15 August

Judge a Book by Its Cover: Fantasy

2016 Cover Trends in YA Fiction

Thousands (yes—thousands!) of young adult novels are publishing in 2016, making YA lovers like us very, very happy. The fantasy genre has been on the rise for the past few years, so we were thrilled to see all the amazing books with covers that are out of this world. Take a look at some of our favorite cover trends from this year—and a few coming this fall!

No more pretty dresses—this year was all about kick-butt heroines who are ready to save their kingdoms…

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.32.58 PM

…But okay, there are still some pretty dresses. (Thank goodness!)

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.33.36 PM

And if you can’t wear a pretty dress, why not wear a crown?

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.34.09 PM

Green covers popped up all over the place…

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.34.51 PM

…As did a mix of black, gold, and bronze.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.35.16 PM

We caught a wave of ships and ship-in-a-bottle books…

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.35.59 PM

…And swords and knives and spears seemed to be on the cutting edge.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.36.47 PM

New legends came to life in the desert…

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.37.23 PM

…While history got a magical touch.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.37.53 PM

We noticed a rise in covers with symbols rather than people, many of which have you looking closer to catch all the detail in those images…

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.38.50 PM

…And last but not least, we got to see the covers for these highly anticipated sequels!

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.39.11 PM

What was your favorite fantasy cover of 2016? Let us know!

08 August

Blink Authors: If you could travel anywhere this summer, where would you go?

We’ve got one final “summer fun” update from the Blink authors! Curious about their dream destination this summer? Keep reading below!

Lorie Langdon: Scotland!!! I’ve written four books set in the mystical land of Scotland, but I’ve never been there. Visiting the Brig o’ Doon – the bridge the DOON series is centered around – would be a dream come true!

Denise Grover Swank: Paris. I fell in love with Paris three years ago and I’ve been back three times.

Jonathan Friesen: Alaska. I need to get there one of these years.

Carol Lynch Williams: Probably New York to visit my agent and editors. And if I’m gonna be in NY, I go out to eat. Then I’d stop in Vermont to see some of my teachers from Vermont College. 


05 August

Guest Blog by Ashley Royer!



When I was younger, I remember going to my first real concert. It was Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers, and I was 8 years old. Nearly 10 years later, a concert is more than enjoying music and performances.

For me, a 5 Seconds of Summer concert is where I am happiest. I get to watch a band I love while being surrounded by others who love them too. There is one thing connecting every single person in the arena, and that is 5SOS. Thousands of people are brought together for a few hours, where everyone can feel happy. For those few hours, the only thing that matters is the fun we have while watching the band. I love being able to see four guys that bring me so much happiness, even if it only is for a few hours. But for those few hours, it is only them, me, and a few thousand people. I’m surrounded by strangers, yet feel so comfortable.

At concerts, one of my favorite parts is meeting people. I love being able to meet my followers that I only know through the internet. It’s so amazing to have people excited to meet me! At one concert, a girl, Grace, ran across the venue barefoot just to meet me. I’ll hear someone yell my name when I walk past groups, which is really cool for me! It is also funny to watch when someone starts to recognize me or they think they might know me. At first they are nervous to say anything, but once we start talking, they usually relax and a lot of times we end up following each other on social media and become friends. Meeting everyone is one of the reasons I love concerts so much.

Concerts are a place to make connections. Everyone there has one thing in common: we all like the same music! Instantly, there’s something to talk about. Whether you’re in line with someone for hours, or you’re just sitting beside them before the show starts, it’s easy to create a conversation. Most of the time, I meet people who have a lot of similar interests to me. A lot of my friends I have met at concerts. Some of my friends I’m only able to see when I go to concerts because we live so far apart. It’s amazing how a band can really bring people together.

It’s more than just the music. It’s the feeling I get when watching an artist perform. It’s the amazing people I get to meet. And it’s the memories I get to make. I go to concerts so often because of all of these reasons. When something makes you happy, you want it in your life as much as possible. Those few hours of happiness mean a lot more to me than just seeing a band.

I never thought that one band could be so influential on my life. Without 5 Seconds of Summer, I would not have my book, Remember to Forget, my YouTube, or many of my friends. They have helped shape me into the person I am today without even knowing it. I am not sure what I would be like if I wasn’t a fan of them. My life would be completely different and definitely not as great.

Three years ago when I started liking 5 Seconds of Summer, I never would have expected everything that would happen to me. I just thought they were a great band, I never imagined that they would become such an important aspect of my life. Even my mom has become a fan; both of us have met the drummer, Ashton. Being a fan, you never expect them to actually know who you are. But, a few days ago, 5SOS talked about my book with fans. They do something before their concerts called soundcheck where they play a few songs and fans can ask questions. Someone asked about fanfictions. The drummer, Ashton, said there was one that had been published and it had a pink cover. He also said it was cool it had been published. Luke, the lead singer, said that he had copies in the tour bus. That is my book! The people I love know about my book and me! My friend called me to tell me since I wasn’t there, and both of us were so excited. I never thought they would actually know who I am. I never liked the idea of being just a fan, I always wanted them to know who I was. Now they do know me, which is unbelievable.

It is unbelievable when I hear from my followers that I, too, inspire them with my writing. I never thought that would happen, but it is amazing and I am so glad that I’m able to do that. I started writing so I could make an impact on people’s lives, whether it be big or small. I have people and things, such as 5SOS, that make me happy, and knowing that my writing, or even myself, does the same things for others is truly amazing.

The happiness I feel after a concert lingers for days, sometimes even weeks. This happiness motivates me to do more things I love. Watching 5SOS perform to thousands of people at arenas such as Madison Square Garden motivates me to work harder. They were once like me too, just teenagers making YouTube videos and waiting for their chance. Seeing how far they have made it really inspires me. It makes me want to write more, make more videos, and just be an overall more productive person. I find myself being so excited after concerts that I don’t know what to start with in the days that follow. There’s so many things I want to do and accomplish, and I’m so excited to see what the future has in store. If you have something in your life that you really like and it inspires you, follow it, talk about it and even dream about it. You never know where it could lead. Even at a young age!





01 August

Book Brag! Toward a Secret Sky

Hello, Readers!

Blink YA Books and Editor Sara Bierling are pleased to bring you Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean.

Here to talk about her book and her writing process is author Heather Maclean. Toward a Secret Sky is a new breed of YA novel: an intelligent adventure-quest crossed with a sweeping, forbidden love story. A mix of reality and possibility, this fast-paced thriller leads the reader on a breathless flight through the highlands of Scotland, the secret city under London, and history itself.

SB: Welcome, Heather! One of the biggest reasons I love Toward a Secret Sky is that I’m a history and fact buff. This novel is full of intriguing historical details. What inspired you to write such a smart novel?

HM: Reading can seem like a solitary sport, but I love it when it becomes social and viral, when you read something so fascinating, and true, that you just can’t help but tell everyone you know about it. And readers are giving you such a commitment to your book–their time and their heart–that I wanted to give them a gift back. At the end, instead of just saying they memorized the names of places and people I made up in my fantasy world, they can walk away with real-life knowledge about history, geography, art, religion, science, botany, psychology, even food! Knowledge is power, and knowledge boosts confidence. It also helps start dialogue. My goal was to give my readers things they could use to impress their friends and family in ways that would highlight their own intellectual curiosity.

SB: The setting of the novel in general is Scotland, but the characters also move around to a lot of different locations within the UK. What kind of research did you do for writing about the setting in such detail?

HM: As a kid, I was obsessed with the U.K. although I never traveled farther than Disney World. My family is descended from twp different Mayflower pilgrims, and I always wondered what made them leave their home behind to strike out on a new adventure. It was no surprise to anyone when I married a Scot, who in a weird twist of fate, I actually met at the Rose & Crown pub in EPCOT! On our honeymoon, I was lucky enough to go to Scotland for the first time. We toured every inch of the country: from the outer islands to the boggy Highlands where, like the main character in Toward a Secret Sky, I lost my tennis shoe in the muck after refusing to heed my husband’s “beware the bog” warning. We return to his home every 3 or 4 years, and head in a new direction every time. I’ve been all over Scotland, England, Ireland, and Wales, and I experience new wonders every time. Every time I go, I write down what I’ve seen and heard and tasted and learned so that I can draw from that bank of knowledge for my writing.

After I finished writing Toward a Secret Sky, my family and I went back and retraced the characters’ journey to make sure I’d gotten all of the details right. My 15-year-old daughter and I took a 3-day trip through the Highlands to visit Aviemore, Kingussie, and all of the Scottish locations. We got out and hiked across the moors, visited the newly restored St. Mary & St. Finnan Church, and had a run in with a very cranky cashier at the local Tesco. Then my 17-year-old daughter and I drove through the English countryside down to London, ending at the crypt underneath St. Paul’s Cathedral. We documented our journey for my website so that readers could see what it feels like to stand in Maren’s shoes.

SB: You’re married to a Scotsman and have family ties there. Did you incorporate those people or aspects of their personalities into your novel? And can you speak about the dangers and benefits of writing real people into books?

HM: While almost everyone in the novel is a combination of personality traits of several people as well as my own imagination, there are two characters that are really sort of “spot on:” Maren’s grandparents Liz and Murdo are so much like my own in-laws, from missing teeth to jokes about poop and Irishmen, that I didn’t even rename them. I don’t think it’s wise or very fair to include real people in a fictional novel unless you’re giving them a loving representation, but fortunately the real Liz and Murdo are lovely people who love me, and are delighted to be included in the book. My father-in-law is particularly pleased that I’m helping preserve Scottish history and folklore. And they’re both so sweet and so social that I think if anyone ever recognized them from the book, they’d love it.

SB: In addition to being a great fantasy adventure, Toward a Secret Sky is obviously a love story. Our two main characters are in somewhat of an impossible situation regarding their love for one another. What do you think is so appealing about a forbidden love story, both as a writer and a reader?

HM: Anything forbidden is going to be tempting to humans, but what I adore as both a reader and a writer is when the irresistible draw is for something good and pure, rather than wicked and hurtful, because there can be a happy ending. That’s not to say the happy ending always happens, and that the struggle doesn’t cause pain, but when you’re fighting for something beautiful like love, anything you experience in the pursuit of it is, in my opinion, noble and very worth it.

SB:  And now for the really important question: What do you think is the reason behind our societal fascination with angels?

HM: Life is hard, especially these days, and especially if you’re tender-hearted, which I truly believe most of us are. I think we adore angels because they remind us that there’s always someone looking out for us, protecting us, even if we can’t see them. I want young readers especially to come away from Toward a Secret Sky knowing that they aren’t alone, even when it feels that way. I want them to know that they are loved and looked after, even if they haven’t met their true love yet.

SB: Thanks so much, Heather! Readers, Toward a Secret Sky is on sale April 4, 2017. Be sure to preorder it at:


Barnes and Noble



Named one of the “16 Best Entrepreneurs in America” by Sir Richard Branson, Heather Maclean accompanied the adventurous business legend on a 50,000-mile trip around the world, alternately helping improve the lives of others (designing sustainable development initiatives in South Africa) and fearing for her own (rappelling out of a Black Hawk helicopter in a Moroccan sandstorm). Heather began her career at Disney, where she had the distinction of being the first person ever to answer Mickey Mouse’s e-mail. When not castle hunting in her husband’s native Scotland, she and her clan happily reside in Michigan. Toward a Secret Sky is Heather’s first YA novel. You can follow Heather here:


Twitter: @HeatherMaclean