Saturday, December 31, 2016

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 198: RoseBlood, by A.G. Howard

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, 
if available, on their 
very talented creators!

Here's my choice for this week!

A.G. Howard
Hardcover, 432 pages 
Amulet Books
January 10,2017
Fantasy, Retellings, Romance
Young Adult Fiction  

My Thoughts About This Cover

This is not only a striking cover, but also an exquisitely designed one! 

Of course, the very first thing that caught my attention was the half mask on the young woman's face. So this is a modern, Young Adult, version of The Phantom of the Opera, with a female being "The Phantom", it seems.

Interestingly, while the book's synopsis refers to the Leroux novel, the young woman wears a half mask. In the original novel by Leroux, the Phantom wore a full mask. It was only in the Lloyd Webber version that he wore a half mask.

This book was written by the bestselling author of the Splintered series, so I'm expecting it to be a page turner when I get to it!

The next thing that struck me about this cover is the young woman's intense stare, which is totally focused on the viewer. Those eyes are so full of pain and vulnerability.... The image does have a rather disturbing feel to it, and this does give me pause. Of course, the original Phantom suffered greatly, as well. I feel so sorry for this poor girl. I still want to read this book, even if the cover does make me a bit uneasy....

As if emphasizing her inner torment, her face is framed by thorns, with roses at the bottom of the cover To me, this seems to be a metaphor of the power of love to overcome all suffering. I hope I'm right in this interpretation. 

The colors and tones in the cover also attract me, as does its boldness of design. I love it when an image or design fills up an entire cover. In spite of this, there's quite a bit of detail in this image, and everything is superbly done.

The font for the title is a slightly embellished classic one, and it effectively serves to focus the viewer's attention on that masked face. It also reminds me of the name "Rosebud". This was the name of the main character's boyhood sled in the film classic, "Citizen Kane". The name and the sled are symbolic of something -- perhaps the loss of innocence by the main character. I saw this film years ago, and would like to see it again, as I'm sure I'd be able to appreciate it more fully. I wonder if the two names are related -- "Roseblood" and "Rosebud". They both consist of two syllables, and are compound words. And both contain the word "rose". Hmmmm....this is definitely food for thought.

The brilliant artist who created this gorgeous, evocative cover is Nathalia Suellen, a Brazilian surrealist digital artist and commercial illustrator. She also creates fine art. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, and is entirely self-taught. For each commissioned piece, she uses a combination of photography, 3D, and digital painting. Her clients include musicians, photographers, writers, and companies such as Random House, Penguin Group, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, Bloombury, and Harry N. Abrams Books.

My list of favorite book cover artists is growing!

Online Links

 What do you think of this week's cover?
Do you agree or disagree with 
my analysis?
Please leave a comment and 
let me know!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday No. 190: Crazy Messy Beautiful, by Carrie Arcos

Welcome to "Waiting On Wednesday"!!
This is a weekly event that 
used to be hosted by
Jill @ Breaking the Spine, until 
very recently.
I have continued to publish these
posts on my own, as I reall
like this meme, which
showcases future releases we book  bloggers 
are eagerly anticipating!!

Here's my choice for this week!

 Crazy Messy Beautiful    
Hardcover, 320 pages 
Philomel Books
February 7, 2017
Art, Contemporary Romance,  
Young Adult Fiction

From National Book Award finalist Carrie Arcos–a fresh take on happily ever after, and friendship, that is anything but a love story.  

When your namesake is Pablo Neruda—the greatest love poet of all time—finding “the one” should be easy. After all, sixteen-year-old aspiring artist Neruda Diaz has been in love many times before. So it’s only a matter of time before someone loves him back.

Callie could be that someone. She’s creative and edgy, and nothing like the girls Neruda typically falls for, so when a school assignment brings them together, he is pleasantly surprised to learn they have a lot in common. With his true love in reach and his artistic ambitions on track, everything is finally coming together.

But as Neruda begins to fall faster and harder than ever before, he is blindsided by the complicated nature of love—and art—in more ways than one. And when the relationships he’s looked to for guidance threaten to implode, Neruda must confront the reality that love is crazier, messier, and more beautiful than he ever realized—and riskier, too, than simply saying the words.

Why I'm waiting on this one!

Although I really don't like this cover all that much, the plot is another matter entirely! First of all, how AWESOME is it that someone is actually named after a famous poet? AND a poet whose works deal with love? But, to make things even better, Neruda Diaz, the male protagonist, is an aspiring artist, and so is Callie, the girl who gets involved with him. Add to this a complex love story that is not supposed to be a love story, and.....well, I'm definitely intrigued! I want to know MORE!!

What do you think of my choice?
Leave your link below, so I can
come check out your pick(s)!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Book Review: Christmas In Cupid Falls, by Holly Jacobs

Christmas In Cupid Falls
Holly Jacobs
Trade Paperback, 235 pages
Montlake Romance
October 21, 2014
Christmas Romance, Contemporary Romance, Holiday Romance, Women's Fiction
Source: Amazon

Book Synopsis: Kennedy Anderson loves Cupid Falls, Pennsylvania. Ever since moving there as an orphaned teenager, she’s worked hard to carve out a place for herself in the tight-knit community. Now she’s mayor and owner of the town’s flower shop. But she also has a big secret…and nine months to figure out how to break the news to the father.

Lawyer Malcolm Carter has always been the golden boy of Cupid Falls—until he discovers the one night he spent with the girl-next-door turned out to have a lifetime of consequences. Now, the mother of his child wants nothing to do with him, and he’s gone from someone who is admired to persona non grata as the town rallies behind its mayor.

Malcom has always known what he wants. But now as Christmas approaches, he’ll have to discover a way to show Kennedy that she could find the only thing she’s ever really wanted—a true home—with him. Convincing her will take the help of Cupid Falls’ quirky residents…and a bit of holiday magic.

The cover and title of this novel certainly make it appealing! The town of Cupid Falls got its name from a local legend about the falls the town is located close to. According to this legend, any couple who visit the falls will inevitably fall in love and marry. This is a beautiful background for this story, and the Christmas setting sure adds to its charm and joy!

The plot itself is really nothing new; a one-night stand turns into something more. In this case, it results in a pregnancy before an actual relationship even starts. What makes this novel unique, though, is all the other plot elements. 

Kennedy Anderson is the mayor of Cupid Falls, where she first arrived as an orphaned teenager. (I must admit that I don't like the author's choice of first name for her female protagonist. "Kennedy" is supposed to be a last name, but, used as a first name, it would be much more appropriate for a man.) Ever since her arrival in Cupid Falls, she's been trying to belong, and is at times insecure in this regard. She also owns a flower shop inherited from her late aunt. She has given the shop the most unusual, quirky name of "Cupid's Bowquet", which one of the town's residents, Clarence (who is rather quirky himself), constantly pokes gentle fun at.

Kennedy is a very down-to-earth, hardworking person whose empathy and kindness for the town residents and their individual eccentricities make her someone very easy to get along with and relate to. She's also a very determined person, who makes it her goal to excel at both her business and her duties as town mayor. She takes the pregnancy in stride, and has plans to bring up her baby on her own. There's just one problem: the baby's father, to whom she has not yet revealed the news....

Malcolm Carter IV is a very likable character in his own right. He has his own set of insecurities, never quite winning his father's approval about anything he does, even though he has been following in Senior's footsteps by becoming a lawyer, and then getting a job in his father's firm. 

I love Malcolm! He's not only handsome, but very endearing, as well as honorable. Where another guy in his shoes might have tried to evade his parenting responsibilities by denying he was the father, or perhaps moving on with his life while comfortably sending child support payments from afar, Malcolm does what he feels is the right thing -- he immediately asks Kennedy to marry him. 

And Kennedy refuses to do so.

Malcolm is not only surprised that she has turned him down, but wonders why she would do such a thing. He strongly feels that children need both parents to be present in their lives. He doesn't want to be a long-distance dad. And he totally wants to be a more loving, emotionally-involved father than his own father was.

The whole book revolves around Malcolm trying to get Kennedy to say "yes". To his credit, he never tries to cajole or bully her into accepting his proposal. What he does do is to quietly and simply attempt to convince her with his caring, gentle attitude. What's interesting is that, at first, he's not aware that he really does care for Kennedy. He thinks he's doing everything for the baby's sake. Along the way, however, he finds himself totally falling for the mother of his child. 

I must say that I did find Kennedy's feelings about and attitude toward Malcolm just a tad unrealistic. She had had a major crush on him during her teen years, and then ended up in a one-night stand with him right after his mother passed away. According to the story, they were initially just comforting each other, until it turned into something more. No other details are provided, such as how they both reacted that fateful "morning after", how they went on with their lives, until Kennedy found out she was pregnant. All of this is simply glossed over. 

Surely Kennedy still had some feelings for Malcolm when she allowed herself to be swept away into what they apparently thought would be "just a fling". It seems that they both tried to simply sweep this event under the rug, until Kennedy's pregnancy suddenly made an appearance.  The reader never finds out exactly what happened right after their one night together, though.

I would have wanted a bit more drama related to their feelings after this event. Even considering the circumstances of their coming together, it just felt as if the situation should have been explored further. Then the rest of the story could have flowed from that.

I still found this novel very satisfying, and totally delightful! I love Christmas stories set in small towns, with their coziness, the friendly, neighborly interactions that make the whole town feel like one large family. That was certainly the case in this novel. Throw Christmas into the mix, and the whole thing is the perfect recipe for the "warm fuzzies" that we females love to feel when reading romance novels set during this most beautiful, magical season of the year.  

The secondary characters made this novel even more appealing. Nana Vancy, the lovable, dynamic, Hungarian-born founder of a dog adoption foundation, dispenses her matchmaking wisdom with comical sayings that nevertheless ring true. Clarence, whose wife has a rather unusual hobby, is an interesting character in his own right. Pap, Malcolm's beloved grandfather, might be launching a new beginning for himself, causing his grandson some consternation in the process. The two dearly love each other, though, so everything will inevitably turn out right. And then there's Malcom Carter III, who is overbearing in the extreme. He wants Malcolm with him in Pittsburgh, taking on the big cases, and doesn't seem to understand the degree of importance Malcolm is giving to Kennedy and their soon-to-be born child.

All of these elements come together beautifully to culminate in the predictable happy ending, and the journey to get there is definitely enchanting reading! Malcolm decides to pay close attention to Nana Vancy's motto, "Words have power", and this turns out to be the  big clue as to what missing ingredient there is in his courtship of Kennedy.

I love the way Kennedy slowly warmed up to Malcolm as the weeks went by. It was obvious that she was really lying to herself about her feelings for him. Being stubborn in the extreme, and fiercely independent, she resisted his efforts to court her, as this was actually what he was doing. She simply didn't want an unwanted pregnancy to be the basis of their marriage. She wanted something love. And poor, bumbling, sweet Malcolm didn't have a clue! 

Adding to the whole warmhearted, festive atmosphere was the inclusion of the adopted dogs. Although I don't consider myself "a dog person", I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel, to the point that I really wish the canines had been given more prominence in the story. 

This was a great Christmas read! I recommend it highly to all fellow Christmas romance fans out there! Just get settled in front of your roaring fire (or crank up the A/C, as I have to do), and get ready for a wonderful time in the town of Cupid Falls!  


 Holly Jacobs leads a life full of romance and adventure. From skydiving to jet-setting around Europe, from snorkeling in coral reefs to writing while wearing beautiful silk peignoir sets and popping chocolate bonbons, Holly Jacobs leads a life that is the epitome of romance...

Well, my fictional life sounds more interesting, but not better than my real life. Really, I'm the happily married mother of four. I cook a lot, garden and weave baskets! I write for Montlake Romance and Harlequin. My books range from lighthearted comedies to more serious dramas and now even mysteries...but at heart, they're all stories of love.

I don't always set out to write a series of books, but seem to find myself gravitating to them. Because so many people have asked, I've posted lists of all my series in order at I really try to make each story stand alone, but many of my readers enjoy reading the series in order. Hope this helps!

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Oh, holy night!
The stars are brightly shining,
it is the night of the dear
Savior's birth!

Fall on your knees!
Oh, hear the angel voices!
Oh, night divine,
oh, night, when Christ was born!
Oh, night divine...

Santa Claus is coming to town!
He's making a list
and checking it twice,
Gonna find out
who's naughty and nice!
Santa Claus is coming to town!

I would like to wish
all of you who celebrate
this wonderful holiday
a most joyous and beautiful
Christmas, full of peace
and the love of all of your family,
but especially...
His own special love!