Thursday, May 27, 2021

Review - Red, White & Royal Blue

 A couple of weeks ago I read what has got to be my absolutely favorite book of the year so far: Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston

It's the story of a fake friendship turned real romance between the First Son of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz and Prince Henry of Wales. 

The story was fabulous and incredibly well-written. It drew me in until I had fallen in love with both these characters the more I read. The writing portrayed a lot of very dynamic, intelligent people all navigating the world of politics and royal life while at the same time helping two young men navigate their own sexuality as they developed and deepened their friendship. 

I wrote the following review in Goodreads

No idea why I waited as long as I did to read this book, so please don’t ask. I fell in love with both Alex and Henry - such amazing, rich - as in a lot of depth rich, intelligent, funny, vulnerable, complex, wonderful characters.

This story was incredible. I devoured it and read it through to well past midnight so I could finish it all in one sitting. Yeah - I was tired at work on the 14th, but it was oh so worth it!

I loved this book so much that a couple days after I read it on my nook, I used an audible credit and listened to it all over again. I’m pretty sure I want to listen to it again! Ramon de Ocampo did a fantastic job portraying all the different characters. I was even more afraid of Zahra after listening to him (him = de Ocampo) tell the story.

Read this book. It’s a beautifully woven love story between two young men who, though some self-discovery and a blossoming friendship are discovering it really is ok to be true to themselves.

Pretty sure this is my absolute favorite book that I’ve read so far this year and with the pandemic, working from home, and no kids? I’ve read a lot so far. This book was magnificent!

And it's completely true. It was magnificent. I also listened to it on Audible shortly after I read the actual book! On Audible, the book was narrated by Ramon de Ocampo who did an excellent job of portraying all the various characters and languages in the book. (Book was in English with parts of the dialogue in Spanish. 

Shortly after reading this book, I found a Facebook group devoted to fans of this novel which I recommend you find. The best part is some of the fan art of Alex and Henry which is a spectacular rendition of the two men together, drawn out from various scenes throughout. 

In the Facebook group, I received a recommendation to try Boyfriend Material as well, which shows the fake boyfriend, budding romance between Luc and Oliver. I read and enjoyed that book as well.

Both books told wonderful love stories that included emotional moments combined with humor and snark at times - something to which I can definitely relate! 

Casey McQuiston - Red, White & Royal Blue (Goodreads - Barnes & Noble - Amazon)

Alexis Hall - Boyfriend Material (Goodreads - Barnes & Noble - Amazon)

Happy reading! 

 - Heather

Twitter - @GrantsCrossing

Instagram - @GrantsCrossing

Goodreads - H.M.S. Brown


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Book Mail - L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón

It’s always a good day when I receive book mail. Today’s book is L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón, author of Esperanza’s Box of Saints. It’s an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) I received thanks to a book giveaway via Goodreads. The book itself is slated to hit the shelves in September. 

I always love to receive an ARC as it makes me feel like I’m an insider getting a sneak peek of some really terrific upcoming books. OK fine. So I’m not really an insider, but it’s certainly fun to get them early. 

L.A. Weather is the story of a prominent Mexican family whose parents plan a divorce after 40 years of marriage making their 3 grown daughters question themselves about their own relationships. Per the write-ups I’ve seen, it promises to be well-written story with bits of humor thrown in along the way. 

I can’t wait to read this one! 

Happy reading! 

     - Heather

Twitter - @GrantsCrossing

Instagram - @GrantsCrossing

Goodreads - H.M.S. Brown

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Review - Garrett Valor Series

These are so much better than the Harlequins I read in high school!

Julie Anne Lindsey is one of my absolute favorite authors and I'm currently in the point of pre-ordering every book she says is coming out because I know it's a guaranteed good story. I first came to know her as Bree Baker, her pseudonym for the Seaside Cafe cozy mystery series and yes - I'll probably post something about each series because that's how I roll. But, the stories are all fun, well-written, filled with fun, lovable, and quirky characters. As for the whodunnits? Well, they're not given away until she's ready to give them away. Just what I want in a cozy mystery. And yes, I have book #6, Partners in Lime (Barnes & Noble - Amazon) pre-ordered and know she's working on Book 7 which will, sadly, be the last book of the series. (Come on, Everly and Grady. Snap to it)

Because I know she's a good mystery writer, when I learned she also wrote Romantic Suspense novels for Harlequin Intrigue, I just had to read them and they did not disappoint.

Yeah. I'm hooked.I'm especially hooked on series of books that gives a full book to each member of the family. In the case of the Garrett Valor series, each Garrett brother is working on law enforcement, usually being brought into each others cases to offer up support. 

There are actually four books featuring the Garrett Brothers, so I recommend reading them in this sequence: 

1. Federal Agent Under Fire - Blake, an FBI agent, hunts down a serial killer, protecting Marissa Lane along the way. 
2. The Sheriff’s Secret - This follows West, the town Sheriff, as he tracks down someone stalking his former girlfriend. 
3. Shadow Point Deputy - In this book, Cole, a deputy working for his brother, West, follows the clues and protects a witness from a criminal that just might be a dirty cop. 
4. Marked by the Marshall - In the fourth book of the series, Ryder, the U.S. Marshall of the family, is in pursuit of a serial arsonist who is now targeting Ryder's ex-fiancée.
All the books are great reads with believable characters and the women who are in danger aren’t all the types who whine or constantly fail to follow basic instruction. No - they’re all smart, strong, have common sense, are independent thinkers and totally fall for the Garrett brother who’s assigned to protect them. Heck, if the Garrett brothers existed in real life, you'd fall for them, too.

I loved getting to know the whole family - even Uncle Henry, though I hear, as a paramedic, he's not going to get his own book. Life can be so unfair sometimes. He still gets to save the day in a couple of books.

The stories are fun - believable, suspenseful, action-packed and also quick reads because you can’t put them down! Sleep is overrated anyway.

Julie Anne Lindsey has two other Harlequin book series that follow families of law enforcement professionals (Heartland Heroes) or military veterans working security (Fortress Defense).

Julie Anne Lindsey's books can be found in stores and online wherever you buy your books. She has published under several pseudonyms. They are Julie Anne Lindsey - Bree Baker - Jacqueline Frost - Julie Chase - but all her books can be found on her official website.

Already available for pre-order is a new cozy mystery series set to debut this fall. Burden of Poof will be the first of at least eight Bonnie and Clyde mysteries that I can't wait to read.

Happy Reading!

        - Heather

Twitter - @GrantsCrossing

Instagram - @GrantsCrossing

Goodreads - H.M.S. Brown

Monday, May 10, 2021

Review - Anchored Hearts by Priscilla Oliveras

May 11, 2020 - that's when I read my first romance novel since I was in high school. If you're wondering how long that's been, I graduated from high school in 1987. 

So yeah. It had been a while. 

The book I read was by an author whose books I'd never read before named Priscilla Oliveras. I had heard of her only because I'm in the Between the Chapters Book Club, a Facebook group hosted by Kensington Books, a publishing house under the umbrella of Penguin Random House. So for fun, I decided to try the book. It was one of the May books of the month. I liked the cover. I'd seen it in a couple of Emails. Why not? 

Why not, indeed! Island Affair is a fake boyfriend/girlfriend romance that was a ton of fun and turned into the real thing for a happily ever after at the end of the book. Sara and Luis. Swoon. How could you not love it? It's a fantastic book - filled with a woman in Key West whose boyfriend basically stood her up on this trip and Luis, a dreamy Latinx firefighter paramedic whose family is big and accepting and more than happy to see their son find love. (This is Book 1 of why you should never go up against a Cuban mami. You won't win. Just smile, nod, and say Si, Señora! For book 2 of this lesson, read Anchored Hearts. No. Really.)

Thanks to this book, I've been hooked on reading romance novels nearly non-stop since last May11. No really. It's true. 
Her latest book, Anchored Hearts, book #2 of the Keys to Love series just came out and does not disappoint! 

There’s nothing better than returning to Key West to visit the Navarro and Miranda families. Oliveras’ earlier book, Island Affair was my visit visit to the Keys (in real life or fiction) and it’s also the book that piqued my interest in romance novels. Island Affair was the first romance novel I had read since high school and I graduated in ‘87. 

In Anchored Hearts, we return to spend time with Annamaria Navarro as she’s working hard as a paramedic / firefighter but also doing a fabulous job building her own business that centers on fitness and good nutrition. She’s making a name for herself in that industry and is making great progress at growing her business. 

Enter Alejandro Miranda, her first love who ran off to Europe after high school to pursue his dream of photography - breaking her heart in the process. Now, 10-12 years later, he re-enters her life after a serious accident that has him laid up at his parents’ home. It’s definitely a challenge since he doesn’t get along with his father who still harbours resentment towards his son for not joining the family business. 

Now, combine two broken hearts with their Cuban Mamis and there is sure to be a lot of fun and friction. 

Remind me never to say anything but yes, ma’am to any Cuban Mami who crosses my path. They sure are forces to be reckoned with - especially when they’re right! 

I love the rekindling of emotions between Annamaria and Ale that built throughout the story. Priscilla Oliveras’ writing style drew me in from the first page, as she has on all her other books I’ve made a point to read in the last several months. 

Following a constant theme of familia present in all her books, Anchored Hearts did not disappoint. I look forward to her next book. Definitely an author whose books I pick up on sight.

Priscilla Oliveras' other books include: 

* His Perfect Partner (Matched to Perfection #1)

* Her Perfect Affair (Matched to Perfection #2)

* Their Perfect Melody (Matched to Perfection #3) 

* Resort to Love (Paradise Key #2) 

* Holiday Home Run (which has a main character who played for the Chicago Cubs. Fictional main character, yes, but whenever my favorite baseball team makes an appearance, I like it that much more!)

Her books can be found most everywhere. Click here for a complete list

On social media, Priscilla Oliveras is always super friendly and is happy to welcome new romance readers into Romancelandia. I'm a romance novel convert thanks to her. Find her online here: Website - Twitter - Goodreads

Thanks and happy reading!

         - Heather

Find me online

Twitter - @GrantsCrossing

Instagram - @GrantsCrossing

Goodreads - H.M.S. Brown

Friday, May 7, 2021

Book of the Month - May

Subscription boxes are all the craze these days, especially since so many of us haven't been going out in the last year, opting instead for a lot more delivery services than usual. Subscription boxes ranging from wine to coffee to makeup to pizza to cleaning supplies are becoming more and more popular. Not wanting to be left out, I happily jumped on this bandwagon!

Last month, I signed up for a monthly subscription box of books. It's aptly named the Book of the Month Club. 

It's super basic and I love it. Each month, I choose one of five books and it's mailed to me. Simple as that. I'm welcome to pass on a month, cancel, keep it going. Whatever I want. 

This month's box arrived today. 

The book I chose is a thriller by Laura Dave: The Last Thing He Told Me (GoodreadsBarnes & Noble - Amazon

As with every month, I also get the option of grabbing an extra 1-2 books leftover from previous months. I did that this time around and ended up receiving these two gems. 

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (Goodreads - Barnes & Noble - Amazon)

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon (Goodreads - Barnes & Noble - Amazon

Yes, my new addiction to romance novels continues. I can't help it. I can't not read them. 

April's book was People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. (Goodreads - Barnes & Noble - Amazon). It's an early release, available for purchase starting May 11, 2021. I'm just now getting started on this book and am really enjoying it so far. 

Emily Henry is also the author of a bookI loved called Beach Read. (GoodreadsBarnes & Noble - Amazon). Beach Read is classified as a romance novel, yes, but I love how it follows two writers, each encountering writer's block for their own respective genres. Along the way they share with each other what typically inspires them to write. The romance is there, but takes a back burner to the friendship and mutual respect as writers that develop. It's a fantastic book! 

Have you signed up for any subscription boxes I our pandemic world? If so, I'd love to know what goodies you're having delivered to you every month!

Book of the Month is a fun club to join and while I'm barely into my second month, I can already tell I'm going to enjoy it. I look forward to sharing my reviews of these books in the coming weeks.

Take care and happy reading! 

             - Heather

Find me in your favorite places!

Twitter - @GrantsCrossing

Instagram - @GrantsCrossing

Goodreads - H.M.S. Brown

Tuesday, May 4, 2021


HELLO! It's been since October since I last gave you an update on my book writing adventures here in Columbus, Ohio.'s been a tad crazy. Sure. That's the pat answer folks give when they've been too busy to care about things and totally forgot. "Oh man.'s been crazy." Translation: "Oh shit. Totally forgot, dude."

In all honesty, I haven't forgotten. 

Have I been busy? Yes. Absolutely. 

Some of that is for work. I'm still working my logistics job from a 6-foot, fold up banquet table set up in the living room of my 650-square foot apartment near the awesome neighborhood called Grandview. I really like my job and I absolutely love the people I work with. We're a tight-knit group and we all get along fabulously well which makes this whole job worth it. We're also fairly compensated for the jobs we do. Did I get that $3 million signing bonus? No. Maybe I need to work on my negotiating skills. Or maybe, it's because people don't buy tickets to see me do my job like they do for athletes. 

Note to self: Cancel plans for merchandising rollout. 

Some of it has been because I work and then I read. That's pretty much it. I've read 109 books so far this year. And no - I don't mean in the year since the lockdown went into effect. (Because we're officially past a year now) I mean 109 books since January 1, 2021. No really. It's true. Check out my Goodreads page. While you're there, friend me! I like friends!

I have a cat and sure, like all self-respecting cats, she judges me nonstop, but that's it. No kids, No husband. A pandemic which has kept me at home - and I'm totally good with that. My being careful means I haven't gotten sick. But in non-pandemic times, I usually spend a lot of time at cafes, inevitably running into people I know. I go to my knitting group. I get together with friends for dinners. I go to the movies a lot. All that stopped last year. All of it. My knitting friends zoom on occasion, so we still "see" each other, but that's it. I have no commute, except for the few seconds it takes me to walk out to my living room. So how do I spend my time? I read and I write. 

Which brings me to writing. I received my book back from my editor, who is awesome. And she's honest. Before June 11, 2020, I'd never attempted any sort of creative writing. One exception: The Weaving Loom, which I wrote as a fluke in response to another Peace Corps volunteer who described the region to which I'd be moving in story form. I answered in kind. That was it. So when the editor got back to me with a paper that, if written in red ink would have made it look like it was bleeding, I knew I had my work cut out for me. 

Good parts, bad parts, indifferent parts and yes - I needed to hear it all. Basically - I had three entirely different story lines going. She articulated about my project that which I could not. So since then... I've removed 2/3 of the book and started again. I've kept some, I've added a lot and now it's turning into a book where the main character is more obvious. And more fun to write. And also a book I can be proud of. I'm pretty excited. 

So since Thanksgiving, when I got it back and yes - I was thankful for her quick and honest turnaround - I've been working on it. Of course - I've had several weeks when I couldn't decide what I wanted to write. I think I seriously got back into it in February or March. 

Along with working on my Grant's Crossing Book 1, which teeters between contemporary fiction and romance, I've started 3 others. I'm currently working on a RomCom with two characters pulled from book 1. I have another romance and another contemporary fiction that are just in the note-taking stages. I'm not sure that when Mom challenged me to write a book she meant to create a monster. 

Anyway - that's it with what I've been doing. I hope to finish up book 1 by Memorial Day so I can start editing the heck out of it. Then, I'm really excited about my RomCom and hope to get it to the editing-ready stage by July 4th. We'll see where I go beyond that. No idea if I'll stick to those dates, but whether I finish or not, it'll help prompt me to work on them. I know myself. I need the push. 

With this blog, since I'm the type that likes to review a lot of the books I read, I plan to start sharing them in here along with links to where they'll be online. I hope you enjoy them. 

Until then, Happy reading! 

 - Heather

Twitter - @GrantsCrossing

Instagram - @GrantsCrossing

Goodreads - H.M.S. Brown

Harold Addison Scribner - Radioman, Third Class, US Naval Reserve

  Today is May 27, 2024. Memorial Day. Congress passed a bill in 1971 that was signed into law to make Memorial Day always on a Monday so th...