Monday, December 08, 2014

- - Canadian Living | An Evening With Jodi Picoult+Goodie Bag Review - -

Just before I went on vacation about a month ago, my best friend Thamina asked me if I had seen the Jodi Picoult event that was being advertised in one of those little side panels on Facebook. I don't usually pay attention to those (I guess I will now, haha!), but hearing the name, Jodi Picoult, sparked my interest instantly.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Jodi Picoult, she is the author of 23 novels - the most well-known of which is probably My Sister's Keeper. She has been my favourite author since 2008, which is when I came across one of her novels -  Nineteen Minutes. I'm sure you can just imagine how excited I was!

I'll tell you more after the jump!

The event cost $50 (CAD) and it took place on October 30 at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in downtown Toronto. The evening was hosted by Canadian Living and the sponsors included Gold Bond (Ultimate), Random House, and DAVIDsTEA. We knew ahead of time that all guests would be getting a gift bag that was worth $85, so that was something extra to look forward to at the end of the night. :)

The event was supposed to take place from 7:00pm-9:30pm, but everyone started entering the auditorium around 7:30pm, so it was nice to know that there was some leeway just in case you were late (which, unfortunately, we were). While everyone was waiting to be ushered into the auditorium, there was a variety of cupcakes to try, you could grab a free water bottle, chat with your friends, fill out an entry for a draw, try a sample of David's Tea, and check out some products at the Gold Bond Ultimate station. 

My favourite cupcake was a vanilla one that had an edible Gold Bond logo, and my favourite tea was the one with pear as one of the ingredients.

My friend and I were exactly the kind of people who had way too many free cupcakes and way too many free samples of the Gold Bond cream. Luckily, we were drawn away to the auditorium before we had to be cut off.

After being introduced, Jodi Picoult graced the stage to tell us a bit about herself, her latest book, Leaving Time, and about the research that went into writing her novel.

You can check out more information about the book and the research behind it here.

Here's a quick summary - Leaving Time is about 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf who is looking for her mother, Alice, an elephant researcher who disappeared when Jenna was very young after an accident at an elephant sanctuary. In an attempt to find her mother, Jenna enlists the help of a psychic whose career has seen better days and a private detective who was involved in the failed investigation of Alice's disappearance. This novel explores the nature of elephants as well as asks important questions about mother-daughter relationships.

After reading an excerpt (the first two chapters) from Leaving Time, Jodi Picoult sat down for a Q & A session with the audience. Jodi jokingly (maybe not!) warned everyone at the beginning that if anyone revealed the ending to any one of her books, they would have the heavy hardcover copy of Leaving Time flung at them. Nobody risked seeing if Jodi would follow through!

The one question that caught my interest was the very last one. For those of you who are familiar with My Sister's Keeper, you'll know that in 2009 the novel was made into a movie starring Alex Baldwin, Cameron Diaz, and Abigail Breslin. The last question came from someone who was wondering how much involvement Jodi Picoult actually had in the making of that film.

To answer that question Jodi explained how when authors sell the rights to their book they typically have little to no say at all about how the film is made (Jodi pointed out J.R.R. Tolkien and Gillian Flynn as exceptions). However, when she was approached to make the movie, Jodi agreed to sell the rights on the condition that the ending of the movie would be kept the same as the one in the novel.

The producers assured Jodi that the ending would stay the same, and in fact, Nick Cassavetes, the director of the film, would email Jodi periodically with questions about the novel. However, if you've read the novel and watched the movie then you'll know that the ending ultimately did not stay the same. So...what exactly happened?

At one point Jodi was told by someone who had looked at the script that the ending of the film had been altered. Upon hearing this, Jodi flew out to the set of My Sister's Keeper where Nick Cassavetes actually had her thrown off the set. She then went to the producers and explained to them what happened, but they refused to do anything and stated that they had faith in Nick since he did The Notebook for them.

With no surprise to Jodi Picoult, the film My Sister's Keeper did not do all that well at the box office.

In any case, Jodi did reveal that she has several projects in the works right now and that Change of Heart, a wonderful novel that I read a few years ago, is the closest to being made into a movie. How exciting is that?

At the very end of the evening, while everyone hung out in the lounge area, groups of people were being called upstairs to get their copies of Leaving Time signed.

Thamina and I were one of the last groups to go upstairs. We decided that we were going to take a picture together with Jodi Picoult, so while Thamina was being ushered into place, this was my nervous exchange with Jodi Picoult:

Me: "Miss Picoult, I really admire your work!"

Jodi Picoult: "Thank you very much! And please, call me Jodi."

Just before I left the house that day I grabbed my copy of Sing You Home to see if Jodi Picoult wouldn't mind signing that book as well. She didn't mind at all and I thought that was pretty cool of her.

All in all, I was really glad for this opportunity because Jodi Picoult was just as humble, grounded, and wonderful in person as I had imagined her to be when I watched interviews with her.

As a bonus, everybody got to take home a bag filled with goodies. Here's a quick run-down of what was in the bag and a few words about each item:

1 | David's Tea | The Iconic Cup | $14.50

I think it's brilliant that David's Tea came up with a ceramic version of their iconic teal "to go" cups. I don't really subscribe to the culture of carrying travel mugs as I go from place to place, but I tried this out at home last night. Although you will feel the warmth of your hot drink as you hold it, the double wall of this mug does actually help a lot in preventing you from burning yourself. As a neat bonus the lid has a little tab that you can open and close depending on whether you want to drink / cool down your drink or keep your drink warm.

The only thing I worry about with this mug is the lid falling off. The lid goes on pretty tighly on the cup part, but I am still weary of it. I was at a David's Tea the other day and a gentleman was describing to one of the girls working there how he recently purchased the mug and how he was holding the lid and the cup part just slid out, fell down and broke. I guess if I do ever carry this anywhere I'll make sure to be careful where I hold it.

2 | TRESemmé | Keratin Smooth Flat Iron Smoothing Spray | ~$8.00

This was hands down my favourite product out of everything in the goodie bag - I didn't even realize how much I needed this spray until I used it! This spray is supposed to help protect your hair from heat styling products such as straighteners and it's supposed to help control frizz and make your hair salon-shiny. My hair is naturally straight and very thin - with the longest strands of hair reaching down to about an inch above my shoulders. However, I do use a straightener for the strands of hair at the front to keep them, well...straight. I have been noticing that my hair isn't as dry when I use a straightener since trying out this spray. I can't really just judge this product's effectiveness in terms of shine because I don't care too much about that, but I can tell you that my hair is a lot smoother and softer when I do use it.

3 | Gold Bond Ultimate | Exfoliating Deep Moisture Body Wash | ~$10.00

I love the scent of this body wash - it's pleasant and fresh. As big as the word "exfoliating" may be on the packaging, I wouldn't really classify this as an exfoliating product. The little micro beads are very gentle and seem to dissolve quickly. If there is any exfoliating taking place, it's quite mild. As with the rest of the Gold Bond Ultimate products I got, this exfoliator has anti-aging and moisturizing benefits, as well as helps to brighten dull skin - although I'm not too sure about this last claim. I'll have to try it out further.

4 & 5 | Gold Bond Ultimate | Restoring Skin Therapy Lotion & Cream | ~$10.00 each

Since I already have tons of creams and lotions, I decided to pass both of these along to my mom. The scent is just okay for both products. It is claimed that both the lotion and the cream are quite moisturizing and I definitely believe that since these seem to be working out well for my mom. The lotion and the cream contain a rice protein and niacinamide, both of which are whitening/brightening agents to help dull-looking skin. Neither the cream or the lotion is free of parabens, so that's a minus.

6 | Gold Bond Ultimate | Moisturizing Skin Therapy Cream | 4 samples

These samples weren't actually in the gift bag. They were picked up by Thamina and I while we were hanging out in the lounge. Each sample is 14mL and has aloe, which is a moisturizing and soothing ingredient for the skin. These creams has a mild aloe fragrance and I'll probably just keep these samples in my purse as hand creams until they run out. Just as with the previous couple of Gold Bond products, these creams aren't free of parabens, which take their place right in the middle of the ingredient list. So if you're looking for a soothing product that's free of parabens, you may want to look at other options.

Who is your favourite author? Have you ever had a chance to meet him or her? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

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