In My Hands Today…

Transmission – Hari Kunzru

429653In Transmission, award-winning writer Hari Kunzru takes an ultra-contemporary turn with the story of an Indian computer programmer whose luxurious fantasies about life in America are shaken when he accepts a California job offer.

Lonely and naive, Arjun spends his days as a lowly assistant virus- tester, pining away for his free-spirited colleague Christine. Arjun gets laid off like so many of his Silicon Valley peers, and in an act of desperation to keep his job, he releases a mischievous but destructive virus around the globe that has major unintended consequences.

As world order unravels, so does Arjun’s sanity, in a rollicking cataclysm that reaches Bollywood and, not so coincidentally, the glamorous star of Arjun’s favorite Indian movie.

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In My Hands Today…

Becoming Strangers – Louise Dean

36299933After more than half a century of marriage, Dorothy and George are embarking on their first journey abroad together. Three decades younger, Jan and Annemieke are taking their last, as illness and incompatibility bring their unhappy union to an end.

At first, the luxury of a Caribbean resort is no match for the well-worn patterns of domestic life. Then the couples’ paths cross, and a series of surprises ensues–a disappearance and an assault, most dramatically, but also a teapot tempest of passions, slights, misunderstandings, and small awakenings that punctuate a week in which each pair struggles to come to terms with what’s been keeping them apart.

In My Hands Today…

The Moon Pearl – Ruthanne Lum McCunn

375500The Moon Pearl is the story of Rooster, Shadow, and Mei Ju, who become fast friends while members of a girls’ house, where young daughters are taught to become daughters-in-law.

These girls, however, want neither to marry nor become nuns (the only options open to them at this time). They choose instead to support themselves through their skills in embroidery and silk production.

Though ostracized by their families, attacked, and barely able to find sustenance and shelter, these sze saw, or self-combers as they will come to be called, manage to create lives that they alone control. An amazing true-life story, The Moon Pearl offers an empowering vision of womanhood in China.

In My Hands Today…

Burned Alive – Souad

386990When Souad was seventeen she fell in love. In her village, as in so many others, sex before marriage was considered a grave dishonour to one’s family and was punishable by death. This was her crime. Her brother-in-law was given the task of arranging her punishment. One morning while Souad was washing the family’s clothes, he crept up on her, poured petrol over her and set her alight.

In the eyes of their community, he was a hero. An execution for a ‘crime of honour’, was a respectable duty unlikely to bring about condemnation from others. It certainly would not have provoked calls for his prosecution. More than five thousand cases of such honour killings are reported around the world each year and many more take place that we hear nothing about.

Miraculously, Souad survived rescued by the women of her village, who put out the flames and took her to a local hospital. Horrifically burned, and abandoned by her family and community, it was only the intervention of a European aid worker that enabled Souad to receive the care and sanctuary she so desperately needed and to start her life again. She has now decided to tell her story and uncover the barbarity of honour killings, a practice which continues to this day.

Burned Alive is a shocking testimony, a true story of almost unbelievable cruelty. It speaks of amazing courage and fortitude and of one woman’s determination to survive. It is also a call to break the taboo of silence that surrounds this most brutal of practices and which ignores the plight of so many other women who are also victims of traditional violence.

In My Hands Today…

Pall in the Family – Dawn Eastman

16056422In this small western Michigan town, everyone knows the Fortune family. Rose is gifted with tarot card readings. Her sister, Vi, is a self-proclaimed pet psychic. And Rose’s daughter Clyde is…

A cop. A cop on leave from Ann Arbor, more specifically, who’s come home to kooky Crystal Haven to reevaluate her life. Mom and Aunt Vi can’t wait for Clyde to finally embrace her own psychic gifts and join the family business. Clyde would prefer the low-stress lifestyle of a dog walker and the low-key company of her nephew, Seth.

But when a local psychic is killed, leaving behind a traumatized Shih Tzu, it seems to be in the cards for Clyde to get involved. With her old flame Mac leading the investigation, that may prove awkward. Whether she uses her skills as a cop or her long-denied psychic abilities, it’s up to Clyde to divine a killer’s identity before someone else suffers more misfortune.

In My Hands Today…

Unearthed: Love, Acceptance, and Other Lessons from an Abandoned Garden – Alexandra Risen

25897676In this moving memoir, a woman digs into a garden and into the past and finds secrets, beauty, and acceptance.

Alex’s father dies just as she and her husband buy a nondescript house set atop an acre of wilderness that extends into a natural gorge in the middle of the city. Choked with weeds and crumbling antique structures, the abandoned garden turned wild jungle stirs cherished memories of Alex’s childhood: when her home life became unbearable, she would escape to the forest.

In her new home, Alex can feel the power of the majestic trees that nurtured her in her youth. She begins to beat back the bushes to unveil the garden’s mysteries. At the same time, her mother has a stroke and develops dementia and Alex discovers an envelope of yellowed documents while sorting through her father’s junk pile. The papers hold clues to her Ukrainian-born parents’ mysterious past. She reluctantly musters the courage to uncover their secrets, while discovering the plants hidden in the garden — from primroses and maple syrup–producing sugar maples to her mother’s favourite, lily of the valley. As every passionate gardener knows, to spend time with the soil is the opposite of escapism — it is to embrace our own circle of life and hold it close.