Jamie likes The Diviners by Libba Bray


Love the decadent flapper filled parties from the Great Gatsby? Perhaps you prefer old museums stuffed with historical photographs and illuminated manuscripts? What are your feelings about ghosts, fortune tellers, and the supernatural? Well, if you like any of the above, I’ve got the book for you!

The Diviners by Libba Bray (author of Going Bovine, A Great and Terrible Beauty, and Beauty Queens) is a fantastic and spooky young adult (YA) novel set in 1926. The heroine is Evie O’Neill, a bright young thing who is sent to live with her Uncle Will as punishment for her bad behaviour at a party in her hometown of Zenith, Ohio. Will is the curator of the “Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult” in New York City. Despite his obsession with all things eerie, he is unaware that Evie has her own supernatural gifts. Soon after Evie’s arrival, the police call upon her Uncle for help after they uncover a murdered woman with a mysterious occult symbol branded on her body. As a result, Evie, Uncle Will, his assistant Jericho, and a rakish pickpocket named Sam, must band together to try to stop the murderer, a demonic entity known as Naughty John. This book is great for both horror and historical fiction fans. As with all YA books, there are even a few love triangles for the romantics.


Jamie Likes: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


As a lifelong fan of idealistic Jane Austen novels and hysterical Dudley Moore movies, I must admit I have a soft spot for romantic comedies – For me this genre is the best of both worlds: humour and love. The latest Rom-Com I devoured was Rainbow Rowell’s quirky adult fiction novel Attachments. It was so funny and charming, I actually stayed up late reading it and got up early to find out what would happen next.

Set in 1999, Attachments is about an IT nerd in his late twenties named Lincoln O’Neill, who gets a job at a local newspaper after finally deciding to no longer be a ”professional student.” Lincoln’s job is awful though – He has to work alone at night and his only task is to read other staff members’ emails to make sure they are complying with the newspaper’s policy not to send non-work related messages. Despite knowing the rules, Editor Jennifer Scribner-Snyder and Entertainment Reporter Beth Fremont send each other lengthy and hilarious emails about everything from bad boyfriends to pregnancy attempts. Lincoln cannot bring himself to report Beth and Jennifer to his boss and tells himself he will stop reading their emails altogether, even though they are captivating. However, the latter is not as easily as it sounds and Lincoln finds himself developing a crush on Beth – A girl he has never even met. Will Lincoln ever be able to introduce himself to Beth and if he does, can she forgive him for eavesdropping?

If you enjoy Attachments, try Rowell’s Young Adult fiction books Fangirl and Eleanor & Park. I couldn’t put down either – Rainbow’s got the goods! Also visit her website! For more rom-com recommendations, check out this column I wrote.


Jamie likes: Henry V (from The Hollow Crown Series)


The Hollow Crown is an exciting television adaptation of William Shakespeare’s four history plays known as the Henriad (Richard II, Henry IV: Part 1, Henry IV: Part 2, and Henry V) and aired as part of PBS’s Great Performances series in 2013. The entire Hollow Crown series is available on DVD and is well worth watching for any Shakespeare fan or novice.

My personal favourite of the adaptations is Henry V, which was directed by Thea Sharrock (Equus, The Misanthrope, After the Dance) and stars Tom Hiddleston (War Horse, The Deep Blue Sea, Thor). This play largely continues where Henry IV: Part 2 left off, with the charismatic playboy Prince Hal transforming into the respected and courageous King Henry – excellently portrayed by Hiddleston (a protégé of Kenneth Branagh, who previously played the heroic king in the 1989 film). Hiddleston manages to preserve the character’s vulnerability throughout the series and gives a quiet, yet powerful performance. John Hurt (The Elephant Man, Midnight Express, Melancholia) also gives a particularly moving performance as the Chorus and Mélanie Thierry delivers some of the play’s lighter moments as the young, proper, and beautiful Princess Katherine, Henry’s future French bride.  Whereas past cinematic interpretations of the play either emphasis the nationalistic glory of war or the horrifying realities of the battlefield, this version seems to find a good middle ground and frames the play around Henry’s own mortality. This makes the play more relatable for modern audiences.

Prince Charming, I mean Tom Hiddleston


Alyssia Likes: Pecorino Romano Gluten-free Fusilli and Cheese Pasta

The holidays are here and what better time to try my hand in the kitchen (slowly but surely). An advocate for gluten-free and trying to eliminate as much processed food as possible, I am a subscriber to Delight Gluten Free magazine (@delightgfmag is their Twitter and Pinterest handle). I was able to stumble upon this great magazine when the Gluten Free Expo was held in Vancouver at the beginning of 2013. Here is the recipe and my twist on it.

This decadent mac and cheese comes together quickly with no need for a thickener. Mascarpone cheese is creamy, sweet and melts well. Manchego is nutty and salty. Use as a side or eat as the main attraction with a salad for a complete meal.

This recipe is: Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free
Yields: 6

Total Time: 40 mins

Prep Time: 30 mins

  • 1 (8 ounce) box of gluten-free elbow macaroni
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 6 ounces Manchego cheese, rind peeled, grated, ½ cup reserved
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 (8 ounce) ovenproof containers (wide-mouth mason jars used for this recipe)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cook macaroni noodles according to package directions, adding 1 teaspoon of olive oil and ½ teaspoon of salt to the water. When cooked, rinse well with cool water and set aside.
  3. Use the pot the noodles were cooked in to melt the mascarpone cheese over medium-low heat. Whisk in the milk and continue whisking until mixture is smooth. Be careful not to scald milk.
  4. Stir in grated Manchego cheese, all but ½ cup, until blended. Whisk vigorously until the cheese is fully melted. Add pepper, nutmeg and salt to taste. If the mixture is too runny, whisk in 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.
  5. Add macaroni noodles to the pot and toss gently with the cheese sauce until the pasta is evenly covered.
  6. Divide the mac and cheese among four containers and top each with ⅛ cup reserved Manchego cheese.
  7. Place in oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until bubbling and cheese on top has turned golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.



I ended up going to the local grocery store and picking up the only gluten-free product available, which is Catelli’s Gluten-free Fusilli. This type of pasta works well for casserole dishes, as I found out. Manchego cheese is a little harder to locate and so the internet told me that Pecorino Romano works as a substitute. The mascarpone was a nice addition and worked well to thicken the sauce. All in all, the meal costed me $20 to make and the serving was pretty large. If I were to make this again, I would cook the pasta for a lesser amount of time as it continues to cook in the oven. And of course, the more cheese, the better. So here it is, Aly’s version of the Pecorino Romano Gluten-free Fusilli and Cheese Pasta. Additionally, Mia Stansby has written a great piece for the Vancouver Sun and  it is worth the read http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Vancouver+Glutenfree+capital/9183288/story.html. Please enjoy.


Jamie Likes: Rock Star Memoirs

Between you and me, one of my guilty pleasures is the rock star memoir. The following are the best three I read this year.


In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran by John Taylor

Before One Direction, the Wanted, McFly, or even Take That, girls all over the world worshiped British pop icons Duran Duran. John Taylor, know by many as the “cute one,” is the co-founder and bass player of both Duran Duran and Power Station, a “super group” featuring Robert Palmer and members of Chic. While a quick read, Taylor’s memoir is thoroughly enjoyable for both Duranies and newbies a like. Taylor manages to convey the glitz and glamour of the 1980s in an engaging and sincere way and is honest about his struggles with substance abuse. On average, he manages not to dish the dirt on his band mates and is respectful to his past girlfriends and wives (which is surprising for any rockstar memoir). This book is pure escapism and is perfect for reading on a rainy day. The only downside is that you will have “Rio” or “Girls on Film” stuck in your head for the next month.


How Music Works by David Byrne

Have you ever asked yourself any of the following questions: How much do artists actually earn from a single song purchased on iTunes? How is “indie” music distributed? How much does it cost to record an album? Do the pops and scratches on a vinyl records sound better than a pitch perfect mp3? Well, in How Music Works, Talking Heads front man David Byrne attempts to answer these questions and more through his insights from being a lifelong music fan and from working in the music business since the 1970s. Although it can read like a music or cultural theory textbook at times, How Music Works is also a memoir of sorts, with many funny anecdotes about the legendary nightclub CBGBs and pop stars like Madonna. While it is a must read for any fan of Byrne’s quirky and experimental music, it is also perfect for any inquisitive music lover or inspiring musician.


Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music by Burt Bacharach

One of the best nights of my life was seeing Burt Bacharach at the River Rock Casino about five years ago. As a result, I was very eager to find out more about Bacharach and his songwriting partner, the lyricist Hal David, who together wrote many beloved songs including “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” “Walk On By,” “Close to You,” “The Look of Love,” and my all-time favourite, “This Guy’s in Love With You.”  Bacharach’s memoir surprised me, however, in that he comes off as a quiet and headstrong perfectionist, who was obsessed with music rather than glamorous parties. Equally interesting, while Bacharach does gossip about Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, Marlene Dietrich, and many others, he also admits to his own faults and half the memoir is actually comprised of interviews with his ex-wives, collaborators, and friends. This memoir also has its poignant moments, particularly Bacharach and Angie Dickinson’s reflections on the struggles they faced with their late daughter Nikki. This book is worth reading for any fan of Bacharach or the swinging 60s.


Jamie Likes: The Love Book App


I’m a closet poetry fan. It all started in my high school English Literature class after reading John Keats’ “The Eve of St. Agnes.”* A few weeks ago, I discovered a truly fantastic app called The Love Book App that has been a real throwback to high school and all the times I would read Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” and giggle for ten minutes straight.

The Love Book App is an interactive literary anthology where you can read over 200 recent and classic poems, quotes, and selections of prose. Through the app, you can find new poems by browsing by theme, author, or performing a few different search options (all of these features would be very handy for English students). You can also listen to many of the poems being narrated by classy British actors with lovely voices, including Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Hiddleston, Gina Bellman, Damian Lewis, and Helen McCrory. You can also record your own versions of the poems and send them to your friends (I have not inflicted this on anyone just yet, however). The app design is intuitive and the graphics by Kate Moross are cool, colourful, and fun. Perhaps best of all, 10 percent of all sales go to the awesome charity Save the Children. Clearly, I’m in love with this app. It is available on iTunes and Google Play.

In case you were wondering, my favourite poem I have discovered via the Love Book App is the very funny and sick “Life Story” by Tennessee Williams. Below is a sample of Tom Hiddleston reading Shakespeare for the app (Hmmm, I wonder how much would I have to pay Mr. Hiddleston to read “Kubla Khan”? Sadly it is missing from the app).

*Fun Fact: Single ladies, St. Agnes Eve is on January 20th. According to Scottish legend, if you perform a few superstitious rituals, such as going to bed without any supper, your future husband may just visit you in your dreams! 


Welcome to our blog!

Welcome to our shiny new blog! We are three friends who met in a Medieval Literature class way back in the second year of our university degrees. We plan on using this blog to post our reviews and best of lists. We hope you enjoy the blog and find our reviews useful and amusing!

– Sam, Alyssia, and Jamie