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Twisted Twosome audiobook by Meghan Quinn
Emma Watson, Mila Kunis. Younger Eve, who becomes an extremely effective spy in part by taking advantage of her looks she appears younger than she is, and her doe-eyed face and hesitant stammer hide her steel-trap mind and equally steely nerves would be wonderfully played by Mia Wasikowska, whose Jane Eyre had the same combination of iron resolve under surface shyness. OLDER EVE This one made me ponder for quite a while—an actress in her 50s who could play a razor-tongued pistol-wielding ex-spy with a whisky habit, and not make her too cutely inspirational or sweetly motherly? Elle Fanning would be terrific. Clemence Poesy, Dianna Agron. Oona Chaplin, Joanne Froggett. Richard Madden, Chris Hemsworth. Colin Firth, Matthew Good. Christoph Waltz, Jean Reno. Here are my recommendations for your next shopping trip, ten of the best books I read in though not all were published this year and just who you should buy them for… 1. Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon. Usually I can pick up clues in books like these and figure out in advance who will live and who will die, but this time I was blindsided. This book has something for everyone. Conclave by Robert Harris. A sensationally gripping book covering the tense few days between the death of one pope and the election of another. Who will it be? Harris makes these quiet scenes of old men casting ballots in a locked room unbearably tense, and his hero—a thoughtful Italian cardinal with no desire to be Pope—is a humble, lovable Everyman we can all root for. The end is a shocker. A dense, delicious, literary puzzle as two modern-day poetry scholars unravel a hidden love affair between a pair of famous fictional 19th century poets. Switching back and forth between the Victorian lovers who fall in love via their intense shared love of their work, snippets of their luscious poetry and heart-breaking letters, and the 20th century scholars on the hunt for those same letters and poems, this is a dazzlingly complicated puzzle, an ode to scholarship and poetry, and a tragic love story all in one. Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang. A fierce, elegant coming-of-age story starring an orphaned Eurasian girl struggling to find her place in the world among the tumultuous shifting tides of the early Chinese republic. Piece of Cake by Derek Robinson. A real classic of wartime literature: Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson. Another tale of the London Blitz, this one told from the ground looking up rather than the sky looking down. Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman. A curious, fascinating book that mixes fantasy, horror, and history in a deft, riveting blend. In the wasteland of medieval France, riddled by the aftermath of war and the horrors of the Black Death, a trinity of unlikely pilgrims come together: As she leads them on a quest to rediscover their own souls and bring an end to the plague, they battle earthly foes starvation, illness, mobs and unearthly ones demons, angels, and some truly hair-raising monsters. Theirs is a rollercoaster ride through demon lands and angel-scapes, and maybe not for everyone—both the violence and gross-out factor are fairly high—but I was spellbound to the end. An unabashed power anthem celebrating female friendship and female ambition, wrapped in the sparkling myth of the early Hollywood film scene. Glamour, glitz, and girl power galore. This will encourage her to chase her ambitions, no matter how huge they are, rather than apologize for them. Ambition, as Reese Witherspoon said, is not a dirty word. Newly-retired Harold is quietly having a midlife crisis, left at loose ends with too much time, too many regrets, and a wife gripped by her own internal struggles. A letter from dying friend Queenie jolts Harold into unexpected motion: A quirky, delightful, unexpected read with some real tear-jerker moments. Buy him a pair of good walking shoes to go with the book, just in case he gets inspired. This joint collaboration is a gripping epistolary novel beginning with heartbreaking gaiety at the start of the First World War. A progression of letters flies between a spirited female journalist, a bookish new-minted soldier, and the various bright young things who make up their band of friends, charting the slow, heartbreaking passage of years as war and disillusion grind away youthful dreams and ideals. Humor, love, tragedy, and hope make for a moving, uplifting read. The unabashed romantic in your life—sister? But for the space of a year or so, peace is held and explored through the odd partnership of a Moorish warrior-poet, a Spanish mercenary captain, and a fierce female Jewish physician who bridge the religious and cultural gaps to find friendship, and dare to hope their people can do the same. Because this beautifully-written paean to the wisdom of choosing understanding and friendship over the barriers of hatred, religion, and race has never, EVER been more timely. And for bonus reads: Get thee hence to a bookstore and finish up your holiday shopping. In central France, a few miles from Limoges, lies a ghost town called Oradour-sur-Glane. At first glance it looks simply abandoned—empty houses, tram lines waiting for trams no longer running, a rusting car abandoned at an empty fairground—but signs of tragedy are soon evident at a second look. Roadside walls are pocked with bullet holes, stone houses are scorched by fire marks, the church roof is gone from some massive explosion. An abandoned clock lies fire-melted in the street, forever frozen at four in the afternoon. No one has inhabited Oradour-sur-Glane since June 10, Wrecked hardware—bicycles, a sewing machine, etc. The men of the village were quickly rounded up, then herded into a variety of surrounding barns and garages as the women and children were confined to the local church. At four in the afternoon, the killing began. A gas bomb was placed in the church and ignited. When the resulting fire and smoke failed to suffocate the women and children inside, the SS mowed them down with machine guns. The men were systematically shot in their barns and rabbit hutches, the wounded and dying locked inside as the buildings were set alight. Only a handful survived: There was only one survivor from the church, a middle-aged woman whose daughters and granddaughter died in the inferno, yet who managed to climb out a high altar window and hide in a nearby garden, despite being shot five times. The church in Oradour-sur-Glane where the women and children died. Public domain image courtesy of Dennis Nilsson That night, champagne corks popped in the ruined town. Soon after, the Germans moved north. The town remained empty, combed over by stunned neighbors and survivors. After the war it was decreed that the town of Oradour-sur-Glane be rebuilt nearby, but that the original site stand as a memorial to the massacred dead. Chief among them, as with any seemingly senseless massacre: The Germans were certainly no strangers to atrocities, but why was tiny, remote Oradour-sur-Glane exterminated with such sweeping finality? The Sturmbannfuhrer who commanded the division so thoroughly exceeded his orders in massacring the villagers that even his own superiors were taken aback; he might have been court-martialed had he not died in action a few weeks after the massacre. So the question remains: French Resistance activity was suspected in the area. The day before the massacre, reports filtered in from the Milice French informers that a German officer had been kidnapped by Resistance members, possibly taken to Oradour-sur-Glane, and executed. But he made no attempt at recovery or at hostage-taking, simply unleashing an orgy of revenge for his murdered friend. And there are theories that the massacre was at least partially accidental; that the village church had been storing explosives for the Resistance, and the explosion resulted from machine gun fire igniting the hidden cache. In the end we will probably never know the reasons why death descended on Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, I have woven my own story around it in The Alice Network; the story of the still-abandoned ghost town outside Limoges has fascinated and haunted me from the moment I saw the photographs of its burned houses, melted clocks, and cars parked at curbs as if still waiting for drivers who never returned. Many lives were silenced that day in Oradour-sur-Glane, but their echoes speak loud and clear in the ghost town they once called home. For more information about the Oradour-sur-Glane tragedy, including timeline, aftermath, and hundreds of photographs, I recommend this excellent website.
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