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Jamie likes The Diviners by Libba Bray

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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.

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Jamie Likes: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.