Apr 30, 2012

Texas Library Association Conference - 2012 Wrapup (+Giveaway)

Another TLA has come and gone, and I am already counting down the days until 2013! It really is one of my favorite literary vacations. This year, I was a busy bee. Take a look at some of the fun that took place.

I presented first thing on Tuesday. Look at the size of this room! TLA asked if they could film the panel so there were spotlights and two cameras. The room was more full than time of photo. ;)
Class of 2K11 dinner - love this group of uber talented writers!

Apr 27, 2012

Guest Post: Spectral by Shannon Duffy (+Giveaway)

Spectral by Shannon Duffy
April 10th, 2012 from Tribute Books

Convinced she’s a part of the witness protection program, sixteen-year-old Jewel Rose is shuffled around the globe with her family like a pack of traveling gypsies. After arriving at lucky home twenty-seven, she stumbles upon a mysterious boy with magical powers claiming to be her guardian . . . and warning of imminent danger. Despite the obvious sparks between them, Jewel discovers a relationship is forbidden, and the more she learns about dark, brooding Roman, she begins to question who she can even believe—the family who raised her, or the supposed sworn protector who claims they’ve been lying to her all along.

As she struggles to uncover who her family has really been running from, she is forced to hide her birthmark that reveals who she is. With new realities surfacing, unexplained powers appearing, and two tempting boys vying for her heart, Jewel battles to learn who she can trust in an ever growing sea of lies, hoping she’ll make it through her seventeenth birthday alive.

I'm happy to have Shannon Duffy on the blog today to talk about the men of SPECTRAL. Welcome, Shannon!

Apr 24, 2012

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova (Review + Guest Post)

The Viscous Deep by Zoraida Córdova
May 1st, 2012 from Sourcebooks Fire

For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.

He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.

His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.

Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.

Can I just say that I was really surprised to see this mermaid merman story from a male point of view? I really wasn't expecting that. No, I don't read the synopsis of books all too often and I didn't with this story. Tristan is a pretty typical guy. He is a good looking feller working as a beach lifeguard. After a near drowning accident, he is thrust into the world of the Sea Court. Turns out his mother has been keeping a few secrets from poor Tristan.

Apr 23, 2012

Review - Purity by Jackson Pearce

Purity by Jackson Pearce
April 24th, 2012 by Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Sixteen-year-old Shelby lives by three Promises that were set in place by her dying mother - to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. The Promises were easy to follow as a girl, but now that her father is on the Princess Ball committee (father/daughter dance where the girl pledges her purity), Shelby decides that she isn't ready to commit to being a virgin until married. Only problem is, her unwillingness to pledge goes against the original Promises. Shelby and her cohorts, Jonas and Ruby, discover a loop-hole and decide that if Shelby looses her virginity before the ball, there would be nothing to pledge. Shelby has 35 days to loose her Vcard in order to keep her mothers promise and not lie to her father.

Apr 17, 2012

Book Trailer Debut - The Right & The Real by Joelle Anthony

The Right & The Real by Joelle Anthony
April 26th, 2012 from Putnam Juvenile

From the author of Restoring Harmony. Kicked out for refusing to join a cult, 17-year-old Jamie must find a way to survive on her own.

Jamie should have known something was off about the church of the Right and the Real from the start, especially when the Teacher claimed he wasn’t just an ordinary spiritual leader, but Jesus Christ, himself. But she was too taken by Josh, the eldest son of one of the church’s disciples, and his all-American good looks. Josh is the most popular boy at school too, and the first boy outside the drama geeks to give Jamie a second look. But getting her Dad involved in a cult was not part of the plan when she started dating Josh. Neither was her dad’s marriage to the fanatic Mira, or getting kicked out, or seeing Josh in secret because the church has deemed her persona non grata.

Jamie’s life has completely fallen apart. Finding her way back won’t be easy, but when her Dad gets himself into serious trouble, will Jamie be ready to rescue him, and maybe even forgive him?

Apr 16, 2012

Blog Tour - The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (Review + Giveaway)

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
April 24th, 2012 from Harlequin Teen

You will kill. The only question is when.

In the dark days since the insidious Red Lung virus decimated the human population, vampires have risen to rule the crumbling cities and suburbs. Uncontested Princes hold sway over diminished ranks of humans: their "pets." In exchange for their labor, loyalty and of course, their blood, these pets are registered, given food and shelter, permitted to survive.

Unregistered humans cling to the fringe, scavenging for survival. Allison Sekemoto and her fellow Unregistereds are hunted, not only by vampires, but by rabids, the unholy result of Red Lung-infected vampires feeding on unwary humans. One night, Allie is attacked by a pack of rabids, saved by an unlikely hero...and turned vampire.

Uncomfortable in her undead skin, Allie falls in with a ragtag crew of humans seeking a cure, or cures: for Rabidism and for Vampirism. She's passing for human...for now. But the hunger is growing and will not be denied. Not for friendship—not even for love.

Review - Looking For Me...in this great big family by Betsy R. Rosenthal

Looking For Me...in this great big family by Betsy R. Rosenthal
April 17th, 2012 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

One of 12 siblings growing up in depression-era Baltimore, Edith isn't quite sure of who she is. Between working at her father’s diner, taking care of her younger siblings, and living in the shadow of her more mature sisters, Edith feels lost in a sea of siblings. When a kind teacher encourages Edith to be a teacher herself one day, Edith sees prospects for a future all her own. Full of joy, pain, humor, and sadness, this novel in verse is a wonderful look at the life of Edith Paul, the author's mother, and is an enduring portrait (complete with family photos and an author's note at the end) of one family's pursuit of the American dream.

Looking For Me is based on the authors mother when she was eleven-years old, and touches on all those emotions that go-hand-in-hand with growing up in a "way-too big family." Jealousy, annoyance, joy, love, and anger.  I recognize some of those emotions, I am one of those kids. Edith is child number 4 in a family of 12 - I am number 6 in...let's say a family of 8. Edith day dreams of being an only child and not having to share her clothes, her parents attention, and the air she breathes. She even has a bout of jealousy after her brother breaks his leg because he gets to spend the night alone in the hospital. Poor girl, you just feel for her. Here is one of my favorite passages:

Apr 14, 2012

World Book Night - Austin, Texas

What are you doing April 23rd? If you live around Austin, Texas, we invite you to join us for World Book Night. April 23, 2012 is a day dedicated to celebrating the joy of reading at any age by giving out free books to those who would otherwise not purchase or have access to a new book. Book People, my favorite book store, asked Literary Lonestars to be an organizer this year. My literary PIC, Stephanie Pellegrin and I have worked closely with several organizations in town over the years and we knew they would love the idea as well. We will be giving out books at the Austin Children's Shelter, LifeWorks, and the American Indian Education Program. All three of these organizations are worthy and we invite you to HELP us hand them out!

Apr 13, 2012

#RocktheDrop 2012 - Wrap-up

I can't tell you how much fun #RocktheDrop was yesterday! I really thought about where I would drop the books and although it took some time to drive all around Austin, I'm glad I did! I choose schools, libraries, eateries, and local places that Austin is known for. Check out some of my photos.

And my favorite picture of the day:

Apr 12, 2012

Where's Winona & What Is a Blovel with author Abbey Campbell

What is a "blovel?" 
A blovel is a novel serialized on a blog. What's so great about a blovel? Well, just like a blog it's free so you can read it on your computer, tablet or phone. Also, it has pictures! Because what's better than reading about tight rippling abs? Pictures of tight, rippling abs! Is this the future of fiction? Let's hope so.

Why did you decide to blovel instead of maybe self-pub? 
I was working as an editor at PopSugar.com and it was during the time when many young stars were running around Hollywood without any underwear on. My coworkers and I got to see these pictures firsthand and we were just as confused and shocked as everyone else. Britney Spears was the biggest surprise to us. She had been portrayed as such a good girl up until then. It got me wondering how someone goes from telling the world she's saving herself for marriage to getting out of a car without panties on in front of a throng of photographers. Had her people just been able to hide who she really was that whole time? Was she on drugs? Or had a Britney Spears look-alike stolen her identity and the real Britney Spears was tied up in a basement somewhere? Anyway, that's how the story came to me. And I knew it had to be told through a blog and would have to have pictures. Of course there is a downside to doing it this way. None of my friends wanted to play Winona so I ended up having to do it myself. During my creative process I may or may not have had to trespass onto private property, go out in public wearing not much more than a coat made of Care Bears, and grope my husband in a public hotel bathroom while his best friend stood on the sink and took pictures. So there's that.

Apr 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Two and Twenty Dark Tales

Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes
October 16, 2012 from Month 9 Books

Nursery rhymes sung sweetly can take us back to childhood. But deep inside many of those childhood favorites is… a hint of something dark. TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes imagines dark and sinister things amuck in Mother Goose-land. From familiar rhymes, to some of the more obscure, TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES is a must read for anyone who enjoyed Mother Goose rhymes as a child, but has come to love the darkest of tales.

Love short stories and anthologies? Then this one is for you! I love many of the authors who have contributed to this collection. Take a look below at some of them:

Shannon Delany
Leigh Fallon
Angie Frazier
Nancy Holder
Heidi R. Kling
Karen Mahoney
Georgia McBride
Gretchen McNeil
Francisco X. Stork
Suzanne Young
Michelle Zink

Proceeds from the title through 5,000 copies sold, will be donated to YALITCHAT.ORG. Authors are donating their advances to a charity of their choice. Love it! The cover is pretty too! I'll definitely be picking this one up.

Add Two and Twenty to Goodreads

Apr 10, 2012

Embrace - Interview with Author Jessica Shirvington

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington
March 6th, 2012 from Sourcebooks Fire

I am happy to have Jessica Shirvington at the blog today! She hails from Sydney, Australia and has written The Violet Eden Chapters, AKA the Embrace series. Here, we chat about publicity, her books, and her great characters. Welcome, Jessica!

How did it feel to see your name and book in Cosmo for the first time?
It's great. To be recognized and have a presence in any of the well-established and hip publications like Cosmo is awesome.

I read that EMBRACE started with the character of Violet. What flowed next? The plot or other characters?
First, I concentrated on getting a grasp on the key characters. It was really important to understand who I was working with, rather than just creating cardboard cutout characters that exist just to move my plot forward. Characters are the key and once I had them I was able to focus on the plot and the research.

Apr 9, 2012

Rock the Drop!

I am thrilled to be a part of Rock the Drop this year! Rock the Drop is a way to celebrate Teen Literature Day and raise awareness among the general public that YA lit is relevant and cool. Also on Support Teen Literature Day, YALSA will also announce the nominations for the Teens’ Top Ten, a book list where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. The nominations will be posted on the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) website.

Readergirlz and Figment have once again organized the Drop and HarperTeen has been super awesome in donating a box of books for the event. Book People, my favorite book store, has donated boxes of books as well. I will be dropping these and others from my own collection all over Austin, Texas on April 12th. I will be tweeting hints about locations and books on Twitter - @jenbigheart. Check out the hashtag #rockthedrop to see if people are dropping in your town.

Apr 5, 2012

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop

Welcome to my stop on the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop! This one is brought to you by Texas blogger, Once Upon a Twilight and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. To see a list of all of the participants, go HERE. I will make the entries easy so let's get to hopping. ALL eBooks are international and the others are US only unless specified.

Giveaway #1
ARC of Destined by Aprilynne Pike
Add to Goodreads
You can find Pike at her website

Giveaway #2
eBook of Eden's Root by Rachel E. Fisher
Add to Goodreads
You can find Fisher at her website

Apr 4, 2012

Quick Reviews - Black Heart by Holly Black & Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulburg

Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black
April 3rd, 2012 from Simon & Schuster

Is this series really coming to an end? Boo! I fell in love with White Cat so very hard in May of 2010 and I was eager to find out how it all ended in Black Heart. Will Cassel and Lila end up together? Will Cassel's brother and mother absolutely ruin his life? Well, try to anyway? Those questions and a few more are answered. We get to know the characters a bit more and Cassel's roommate Sam and his girlfriend Daneca take center stage. I really enjoyed their storyline and when it all comes back full circle (vague, I know), I was a bit surprised. Cassel and Lila's relationship is the shining beacon. You knew that though. At times I was scared to death that one of them was going to die and leave the other heartbroken. I didn't think Red Glove (book 2) had that giant hook like White Cat did, but I think book three just about did. I was on pins and needles until the very last page....

Add to Goodreads
You can find Black at her website
Ps, her boards on Pinterest are worth the follow!

Apr 3, 2012

Texas Library Association Conference - 2012 #TXLA12

It's that time of year! In TWO weeks, the largest state-wide library conference will start. This year, we are all Houston bound! Last October I gave a little sneak peak into some of the amazingness that will happen. Check it out HERE. I'll be presenting on Tuesday and moderating the "Right Now" panel with Katie Ellison, Madeline George, Jessi Kirby, Morgan Matson, Megan Miranda, and Jackson Pearce on Thursday. Also, I'll be volunteering for YARTs TT4L and the Texas Tea.

This post will fill you in on everything you need to know. If you have any questions, ask below and I'll try to help! We hope you join us!

April 17 - 20th, 2012
Houston Convention Center
Registration is still open
Exhibit Hall Pass for the week is $20 (online or at door)
No need to be a librarian to attend, although a TLA membership is super rad!

NO wheels on the exhibit floor
You can bring up to 5 items to be signed per author, per visit
Bag checks will be in Exhibit Hall C (Lobby) and D near Placement Center - $3 per bag
US Post office in the Exhibit Hall during hall hours
Get the TXLA 12 phone app - it's super easy to use
Parking ranges from $10-$19 depending on location. Map and rates HERE
Being a volunteer is cool! I'm doing it, she's doing it, we're all doing it. More info HERE

Apr 2, 2012

Review - Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
March 27, 2012 from Walker and Company

Lucas and Tessa’s friendship is the stuff of legend in their small Midwestern town. So it’s no surprise when Lucas finally realizes his feelings for Tessa are more than friendship and he asks her to prom. What no one expected, especially Lucas, was for Tessa to come out as a lesbian instead of accepting his heartfelt invitation. Humiliated and confused, Lucas also feels betrayed that his best friend kept such an important secret from him.

What’s worse is Tessa’s decision to wear a tastefully tailored tuxedo to escort her female crush, sparking a firestorm of controversy. Lucas must decide if he should stand on the sidelines or if he should stand by his friend to make sure that Tessa Masterson will go to prom.

Apr 1, 2012

In My Mailbox

IMM is a meme brought to us from The Story Siren. Basically, it's a good way to add books to your TBR pile, get a head's up on what is coming soon, and to totally covet books. All cover photos will take you to the Goodreads page.

For review:
A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young
Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer
Perry's Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber