DARKER DAYS by Jus Accardo – Sinful!

I would like to say THANK YOU to Anjana At Entangled Publishing for the awesome copy of this read. I’m a big Jus Accardo fan. In fact, I’m a HUGE Entangled fan! Below is the review I posted on Goodreads. If you get a chance, pick up this puppy! It’s fun. It’s hot. And it’s certainly kick ass!

DarkerDays-500

 

Darker Days (The Darker Agency, #1)Darker Days by Jus Accardo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy biscuits and gravy do I love the Entangled group! Jus Accardo’s DARKER DAYS is another Entangled book that I absolutely loved.

Jessie Darker is NOT your typical teen. She’s not even a ‘normal’ one, but I won’t get into that for fear of dropping too many spoilers. Nana nana boo boo! Jessie works for her mom at the Darker Agency, which is a PI office of sorts. But they also specialize in some of the ‘darker’ aspects, such as zombies, demonic possessions, and any other thing that goes bump in the night. The Darker gals are at the top of their game, but when someone finds, and opens, a box containing the Seven Deadly Sins, all best are off!

If you are a fan of Miss Jus’ DENAZEN series, you will love DARKER DAYS. Jus has a fantastically twisted brain that I just love. She’s created a world that isn’t like anything I’ve read (so far) and was a pleasure to immerse myself in it.

The town of Penance (total tongue in cheek moment) has all your everyday stuff: high school, the wrong side of town, the better side of town, deep rooted history, and all that jazz. Unseen by most, and what the Darker Agency keeps a tight lip on, is the ‘other.’ Penance also has witches, weres, necromancers, and a healthy dose of demonic activity. When the box of sins is opened, it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

Our leading lady, Jessie, is a hoot and a half. She’s a self proclaimed “spunky” type of girl who definitely walks the walk. Jessie actually reminds me of Alex from HALFBLOOD or Rose from VAMPIRE ACADEMY. She’s tough, she’s got a serious mouth on her, and she’s simply wicked with quartz powder. Her mom trained her to take care of the ‘alternative’ cases the Darker Agency acquires, which happen to be Jessie’s favorite. But Jessie isn’t without faults. She tends to DO before she THINKS and it often gets her in above her head. Jessie also holds many people, especially boys, at arms length because the “L” word is something of which she wants nothing.

And then she meets Lukas.

Tall, dark, mysterious, and dare I say hot? Oh and he needs their help! Without giving too much info (no spoilers), I will say that Lukas has some serious intel on the box of sins and needs the Darker girls’ help to track it down.

Right off the bat, I liked Lukas. Despite Jessie’s ogling eyes, he was very adamant about hiring Jessie’s mom, not her. Ouch! Lukas is your down-home old-fashioned guy. He doesn’t always ‘get’ Jessie, but the two find some common ground and eventually hit it off. Speaking of old-fashioned, probably one of my favorite lines from DARKER DAYS was “‘I don’t spit anything, and I’m not sure what pissy beams are, but I’m fairly sure I don’t do them.’” Lots of laughing. Out loud.

To add to Lukas’ hotness factor, let’s just say he has some anger issues, and Jessie’s mojo is the only thing that seems to help him. SWOON!

DARKER DAYS was full of action and just enough swoon-worthy moments so it didn’t feel like a Bourne movie. Jus keeps us guessing throughout the whole story. She never gives us the whole deal and continues to drop important details to the plot/story as the time is right so as to not be overloaded. And believe me, there was tons of detail. The visuals were awesome and though Penance is a totally fictional place (I think), I had this revolving image of East Village New York. But that might just be me.

When the time came to cross over to the Shadow Realm, I was not disappointed. Jus weaves this sort of Tim Burton-esque world full of simply wicked visuals of dripping walls and rotten teeth.

The pace of DARKER DAYS left me gasping for air. Just when I thought I’d reached a point where I could do something, like eat, Jus dropped a bomb that begged to have the next page read. And the next. And the next…

Overall, the only part of DARKER DAYS I wasn’t too keen on was the similarities with the DENAZEN characters. Granted, (small confession time) I’ve only reach TOUCH so far, but the main characters of both books had parallels. But I didn’t mind too much as I really enjoyed TOUCH. There were just enough differences to make them not repetitive in nature.

In any event, DARKER DAYS is a nice twist on the norm, and not so norm, we live in. The action is breathtaking and the humor is second to none. Jessie is the kind of character I want to root for, and Lukas the kind I want to crush on. Even Jessie’s mom plays an integral part to the story and she’s 100% in Jessie’s corner, despite her daughter’s tendencies to break ALL the rules.

Get DARKER DAYS. Read it. Love it. Douse the pissy beams, just do it!

View all my reviews

PTSD the utopYAcon Way

I know what you’re thinking. “Odd title.” “She’s gone off the deep end.” “Is she medicated?” The quick answer: perhaps I should be. *snortle*

PTSD generally has a negative connotation. Not ’round these parts. For me it’s Post Transcendent Squee Disorder, a condition that rears it’s ugly head the moment you realize the next utopYAcon is a WHOLE FREAKIN YEAR AWAY! An ailment afflicting con attendees who fell victim to the magic that IS utopYAcon.

Last year, the virgin voyage of utopYAcon, was my first wee con and you can read my uber mushy PTSD blog post here. And when I say I cried, I totally did. Almost the ugly kind. But that’s what happens after utopYAcon! After two and a half days of complete immersion into a world of squishy community awesomeness, you sort of get addicted. Then the weekend passes and you come down off the utopYA high. You’re back to the real world, back to the writing task, the endless books, the same computer screen that mocks you with its blinking cursor. That’s where the PTSD kicks in.

As an attendee last year, I felt all the magic. It saturated the air much like Tennessee humidity. The whole ‘help you rise as I climb’ mentality soaks into every pore, urging you to be a part of that enigmatic world of the writing community. The thing is, it only feels enigmatic at OTHER cons. Not at utopYA. The community is very tangible, welcoming even, and will quite frankly snatch you by the lanyard if you linger too long in the corner. I felt it. I was part of it. It was part of me.

Then a couple months later, something amazing happened.

After one of our KidLit critique meets, Janet Wallace (aka: mama of the amazeballs utopYA) asked if I wanted to stay for a utopYAcon meeting. Of course I stayed. Pah-leeeze! Suddenly, I was a part of this amazing con and had the privilege to see how it all came together. Only 2013 was on track to be GINORMOUS compared to 2012. Lots of planning splattered the menu and, after a few shorts months, I became part of an amazing team.

Then something even more amazing happened.

The weekend of June 28th, 2013, as part of the utopYAcon staff, I got to see the magic happen for 320-something other people. Facebook friends united, Twitter stalkers united, bloggers, readers, writers, and authors united. They all came together, again, to embrace each other and their individual journeys. New friendships formed, old ones grew stronger, and despite the stickiness that is Tennessee, hugs and squee-ing filled the air.

Not only that, but I got to experience the magic…again. Seeing some of the utopYAcon alumni rocked my socks in a HUGE way. Chelsea Fine and Carol and Adam Kunz remembered me and had hugs to spare. M.R. Polish came stocked with an exhibitor table filled with her now published books. CJ Redwine sat on several panels and wowed with her humor and knowledge (I bow to thee). Even Myra McEntire hugged me, HUGGED I say, before hopping onto the panel pony. Jennifer L. Armentrout came as keynote speaker and totally knew me from Twitter! I got to sit next to her at dinner and get some serious fangirl on. Not the psycho-crazed fangirl kind, but the I-heart-you-and-I-suddenly-don’t-know-how-to-speak-properly kind. Others thought it was cute. Me? Sort of mortified.

At the close of the weekend, during the final thoughts, when the floor is opened to all, it happened again. The magic that is utopYAcon. Those who got up and shared their experience brought tears to my eyes and goose-pimples to my flesh. They felt it too! The magic lives on!

UtopYAcon may not be a hard-core intensive powered crafty con, but it has something that the other cons don’t; Community. No invisible lines, no expectations, no drama. Just the equal love of books, the written word, and a deep love of encouragement.

So what do us little utopYAcon goers do during the months we’re without the magic? We write. We befriend. We encourage the next in line. We support those who encouraged us. We READ! We dare to dream and dare to see them come true. PTSD is not to be taken lightly. It’s a condition that lives within all who have experienced the magic of utopYAcon, the little con that could. It urges us to carry on, to “Expand our Clumps¹,” and to “Dream Out Loud².”  “UtopYA is what you make it³,” so make it yours.

UtopYAcon is a tangible unicorn. Touch it, and you too will carry the magic.

utopya2014

 

¹Quoted by Angeline Kace
²Quoted by Victoria Faye Alday
³Quoted by K.P. Simmon

 

 

Holy Mother of Alien Babies! ORIGIN Cover Reveal!!!!!

That’s right y’all. Hope you don’t have your good undies on ’cause you’re about to pee all over them. OBSIDIAN, ONYX, OPAL…and now ORIGIN. Can you feel it? That massive squee building in the pits of your innards like a corked volcano? Oh yes. Me too.

The time has come to dance in the light with your favorite ET. Nooooo… Not that little dude with the bendy straw neck and weirdly long index finger. I’m talking about the Luxen, y’all! And more importantly, Daemon. Did I just hear a collective sigh? Maybe a growl or two? I know, I feel your angst.

SO!

Without further ado, I bring to you, courtesy of the FAB folks over at Entangled Teen, the beyond amazing cover for ORIGIN, book 4 of the Lux novels from the SUPER amazing Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Ready?

Breathe!

I'm coming for you, Kitten!
I’m coming for you, Kitten!

 

TELL me that’s not one deliciously edible cover like whoa! Let’s all take a moment to just drool, but not on your keyboard ’cause that may get weird, and messy. AND! Did you see the tag line? Oh yes, I do believe we may have Daemon POV, y’all. By show of electronic hands, how many of you just gasped and looked at the cover again?

Ha! Yup. Thought so. Can we hope? Will you bounce in your chair and much as I will?

To add to the all around awesome of this cover, allow me to treat you to an equally delish blurb tease…

 

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?

 

All together now… SQUEEEEEEE!!!! Right? Daemon–freakin’–POV??? And Katy getting down and dirty with the big bad all Murder She Wrote style? Sa-weeeet!

Before your possibly semi-soiled undies get further into a wad, let me share with you that this lovely little diddy will be available 8/27/2013!!! Get your preorders ON y’all! I know I am. Hit up your nearest and dearest Barnes & Noble OR Amazon to lock in this treat for all five senses.

Be sure to join in on the fun and hook up with Jennifer via the interwebs on The Twittah or ‘Like’ Jennifer on Facebook to keep up on the awesome.

Author-photo-200x300

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

 

 

 

Why YA?

Ultimately I came across this article through Shera over at Book Whispers. She introduced me to Joel Stein. I know there has been some…okay…LOTS of buzz over his article regarding adults reading YA. I also know that I am far from the first person to say something about it. As much as I hate to admit it, Mr. Stein got me thinking…

Why do I read YA? Why do I LOVE to read YA?
Stein is right. There’s loads of lit out there geared toward adults like me. So why do I find myself gravitating toward a ‘lower reading level?’
Hi. My name is Deena, and I am a voracious reader of young adult novels, despite being thirty…mumble something grumble…years old.
There. I said it. It’s out in the open. Am I ashamed of being way (and I mean waaaayyy) past my formidable teen years and reading tales staring teens? Nope. Not in the least.
Why?
This is what has been bouncing around my head like a pinball machine on crack. The easy answer? Because I like it. Love it even.
Definition of pastime: An activity that occupies one’s spare time pleasantly. (ref)
Some synonyms: entertainment, leisure, hobby, relaxation, recreation, distraction, amusement, diversion. (ref)
Yes, I read YA as a pastime, a hobby. I do it because I enjoy it. It makes me happy. I was not aware I should approach my reading material as if I were preparing my thesis.
Do I feel less educated because I read a ‘tween’ book? No. Do I feel like my IQ dropped because, as Stein puts it, KidLit “doesn’t have the depth of language and character as literature written for people who have stopped physically growing?”
Absolutely not.
I have read “big girl” books and enjoyed them, but I love the potency of YA the most. Anyone who writes for a YA audience knows there is immense competition there. Not just because there are oodles of authors (and more new authors every day), but because the teen audience is a hard one to grab. Traditionally, teens don’t have the attention span for a lengthy novel that takes its time getting to the point. You have to open with a kick to the sternum, grab with a right hook, and keep the them reading with as many groin kicks, uppercuts, and elbows to the solar plexus as possible. There’s no time for dilly-dally in YA Lit.
YA, especially the upper teen side, is also full of ‘first time’ experiences. Everything is ‘more‘ from the perspective of a teen because they’ve never been through it. I liken YA reads to baby rattlesnakes. Did I just lose you? Here, let me explain. A baby rattlesnake doesn’t know how much venom to release that first strike so they often give it their all. Teen experiences are much like this.
That first love was all consuming when it began and soul crushing when it ended because their ‘all‘ was given. That first time behind the wheel of a car often had more acceleration than necessary. That first kiss, that first time sneaking out of the house, that first game after making the team or cheer squad, and that first final passed were all so much bigger and powerful because they were a ‘first’ and, quite possibly, an all encompassing and dramatic event.
As adults, we dim down experiences because we’ve ‘been there/ done that.’ I find adult novels to be sort of the same way. The experiences are somewhat dulled down with familiarity. It doesn’t make them less engaging, really, but they don’t have that punch I like. Not like YA.
The characters in YA are not any less complex than adult novels either. I would venture to say they are more complex because they are written in worlds of ‘firsts.’ They might not be stressing over extra marital affairs, or unpaid bills, or an abusive spouse, but they have issues and stresses that are just as powerful in their world. And because there’s no previous experience to base their feelings on, it is that much more powerful to read.
Maybe I am re-living life vicariously through YA novels. Who cares? With the hum-drum of regular life, sometimes we need that moment to relive, or remember, what it was like to take on something new and scary. It gets the adrenaline pumping and reboots the brain. We may even be able to take that ‘jump with both feet’ attitude and apply it to our very grown up lives.
Am I offended by Mr. Stein’s lack of respect for adults who read YA? That if he were to see me with Hunger Games in my lap, he would think less of me? No. Actually, I feel sorry for the man. He has obviously given up on his inner-child. He has cast aside that which allows us to create, to dream, to inspire: an imagination.
Now I may never get engaged in front of Cinderella’s castle, but I will bounce on my toes in line for Space Mountain. I may not be a huge Justin Bieber fan, but I will crank up the volume when One Direction comes on the radio. Stein says this behavior is embarrassing. Personally, I think it’s more embarrassing to be so obtuse, narrow-minded, and one dimensional.
Yes, I am an adult. I have a full-time job in the ‘big girl’ world that demands me to be professional and precise. I have a mortgage to pay, a small son to raise, and I have paid off my car. I have a degree and half hour commute. I have read Dan Brown, David Baldacci, Robin Cook, and Danielle Steel. But I fell in love with Jeri Smith-Ready, Becca Fitzpatrick, Cassandra Clare, and Jennifer Armentrout.
I am an adult and I love YA Lit. I love its passion, its power, its vigor and ‘roooaaarrrr…I shall overcome’ sort of essence. If Stein thinks this makes me less of an adult, he is entitled to his opinion. It will not make me second guess my next book purchase. If Mr. Stein sat next to me on my next flight to NYC for the SCBWI Conference, and curled a disgusted lip at the latest Mortal Instruments installment in my hand, I would proudly flip him the bird and tell him to “suck it” in the most adult manner possible.