In My Hands Today…

Lost City of the Templars – Paul Christopher

Retired Army Ranger John Holliday has thwarted the plots of Rex Deus, the twenty-first-century incarnation of the Templars, all over the world. Now, the lost journal of explorer Percy Fawcett leads Holliday into the South American jungles—and a Templar mystery…

Trailed by an infamous tomb raider and menaced by a tribe of hostile natives, Holliday and his crew uncover a five-hundred-year-old society hidden in the cauldron of the Amazon. Descendants of the Templar Knights, they exist for one reason: to hide and protect the holy artifact taken from the original Temple of Jerusalem by the first Templars: the legendary Ark of the Covenant.

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In My Hands Today…

India Calling: An Intimate Potrait of a Nation’s Remaking – Anand Giridharadas

Reversing his parents’ immigrant path, a young American-born writer returns to India and discovers an old country making itself new

Anand Giridharadas sensed something was afoot as his plane from America prepared to land in Bombay. An elderly passenger looked at him and said, “We’re all trying to go that way,” pointing to the rear. “You, you’re going this way?”

Giridharadas was returning to the land of his ancestors, amid an unlikely economic boom. But he was interested less in its gold rush than in its cultural upheaval, as a new generation has sought to reconcile old traditions and customs with new ambitions and dreams.

In India Calling, Giridharadas brings to life the people and the dilemmas of India today, through the prism of his émigré family history and his childhood memories of India. He introduces us to entrepreneurs, radicals, industrialists, and religious seekers, but, most of all, to Indian families. He shows how parents and children, husbands and wives, cousins and siblings are reinventing relationships, bending the meaning of Indianness, and enduring the pangs of the old birthing the new.

Through their stories, and his own, he paints an intimate portrait of a country becoming modern while striving to remain itself.

In My Hands Today…

Peaches for Father Francis – Joanne Harris

When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to return to Lansquenet, where she once owned a chocolate shop and learned the meaning of home. But returning to one’s past can be a dangerous pursuit, and Vianne and her daughters find the beautiful French village changed in unexpected ways: women veiled in black, the scent of spices in the air, and—facing the church—a minaret. Most surprising of all, her old nemesis, Francis Reynaud, desperately needs her help. Can Vianne work her magic once again?

In My Hands Today…

Beggar’s Feast – Randy Boyagoda

Beggar’s Feast is a novel about a man who lives in defiance of fate. Sam Kandy was born in 1889 to low prospects in a Ceylon village and died one hundred years later as the wealthy headman of the same village, a self-made shipping magnate, and father of sixteen, three times married and twice widowed.

In four parts, this enthralling novel tells Sam’s story from his boyhood-when his parents, convinced by his horoscope that he would be a blight upon the family, abandon him at the gates of a distant temple-through his dramatic escape from the temple and journey across Ceylon to Australia and Singapore, before his bold return to the Ceylon village he once called home. There he tries to win recognition for his success in the world-at any cost.

A novel about family, pride, and ambition, about what it takes for one man to make something out of nothing, set on a gorgeous, troubled island caught between tradition and modernity.

In My Hands Today…

Three Souls – Janie Chang

We have three souls, or so I’d been told. But only in death could I confirm this … So begins the haunting and captivating tale, set in 1935 China, of the ghost of a young woman named Leiyin, who watches her own funeral from above and wonders why she is being denied entry to the afterlife. Beside her are three souls—stern and scholarly yang; impulsive, romantic yin; and wise, shining hun—who will guide her toward understanding. She must, they tell her, make amends.

As Leiyin delves back in time with the three souls to review her life, she sees the spoiled and privileged teenager she once was, a girl who is concerned with her own desires while China is fractured by civil war and social upheaval. At a party, she meets Hanchin, a captivating left-wing poet and translator, and instantly falls in love with him.

When Leiyin defies her father to pursue Hanchin, she learns the harsh truth—that she is powerless over her fate. Her punishment for disobedience leads to exile, an unwanted marriage, a pregnancy, and, ultimately, her death. And when she discovers what she must do to be released from limbo into the afterlife, Leiyin realizes that the time for making amends is shorter than she thought.

Suffused with history and literature, Three Souls is an epic tale of revenge and betrayal, forbidden love, and the price we are willing to pay for freedom.

In My Hands Today…

IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq – IraqiGirl

I feel that I have been sleeping all my life and I have woken up and opened my eyes to the world. A beautiful world! But impossible to live in.

These are the words of fifteen-year-old Hadiya, blogging from the city of Mosul, Iraq, to let the world know what life is really like as the military occupation of her country unfolds. In many ways, her life is familiar. She worries about exams and enjoys watching Friends during the rare hours that the electricity in her neighborhood is running.

But the horrors of war surround her everywhere—weeklong curfews, relatives killed, and  friends whose families are forced to flee their homes. With black humor and unflinching honesty, Hadiya shares the painful stories of lives changed forever. “Let’s go back,” she writes, “to my un-normal life.”

With her intimate reflections on family, friendship, and community, IraqiGirl also allows us to witness the determination of one girl not only to survive, but to create, amidst the  devastation of war, a future worth living for.