A few weeks ago, HarperCollins Canada sent out invites for an exclusive book blogger event in the Toronto area. I was extremely pleased to find an invitation in my inbox, and I immediately began making plans for a bookish evening with great book-loving friends.
After a light dinner with the blogettes at the Manulife Center, we made our way up to the HCC offices and were greeted by the awesome staff of HCC Frenzy! They went all out for the evening, providing lots of drinks and creatively named pies:
The presentation started with an introduction from Jessica, designer of Frenzy Magazine. Ontario Blog Squad members will remember receiving a copy of the mag at last November’s event, and I can assure you it’s just as beautiful and awesome as it was last year.
Hadley, executive editor for children’s literature at HCC, took the stage next. She shared some happy awards news with us, after having just told the authors involved, and we had a mini-celebration for them! Then she discussed what her job entails as an editor, which can include holding authors’ hands when they need it and helping them figure out when the story is complete. She also took questions from us–I asked if she had any advice for an aspiring book editor, and she recommended taking a class (like the Editing Books for Children and Teens course she started at Ryerson) and always reading.
After a great wrap-up from Hadley, Vikki came up to talk about the stack of books on the table that we’d all been eyeing since we arrived. First up was Sarah Crossan’s Breathe, a post-apocalyptic thriller where the entire world is under the control of the only corporation that can produce oxygen-rich air. As reluctant as some readers might be for another post-apocalypse/dystopian story, Vikki assured us that this would be an exciting novel worth waiting for.
Continuing in the thriller genre, Vikki picked up Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon. Led by a hacker protagonist, Don’t Turn Around is an engaging and suspenseful thriller that brings a new spin to the idea of the internet.
Shannon continued with some fangirling over Lesley Livingston’s newest urban fantasy novel, Starling. Apparently, Fenrys Wolf makes his first appearance, completely in the buff, in the first three chapters. (As I received a copy of Starling last night, I can confirm that this rumour is true! XD) Readers familiar with Livingston’s unique take on Irish mythology will be sure to enjoy the Norse mythology in this novel.
Such Wicked Intent, the sequel to the insanely successful This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel, enchanted the HCC staff and they were so eager for us to read it as well. SWI continues the story of Dr. Frankenstein’s teenage years, and all of the things we loved about the first one, we were assured, are present in this new installment.
Up next was Gretchen McNeil’s Ten, a terrifying mystery thriller (there sure are a lot of those coming out this fall, eh?) based on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. It was great to hear that Gretchen’s talent for scary stories (though I refuse to read Possess because I’ve studied exorcisms and won’t do that to myself) is manifest in Ten and I can’t wait to read it.
The last book to be featured was The Debutantes by Cora Harrison. Three teens growing up in 1923 want to escape their boring country life and find glamourous new dreams–but are they ready for the consequences? Jessica talked this one up wonderfully, and I’m already in love with the setting!
If you noticed mentions of Veronica Roth’s Insurgent on the Frenzy poster, it’s because the HCC ladies had prepared a mini-book club session for all of us. Before the presentation began, we had been asked to write down what faction we thought we belonged in. Our answers came into play during the book club discussion–Erudite was the leading faction, with Candor and Dauntless following closely and Abnegation and Amity coming next. We also discussed Ms. Roth’s avoidance of the infamous love triangle, possibles titles for the final book (Convergent was the most popular suggestion, coming from Liz of Midnight Bloom Reads!) and which faction Canada as a country would fit into.
Before we knew it, we’d reached the final part of the Frenzy presentation: the entrance of our special guest! My blogger friends and I had discussed possibilities (Lesley Livingston? Kenneth Oppel? Kit Pearson?), but our investigation led us to one conclusion–it had to be Tahereh Mafi, author of Shatter Me. We’d secretly stashed our copies of Shatter Me in our bags for the event, and despite having guessed her presence, it was still such a thrill to see her walk into the room!
Tahereh was such a sweetheart, and it was surreal to find that she seemed just as in awe of all of us as we were of her. (That sentence got away from me. XD) As we did a round of introductions, she kept nodding and exclaiming that she was very familiar with our blogs and Twitters–”psh, why are we even doing this? I already know all of you!” It’s so refreshing to meet authors that are just as silly and enthusiastic as bloggers and readers are, and I’m pretty sure Tahereh charmed every single person in the room. And she even signed an extra copy of Shatter Me for one of my best friends, Meghan, who couldn’t make it out to Toronto for her Chapters visits!
Thank you, HarperCollins Canada, for an unforgettable evening! Be sure to check out the amazing fall lineup–no matter what you love in books, you’re bound to find an exciting new read!