Bookstravanganza 2013 in Vancouver

Bookstravaganza came to town for the first time last night and it was held at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Organized by Random House Canada and Chatelaine Magazine, this event connects publishers and authors with their readers.

The event is known for its ‘sizzle reels’ introducing new books for the fall season, author presentations, and ‘Bookstravaganza swag bags’ which include books, beauty product samples, and food (more on this later). Tickets are $30.

Bookstravaganza in Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Bookstravaganza in Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

I would say over a hundred people attended. The evening starts with a cocktail reception, then when it’s time, you seat yourself at a table and listen to presentations about new books. Afterwards, authors will stay and sign your books.

Presentations lasts for an hour and a half and feature:

  • Publishers introducing their favourite books of the season
  • Authors introducing their books
  • ‘Sizzle reels’ of book titles. These are 2-5 minute slideshows of book titles set to music.

This year three authors presented in Vancouver:

  • Roberta Rich, author of The Harem Midwife
  • Mary Novik, author of Muse
  • Rosie Daykin, author of Butter Baked Goods and owner of Butter Baked Goods bakery in Vancouver, B.C.

I particularly liked listening to Roberta Rich and Mary Novik talk about researching and writing historical fiction. Rosie Daykin’s passion for baking shone through in her presentation and the slides of her cookbook looked scrumptious.

At the event, there were also draw prizes including a Kobo reader, a one-night stay at Hotel Vancouver, and three gift bags full of soap and cream made by Roberta Rich.

To my surprise, I won one of the gift bags.

 Handmade soap & cream from Roberta Rich, author of The Harem Midwife

Handmade soap & cream from Roberta Rich, author of The Harem Midwife

There was also a note from Roberta inside the gift bag:

I discovered many references to beauty procedures in researching The Harem Midwife. The girls of the Sultan’s harem embraced the art of beauty with enthusiasm. A night of bliss with the Sultan required many days of preparation including frequent applications of rich cream to achieve poreless, white complexions. From their villages in the Circassian Mountains the girls brought recipes for creams to anoint their billowy things, ample behinds – Allah’s Gift was the name given to a particularly ample derriere – and full bosoms.

Inspired by my reading and the imaginations of these gorgeous girls of the harem, I set about creating a modern version of this cream.

After many trials, I succeeded.

Roberta Rich

I had a short exchange with Roberta on Twitter over the word ‘odd’. I should clarify that I do love ‘odd’ things!

In addition to The Harem Midwife & Muse, I am really looking forward to reading:

  • Lives of the Family by Denise Chong
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Longbourn by Jo Baker (Pride & Prejudice from the perspective of the servants)

Here is a snapshot of the items from swag bag (it also included a 1 year subscription to Chatelaine):


Goodies in the swag bag:

  • Muse by Mary Novik
  • The Harem Midwife by Roberta Rich
  • Secret Shared by L. Marie Adeline (preview of three chapters)
  • Chatelaine magazine
  • Kellogg’s All Bran cereal
  • Marshmallows from Butter Baked Goods
  • Hagensborg dark & white chocolate truffle bar
  • Pop chips
  • Almay makeup remover
  • Revlon nail polish
  • Chloe sample
  • L’Occitane sample
  • Cetaphil samples
  • Jamieson sample (Vitamin C)
  • Crystal Light sample

Bookstravaganza is not for everyone, but for people who love books, it’s a ton of fun and highly recommended.

Event Tips: I went with a friend but there are people who attend by themselves. There was a cash bar but if you are coming after work, I recommend bringing a coffee!


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