Friday, May 30, 2014

The Collector Review

The Collector (Dante Walker, #1)
The Collector (Dante Walker #1)
By Victoria Scott
Published April 2nd, 2013 by Entangled Teen 
352 pages

4 stars - Loved it!

He makes good girls...bad. 

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.

Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.

I've been contemplating reading The Collector for a while now but I wasn't really sure if I would enjoy it. Dante sounded interesting and the whole idea of the book sounded interesting as well, but I didn't know if it would end up being a dud. So I finally bought it and finally gave it a try this weekend. I’m very glad to say that this book did not disappoint me! I really enjoyed reading through Dante’s eyes because it isn't very common for a male to be the main character. Dante did a pretty fantastic job at it, not that he needs to add any more to his ego. I found myself laughing at quite a few of the things that Dante said but I really enjoyed watching him grow as a character throughout the book.

We are introduced to Dante and what he is in the beginning. He is a Collector for Hell and basically The Boss Man’s right hand man. Dante is good, no superb, at what he does. Basically he is the best. His latest challenge is to try to collect Charlie Cooper’s soul in ten days. I loved Charlie. She was a great female character and I wish that I could have been able to read through her perspective for a little, but what I saw through Dante’s was great nonetheless. Charlie is a kind and intelligent young women. She wasn't the average female character in young adult books. In fact, she was pretty average, at least on the outside. She wasn't society's definition of “hot” and she didn't have the best fashion sense and she wasn't popular, but she was caring and giving. I don’t want to give anything away but I will say that she had a rough past and I enjoyed reading about her. She also has some pretty cool friends that would help her out any day.

At first it was difficult to read Dante’s thoughts about Charlie but then Dante started really seeing Charlie for who she was. It was really awesome to be able to watch Dante and even Charlie transform. Again I won’t say much. The whole idea of the soul sealing was interesting and actually made sense. The book had a ton of humor, action, suspense, and some romance as well. I absolutely enjoyed the characters and I cannot wait for the next book! I really want to know what will happen to the characters! If you haven’t read The Collector yet, then read it now! Do not wait! 


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bookish and (Not so Bookish) Thoughts #4

Bookish and (Not So Bookish) Thoughts #4

Bookish and (Not So Bookish) Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous

1. First of all, I haven't posted one of these in awhile but I finally have time to type everything up. So here it goes!

2. I have finally graduated from high school! Graduation was May 24th and I am so happy to be done! I'm looking forward to the future and to a new adventure. 

3. One of my graduation gifts from my grandfather included this decorative birdhouse! Isn't is pretty? My grandfather is an artist in Colorado and made this for me. I absolutely love it and I keep it on my bookshelf next to my little owl figurines. :) 

4. Some HUGE NEWS!! City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare came out this Tuesday! I went out and bought it that day and I have been trying to prolong my reading. I'm trying to not finish it too fast. I'm excited because I want to read more about my favorite characters but I'm nervous for the ending! Has anyone else started reading yet? I'm about 300 pages in. :)

5. I went to Barnes and Noble to buy City of Heavenly Fire and saw quite a few books that I'd like to buy as well. :) Like Take Me On by Katie McGarry and The One by Kiera Cass. Any books that you are looking forward to?

6. The band, The Ready Set, had a new album that released on Tuesday as well. I love this band and I LOVE the new album! It is fantastic and sounds amazing! It's called The Bad and The Better. Has anyone heard of The Ready Set? 

7. There are 26 days till the next season of Teen Wolf! I cannot wait!! I love that show and I love the actors. I am so excited to see where the director is going to take this season. If you haven't seen this show yet, I strongly suggest you check it out! Such a great show. :)

8. SUMMER!! Summer is finally here and I am looking forward to reading a lot more. I slowed down quite a bit during the end of the school year but now I have more time. And more money, lol. :) But seriously, can't wait for all the books! 

9. I don't have any other big plans for summer but we'll see what happens. Do you have any plans? Anywhere you are going to go? I'd love to take a trip somewhere but I'm not sure if that'll happen. :)

Well that was my week so far. It's been pretty busy but I've been able to sleep in and get some reading in! That is pretty great in my books. :) How has your week been?


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Blood and Fire Review

Blood and Fire (The Talbot Trilogy, #2)
Blood and Fire (The Talbot Trilogy #2)
By Tori L. Ridgewood
Published February, 2014 by Melange Books
250 pages

4 stars - Intriguing Sequel!

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review*

What chance does one witch have against five vampires? Alone, not much. But Rayvin’s allies are gathering... 

The battle between good and evil supernatural forces heats up in the long, cold November nights of the former mining town. But how will Rayvin’s motley crew of spellcasters and shapeshifters cope when they discover the threat they face is even greater than they imagined?


Blood and Fire is the second book in The Talbot Trilogy and picks up right where Wind and Shadow left off. That being said, it is probably a good idea to read the first book before you read this one. I also recommend that you read this book if you've already read Wind and Shadow because it introduces new elements, characters, and even more questions! I did enjoy Blood and Fire and found quite a few things interesting about it. 

Rayvin is back as well as some other well known characters. Things are not easy for Rayvin and she has it pretty tough being held captive by de Sade. He has some pretty horrendous plans for her as well as Charlotte who we see even more of in this book. We meet some more of de Sade's followers that he made into vampires and we meet some allies. We don't get a ton of Rayvin in this book because we read about quite a few different characters besides her, but she is still incredibly strong despite the circumstances. This book introduces some more strong female leads that aren't totally human either. Gargoyles and Wood Nymphs, as well as wolves, are introduced and I found that very interesting. I loved that Ridgewood was able to mix things up a bit. 

There is a ton going on in this book and I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give anything away, I will say that there are quite a few characters that we read through the eyes of and that might get a tad bit confusing at times. Readers will learn more about Rayvin and will be surprised by some of the things that Rayvin learns throughout the book. Blood and Fire had action, suspense, and a little romance as well. The ending is a definite cliff hanger and leaves us with a few questions left unanswered. I feel like the book definitely picked up in the action part near the ending and left you wanting to know more. Blood and Fire does have a bit more mature content and strong language than the previous one, but if that doesn't bother you then you'll definitely enjoy this book. If you've read Wind and Shadow, then check this one out next! 


Blood and Fire is available for sale on:




The Talbot Trilogy books:

0. Mist and Midnight (prequel)

1. Wind and Shadow

2. Blood and Fire

3. Crystal and Wand

About the Author:

After her first heartbreak, Tori found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers. Throughout the summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet. Determined to become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process, Tori finally found her stride as a writer.

At present, on her off-time, Tori not only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel, collect and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history, the supernatural, vampire and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other dangers.

Tori is currently working on Crystal and Wand: Book Three of The Talbot Trilogy. She lives in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two children. She is a full-time teacher at a local high school.

Author Links:



Wishlist Wednesday #9

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves. This is hosted by Pen to Paper ! 

I have seen this book everywhere and I've been wanting to read it since it came out. Just reading the synopsis makes me want to read the book, so I'm looking forward to getting it soon!
Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die, #1)

Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die #1)
By Danielle Page
Published April 1st, 2014
452 pages

I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

What do you think? Sounds interesting, right? What is on your wishlist?


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kitty Hawk and The Icelandic Intrigue

Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency, #3)
Kitty Hawk and The Icelandic Intrigue (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #3)
By Iain Reading 
Published April 19th, 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 
304 pages

4.5 stars - Incredibly Intriguing!! 

Following in the footsteps of her hero Amelia Earhart, Kitty Hawk sets off on an epic flight around the world and arrives in Iceland's capital city of Reykjavik where she finds herself immersed in a beautiful alien world of volcanoes, Vikings, elves and trolls. Before she knows it Kitty is plunged head first into an amazing adventure that sweeps her across a rugged landscape where humans and nature exist side-by-side in an uneasy truce and magical realms seem to lie just out of sight beneath the surface. 

Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue is the dazzling third installment of the Flying Detective Agency series featuring Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenaged seaplane pilot with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into - and out of - all kinds of precarious situations. 

This is a perfect book to fire the imaginations of readers of all ages - armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike. From dangerous criminals and corrupt government officials to mystical beings and clashes with the elemental forces of nature, this book has it all. Come and join Kitty Hawk as she experiences the strange and extraordinary world of the Icelanders, and unravels the Icelandic Intrigue.
Iain Reading has done it again! Kitty Hawk and The Icelandic Intrigue was definitely intriguing. :) The cover is also captivating once again. I think that this book might be my favorite in the series and I'll tell you why. There is adventure, mystery, suspense and a great deal of action. This series continues to be a series that readers of any age can enjoy. 
Kitty is still on her journey around the world and her next stop is Iceland. Once she arrives, she learns quite a bit about the culture, legends and much more. Kitty continues to be a fantastic female lead as well. She makes things interesting and I love some of the dialogue in her head. 
Her trip to Iceland is full of adventure and mystery and a ton of action. There is probably more action in this book than the other two and I loved that. Kitty seems to be pretty good at getting herself into tough situations that are kind of dangerous, but she is also great at getting herself out of them. She has run ins with corrupt government officials, an erupting volcano and maybe even an elf. There is always something going on and that is what makes this book exciting. 
I also loved how the reader is able to learn so much about the culture of the people of Iceland. Everything I learned was so interesting and I very much enjoyed the fact about Iceland's literacy rate. :) This book is also a little different from the previous two because there is some talk about elves and trolls. Nonetheless, this book was, yet again, a great read. I definitely enjoy learning new useful facts while being interested at the same time. Some of the things I learned even coincided with what I was learning in my Environmental Science class. In fact, I knew about some of the things we were going to be learning before we learned them in class! This series really is a series for all ages and has something for everyone. If you haven't read the previous two books, then I suggest you do so. If you have and haven't read this book, then I suggest you read it soon! I can't wait for the next book and to be able to follow Kitty on her adventurous journey around the world! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Pauper by May Nicole Abbey Virtual Book Tour!

Hello Everyone! Today I am the hosting The Pauper by May Nicole Abbey Virtual Book Tour presented by Sage's Blog Tours! Very excited about this because I love the series and this third book is incredible. Check out my review and the links below!

The Pauper (The Fall Series #3)
By May Nicole Abbey
Published March 27th, 2014 by River Valley Publishing

Genre: Clean Romance, Adventure

5 stars - Interesting and Fun!!

Book Synopsis:
A mysterious stranger 
A desperate mission 
A grueling journey through time and space 

Life had always been an exciting adventure to Heather Higgins. Even after the death of her father, the loss of a fortune, and a disappointing proposal, she yet sees the future as bright and full of possibilities. At the miraculous appearance of a mysterious man with piercing green eyes and a powerful intellect, Heather knows she has met her destiny. Whether he likes it or not. 

In pursuit of a dangerous mission, Ammon Maharahi doesn’t have time for spoiled, doe eyed beauties. But no matter how hard he tries, he cannot dismiss her. Amidst his frantic travels through time and space in the effort to fix a dark future, his illness wears him down. He must find and stop a fellow time traveler before it is too late and all is lost. Tired, ill and disheartened, he wonders if he is fighting a losing battle when Heather Higgins is thrust into his path, infusing energy and life into his weary heart. 

But time is running out. The answer lies with a gifted university professor from the future, as bizarre as she is brilliant. As Ammon and Heather race through time to unlock the puzzle, they know Ammon’s life and the future of all humankind slip closer to catastrophe with every tick of the clock.


So I have read the second book in this series (and loved it) plus I hosted a virtual book tour for that book as well. I think I loved this book even more than the one before. The characters, the plot, this history, the adventure, the comedy and the romance - I enjoyed it all. 

Heather was a great female lead. She was quirky and funny and smart in her own right. She had some growing to do throughout the book but she definitely found her place in the world by the end of it. I was pleased with her character and I enjoyed reading her entries. The book is written in a journal entry like way and is told her point of view. The year that Heather is from is 1718 but she doesn't totally fit the expectations of that year. The book goes through a few different eras while the characters time travel so that is definitely interesting. Then we have Ammon, the son of the main character from the second book, and he was the total opposite of Heather. I loved the interaction between the two of them. :) We meet a couple other interesting characters throughout the book as well.

I loved that this was set in a different time period and that the ending was kind of surprising. There was a ton of adventure and there were quite a few mysteries involving the people who knew about time traveling. I think that if you enjoyed the other books in this series then you'll definitely enjoy this one. It was interesting and kept my attention throughout reading. The beginning might have been a little slow but near the middle and end there is suspense and adventure. The ending was interesting as well and I think it fit even if it wasn't what you'd expect for the characters. Very glad that I got to read this because it is not a book that you want to miss! Check it out for yourself! 


Author Bios:
Caroline Gregory and Shawnette Nielson are sisters on a mission. Their goal is to write clean, adventuresome romance stories, full of lovely characters, personal growth, truth, and hope. Although they live nearly a thousand miles from each other, and are both busy with the daily needs of their respective families, they carve out time each night to put fingers to keyboard and write.  Their goal? Twenty completed books. Set all over the world and throughout time, they thrill at the freedom that writing time travel offers them. From Georgian society, to Ancient Egypt, and plans for a western, contemporary, and even a book set in ancient Greece, the possibilities are limitless.

Twitter: @mayicoleabbey

Amazon Purchase Link: 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sweet Evil Review

Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy, #1)
Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy #1)
By Wendy Higgins
Published May 1st, 2012 by HarperTeen
453 pages

4.5 stars - Intoxicating! 

Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?
I had been waiting for so long to read this book and I was so excited when I was finally able to get it! The cover is gorgeous and the story is absolutely intoxicating. I'm eager to be able to get my hands on the next book and find out what happens to my new favorite characters. 
Anna was a good female lead and her abilities were interesting. She was able to feel for everyone and I loved her relationship with her adoptive mother. There were definitely struggles for her because of her family tree but she was able to get through most of them. Kaidan was so awesome that he made it onto my book boyfriend list. :) But seriously, he was an interesting character and his abilities were interesting as well. :) I do want to learn more about him and his friends that are the same as him and Anna. I did like how we were able to learn a little about each character because it made me feel a little closer to each one. The tests that Anna will have to go through are not easy and I'm interested in seeing how it goes. And I want to see more Kaidan. :)
The story was intriguing and captivating and there wasn't a dull moment. There was some great chemistry between Anna and Kaidan and quite a few funny moments as well. The history of Anna's parents and of the Fallen Angels and their children was intriguing as well. I did not want to put down this book and I'm pretty sure I read it almost non stop. If you've been wanting to read this book and haven't been able to, then I suggest you pick it up soon. It is definitely worth it. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday #8

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves. This is hosted by Pen to Paper ! 

Hello Everyone! I have already read the first two books in The Lunar Chronicles and I absolutely adore them. I really, really, really, want to read Cress and find out what happens to all my favorite characters! That is why Cress is on my Wishlist this Wednesday. Check it out below!

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)

By Marissa Meyer
Published February 4th, 2014
550 pages

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

What do you think? What is on your Wishlist today?


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

White Hot Kiss Review

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements, #1)
White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)
By Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published February 25th, 2014 by Harlequin Teen
400 pages

4.5 stars - Amazing - yet again! 

One kiss could be the last. 

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses. 

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever. 

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul. 

But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.
Jennifer has done it once again! I loved White Hot Kiss and I desperately need to get my hands on the next book. I loved Layla and I am in love with Roth.
I wasn't quite sure if I would end up enjoying White Hot Kiss because I haven't read too many books about gargoyles. The ones I did read about them didn't feature them as main characters so, like I said, I wasn't sure. I did know that I love Jennifer's writing and her stories so I was willing to give it a try. I'm glad that I did because this is not a book that you wan to miss out on. It is captivating and interesting and full of humor and hot guys! Roth and Zayne are the hot guys - just so you know. :) Some of the characters were awesome and some were despicable. I totally felt for Layla because she had so much going against her and so many against her as well. She was devoted to her family but some weren't as fond of her. I think she grew throughout the book and was able to figure out who she really is - part demon and part gargoyle. Roth definitely helped her out and I thought he was a wonderful character even if he was demon. I think both of them learned a few things about themselves. Zayne was a good friend to Layla and I'm interested in seeing where things are going to go with them as well. 
The history of the gargoyles was interesting and their abilities were neat as well. I loved this book and for the most part, I couldn't put it down. I was captivated and I just can't wait to read the next book. The ending was suspenseful and definitely a cliff hanger. All I can say is you'll be wanting the next book right after you read the end of this one. Don't miss out on this book! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Manroot by Anne Steinberg Excerpt!

Hello Everyone! Today I have an excerpt from Manroot by Anne Steinberg. Sounds like a very interesting novel so be sure to check it out!

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

Amazon reviews:

“Manroot is an undeniably good read; it’s well-written with a compelling plot and memorable characters. Recommended to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction imbued with fantasy, including Native American themes and the supernatural.”

“Words to describe this book are: romantic, thrilling, memorable, spiritual, magical, and well written in a breath taking way that will keep you enthralled well after it is over. I wish it would have lasted longer and was saddened when it came to an end. 5 stars and cannot wait to see what Anne Steinberg comes up with next!”

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.

About 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:

Connect with Anne on