Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015: My year in review

As always, 2015 will have been a wildly different year for every one of us. And as with every year, it will have brought a variety of things, some good, some bad, and some you're not quite sure about just yet.

It's impossible to forget some of the terrible things that have happened over the last year. But when things like these happen, it's important to remember the good as well as the bad.

Even if you have had a bad year, there must have been glimmers of good in there too. That's why I think it's important to remember all the good things that have happened over the past year. Whether it's big things like getting married or having a baby, or something as small as someone giving up their seat for you on the train, they're all important.

This year I've been fortunate to have had a good year. 2015 brought a lot of changes for me, but on the whole it's been pretty good.

These are just a few of the highlights from my year:

  • I graduated from university. Three years of hard work finally paid off!
  • I stopped putting it off and finally started driving lessons.
  • I saw my favourite band live, twice.
  • I completed my dissertation, and got a grade I was proud of for it.
  • I took part in my 3rd gishwhes.
  • I passed my driving theory test.
  • I went on holiday with my boyfriend for the first time.
  • I got an internship in the industry I hope to work in.
  • I became deputy editor of Kettle Magazine.
  • I was lucky enough to go to numerous gigs, shows and events.
  • I started my first 'real' job.
  • I completed (and surpassed) my goal of reading 50 books during the year.
  • I took on my first paid client as a professional editor.
  • I went to my first NFL American football game.
A photo posted by Lorna Holland (@themaxdog) on

As you can see, 2015 has been pretty good to me, and I hope you can say the same. Here's to 2016 - happy new year!

If you're reading this, take a moment to remember some of the best bits of your year. Then, why not share them in the comments below? I'd love to hear them! 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Book Review: Traces Of Me by Tracy Kiss

AD* | As April approaches her thirtieth birthday she finally meets the love of her life but it comes at a cost. Traces Of Me is an artisanal and honest open-hearted tongue-in-cheek account of finding true love in a world now overruled by beauty, social media and selfies.

From ugly duckling to elegant swan, infused with orgasms, arguments and endearment, this is a journey to captivate and consume men and women alike. Stir your soul and hold on tight for a modern day Bridget Jones meets Fifty Shades rendition that is not for the faint-hearted.

A tale to both bless and haunt you forever.

Romance. Relationships. True love.

That's what I expected this book to be about. Everything from the description to the title to the cover lead me into thinking this, so when I started the book and found this wasn't the case, I was slightly confused.

Don't get me wrong - Traces Of Me is still a romance book, and love and sex are some of its main features. But to me, it was much more a journey of self-discovery than anything else.

Maybe not so shy after all

April, the main character, is a 'shy' newly 30 year old woman still looking for true love (I say 'shy' for reasons that I will talk about later on). She meets a man. Shaun is a sweet guy - what he lacks in looks he more than makes up for in personality. They get together; everything's fine.

Up until that point, I had no issues with this book. I was enjoying reading about April and Shaun's story (We'll gloss over the part where I was reading it on the train and a middle-aged businessman happened to look over and nose at what I was reading, just as I got to a sex scene). But then things started going downhill for me.

April randomly decides she doesn't like her appearance, so she sets about changing pretty much everything about herself. She cuts her hair, starts wearing make-up and revealing clothes, and begins behaving differently.

What happened to personality over looks?

What I don't understand is that she was perfectly happy with herself before she got together with Shaun, but as soon as she was in a happy, loving relationship she suddenly wants to change everything about the way she looks. That just doesn't make sense to me. Surely it would be the other way round - she would be content with her appearance with Shaun because he would be teaching her to love herself as she is. But apparently not, and things just got worse from there.


Then April decided she wanted a boob job. That was the last straw for Shaun, who left her. April then becomes very out of character, partying and drinking and basically becoming everything a 'shy' person isn't. Then she (literally) bumps into another guy in a club. Jay is the exact opposite of safe and reliable Shaun.


And what does April do? She decides to stick with Jay - the man who would never have looked twice at her when she was herself. She says that she's found her true self.... eugh.

This book has good potential, and I appreciate the message the author is trying to give out. It's just a shame that the ending completely spoiled the entire point of the message for me.

Rating: 2 stars

Traces Of Me is available to buy now.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

Will you be reading Traces Of Me? Let me know in the comments below! 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Book Review: Beyond The Rest Of Us by Andrew Man

AD* | Warning - mild spoilers ahead!

Beyond The Rest Of Us is a thrilling journey of the contemporary human heart, intimate, magical, and subtly architected. A retired Swiss banker is kidnapped at a Geneva hotel for crimes he doesn't understand. An Italian cruise ship crashes into rocks in the Tyrrhenian Sea. A respected American scientist disappears into thin air. And a British secret agent follows a trail of corrupt power in this gripping third book featuring Andrew Man's aging male protagonist James Pollack.

I wish I could make this into a positive review.. but I can't. This is the third book in Andrew Man's Tego Arcana Dei series, but the first I've read. This probably didn't bode well from the start, as it can be hard to get into a book when you come into it partway through the series.

A lot of authors nowadays put in a few pages of exposition at the start for exactly this reason - helping new readers to the series understand what's going on, as well as refreshing the existing reader's memories. Unfortunately, there was none of this in Beyond The Rest Of Us. The author seemed to expect the readers to be able to mind-read exactly what he was thinking when he was writing it, so of course I was completely lost.

Off to a good start

The book started off well, introducing us to the main character, James. We meet him in a hotel in Geneva and begin to be drawn into his story, setting the pace of a slow-burning thriller. Then just as you begin to get involved in the story... James' mystic Indian guardian Deepak appears. Okay, I thought, this is a bit out of character with the story so far, but I'll stick with it - I've read a lot weirder things than this.

But then we find out James is actually a time-traveller and he gets kidnapped and ends up held in an underground cell in Italy hundreds of years ago with a mad professor (who happens to be one of James' bits of skirt's pilot's father) and his Scandinavian assistant (who turns up in the future as a high-end shop assistant who can randomly read people's minds)... And that's just the start of it.

It feels like the author tried to cram about 10 books of entirely different genres into one, then combined the end result with a physics textbook to create this book. There's so much going on that by only 10% in I was struggling to keep up. By 25% I'd lost track of who was who and what was what. By 50% I'd just given up trying. I've read the whole of this book, but I couldn't tell you what happened in it at all.

Overly complicated

The science and political concepts didn't help. I'm not exactly well-read on either of these subjects, but some of the things mentioned in the book completely threw me. I glossed over pages of scientific gobbledygook and nonsensical theories, which really didn't help me when it came to the big finale at the end of the book (which I don't want to spoil, but I mean, really, what the hell was going on?).

I kept forgetting who all the characters were and what their relationship to James was, not helped by people keeping hopping about in time and space. I didn't feel anything for the characters at all - I didn't feel connected to them; I didn't care what happened to them.

All in all, I'm really struggling to find positives for this book. I was left confused, jumbled, and honestly none the better for reading it.

If you think you'll have better luck with this than I did, it's available to buy now.

Rating: 1 star.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

Will you be reading Beyond The Rest Of Us? Let me know in the comments below!