perhaps dwelt upon longer than they should have, but they were conflicts that needed to be acknowledged and addressed, I also felt they were resolved to a satisfying conclusion.

~Alternative Character Interpretation: While this could just be my personal interpretation, Leonora Quine (the murder victim’s wife) came across as someone with undiagnosed Autism, she was direct and perhaps a little too honest (or at least Cormoran Strike seemed to think so), her method of grieving (wanting to speak with the private detective she hired and making sure he was okay) is seen as odd to other people.

They were all expecting her to break down sobbing and when she didn’t perform to the police’s standards, she was considered suspicious. Leonora Quine did show outward signs of grief and distress, it was mostly centered around how she and her daughter had been forced out of their usual routine, which is very important to Autistic people. I’m not sure, perhaps it’s just me, I’d be happy to discuss it in the comments section.

In conclusion, an enjoyable suspenseful addition to the Cormoran Strike series with good character development, I’m looking forward to the third installment – Career of Evil (links below).

The Cormoran Strike Series:
01. The Cuckoo’s Calling
02. The Silkworm
03. Career of Evil

Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. There is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book.
Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. There is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book.

The Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017: The Devil Is In The Details

Image Description: a title page with the words Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017: The Devil Is In The Details in rainbow coloured word-art with four red roses in each corner Image Description: a title page with the words Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017: The Devil Is In The Details in rainbow coloured word-art with four red roses in each corner

One of my biggest struggles with academia was that my essays were perfectly clear to me, the reasoning and structure of the article was obvious. It turns out, this is usually never the case, it usually always turns out to be that that my essays only make sense to me. So, my apologies if my previous instructions seemed confusing and difficult to follow.

I have a great love for the movie Nightmare Before Christmas and I also have a strong emotional connection to Jack Skellington: a being with the enthusiasm of a thousand passionate actors but the common sense of a wet cabbage. I’m so eager to begin a project, I forget the finer details required. This post will hopefully flesh out the Terms and Conditions in greater detail, however, please contact me if there is any need for further clarification.

How To Review

In order to meet the Minimum Standard of Review, participants need to include the following:
-A star rating from DNF (did not finish), 1 star, 2 stars, 3 stars, 4 stars and 5 stars.
-One aspect of the book the reader liked
-One aspect of the book the reader didn’t like or thought could be improved
-Answer the question of “Would you recommend this book to others?”

In order to meet the Maximum Standard of Review
-A star rating from DNF (did not finish), 1 star, 2 stars, 3 stars, 4 stars and 5 stars.
-Three aspects of the book the reader liked
-Three aspects of the book the reader didn’t like or thought could be improved
– Answer the question of “Would you recommend this book to others?”

Pictures and gifs can be used in place of words in a review. Participants can also make video reviews and just talk about the book (maximum video length 10 minutes or under), participants will have to provide a hyperlink to the video. Participants can also make audio recordings of their review (maximum audio track length of 10 minutes or under), participants will have to provide a hyperlink to the audio-recording. If participants have an alternative method of reviewing that I have not mentioned, please feel free to contact me and discuss this alternative method with me. My email is brkyle(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com

The participant then publishes the review either on their social media platform of choice or goodreads.com, they will then click on the little blue-frog icon below

The blue frog will lead to a separate page where participants will be able to add their link to their review.

Books

Any physical format is acceptable, any format of electronic books (for example: epub, pdf, mobi) is acceptable, the main objective here is to connect the potential reader with the author, so if the review is positive and you want to recommend the book to others, you need to leave a hyperlink that allows people to access the book.

When it comes to purchasing physical books, I tend to recommend purchasing via through Book Depository because they offer free delivery to Australia, but I understand that this might not work for everyone, especially for Indie Authors. Kim raised valid points about accessibility and as along as the potential reader can access the book, that’s what counts.

Due to the complexity surrounding Fanfiction, I will have to exclude Fanfiction as reading material for this giveaway (perhaps I will reconsider this for the next giveaway, but not for this one).

What kind of Disability theme/structure am I looking for in a book?

My personal approach to reading Diverse Books is to look at the genre of the book first, then I consider the Diversity element. I don’t want to read books just for the sake of Diversity, if I do that, I’m going to struggle and argue with myself (“I must finish this book, it has diverse characters in it!” “But it’s so boring!”). I like Diversity Books that have the main characters doing things other protagonists do. Disabled people are just like everyone else and the narrative should reflect that.

Kim also offered some good advice:
“I’d actually look at determining what is and isn’t disability fiction via protagonist: if it features a narrating protagonist disabled in some way, it counts. If if doesn’t and is therefore about The Abled Person’s experience, no. Of course, you’ll get stuff that isn’t written by folk with disabilities and is written awfully – *cough*Garth Nix*cough* but the job of a reviewer is to read that and mark it so others don’t, not to read only great representation.”

So, how I verify that I’m reading a book about Disability that meets that criteria?

Well I’m not sure if I can answer that in a definitive way. Unfortunately it’s difficult to determine what type of disability a book is about (Side Note To Authors: Mention the disability you’re writing about directly in the blurb, I’ve had to spend a considerable amount of time reading through reviews to determine which disability a book is about, I shouldn’t have to do that) let alone make sure a disabled person is the main protagonist.

To be honest, I think that the most I can do is make a list of books, list what type of Disability is featured and let people decide if they’re interested or not. I’ve done some researching and I found out that Corinne Duyvis (one of the founders of Disability in Kidlit) has a Goodreads account and a Bookshelf dedicated to books with Disabled Main Characters:

~Corinne Duyvis’s Bookshelf: Disabled Main Characters

So, I used this bookshelf, as well as some recommendations from other book blogs, to make these two Goodreads Bookshelves:

~B.R. Kyle’s Bookshelf: Disability

~B.R. Kyle’s Bookshelf: Mental Health

Now, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to verify all of the books on the Bookshelves via Disability in Kidlit’s reviews and honor roll and I also haven’t read a lot of them myself. There is also a lot of the books on the bookshelf that are classified as belonging to the Young Adult genre, which might not suit everyone, so I’ve tried to balance out the Young Adult novels with Adult Memoirs, but there’s not much else I can do.

Please check out the links and see if those books work for you, but it’s okay if they don’t or you already have your own book list organised. I’ve spent the majority of today and yesterday working a list of books about disability that have been given the Disability in Kidlit Seal of Approval (if people would like to make suggestions, please do so in the comments section below):

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Category: Disability and Own voices
Disability in Kidlit Review

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
Category: Disability (amputee) and POC main character
Disability in Kidlit Review

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Category: Disability and Own voices
Disability in Kidlit Review

On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
Category: Disability and Own voices
Disability in Kidlit Review

Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Category: Disability (Chronic pain and mobility issues) and GSM
Disability in Kidlit Review

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Category: Disability (cancer) and mental illness
Disability in Kidlit Review

What I Couldn’t Tell You by Faye Bird
Category: Disability (selective mutism)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Category: Disability (cerebral palsy),
Disability in Kidlit Review

The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell
Category: Disability (One MC is recovering from Polio)
Disability in Kidlit

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez
Category: Mental Health (Depression and Suicide)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank
Category: Disability and Mental health
Disability in Kidlit Review

Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane
Category: Disability (Autistic MC)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
Category: Disability and Mental health (OCD)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Five Flavors of Dumb by Anthony John
Category: Disability (Deaf MC)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Blind Spot by Laura Ellen
Category: Disability (Blindness) and Own Voices
Finding Yourself in a Book: Why I Wrote Blind Spot by Laura Ellen

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
Category: Disability (Autistic MC)
Disability in Kidlit Review

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Category: Disability and mental health (OCD and Social Anxiety)
Disability in Kidlit Review

When We Collided by Emery Lord
Category: Disability and Mental health (Bi-polar)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Autism Goes to School by Sharon A. Mitchell
Category: Disability (Autistic characters)
L.C. Reviews: Autism Goes to School (YouTube video)

Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017 – Disability Booklist (PDF)

Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017 – Disability Booklist (Word Document)

I know that’s probably considered a short list, but I figured it was a good starting point, these are meant to be guidelines and I don’t want to overwhelm people. I also don’t want to start going into “English teacher territory” of telling people what they should and shouldn’t read, however, these are reviews written by disabled people, with disabled people talking about books written about their specific disability, and I think their judgement of what constitutes as acceptable representation is the standard the publishing industry needs to aiming for.

The Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017: Prizes

Image Description: a title photo with the words Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017: Prizes displayed in rainbow-coloured text with four red roses in each corner of the picture

Image Description: a title photo with the words Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017: Prizes displayed in rainbow-coloured text with four red roses in each corner of the picture

List of Possible Prizes:

Image Description: from left to right, a Blue bubble-wand, a Green bubble-wand and a Pink bubble-wand

Image Description: from left to right, a Blue bubble-wand, a Green bubble-wand and a Pink bubble-wand

1 x Bubble Wand (1 x Pink, 1 x Green and 1 x Blue)

Unfortunately due to the to the nature of Australia Post, I’m going to have to bubble-wrap the ever-loving fuck out of these items (Yay! An Excuse to buy excessive amounts of Bubble Wrap), but its better than the alternative.

Image Description: from left to right, a blue and red zip-lanyard and a yellow and red zip-lanyard

Image Description: from left to right, a blue and red zip-lanyard and a yellow and red zip-lanyard

1 x Zip Lanyard with large beaded-circle (1 x Blue and Red, 1 x Red and Yellow, 1 x Pink and Green)

I bought these from Daiso and I have yet to obtain the pink and green one, however, this can be easily fixed. The end result will hopefully look something like this. I’m not sure if I’ll use wooden beads, I’ll probably just use the ones I’ve already got, but I do have some large star beads with a metallic sheen to them (I got them from Lincraft), but I’ll see how I go.

Image Description: from left to right, a green-purple-red-yellow transparent Tangle Jr and a various-shades-of-purple Tangle Jr

Image Description: from left to right, a green-purple-red-yellow transparent Tangle Jr and a various-shades-of-purple Tangle Jr

1 x Tangles Jr each (1 x Red/Pink tangle, 1 x Blue Tangle, 1 x Green Tangle)

Kim went above and beyond the call of duty and was able to travel to both of their local Toyworld Stores and obtain more Tangles on my behalf (here’s a link to their post). Tangle Jr (or any type of Tangles really) are super difficult to obtain in Australia, so I figured from the very beginning I had to involve a Tangle Jr in my giveaway.

Image Description: three black and white snake puzzles from K-Mart

Image Description: three black and white snake puzzles from K-Mart

1 x Black and White Snake Puzzle

I was hoping to get my hands on the Stationery Gift-Bags at K-Mart, which contain bigger snake puzzles, but unfortunately my local K-Mart sold out of them. It also means I’ll have to put all the Stim Toys in a Daiso Shoe Bag instead (picture below).

Image Description: from left to right, a small pale-pink bag with flowers and bunnies printed on it. Next to the pale-pink bag is a dark-pink with multicoloured hearts printed on it

Image Description: from left to right, a small pale-pink bag with flowers and bunnies printed on it. Next to the pale-pink bag is a dark-pink with multicoloured hearts printed on it

Image Description: three large Kids &Co. multi-coloured large bouncy balls

Image Description: three large Kids & Co. multi-coloured large bouncy balls

1 x Kids & Co. multi-coloured large bouncy ball

Kim bought me one of these for Christmas and I love it, it’s roughly the size of my palm, which makes it easier to catch and bounce in comparison to my smaller bouncy-balls. It’s bright colours makes it easier to focus on and it turns out problems with fine motor skills are a Neurodivergent thing, so I figured it should be included.

Image Description: A pale white hand holding a pale-pink squishable strawberry. Around the wrist are three telephone-cord hair-ties, a pink one, an orange one and a yellow one.

Image Description: A pale white hand holding a pale-pink squishable strawberry. Around the wrist are three telephone-cord hair-ties, a pink one, an orange one and a yellow one.

1 x Squishy Strawberry each

For some reason, this Squishable Strawberry has kind of become my thing, I even have a strawberry mascot for my blog.

Image Description: A cushion in the shape of a pale-pink strawberry with a cute smiley face and gold-coloured seeds

Image Description: A cushion in the shape of a pale-pink strawberry with a cute smiley face and gold-coloured seeds.

I’ve done a review of these as Stim Toys and, just like the Tangles, I felt as though these Strawberries should be included in the giveaway (you can purchase these items from Ebay and Banggood). To my knowledge, the colour selection is random, so I won’t know what colour they will be until they arrive, however, knowing my luck it’s most likely that all the Strawberries will be dark pink.

Image Description: a long beaded-lanyard made with dark-blue rat-tail cord with a chrome key-ring/split-ring and lobster-claw clasp connected at the end. The beads are a rainbow spectrum of colours with three different types of beads per colour (acrylic-pearl-glitter). The colour spectrum is pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple with an orange bead at the end as a stopper

Image Description: a long beaded-lanyard made with dark-blue rat-tail cord with a chrome key-ring/split-ring and lobster-claw clasp connected at the end. The beads are a rainbow spectrum of colours with three different types of beads per colour (acrylic-pearl-glitter). The colour spectrum is pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple with an orange bead at the end as a stopper.

Image Description: a short beaded-lanyard make of pink rat-tail cord with a bronze-coloured key-ring/split ring and lobster-claw clasp at the end. The beads are a rainbow spectrum of acrylic beads with a pale-pink heart-shaped bead as a stopper. The colour spectrum is hot-pink, pale-pink, red, orange, yellow, green, dark-blue, light-blue, purple

Image Description: a short beaded-lanyard make of pink rat-tail cord with a bronze-coloured key-ring/split ring and lobster-claw clasp at the end. The beads are a rainbow spectrum of acrylic beads with a pale-pink heart-shaped bead as a stopper. The colour spectrum is hot-pink, pale-pink, red, orange, yellow, green, dark-blue, light-blue, purple

2 x Beaded lanyards (one long, one short)

Now, the beaded lanyards pictured above are ones that Kim has made for me, so mine probably won’t be as good as I’m just starting out, however, I have ordered the various required items from Ebay, so hopefully by the end of March, all the prizes will be completed and ready to ship out. I’m planning on the long beaded lanyard being rainbow themed, like this:

Image Description: a long beaded lanyard mad of black elastic with a rainbow spectrum of beads. The beads are a pattern of three different types of beads. The first one is acrylic, the second one pearlized and the third is transparent. The colour sequence is white, pale-pink, hot-pink, orange, yellow, green, light-blue, dark-blue and purple.

Image Description: a long beaded lanyard made of black elastic with a rainbow spectrum of beads. The beads are a pattern of three different types of beads. The first one is acrylic, the second one pearlized and the third is transparent. The colour sequence is white, pale-pink, hot-pink, orange, yellow, green, light-blue, dark-blue and purple.

I would also like add that if a winner of the giveaway would prefer a pride-themed long beaded lanyard instead, that can be accomplished. The winner would have to tell me which pride style they would like and it also might take a little longer for the package to be shipped out, but that’s a small detail. At this point in time, I almost have a full rainbow in terms of colour and type, but the two gaps I have will soon be remedied.

Image Description: two necklaces with white cord, four chrome-coloured small loops and a key ring with beads on them, from left to right, the first necklace has green-yellow-pink-blue-pink-yellow-green coloured beads. The second necklace has white-orange-yellow-orange-white coloured beads

Image Description: two necklaces with white cord, four chrome-coloured small loops and a key ring with beads on them, from left to right, the first necklace has green-yellow-pink-blue-pink-yellow-green coloured beads. The second necklace has white-orange-yellow-orange-white coloured beads

2 x Bead Ring Necklaces (one long necklace made with black rat-tail cord, one short bead ring necklace made with rainbow string)

Now, Kim made these ones for me as a Christmas Present, so my ones won’t be the exact same colours, but hopefully it’ll be the same sort of style. I’ll go into more details about this in another post (I’ve also included a link on how to make these in the links section below), but I found out that while I couldn’t use the rainbow string to make beaded lanyard, however, it might be possible to use the rainbow string as short Bead ring necklaces, I’ll make a separate post dedicated to making stuff with beads, although I would like to point out I’m a complete noob at these things.

Image Description: three gel ice packs, one orange pack and two blue-green packs

Image Description: three gel ice packs, one orange pack and two blue-green packs

1 x Gel Ice Package each

This one was a bit of a last minute addition, perhaps to make up for the fact that I ordered a couple of pencil-cases off Ebay and it turns out they’re scented items.

Image Description: there are two pencil-cases in the picture, from left to right, the first one is a pink Smencil Buddies - Rainbow Sherbet Pencil Case and the other is a green Smencil Buddies - Watermelon Pencil Case

Image Description: there are two pencil-cases in the picture, from left to right, the first one is a pink Smencil Buddies – Rainbow Sherbet Pencil Case and the other is a green Smencil Buddies – Watermelon Pencil Case

While I don’t have a problem with the way the pencil-cases smell, in fact I think they smell delicious, however, I’m trying to avoid scented items and slime for this giveaway (there are far too many variables involved in scented-items and slime).

So Yeah… Those are my potential prizes on offer for my Disability Give-away, pretty cool eh? Tell me what you think in the comments section below, also feel free to tell me what your favourite type of stim toy is :).

Links:
Stim Toy Box: Gel Ice Package

Stim Toy Box: An Ambiguous Quest For Tangles

Practically Safe: Beaded Lanyard Tutorial

Stim Toy Box: Chain Tassel Bag Charms

Stim Toy Box: Snake Puzzles

Stim Toy Box: Blue Gift Set Stationery Set

Stim Toy Box: Squishy Strawberry

Abstruse Arcana ~ Turtorial: Bead Ring Necklace

The Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017: Disability Read and Review Give-away

Image Description: A title picture with the text 'Diverse Books Reading Challenge: Disability R&R Giveaway' in large rainbow text with clip-art pictures of strawberries and roses in the corners of the picture
Image Description: A title picture with the text ‘Diverse Books Reading Challenge: Disability R&R Giveaway’ in large rainbow test with clip-art pictures of strawberries and roses in the corners of the picture
Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text 'Read Diverse Books 2017' in white text with the word 'Diverse' written in rainbow coloured text. there is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book
Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. there is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book

What’s This All About?
Read Diverse Books is running a Diverse Books Reading Challenge. Chasing Faerytails and Read.Sleep.Repeat decided to embrace the Reading Diverse Books challenge but also create a monthly theme. The theme for March is Disability and I wanted to host a give-away and award a prize to the top three people who manage to Read AND Review the most books that come under the Disability category

Who is eligible to participate in the give-away?
Unfortunately, due to the absurd shipping and handling fees, only those who live in Australia and New Zealand will be eligible for this competition (sorry about that).

Are there Prizes?
Well yes; it wouldn’t be much of a give-away without them. There will be a first, second and third prize for the top three people who manage to Read and Review as many books as possible within the month of March (so midnight 1st of March until 23:55 pm on the 31st of March)

What kind of prize will you be offering?
The prize will be a package of assorted Stim Toys (I’ll make a separate more detailed post about this later). The prizes will be theme orientated, for example: there will be a package of red stim toys, blue stim toys and green stim toys. At the end of March, I’ll contact the winners and notify them and get them to pick which colour-theme they’d prefer.

How or Where can I find Books about Disability?
Disability In Kidlit have put together a list of recommended reading, here’s the link for it:
Disability In Kidlit – Honor Roll
Chasing Faerytails and Read.Sleep.Repeat have put together an awesome book list as well, here’s the link for it:
Chasing Faerytails & Read.Sleep.Repeat: Diverse Reads 2017 Reading List

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon: Disability In Kidlit has published a review on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (here’s the link to the book review) and due to the problematic nature of the book, I will be excluding this book from the competition. Should anyone ignore/defy this and post a link to their review on my give-away page, the link will be removed and they will be disqualified from the competition.

Shout-Out:
Kim is busy doing their own thing, but they were a big inspiration and assistance for this project, so I just wanted to send out a big thank you, readers should check out their links

Let The Reading Begin 😀

Links:
Disability In Kidlit
Read Diverse 2017 – A Reading And Book Review Challenge For Bloggers!
Chasing Faerytails – Announcing the 2017 Diverse Books Reading Challenge!

My Treasure Chest – Part 1: Beads

Image Description: Purple box with rows of coloured tape decorating the outside of it. In front of the purple box is a collection of homemade stim toys (I'll go into greater detail within the post).

Before I begin, I would like readers to check out these links first as I’ll be using these posts as references:

~Eldritch Esoterica: I had a little birthday money.
~Eldritch Esoterica: Bead Ring Necklaces
~Eldritch Esoterica: This is my on-the-go stim toy collection
~Eldritch Esoterica: ‘Fuzzy Coin Purse’ and ‘Fuzzy Pencil Case’ made by Yoobi

Image Description: One jar of fake kinetic pink sand
Fake kinetic sand looks fascinating, so I’m eager to get this out have a play with it, although I do hesitate because of the “mess + super clumsy = bad” factor.

Image Descrption: left to right, three balloons (pink-yellow-pink), two of them filled with flour (pink) and one of them filled with rice (yellow)
I’ve had rice balloons before but not flour balloons and I must confess, while I enjoy the rice, I like flour better

Image Description: a small yellow container of play-do with a pink lid.
Play-do is great, I loved play-do as a kid as my mum would hand make us some for my sister and I, but I hated the play-do at school because the fact that so many other kids had played with it, so my own special collection should be great.

Image Description: A plastic container with bubble-making solution
I loved blowing bubbles as a kid, in fact one of the few family moments I have with my older brother, my younger sister and both my parents before they divorced (I had to be about four or five) all having fun together involved blowing bubbles. I went into the kitchen and somehow knew to combine the detergent with water, whisk it about and use a small wire molded into the shape of a circle to blow bubbles. The solution was okay, but after my father improved it by adding more detergent, the bubbles were significantly better. Much fun was had by all.

Image Description: Left to right, a plastic tube filled with liquid pink glitter and silver stars with a pink ribbon on top, as well as a plastic tube filled with liquid green glitter and silver stars with a green ribbon on top.
I do enjoy watching the silver stars shift from one end to another, but it’s easily distracting/time consuming as it takes a while for the stars to shift from end to another.

Image Description: a pink plastic bag with a small make-up/blush brush inside
I loved playing with my mother’s make-up brushes as a kid, not so much the make up though, I can’t stand the feel of foundation on my skin

Image Description: A small yellow container filled with rice.
I’m assuming this is to shake around. I haven’t really used this one.

Image Description: There's a necklace with a black cord and a pink-yellow peace symbol
It does indeed make a nice thwap sound when you bend it back. I was thinking of attaching it to my bag, but not sure how yet.

Image Description: Left to right, four telephone-cord hair ties. The first three telephone cord hair-ties are transparent pink, yellow and orange. The fourth one is opaque pink telephone cord.
I wear these on my wrists all the time now (three transparent pink-orange-yellow on one wrist and the opaque pink telephone cord on the other wrist), in fact, I’ve had customers ask me where I got them from (you can get them from K-Mart). The pink is a little more stretched the orange and yellow, but I’ll work on it.

Image Description: There is a thick textured pink rope object that functions clip
I like the texture of this one, I like to run my hands over the woven fabric and it feels really satisfying

Image Description: small purple bean bag with white stars all over it, scented with lavender oil.
I love the smell of lavender, but I keep this in a separate bag to retain it’s smell.

While I’m aware I’m an allistic (non-autistic) person, I wanted to write a few blog-posts about Stim Toys, specifically these Handmade Stim Toys that Kim made for me to help with novel research. Now, there’s actually pretty valid reason for Kim to have made all of these Stim Toys by hand, it may sound obvious but handmade Stim Toys are a lot cheaper and it turns out it that store-bought Stim Toys are rather expensive, and there’s the problem with accessibility. For example: if an autistic Australia wanted to purchase an item such as this:

Item Description: metal bracelet that resembles a bike chair with blue on the outside of the bracelet.

In Pushing Boundaries, Beth and Mary have a matching pair of stim-bracelets like these, Beth’s bracelet is blue while Mary’s bracelet is red

From a website like StimTastic, if the item was $25 to purchase, the autistic Australian would most likely be paying $25 in postage and handling as well, so that’s roughly $50 all together. It’s one of the reasons I rarely use Amazon (that I have no idea how to use their E-Book system, I find it confusing as fuck but perhaps it’s designed for kindles only, IDK, clearly another post for another time).

In comparison, Kim’s Homemade Treasure Chest probably cost (all together) most likely $20 to $25 (at a rough estimate) with Contessa (a weighted plushie filled with beans and rice and scented with lavender) being the most expensive item.

Image Description: weighted plushie that possibly looks like a bear, a dog, a bear-dog, or a cat. Light pink in colour with a yellow crown on her head, with yellow blush circles on both sides of her cheeks and little yellow circles on her stomach and a little tail

This is Contessa

The collection is rather large and fascinating, but the ones I wanted to focus on today were my beaded items.
Image Description: a white cord with three chrome-coloured loops, within those three loops is a small metal loop one might use to store keys on, on the loop are five beads with the colour scheme of red-brown-amber-brown-red
The first item, the beaded necklace on a white chord, I enjoy using all the time, I tend to place my thumb in the metal loop and roll the beads across my thumb. But I also like to hold the loop in my hands and roll the beads with my fingers. Unfortunately, I’ve developed the bad habit of ripping out my hair, I find it difficult to stop, however I find my beaded necklace is a good distraction.

Image Description: There are two items in this picture. Left to right, Item One is a chrome metal object that functions as a metal clip, sometimes used for keys or attaching to bags. It has a metal loop one might use to store keys on. It has six beads on the metal loop, the colour scheme is dark pink-light pink-light pink-yellow-yellow-dark pink. Item Two is a small metal loop, one might confuse it for a child's bracelet, it has eleven beads, the colours are a variant mixture of pink and yellow but the beads are also a mixture of solid plastic and transparent plastic
I like to roll the beads on the bead bracelet as well, in fact I’ve been able to use both the bracelet and the necklace as anti-distraction/focus tools, like when my partner was lining up at the RACV store to receive an International Driver’s Permit (for our upcoming trip to Slovenia), I was able to sit down in a waiting chair and play with my bracelet, it was rather soothing (especially since it took ages for the RACV store to serve my partner).

Also, just before I left for Slovenia, I was visiting my sister and mother at my sister’s place and my six month old niece required a distraction, cue the bracelet! I was then able to use the bracelet as a distraction/focus tool (“Look over here, look at the pretty bracelet.”). I was able to use the bracelet like an abacus, shifting the beads from one side to the other, something my niece seemed to enjoy watching while my mother fed her.

While I was in Slovenia, we had friends take us around and look at touristy stuff (more on this later), but our guides also wanted to catch up with friends that they hadn’t seen in a while. I didn’t really know these friends of friends, I was also unable to speak Slovenian (though a couple of them could speak English, although we were often in a group situation were only one or two members of the group could speak English).

So in order to keep myself awake at the dinner table (which was often a problem), or when I had no one to talk to, I would either play with my necklace or bracelet and that helped with my social anxiety, I felt calmer when I had something to focus on.

Also when I was frustrated with how the day was progressing or perhaps not progressing, I had something to help calm me down. When on holiday, I need to know what we’re doing at the beginning of each day, as in “Today we’re going to a see a church and visit a nearby playground for children”.

I don’t mind doing these things just as long as I know that’s what we’re doing (maybe that’s just me, my partner is the exact opposite, he’s quite happy not having an itinerary or a schedule). So yeah, I’m quiet happy with the beaded necklace and bracelet, would definitely recommend.

Then there’s my weighted plushie Contessa. I rather fond of her, I enjoy carrying her around the house (though I’m careful to keep her away from my cat and water), I also love the way she smells like lavender and although the smell has slightly worn off, lavender is very soothing for me. I often have Contessa either on my lap as I’m typing or on my laptop-support table that I got from IKEA.

However, Kim did mention in one their Stim Toy posts that they don’t take scented objects outside the house because of people with chemical sensitivities or chemical allergies (which is super important to remember).

So, if readers would like to talk about what type stim toys they enjoy (homemade or otherwise) and how they use them, please feel free to leave a comment in the section. Or if there’s a particular stim toy people would like to mention, feel free to leave a link in the comment section.

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