BEAUTIFUL – MY BOOK REVIEW

 

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Book Review – Beautiful by Katie Piper

Publisher – Ebury Press

Several months ago, I had the great honour and pleasure of meeting the writer and TV presenter, Katie Piper. The victim of a horrific acid attack, mostly to her face, neck and upper body, Katie is a shining example of triumph over adversity. Friendly and approachable, Katie, who smiled constantly, proved to be genuinely warm and extremely generous with her time. So, this month’s book review is a work of non-fiction by Katie Piper.

Katie’s autobiography, Beautiful, explains how she was attacked, her life beforehand and the events leading up to that terrible, fateful day. Age twenty-four, living in London, Katie was a beautiful, successful, and ambitious young woman when she was brutally raped by her then boyfriend, whom she had met on Facebook weeks earlier. Several weeks later she then had acid thrown in her face, also initiated by the same said boyfriend. “I heard a horrible screaming sound, like an animal being slaughtered … then I realised it was me.” However, if Katie’s perpetrator thought she was going to crawl away and hide her injuries from the rest of the world, he was sorely mistaken. He clearly hadn’t bargained for such a courageous and gutsy young woman. Through the love and support of wonderful family and good friends, not to mention an iron will powered by true determination and courage, Katie completely turned her life around. To many, she is both an inspiration and role model. She is also, I think it is safe to say, still beautiful, incredibly successful and rightly ambitious – despite one man’s attempts to sabotage such qualities.

Some of you may recognise Katie from TV shows like Bodyshockers and Face to Face and like me, you may have read about her terrible ordeal back in 2008, but also like me, you may not have realised the full extent of her injuries, and the pain and suffering she endured, both mentally and physically. “It was just a normal mirror, a round sheet of glass encased in a white plastic frame, but as I reached for it, my hand trembled. ‘Take your time, Katie,’ my psychologist Lisa said gently…But I didn’t do things by halves – I never had…All of a sudden, that normal little mirror became a window into hell.” Katie has had, and continues to have, countless operations and skin grafts, she is blind in one eye and because she swallowed some of the acid that permanently scarred her face, neck and arm, she also suffered internal damage, resulting in a great deal of scar tissue around her oesophagus. This left Katie unable to eat and swallow food properly, which again resulted in yet more surgery. Katie makes no attempt to hide the fact she struggled after her attack, describing some very ‘dark’ times, however, this is also a story of hope and inspiration.

Well composed, Beautiful is easy to read but not an easy read. Nonetheless it is also written with great warmth, humour and aplomb. One woman’s triumph over evil and living proof that life does go on despite, at times, unimaginable difficulties and suffering.

Katie Piper

 

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Write Your First Novel – In A Month!

 

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A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of attending an author event to hear crime writer, Elizabeth Haynes, talk about her writing career. I also had the honour of meeting and chatting with Elizabeth afterwards, who proved to be both lovely and very gracious with her time. After then going home and devouring her current novel, Never Alone (a great read and one I’d highly recommend if you like crime thrillers) which I read and reviewed last month (and you can read again here), I decided to write a post about the event, and pass on some of Elizabeth’s writerly wisdom

Elizabeth, a former police intelligence analyst, hasn’t always been an author but, like me, she did always aspire to be such, one-day. Her first novel, Into The Darkest Corner was published in 2011 and won Amazon’s Book of the Year and Amazon’s Rising Star Award. During the course of the evening the author discussed her previous career and where she gets her ideas and inspiration from to write her novels. The idea of Never Alone came to Elizabeth when she was thinking of moving house and found herself spending far too much time browsing through the houses of various property websites. She came across a grey stone house nestling in a remote country hillside providing the inspiration for the house in the novel, Four Winds Farm, which plays a pivotal role in the setting of Never Alone.

The author also discussed, despite juggling a family and a full time job, how she eventually came to write her first novel. She became, and continues to be, a participant in the National Novel Writing Month, otherwise referred to as NaNoWriMo – an annual challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November (approximately 1667 words a day, or roughly four sides of typed A4 paper). So, this is my challenge to all you would be writers out there, you have a couple months to prepare yourself before the start of November and possibly the start of your first novel. It may mean getting up a couple of hours earlier every day, or going to bed a couple of hours later each night. It may also mean you let the housework slide for a couple of weeks, get someone else to do the cooking, walk the dog, whatever – but it is only for one month.

However, Elizabeth did also point out that 50,000 words is not a novel (most novels are anything from 60,000 to 100,000 words, much more in some cases), but what you will have is the bare bones of a novel, a good start and something you can build on. Why not take a look at the official NaNoWriMo website nanowrimo.org and sign up now. You’ll find lots of help and inspiration, including pep talks and the chance to meet other authors online and in person. Good luck if you take part and please let me know how you get on!

Elizabeth Haynes

Me and Elizabeth Haynes!