In My Hands Today…

The Ghost Orchid – Carol Goodman

For more than one hundred years, creative souls have traveled to Upstate New York to work under the captivating spell of the Bosco estate. Cradled in silence, inspired by the rough beauty of overgrown gardens and crumbling statuary, these chosen few fashion masterworks–and have cemented Bosco’s reputation as a premier artists’ colony. This season, five talented artists-in-residence find themselves drawn to the history of Bosco, from the extensive network of fountains that were once its centerpiece but have long since run dry to the story of its enigmatic founder, Aurora Latham, and the series of tragic events that occurred more than a century ago.

Ellis Brooks, a first-time novelist, has come to Bosco to write a book based on Aurora and the infamous summer of 1893, when wealthy, powerful Milo Latham brought the notorious medium Corinth Blackwell to the estate to help his wife contact three of the couple’s children, lost the winter before in a diphtheria epidemic. But when a séance turned deadly, Corinth and her alleged accomplice, Tom Quinn, disappeared, taking with them the Lathams’ only surviving child.

The more time she spends at Bosco, the more Ellis becomes convinced that there is an even darker, more sinister end to the story. And she’s not alone: biographer Bethesda Graham uncovers stunning revelations about Milo and Corinth; landscape architect David Fox discovers a series of hidden tunnels underneath the gardens; poet Zalman Bronsky hears the long-dry fountain’s waters beckoning him; and novelist Nat Loomis feels something lingering just out of reach.

After a bizarre series of accidents befalls them, the group cannot deny the connections between the long ago and now, the living and the dead . . . as Ellis realizes that the tangled truth may ensnare them all in its cool embrace.

In My Hands Today…

The Palace of the Snow Queen: Winter Travels in Lapland – Barbara Sjoholm

Sjoholm first travels to Kiruna, Sweden, to see the Ice Hotel under construction and to meet the ice artists who make its rooms into environmental art.

Traveling to the North Cape, she encounters increasing darkness and cold, but also radiant light over the mountains and snow fields. She crosses the Finnmark Plateau by dogsled, attends a Sami film festival (with an outdoor ice screen), and visits Santa’s Post Office in Finland.

Over the course of three winters, Sjoholm unearths the region’s rich history, including the culture of the Sami. As Sjoholm becomes more familiar with Kiruna, she writes of the changes occurring in northern Scandinavia and contemplates the tensions between tourism, the expansion of mining and development of the Ice Hotel, and age-old patterns of land use, the Sami’s struggle to maintain their reindeer grazing lands and migration routes.

In The Palace of the Snow Queen, Sjoholm relates her adventures in the far north, and considers how ice and snow shape our imaginations and create, at a time of global warming, a vision that increasingly draws visitors to Lapland.

In My Hands Today…

My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir – Mark Whitaker

In a dramatic, moving work of historical reporting and personal discovery, Mark Whitaker, award-winning journalist, sets out to trace the story of what happened to his parents, a fascinating but star-crossed interracial couple, and arrives at a new understanding of the family dramas that shaped their lives—and his own.

His father, “Syl” Whitaker, was the charismatic grandson of slaves who grew up the child of black undertakers from Pittsburgh and went on to become a groundbreaking scholar of Africa. His mother, Jeanne Theis, was a shy World War II refugee from France whose father, a Huguenot pastor, helped hide thousands of Jews from the Nazis and Vichy police.

They met in the mid-1950s, when he was a college student and she was his professor, and they carried on a secret romance for more than a year before marrying and having two boys. Eventually they split in a bitter divorce that was followed by decades of unhappiness as his mother coped with self-recrimination and depression while trying to raise her sons by herself, and his father spiraled into an alcoholic descent that destroyed his once meteoric career.

Based on extensive interviews and documentary research as well as his own personal recollections and insights, My Long Trip Home is a reporter’s search for the factual and emotional truth about a complicated and compelling family, a successful adult’s exploration of how he rose from a turbulent childhood to a groundbreaking career, and, ultimately, a son’s haunting meditation on the nature of love, loss, identity, and forgiveness.

In My Hands Today…

The Library of Lost Things – Laura Taylor Namey

From the moment she first learned to read, literary genius Darcy Wells has spent most of her time living in the worlds of her books. There, she can avoid the crushing reality of her mother’s hoarding and pretend her life is simply ordinary. But when a new property manager becomes more active in the upkeep of their apartment complex, the only home Darcy has ever known outside of her books suddenly hangs in the balance.

While Darcy is struggling to survive beneath the weight of her mother’s compulsive shopping, Asher Fleet, a former teen pilot with an unexpectedly shattered future, walks into the bookstore where she works…and straight into her heart. For the first time in her life, Darcy can’t seem to find the right words. Fairy tales are one thing, but real love makes her want to hide inside her carefully constructed ink-and-paper bomb shelter.

Still, after spending her whole life keeping people out, something about Asher makes Darcy want to open up. But securing her own happily-ever-after will mean she’ll need to stop hiding and start living her own truth—even if it’s messy.

In My Hands Today…

My Lovely Wife – Samantha Downing

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

In My Hands Today…

Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America – Catherine Ryan Howard

Catherine Ryan Howard prefers bath robes to bed bugs, lattes to lizards and mini-bars to malaria. So why is she going backpacking?

She doesn’t know either…

Catherine isn’t the backpacking type. Working for one of the world’s biggest hotel chains, she and her employee discount have become accustomed to complimentary bath robes, 24-hour room service and Egyptian cotton sheets. As for holidays, Catherine likes places that encourage lying – lying on the beach, by the pool, in bed…

She’s been on what feels like one long holiday in Florida when her fearless best friend, Sheelagh, announces plans to backpack across Central America. With Catherine’s US visa about to expire, her having no desire to return home to Ireland just yet and her common sense, evidently, on a day off, she agrees to go along.

After all, how bad can this backpacking thing be?

Um… very bad, actually. Catherine soon finds herself showering with the threat of electrocution, living with mutant cockroaches, sleeping on wooden planks, suffering from all but one of the side-effects listed on her bottle of anti-malarial tablets (liver failure, in case you were wondering) and riding a horse up the side of a smoking, lava-filled volcano.

And that’s just the first week.

Backpacked is the wry tale of what happened when one very reluctant backpacker hit the backpacker trail and discovered that beyond the mosquitoes, bad coffee and flea-infested hostels lie even bigger mosquitoes, even worse coffee and flea-infested hostels whose bathrooms have no doors…