In My Hands Today…

Soledad’s Sister – José Y. Dalisay Jr.

6122574A casket arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, bearing the body of a woman manifested as “Aurora V. Cabahug” – one of over 600 overseas Filipino workers who return as corpses to this airport every year. The real Aurora, however, is very much alive, a karaoke-bar singer in the distant town of Paez; the woman in the box must be her sister Soledad who used Rory’s identity to secure a job in Saudi Arabia. No one knows for sure how this woman died; the body bears signs of foul play and abuse, and now waits to be claimed at the airport.

A Paez policeman, Walter, is assigned to drive out to Manila to pick up the body, accompanied by Rory. Both Walter and Rory, who vaguely know each other, find their own lives redefined by the sudden return of the dead: Walter has been left by his wife and son for a new life in England; Rory feels herself standing on the brink of great prospects, ambitions that her sister never achieved. Somewhere on its long way home, the body gets stolen, and things get even more confused than ever.

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In My Hands Today…

The Dark Enquiry – Deanna Raybourn

9933894Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London. But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves, let alone Brisbane’s private enquiry business.

Among the more unlikely clients: Julia’s very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not about to be left out of anything concerning her beloved–if eccentric–family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation.

It leads to the exclusive Spirit Club, where the alluring Madame Séraphine holds evening séances–and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall. From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of dark deeds, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust.

Shocked to find their investigation spun into salacious newspaper headlines, bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall. For Bellmont’s sake–and more–they’ll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets, the kind men kill to keep….

In My Hands Today…

Delhi By Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveller – Raza Rumi

18001385Why, asks Raza Rumi, does the capital of another country feel like home? How is it that a man from Pakistan can cross the border into ‘hostile’ territory and yet not feel ‘foreign’? Is it the geography, the architecture, the food? Or is it the streets, the festivals and the colours of the subcontinent, so familiar and yes, beloved…

As he takes in the sights, from the Sufi shrines in the south to the markets of Old Delhi, from Lutyens’ stately mansions to Ghalib’s crumbling abode, Raza uncovers the many layers of the city. He connects with the richness of the Urdu language, observes the syncretic evolution of mystical Islam in India and its deep connections with Hindustani classical music – so much a part of his own selfhood. And every so often, he returns to the refuge of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, the twelfth-century pir, whose dargah still reverberates with music and prayer every evening.

His wanderings through Delhi lead Raza back in time to recollections of a long-forgotten Hindu ancestry and to comparisons with his own city of Lahore – in many ways a mirror image of Delhi. They also lead to reflections on the nature of the modern city, the inherent conflict between the native and the immigrant and, inevitably, to an inquiry into his own identity as a South Asian Muslim.

Rich with history and anecdote, and conversations with Dilliwalas known and unknown,Delhi By Heart offers an unusual perspective and unexpected insights into the political and cultural capital of India.

In My Hands Today…

The Language of Sparrows – Rachel Phifer

18877667Brilliant and fluent in too many languages to count, 15-year-old Sierra Wright can’t seem to communicate what is important to her in any language. Though April Wright stubbornly keeps an upbeat attitude about her daughter’s future, she has let her own dreams slip away. Just across the bridge lives old Luca, scarred from his time in a Romanian gulag years before. Though he has seemingly given up on people, Sierra is drawn to him despite his prickly edges. No one else is comfortable with the unpredictable old man spending time alone with Sierra, not even Luca’s son. Yet it is this unconventional relationship that will bring two families together to form friendships and unearth their family stories, stories that just might give them all the courage to soar on wings toward a new future.

In My Hands Today…

Death in the Floating City – Tasha Alexander

13538723Years ago, Emily’s childhood nemesis, Emma Callum, scandalized polite society when she eloped to Venice with an Italian count. But now her father-in-law lies murdered, and her husband has vanished. There’s no one Emma can turn to for help but Emily, who leaves at once with her husband, the dashing Colin Hargreaves, for Venice.

There, her investigations take her from opulent palazzi to slums, libraries, and bordellos. Emily soon realizes that to solve the present day crime, she must first unravel a centuries old puzzle. But the past does not give up its secrets easily, especially when these revelations might threaten the interests of some very powerful people.

In My Hands Today…

The Binding Vine – Shashi Deshpande

124896“There can be no vaulting over time,” thinks Urmila, the narrator of Shashi Deshpande’s profound and soul-stirring novel. “We have to walk every step of the way, however, difficult or painful it is; we can avoid nothing.”

After the death of her baby, Urmila finds her own path difficult to endure. But through her grief, she is drawn into the lives of two very different women—one her long-dead mother-in-law, a thwarted writer, the other a young woman who lies unconscious in a hospital bed. And it is through these quiet, unexpected connections that Urmi begins her journey toward healing.