In My Hands Today…

The Forever Queen – Helen Hollick

7717338What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more?

Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom-and her crown-are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England’s shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery.

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In My Hands Today…

The Night Counter – Alia Yunis

6067314After 85 long years, Fatimah Abdullah is dying, and she knows when her time will come. In fact, it should come just nine days from tonight, the 992nd nightly visit of Scheherazade, the beautiful and immortal storyteller from the epic The Arabian Nights.

Just as Scheherazade spun magical stories for 1,001 nights to save her own life, Fatima has spent each night telling Scheherazade her life stories, all the while knowing that on the 1,001st night, her storytelling will end forever. But between tonight and night 1,001, Fatima has a few loose ends to tie up. She must find a wife for her openly gay grandson, teach Arabic (and birth control) to her 17-year-old great-granddaughter, make amends with her estranged husband, and decide which of her troublesome children should inherit her family’s home in Lebanon–a house she herself has not seen in nearly 70 years. All this while under the surveillance of two bumbling FBI agents eager to uncover Al Qaeda in Los Angeles.

But Fatima’s children are wrapped up in their own chaotic lives and disinterested in their mother or their inheritances. As Fatima weaves the stories of her husband, children, and grandchildren, we meet a visionless psychic, a conflicted U.S. soldier, a gynecologist who has a daughter with a love of shoplifting and a tendency to get unexpectedly pregnant, a Harvard-educated alcoholic cab driver edging towards his fifth marriage, a lovelorn matchmaker, and a Texas homecoming queen. Taken in parts, Fatima’s relations are capricious and steadfast, affectionate and smothering, connected yet terribly alone. Taken all together, they present a striking and surprising tapestry of modern Arab American life.

Shifting between the U.S. and Lebanon over the last hundred years, Alia Yunis crafts a bewitching novel imbued with great humanity, imagination, and a touch of magic realism. Be prepared to be utterly charmed.

In My Hands Today…

Bone Worship – Elizabeth Eslami

6676004Jasmine Fahroodhi has always been fascinated by her enigmatic Iranian father. With his strange habits and shrouded past, she can’t fathom how he ended up marrying her prim American mother.

But lately, love in general, feels just as incomprehensible. After a disastrous romance sends her into a tailspin, causing her to fail out of college just shy of graduation, a conflicted Jasmine returns home without any idea where her life is headed.

Her father has at least one idea—he has big plans for a hastegar, an arranged marriage. Confused, furious, but intrigued, Jasmine searches for her match, meeting suitor after suitor with increasingly disastrous (and humorous) results. As she begins to open herself up to the mysteries of familial and romantic love, Jasmine discovers the truth about her father and an even more evasive figure—herself.

In My Hands Today…

Beside a Burning Sea – John Shors

2958315One moment, the World War II hospital ship Benevolence is patrolling the South Pacific on a mission of mercy—to save wounded American soldiers. The next, Benevolence is split in two by a torpedo, killing almost everyone on board. A small band of survivors, including an injured Japanese soldier and a young American nurse whom he saves from drowning, makes it to the deserted shore of a nearby island.

Akira has suffered five years of bloodshed and horror fighting for the Japanese empire. Now, surrounded by enemies he is supposed to hate, he instead finds solace in their company—and rediscovers his love of poetry. While sharing the mystery and beauty of this passion with Annie, the captivating but tormented woman he rescued, Akira grapples with the pain of his past while helping Annie uncover the promise of her future. Meanwhile, the remaining castaways endure a world not of their making—a world as barbaric as it is beautiful, as hateful as it is loving.

In My Hands Today…

Little Hut of Leaping Fishes – Chiew-Siah Tei

3491547Mingzhi is born to be a mandarin: as the formidable Master Chai’s first grandson, his life is mapped from the moment of his birth. But times are changing in China, and as Mingzhi grows, he begins to question his privileged heritage and the secrets and shadows that lurk in the corners of the Chai mansion; eager to flee from the corruption, treachery and rivalries of his family – Master Chai, who farms opium poppies and beats out orders with his dragon stick; the jealousy of his second mother and half brother; and his opium-addict father – Mingzhi soon realises his only path to freedom is through learning. But as the foreign devils begin to encroach on China, Mingzhi is torn between two cultures; he must make his choice between the past and the future.

In My Hands Today…

The Ginger Tree – Oswald Wynd

338749In 1903, a young Scotswoman named Mary Mackenzie sets sail for China to marry her betrothed, a military attaché in Peking. But soon after her arrival, Mary falls into an adulterous affair with a young Japanese nobleman, scandalizing the British community.

Casting her out of the European community, her compatriots tear her away from her small daughter. A woman abandoned and alone, Mary learns to survive over forty tumultuous years in Asia, including two world wars and the cataclysmic Tokyo earthquake of 1923.