In My Hands Today…

The Manual of Detection – Jedediah Berry

In an unnamed city always slick with rain, Charles Unwin toils as a clerk at a huge, imperious detective agency. All he knows about solving mysteries comes from the reports he’s filed for the illustrious detective Travis Sivart. When Sivart goes missing and his supervisor turns up murdered, Unwin is suddenly promoted to detective, a rank for which he lacks both the skills and the stomach. His only guidance comes from his new assistant, who would be perfect if she weren’t so sleepy, and from the pithy yet profound Manual of Detection (think The Art of War as told to Damon Runyon).

Unwin mounts his search for Sivart, but is soon framed for murder, pursued by goons and gunmen, and confounded by the infamous femme fatale Cleo Greenwood. Meanwhile, strange and troubling questions proliferate: why does the mummy at the Municipal Museum have modern-day dental work? Where have all the city’s alarm clocks gone? Why is Unwin’s copy of the manual missing Chapter 18?

When he discovers that Sivart’s greatest cases – including the Three Deaths of Colonel Baker and the Man Who Stole November 12th – were solved incorrectly, Unwin must enter the dreams of a murdered man and face a criminal mastermind bent on total control of a slumbering city.

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In My Hands Today…

The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde

Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. Baconians are trying to convince the world that Francis Bacon really wrote Shakespeare, there are riots between the Surrealists and Impressionists, and thousands of men are named John Milton, an homage to the real Milton and a very confusing situation for the police. Amidst all this, Acheron Hades, Third Most Wanted Man In the World, steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and kills a minor character, who then disappears from every volume of the novel ever printed! But that’s just a prelude . . .

Hades’ real target is the beloved Jane Eyre, and it’s not long before he plucks her from the pages of Bronte’s novel. Enter Thursday Next. She’s the Special Operative’s renowned literary detective, and she drives a Porsche. With the help of her uncle Mycroft’s Prose Portal, Thursday enters the novel to rescue Jane Eyre from this heinous act of literary homicide. It’s tricky business, all these interlopers running about Thornfield, and deceptions run rampant as their paths cross with Jane, Rochester, and Miss Fairfax. Can Thursday save Jane Eyre and Bronte’s masterpiece? And what of the Crimean War? Will it ever end? And what about those annoying black holes that pop up now and again, sucking things into time-space voids . . .

In My Hands Today…

The Secret Magdalene – Ki Longfellow

Raised like sisters, Mariamne and Salome are indulged with riches, position, and learning—a rare thing for females in Jerusalem. But Mariamne has a further gift: an illness has left her with visions; she has the power of prophecy. It is her prophesying that drives the two girls to flee to Egypt, where they study philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy in the Great Library of Alexandria.

After seven years they return to a Judaea where many now believe John the Baptizer is the messiah. Salome too begins to believe, but Mariamne, now called Magdalene, is drawn to his cousin, Yeshu’a, a man touched by the divine in the same way she was during her days of illness. Together they speak of sharing their direct experience of God; but Yeshu’a unexpectedly gains a reputation as a healer, and as the ill and the troubled flock to him, he and Magdalene are forced to make a terrible decision.

In My Hands Today…

Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan – Greg Mortenson, translated by Rika Iffati Farihah

In this dramatic first-person narrative, Greg Mortenson picks up where Three Cups of Tea left off in 2003, recounting his relentless, ongoing efforts to establish schools for girls in Afghanistan; his extensive work in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan after a massive earthquake hit the region in 2005; and the unique ways he has built relationships with Islamic clerics, militia commanders, and tribal leaders. He shares for the first time his broader vision to promote peace through education and literacy, as well as touching on military matters, Islam, and women-all woven together with the many rich personal stories of the people who have been involved in this remarkable two-decade humanitarian effort.

Since the 2006 publication of Three Cups of Tea, Mortenson has traveled across the U.S. and the world to share his vision with hundreds of thousands of people. He has met with heads of state, top military officials, and leading politicians who all seek his advice and insight. The continued phenomenal success of Three Cups of Tea proves that there is an eager and committed audience for Mortenson’s work and message.

In My Hands Today…

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

The plot centers round Mary Lennox, a young English girl who returns to England from India, having suffered the immense trauma by losing both her parents in a cholera epidemic. However, her memories of her parents are not pleasant, as they were a selfish, neglectful and pleasure-seeking couple.

Mary is given to the care of her uncle Archibald Craven, whom she has never met. She travels to his home, Misselthwaite Manor located in the gloomy Yorkshire, a vast change from the sunny and warm climate she was used to. When she arrives, she is a rude, stubborn and given to stormy temper tantrums.

However, her nature undergoes a gradual transformation when she learns of the tragedies that have befallen her strict and disciplinarian uncle whom she earlier feared and despised.

Once when he’s away from home, Mary discovers a charming walled garden which is always kept locked. The mystery deepens when she hears sounds of sobbing from somewhere within her uncle’s vast mansion. The kindly servants ignore her queries or pretend they haven’t heard, spiking Mary’s curiosity.

In My Hands Today…

Jinxed – Carol Higgins Clark

Savvy young Los Angeles P.I. Regan Reilly faces an unusual challenge when she gets an urgent call from Lilac Weldon, owner — with her two hippie brothers — of the run-down California winery Altered States.

Lilac asks Regan to find her actress daughter, Whitney, aka Freshness, in time to attend the wedding of Lilac’s wealthy aunt Lucretia Standish, a 93-year-old silent film star. The Weldons have learned from a secret source that each family member will receive a gift of $2 million from Lucretia — but only if they all attend.

Lucretia’s bridegroom, a 46-year-old con man and former actor, knows he must keep Whitney away; they have met before and she is wise to his game. How Regan foils his plot makes for an exciting climax to this comic suspense novel.