Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Back in the Saddle - the reviewing saddle that is!

I have been gone for a bit, handling some medical issues, but I'm back and ready to jump back in the "reviewing" saddle once again.
Here are a couple of books that I lassoed up for you while I was waiting for doctors, labs, ctscans and test results. I think they're goodies..see what you think!

And a big thanks to those who left sweet notes and comments, wishing me well. Your good thoughts were held closely during these past few days. Thank You.

Becoming an organ donor was very important to Isabel Howard-Voorman, and she convinced her husband Alex to sign a card acknowledging that he knew of her wishes. And like a good, love-struck husband, he put the card away in his wallet, never dreaming it would ever see the light of day.

Until the day Isabel was killed while riding her bike by a reckless driver.

Painfully, Alex agrees to allow Isabel’s heart, along with other organs, to be taken for transplant.

Janet Cocoran has been waiting for a new heart for a long time. The heart disease that is slowly killing her is also destroying her once close-knit family and threatens her marriage, one sickly beat at a time. In ghoulish desperation, she would watch the news, anxiously awaiting news of a fatal car accident, hoping the victim would be an organ donor who would match her. It was a miraculous day when she learned there was a heart on the way for her … Isabel’s heart.

A year later, Janet has recovered well from her transplant and tracks down the name of the family of her donor, despite recommendations from the transplant team that she not do that. She sends a letter to Alex, thanking him for his wife’s gift of life. But Alex is still grieving Isabel’s loss and doesn’t want to communicate with Janet. Telling Isabel’s mother Bernice of the intrusive letter, Alex is shocked to find out that she had been emailing with Janet’s mother for a long time and knew all about the transplant Janet underwent and her progress.

Feeling betrayed, Alex tries to move on with his life, but the persistent notes from Janet, and the gentle nagging of his mother-in-law keep the subject on his mind. It is the sudden appearance of Jasper Klass, the man who hit Isabel with his truck, and his intense and creepy interest in finding the person who had received Isabel’s heart that would propel Alex into finally meeting Janet, and coming to grips with the fact that she was alive due to his wife’s death. And when seeking forgiveness for his actions Klass threatens the safety of that heart beating within Janet’s chest, Alex knows he must do whatever it takes to protect the irreplaceable gift of life Isabel so selflessly gave.

Dallas-born author Stephen Lovely takes readers inside the world of heart transplants in his novel, “Irreplaceable.” Stunningly accurate, Lovely captures the heartbreak of losing a loved one, the overwhelming guilt of taking a life, and the amazement of regaining life in this vivid tale. His characters are so real readers will feel they experience first-hand the waves of emotions that tumble over their fictional lives and Lovely’s research and descriptions of the transplant procedure and recovery are astonishingly exact.

Having a family member who has received a life-saving heart transplant, I can personally vouch for the family’s gratitude for the organ donor, and the shared grief that facilitates the transplant. The gift of life through donation is a precious one, and “Irreplaceable” gives light to the importance of the critical need for organ donors today. A fascinating read.

Valentine Roncalli’s life is about to meet with some big changes, but with a little patience, a lot of love, and a keen sense of humor, this Italian gal will meet every challenge head on as she takes the reins of the Angelini Shoe Company.

Or at least she hopes she will.

When Valentine’s 80-year old grandmother and mentor Teodora leaves the business to move to Italy and get married, she leaves the building and the creative control of the shoe company to Valentine, but to Valentine’s horror, Grandma puts her brother Alfred in charge of the finances. Since she and Alfred get along like chalk and cheese, Valentine is a bit worried. But she has a new shoe line to established, and puts aside her worries as she works to find a company who can reasonably manufacture the shoes, and the money to do it with.

When she stumbles across an old sketch of a shoe drawn by her great-grandfather’s brother, Valentine unlocks a family secret that had been kept for decades, and that might just be the answer to her prayers. The long-lost relatives lived in Buenes Aires, and they were in the shoe-making business as well. But Valentine is in for a shock when she travels to Argentina to meet her cousins, a shock that could cause the rift between families to grow wider.

In the midst of the whirl that is her life, Valentine deals with her family’s various marital and health crises, gains a new roommate in her best friend Gabriel who is a redecorating dervish, and ponders her lack of romantic action. She ponders the possibility of a relationship with Gianluca, the handsome son of her grandmother’s new husband, but the distance and lifestyles between them seem insurmountable despite his declarations of love.

But possibilities are always promising and if Valentine wants the future she dreams of – both romantically and in her business life, she’s going to have to mature and grab hold of the brass ring as it goes round.

“Brava, Valentine” is the second book in Adriana Trigiani’s trilogy about Valentine Roncalli, her family, and their shoe company, and it is just as endearing and captivating as the first book, “Very Valentine.”

Trigiani, who is know for her bestselling novels “Big Stone Gap,” “The Queen of The Big Time,” and “Lucia, Lucia,” is a master at capturing the heart and soul of family life in her heartwarming stories. Readers feel a connection with her characters, as if they were a part of the big, boisterious Italian families that populate Trigiani’s books. It’s going to be tough having to wait an entire year for “Encore, Valentine” to be released, but you know it will be well worth the anticipation.

These books were furnished by the publisher for review consideration. I was not obligated to give them a favorable review, nor did I receive compensation for my work.


Janel said...

Glad to see you back! I hope everything went well with the tests :)

Sounds like you got to read some great books while you were taking a break from the blog.

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews said...

Thanks Janel! The tests were not great, but at least we know how to proceed now. And yes, I did get a lot of reading done! A good book takes your mind off your troubles!