Friday, February 24, 2017

Guest Post: Love, Hate, and Why I Write by Deirdre Riordan Hall

I'm thrilled to have Deirdre Riordan Hall on the blog today to talk about why she writes what she writes. Until recently, I was most familiar with her YA books, so I was interested to know why she decided to make the leap to women's contemporary fiction (especially since I've done the same in the span of my own 5-year writing career). Deirdre was kind enough to write a post for my readers, and I love her reasons for wanting to branch out and try her hand at all kinds of stories. 

Love, Hate, and Why I Write
By Deirdre Riordan Hall

I'm nothing if not unconventional. I tend to do things backwards, inside out, sideways… When given the traditional path or something else, guess which way I'll go? I don't know if it's a quirk in my biochemistry or that I prefer to eat my pie from the crust to the middle, but that's how I roll—or bite as the case may be. And it's no different with my writing life.
Years and years ago, I started with screenplays and picture books then dove into young adult fantasy fiction, took a new adult detour, returned to young adult fiction—paranormal, then contemporary, then fantasy, then back to contemporary… In between the writing and publication of YA contemporary my novel Sugar (and then Pearl) I also tried my hand at middle grade and then back to young adult (I always return to my home in YA). To date have written about thirty manuscripts. Do you see a pattern here? 


That's because there isn't one. 

So why do I write what I write? 

I write what I want to read and to answer the inspiration and story ideas given to me. But more concretely, I write because I feel the need to connect the dots between what I'm feeling and the big picture—the universal, the you and me. To bridge the feeling of loneliness with the knowledge that we're linked. To bring a world beyond what is at our doorstep or in our kitchen or on the screen to inky life. To remind myself and everyone else that we're not the sum of who we've been told we are. 

We get to define ourselves. We're bigger and bolder and brighter than we could ever imagine. It's through fiction that I find courage and strength and possibility. I uncover magic and love and light. I discover that it's you and me not us and them. In Sugar, a young adult contemporary novel, I told the story of the heroine who was told she was too much yet not enough. She found her more than enough and set the world alight with her courage. Pearl was dealt a crappy hand, had a grim home life, but was given a way out. Even though she proved human and made mistakes, she forged her own way forward, breaking the abusive and addiction riddled cycles of the past. 

In my new adult series, Follow your Bliss, each of the main characters takes a long look in the mirror and decides to define life on her terms and have fun while doing it. In Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told, my latest and a romantic comedy, Navy is lost, but finds herself—and love—in books, romantic fiction with book boyfriends to be exact. Her best friend urges her to come out from the pages and live more by daring her to go on a series of dates leading up to Valentine's Day. Navy ultimately goes along with the plan and experiences a series of sexy, unfortunate, exhausting, and bizarre encounters that she documents on her blog. Not the least of which is with her nemesis, Carrick, who she successfully avoided for years. But he's like an itch, one she resists scratching until he reveals the truth about who he is and what he's been doing for the last decade. But Navy has secrets of her own and it's not until she learns to trust again that she lets the people who care most about her into her life and steps out of her box (aka her tiny studio apartment in Manhattan). 

I think the beating heart of this book is that despite the main character feeling betrayed and alone, there's an underpinning of interconnectedness she discovers when she reaches out, stretches past her comfort zone, and turns up the volume on her life. 

This storyline came to me in the form of the main character going on a series of dates that aren't Instagram worthy. Well, Bash's dinners are 😉 but the rest, well, they're certainly blog worthy disasters. I wanted to integrate the dating aspect and the quest for love in a more mature way than I felt I could portray in YA, while leading the story with humor and heart. The best vehicle, one I hadn't yet attempted, was women's romantic comedy. 

I'm a big fan of Alice Clayton, Emily Giffin, and more recently Sally Thorne. The books by these authors have depth, but also feel like a little escape into someone else's drama and reliably have a happy ending, which I'm all for! So I took a chance. More than anything, after the second half of 2016 that I had personally and what we experienced here in the US (where I live), I felt like we could all use some more love in our lives as well as comic relief and an escape, at least for the space of 300-plus pages. 

As a hybrid author, both traditionally published and self-pubbed, I have a list of books I'm hoping to see in print this coming year while I co-write an exciting YA with Cheyanne Young. Available on Valentine's Day is the follow up novella to Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told following Kat's story: How Not to Fall in Love.

After that, I'll be back at it with young adult contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and then some middle grade to finish the year. It's a big year! My motto for 2017 is: go big or go back to work. I have a lot of exciting things in store and hope you'll join me for the twisting, turning, plot-twisting ride. 


Thank you so much for being here today, Deirdre! As someone who writes the stories in her heart and mind, regardless of genre or age category, I enjoyed reading about your own writing journey. 

Be sure to check out my reviews for her two latest releases, Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told and How Not to Fall in Love

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review: How Not to Fall in Love by Deirdre Riordan Hall

How Not to Fall in Love by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Series: Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told 1.5
Published: February 14th, 2017
Publisher: Self-published
146 pages (ebook)
Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction
Acquired this book: Gift
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon US || Amazon CAN}

Katya's middle name may be Aphrodite, but she has no interest in relationships. In fact, she has three rules she lives by:

1. Never spend the night.

2. Never sleep with the same guy twice.

3. Never fall in love.

Oh, and number 3.1 is never order the same coffee two days in a row.

That's a lot of nevers, but when she breaks every single one of them, repeatedly (her undoing was a vanilla latte with a heart in the foam, BTW), she begins to wonder…

Actually, it was a batch of chocolate chip cookies that started her downward spiral. Never mind, scratch that, it was Spencer—her neighbor. He's also a banker, a player, and seems to know just what Kat wants, which isn't love.

Until they start to spend a lot of time together…

Until she finds one of his socks at her place...

Until they go to a ski resort for a long weekend…

Until he has a snowboarding injury…

As Kat struggles with the part of her that wants to be strong, single, and on the scene and the mushy, melty, romantic within, she tries desperately not to fall in love. But what's wrong with falling if you have someone with dark tousled hair, refined yet ruggedly handsome features, and chiseled abs to catch you?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

When I read Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told, I found myself as interested in Katya as I was in Navy. She seemed to lead an interesting life, and she clearly had some issues in her past that caused her to be the way she was. I was happy to hear she was getting her own story with How Not to Fall in Love.

I liked Katya a lot. She was an interesting mixture - on the one hand, she seemed to have it together, but underneath she was damaged by things that happened in her past and was struggling. She seemed happy with her life of no commitments and didn’t have plans to change, but deep down she was a romantic who needed to learn a few lessons about life and love in order to open up her heart. I enjoyed watching her growth and found myself cheering her on. Of course, it didn't hurt that Spencer was hot and swoony and ended up being really good for Katya in a lot of ways. Their romance was believable and enjoyable.

How Not to Fall in Love is a sweet, funny, romantic novella that can be read as a standalone. If you’re looking for a something light and feel-good, be sure to give this one a try!

{My review of Sugar || My review of Pearl
Have you read How Not to Fall in Love or Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told? What did you think? If you haven't read them, do you plan to? Have you read any women's fiction lately that you'd recommend?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Series: Standalone
Published: January 17th, 2017
Publisher: Self-published
300 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon US || Amazon CAN}

Let go from her job and feeling lost, Navy Carrington takes a position as coffee-girl at a publicity firm. Their newest client is Carrick Kennely, the former love of her life and her fiercest adversary. She thought she'd let go of the past by playing it safe with book boyfriends—and avoiding frustratingly sexy guys like Carrick.

When Navy's roommate finds the Boyfriend Book, a silly relic leftover from Navy's teens, it prompts a dare; Navy is to go on five dates and pick one to be her Valentine. Despite her reservations, she can't say no, especially if it means proving to herself and Carrick that she can move on.

Navy chronicles her brief romantic entanglements with the Hottie in 7G, the Man-Bun-Barista, the Gym Stud, and the Book Boyfriend who turns out to be a toad—not the kind that when kissed turns into a prince—on The Boyfriend Book Blog. She doesn't want to let her readers or herself down, but as Valentine's Day nears, none of the guys comes close to being her one true love.

Except Carrick. He’s infuriating, attractive, confusing, catnip…and it turns out he has a secret.

With a love letter and a plane ticket in hand, Navy leaves her baggage behind and must decide between love, hate, and the lies she told to protect her fragile heart.

Having read and loved Dierdre Riordan Hall’s Young Adult novels Sugar and Pearl, I was excited to read her debut women’s fiction novel, Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told. For that reason, and because the author is a truly lovely person, I wanted to love the book, hurts my heart to say this...I didn’t. I’ve been reading a lot of women’s fiction lately, and rom-coms are totally my jam, both in book and movie form, so I had high hopes for this one. While the story had good elements and a fun premise, what kept me from ever fully connecting to it was Navy herself. There were things I sympathized with - mostly her feelings of being lost and unsure - but for the most part, I just couldn’t connect with her. She frustrated me from the beginning with how she constantly compared herself to Kat and laid out all the things she wasn’t - beautiful, fun, able to trust, successful, etc. She focused so much on negative things and on the past, and refused to move on. Every time she took one step forward, she ended up taking two or three steps back, and she was constantly going over how she’d been hurt, how she couldn’t trust men, especially Carrick, how she kept herself guarded, etc. I did appreciate her ultimate growth and how she really came into her own, but the journey was rocky.

All that being said, my issues with Navy could totally be ‘me things’ that might not bother other people. There were things I enjoyed about the book, such as Navy and Kat’s friendship. I’m a sucker for strong female friendships that have their ups and down, but where the characters ultimately love each other unconditionally. Navy’s dates were also fun and often had me smiling...and glad I’m not part of the dating scene!

I enjoyed the overall premise of Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told. Navy was an avid reader and had far more book boyfriends than real boyfriends - both of which I can relate to. I think many of us live inside fictional worlds for various reasons, and sometimes forget there’s a whole real world out there waiting to be discovered and lived in. It was nice to see Navy maintaining her love of books and book boyfriends while realizing she can still have a real and fulfilling life outside the pages.

Despite my issues, Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told was a book with a fun premise, interesting characters, and a lot of real-life emotion. If you’re a fan of women’s fiction, I’d encourage you to give this one a shot!


{My review of Sugar || My review of Pearl}

Have you read Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read any women's fiction lately that you'd recommend?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #5

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Book Date. The idea is to share what you've read lately, what you're currently reading, and what you plan to read next. I love seeing what other people are reading and then adding to my never-ending TBR, so I thought this would be a fun meme to participate in each week!

What I Read Last Week:
The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
This is the sequel to A Study in Charlotte, one of my favourite books of 2016. I loved seeing Charlotte and Jamie again and following along with their latest adventures. My review for this one will be up on the blog next week.
Dirty London by Kelley York
This book was just okay for me. I liked that it dealt with coming out and I loved the emphasis on family, but it was missing that special something that made me love it.

What I’m Currently Reading:
Let it Shine by Alyssa Cole
I realized recently that I've read WAY too few books written by women of colour, and I'm actively trying to change that. I kept seeing Let it Shine, and after an author friend of mine recommended it last week, I finally bought it. It's set during the 60s Civil Rights Movement, and since February is Black History Month I thought this would be the perfect book to read right now. 

What I Plan to Read Next:

How Not to Fall in Love by Deirdre Riordan Hall
This is the sequel to Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told, which came out last month. I'll have a review for both books, plus a guest post from the author in the next week or two.
Love and Shenanigans by Zara Keane
I'm planning to do another Irish Week around St Patrick's Day like I did last year, and I have a few books I want to read either set in Ireland and/or written by Irish authors, including this one. If you have any recommendations for books set in Ireland or written by Irish authors, please let me know!

Last Week on the Blog

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of the books I've been reading? I'll be doing the rounds of fellow It's Monday! What Are You Reading? participants, but in case I miss you, be sure to leave a link below so I can visit you! Also, if you did a general weekly recap, feel free to leave a link so I can check it out!

2017 Love-a-Thon: X Meets Y

The Love-a-Thon is hosted by Alexa of Alexa Loves Books, Cee of The Novel Hermit, Kristin of Super Space Chick, and Mel of The Daily Prophecy. Follow along on social media using the hashtag #LoveaThon

My Love-a-Thon posts so far:
Mad Libs: Fairytale Edition
Mix and Match Challenge

Other places to find me this weekend:

♥  ♥  

The idea for this challenge is for us to combine the books and TV shows/movies we love in some way, in order for other people to find new recommendations for things to check out.

I took three of my favourite TV shows and paired them with three awesome books with similar themes or characters.

If you like Doctor Who, try Jackaby by William Ritter. When it first came out, it was being advertised as 'Doctor Who Meets Sherlock', which a) excited me because I love both, and b) made me slightly wary since those are two popular shows and books advertised that way often don't like up to their hype. However, this is one of those books that totally does live up to it. It definitely has a Doctor Who and Sherlock vibe with its own unique elements and characters. 

If you like Sherlock, try Every Breath by Ellie Marney. The premise of this one is 'What if Sherlock Holmes was the boy next door?' and it is SO. FREAKING. GOOD. Set in Australia and featuring a female 'Watson' character, this is one of my absolute favourite Sherlock-related books.

If you like Supernatural, try Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. This book is so spooky and creepy, and is totally the type of thing you'd see Sam and Dean dealing with in an episode of Supernatural.

Do you watch any of these shows? Have you read any of these books? Are there other books you'd pair with my choice of shows?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

2017 Love-a-Thon: Sweethearts Candy Messages

The Love-a-Thon is hosted by Alexa of Alexa Loves Books, Cee of The Novel Hermit, Kristin of Super Space Chick, and Mel of The Daily Prophecy). Follow along on social media using the hashtag #LoveaThon

My Love-a-Thon posts so far:
Mad Libs: Fairytale Edition
Mix and Match Challenge
Book Spine Poetry

Other places to find me this weekend:

♥  ♥  

You’ve received a box of Sweethearts candy, and you’re asked to share the candy with a person or couple – fictional or real. Tell us who you’d give these messages to:

* LOVE WINS: A couple I didn’t think would get together, but against all odds, they did is Simon and Blue from Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

* I DO: A character I’d marry is Jamie Fraser from Outlander *swoon*

* DREAM BIG: A character whose dreams I want to come true is Tim from The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

* CRAZY 4 U: A character I’m crazy about is Etienne St Claire from Anna and the French Kiss

* TRUE LOVE: My ultimate OTP is Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables

* TE AMO: A language I’d want to be wooed in is Italian, and I’d like Luca from A Place in the Sun by RS Grey to do the wooing

* BFF: I’d want Alex from London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton as my best friend. She’s a total nerd like me, she loves London, plus she has anxiety so she’d undertand what it’s like for me

* WINK WINK: A character I’d want to wink at me is Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

* SWEET TALK: A character who knows how to sweet talk/flirt is Easy from the Wild Aces trilogy by Chanel Cleeton

* BEST DAY: A moment from a book I wish happened to me...well, this is spoilery so all I’ll say is the Point Zero moment in Isla and the Happily Ever by Stephanie Perkins
* OOH LA LA: A character I’d want to slow dance with is Ed Sheeran. Oh wait, he’s a real person. I’ve been watching the video for Thinking Out Loud too much! ;-) Ok, I’ll go with another adorable ginger: Ron Weasley

* LOVE YOU: The character that gets my undying love is Gilbert Blythe

2017 Love-a-Thon: Book Spine Poetry

The Love-a-Thon is hosted by Alexa of Alexa Loves Books, Cee of The Novel Hermit, Kristin of Super Space Chick, and Mel of The Daily Prophecy). Follow along on social media using the hashtag #LoveaThon

My Love-a-Thon posts so far:
Mad Libs: Fairytale Edition
Mix and Match Challenge

Other places to find me this weekend:

♥  ♥  

Since you've been gone,
Every move,
Every breath,
Every word,
What I thought was true.
The year we fell apart,
Forever, interrupted

So, while I kinda love this one, it's also sort of depressing (haha), so I did another quick one with one of my great loves: London 

There you'll find me.
This I know:
London belongs to me.

I can't wait to see everyone else's attempts at book spine poetry!
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