NeWest Press Spring Spectacular: Local Literary Love

Rebecca Campell

Rebecca Campbell. Photo credit Brie Binicki

The Edmonton Book Bloggers were out in force last night, rubbing shoulders with the #yegbooks elite at the NeWest Press Spring Spectacular. This was only my second author reading, and had a very homegrown vibe compared to the Michael Ondaatje extravaganza back in March.

When I say homegrown, I don’t mean unprofessional. The event was very well run. Roast Coffee House was an almost perfect venue (just too hot), and Chris Craddock’s MCing was both brief and funny, which is exactly what you want from an MC. I thought it was strange to have a musical act, but Tyler Butler was fantastic, and gave the proceedings a nice, mellow vibe. Major shout out to NeWest’s Matt Bowes for pulling this event together.

Corinna Chong Reading

Corrina Chong. Photo credit: Brie Binicki

We haven’t even talked about the readings!

  • Jenna Butler read from her poetry collection Seldom Seen Road. She was so poised and confident, and her work is beautiful. I was nodding along with her descriptions of small town prairie life.
  • Rebecca Campbell was up next, and she blew my mind when she read my favourite passage from The Paradise Engine. Rebecca seemed a little nervous, and stumbled on a few words, but she dropped the f-bomb like she owned it. She really showed off the power of her prose (read my review).
  • Marguerite Pigeon read from the thriller Open Pit. I admit that I had no interest in this book before, but she left us hanging and gave such a wonderful preview of her characters that I think I’ll pick it up on my Kobo soon.
  • Finally, Corinna Chong read from Belinda’s Rings, and chose a funny excerpt followed by a dark one that hinted at the contrasts in her stunning debut novel (read my review).

I encourage you to check out the other Edmonton bloggers for their take. Rick from The Book-A-Week Project has a post up already (keener!) and Brie from Eat Books is working on hers. We also welcomed Elizabeth from Gossamer Obsessions to our little club, and I ran into author Jennifer Quist who posted this recap, including a hilarious account of our awkward “don’t I know you from somewhere” introduction.

I leave you with my night went in tweets and pictures. This is how I felt while getting ready to leave the house:

This is me with authors Corinna Chong and Rebecca Campbell, who both recognized me (omg) and were so lovely to talk to:

Corinna Chong, Moi, and Rebecca Campbell

Corinna Chong, Moi, and Rebecca Campbell. Photo credit: Brie Binicki

And here’s my haul. Why yes, that is a signed copy of Cassie Stock’s Leacock Medal winning novel, Dance, Gladys, Dance. Jealous?

Three Paradise Engines, Two Belinda’s Rings, one Dance, Gladys, Dance, and a partridge in a pear tree.


  1. Brie @ Eat Books

    Well, you most definitely weren’t the frumpiest dressed one that night – you looked great!

    This was one of my all-time favourite author events – I hope there are more like them out there (I don’t want to wait a whole year for the next one!).

    Margeurite’s reading of Open Pit has definitely peaked my interest. There are only 2 reviews of it on goodreads and both people gave it 2 stars *ouch*. God, you have to have thick skin to be an author, I would think.

    • Rick MacDonnell

      That leftmost edition of Paradise Engine in that photo: did you own that previously? When did the other edition come out?

      I *love* the new cover of Paradise Engine. Such a terrifically designed book.

      • lauratfrey

        That’s the advance reader copy. Rebecca hadn’t seen it before, so that was kind of cool. I know, the actual book is so well done.

      • Brie @ Eat Books

        So neat story about the cover designer of Paradise Engine – the artist is a local lady – Justine Ma. (I follow her on instagram and more recently on twitter). So on the same night as this event, I had entered a giveaway on a blog giving away one of her hand-lettered prints – which she also sell on her etsy shop: – (her stuff is amazingly gorgeous!). Then I saw her tweet a photo of herself with Rebecca Campbell stating that she had designed the cover. Anyway, long story short – I thought it was pretty cool that the cover of the book was designed by someone local 🙂

    • lauratfrey

      Aw thanks Brie. I borrowed that dress from my sister (permanently, haha) but I had to throw a shirt over it b/c it required a strapless bra, which is like so not a thing I own or wear right now!! So, work in progress, I guess!

      Marguerite was such a good reader. She was very confident and rehearsed without sounding rehearsed, you know? I think I would try it on Kobo.

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