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.’

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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.

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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 tumblr.com.

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

20-09-2016

THE LAST PAGE IS THE KINDEST – THE TYPEWRITER TALES BY MELISSA HOLDEN

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*. 

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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. 

THE COVER / PHOTOGRAPHY:

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. 

Is Being A Writer A Risky Career Move? | 22 Blog Series

There are always risks in your work and career lives, whether it’s taking the new job, knowing when to leave you’re current one, or even deciding to take a step up in your career and aim for that promotion.

But when your career is a risk to start with, is anything really a risk?

10348746_10153887458267488_6596414944815876089_oWriting has never been a safe career. It’s not like becoming a dentist or a vet, becoming a lorry driver or a teacher. Writing is not a normal job in terms of finance and societal appreciation.

So why bother doing something that’s going to be so hard, so unappreciated, so underpaid (if paid at all), so challenging… because what is life without a little risk?

Of course writing is a risky career. But so is dance, or football, or music, or art. Anything outlandish, or sporty or creative. Anything ambitious is not easy: that’s the point of needing the ambition and the drive to become who you’ve always wanted to be. It takes hard work to create a masterpiece, but the end result is always worth it.

I will never be a well-paid writer or a full-time writer. Not because I don’t have the skill or the talent, but how many writers do you know? It’s not your 9-5 day job. It’s writing in the dark until 3 a.m. with a cold cup of coffee by your side. It’s characters running around in your head. It’s notebooks full of possible novels and creations and stories. It’s creativity in it’s purest form: storytelling.

So, yes, it’s risky – but the pay off; finding out someone liked your work, your characters, your world: it’s so worth the risk.

 

Check out the rest of the 22 Blog Series here

Personal Changes | 22 Blog Series

Obviously, we go through a lot of changes and stages in our lives; whether that be physically, mentally or emotionally. It’s a part of life. But sometimes it’s nice to throwback and see how our hair looked ten years ago, or what on earth we were doing with our eyeshadow, but we never really remember changing or deciding to change.

22 blog series personal changes

I’m no exception to that, but the difference is: I’m a divergent. (#bookreference!) I have so many elements to my personality that sometimes they explode out of me all at once, and sometimes the sneak out in the form of clothes, hair, make-up etc.

I like having a look through my old TimeHop photos (my Facebook spans nearly ten years – so there’s always something to cringe at… mostly hideous typos and kohl eye liner).

So I thought I’d share a few terrible throwbacks that show just how much I’ve changed over my tender twenty-two years.

I’m only going to share photos from my university and post-uni days as I would rather not share my acne-ridden teen years, so here goes!

Fresher Year of university and it’s 2013… I dyed my hair… a lot!

Second year of uni: 2013 – 2014 and I’ve still got pretty short hair, I’d lost a bit of weight and started to discover the vintage look… not always successfully! I’e still not learned to smile (properly) in photos.

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Late 2014: A red bob, and I’m definitely still rocking an emo fringe, but I’ve stepped up my pout game a little by this point!

20150709_103344It’s July 2015 and I’m in Berlin, Germany during my ‘I only wear t-shirts’ phase. I also wasn’t afraid on wearing shorts – despite the thigh rub that killed – and that were far too short for my chubby-and-proud legs.

Jump to August 2015 and my 21st birthday, I’ve still got the red hair, but it’s a bit brighter now – and a lot longer! I’m wearing glasses 24/7 by this point and had not yet discovered the miracle that is contact lenses – but (not that you can tell by my face), I was pretty happy with how I looked that day.

I’ve still got that tan jumpsuit, but despite losing a little weight since then…it doesn’t fit anymore. Bizarre!

Weirdly enough, these photos were only taken ten hours apart… and yet I look like a totally different weight/age/everything!

And now we’re in 2016 and I’ve finally got rid of my red hair – I truly loved it but my desperate need to travel and save money meant that going back to my natural blonde was going to be healthier, easier, and more cost-efficient! I am also growing my hair and it’s currently the longest it’s been since I was about eleven.

I would love my waist-length hair back one day, but I think that it might be slightly unruly whilst I am travelling around the world.13735534_10154275938312488_3013438026863761897_o

I think 2016 was also the year I finally learned about naked eyeshadow palettes, contouring, bronzer…and I finally mastered the winged-eyeliner-without-looking-like-Cleopatra look.

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And now, August 2016, we’re rounding up my twenty-first year with vintage glasses, highlighted cheeks, en-fleek eyeliner and bright blonde hair. Plus – I can finally paint my nails without it looking like a five-year-old went mental with crazy colours!

But the important thing is: I’m happy with who I am and who I’m on the way to becoming. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too. And that’s worth more than a million likes on Instagram to me.

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Don’t forget to read the rest of the 22| Blog Series!