When we started Totallybooked in July 2012 there was one book that was continually recommended to us.
We delayed reading it for so long because the subject matter was just too close to our hearts and we knew reading it would break our hearts.
That book was:


Below are our thoughts and what this beautifully sad book meant to us.

The Fault In Our Stars


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.

the fault

A personal story (originally posted August 2012)
By Jenny 

fight like a girl

Cancer is too raw for me. I lost my brother to cancer in December 2011 and have a young friend, Mairead who is fighting cancer as we speak.  I just felt the subject matter in this book was something I couldn’t deal with at this time.

However, I received a lot of private messages from readers telling me their stories and how they had read this book and found it inspiring.  Their words and stories really resonated with me.  After much soul searching it was decided that this book might actually be a good way for me to not only deal with my grief but also help me to help my friend Mairead with her cancer fight.

Then it hit me.  What the hell was my problem? At the end of the day I only had to read a book and possibly cry my heart out for a few days, whereas my beautiful, courageous friend (and many like her) had to actually deal with the reality of living with cancer on a daily basis.  I decided it was time to man up and read it.

Where to start?  John Green’s writing is nothing short of phenomenal.  I am still reeling today from how amazingly talented this author is.  This book was the most emotional, wonderful, heartbreaking, inspiring and beautifully sad books I’ve ever read. Reading The Fault In Our Stars is more an experience than a mere read.  To say I connected with these characters is an understatement.  I KNEW these characters.  They became my friends and when they hurt, I hurt.  Deep in my heart and my soul, oh boy, I hurt.  I sobbed throughout the book, and at one point, through lack of breath thought I would be sick.  That’s how much this book got to me.  Yes, this book did rip out my heart, but I got so much out of it as well.

I’m not going to talk about the book as such because Gitte has already reviewed it for Totallybooked, but what I would like to do is tell you a bit about the woman behind the reason I finally succumbed to reading this story.

My friend Mairead is a rare gem in life.  She is one of those beautiful souls that if you are lucky enough to cross paths with in your lifetime, you know you have been truly blessed.

I’ve known her for 3 years.  Whenever I see her, which is regularly, she has always a smile on her face.  No exception.  When Mairead says “hello my lovely how are you today“.  She isn’t asking you in a flippant way.  She looks deep into your eyes and asks “how ARE YOU today”.  She means it.  She cares and she wants to know that everything is okay in your world even though everything is far from okay in hers.

Mairead was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in November 2011 at the young age of 36.  We both cried buckets when she told me the news, but this wonderful selfless woman actually comforted me at the time.  She was more worried about ME and how I was going to handle this.  She felt awful that she had made me feel sad. That’s is Mairead all over. She always puts others before herself.

She bravely fought through the most horrible, rigorous treatment, yet still that beautiful big smile of hers was there, in place, to make everyone’s day just that much brighter.

The only time I ever saw her really down was when she was losing her hair.  That broke my heart because I could see it broke hers.  As Mairead uses humour to deal with life’s struggles, I decided to do the same and said to her “ahhh cheer up, and just think of the money you’ll save on waxing” – we looked at each other and doubled over laughing.  She felt better when she got her wig that she nicknamed “Matilda” or “Effing Matilda” as she becomes known in the heat of summer when she drives Mairead crazy LOL

In March 2012, Mairead had to have a double mastectomy.  I went to see her in hospital hours after the operation and there she was, propped up in bed looking a million dollars with that trademark smile, sans Matilda, looking gorgeous!  I asked her how she was feeling and she said “to be honest I’m feeling a little flat”.  I started banging on about how she’ll feel better in a few days blah blah – she stopped me and said “I‘m messing with you, you fecking eejit…I meant my boobs are gone and I’m feeling flat“. I slapped her and we had a good laugh.  See! That’s Mairead in a nutshell.

When she received news that she was in remission we cried with happiness! It was brilliant – she was able to travel to Ireland to see her family and she was on top of the world. We all were.

Unfortunately, that happiness was short lived. On the 13th of this month (August 2012) Mairead had to come and break the most devastating news of all to me.  Not only had the cancer returned but they also found it in her stomach and lungs.  My heart broke and as much as I tried to stay strong for her I couldn’t manage it and broke down.  Once again, this selfless, wonderful woman comforted me!

I will see her fight this insidious disease.  On her bad days, I’ll remind her how wonderful and special she is to me and everyone around her and why we need her to stay strong and beat this!  I will tell her constantly why I need her in my life because without her, the brightness would go out of my world.

This beautiful little pixie inspires me daily.  She’s courageous, giving, warm, and humorous and possesses the purest soul of anyone you could ever meet.  A world without this amazing woman would indeed be a sad place, so I know she will beat this! She HAS to beat this!

Mairead allowed me to hell her story because – as she says,…..“if my story helps one person, then I want it told”

So, there’s my reason for “manning up” and reading this book.  I think you’ll agree, a pretty inspiring reason.

My final thoughts on The Fault In Our Stars:    Did I love this book? Yes!   Did this book devastate me? Yes.   Did it inspire me? Absolutely!  Would I recommend it? In a heartbeat.

Thank you for reading and please, at some point in your day, take a minute and say a prayer for my beautiful Mairead.

:Update to Mairead’s Story (updated December 2012):

mairead 2

 Sadly, on the 5th December 2012, our beautiful Mairead lost her battle with Breast Cancer. Mairead was brave, strong and still retained that amazing sense of humor right up until the end.
This photo  was taken the day before she was to enter into hospital for the last time. She was so full of life, felt and looked healthy and was so positive about her prognosis. We all were. She was feeling on top of the world that day, however, the next day hers and our  world would shatter again.
The day I went to see Mairead in hospital and she had made the decision to refuse further treatment I was devastated. She shouted at me and told me not to be upset.  She was ready to go. She was tired and she had fought a valiant and hard battle. She needed to find her peace.  When she told me this I have to say I have never looked into the eyes of someone so brave and courageous. EVER! She was my hero.  I admired her so much.
I would miss her terribly and it tore my heart open at the thought of losing her, but she she was ready and wanted to go on her terms.  She had organised everything and all with one goal, that no one would be inconvenienced in having to organise anything after she passed. Selfless to the end. That was Mairead all over.
I met her family the week before she passed, and what an amazing family they were.  They told me they had seen the post I did for their Mairead and that it gave them so much comfort to know she was surrounded by people who loved her and whose hearts she had touched in return.
Mairead will never be forgotten. My life, and many others, is all the more brighter for having her in it. This little lady may not have been with us for long, but let me tell you she packed more love, more goodness and more heart into one short lifetime than others merely dream about.
Shine bright my love. I miss you every day.  xxxxx

pink ribbon

A Letter to John Green 
By Gitte

5 to the power of infinity STARS

I’ve been wanting to read The Fault in Our Stars for so long now. But I was scared. I knew you were there with this piece of writing genius, but I pretended not to see you.  Quite a few readers had continuously whispered in mine and Jenny’s ear that we had to take the leap (I was game, she wasn’t). A month later you were on my kindle. That was yesterday. I thought you could stay there for a while until I got brave. Every time I looked you were there flashing your neon lights at me but I ignored you, I am sorry.

I was warned that I would need to sit in my bathtub whilst reading in order to prevent strenuous lugging of the buckets I would cry. So I did. I also got my blanket, a bottle of wine and some brown paper bags to minimise the unavoidable hyperventilating as well as my man size tissues.

I have to tell you that I did not move (much) in the hours it took me to read your book and my kindle did not leave me. I know this because I woke up with it still clutched in my right hand with a dent in my forehead where you landed when I fell asleep. The only time I put you down was when my tears made reading impossible.

You have made me think about courage, life, death and how I perceive the world. Even how the world perceives me. You very slowly made yourself a permanent home in my heart with the poignancy of the story of Hazel and Augustus, I hope you don’t mind that. You made something Tragic into something Beautiful through powerful writing. Wonderfully witty and sarcastic; truly heart-breaking and human.

I was reminded that books can indeed be entirely perfect, as yours was.  You showed that illness does not define a person – truly moving. There were no stereotypes and clichés rather it was inspirational and distressing in equal measure. At times your writing had me re-reading sentences because they were so beautiful, so powerful, so down-right genius.

I want to immortalize Augustus and Hazel. They were funny, intelligent, captivating, brave, cocky and self-assured, even annoying at times. I appreciated that you didn’t dress their journey up into being something it wasn’t. You made it harsh, real and believable.

My heart aches, my chest hurts from crying and I want to believe that nothing is terminal in the strictest definition of the term.

“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”

“That’s the thing about pain…it demands to be felt.”

John Green you are a literary genius and ‘The fault in our stars’ is absolutely flawless.


Gitte x




 Amazon us || Amazon uk 

the fault in our stars

Share This Post


  1. Rach said:

    Sobbing as I write this, thank you for sharing ladies <3


  2. sali said:

    absolutely WONDERFUL POST !!!! Im sure ever1! has been effected in some way by cancer & for u girls to share this with us brings out ur heart & sole in ur blog !!! so to my wonderful , amazing & caring friends Jenny & Sarah i say THANKU 4 this post !!!! & to all those special ppl out there who have lived every day effected by the big C I say STAY STRONG ,IM SENDING U ALL A BIG HUG & AN AUSSIE PASH COZ UR AMAZING !!!


  3. Mairead said:

    How weird when you start reading about another person battle .and suddenly your like oh thats me and I’m going through this horrible battle against cancer .well if one positive thing has come out of this I have become stronger as a person and with friendsl like jenny I can only come out stronger as I must fight this battle as I love my family and friends too much to give up . So thank you jenny for taking the time to write this special piece and I love you very very much .xxxxx


    1. Nicoleta said:

      You are a strong woman, Mairead, and an inspiration. Keep fighting… life is worth living!!! I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


    2. totallybookedblog said:

      Thank you for just being you – you wonderful woman who I love with all my heart – Big fat kisses my friend xxxxx Jen xx


  4. Kathy said:

    Thank you for those wonderful and personal thoughts, Jenny and Sarah. I’ve had this book on my TBR list for almost a year, but haven’t had the courage to read it due to the personal nature with my own family experiences in the subject matter. I will now “man up,” get the courage to find page 1, and I will read. XOXO Stay strong!


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Kathy please let us know how you go. It isn’t easy but it is so rewarding. I hope you find that Jen x


  5. Katja Millay said:

    I bought TFiOS in January when my father was in the final stages of prostate cancer. He passed away in March and the book sat, festering on my bookshelf for months until I finally had the courage to pick it up just recently. And I cried and it hurt and I sobbed and it sucked but I will never regret a word of it. Thank you for sharing your stories and helping others to discover this book. There is a catharsis in it that can’t be underestimated.


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Katja, thank you so much for sharing your story. I totally agree, there is a catharsis in this book that cannot be denied. I’m pleased it helped you too. Jen xx


  6. Crysti said:

     I love you ladies! I wish I were abl to get the words to come out of my brain to express how I felt……scratch that….how I FEEL about this book as beautifully as you have.  I text my friend when I finished reading TFiOS and told her it physically hurt to breath.  I felt like a ton of bricks hit me in the chest and I was okay with that. Not many books will change your life.  However, Hazel, August and John Green will do just that with TFiOS. My friend said she couldn’t read this if it caused me physical pain.  I only replied “you have to”…..and she did. I’ve lost several people from cancer. Most recently, my husband’s sister after an almost 9 year fight against breast cancer.  I wasn’t lucky enough to get to know her very well as she passed away a few months after we were married. However, I did get to experience her strength. She wanted to keep fighting when the doctors didn’t.  Don’t think me a horrible person for saying this, but I didn’t think of her or her fight as I was reading this. It was only Hazel and Augustus until I finished. It was only later when I was thinking of how I felt about the book that I remembered how strong my SIL was and how strong every person diagnosed with cancer HAS to become. If you havent read this, don’t pass up the chance to read a touching story of love and life just because it is sad.  It is as beautiful as it is sad. I will pray for Mairead often. Okay! 


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      That’s so sad Crysti. This horrible disease affects so many lives. Hopefully there will be a cure. Thanks for sharing.
      I will give Mairead a hug for you.
      Jen xx


  7. Emma Hanaghan said:

    My Gran passed away,whilst holding my hand, on April 30th, 19 days after being told she had Lung and secondary Liver cancer. I’m sat in tears just now after reading your reviews. This book is on my TBR list, like you Jenny I feel its too close to home for my to read it. I will take the plunge one day though. Beautiful and heartfelt reviews/stories from both Jenny and Sarah, Thank you both.


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Oh Emma! Sending you the biggest hugs. You’ve got to do it in your own time. I know the time was right for me and it did help me grieve for my brother also – I lost him in December and didn’t realise until I read this book that I had actually grieved for him. This let all that out so in that way, it was good for me.
      When you do finally read it I hope you get out of it what I did.
      Thanks for sharing with us
      Jen x


  8. Dina Silver (@DinaSilver) said:

    Thank you both for such a beautiful, touching and honest post. I too have been avoiding this book, too scared that it will open up emotions I’d rather suppress. I will absolutely be rooting for Mairead’s health to stay strong, and for her will to remain positive. It’s unimaginable how hard that must be.

    Thank you also for taking a moment to not only share your raw and personal experiences, but to put a little perspective back into life.


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Hi Dina
      As I said above, I had been repressing grief for my brother who passed away in December. This book definitely helped me deal with that.
      It also gave me inspiration to help inspire Mairead to fight on which I know she will.
      Jen xx


  9. Melissa Brown said:

    That was such a beautiful, beautiful blog post…..and I am once, again, sobbing. <3 u both!


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Big Hugs to you to Melissa! Love you loads Jen xx


  10. Emmy said:

    Wow, this was such a heart-wrenching, beautiful, sobbing blog! I will keep both these beautiful women fighting for their lives, in my prayers… I have seen this book and thought the same thing… it was too much of a touchy subject to read, though you won me over and this will defiantly be the next book I read.


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Emmy please let us know how you go. It won’t be easy but I promise you it will be rewarding
      Jen xx


  11. Julie McKay-Pimentel said:

    What a great post, thanks for sharing your beautiful stories. I read this book last week and this just reopened the flood gates….fanfreakingtastic book and writing!


  12. Laura said:

    What a beautiful Blog. Tears streaming down my face. Thank you Jenny and thanks To Mairead for sharing it with us.


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Thank you so much for that Laura. It means a lot.
      Mairead is indeed a very special woman Jen xx


  13. Jan L. said:

    Reading with streaming heartfealt tears pouring down, I’m still hesitant to begin this book. I keep waiting for the right “time”, knowing and understanding in my heart, there will probably never be one. I lost my wonderful father to cancer almost 30 years ago, and it’s still difficult to think of that time, when everything ceases, yet life continues. However, your words of encouragment, and knowing I am NOT the minority, has inspired me to “man-up” (thanks Colleen) and take the first step and download it to my Kindle. The next step will be to open and begin reading it. I will… I know I will. In my heart, I know in the end, I will be richer for it. Thank you!


  14. jenn sterling said:

    quite possibly the most touching, beautiful blog post i’ve ever read. i love you both.


  15. Kristie Wittenberg said:

    I am bawling again… I know how you feel. I lost my little brother (31) to an unknown illness that caused his organs to rott from the inside out. He got sick in 2005 and ended up with a 6 organ transplant. He was in and out of the hospital. In March of 2011 he passed away from H1N1. He left behind two beautiful boys.. A few months after his passing, my father was diagnosed with squimish(SP?) cell cancer, His throat was stage 2 and his glads were stage 4. He did the radiation and chemo and has been cancer free for a few months now. The on May 24th of this year, my mother who was only 55, fell ill with stomach pains. She was a two time cancer survivor (the 2nd bout was breast cancer). She was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, the doctors only gave her a few days to a couple months. She passed away on June 13th. My mother and my brother and even my father, heck anyone who deals with cancer is the STRONGEST freaking people I know. It has been soooo very devistating. I do have to say that when I read Colleen Hoover’s slammed series, it helped me, I also just read Lacey Weatherford’s Chasing Nikki and was so deeply touched by her story. Like you, I am hesitant to read this book.. I just wanted to know you and your loved ones aren’t alone. There aren’t words to make you feel better. I also think when people say “time heals”, it really doesn’t. You learn to live with the loss, life keeps you busy and you just have to take things one day at a time and enjoy whatever time you have left. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your friend.


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Kristie what an amazing post! Thank you so much for sharing what I can see are very painful experiences.
      You are so right. People dealing with cancer really are hero’s – I don’t know how they do it and their strength is an inspiration.
      You are so right. Time doesn’t heal. I lost my brother in December and it feels like yesterday I received that horrible phone call. You do find coping but it definitely doesn’t get easier.
      You have dealt with so much but your attitude is amazing and you are also an inspiration.
      I can’t thank you enough for sharing this with us because I know it’s painful to do.
      I will also check out Chasing Nikki so thanks for mentioning that.
      This book is a very difficult read, but if you do ever get around to reading it I know you will find it inspiring and rewarding.
      Jen xxxx


  16. nina d'angelo said:

    That’s such a beautiful post from the both of you. I think it’s admirable and encouraging you are sharing your own grief with all of your readers and experiences. I’ve had this book on my to read list for a while and think I am going to bump it up to first. I’ve always held back because of my own personal experiences with cancer. Mum has been diagnosed with breast cancer three times – the third being only early this year. The first time was in her right breast and it was stage four breast cancer and they managed to remove it all. Six months later, she was diagnosed again – they picked it up quickly. The third time it was found in her left breast. It’s a scary thing experiencing cancer, but sadly, it’s a common disease who is not discriminatory as to who it will choose.

    thank you for sharing your story and encouraging people to read this. I know I will be. It made me both smile and cry


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Thanks Nina. To hear others stories is such an inspiration. It’s been sad and yet rewarding to read all our fellow readers stories. It is painful to remember the sad times and their battle, but people, like yourself have opened up and it has blown me away. I am thinking of your Mum and send you the biggest hugs ever!
      Cancer affects everyone at one time or another and I just hope they find a cure for it.
      Thank you for sharing and I know you will find the book both difficult and rewarding.
      Jen xxx


  17. GirlyMuse said:

    You have convinced me. This was the sweetest post ever.


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      I know you won’t be sorry. It’s an amazing book. Jen 😉


  18. Megan Ward said:

    Thanks so much for this heartfelt and touching post. I had similar hesitations about reading TFIS, but after reading this it’s gone to the top of my list.


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Good to hear Megan. As I’ve said a few times, this is by no means an easy read but it is definitely a worthwhile one Jen 😉


  19. Trisha R. said:

    For me this post is so heartbreaking to read. I have tears running down my face. I never had a close friend or close family member that had cancer. So I really don’t know you are going through or anyone else but I can feel for you and reading this made me connect in a way I can somewhat understand what you, your friend and other people are going through.

    Heard so many stories of friends who had their friends fighting cancer. Years ago a close family friend knew this women who was fighting breast cancer unfortunately the women didn’t survive, she fought very hard for small, young kids who needed their mother, Her husband and her family and friends for all of them. It was really sad to hear that cancer eventually won. I never met this women nor her family but when I heard. I hurt. So bad. I cried for her. Prayed for her family and prayed to God that wherever she may be whether its heaven or with you please bless and take care of her. She had the last horrible, gut-wrenching last moments, last months. I pray for all those who are fighting cancer or who have fought cancer. They certainly did had the worst times here. Filled with pain by the cancer and what the cancer took away from us.

    Hearing about your friend Jen I felt like I knew her. Like she is my friend and I really hope that Mairead beats cancer and it not her. It certainly wouldn’t be a great place if we loose such great women like your friend. I will pray you, Mairead and everyone.


    1. totallybookedblog said:

      Trisha, I have tears reading your message. Thank you so, so much for your wishes for Mairead and I will definitely pass them on to her.
      Cancer is indeed a cruel disease and I hope they find a cure soon because it affects so many people directly or indirectly.
      Thank you for taking the time to post this response, it really did touch me and means a lot
      Jen xx


  20. clmcdonald said:

    This was a beautiful book, and a beautiful review. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience.


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