Penguin Teen Social 2019 - Recap (May 23, 2019)
Right before going to NYC for BEA/BookCon, I got to be at Penguin Teen Social event at Penguin Random House Canada HQ - effectively, kicking off my bookish 2 weeks. I was trying to write and upload this post before I left, but there was just too much happening!
I love going to book events in Canada as I get to see lots of bookish friends and bloggers! Not to mention get my hands on the newest releases. And this event was not an exception.
I must say though that the trivia game that Penguin had come up with was bloody hard! I guessed only a couple of answers (due to general knowledge and a hint from Lesley Levingston), so I didn’t even bother submitting my answer sheet. However, it was fun to talk to people and try to find answers to those questions.
Everyone was given a book at the sign-in - I got a hardback copy of “The Art of Losing” by Lizzy Mason. I am not sure if it was the only option as I arrived right before the start. I am very excited to get a copy of it as it has been on my radar for awhile. And even though I am a bit tired of contemporary YA novels, I am hoping that this one would be up my alley as it has a lot of angst.
Here is a quick synopsis:
On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike—and she abandons them both in a rage. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her ex-boyfriend (who is relatively unscathed) has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as Audrey awakens and slowly recovers, Raf starts to show Harley a path forward that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.
We mingled, chatted, ate pizza - not me though, as I am always terrified of making a mess - talking to Penguin employees and authors, and generally had a good time. There was an opportunity to get books signed by the authors present there, however, I have not read any of their books (except for, “Chicken Girl” by Heather Smith and I didn’t bring my own copy), so I was just browsing a lot.
We were also given an opportunity to choose one of the ARCs available. I picked up a book that I heard nothing about before. The title is “Me, Myself & Him” by Chris Tebbetts.
Perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and A. S. King's Still Life with Tornado, this story of parallel time lines cleverly explores how our choices can change and shape us--as well as the ways in which choices don't change the core of our being at all.
When Chris Schweitzer takes a hit of whippets and passes out face first on the cement, his nose isn't the only thing that changes forever. Instead of staying home with his friends for the last summer after high school, he's shipped off to live with his famous physicist but royal jerk of a father to prove he can "play by the rules" before Dad will pay for college.
Or . . . not.
In an alternate time line, Chris's parents remain blissfully ignorant about the accident, and life at home goes back to normal--until it doesn't. A new spark between his two best (straight) friends quickly turns Chris into a (gay) third wheel, and even worse, the truth about the whippets incident starts to unravel. As his summer explodes into a million messy pieces, Chris wonders how else things might have gone. Is it possible to be jealous of another version of yourself in an alternate reality that doesn't even exist?
Release date: July 9, 2019
As you know, anything with a hashtag LGBTQ+ will get my attention and I am happy I got this ARC. Truth be told, I had previously requested three YA/MG ARCs from Penguin, so I would have felt bad for picking up more than one anyway.
I want to very quickly give you a run down of those ARCs as I have seen them featured at BookExpo (BEA).
“Shouting at the Rain” by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Delsie loves tracking the weather--lately, though, it seems the squalls are in her own life. She's always lived with her kindhearted Grammy, but now she's looking at their life with new eyes and wishing she could have a "regular family." Delsie observes other changes in the air, too--the most painful being a friend who's outgrown her. Luckily, she has neighbors with strong shoulders to support her, and Ronan, a new friend who is caring and courageous but also troubled by the losses he's endured. As Ronan and Delsie traipse around Cape Cod on their adventures, they both learn what it means to be angry versus sad, broken versus whole, and abandoned versus loved. And that, together, they can weather any storm.
Release date: May 2019
“All the Greys on Greene Street” by Laura Tucker
SoHo, 1981. Twelve-year-old Olympia is an artist—and in her neighborhood, that's normal. Her dad and his business partner Apollo bring antique paintings back to life, while her mother makes intricate sculptures in a corner of their loft, leaving Ollie to roam the streets of New York with her best friends Richard and Alex, drawing everything that catches her eye.
Then everything falls apart. Ollie's dad disappears in the middle of the night, leaving her only a cryptic note and instructions to destroy it. Her mom has gone to bed, and she's not getting up. Apollo is hiding something, Alex is acting strange, and Richard has questions about the mysterious stranger he saw outside. And someone keeps calling, looking for a missing piece of art. . . .
Olympia knows her dad is the key--but first, she has to find him, and time is running out.
Release date: June 4, 2019
“Zenobia July” by Lisa Bunker
Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to live in Arizona with her father; now she's in Maine with her aunts. She used to spend most of her time behind a computer screen, improving her impressive coding and hacking skills; now she's coming out of her shell and discovering a community of friends at Monarch Middle School. People used to tell her she was a boy; now she's able to live openly as the girl she always knew she was.
When someone anonymously posts hateful memes on her school's website, Zenobia knows she's the one with the abilities to solve the mystery, all while wrestling with the challenges of a new school, a new family, and coming to grips with presenting her true gender for the first time. Timely and touching, Zenobia July is, at its heart, a story about finding home.
Release date: May 21, 2019
There was a cute Penguin sign that we just had to take a picture with 🤩
One of my most favourite photos of that day was this photo of “We Contain Multitudes” by Sarah Henstra. I had heard so much about that book but hadn’t had a chance to request an ARC.
So, later I begged Penguin Teen for a copy and they were kind enough to send it to me. 😍 And this is what I am currently reading. I am on page 113 and totally having a WTF moment!
Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that eventually grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and devastating family secrets, Jonathan and Kurl struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship...and each other.
Release date: May 14, 2019
To celebrate the ongoing Pride Month 🌈, I have been looking up and buying all LGBTQ+ related books that have recently come out (pun intended 😂). So, if you have any recommendations - send them over!
Thank you for reading!
It was a very overdue blog post 😅