Excerpt & Giveaway: Manroot by Anne Steinberg

Manroot Book Cover

Title: Manroot

Author: Anne Steinberg

Blurb: Manroot is the evocative and stirring story of a lonely town in Missouri, and a young woman named Katherine who discovers a mystical side to herself that she’d never known existed. Anne Steinberg weaves together fantasy, romance, and a young girl’s coming of age into a darkly magical story.

In the spring of 1939, Katherine Sheahan and her father, Jesse, are looking for work in the isolated tourist town of Castlewood. Jesse gets a job as handyman and Katherine as a maid at a small hotel. Jesse drinks and neglects his work and eventually disappears, abandoning his daughter. Frieda Broom, the hotel Manager, takes Katherine under her wing, and teaches her about ginseng, the manroot, and other secrets of the foothills. Katherine discovers that she is a natural healer and has the ability to communicate with spirits, a gift she inherited from her Navajo Indian mother.

Among the hotels regular clientele is Judge William Reardon. Escaping his sterile marriage, he becomes captivated by Katherine. As the pair bond over astrology and gardening, Katherine becomes convinced they belong together, despite him being much older than her and married. As they begin to fall in love, the violence of dark magic threatens to annihilate all Katherine knows and holds dear. Can their love survive?

Manroot is a potent tale of destiny, spiritualism and love, written in Anne Steinberg’s signature compelling style.

Excerpt: Chapter 5

Working alone in the kitchen, Katherine scrubbed it clean. Looking up at the calendar, she knew tomorrow was Friday. The Judge was one of the few people who stopped here regularly, even now, in late autumn. Perhaps it was telling Sally that had started it all, for now her thoughts of the Judge were like a fever that stayed with her. Last Friday when she took him his bourbon and spring water, she noticed it for the first time, the birthmark. It was on his right hand, so clear and vivid that she had almost dropped the tray. He had smiled at her nervousness, called her ‘my dear,’ and given her a silver dollar for a tip.

Katherine slept restlessly; she dreamed of the Oh mu and heard its moan of agony echoing in her sleep. She dreamed of Papa floating in the muddy river, caught and held under by a treacherous branch, his eyes vacant pools staring upward through the water. It was so real that in the morning when the siren from the firehouse once again split the air, she rushed into the kitchen where Frieda was telling Bruce, “You be careful…another one’s gone and gave herself to the river. It was a suicide, a painted woman from the Eagle’s nest…” Frieda shivered as she told the story the way that she had heard it from the postman. The woman in the night had cut her wrists, but the dying was too slow, so she ran from the clubhouse, perched only for a moment on the railing, then jumped headlong into the cold water.

Katherine moved slowly this morning. Frieda fussed at her, but knowing the girl had never been lazy, she thought the drowning must have upset her or maybe she was coming down with something.

The guests were all gone. They only expected one tonight – Judge Reardon. They’d have time to go into the woods today, hunting for herbs and the manroot. But Frieda went alone as the girl looked a bit too peaked.

Alone, Katherine cleaned the rooms again; it took no time, for they were already clean. She lingered in Number 8, The Judge’s room.

She knew a lot about him now, and she felt a very real presence that he left in the room. She knew intimate things about him – like the size of his shirts, the smell of his aftershave, which side of the bed he slept on, how he preferred his coffee, the brand of cigarettes that he smoked…numerous details about him that she had collected bit by bit, saving them in her mind and in her dreams, like pennies to be spent at a later date.

He knew nothing of her dusting his dresser, straightening the bed after he had risen. He was not aware that while he was out, she pressed his shirts to her lips, inhaling his aroma, and sat on the bed in the same crevices his body had made over the years that he had slept here. Now she knew with the wisdom and instinct of centuries, she knew that what would be, would be.

Last week for the first time she had seen it, the birthmark, on his right hand. It was paler than the surrounding skin, crescent-shaped like a slice of the moon, and within its outline, unmistakable, a perfect five-pointed star. She knew its shape by heart, as just above her right breast she had its identical replica.

The Navajo blood flowed strongly in her veins, with all its beliefs in the signs, even though her father had tried vainly to smother these strange alien traits. Since her childhood she had believed that she could speak to animals, and she could find herbs hiding under any rock and knew exactly what they would cure.

She stayed dreaming in the Judge’s room until she heard Frieda calling her. The woman had returned from the woods, carrying a full burlap sack.

“You should have come today…I found it…the time is ripe, and you’re much quicker than I. You would have climbed the higher spots where it grows.”

Placing the sack on the table, she pulled out one root. “It’s perfect…it’s prime, probably ten or fifteen years old.” She held the root up to the light. Its torso similar but lighter in color than a carrot, with no hint of orange, just tannish-brown, the root seemed to have two arms, two legs, and a fine network of tendrils. It appeared to be a miniature figure of a headless man.

“What is it?” Katherine questioned as she stared at the unusual root.

“It’s a manroot!”

“The manroot,” Katherine repeated, liking the sound of the word and feeling it described the plant perfectly. “It seems as if it could contain magic?” she said, as she gingerly touched it with a timid finger.

“Oh, they say it does. It works wonders. The Orientals prize its properties – to them it is also the love root. It does many things, cures most anything that ails you. For me it lines my pockets – Bailey’s general store pays about four dollars a pound.” Emptying the sack on the counter, Frieda explained, “You can’t let it get damp – it ruins the root.” She began taking them out, examining and inspecting and drying each root with a clean dish-towel.

“They’re not all like this one, that’s special. Some don’t come with the likeness of arms and legs, some just look like a pale carrot…but the old ones, the very special ones do. Here, Katherine – take it, it’s yours.”

They sat at the table and by habit Katherine helped her.

“If you weren’t such a lazy girl, you could have come with me today. When these are dry, I’m sure Bailey’s will be paying twenty dollars or so for the batch.”

“Twenty dollars?”

“Yes, ma’am!” She knew the girl wasn’t lazy; it was her way of trying to shake her out of the listlessness. “Put on the kettle, Katherine. I’ll slip a little of the root in it. That will perk you up.”

They drank the tea, and Frieda continued drying the root. She did a rare thing: she hummed as she dried the fine tendrils.

“It takes time for the manroot to grow. You shouldn’t harvest a root less than seven years old, and you must always plant the seed when you harvest – each red berry has two seeds – not deep, just under the leaves. It’s a sin…to harvest and not plant the seed,” she said solemnly.

Katherine watched the clock. “I better put on my uniform. The Judge…”

“No need to. When I was coming in, he was headed for the Eagle’s Nest. He told me he wouldn’t be wanting any supper.”

Katherine’s face fell with disappointment.

In previous gossip from Frieda, Katherine had learned that the Judge lived twenty miles up the road with a wife who was said to be fragile since the births of her two stillborn sons. There was not much in these parts that the Judge did not own; he was rich, well-liked, respected, and known to be a fair man. Remarkably young to be a judge, no one faulted him for his tendencies to card-playing, drinking whiskey, and relieving himself with the local women. A lesser man with these leanings would be called no account, but he was, after all, the Judge, and this title brought with it a tendency to look at vices as virtues.

It was just another Friday. Destiny waited for her; she felt it close, closer than it had ever been.

The hotel was quiet. There were no guests and the only person staying was the Judge, who would be out late.

Katherine played the radio softly, dancing about the room, pretending she was at Castlewood waltzing under the lanterns with him. She put the perfect manroot in the Valentine box with her other things. After midnight when he rang, Katherine shook the sleep from herself when she realized the bell from Room 8 was ringing.

She owned no robe, and the persistent ringing threatened to wake Mr. Taylor. She flew up to the Judge’s room and knocked timidly, aware that her hair was down, and she was in her nightgown. It was plain enough – white cotton, sturdy and sensible.

He opened the door to her. He seemed surprised.

“I’m sorry, sir, everyone is asleep,” she said, not really knowing how to apologize for her attire.

He blinked at her, his hair ruffled, his shirt-tail out; she had never seen him like this.

“You’re new?”

“No, sir I’m Katherine. It was late; I didn’t have time to put on the uniform.”

He nodded and leaned forward studying her face. “Come in.” She did so, but left the door open.

“Sit down,” he said. She could tell he was very drunk. She sat timidly in the vanity chair. He paced the floor unsteadily, running his fingers through his hair. “It’s my head… I have a headache that won’t stop. I thought maybe you had something in the kitchen.”

He kept pacing. “I went out tonight, trying to forget. I’ve drunk a lot…it doesn’t stop…my head hurts so.”

“Sir, I could go look, or…” She wondered if she should chance it – maybe he would laugh. “My grandmother had a remedy that always worked.”

He stopped pacing. “Yes? What is it?”

“Well,” she said, “if you rub your thumbs vigorously for a few minutes, it has something to do with the blood flow…if that didn’t work, then a leaf of boiled cabbage on the forehead never failed.”

He smiled and stopped. “Well, try it.” He pulled up a chair in front of her and held out his thumbs.

She blushed. She hadn’t meant that she should rub his thumbs, but he was there across from her, waiting.

She reached forward, and with a firm grip clasped his thumbs and rubbed vigorously, while he leaned back and shut his eyes. She alternated between each thumb. It seemed natural to her to be touching him.

“Do you know what it’s like to play God?” he asked abruptly.

Startled, she didn’t know if he was really talking to her, but she replied, “No, sir, I don’t.”

“Well, I do, and it’s not pleasant, not pleasant at all… Today I’ve sent a man to the gas chamber – well, not me personally, but the jury.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” she said quietly.

“Stop saying ‘sir’ – my name’s William. The Judge…sir…that’s somebody else. I don’t feel like a judge right now. I never wanted to be a judge.” He opened his eyes and she drew back.

“Do you know what it feels like to judge other people?”

“No, si–” She stopped herself. “No, I don’t.”

He looked down at her hands. “Don’t stop. By god, I think it helps!” He closed his eyes once more and held out his thumbs to her. The house was quiet. Somewhere a nightbird called; the ticking of the clock in the hall kept time in its steady rhythm, and Katherine felt the sound of their breathing in tune.

Buy Links: The kindle version was published March 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon

Anne SteinbergAbout the Author:

While living in England, Anne Steinberg’s first novel, Manroot was published by Headline Review in London. Manroot was heralded as an important first novel in 1994 and included in the Headline Review’s prestigious “Fiction without Frontiers,” a new wave of contemporary fiction that knows no limits. Eight modern storytellers were featured: Anne Steinberg, Margaret Atwood, Iain Banks, William Gibson, Peter Hoeg, Roddy Doyle, and E. Annie Proulx. It was an auspicious beginning to a long and varied career for Anne Steinberg, who went on to write several acclaimed novels, Every Town Needs A Russian Tea Room, the story of a wealthy socialite who falls in love with a penniless young Russian immigrant who is haunted by a bizarre shameful secret, The Cuckoos Gift, First Hands, and An Eye For An Ear. She is also coauthor of The Fence, written with her grandson Nicholas Reuel Tolkien, the great grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. Nicholas is a filmmaker, director, and published poet. The Fence is a chilling story of a magnificent Gothic fence forged by a despicable blacksmith and infused with evil.

Anne was a partner in the world famous vintage clothing store, Steinberg & Tolkien, on Kings Road in Chelsea. After a successful run for over 20 years, the shop closed, and she returned to the US. Approaching her eighty-second birthday, she now writes, reads, and studies antiques, American Indian history, animal welfare, mythology, and folklore legends.

Anne recently re-released Manroot in kindle format. It was published March 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Manroot-Anne-Steinberg-ebook/dp/B00J1BPZJA

Connect with Anne on Twitter: @ANSteinberg or Goodreads

Previously published novels include: The QuestFirst HandsEvery Town Needs a Russian Tea RoomThe Cuckoo’s Gift & Elias’s Fence

Giveaway:  Now, enter to win an eBook copy of Manroot below. Good luck!

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Book Review & ARC Giveaway: Sway by Kat Spears

Sway by Kat SpearsTitle: Sway

Author: Kat Spears

Blurb: In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or “Sway,” as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want—term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion—until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.

Review: The truth is I’m not really sure how I feel about this book. The book itself is addictive and it keeps you reading but I”m not sure what about it kept me turning the pages…

The story is about Sway. Well that’s his nickname because he has sway or what I would call swag. He has this mannerism and confidence that earned him that name. But his real name is Jesse. He is his high school’s go to man for anything needed. Whether it be fake id’s, booze or drugs he’s your man. But he also does other things. Like, you want to date a girl and she won’t give you the time of day? Sway is your man. For a price he’ll get you an opening. Now that I think of it, he is a kind of like Hitch when it comes to the dating thing… However, this novel revolves around a story like this. The raining douche at their high school employs him to get him an in with the school’s most innocent and sweetest girl. And Sway gets to work. He stalks/observes her to do the job he was paid to do. He sees what he’s doing as business but he starts to see what everyone else sees in her and eventually starts to like Bridget too.

My main issue with the story is Sway’s ignorance. It’s to the point where he is truly insensitive and and quite an a-hole. Bridget’s younger brother has cerebral palsy and because of what their family experienced Bridget likes to volunteer at a center for children with disabilities. When Sway walks in on this his first reaction is to call these kids retarded. I won’t sugar coat it… This bothered me. I found the word offensive. He’s very upfront and honest and at times exceedingly rude. His ignorance in situation like these took away from the book for me. That being said I could’t help but love his transparency. He is the guy that doesn’t care about hurting your feelings and will always give you the stone cold truth.

I’m not sure how I read through the whole book. I’m hindsight it’s not the most unique or brilliant of books, even when I was reading it I didn’t necessarily like it but there was sometime that captured my attention. But the truth is that is not really it… The author just did a good job of maintaining my interest despite the narrator being a sometime-douche. That being said, this book is really all about love and how it changes you. How at the end of the day we want to be worthy of love and be worthy of the ones who truly love us. Because of this want, we change and try the be the best we can be. So this book is really about Sway and how true love changed him. Sprinkle in a little fairy dust and it had a very nice fairy tale ending. So all in all, despite my inconsistent feelings throughout the read I did enjoy the book.
rating-3
Giveaway: Now is your chance to win a paperback ARC of Sway. This is an international giveaway.

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Monthly Wrap-Up

This month has been a total whirlwind. I have a lot more planned this coming month and I hope you guys enjoy all I have planned. Thank you to everyone who made this past month so amazing for me.

Currently Reading: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. So far- really good.

August Favorites:
Favorite Song: Chandelier by Sia and Mine by Beyonce Ft. Drake
Favorite New Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy. Have you guys seen this one? I saw it twice in theaters… And it is absolutely hilarious in the most unexpected way.
Favorite old movie: Ever After. I rediscovered it on Netflix and boy do I love Cinderella stories…
Favorite show: House. I have just been marathoning this show on Netflix and I still have a few seasons to go.
Favorite Korean Drama: Rooftop Prince. Oh man… was this one good. While I wouldn’t say this is my favorite K-drama it is definitely one of the best I have seen.
Favorite Phone Game: Hay Day. I have reestablished may love for the game.
Favorite Memory: I went to Miami last weekend and had the most amazing time and took the greatest pictures. :)IMG_1597.JPG

As you know I was celebrating my blogiversary in August. Here are the winner’s for the giveaways:

: Merrieann and SophiWaterheart
TFIOS Swag: Christine H.
Button Love: Nori and Erin BookNut
Harlequin Tote: Harman K.
Metrophage by Richard Kadrey: Bonnie H
ARC I Become Shadow by Joe Shine: Adriana
ARC The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost: Michelle L
Reading Gives You Superpowers Tote: Erin BookNut
Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour: Bonnie H. and Joseph H.
At First Sight by Heather Todd: Anatea
ARC This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner: Becca F and Bex
Throne of Glass: Bonnie H.
Month Long Giveaways:
Blogiversary Giveaway #1: Adriana
Blogiversary Giveaway #2: Vannah B.
Blogiversary GIveaway #3: Nicolette K.

Thank you to everyone who entered and congrats to all who won! For those of you who have yet to receive your prize, they will be shipped next pay day. Once your prizes are shipped I will email you the tracking number.

 

 

Blogiversary Giveaway: ARC This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

This Shattered WorldTitle: This Shattered World (Starbound #2)

Author: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Blurb: The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

The stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war.

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Blogiversary Giveaway: At First Sight by Heather Todd

IMG_1459.JPGTitle: At First Sight

Author: Heather Todd

Blurb: Lola Adams started fending for herself at the age of thirteen after her druggie parents ditched her without any notice. Now, five years later, she is on the fast track to a better life away from her hometown of Los Angeles. She is graduating as valedictorian in one month and she has a full ride to Harvard. Nothing seems to be getting in her way. Then, she meets Dean Baker after he saves her during a wild beach party. Their eyes meet and something powerful happens that makes her feel an immediate attraction and pull to him. While spending time with him, she comes to find out his entire family line is filled with people who can read minds, display imprinted powers, and perform magical spells. Two mysterious family members are suddenly on the hunt for Lola and Dean so they can ultimately rid the family of their love and their powers once and for all. Can they stop an impending battle before everyone, even Lola and Dean, loses their bond forever?

To win a paperback copy of At First Sight all you have to do is in the comments below tell me if you believe in love at first sight. This is an international giveaway and the giveaway ends 8/20 at 11:59 PM EST. Good Luck!

Blogiversary eBook Giveaway: Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour

IMG_1440.JPGTitle: Thorn Jack

Author: Katherine Harbour

Blurb: They call us things with teeth. These words from Lily Rose Sullivan the night of her death haunts her seventeen-year-old sister, Finn, who has moved with her widowed father to his hometown of Fair Hollow, New York. After befriending a boy named Christie Hart and his best friend, Sylvie Whitethorn, Finn is invited to a lakeside party where she encounters the alluring Jack Fata, a member of the town’s mysterious Fata family. Despite Jack’s air of danger and his clever words, Finn learns they have things in common.

One day, while unpacking, Finn finds her sister’s journal, scrawled with descriptions of creatures that bear a sinister resemblance to Jack’s family. Finn dismisses these stories as fiction, but Jack’s family has a secret—the Fatas are the children of nothing and night, nomadic beings who have been preying on humanity for centuries—and Jack fears that his friendship with Finn has drawn the attention of the most dangerous members of his family—Reiko Fata and vicious Caliban, otherwise known as the white snake and the crooked dog.

Plagued with nightmares about her sister, Finn attempts to discover what happened to Lily Rose and begins to suspect that the Fatas are somehow tied to Lily Rose’s untimely death. Drawn to Jack, determined to solve the mystery of her sister’s suicide, Finn must navigate a dangerous world where nothing is as it seems. 

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Blogiversary Giveaway: Reading Gives You Superpowers Tote

IMG_1462.JPGIMG_1461.JPGA Reading Gives You Superpowers Tote is up for grabs. The tote is still in it’s original plastic and the images shown are both sides of the tote. All you have to do to enter this giveaway is in the comments below say what superpower you think reading provides.

All blogiversary giveaways are international and this one ends 8/18 at 11:59 PM EST. Good luck!

Blogiversary Giveaway: ARC The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

IMG_1456.JPGTitle: The Beatiful Ashes

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Blurb: In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse–her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who’s bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn’t mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn’t: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side, Adrian on the other, and nothing but ashes in between…

Once again, this giveaway ends 8/17 at midnight EST. There will only be one winner and it is an international giveaway.

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Blogiversary Giveaway: ARC I Become Shadow by Joe Shine

IMG_1454.JPGTitle: I Become Shadow

Author: Joe Shine

Blurb: Ren Sharpe was abducted at fourteen and chosen by the mysterious F.A.T.E. Center to become a Shadow: the fearless and unstoppable guardian of a future leader. Everything she held dear—her family, her home, her former life—is gone forever. 
 
Ren survives four years of training, torture, and misery, in large part thanks to Junie, a fellow F.A.T.E. abductee who started out as lost and confused as she did. She wouldn’t admit it was possible to find love in a prison beyond imagining, but what she feels for Junie may just be the closest thing to it. 
 
At eighteen they part ways when Ren receives her assignment: find and protect college science student Gareth Young, or die trying. Life following a college nerd is uneventful, until an attack on Gareth forces Ren to track down the only person she can trust. When she and Junie discover that the F.A.T.E. itself might be behind the attacks, even certain knowledge of the future may not be enough to save their kidnappers from the killing machines they created.

There is one paperback ARC copy of  I Become Shadow by Joe Shine up for grabs. 

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