Monday, December 29, 2014

The Rose Master by Valentina Cano

Image via Goodreads
Title: The Rose Master
Author: Valentina Cano
Release Date: June 2014
Publisher: REUTS Publications, LLC
Source: Netgalley
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Purchase Link: Book Depository


The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that's hardly the most upsetting news. She's being dismissed from the home she's served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she's never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:

There's something wrong with Rosewood Manor.

Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.

As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them--some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.

When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn't prepared for. The creature is very real, and she's the only one who can help him stop it. 

Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she's grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The day I turned seventeen, birds fell from the sky.
Anne Tinning is a servant just like all her ancestors before her. She was sent away by her employer, Lady Caldwell, to serve at Rosewood Manor. Upon her arrival at Rosewood Manor, she realized that the staff is keeping secrets of the manor away from her and that there is a creature lurking around the manor that wants to hurt her.

Where is Lord Grey, the master of Rosewood Manor? 
What does the creature want? 
Is there something different about Anne?

Those are some of the questions that kept running through my mind as I read. I am hooked on the story from the beginning. I find the plot really interesting. There's mystery, fantasy and even a smidgen of romance. 

As for the characters, I have to say that my favourite character is probably Elsie. She's such a good friend to Anne. Even though she only makes an appearance before Anne was sent away to Rosewood Manor, I find myself growing fond of her. 

The romance took a back seat in this story. Being a fan of the romance genre, I was a little disappointed (just a little) that I don't get to see more of that element in the story. Regardless of that, I really enjoyed this story.

**Copy is provided by the publisher via Netgalley**

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Image via Goodreads

Title: Our endless numbered days
Author: Claire Fuller

Release Date: March 17th, 2015
Publisher: Tin House Books
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Purchase Link: Book Depository


Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her survivalist father, James, takes her from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods and tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. Deep in the wilderness, Peggy and James make a life for themselves. They repair the hut, bathe in water from the river, hunt and gather food in the summers and almost starve in the harsh winters. They mark their days only by the sun and the seasons.

When Peggy finds a pair of boots in the forest and begins a search for their owner, she unwittingly begins to unravel the series of events that brought her to the woods and, in doing so, discovers the strength she needs to go back to the home and mother she thought she’d lost.

After Peggy's return to civilization, her mother learns the truth of her escape, of what happened to James on the last night out in the woods, and of the secret that Peggy has carried with her ever since.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Our endless numbered days is told from the point of view of Peggy, who was taken away by her father to live in the forest at the tender age of eight. It is only nine years later when Peggy found her way back to civilization. 

After reading the book blurb, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this story. Even as I started reading it, I still find it hard to predict where this story will lead me. It was at times frustrating for me as I don't really have the patience and would like to know just what I'm getting myself into. Anyway, the unpredictability of the story kept me guessing and reading to find out what happened to Peggy and her father in the forest.

If I could sum up my feels after finishing this book, it would be this: mind blown. The story ended with a MAJOR plot twist which I did not see coming, at all! In fact, I needed a minute or two to recollect my thoughts and wrap my mind around this revelation. I was a little disappointed that the story ended right there, without any further elaboration of how this revelation is going to affect Peggy's life.

Our endless numbered days is not the kind of book that I usually go for but it was nonetheless, a good book with really vivid description of the setting. I think that fans of realistic fiction might enjoy this one though. 

**eARC is provided by the publisher via Edelweiss**

Monday, December 15, 2014

I attended a college event yesterday at the Grand Magherita Hotel. The event was held by the poolside and started at around 7p.m. And when did I reach there?

3.30p.m. Yep, I was way too early. My friends had asked me to be there early so I could help them out with some guest registration stuff.

After doing absolutely nothing (unless you count walking to the mall across the street to buy some snacks for all of us present as something productive), I got tired of sitting around and had decided to take a stroll by the riverside which is just a few steps away from the venue.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Social Anxiety

It was 1 p.m. and the lecture would start in about 30 minutes. After giving a few of my coursemates what I hoped was a smile (I've been told that when I pull a hesitant smile, I still look like I'm frowning), I settled in my seat and pulled out Jane Eyre from my backpack and continued where I'd left off the other day. I do need to stop picking up other books and just finish this one. I mean, it's been a few weeks since I've started reading Jane Eyre and I still have yet to finish it! 

A few pages into the book and just when I started to wonder if Mr. Rochester will make it on my list of crush-worthy fictional characters (FYI, I'm only 40 pages in and haven't met Mr. Rochester yet. I only heard stuff about him from friends who have read the book...), a friend poked her head into the classroom and called my name. She asked me to follow her to the lounge area just outside the room.

So, there I went and chose a seat facing her and the rest of her friends, most of whom are strangers to me. They talked about the prom night event our college is hosting and asked me what I planned to wear to that event. After answering that question and apparently they only wanted to know about my choice of outfit, I just sat there and ... well, listened in on their conversation, silently.

And here's where my social anxiety comes in: I don't know them well enough and I'm a naturally awkward person and add my social anxiety to the combination, you'll get frozen Grace. Grace sitting there with tense shoulders and a fake smile (but most times, a genuine frown) plastered on her face. I don't know when is the right time for me to contribute my thoughts to the conversation. I mean, what if they just don't... care about what I have to say or worse, they don't get any lame jokes I make and then insist that I explain what I mean.

There have been numerous times when I tried to make a joke in group conversations and ended up spending a minute or two trying to explain the joke to all of my friends. It was exceedingly awkward and explaining a joke just immediately makes the joke unfunny (even when they FINALLY get it).

I find that whenever I have to talk to more than one person at a time, I just get nervous and would withdraw myself from them. I don't do well with crowds unless it is for a group discussion in class. I very much prefer to have one-on-one chats. That way, we could have deep conversations and I'd be able to just focus on one person instead of making sure that the other members don't get left out (but of course, I'm the one who would silently withdraw myself from the conversation and stay mum throughout the entire chat). 

I've always thought that the fact that I tend to keep to myself especially when I'm in a crowd is due to me being an introvert. But then, it could also be social anxiety on my behalf. I'm not sure if it's just me but I get nervous about making telephone calls. 

I remember that when I was still in primary school and am allowed to use the landline to call my friends, I would jot down some 'issues' that I'd like to talk about with my friend over the phone in case I miss out anything during our chat. I would then cross each item off the list as we talked through each issue. Before making any calls, my heart would start beating faster and at times when I'm more nervous than usual, my palms would start to get sweaty... That was then and now, even though I don't jot down anything I wanna say before making a call, I still get nervous about calling anyone . Well, anyone other than  my parents and sister, I suppose. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What if

So what if it hurts me?
So what if I break down?
So what if this world just throws me off the edge
My feet run out of ground
I gotta find my place
I wanna hear my sound
Don't care about all the pain in front of me
Cause I'm just trying to be happy, 
Just wanna be happy
   - Leona Lewis, Happy            

I had this Leona Lewis song on repeat last night. Anyone who passed by my room had most probably heard me singing, albeit terribly off key, my heart out. 

I suppose if you look into the lyrics closely, this song could be interpreted in different ways. It could be about love and passion or even about chasing your dreams. When this song was released, I was in my early teens. The issues I'm dealing with in my life then include trying to get over my low self-esteem, not letting peer pressure rule my life and of course, trying to catch the attention of my crush; but, that's beside my point. What I'm trying to say is that, isn't it intriguing that depending on which phase you're going through in your life, you tend to see things differently.

14-year-old me just wants a smile or a glance from my former crush and she just wants to fit in instead of feeling like an outsider. Now that I think about it, he isn't even worth my time. Also, I don't think about trying to fit in anymore; I just want to be me.

And now, all I want to do is to keep chasing my dreams. I know that it's not gonna be easy but I want to at least give it a shot and not have any regrets about it.

When I think back to some decisions I've made and some actions I took in the past, I'm always plagued by the question - 'what if?'.

What if I didn't give up?

What if I'd tried harder?

What if I'd listened?

What if I took this other option?

What if...

I have tons more What If questions and some regrets over my past actions and decisions. It's kinda sad that I only realised that a few days ago but I guess it's better late than never.

So, I decided to write this post as a reminder to myself to just go for my dreams and not to give up even if everything appears to be bleak. I am now determined to reduce the future What if questions I'd have in my life. Even if I'm in a situation that is not ideal, I want to at least try to make the best of it 'cause who knows, being placed in such a situation might be an important chapter in my life for me to grow and mature into an adult. Easier said than done, I know.