Book Review: Faceless – Alyssa Sheinmel

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Maisie has a good life, she has a boyfriend whom she loves, a great best friend and athletic ability. While out on a run her life changes forever, after a freak accident during a lightning storm leaves her left for dead, she could never imagine her new reality when she wakes up. Maisie wakes up with most of her face destroyed. After coming to the decision to have a face transplant Maisie should feel lucky, but instead she’s fighting herself. How can she look at herself ever again? Will she ever have a normal life, friends? Or will she be confined to first her hospital room and then her house, living the life of a freak?

I picked this up on offer at my local Waterstones a while ago after reading the blurb and immediately wanting to read it. Since reading Katie Piper’s books and meeting her last year  disfigurement has been something I’ve been really interested in. The fact that Sheinmel has chosen to write about something that most people have had no experience with or wouldn’t understand just shows her guts as a writer. Very few could pull this off but she has done it with care, attention and incredible character voice. Maisie really comes into her own within a few chapters and we begin to see the complex and difficult situation that no one expects to deal with playing out in front of her.

I will warn you the book is an emotional one, you feel as if you are living alongside Maisie throughout her ordeal. You want to cry when she hates herself or when she feels like giving you. I wanted to reach through the pages and hug her. You also learn a lot though, it’s clear that a lot of research went into this book in the way of medical and the emotional process of someone who is learning to cope with a disfigurement. It also makes you think about other types of injury. I know that there were times when I understood and felt so close to Maisie because I’d felt those same feelings, especially after I had my own accident and we didn’t know what was going to happen (there was a point when we weren’t sure if I was going to lose total feeling in my legs). I felt the confusion, the pain, the expectation from those around you and I understood when she wasn’t sure if she could carry on with her physic therapy, the days when she didn’t feel like it was worth it.

My reasoning for giving it 4.5 rather than a straight 5 stars is simply because I found Maisie to be a little too perfect prior to the accident. Apart from her parents fighting she just seemed very much the all American girl. I guess that’s the only thing that niggled at me a little and it’s not to say it was bad it was just something that meant I didn’t connect to her as much at first. Although within a few chapters I was liking her more and more and by the end of the book I just wanted to know her, if that makes sense?

All in all I would highly recommend this book, it’s incredibly well written and tackles something that most people wouldn’t give too much thought to unless it happened to them or someone they loved. It’s clear that Sheinmel has clear talent and is one to watch on the YA scene. I would also love to hear what happened to Maisie after the end of the novel, how she deals with the rest of her life because I really did fall in love with the character in the end.

My Top 11 Books of 2015

At the time of writing this I’ve read 77 books this year, which is less than I wanted to read this year! Boo! Although there is still time…I might get to 80. So for today’s review I thought I’d tell you the 11 best books I’ve read this year, because I couldn’t get rid of one.

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How to Build a Woman– Caitlin Moran

This is definitely the most influential book I read this year. I tried reading Caitlin’s book when I was younger and hated it, but I decided to try again for my Writing Women class this year. I laughed so hard reading it and just felt I could say I’m a feminist without seeming crazy or arrogant. I’ve not religiously watched all of Caitlins talks on YouTube and read How to Build a Girl and a good chunk of Moranthology. Read my review here.

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Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Haig has written a phenomenal book. I’m usually sceptical of books related to mental health, because it’s so hard to put into words but somehow Haig has put in exactly how I’ve felt. It’s also great if you’re living with someone with depression too. Read my review here.

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Beautiful & Beautiful Ever After – Katie Piper

I have been a fan of Katie Piper for years. Getting to meet her and get my own message and autograph was a huge highlight of my year. Both of these books are incredibly honest, Katie has the ‘just getting on with it’ attitude a lot of us with physical and mental disabilities have. Her two autobiographies are a brilliant read and full of heartbreak but also full of hope. Review to come in 2016 but you can read about when I met Katie here.

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Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

I rushed home from work to buy this the day it came out. There was a lot of divided opinion but I for one thought it was an incredible book. There is a completely different message than there was in To Kill a Mockingbird, but I think that it is just as important. Read my review here.

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Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne

I have a book crush on Holly Bourne. Am I Normal Yet? is a fantastic piece of YA literature. Bourne always manages to create a magnificent story and this one is no different. Considering mental health, young people and what ‘normal’ is, she created an instant favourite once again. Read my review here.

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This Book is Gay – James Dawson

I picked up this book a long time ago and decided to finally read it (before James announced he was transgender, he is still using male pronouns for now) because I was curious. I felt like I could know more about the LGBTQ community and I’m so glad I did. I honestly think this book should be given out in schools during sex education! Review to come in 2016.

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The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

This was the first book I read in 2015 and I absolutely loved it. It’s a great addition to YA literature and has the power to open up conversations about the Trans community. I completely forgot to review it so I’m afraid it will be a 2016 review!

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Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman

Unlike most of the people I know I wasn’t addicted to the TV show. I didn’t mind it but I just didn’t find it as engaging. Instead I saw a Ted Talk by the real Piper Kerman and decided I want to read her book. I didn’t regret it. This is so interesting it looks not only at Piper but at the women around her and casts a critical eye on the prison system. I really recommend this as something to pick up in the new year.

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Extraordinary Means – Robyn Schneider

I was recommended this book by a friend of mine, I’d been curious about it for a while but also sceptical of the blurb. I was totally wrong, if you are a fan of John Green then this is definitely a novel to pick up. It’s funny, heartbreaking and I’m not ashamed to say I cried at one point. The review for this is coming up in February and I can promise you will love the main character as much as I did, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls – Lynn Weingarten

I can easily declare that this was the most amazing book that I read and that was released in 2015. I have told everyone to buy this because Weingarten has an incredible talents for writing that will keep you up until the early hours. I said ‘oh my god’ multiple times while reading and still think the twist is genius. Read this but make sure you don’t have to be up early the next day as you’ll devour it in one sitting. Read my review here.

I just wanted to say thank you so much for all of the support I’ve received about my book reviews. I’m so grateful for all the feedback and love I’ve received. There are going to be reviews throughout 2016 and I have some great books coming up!!

Meeting Katie Piper

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This week I got to meet one of my idols. You may have heard of her, seen her books or watched one of her TV shows, the latest being Extraordinary Births for Channel 4, she also has her own charity for burns survivors. I add that last because there are a lot of things that Katie Piper is and she’s not defined by the fact that 7 years ago she was in an acid attack, she’s a survivor.

Katie’s from a few towns over from me, so when it happened, there was a section in the paper, although not identifying her. I’ve followed Katie’s story and work since the beginning. Meeting her is one of my dreams and it finally happened. She’s absolutely lovely and her talk was inspirational, I didn’t expect any less. I’ll admit that I almost cried but I felt so empowered, I felt like I could do what she had done and take my past and turn it into something positive.

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My message from Katie

I was able to get some 1-1 time with Katie, she remembered tweeting me a while ago when my spine broke, we spoke about Basingstoke town centre (we’re both local). She’s so lovely and sweet, I told her if there was anything I could do for the Katie Piper Foundation then just to let me know. The book she gave me has been waiting since the KU Talent Awards when she was supposed to host but her esophagus burst.

It was a great evening and I don’t think I’ve ever been more inspired by someone, she is what I aspire to be and I will keep using the power of positive thinking and hopefully I’ll meet Katie again.

Hello October! – What to expect from chloemetzger.com

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Helllooo my lovelies, we are already into October! I have no idea how September went but I’m really excited for this month. Autumn is my favourite season, it’s just so cute, warm enough and so far London has had blue skies while the leaves are changing ARGH.

I have lots of exciting things planned for this month like

  • My first Horse Riding Society Social
  • First Rides for the newbies
  • Starting my dissertation plan
  • Playing an awesome show for Oxjam charity festival
  • Two concerts to go to and that’s just this week?
  • Comic Con
  • A museum visit
  • London trip
  • Meeting Katie Piper for work!!!

I have so much to do but so much to look forward to as well, I’m really trying to get the most out of my final year with all my friends and having a pretty small timetable.

I’ve also got some great new blogging ideas, as always I’ll be doing this months book haul, some reviews of the new H&M make up range, No People Club news, some more My Big Mouth Posts and as usual you’ll be getting weekly book reviews.

I’m so excited about this month’s blogs and everything to come. As always

Things get better!

Hello you lovely lot!

Yesterday I was pretty down, I’m sure a lot of you saw it, I needed to get all the stress and anxiety and worries I had written down because I promised all of you I would be honest. Today was met with another trip to Kingston Hospital and desperately hoping something would be sorted. My lovely Mum came up today to come with me so that Ali could go and record Bass with the boys.

Now I’m very slow at walking at the moment, I’m hardly walking at all. So I met my Mum for a hot chocolate on this miserable rainy day and managed to find a Sylvia Plath book to pick me up a little bit before the big appointment, but that wasn’t what was amazing about today. This morning I started reading Katie Piper’s ‘Things Get Better’ after the horrible lows and anxiety yesterday. I tweeted about it and then the BEST thing happened KATIE REPLIED! THE KATIE PIPER!!!  Now I’m a huge fan of her’s she stands for everything I want to be and believe in. It gave me the push I needed to get me through the day! I want to get real copies of all her books, especially ‘Start your day with Katie’ to help with my positivity.

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My tweet from Katie Piper!!! 🙂 

Mum and I braved the rain and wind to get the bus to the hospital (thankfully the passengers and bus drivers were really helpful today, thank you!). I was terrified. Nobody had really told me what to expect or what could happen, the last I knew they were still on the edge of debating surgery. So I sat and waited to be called through for what seemed like ages until a friendly nurse called me through. The walk down the corridor was possibly the longest and most embarrasing. It’s painful to walk so I walk with tiny steps, holding on to the wall for support and I could see the sympathy in everyone’s faces while mine was going red with both determination and embarrassment. When I finally got into the room again the nurses were great getting me settled to wait for the doctor.

I try not to cry in these situations, I want to seem like a good patient, that I appreciate what doctors do. I held my Mum’s hand while waiting and just hoped they wouldn’t go ahead with surgery. The doctor was sweet, quick and good at what he had to do. He checked me over, answered my questions and apologised for the rudeness of A&E a few days before. Apparently my legs are strong, which is a happy surprise for me, he could see how much pain I was in and tried to make it as quick as possible. I was told a back brace would be needed, stronger painkillers and a follow up appointment with x rays in 6 weeks. That was it but I felt so much more confident that he knew what he was doing. Then on to physio while the nurse thankfully ran up to put my brace request in for me (it’s special equipment that needs to be ordered in).

I only had to wait 10 minutes to see my lovely physio lady, Linda. She was funny, kind and made me feel good and didn’t push me to see what movement I had for now! I really liked her and she me so now I have physio lined up asap but the good news is I should fully recover. I’ve also been suggested a wheelchair (now purchased) for days out and NOT to push myself too hard at all, like I kind of have been.

With the good news I called around, I’m also still allowed to go to Athens! Then it was off to buy a few new pair of PJs, The Simpsons ones, The Little Mermaid, Monsters Inc, Cola ones – thank you Primark! Finally Mum, Ali and I went for some dinner before I got taken home to rest again, it had been quite a painful day.

I’m still struggling with all of this, I know how lucky I am but I’m nervous about the Brace and Wheelchair. No ones ever been able to see something wrong with me, I get worried about how people will react, even if it is temporary. It might seem silly but I’m trying to work through and not get too angry/frustrated as I have been.

So there you go! Fully up to date and hopefully my wheelchair will be here after the weekend and I’ll have news on the rest of my appointments soon. I’m still super bored and in bed most of the time so I’m coming up with new things for the blog but I’d love for you guys to chat to me too, leave me a comment, tweet me, email me! I love to hear from you all!

I’m not giving up.

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I’ve spent a lot of time thinking for the past few days and it’s not always been positive. Being stuck indoors and not allowed to even clean when I feel like it has been getting me down, as has being in pain whenever I get up or go for a walk. I mean I’m human, those kinds of things would make most people fed up.

I haven’t slept much since yesterday and my painkillers are definitely kicking in because I’m sleepy as I write this (hooray!). I’ve been trying to get on with things as much as possible and without realising it I’ve gotten quite a lot done today, going for a walk to get parts of Eleanor’s leaving present, submitting my final assignments (yay!) and reading over a quarter of another book.

It’s weird knowing that I have 6 weeks of recovery and not doing too much, 6 weeks of living with this and not being able to go at a million miles per hour like I normally do, it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. I promised I’d be honest, I’ve been really low at times since this happened and cried a lot, mostly out of frustration. I feel slowed down and tired and I just want to do everything like normal. Ali says just think of it as a little holiday, do things I want to do and relax, I suppose he’s right to some extent.

I started reading Katie Piper’s Beautiful Ever After, she’s cheered me up once again. I was meant to meet Katie at the KU Talent Awards this year, she was supposed to be hosting but got rushed to hospital instead. I was gutted not to meet her but obviously glad that she was going to be ok, I’m hoping she’ll still come and visit Kingston because she’s an inspiration to me. So I’ve just sat reading the book and it’s made me smile and not feel so low. It’s also inspired me to use these 6 weeks to do something. I just want to write at the moment, I might take a crack at the novel again, write the blog and add more of my experiences and do some mental health work. I can use my recovery time to do some good through my laptop 🙂

In short, I’m not giving up. I’m not silly enough to believe that writing this post is going to magically change my mindset and there will be no more tears or frustrations, there will because I’m human. I just hope that I can start something good while I’m stuck with not a lot to do.

Please, please, please use the comments section below! I’d love to use this time to chat to you guys! Or drop me a tweet @chloemetzger 🙂

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