29 April

#Book Brag: Tiger Queen

We are thrilled to present our second book brag with fantasy author Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold (2018) and the upcoming title Tiger Queen (on sale September 9, 2019).

Tiger Queen tells the story of sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri as she trains with the rebel Desert Boys to overthrow the cruel captain of the guards in the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, where an ancient law forces her to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger. Let’s ask Annie what happens next!

Hannah VanVels: Hi, Annie! We are so thrilled to be talking Tiger Queen. Tell us about your inspiration behind this book.

Annie Sullivan: I’ve actually wanted to write this book for a really long time—basically since I read Frank Stockton’s infamous short story “The Lady, or the Tiger,” which has a cliffhanger ending. My English teacher asked us how we thought the story ended, and I couldn’t decide. That indecision drove me to retell the story with the ending it always should have had (at least in my opinion!).

Hannah VanVels: Princess Kateri is everything we love when it comes to a “strong female character,” and one thing that we love about her is that she is far from perfect. Why do you think it’s important for readers to meet characters like Kateri?

Annie Sullivan: Kateri is a very strong, Wonder Woman type character who wants to lead her people and be a force to be reckoned with in the arena. But she’s also stubborn, quick to judge, and often thinks she knows best. And I love that Kateri is all that wrapped into one because she’s a realistic character who shows readers that you can be strong and still have what you think is right questioned—because in the Achran desert, not all is as it seems.

Hannah VanVels: Tiger Queen is set in the fantastical desert of Achra. What inspired this setting?

Annie Sullivan: The setting is inspired by my travels around the world. If I had to pick, I think the two places that inspired it the most would be Egypt—where I rode camels and climbed on sand dunes—and Antarctica, which is actually one of the largest deserts in the world because of how dry it is. There, snow whips right through you just like sand does in the desert. I wrote a great deal of Tiger Queenwhile I was traveling to Antarctica, so I simply replaced the way the snow blew at me with sand to get some of the descriptions of how the desert behaved and how isolated I felt with nothing but white snow around me.

The other part of the setting is the fantasy side, of which the unique desert creatures are all a part. There are tons of creatures I made up to inhabit this desert—and the Achrans both fear these creatures and have learned to use many of them to survive and thrive in the desert. One of the things I love most while writing any book is coming up with creatures that don’t exist, so I can’t wait for readers to encounter this desert crawling with things that are familiar, and yet not.

Hannah VanVels: One of the major themes of the book is the importance of family—whether that’s your blood family or the family you make. Can you share with us a bit about why this is an important theme in Tiger Queen?

Annie Sullivan: I don’t think this is just an important theme in the book—it’s an important thing to remember in life. I have a very close-knit family, and I love them dearly. And the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to have family around and to celebrate everything you can together. I think that knowledge comes through in Tiger Queen, but it also shows that sometimes you can’t pick your family. Maybe you love them. Maybe you don’t. Families can be complicated, so it’s also about finding the people who love you even if you don’t share the same blood and making them into the family you deserve.

Hannah VanVels: Tiger Queen is your sophomore novel after A Touch of Gold, and both books are retellings of famous stories. What draws you to the retellings subgenre?

Annie Sullivan: I often like to joke that I’m a forgotten middle child (the third of four kids, so technically I have to share being a middle child), and as such, I like to look for people whose stories aren’t told. That true in A Touch of Gold, where the story typically follows King Midas. I wanted to tell things from his daughter’s point of view and discover her story. For Tiger Queen, again, the main focus is on the King. I wanted to mix that up and see things from a different perspective. Also, I grew up being read fairytales and watching Disney movies. There’s something so personal about those stories and how much I love them, so it’s fun to revisit them as an adult and retell them with characters who more modern readers can relate to and look up to as role models.

Hannah VanVels: How has the Tiger Queen experience been different than your experience with A Touch of Gold?

Annie Sullivan: While there can be a lot of pressure and expectations that aren’t there for your first book, I actually think Tiger Queen has been something that I’m super eager to get out in the world. It’s completely different from A Touch of Gold, so it will introduce readers to a whole new side of me. Plus, I cannot wait to see what readers think of the ending. Spoiler alert: I did consider leaving it as a cliffhanger like Frank Stockton did in his short story, but I knew deep down that the story had an ending, and it was time for that ending to be told. Although, I think readers will be surprised to find out what exactly that ending is.

Hannah VanVels: What is the #1 reason that people who love YA fantasy will love this book?

Annie Sullivan: A princess has to fight suitors in an arena in order to win her right to rule. That right there is why readers will love it because it pits a strong female character against strong contenders, but it also throws in unique setting elements (like the fact Achra might be running out of water) to really throw things for a loop. Oh, and did I mention there are secrets the sands have long kept hidden? Secrets that people might just kill to keep them that way???

Thank you so much, Annie! We can’t wait for this book to come out!

Pre-order here:



Barnes & Noble


Follow Annie online:




About the Author

Annie Sullivan grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. She received her Masters degree in Creative Writing from Butler University. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling. Her wanderlust has taken her to every continent, where she’s walked on the Great Wall of China, found four-leaf clovers in Ireland, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, and cage dived with great white sharks in South Africa. You can follow her adventures on Twitter (@annsulliva) or on her blog: anniesullivanauthor.wordpress.com.


25 April

#BookBrag: The Silence Between Us

We are excited to feature our second book brag with award-winning author Alison Gervais (In 27 Days, 2017), whose sophomore novel The Silence Between Us goes on sale August 13, 2019.

Deaf teen Maya Harris must navigate a new life—and love—in this #OwnVoices novel from Alison Gervais. When Maya is forced to attended a hearing school, she sets out to prove that her lack of hearing won’t stop her from chasing her dreams or staying true to herself.

Hannah VanVels: Hi Alison! We can’t wait to hear more about this book. What is the inspiration behind the main character Maya and her story in The Silence Between Us?

Alison Gervais: I’m not sure if there was ever one specific moment where I just knew this was a story I needed to tell. I think it happened on its own, to be honest. Maya was a very fun, unique kind of character to create, and right from the beginning I fell in love with the way her voice began to develop. She’s spunky and not afraid to speak her mind. I myself am the exact opposite, so it was fun to write from such a different perspective.

Hannah VanVels: This book is #OwnVoices. You are very much a part of the community from whose perspective you’re writing. How have your own experiences shaped Maya’s voice?

Alison Gervais: I didn’t actually step foot into the Deaf community until I was already in college, so of course, I’m still learning about their beautiful culture and language, and I think that’s going to be a lifelong journey. I was born with normal hearing that got progressively worse as I got older, so I never really knew about the Deaf world until I was eighteen.

But even though it seems as if I have one foot in both worlds—hearing and Deaf—a lot of my own experiences did wind up shaping Maya’s voice. I’ve been mocked and teased because of my hearing loss, had people reach out and finger my ear or pull out my hearing aid just to get a closer look, even gotten in trouble at work because I didn’t mention I have hearing loss. What Maya faces throughout the story looks a little different, but experiences like those stick with you long after the fact.

Hannah VanVels Friendship is a major theme in this novel. The friendship between Maya and her hearing friend Nina and Maya and her Deaf friend Melissa are complex and nuanced. How is Maya’s connection different with Nina than it is with Melissa? What about makes each of their friendships unique?

Alison Gervais: Maya’s friendship with Nina will always look a little different from her friendship with Melissa, because Nina is hearing, and Maya is not. However much Nina tries to learn about Maya’s world, that’s something she won’t ever have in common with Maya. But despite their differences—or Maya and Melissa’s similarities—they’re all friends, and I think that’s what makes their friendship unique.

Hannah VanVels:  We love books that are inclusive of all different kinds of characters. Why do you think it’s important for YA readers to meet characters like Maya, Beau, Nina, Jackson, and Melissa? What’s is like to create characters who view the world so differently?

Alison Gervais: I think one great way for people to experience characters and stories different from their own is to pick up a book and read, and I think that’s what readers will see when they read The Silence Between Us. And to create characters who view the world in different ways can be a challenge sometimes—it was for me—but I’ve found that the more time you spend in that world writing, the characters take on a life of their own eventually, which is always a good feeling!

Hannah VanVels:  Both spoken dialogue and signed dialogue are represented in this book. How is writing signed dialogue different than writing spoken dialogue?

Alison Gervais: This was one of the major challenges about telling Maya’s story, because American Sign Language is not English, and there’s really no directtranslation from one to the next. I went through my old ASL textbook, a great online tool called lifeprint.com, and spoke with a friend of mine who is Deaf to figure out the best way to represent ASL throughout the story—all caps, for example—and I think the end result is as accurate as I could’ve hoped for.

Hannah VanVelsTell us more about the gorgeous cover!

Alison Gervais: I still cannot get over how beautiful the cover is! Unbelievably the Blink team was able to get in touch with the superbly talented Nancy Rourke, who is an amazing, well-known Deaf artist. The sign on the cover means “friend” and the colors just bring it to life. I am so honored Nancy agreed to make the cover! Definitely check out more of her artwork, because it’s all amazing.

Hannah VanVels:  Any spoilers you want to share?

Alison Gervais: Not a darn one!

Thank you, Alison! We are counting down until this book comes out.

Pre-order here:





Follow Alison online:




About the Author

Alison Gervais began writing at the age of five and gained recognition by posting her work on Wattpad in 2011. She graduated from Colorado State University – Pueblo with a degree in English and is still figuring out what else she’d like to do in life. As for now, she plans to keep writing, rereading Harry Potter, watching Supernatural and Law and Order: SVU, and enjoying life with her husband and their two cats, Jane and Smoke.

15 April

School Librarians Love Reading…Sharing the Joy of Books

By Jennifer Sniadecki

When I was in 2nd grade, I got into trouble for “refusing” to line up when my class was leaving the school library. No, I wasn’t a troublemaker. I didn’t hear my teacher say, “Line up, class.” I didn’t see my peers forming the line. I was simply lost in a book, curled up comfortably in a beanbag chair behind a row of bookshelves.

Now that I’m a middle school librarian, whenever I see a student relaxing in the reading area of the library, I feel nostalgic. At the end of each class period, I remind students to clean their areas, grab their books, and exit quietly to the hallway. There’s usually a student or two lingering — waving me off, saying, “Hold on,” or “Just a sec.” The scene reminds me of…me.

April is School Library Month and we celebrate librarians who advocate for literacy learning, build relationships with students, staff, and community members, and communicate the importance of lifelong reading to their patrons.

School Librarians Advocate

One of the reasons I love my job so much is that one of my main responsibilities is making sure students have access to books and resources inside and outside of school. Librarians have budgets, and as tight as those monies are, these literary geniuses are somehow able to present beautiful displays of wonderful titles to their patrons. Librarians spend countless hours reading and researching, making lists, asking for recommendations, and purchasing books for the physical library at school, for classrooms and bookrooms, and even for homes. I’m lucky enough to have a “gift fund” where I use former fees collected by the school to buy books and give them away to students at school assemblies, parent-teacher conferences, and other events during the school year. Librarians hold book fairs, sometimes twice a year, where students and families can shop for their favorite books and learn about new published material they haven’t seen before. Modern school libraries also provide digital resources and other media technology for use at schools and in the communities.

School Librarians Build Relationships

I love sharing new titles with students, and one of my favorite activities is gathering a class together to open the next shipment of books. Students “ooh” and “ah” as I take each book from the brown cardboard and unwrap the crumpled butcher paper in dramatic fashion. Holding each book in the air, I state boldly what I know about the title — performing a little book talk, encouraging students to take the books they like to the checkout counter. As each student comes forward, I make sure to notice what they’re choosing, add a comment about the books, and ask them to come back soon. One student I know is a car enthusiast. Another one is reading an entire series and wants to be done by the end of the school year. Still another tells me I don’t have enough scary books. (I remember that one because I won’t read horror stories. “It’s about the kids,” I have to remind myself.)

School librarians also work with the teachers in their buildings to create lessons about reading, writing, and research. Librarians are called to teach standards of learning as co-teachers with the English department teachers in many schools around the country. This collaborative effort is important in schools, as the workforce is changing drastically — project-based teams work together to solve problems and find solutions. Because librarians are well-trained, they often provide lessons such as how to form a thesis statement, how to avoid plagiarism, and how to draft and revise writing. This approach helps students realize that learning is a social event, as much as it is an individual responsibility.

School Librarians Promote the Joy of Reading

My author friends Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess (authors of the Blink YA books, Soloand Swing) are favorites in our library. We had a “book birthday party” for Solo, after I was lucky enough to be named a #SoloBook Launch Team member. I cannot keep Swing on the shelves. I like to think that I introduce students to authors and books that will lead them through life. Recently I heard that a young lady needed something to read that would make her feel better about coming to school after an illness. I immediately recommended McCall Hoyle’s The Thing with Feathers, knowing that the main character, Emilie, had a similar story — feeling anxious about attending a public school while having a similar struggle. The student read the entire book in two days and returned to the library with a confidence that I hadn’t seen before. (Of course, I then traded her for Meet the Sky. This girl now has a favorite author!)

School Libraries are important, and knowledgeable librarians are needed to bring joyful reading opportunities to children. I continue to advocate for meaningful reading in schools, and I encourage others to join me. It is my pleasure to provide literacy learning for students in my school and community.

I love reading. I love the smell and feel of new books. I turn the books over and over in my hands, marveling at the cover art, reading the back description, searching for favorite lines. But there’s something I love more…

I love watching students fall in love with reading.

Jennifer Sniadecki is currently a middle school librarian, teacher, and professional development facilitator from South Bend, Indiana. She is an avid reader and will read anything her friends recommend. Jennifer’s current passions are promoting her favorite authors’ upcoming books as a launch team member and reading ARCs with #booksojourn. Check out her posts on Twitter (@jdsniadecki) or follow her blog, www.readingteacherwrites.com.


08 April

#BlinkBlog: Spring Trends

Now that 2019 is well underway, we’re thinking about which new trends the young adult literature space has seen this year and which trends might have the stamina to continue to 2020 and beyond. We are thinking about what we read obsessively, what we binged on our favorite streaming device, and what got us talking with our friends about our current read.

Across the publishing industry in general, there continues to be a huge demand for diversity. We are so excited to push for inclusive literature in the children’s market that features all types of voices and experiences! Diverse books that encompass underrepresented settings and marginalized cultures by #OwnVoices authors are on fire in every genre from contemporary to science fiction. This is something that many publishers, including BLINK, aren’t treating as a just a trend but something that is here to stay as we continue to push intentionally toward publishing diverse books. One title that we are very excited for is The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais (on sale in August 2019), an #OwnVoices novel featuring a Deaf protagonist with a gorgeous cover designed by Deaf artist Nancy Rourke. We are thrilled to have this representation both within the pages of the book and on the cover!

Movie and television adaptations of popular YA books have influenced trends that this space will be seeing in the future. The success of Netflix adaptions like The Kissing Booth, Dumplin’, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has brought romcoms back to the forefront in YA. And we are all the more excited if a love story is culturally rich and brings in diversity. On the flip side of this, the success of the show You, although not a YA novel, has many in the YA marketplace turning to it as a comp for psychological thrillers and mysteries in the YA space. Thrillers with a tightly-knit, well-paced plot, clever and nuanced characters, and a twist that readers will never see coming? Sign us right up! Kimberly Gabriel’s book Every Stolen Breath (on sale in November 2019) is one that we are eagerly anticipating. With the main character trying to solve the mystery of her father’s death while trying to take down a violent “flash mob,” this book has everything we love about thrillers!

We continue to see fresh and fascinating spins on familiar stories. Retellings are still trending in a variety of genres like contemporary, science fiction, and fantasy. Twisting well-known fairy tales and myths and turning them on their heads make this an exciting space that is ripe for creativity, and a space where authors have plenty of opportunities to play with their readers’ expectations. One of our favorite authors who writes contemporary retellings is Christina June, whose book No Place Like Here (on sale in May 2019) is a modern twist on Hansel and Gretel. The main character in this story works at a retreat center in the middle of nowhere and leaves trails of breadcrumbs—inspirational sayings and scribbles—that help her cope with her own family drama. Annie Sullivan is another one of our favorites in the re-tellings subgenre. Her upcoming fantasy novel Tiger Queen (on sale in September 2019), gives readers the answer to Frank Stockton’s cliffhanger of a short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger.” Taking the unnamed princess from this short story and turning her into a Wonder Woman-esque warrior who battles against suitors in the arena, Annie takes readers on a fun and unexpected adventure in this retelling.

And finally, in YA right now there seems to be a greater awareness of audience. While the primary audience of YA novels is still teen readers, there is a strong secondary audience of adults in their twenties and thirties. *raises hand* And so in many YA books, we have been seeing more mature and older protagonists with darker and grittier storylines, which seems to be very organic. This helps YA literature cross over to adult readers. However, no one is selling teens short here. In real life, authors know that teens today are grappling with heavy topics like internalized prejudices, sexism, a government that students might feel doesn’t match their beliefs, and mental health. Readers want to see teen characters dealing with these serious issues, finding their voice, and speaking up. Real life teens inspire us every day!

At BLINK, we are working to make sure we supply readers like you with books you’ll want to read. We are so pleased to release new #OwnVoices stories, fantasy, thrillers, and contemporary books for your enjoyment. Remember, your next great read is only a blink away!

04 April

#Blink Blog Author Spotlight: Heather Hepler (Part 2)

As we continue to celebrate the release of We Were Beautiful, we are featuring part two of our “Author Spotlight” with Heather Hepler!

Get your copy of We Were Beautiful HERE!

What makes this book special/unique?

I think We Were Beautiful tackles something that most anyone will struggle with at some point. Causing harm or doing something wrong is unfortunately a part of even the most carefully lived life. I wanted to show Mia’s movement from guilt and shame to forgiveness and freedom. I also wanted it to be clear that she’s not just sweeping what she did under the rug or making excuses for it, but she’s facing it head on and doing the hard work to move through it.

I also love the love story between Mia and Cooper. It’s not glossy and easy, but real and deep and beautiful.

How are you reflected in We Were Beautiful (or, how much of you is reflected in the book)?

This is such a difficult question because writing is all about the author, I think. It’s the weird blender that each of us has in his or her head. You consciously put things in there, but also life comes along and sneaks in some ingredients that you might not notice. When you write, you switch that blender on. And like the smoothies that I make sometimes it’s delicious, but sometimes, you just have to chuck it out and start again.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned while being a writer?

It can be lonely, typing away early in the morning or late at night, knowing that much of what I am writing will never make it off my hard drive. But it’s also hugely satisfying, bringing something amazing from only my imagination.

Any additional thoughts?

Just a thought to anyone wanting to be a writer or wanting to publish – don’t give up. Sometimes it takes a really long time to find the right story and sometimes even longer before you know how to tell it, but it’s worth it. Whether one person or a hundred million people read it – it’s worth it.