In My Hands Today…

Village of Stone – Xiaolu Guo, translated by Cindy Carter

665158Coral and her frisbee-obsessed boyfriend, Red, live in a cramped tower block in the megalopolis that is modern-day Beijing. The epitome of disaffected youth, their already fragile existence is shattered by the arrival of a mysterious fishy package. As the smells of the sea wash over her, Coral is transported back to a traumatic childhood dominated by solitude, fear and shame. Coral was raised by silent grandparents among the stern and superstitious fishermen of the remote village of Stone. Shunned from birth as a bringer of ill fortune, and exposed to the malevolent forces of a closed-off society, she immersed herself in the minutiae of the landscape around her. At fifteen, she escaped to the big city and shut the door on the darkness of her past.

As the narrative darts between the forbidding sprawl of Beijing and the rhythms of a tiny coastal village, our narrator struggles to navigate a path through painful and hidden memories of a time spent helpless, cold and alone. But when a sick old man appears on Coral’s doorstep, the past and present shockingly converge, and she is forced to confront the secrets of her history in order to realise her dreams for the future.

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In My Hands Today…

My Enemy’s Cradle – Sara Young

1998880Cyrla’s neighbours have begun to whisper. Her cousin, Anneke, is pregnant and has passed the rigorous exams for admission to the Lebensborn, a maternity home for girls carrying German babies. But Anneke’s soldier has disappeared, and Lebensborn babies are only ever released to their father’s custody– or taken away.

A note is left under the mat. Someone knows that Cyrla, sent from Poland years before for safekeeping with her Dutch relatives, is Jewish. The Nazis are imposing more and more restrictions; she won’t be safe there for long.

And then in the space of an afternoon, life falls apart. Cyrla must choose between certain discovery in her cousin’s home and taking Anneke’s place in the Lebensborn – Cyrla and Anneke are nearly identical. If she takes refuge in the enemy’s lair, can Cyrla fool the doctors, nurses, guards, and other mothers-to-be? Can she escape before they discover she is not who she claims?

In My Hands Today…

The Anatomist’s Wife – Anna Lee Huber

13542496Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister’s estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.

Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastiautilise – a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn’t about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.

When Kiera and Gage’s search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim…

In My Hands Today…

Some Prefer Nettles – Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, translated by Edward G. Seidensticker

194642The marriage of Kaname and Misako is disintegrating: whilst seeking passion and fulfilment in the arms of others, they contemplate the humiliation of divorce. Misako’s father believes their relationship has been damaged by the influence of a new and alien culture, and so attempts to heal the breach by educating his son-in-law in the time-honoured Japanese traditions of aesthetic and sensual pleasure. The result is an absorbing, chilling conflict between ancient and modern, young and old.

In My Hands Today…

Jim Thompson: The Unsolved Myst – William Warren

118148On Easter Day, 1967, American businessmen and founder of the modern Thai silk industry James H. W. Thompson disappeared while supposedly on a stroll in the jungle-clad Cameron Highlands in Central Malaysia. Neither Jim Thompson nor his remains has ever been found.Some twenty years earlier Jim Thompson had abandoned his former life to embark on an exotic business career in Southeast Asia. After establishing the Thai Silk Company, Thompson built a house and an art collection which are among Bangkok’s top tourist attractions today. After vanishing, he became the subject of a massive search and investigation and a mystery that has never been solved. This definitive account of the life of Jim Thompson, written by a man who knew him well, gives the reader a first-hand glance into his private affairs and his alleged role as an agent for the CIA.