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What a week at Canada Reads!

Wow, what a whirlwind it's been. The secret is out and now the world knows who the panelists are and what books they chose to champion. We're thrilled with the calibre of panelists we have stepping up to bat this year and the roster of books is fresh and exciting. Each title couldn't be more different.

The panelists got their first crack at defending their book pick on Q on Wednesday morning. If you missed that, be sure to watch the clip below!

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This was followed by a public launch event in the atrium of the CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto. Jian Ghomeshi hosted and each panelist and author took to the stage to champion their work. It looks like Georges Laraque, who's defending The Bone Cage, is going to be the panelist to beat — everyone is pretty scared of the former NHL enforcer.

Ali Velshi, who is championing The Best Laid Plans, is boasting of his sneaky investigative prowess and claims he's not past digging up dirt on other panelists to get an edge.

Debbie Travis, defender of The Birth House, came out blazing as well, and her feisty spirit could take her a long way.

Lorne Cardinal took a more low-key tack than his fellow panelists, but his admiration for Unless shone through. He's a true Carol Shields fan. It remains to be seen whether his quiet conviction will win converts.

We're really sorry Sara Quin of Tegan & Sara wasn't able to join us in person — so was she, but she did put in an appearance via video on behalf of her pick, Essex County. Author Jeff Lemire had to go solo on stage, but he held his own against the four tag teams.

The launch was high energy, a dazzling delight. Lots of fans and supporters came down to see who's who for this year's battle, and even thought I was running around wearing a headset (this made me feel very important), taking it all in was a dream. The panelists were excited, the authors were thrilled, the audience was loud — we couldn't have asked for a better event!

CBC photographer Ryan Couldrey caught the whole day on camera. If you couldn't stop by, be sure to check the photos out below:

I'm just glad it's out in the open. I'm a terrible secret keeper. I couldn't be happier about the line-up we have. Each author has a fantastic story to tell (and their books are pretty good too) and it's going to be great following Canadians as they read these books and discuss them.

We'll be rolling out new Canada Reads content almost every day until the debates on February 7,8 and 9. We've got excerpts coming your way, live chats with the authors, podcasts with the panelists and a whole lot more! Be sure to log on and tune in.

Based on the Q 30-second defences, who is your early front-runner? Dark horse? Long shot? We'd like to know!

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