#PenguinIcebreakers

If you follow us on Instagram, you may have seen our #PenguinIcebreakers pop up over the past few months. We asked some of our favourite YA authors to answer a few questions to help us get to know them better – catch up with all the current Icebreakers now and get ready for more as we head into the new year!

How It All Blew Up
By Arvin Ahmadi
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593202876 | Viking BFYR
Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy — he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right? Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature . . . until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom. At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi’s most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life’s most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are.

The Cousins
By Karen M. McManus
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525708001 | Delacorte BFYR
Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious. Their parents are all clear on one point — not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious — and dark — their family’s past is. The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over — and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

This Coven Won’t Break
By Isabel Sterling
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780451480354 | Razorbill
Hannah Walsh just wants to finish high school. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever. When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have — their power — Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact. Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony.

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee
By Jeff Zentner
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263123 | Penguin Teen Canada
High school seniors and best friends Delia and Josie are two of the brightest stars on TV . . . TV Six, that is, the premiere public access cable station of Jackson, Tennessee. Every Saturday night the duo slip into their on-screen personas, Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, to host the Midnite Matinee — an enthusiastic, if underwatched, creature feature that brings back the best, the bizarre and the usually zero-budget horror and sci-fi flicks of the 1950s and 60s. But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls must face tough decisions about their futures. For Josie, that probably means leaving town for a big university, and chasing her dream career in mainstream TV. If only she didn’t have to leave the show — and Delia — behind to get the life she wants. But the future isn’t the only thing Josie feels guilty about. Soon she begins falling for the charismatic MMA fighter, Lawson, and her commitment to the show and Delia is pushed to its limits. As the line between growing up and growing apart blurs, Josie and Delia must test the bonds of friendship and learn that an uncertain future can be both monstrous . . . and momentous.

Lucy Crisp and the Vanishing House
By Janet Hill
240 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770499249 | Tundra Books
It has been a year since Lucy Crisp graduated from high school and she still hasn’t found her calling. That is, until she discovers an exclusive arts college called Ladywyck Lodge. On a whim, she applies and is thrilled to be accepted into their program. Lucy moves to Esther Wren, the charming little town where it’s based, and stays in the house her father buys as an investment: a magnificent building built by a sea captain in 1876. The house has history and personality — perhaps too much personality. . . Strange things start happening. Lucy hears voices and footsteps in empty rooms. She sees people and things that should not be there. Furniture disappears and elaborate desserts appear. What’s worse is that the strange events are not restricted to her house. Lucy begins to understand that the town and its inhabitants are hiding many secrets, and Ladywyck is at the heart. As the eerie happenings escalate, Lucy fears she is being threatened — but she is determined not to let fairy potions, spells and talk of witchcraft scare her away.

A Phoenix First Must Burn
Edited by Patrice Caldwell
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984835659 | Viking BFYR
Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.

 

Burn Our Bodies Down
By Rory Power
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525645627 | Delacorte BFYREver since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along. But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for. Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there? The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.

Girl Crushed
By Katie Heaney
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984897343 | Knopf BFYR
Before Quinn Ryan was in love with Jamie Rudawski, she loved Jamie Rudawski, who was her best friend. But when Jamie dumps Quinn a month before their senior year, Quinn is suddenly girlfriend-less and best friend-less. Enter a new crush: Ruby Ocampo, the gorgeous and rich lead singer of the popular band Sweets, who’s just broken up with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Quinn’s always only wanted to be with Jamie, but if Jamie no longer wants to be with her, why can’t Quinn go all in on Ruby? But the closer Quinn grows to Ruby, the more she misses Jamie, and the more (she thinks) Jamie misses her. Who says your first love can’t be your second love, too?

Hunted by the Sky
By Tanaz Bhathena
384 Pages | Ages 12+| Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267022 | Penguin Teen Canada
Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge. Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets Gul in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance — and discovers a magic he never expected to find. Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own.

A Game of Hope
By Sandra Gulland
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780143187127 | Penguin Teen Canada
Paris, 1798. Hortense de Beauharnais is engrossed in her studies at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, most of whom suffered tragic losses during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution. She loves to play and compose music, read and paint, and daydream about Christophe, her brother’s dashing fellow officer. But Hortense is not an ordinary girl. Her beautiful, charming mother Josephine has married Napoleon Bonaparte, soon to become the most powerful man in France, but viewed by Hortense as a coarse, unworthy successor to her elegant father, who was guillotined during the Terror. Where will Hortense’s future lie? Inspired by Hortense’s real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of teen life long ago, this is the story of a girl chosen by fate to play a role she didn’t choose.

 

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
By Holly Jackson
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984896360 | Delacorte Press
Everyone in Fairview knows the story. Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town. But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer? Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

The Grey Sisters
By Jo Treggiari
228 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263000 | Penguin Teen Canada
D and Spider have always been close friends, and they are further united in their shared heartbreak: they both lost siblings in a horrific plane crash two years earlier. A chance sighting of a beloved cuddly toy in a photograph of the only survivor spurs D to finally seek closure. She and Spider and their friend, Min, set off on a road trip to the mountainside site of that terrible crash. Ariel has lived on the mountain all her life. She and her extended family are looked down upon by neighboring townsfolk and she has learned to live by her wits, trusting few people outside of her isolated, survivalist community. A terrifying attack sends her down the mountain for help; on her way, she comes upon the three girls — a chance encounter that will have far-reaching consequences for them all.

He Must Like You
By Danielle Younge-Ullman
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265691 | Penguin Teen Canada
Libby’s having a rough senior year. Her older brother absconded with his college money and is bartending on a Greek island. Her dad just told her she’s got to pay for college herself, and he’s evicting her when she graduates so he can AirBnB her room. A drunken hook-up with her coworker Kyle has left her upset and confused. So when Perry Ackerman, serial harasser and the most handsy customer at The Goat where she waitresses, pushes her over the edge, she can hardly be blamed for dumping a pitcher of sangria on his head. Unfortunately, Perry is a local industry hero, the restaurant’s most important customer and Libby’s mom’s boss. Now Libby has to navigate the fallout of her outburst, find an apartment and deal with her increasing rage at the guys who’ve screwed up her life — and her increasing crush on the one guy who truly gets her. As timely as it is timeless, He Must Like You is a story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better people.

Barry Squires, Full Tilt
By Heather T. Smith
232 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267466 | Penguin Teen Canada
It’s 1995. When the Full Tilt Dancers give an inspiring performance at the opening of the new bingo hall, twelve-year-old Finbar (Barry) Squires wants desperately to join the troupe. Led by Father O’Flaherty, the Full Tilt Irish Step Dancers are the most sought-after act in St. John’s, Newfoundland (closely followed by popular bagpiper, Alfie Bragg and his Agony Bag). Having watched Riverdance twice, Barry figures he’ll nail the audition. And good thing too — it’d be nice to be known for something other than the port wine stain on his cheek. With questionable talent and an unpredictable temper, Barry’s journey to stardom is jeopardized by his parents’ refusal to take his dreams seriously. Thankfully, Barry has the support of a lively cast of characters: his ever-present grandmother, Nanny Squires; his adorable baby brother, Gord; an old British rocker named Uneven Steven; a group of geriatrics from the One Step Closer to God Nursing Home; and Saibal, a friend with whom Barry gets up to no good.

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person
By Frederick Joseph
272 Pages | Ages 12+| Hardcover
ISBN 9781536217018 | Candlewick
For Frederick Joseph, life as a transfer student in a largely white high school was full of wince-worthy moments that he often simply let go. As he grew older, however, he saw these as missed opportunities not only to stand up for himself, but to spread awareness to those white people who didn’t see the negative impact they were having. Speaking directly to the reader, The Black Friend calls up race-related anecdotes from the author’s past, weaving in his thoughts on why they were hurtful and how he might handle things differently now. Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, “reverse racism” to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, this book serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former “token Black kid” who now presents himself as the friend many readers need. Backmatter includes an encyclopedia of racism, providing details on relevant historical events, terminology, and more.

Who do you want to see do a #PenguinIcebreakers video? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

OLA Best Bets 2018

The OLA Best Bets committee is comprised of librarians and library technicians who are OLA members, work in public libraries and are committed to children’s and young adult services and eager to evaluate and promote Canadian books. Members discuss and evaluate recent publications by Canadian authors and illustrators. The books evaluated are suitable for children and young adults from birth to nineteen years old. From these discussions, the Committee produces “Best Bets” lists, annual annotated lists of recommended titles.

Here are the Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers titles on the list:

Clara VoyantClara Voyant
By Rachelle Delaney
Hardcover | 224 Pages | Puffin Canada
ISBN 9780143198536
A wannabe journalist and reluctant astrologer turns out to be clairvoyant in this charming middle-grade coming-of-age novel; for fans of Rebecca Stead’s novels.

Go Show the WorldGo Show the World
By Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Tundra Books
ISBN 9780735262928
“We are a people who matter.” Inspired by President Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing, Go Show the World is a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring important figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington.

No Fixed AddressNo Fixed Address
By Susin Nielsen
Hardcover | 288 Pages | Tundra Books
ISBN 9780735262751
From beloved Governor General Literary Award-winning author Susin Nielsen comes a touching and funny middle-grade story about family, friendship and growing up when you’re one step away from homelessness.

owls are good at keeping secretsOwls Are Good at Keeping Secrets
By Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Jacob Grant
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Tundra Books
ISBN 9781101919118
From the author of the beloved This Is Sadie comes a delightful book of curious, little-known stories about animals – one for each letter of the alphabet!

SweepSweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
By Jonathan Auxier
Hardcover | 368 Pages | Puffin Canada
ISBN 9780735264359
A brand-new novel by one of today’s most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heart-rending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.

The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony GrayThe Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray
By E. Latimer
Hardcover | 336 Pages | Tundra Books
ISBN 9781101919286
Lemony Snicket meets Oscar Wilde meets Edgar Allan Poe in this exciting and scary middle-grade novel inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray – a family curse is unleashed!

The OLA also included some Honourable Mentions:

Blood Will OutBlood Will Out
By Jo Treggiari
Hardcover | 288 Pages | Penguin Teen
ISBN 9780735262959
Silence of the Lambs for young adults — Blood Will Out is a gripping YA thriller readers won’t be able to put down.

the game of hopeThe Game of Hope
By Sandra Gulland
Hardcover | 384 Pages | Penguin Teen
ISBN 9780670067022
Inspired by Hortense’s real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of teen life long ago, this is the story of a girl chosen by fate to play a role she didn’t choose.

Congratulations to our authors and illustrators for recognized titles! And thank you to the OLA Best Bets committee for their hard work.

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: The Game of Hope

The Game of Hope_YA

Who run the world? Girls! Today we’re highlighting the often untold stories of women in history. The Game of Hope is the debut YA novel by international bestselling author Sandra Gulland. Join the conversation online by following @PenguinTeenCa and using the hashtag #HerStoryTeen.

Q&A with Sandra Gulland

What inspired you to write a YA novel?
Before I became a novelist, I was a book editor, and for over a decade I edited young adult novels for reluctant readers. But even so, it took at least two months to consider. It takes me years to write a novel, and I have to feel passionate about it and fall in love with it. So, I reread books about Hortense and covered our dining room table with plot points on index cards. I needed to see if there was a story there, a story about Hortense’s teen years, an enchanting story.And there was. And it was one I very much wanted to write.

What books did you consult while working on The Game of Hope?
I posted the complete list to my website and it comes to about 150 books and magazine articles, so I’ll spare you the details and generalize. I read Hortense’s two-volume memoir, The Memoirs of Queen Hortense, two decades ago, and it was time to reread them, as well as biographies about her. I read books on etiquette, period dance, and costume, of course: the details of daily life are what interest me the most. The book on sex that Caroline Bonaparte was so enthusiastic about, and which horrified Hortense, was also an amusing discovery. I read quite a lot on Madame Campan, including her letters to Hortense, as well as a little epistolary novel she wrote about two fictional girls in her wonderful school. A historian and I even shared the expense of hiring a researcher in Paris to find a set of letters in the National Archives written by one of Campan’s students. (Yes, you could call me obsessive.)

You’ve written a lot about various historical periods in France. What do you love about French history?
There is something about French history — at least the periods I’ve studied — that is so idealistic (even when it’s brutal), and at the same time almost theatrical. There is often a hint of humour, and I adore that.

What surprised you the most about the lives of teenage girls in post-revolutionary France?
There were many things I already knew, yet I was still surprised that teenage girls were expected to marry. They were so young! Also, it was rare for girls to be educated at all, much less well-educated. Campan’s school was amazingly creative and intellectually challenging. I would have loved to have gone to that school.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gulland_SandraSANDRA GULLAND is the author of the international-bestselling Josephine B series, chronicling the life of Napoleon’s second wife. Now, Sandra turns her keen eye for history and her love of story to Hortense, the teenage stepdaughter of Napoleon, in her first YA novel The Game of Hope.