Sunday, December 10, 2017

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 234: Two Similar Covers

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

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

This week, I'm comparing
two similar covers!

Karen Kingsbury
Hardcover, 272 pages
Howard Books
October 23 , 2014
   Christian Fiction, Christmas Romance,
Contemporary Romance

Angels at the Table
(Angels Everywhere, Book 7)
Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Ballantine Books
October 22, 2013
Christian Fiction, Christmas Romance,
Contemporary Romance

My Thoughts About These Covers

These two covers are undeniably  beautiful, each in its own way. However, if one compares them closely, one can see that the basic image is the same. We have the same green double doors (and what a GORGEOUS shade of green they are, too; I think it's called "Kelly Green"), the same brightly lit twin Christmas trees flanking steps leading to the doors, the same window space on each side of the doors. What makes these covers different is the very creative -- as well as brilliant -- digital manipulations of the basic image.

The cover of The Bridge clearly shows a bookstore, as we the viewers can see the shelves full of books through the windows on each side of the doors. The cover of Angels at the Table seems to display what could be a restaurant, all decked out for the holidays. It's not obvious what this venue is, though. We are unable to see clearly into the interior through those very same windows.

There are other, entirely fascinating, differences. There's a couple framed by the window inset on one of the doors, on the cover of The Bridge. The couple is obviously missing from the cover of Angels at the Table. Furthermore, the twin trees are more brightly and profusely lit on the second cover. Also, they are placed in some sort of vases. These vases are barely visible on the first cover; they are actually obscured. More differences: there's snow on the steps leading to the double doors, on the cover of Angels at the Table. There's no snow at all on the first cover, and you can't see the steps, as they, too, are obscured. Well, the first cover is much darker than the second one, overall. There's also a large awning above the double doors on the cover of the second book, while none at all on the first cover. 

Yet another difference between the two covers is that the first one has strings of colored Christmas lights along the sides of the double doors, as well as around the title, The Bridge. These lights are not present on the second cover.

The author's name, on the first cover, appears at the bottom of the image, while, on the second cover, it appears at the top. The fonts used on both covers are very similar, except for the title of The Bridge, which uses a very elegant, script font.

One subtle difference is that the second cover has a "painterly feel" to it, while the first one is definitely a photograph. I think that "painterly feel" is most likely due to more digital manipulation, since the second cover uses the same basic image as the first.

There are other, more sublte differences between the two covers, but the ones I have mentioned are the most immediately noticeable ones.

These covers show what can be done with images if they are placed in the hands of highly talented, highly creative artists and designers!

The designer of the first cover is Jaime Putorti, who is the Design Director at Simon and Schuster. Although he's on LinkedIn, I was unable to access his complete profile. There's a Facebook page, but there are no posts on it.

As for the second book, I was completely unable to get any information about the cover designer, but perhaps it was Putorti himself, having digitally manipulated an image he had previously used on another cover.

If I am later on able to get more information about the designer(s) of these two covers, I will return and add it to this post. Meanwhile, all I can do is admire these two GORGEOUS covers that are so similar to each other, and yet, so different!

What do you think of 
this week's covers?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Release Blitz/Giveway!! Holidays Ever After Romance Holiday Boxed Set

Get ready to heat up your holidays when you treat yourself to Holidays Ever After!

Holidays Ever After: Contemporary Romance Holiday Boxed Set
Digital Edition, 3,209 pages
Carter & Bradley Publishing
December 5, 2017
Anthologies, Christmas Romance, 
Holiday Romance

About The Collection

Which holiday hottie will you unwrap first?

No matter the time of the year, it’s always the season for seduction!

From Spicy to Sweet and everything in between, this sizzling boxed set of TWENTY contemporary romances from today’s New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors will give you tons of holiday hunks to fall in love with.
Inside these pages you’ll find everything from sexy strangers and brooding billionaires to marines, firefighters, and the guy next door.

Whether you’re in the mood for a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or a New Year’s celebration, this limited edition Holidays Ever After anthology is packed with exclusive, full-length titles to lift your spirits. From Halloween to Kwanzaa, Valentines' Day, Norooz, and the Fourth of July, these stories will give your holiday season extra spark and will be the best romantic holiday bundle to hit your ereader this year!

Get ready to heat up your holidays when you treat yourself to Holidays Ever After!
Including stories from…
Colleen Charles
Monica Corwin
Amy L. Gale
Becca Fanning
Victoria Pinder
Alexa Padgett
Tuesday Embers
Khardine Gray
Holly Dodd
Liz Gavin
Jillian Quinn
Courtney Hunt
Vivi Holt
Kristen Luciani
Astrid Arditi
Rebekah R. Ganiere
Jessica Gray
Ja’Nese Dixon
Teresa Roman
Angela Corbett

A Moonlit Serenade
Alexa Padgett

“I have a surprise for you, Mercer Island. One of my favorite female singers is here, just waiting to sing you my favorite carol.”

I stiffened, but it was nothing compared to the tenseness radiating from Ryn. Mila’s face lost its smile. She touched Ryn’s arm.

“He didn’t tell me. I would’ve told him not to.”

“He doesn’t mean me,” Ryn said, voice faint.

“You know why it’s my favorite?” Murphy winked. “Because she’s singing it.”

The crowd hooted and howled. Small children screamed and clapped. Probably the best tree lighting concert they’d ever have.

“Join me, Ryn Hudson. The folks here need some more Christmas spirit.”

Ryn turned to me, wide-eyed. Murphy boxed her in, and I wasn’t happy about it. And by the pulse beating in her throat, she wasn’t either.

“I don’t perform in front of crowds,” she whispered, her voice as desperate as her eyes.

Murphy beckoned her up, beaming like he’d just handed her a huge cash check.  I might just bloody his face for this.

“It’ll be all right,” I said, keeping my voice soothing. “It’s just like performing for your babies. You’re so good with them.”

“Because they’re babies! And they don’t care, really.”

The crowd began to grow impatient, craning to see who Murphy was waving to. The smile slid from his face as he caught a glimpse of mine, then Mila’s. Ryn’s was buried in my chest, as she shuddered through another breath.

“I’ll come up with you. You can do this.”

She tipped her head back and met my eyes. “What if I suck?”

I smiled as I swiped her cheek with the pad of my thumb. “You won’t because you can’t. That voice of yours is mesmerizing.”

She sucked in a breath and nodded. “Okay. But don’t leave me.”

I turned her toward the stage and clasped her hand. “Promise.”

She climbed the steps to the stage, her hand gripping mine. The crowd clapped politely but they already shifted, unsure of the newcomer who took too long to respond. My heart rose into my throat. The crowd needed to accept her, love her, like they had Murphy.

“Whatcha gonna sing for us, love?” Murphy asked.

She looked out over the audience, gauging their reaction to her. “Well, I didn’t really have anything planned.”

Murphy raised his eyebrow, as if his douchery were finally settling over him. “Jake here says you like ‘Jingle Bells.’” Murphy smiled for the crowd, who hadn’t heard Ryn’s response, but this time his grin was strained.

Ryn took a deep breath and let go of my hand. She removed her mitten and held out her hand for the mic. Murphy handed it to her as trepidation built in his eyes. If Ryn bombed, Mila and I would ream his arse.

Before any of us could say anything, Ryn started singing. Those first few notes were midrange but powerful. “The First Noel…” As she continued to sing, Ryn closed her eyes and let the lyrics take her. I’d heard multiple stars sing this song. None gave me goosebumps like Ryn had when she hit the pure, high note in “Israel.”

The woman sang. And she did it without any accompaniment, without earplugs. Her talent overwhelmed me, and I stood as enraptured as the crowd as she finished the second verse.

She lowered the mic from her mouth and glanced back at me, where I stood in the shadows. “How was that?” she asked.

I stepped forward and wrapped my arm around her shoulder, pulling her close enough to whisper in her ear, “Amazing.”

She smiled and did a small wave before handing the microphone back to Murphy.

Murphy grinned and bowed.

She turned to leave, but the crowd booed, then began chanting, “More, more!”

I hissed out a breath, thankful and a bit overwhelmed by their reaction.

“How about one more song?” Murphy asked, wiggling his eyebrows. His piercing caught and flashed in the lights. “Give us a mo’ to confer. We’ve not sung together before.”

He turned off the mic and walked over to us. His face morphed onto the pained look I knew well. “I’m a bloody arse.”

“I don’t really like to sing for crowds.”

“Why not?” Murphy’s surprise built. “With pipes like those, I’d sing my way through life. And make some fine quid doing so.”

“She doesn’t, and that’s all that matters,” I growled, stepping closer to my brother.

Murphy met my gaze, his features austere in the lights. “Got it. Won’t happen again.” He blew out a breath. “Any song we all know so the crowd doesn’t riot?”

“‘Jingle Bells,’” Ryn and I said in unison. I grinned down at her, excited that we were already sync—excited to share my love of music with her.

Murphy turned on and raised the mic. “We need two more microphones and a stand,” he said, buying us a few more seconds. He dropped the mic back to his side.

I smiled down at Ryn. “We can ask the kids to sing, which the parents will like.”

“Smart, mate,” Murphy said. “But I haven’t played that one in years. A bit rusty on the chords.”

“I’ll play it,” Ryn said. “That is if you don’t mind me taking your instrument.”

“No worries.” Murphy handed it to her, and she took off her other glove, shoving it into her left pocket. Once the microphones were in place, we turned toward the audience, almost in perfect synchronization, and smiled.

“We’ve got a classic for ya,” Murphy crowed. The crowd hollered.

Ryn strummed the notes and all movement in the audience stopped. “All right, boys. Let’s jingle some bells.”

Murphy and I joined her, letting Ryn’s guitar chords set the pace. I went to stand next to her while Murphy hammed it up with the crowd.

“Remember how I did it with the kids?” she asked.

I nodded.

“Okay, that’s how we’re playing this audience.”

She began to play and Murphy stepped back, letting her own the limelight. Once again, Ryn’s voice was killer—precise yet meltingly sweet. Murphy kept time on his thigh, joining in for the chorus. I added some deeper bass as Ryn worked her way up to harmonize with Murphy. He grinned at her as she met him note for note. By the last verse, we owned the song. The crowd clapped and sang along. This was one of the best highs I’d ever gotten while performing.

“Your turn!” Murphy called to the crowd. “Jingle Bells…”

Their voices filled the cold night air, the festive mood building with each note.

“Fair dinkum!” Murphy yelled when it ended. “What did I tell ya? Ryn Hudson, everyone.”

We took our bows and headed off the stage. As the crowd surged forward, no doubt wanting our autographs, Claude and the rest of the security team stepped in front of us, a human line just behind the metal barricade.

Mila latched on to Murphy’s arm and from the set of her lips, I doubted Murphy would like her next comments. He hung his head and nodded as Mila led him away.

“You ready to be off?” I asked.

“She does have him in hand, huh?” Ryn said, her gaze lingering on Murphy and Mila, who was still giving him an earful.

“I’ll make sure he apologizes for putting you on the spot like that.”

Ryn laughed, and I realized she was still on the high from a great performance. “It’s fine. Mila’s dealing with him, and I had fun. Lots of it.”

I brushed her hair back and pulled out her mittens from her pockets, holding them up so she could slide her reddened fingers back inside. “I’m glad.”

“Ryn!” The voice was female, urgent. We both turned to see the sheila from her flat. Sam, Ryn had said. Her dead husband’s twin. Not bloody likely this would go well.

Sam plowed forward, chest heaving and cheeks stained with tears. “What were you thinking? You never perform for crowds!”

“I didn’t plan to, Sam. Murphy blindsided me. If he’d asked, I would’ve said no.”

“Please.” Sam’s voice dripped with scorn. “Clearly the limelight suits you.” She looked me over, her face crumpling. “Why are you here—with him?” Sam pointed at me. “What about Dez?”

Purchase Links

Paperback Readers Giveaway!!
The authors are hosting a giveaway of the 20 romance books in the Holidays Ever After Box Set! Just click HERE!


Friday, December 8, 2017

Book Blogger Hop No. 113: Reading Christmas Romance Novels

Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop,
hosted by Billy @

For more information, and 
to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.

This Week's Question

If you celebrate Christmas, do you
feel the need to stop reading
anything but Christmas-themed
romances as the holiday
season starts?

(Submitted  by Maria @ 

My Answer

Oh, ABSOLUTELY!! Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I LOVE everything about the season! I usually have my decorations up on Black Friday. I am, in fact, a Christmas addict! If you visit my blog during late November and all of December every year, you'll see just how true this is, lol. I actually feel depressed once the season is over.....

Christmas is the season of love and giving, so of course romance would be related to it! Therefore, at this time of year, I do indeed feel the need to drop all other genres, and only read Christmas romance novels. Although "A Christmas Carol" is my favorite Christmas-themed read, I also especially enjoy reading Regency romance novels during this time of the year. These are novels set in the period of British history in which Jane Austen wrote her own novels, so these modern novels are, of course, influenced to some extent by Austen's work. I have found this historical period fascinating since I first read Pride and Prejudice when I was in high school.

In the Regency novel genre, the absolute QUEEN, in my honest opinion, is Mary Balogh. I have never come away from a Balogh novel feeling either bored or unsatisfied. And I mean NEVER. This writer truly excels at creating memorable characters, and her plots are delightful! She incorporates humor into her novels, too, much the same way Austen did.

Balogh has some really wonderful Christmas romances, whether novels or shorter fiction. Whichever one I read, I KNOW I will definitely get some very warm fuzzies!

In recent years, I have started reading contemporary Christmas romance novels, as well. The first author that comes to mind here is Melody Carlson. In 2013, I read her omnibus collection, The Treasure of Christmas, which includes 3 novellas: The Christmas Bus, The Gift of Christmas Present, and Angels In The Snow. These were all WONDERFUL!  

Another of my favorite contemporary romance authors who writes GREAT Christmas romance is Sarah Morgan! Last year, I read Miracle On 5th Avenue, and this year, Sleigh Bells in the Snow. I really enjoyed them both, and want to read more of her books, including those that have nothing to do with Christmas!

Then there's Scarlett Bailey's Just For Christmas. Not only do I LOVE this book's cover, but the story inside is set in Cornwall (England), and is chock-full of the perfect Christmas spirit!

I've even read some paranormal Christmas romances, mostly those featuring vampires. Of course, these vamps are not  Dracula clones. Oh, no! These are ROMANTIC vamps. They don't go around killing people. They either visit blood banks, or drink synthetic blood. I'm thinking here of the novels of Kerrelyn Sparks and Lynsay Sands. Both of these authors actually inject humor into their novels. If this seems odd, you just have to pick up one of their books and see for yourself!

I have read All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire, by Sparks, and want to read The Bite Before Christmas, by Sands. (I have read a few of her non-Christmas romances, and laughed a LOT at the antics of her famous Argeneau clan.) The Sparks book was VERY funny indeed, and I'm sure the Sands one will be, too!

As you can see, reading Christmas romance novels is one of my treasured holiday traditions, right along with all of the typical ones!

Here's a list of some of my favorites. I have reviewed several of these. Just click on each book cover for either my review or the Goodreads page.

(For my individual reviews of each novella, check out my Book Reviews page.)

What are your thoughts on
this topic?
If you're participating in this hop,
I'll go comment on your 
own BBH post.
If not, I will then comment on one 
of your blog posts!
Thanks for visiting!!!  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Book Review: A Heart for the Holidays, by Dana Volney

A Heart for the Holidays
Dana Volney
Kindle Edition, 121 pages
Crimson Romance
November 21, 2016
Christmas Fiction, Christmas Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance,Novella,
Women's Fiction


Silver Morgenstern had a thriving, meaningful career as a surgeon working for charity organizations in war-torn countries. Then her life changed with one flick of the wrist. Now she's back in Wyoming, serving as an administrator at the local hospital. But shuffling paperwork is nothing compared to saving lives.

Five years ago, Fisher Tibbs founded the successful social program Combat Children's Hunger. Giving back to kids brings a sparkle to his eye, especially after the loss of his own young daughter, but it can't mend the very real fissure in his heart. Ready to see his child again, he's preparing and planning a future for CCH that he won't get to witness.

But when Fisher's application to be removed from the heart transplant list comes across Silver's desk, her next mission is clear: convince him life is worth the fight. But she never expects that the struggle to rescue his heart might just save her own.

What a wonderful, inspiring, romantic read, and so full of the Christmas spirit, too! I wanted to enjoy something quick, yet satisfying, so I could fit in several Christmas books this season. This short novel fit the bill perfectly!

The romantic leads were skillfully and realistically depicted, in spite of the short length involved here. Both were great people, both full of life, and charismatic. Most important of all, they shared one very important value: that of improving and saving people's lives.

Silver has been dealing with the loss of her surgical practice for some time now. Along with that loss has come a restlessness, a sense of emptiness, as she feels she's not making that much of a difference in the world as a hospital administrator. When she learns that a heart patient who is on a transplant waiting list wants his name taken off the list, she decides to investigate, as well as to attempt to convince him to change his mind. Suddenly, she has a purpose again. She is determined to personally make sure that this man stays on that list.

Fisher Tibbs has found meaning in his own life -- to some extent, as he's still mourning the loss of his young daughter. He finds it very rewarding to interact with the children and staff at his charitable organization, which is so needed in the town. He's a well-known and well-respected citizen, but no one is aware of the deep grief that burdens him. Finally, in spite of the rewarding feelings he gets from the CCH, he decides that what he really wants is to allow his life to come to an end.

How Silver goes about her self-imposed mission of saving Fisher's life, and in the process, falling in love with him, as he does with her, is a beautiful story. These are two of the most loving, giving people I've ever come across in romantic fiction! And I was so happy that the author focused on the bigger picture right along with the romance! The reader not only gets a window into the personalities of these two characters, but also into the workings of the organization founded by Fisher, and its positive effects on the children of the town.

In a way this story reminded me of the classic Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life". Not that there is any similarity in the plots of each. The theme, however, is the same: the importance of each human life, and the far-reaching effects of one life on the lives of others. Just as George, in the film, is deterred from committing suicide, and comes to understand how his life has positively impacted the lives of others, so Fisher is deterred from letting his heart fail, and comes to see how his own life has positively affected the lives of all the children who would not have had decent meals were it not for his social program.

I was happy to see that, although there was obviously strong physical attraction between Silver and Fisher, the author did not include any sex scenes -- graphic or otherwise -- in this short novel. Instead, she concentrated on personality dynamics, as well as on the emotional currents between the two leads, as well as on how each handled their own search for ultimate meaning. 

In short, this novel packs quite a bit of idealism, as well as philosophical weight, in only 121 pages, along with the holiday romance! I also like the double meaning in the title -- the physical heart, and the spiritual synonym of the word "compassion".

Short, sweet, clean, and highly inspirational (which is ironic, since Volney does not write Christian romance novels), this is a real Christmas treat! 


 Dana Volney lets her imagination roam free in Wyoming, where she writes romance and helps local businesses succeed with her marketing/consulting company. Splitting her time between telling sexy, fast-paced suspense stories and sweet holiday romances, she likes to try new adventures in real life whenever she can (which, let's face it, means tasting all sorts of delicious cuisines). Dana is bold, adventurous, and -- by her own admission -- good with plants, having kept a dwarf lemon tree alive for six months.