The Fault in Our Stars | Book Review

tfios-melissaholden94I spent a long time avoiding this book, and I feel like an idiot for it.

I did cover the topic briefly in my John Green article I posted a couple of weeks ago, but the general premise is that I was swayed by other people’s opinions and basically didn’t get John Green’s work a chance.
I didn’t give his books the time and devotion to reading that they deserve, and believe me when I say: I regret that and I plan on catching up pretty damn quick.

The Fault In Our Stars was first published January 2012 under Penguin – the sixth book by John Green -, and has since sold 10.7 million copies worldwide.  The movie adaptation came out in 2014, and the screenplay was co-written by the author himself, which attests for how close a resemblance the screen version has to the original novel.

green_2The plot (in case you’ve been living under a rock – as I have!): (Sourced from Amazon UK)

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.


Hazel: 16-year-old Hazel-Grace has accepted her cancer-ridden fate and is pretty much living in her day to day routine, waiting for death. Her coddling mother thinks Hazel has depression so often forces her to socialize with other ‘cancer kids’.

She has been living with cancer for a long time, so has since grown used to life with rubbish lungs. She gets on with school and reading and seeing friends when she can, and is pretty settled – if unhappy – wth her routine. But when she meets Augustus Waters at a ‘cancer kids’ meeting, all that goes out the window.

03f45905f29d65c365f67d5498014173Augustus Waters: Originally introduced as your typical tall, dark and handsome, Gus is a one-legged cancer survivor and romantic lead of The Fault In Our Stars. He is quick to admit his attraction to Hazel, and is not deterred by her initial rejections of a relationship.

Originally introduced as your typical tall, dark and handsome, Gus is a one-legged cancer survivor and romantic lead of The Fault In Our Stars. He is quick to admit his attraction to Hazel, and is not deterred by her initial rejections of a relationship. He is weird as he as beautiful, so he’s a perfect match for our main girl.

Van Houten: Van Houten, the author of Hazel’s favourite (fictional) novel, An Imperial Affliction, is the typical example of ‘never meet your heroes’. He’s a drunk, a fool and a rude old man who doesn’t feel he should waste his time writing a sequel to Hazels’ cherished book, let a lone answer some of her questions. He has some secrets of his own, but they aren’t revealed until later on, making him somewhat of a bitter but one-leveled character until the end.

3f10f7365f73d9b28ffccb50e24a844d1eb8755616c22a72abb09a3ec295b4bdRomance: Neither Gus or Hazel are your typical love interest, however – which makes this a far more interesting read. It’s not just your average star-crossed lover’s tale (although there is some element of Shakespearean tragedy towards the end of the book).

Cancer: I can’t review the book without mentioning one of its main themes: cancer sucks. There is no beautification of cancer in this book as far as I am concerned, and I am so glad for that.

John Green wrote from experience about the issues and pain and day-to-day suffering of a ‘cancer kid’, so it stands to reason that his depiction of two teenagers with cancer would be more or less accurate.

I personally knew someone who had this sucky illness, and there were places in this novel that sent a shiver down my spine: because I had seen them happen in real life. It cannot have been easy for Green to write this, and particularly as there was such a backlash concerning it, so for that alone; I applaud him.

The Fault in Our Stars continues to raise money for The Teenage Cancer Trust, click here if you would like to find out a bit more about the charity. 

Overall review: I really wish I hadn’t waited four years to read this amazing novel, and I am happy to say that it’s up there with my favourite novels. It is a heart-wrenching, beautiful novel that is very hard to put down. So for god’s sake – read it. download

Other Recommendations:

If you’re interested in reading books about Cancer and how disastrous it can be from a true-life perspective, I recommend Discussing Wittgenstein by Ann Drysdale.

Plot: (Sourced from Amazon UK)

Launched at the 2009 Hay festival, Discussing Wittgenstein picks up the story of Philip Grey and Ann Drysdale after their near death-bed marriage and Philip s return home. It is the end of a remarkable love story, but it is also much more; a tender, poignant testimony to how personal mythologies are built and survive. Discussing Wittgenstein is an elegy to the human spirit and to our quest to shape experience into meaning.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children: Movie Review *SPOILERS*

miss-peregrines-photo1Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is one of those wonderful books that make you feel like the author is running around inside your imagination.

I have already written a full book review, which you can read here, but suffice it to say, this series has found its way into my heart, and I can’t wait to read Hollow City.

Now on to the movie adaptation:

I went to see it last night (the movie’s second night on the big screen in the UK), and whilst I was amazed by the casting, I did have just a couple of issues with the movie (but it was still amazing!)

Jake’s best friend

Not read the book, and you’re wondering who I’m talking about? EXACTLY! Jake has a moody best-and-only friend back home in the States…who doesn’t exist in the movie. He plays a pivotal role in Abe Portman’s death scene in regards to actually getting Jake there, and yet in the movie he has been replaced by a random female co-worker of Jake’s.


Speaking of work, they have glazed over the very reason Jake works for Smart-Aid… his family own it. It is seen as a rite of passage within the family to work in a branch of Smart-Aid before you are eventually promoted upward into the offices, just like his mother.

In the movie, he’s just a shelf-stacker with a businesswoman for a Mom and a flaky, bird-watching Dad.


Emma and Olive

Unless I read the book totally wrong… Emma has switched peculiarities with another character. In the book, Emma has control over fire, meaning she uses a fireball to help defeat a Hallow, guide them through the bogs in the dark, and set a building on fire.

There is even a very touching comment about the warmth of her hands on Jake’s face as they embraced. Olive was the one with the air control.

This article explains more in-depth as to why their powers were swapped for the movies.

Dr Golan

…Is a woman in the movie and a man in the book. There is also a much smaller focus on the Golan-Jake relationship than there is in the book, although that is not necessarily a bad thing as it gives us more time to focus on Jake and the peculiar children.

Jake and Emma

Although I still like the teen-electricity between these two characters in the movie, the book adds a completely different layer to their budding-yet-complicated romance.


The book contains much more teenage angst and awkwardness, whereas in the movie, Emma seems a lot more angry towards Jake rather than clumsy and romantic.

The book lets us see how Jake feels about Emma, and how weirded out he is that he is falling in love with someone that could possibly have been his Grandmother if things had gone a little differently.

The movie adaptation also has a lot less kissing – there is A LOT of kissing in the book – which is probably due to more of an emphasis in the movie that the peculiar children are just that: children.


I love the book, I love the movie… just in different ways. Both mediums are worth delving in to, but I can definitely see some readers not liking the movie, and vise-versa. There have certainly been some questionable changes, and some aren’t really worth the big-to-do. But can we have more romance in the sequel, please? I liked that part.

John Green: From Loathe To Love

When I first heard about John Green, it was in 2012 when The Fault In Our Stars was released, and I immediately hated him. Let me explain before you stone me.

I was always on the lookout for young adult books that weren’t vampires, because vampires were getting boring, fast. So here comes this decent author with a book about kids with cancer, and I thought ‘hey, if it’s a good story and it raises awareness, this is going on my to-read list.’


So with my brand new copy of The Fault In Our Stars, I settle down in my communal living room to start reading, tea in hand and then I hear a screech from my wonderfully-vocal Italian housemate and best friend. I then spent the next two hours receiving a lecture from her about how John Green was profiting from cancer and that the medical aspects of the book were completely outrageous. So the book went on my shelf and hasn’t been opened since.

So four years pass, I get a degree, move back to my home town, get a job, blah blah blah, and then I hear about this edgy indie book with a bad-ass female lead with a weird name and an amazing metaphor: Paper Towns. Three guesses who it’s by, *drum roll* John Green.


In the four years, I had pretty much forgotten about my hatred for John Green, as I had since learned that my loud friend’s opinion of TFiOS was just that, an opinion. But still with this ingrained fear of reading the book, I skipped it altogether and dove head first into Paper Towns. I finished it in less than a week.

Safe to say that since then, I’ve been pretty happy to hear about John Green’s work, particularly when I realised he is the older brother to Hank Green, and that they co-created YouTube channel vlogbrothers, the world of Nerdfighteria, and are ultra nerds that are so cool and the human embodiment of

I now spend nearly all of my spare time attempting to catch up on the 10 years of vlogbrothers videos, and am eagerly awaiting payday so I can buy all of John Green’s book and add them to my copies of Paper Towns and The Fault In Our Stars. I’m also desperately searching for a copy of John Green reading TFiOS audiobook.

I have officially become a fan, and I wish I had had the balls to stand up for The Fault In Our Stars when I first bought it all those years ago… and I shall be reading it tonight!

So, I have one thing to say to you John Green and other members of Nerdfighteria (if you’ll forgive my stupidity): Don’t forget to be awesome! 

The Last Page Is The Kindest | Typewriter Tales



Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children | Book Review

If you haven’t heard of this book, you’ve either been living under a rock or living in a 1940’s time loop *spoilers*. 


16-09-16 via @melissholden94: I’ve just got a comfy new bed, so what better excuse to spend the evening in it – than a book!? Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I’ve had this beauty on my book shelf for a while now, but I’m itching to read it before the movie comes out.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs has blown up in the most beautiful way. It is rare to find a teen-fiction-lit book that can capture an adult reader so easily; but perhaps it’s because only one of the children is actually a child… 

This book is right up my alley; fiction, weird kids, superpowers, a talking bird with a cane and a creepy dude who’s out to kill everyone. Can you say ‘perfect read’?!

And the fact that a movie is about to join the delivery option of this tale is fantastic! I cannot wait to see how they transposed this to the big screen, and with such an amazing cast. 

Back to the book itself, I will confess: it was a hard start for me. I think it was a mix of life distracting me and the annoying best friend to Jacob that made me put the breaks on reading this book several times. However once I reached the peculiar part of the story; you could not pry it from my hands. I even considered taking it to the gym with me: I was that hooked! 

missperegrine_334x518.jpgOUTLINE (CONTAINS SPOILERS!) 

The basic premise of the book is this: sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman watches his grandfather die at the mercy of a mysterious creature that no one else can see.

Convinced their son has gone crazy, Jacob is sent to the therapeutic care of Dr Golan, who listens to Jacob’s retelling of his grandfather’s supposedly tall tales about children with strange gifts who lived on an island.

Guided by Dr Golan, Jacob and his father visit the island, and Jacob is immediately in search for any evidence of Grandpa (Abe) Portman’s time on the island, and the intriguing Miss Peregrine. 

Jacob therein discovers the children’s home that Abe had grown up in, along with evidence that the peculiar children weren’t in fact just stories to keep Little Jacob listening. He also discovers that they are still alive and young, and ready to share their tales with Jacob. And the infamous Miss Peregrine, is very much real – and ready to tell him everything he’s ever wanted to know… 

I won’t spoil anything – just in case you’re one of those readers that ignores the *SPOILERS* warnings in book reviews, and believe me when I say: I have but scraped the surface of the plot line with that description. 


miss_peregrines_photo2I enjoy the fact that the cover image is NOT of the main character, Jacob Portman. They could easily put the resident heartthrob of the story on the front of the book, but instead they maintained the eeriness of the in-lain sourced photography that is threaded – quite naturally, might I add – throughout the entire book. 

The photos in the book are all real and all sourced by the author, hence the inspiration for the book itself. Creepy kids and shadowy characters add an extra layer to an already amazing read. The maintaining plot line that the photos are picked from Miss Peregrine and Abe Portman’s photo albums is simple yet stunning. It’s very natural and very in-character for these two to have kept pictures of the peculiar children and their talents, so it’s very fitting for them to also be displayed in the book.

There is something almost magic about the way Ransom Riggs describes a character or photo, allowing you to conjure up your own image, and then having it revealed to you on the next page. It makes you, the reader, feel a sense of accomplishment when your image matches his image. Some might argue that it takes the imagination away, but I think it’s quite unifying to know that we’re all seeing the nightmare monsters and the strange children all in the same way. 

All in all, it’s a charmingly dark book and I can’t wait to read the sequel, HOLLOW CITY. 

Graduation | 1 Year Later

12015242_10153531992797488_4467283861848174181_oA year ago to the date, the Creative and Professional Writing BA (Hons) Class of 2015, graduated.

We were nervous and stressed and our robes were trying to strangle us. We had rogue family members randomly popping up to take pictures, and we spent our time either losing our friends in the crowd or readjusting our gowns.

We had spent three years stuck in cupboard seminar rooms, only 11 people in our year at any one time, freezing cold and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Lectures were nearly always followed by alcohol, in the true spirit of sticking to the writing cliches, a tipsy wobble home to do our assignments. Quick nap or dinner and you were ready for  a night out.

It is safe to say that university was one of the most turbulent, stressful, broke, enlightening and friendship-filled eras of my life. I do not regret a single second – including the time I got so drunk that I had to go to class wearing sunglasses in the middle of December… yep… pathetic is the word you are looking for, my friend!

It is the time after university, after you’ve graduated that nobody prepares you for, not really. You are of course advised to get a job in your studied profession, but that doesn’t work for most students. We end up behind bars or retail or office jobs, slugging the 9-5 with everybody else.

You tend to lose your confidence, your passion, you lose motivation for your talents. As a writer and graduate of Creative and Professional Writing, it was never going to be easy to get a job, let-a-lone a career in creative writing. So instead, I did some writing projects and got a full time retail job, thinking it wouldn’t be a distraction. Oh boy, how wrong was I!

I have barely written anything for my current novel – compared to what I planned to write anyway –  and my poetry has all but resorted to a quick Instagram post every week. I am struggling to write, read and do anything creative.

But that is my fault. I spent three years training for this year, training myself for my future career goals, and I am wasting that. It has taken me a year to realise that I am not the writer I was whilst at university, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t be.

It’s time to get back into not only my writing, but also my studies. I’m going to go back to my studies and get my Masters degree (hopefully) in Creative Writing and go from Melissa Holden, BA to Melissa Holden, BA MA. Time to pull my socks up and get back out there!

The Fraudulent Writer | Prose | 22 Blog Series

There’s nothing worse than feeling like a fraud. Telling people you’re something, an ideal, that you haven’t been in a very long time.

I am a writer.

Lies, all lies. Haven’t been one of those for months now. And months, inside the head of a strangled creative, is a lifetime when you can’t express yourself. Everything comes out harsh and dramatic and whiny. You and the keyboard aren’t talking anymore. You can’t bring yourself to open your manuscript and stare at words a past version of you typed and labored and loved.

The world is in a funk, that grey mess of a cloud; your brain turning to soup. Like an addict, your cells are dying the longer you pretend to live a normal life. That 9-5er day in day out dragging you down into the mundane abyss of the working age. Any attempt to take yourself back to your own personal Renaissance ends in a self-hating war that lasts days.

Nothing happy sticks.

Not being able to get out of bed in the morning, even though there is nothing officially wrong with your life, no one understands. That sinister melancholy clutching onto your skin like a cheap shower gel that won’t wash off. No amount of scrubbing or crying or screaming is going to get that melancholy off.

Not until you get the fuck out of your own head. GET OUT! Stop being a liar, a fraud claiming to be creative! Stop being the one that can’t see past the cloud. Where’s your curiosity? Run through the fog, arms flailing, singing along to stupid songs that make you want to dance.

You always want to write when you’re happy. And that boy is making you happy. You’re just being stubborn. So stop being a misog. Go and fucking write.


Read the rest of the 22 Blog Series here.