The initial announcement of the #BreathlessReads tour making a stop in Toronto was met with a lot of excitement among the bloggers on Twitter. Quite a few were going to make the journey from out of town to see Morgan Rhodes, Andrea Cremer (who ended up not being able to make it, so the lovely Adrienne Kress took her spot), Jessica Spotswood and Beth Revis make a book tour stop here. Little did we know how very unrelated this “Faze Magazine party” would be to the actual regular Breathless Reads Tour. (I should have taken that as a clue since Toronto isn’t even listed on their “events” tab on the Facebook page.)
But I’m jumping ahead…. let me start from the beginning.
Andrea (Cozy Up With a Good Read) had come over earlier in the day for some coffee before we would head on the streetcar to the Breathless Reads event at the Opera House on Queen Street East in Toronto. Due to traffic/public transit, we were running a bit late from the 2pm start time, however from the tweets that we were seeing – it looks like nobody was being let in anyway. We finally got there at about 2:25pm and there was a huge line-up around the building that wasn’t moving. Although apparently it WAS moving, only the security lady was only letting a few people in at a time. Which brings up my first gripe. It’s ridiculously cold out. In the minus 20s with the wind chill, I think. Not only are the organizers not ready on time for a 2pm start, they were apparently in the window in full view of the cold “partygoers” putting together cupcakes – which weren’t for us! The first people through the door wasn’t let in until 2:20, just before we got there.
Andrea and I waited for a long time outside in the cold, where the previously mentioned security lady was quite rude with everyone. Okay, look. I know I’m part of the older crowd – as was most of the bloggers – hence the “media” designation. That meant absolutely nothing apparently. I even saw a few Penguin staffers having to wait in line! Nobody checked names at the door, there wasn’t a separate line or anything and then to have this rude security woman try to intimidate us like we’re all some scared 13 year olds? No. The pizza was coming through? That’s fine. Nicely ask us to move over and make room. Just because you think we’re all tweens doesn’t mean you can PUSH us back. Do NOT touch me, woman. And where were we supposed to go? The line-up is around the building? There IS no “back” to go! If you let us GO IN, then you’ll have all the room you want to move the pizza through. Finally we get through the doors and in the vestibule area, it’s being snaked around to get our way in. I honestly don’t know what the hold up was. Maybe they gave up on checking names since it’s a FREE event anyway but after being yelled at by the security woman again for “doubling up” the lines when we already were sandwiched in and herded in like cattle, I was at my wits’ end. All this, and we haven’t even gotten into the actual venue yet. It’s now 3pm.
Once inside, we were swarmed by all the young girls at the event – most of them running to get up front by the stage. Thankfully, good ol’ bloggers have a way of finding each other and we all gathered around a tiny bar table, chomping on some pizza that we managed to snag while walking by. There was some talking (with constant feedback on the mic) by the founder of Faze Magazine, a girl who developed an app, a Much Music VJ and then a singer named BRENDN. (Yeah, I felt extremely old when I hadn’t heard of ANY of these people.) The singer sang some cover songs, played to the crowd in the most hilarious way and that went on for quite a while. He even brought a girl on stage to serenade her, only to pander to the crowd instead. *facepalm*. After that, there was some “motivational/inspirational” video that was playing but it kept hiccuping and glitching out. So rather than stop it and move on, they let the video hiccup its way for probably about 5-7 minutes before one of the girls came on stage to TELL US what the video was about. Something about Colonel Sanders.. is all I remember… Oh, the laughter and jokes that made this whole segment worthwhile… thank goodness we had a funny bunch with us. (see some of the tweets at the bottom of this recap)
I honestly don’t know if Penguin/Razorbill had any idea it was going to be like this, but many of us felt a little tricked. We felt all the promotion and hype for “The Breathless Reads Tour” coming to Toronto was going to be an event dedicated to books and the authors that were coming, not a middle school dance party. The age limit for the event wasn’t even on the site until many of us started RSVPing and asked about it. 13-24? We were with some 22-24 year olds who wouldn’t have come to this. It’s an event for 13-16 year olds, max.
No joke, it wasn’t until after 4pm that they FINALLY came on stage to mention something about the authors and it was literally for 30 seconds. Thankfully we were standing at the back near the signing table so we were near the front to get books signed but oh.my.god. All that and they got barely an introduction?
Once we had our books signed, we bid adieu, grabbed our swag bags and headed out to a nearby pub with Emilie (Emilie’s Book World), Meghan (Feeling a Little Bookish), Andrea & Wendy for a late lunch and beer. You know you’re at a teen party when there are tampons in the swag bag. 0_o
Keeping in mind that it wasn’t geared for our age group, it was still pretty disappointing. That being said, I don’t begrudge the publisher AT all. It’s fantastic for them to bring together these 4 fabulous authors for this tour stop and it’s the first time for this event so perhaps everyone didn’t know what to expect. However I genuinely don’t think this was the right venue and medium for a book tour. Given the demographic of the majority of the attendees, they’re regulars at these Faze dance parties and nobody was out to buy books to get them signed. I felt the event was oversold in what it was supposed to be, and misleading in the way it was promoted to us book bloggers. I’m all for having an open mind attending a younger event, especially when we knew that going in, but what wasn’t clear was what the rest of the event was like.
How I felt it could have been handled better was that since the authors were upstairs in the balcony/green room area as it was, that the 15 or so of us that were there JUST for them would be up there to hang out with them. Get to actually spend the afternoon seeing who we came to see (and some coming from so far away too!) I felt the Faze party was disorganized overall and didn’t give enough acknowledgement to these fabulous ladies that were there (even though they apparently went on stage for a bit after we had left). A middle school dance party and a book signing aren’t exactly the right fit together. The venue was made for a party, the lighting was dark, the signing was crammed in the back right up against the audio sound board operators and Tiffanie (Mostly YA Lit) pointed out the lack of wheelchair accessibility as well.
I sincerely want to thank Penguin/Razorbill, Adrienne Kress, Morgan Rhodes, Jessica Spotswood & Beth Revis for the bookish fun at the party. A thank you to the bloggers for an incredibly entertaining afternoon. And thanks to Faze Magazine for hosting a party that the young people loved and the oldies feeling really old, yet amused. 😉