Five Thrillers for Summer 2022

There’s something about summer that just makes us want to curl up outside with a thriller so here are our five recommendations for this year!

Fight Like a Girl
By Sheena Kamal
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735265578 | Penguin Teen Canada
Love and violence. In some families they’re bound up together, dysfunctional and poisonous, passed from generation to generation like eye color or a quirk of smile. Trisha’s trying to break the chain, channeling her violent impulses into Muay Thai kickboxing, an unlikely sport for a slightly built girl of Trinidadian descent. Her father comes and goes as he pleases, his presence adding a layer of tension to the Toronto east-end townhouse that Trisha and her mom call home, every punch he lands on her mother carving itself indelibly into Trisha’s mind. Until the night he wanders out drunk in front of the car Trisha is driving, practicing on her learner’s permit, her mother in the passenger seat. Her father is killed, and her mother seems strangely at peace. Lighter, somehow. Trisha doesn’t know exactly what happened that night, but she’s afraid it’s going to happen again. Her mom has a new man in her life and the patterns, they are repeating.

Murder for the Modern Girl
By Kendall Kulper
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823449729 | Holiday House
Until now, eighteen-year-old Ruby’s penchant for poison has been a secret. No one knows that she uses her mind-reading abilities to target men who prey on vulnerable women, men who escape the clutches of Chicago “justice.” When she meets a brilliant boy working at the morgue, his knack for forensic detail threatens to uncover her dark hobby. Even more unfortunately: sharp, independent Ruby has fallen in love with him. Waltzing between a supernaturally enhanced romance, the battle to take down a gentleman’s club, and loyal friendships worth their weight in diamonds, Ruby brings defiant charm to every page of Murder for the Modern Girl – not to mention killer fashion.

Never Coming Home
By Kate Williams
320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593304860 | Delacorte BFYR
Everyone knows Unknown Island – it’s the world’s most exclusive destination. Think white sand beaches, turquoise seas, and luxury accommodations. Plus, it’s invite only, no one over twenty-one allowed, and it’s absolutely free. Who wouldn’t want to go? After launching with a show-stopping viral marketing campaign, the whole world is watching as the mysterious resort opens its doors to the First Ten, the ten elite influencers specifically chosen to be the first to experience everything Unknown Island has to offer. You know them. There’s the gamer, the beauty blogger, the rich girl, the superstar, the junior politician, the environmentalist, the DJ, the CEO, the chef, and the athlete. What they don’t know is that they weren’t invited to Unknown Island for their following – they were invited for their secrets. Everyone is hiding a deadly one, and it looks like someone’s decided it’s payback time. Unknown Island isn’t a vacation, it’s a trap. And it’s beginning to look like the First Ten – no matter how influential – are never coming home.

The Agathas
By Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593431115 | Delacorte BFYR
Last summer, Alice Ogilve’s basketball-star boyfriend Steve dumped her. Then she disappeared for five days. Where she went and what happened to her (because she’s not talking) is the biggest mystery in Castle Cove – or it was, at least. Because now, another one of Steve’s girlfriends has vanished: Brooke Donovan, Alice’s ex–best friend. And this time it doesn’t look like Brooke will be coming back. . . . Enter Iris Adams, Alice’s tutor. Iris has her own reasons for wanting to disappear, though unlike Alice, she doesn’t have the money or the means. That could be changed by the hefty reward Brooke’s grandmother is offering to anyone who can share information about her granddaughter’s whereabouts. The police are convinced Steve is the culprit, but Alice isn’t so sure, and with Iris on her side, she just might be able to prove her theory. In order to get the reward and prove Steve’s innocence, they need to figure out who killed Brooke Donovan. And luckily Alice has exactly what they need – the complete works of Agatha Christie. If there’s anyone that can teach the girls how to solve a mystery it’s the master herself. But the town of Castle Cove holds many secrets, and Alice and Iris have no idea how much danger they’re about to walk into.

The Counselors
By Jessica Goodman
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593524220 | Razorbill
Camp Alpine Lake is the only place where Goldie Easton feels safe. She’s always had a special connection to the place, even before she was old enough to attend. The camp is the lifeline of Roxwood, the small town she lives in. Alpine Lake provides jobs, money and prestige to the region. Few Roxwood locals, though, get to reap the rewards of living so close to the glam summer that camp, with its five-figure tuition and rich kids who have been dumped there for eight weeks by their powerful parents. Goldie’s one of them. Even with her “townie” background, Goldie has never felt more at home at camp and now she’s back as a counselor, desperate for summer to start and her best friends, Ava and Imogen, to arrive. Because Goldie has a terrible dark secret she’s been keeping and she is more in need of the comfort than ever. But Goldie’s not the only person at camp who has been lying. When a teen turns up dead in the lake late one night, she knows that the death couldn’t have been an accident. She also knows that Ava was at the lake that same night. What did Ava see and what does she know? Why hasn’t she said anything to Goldie about the death? Worse – what did Ava do? But asking questions offers no answers, only broken bonds of lifelong friendship, with hidden danger and betrayals deeper than Goldie ever imagined.

Tundra Telegram: Books to Geek Out Over

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we draw on topics that we’re all fanboying and fangirling over, and recommend some books to keep the excitement onward and upward.

Unless you have curated a completely geek-free social media feed, you know that last weekend the San Diego Comic-Con took over southern California, wrapping up on July 24, and previewing the biggest and newest things in comic books, science fiction, video games, and much more. Whether you were more thrilled to see the trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever or Sarah Michelle-Gellar making a surprise appearance at the Teen Wolf panel, the return of Comic-Con had a little something for everyone.

To mark the occasion, we’re recommending books that are not comic books themselves, nor do they feature comic characters (like the great DC Icons YA series). Instead, they are books about comic books, RPGs, and fandoms. Get your geek on, and find your next great read below!

PICTURE BOOKS

For some comic book fans, no matter their age, there are few words as thrilling as There’s a Superhero in Your Book, which is the title of a book by Tom Fletcher and Greg Abbott. Even better, this picture book is interactive, so young readers can enjoy tapping, stretching, and whizzing this book around as they help the superhero defeat the villain and save the day – while discovering the real superpower of kindness.

If that sounds a bit too stimulating for your young reader, we can recommend Even Superheroes Have to Sleep by Sara Crow and Adam Record. Little kids will enjoy this rhyming story that tricks lulls them into bedtime with the promise that all their heroes are getting tucked into bed, too. (You know Sleepwalker loves his shut-eye!) And there’s a companion book called Even Superheroes Use the Potty where you can (maybe?) learn how Iron Man goes to the washroom in that suit!

If the young readers in your life are wild about superhero movies and games, they may relate to the main character of Max and the Superheroes by Rocio Bonilla and Oriol Malet. Max and his friends love learning about superheroes and their superpowers. Everyone has a favorite, and Max’s is Megapower: she’s brave, tames animals, has x-ray vision, is super smart, can fly – and just happens to be Max’s mom. (So it’s perfect for Mother’s Day, as well.)

And for something a little different, you can learn about the origins of gaming with Blips on a Screen by Kate Hannigan and Zachariah OHora. It’s a picture book biography about Ralph Baer, a Jewish refugee who pioneered home video games and launched a worldwide obsession. Considered the “Father of Video Games,” there’d be no Xbox or Nintendo Switch without him!

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Where would the MCU be without Stan Lee, the writer who co-created many of Marvel’s signature characters? Find out more, true believers, in Who Was Stan Lee? by Geoff Edgers and John Hinderliter, a book that chronicles how a kid from the Bronx created a comic book empire (with more than a little help from Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and a roster of talented artists).

What if you’re at the stage that you want to start – like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby – to make your own comics? You might like Doodleville by Chad Sell. Yes, it is a graphic novel, but it’s also about young artists in the school’s art club and the power of creativity: specifically, how one member’s (Drew’s) artistic creations come to life and wreak havoc on the other kids’ drawings of heroes.

Or maybe they would like Stephen Shaskan’s Pizza and Taco: Super-Awesome Comic, in which the beloved anthropomorphic foodstuffs decide to collaborate on a comic book, but must overcome their deep-seated artistic differences to make a great story.

But if your young readers would like something a little more hands-on, you’ll want Jess Smart Smiley’s Let’s Make Comics: An Activity Book to Create, Write, and Draw Your Own Cartoons. This is this an honest-to-goodness, all-ages activity book that makes use of humorous and informative one-page comics and exercise prompts to guide young readers through easy-to-master lessons on the skills needed to make comics. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a bunch of short comics under your belt – and it even comes recommended by Narwhal and Jelly creator Ben Clanton!

What’s more appropriate than a novel that takes place at a comic convention? Marthe Jocelyn, Richard Scrimger, and Claudia Davila’s book Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book opens at the Toronto comic-con, where two very different kids – geek Wylder Wallace and aloof Addy Crowe – find themselves drawn (literally) into the fantastic world of a hit comic book.

Vera Vance: Comics Star by Claudia Mills and Grace Zong, spotlights a third-grader who signs up for a comics camp after-school program, much to the chagrin of her mother. But Vera loves everything comics and starts making her own with the encouragement of friends and the teachers of her camp. And in an inversion of Viminy Crowe, it all leads up to a local comic convention, in which Vera hopes to enter an original comics contest – if only her mother will let her go!

In Stink: Superhero Superfan by Megan McDonald and Peter H. Reynolds, the popular character discovers a box of old comics about a superhero he’s never heard of: Super Gecko! Before long, Stink becomes Super Gecko’s biggest fan. Then he starts receiving mysterious notes signed by Super Gecko himself. Can Stink do some detective work worthy of S.G. and find out who is sending the letters before the Gecko gets a dark and gritty reboot?

A contemporary graphic novel that combines OCD with AD&D, Just Roll with It by Veronica Agarwal and Lee Durfey-Lavoie follows Maggie, who is shy, doesn’t know anyone at her school, and deals with anxiety and OCD. She also loves Dungeons and Dragons (and other role-playing games), so her twenty-sided die (D20, for those in the know) helps her make decisions – just like Two-Face and his lucky quarter in the Batman comics!

And for the young nonfiction comic fan, check out Comics Confidential by Leonard S. Marcus, an anthology of interviews and original comics by today’s foremost graphic novelists (Kazu Kibuishi, Gene Luen Yang, Hope Larson), who talk all about the highs and lows of making comics! It has lots of great advice for young comic writers and illustrators!

YOUNG ADULT

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner is like a comic-con Twelfth Night (or She’s the Man, if you prefer). Cameron is a cosplay wizard and aspiring fashion designer. When her costumes win a competition, male fans troll her, accusing her of not being a “real” fan. After a move, she discovers the local comic shop, managed by the exact kind of male gatekeeper who forced her to flee the online world. So she borrows her twin brother’s clothes, poses as a boy, and easily enters the local nerd inner sanctum (and their ongoing D&D game). And things get even more complicated when she develops a crush on one of those D&D adventurers!

If comic-con-adjacent romances are your thing, you need to read Geekerella by Ashley Poston, a fan-fic twist on the Cinderella story about geek girl Ellie Wittimer, the worlds’ biggest fan of sci-fi TV series Starfield who wins a trip to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and gets to meet a teen actor from the new film reboot, Darien Freeman. Will Ellie hit it off with her Federation Prince? Or will her stepsisters ruin things for her again?

And if you enjoy Geekerella, you might like the follow-up, The Princess and the Fangirl, a geeky take on The Prince and the Pauper! Imogen Lovelace is a fangirl who doesn’t want her favourite Starfield character, Princess Amara, to get killed off. Jessica Stone is the teen actress who plays Amara and wants out of the franchise. And – coincidentally – they look a lot like each other. Parent Trap-style, a deal is struck, but will fans catch on to their scheme?

For more geek love, you need Melissa Keil’s Life in Outer Space, in which self-described, seventeen-year-old Sam Kinnison (no relation) loves horror movies and World of Warcraft and his loser friends. Then a cool girl named Camilla Carter enters his life – she also loves W.O.W., and wants to be Sam’s friend, which throws his life upside-down is this funny love-letter to geeks.

If you want to read some nonfiction from a famous geek girl, then you want The Fangirl’s Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs, author of numerous comics and video games (and former on-air host for Nerdist). This handbook is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for girls into geeks stuff, including how to make nerdy friends, how to rock cosplay, to defeat internet trolls (very important), and how to attend your first con. It includes advice from Sam as well as other fangirl faves like Danielle Paige, Rainbow Rowell, and Preeti Chibber!

See you all in the funny pages!

Camp Penguin: Kids’ Comic Strips

Earlier this month, we held a special Camp Penguin virtual event for kids on creating comics with Canadian comics creators Cale Atkinson (Simon and Chester: Super Detectives) and Jade Armstrong (Scout Is Not a Band Kid) and hosted by our own senior marketing and publicity associate, Sam Devotta.

If you didn’t have the chance to experience it live, you can watch the recording (minus the chat) here. The comics workshop, which received glowing reviews from young comic makers, ended with a collaborative comic from Cale and Jade. They each drew one panel of a camp-related comic strip and invited attendees to finish by writing and drawing a third panel.

Two strips were selected as winners and the young creators – Allison S. and Ellie K. – will be sent special graphic novel prize packs. But a number of attendees granted us permission to share their incredible (and often quite funny) creations on the Tundra blog, so we’ve posted them here for all of you to enjoy!

*WINNER 1* ALLISON S.

*WINNER 2*: ELLIE K.

And a number of honorable mentions …

ELIZABETH W.

ASHLEY C.

HENRY B.

CORA V.

JACK B.

SARAH

SOMA L.

PIETER H.

Books About Adoption

We love celebrating families of all kinds and one thing that a lot of books have tackled recently is adoption. Here are some of our recent titles that talk about growing families through fostering or adopting.

Anne Arrives: Inspired by Anne of Green Gables
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Abigail Halpin
72 Pages | Ages 6-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9781770499300 | Tundra Books
Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert need help on their farm, so they’ve adopted what they hope will be a sturdy, helpful boy. Instead, Matthew finds Anne awaiting him at the train station – imaginative, brash, redheaded Anne-with-an-e. With her place at the Cuthberts’ at risk – particularly if nosy neighbor Mrs. Lynde has anything to say about it – Anne will have to learn patience, understanding and what it takes to make Green Gables her true home.

Burt’s Way Home
By John Martz
60 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271029 | Tundra Books
Burt is an alien from a distant galaxy with advanced technology, but an accident has made his parents disappear and trapped him on Earth. And no matter what he does, he can’t seem to get lowly Earth technology to work well enough to get him home. That’s his story, anyway. From the perspective of his foster mother, Lydia, Burt is a confused and lonely little boy who’s difficult to understand and lives in his own world. But she’s less focused on understanding him than she is on taking care of and supporting him. Burt struggles to adjust to his new home, and Lydia tries her best. But when Burt embarks on a plan to teleport home once and for all and ventures into the cold all alone, Lydia will have to find a way to bridge the gulf between them.

The Family Tree
By Sean Dixon
Illustrated by Lily Snowden-Fine
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267664 | Tundra Books
When her teacher gives her class a simple family tree assignment, Ada is stumped. How can she make her family fit into this simple template? Ada is adopted. She can see where to put her parents on the tree, but what about her birth mom? Ada has a biological sister, but her sister has different adoptive parents – where do they go on the tree? But with the help of her friends and family, Ada figures it out. She creates her family tree . . . and so much more. Loosely based on the author’s own experience, this moving story explores the different ways families are created and how the modern family is more diverse and welcoming than ever before.

The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga #1
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266100 | Puffin Canada
Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home – until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything – including them.

The Language of Flowers
By Dena Seiferling
56 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270534 | Tundra Books
Deep within a magical meadow, some lonely flowers receive a very special gift: a baby bumblebee in need. The flowers name her Beatrice, they care for her and help her find her wings. And as she grows older, Beatrice learns the language of her floral family – messages of kindness and appreciation that she delivers between them. With each sweet word, the flowers bloom until the meadow becomes so big that Beatrice needs help delivering her messages and decides to set out in search of her own kind. But this little bee’s quest takes her beyond the safety of the meadow and into the dangerous swamp the flowers have warned her about, a swamp inhabited by strange plants with snapping jaws and terrible teeth . . . will these prickly plants let her pass? Could they just be in need of a little sweetness themselves? A gently fanciful tale of the miracle of pollination and the important relationship between flowers and bees, this sweetly affirming story, inspired by the Victorian practice of floriography, suggests the secret to flourishing is kindness and appreciation.

We Adopted a Baby Chick
By Lori Joy Smith
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266551 | Tundra Books
Albert the sheep is the only one unhappy about the new addition to the family. Tina is a tiny, fluffy baby chick – and she gets all the attention. Albert is big and loud, and he can’t resist Mom’s vegetables (“Get out of the garden, Albert!”). Sprout the dog doesn’t have time for Albert anymore. The cats only have eyes for Tina. And though he tries his hardest, Albert’s gifts to the family aren’t as welcome as Tina’s eggs. Then one day, Tina faces a danger and only Albert can save her. Will Albert be able to put his feelings aside and truly welcome Tina into his flock?

Five Fantasies for Summer 2022

Every year blesses us with so many amazing YA fantasy books, it’s impossible to pick our faves . . . but we’re gonna try! Here are five fantasies from 2022 you must read this summer!

Beasts of Ruin
By Ayana Gray
496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593405710 | Putnam BFYR
Koffi has saved her city and the boy she loves, but at a terrible price. Now a servant to the cunning god of death, she must use her newfound power to further his continental conquest, or risk the safety of her home and loved ones. As she reluctantly learns to survive amidst unexpected friends and foes, she will also have to choose between the life – and love – she once had, or the one she could have, if she truly embraces her dangerous gifts. Cast out from the only home he’s ever known, Ekon is forced to strike new and unconventional alliances to find and rescue Koffi before it’s too late. But as he gets closer to the realm of death each day, so too does he draw nearer to a terrible truth—one that could cost everything. Koffi and Ekon – separated by land, sea, and gods – will have to risk everything to reunite again. But the longer they’re kept apart, the more each of their loyalties are tested. Soon, both may have to reckon with changing hearts – and maybe, changing destinies.

Castles in Their Bones
By Laura Sebastian
528 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593118160 | Delacorte
Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes. Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides – because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal – to bring down monarchies – and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria. The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans – and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers. Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone – not even each other?

Echoes & Empires
By Morgan Rhodes
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593351659 | Razorbill
Josslyn Drake knows only three things about magic: it’s rare, illegal, and always deadly. So when she’s caught up in a robbery gone wrong at the Queen’s Gala and infected by a dangerous piece of magic – one that allows her to step into the memories of an infamously evil warlock – she finds herself living her worst nightmare. Joss needs the magic removed before it corrupts her soul and kills her. But in Ironport, the cost of doing magic is death, and seeking help might mean scheduling her own execution. There’s nobody she can trust. Nobody, that is, except wanted criminal Jericho Nox, who offers her a deal: his help extracting the magic in exchange for the magic itself. And though she’s not thrilled to be working with a thief, especially one as infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) as Jericho, Joss is desperate enough to accept. But Jericho is nothing like Joss expects. The closer she grows to Jericho and the more she sees of the world outside her pampered life in the city, the more Joss begins to question the beliefs she’s always taken for granted – beliefs about right and wrong, about power and magic, and even about herself. In an empire built on lies, the truth may be her greatest weapon.

Hotel Magnifique
By Emily J. Taylor
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593404515 | Razorbill
All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town. The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel – appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets. With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa – and the other staff – from the cruelty of the ruthless maître d’hôtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.

Violet Made of Thorns
By Gina Chen
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593427538 | Delacorte
Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased – and not always true – divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer – unless Violet does something about it. But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom – all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus. Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom – or doom them all.