Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Title:  Beautiful Ruins

Author:  Jess Walter

Narrator:  Edoardo Ballerini

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  June 2012 – HarperCollins

Synopsis (from the back of the ARC):  The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a slender blonde woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot – searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel fifty years before.

What unfolds from there is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, teeming with Jess Walter’s trademark unforgettable characters: the Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically cynical film producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; and the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow. . .

My brief take:  I enjoyed Beautiful Ruins so much I knew it would be on my 2012 Favorites list as soon as I finished reading it.  You get a sense of the novel from the synopsis but really it must be experienced. I loved how Jess Walter wove the various characters’ stories together. I wasn’t sure where they would all end up but I had faith I’d be satisfied with the conclusion. I was.

I’m so glad I decided to listen to Beautiful Ruins (I also read a print review copy) . There’s no way I could have voiced the characters’ accents, language, etc. in my mind anywhere close to the narrator. Edoardo Ballerini’s performance is perfect.

Recommend?  Yes! Read the book and if you enjoy listening, I highly recommend the audiobook.

Note:  I appreciated the Author Q&A included at the end of the audiobook.

Disclosure:  My review copy was from the publisher. I bought the audiobook. See sidebar for disclosure statement. I was not compensated for my review.

A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd

Title:  A Bitter Truth (Bess Crawford #3)

Author:  Charles Todd

Genre:  Mystery series

Published:  January 2011 – HarperCollins

About:  (from Goodreads synopsis) When battlefield nurse Bess Crawford returns from France for a well-earned Christmas leave, she finds a bruised and shivering woman huddled in the doorway of her London residence. The woman has nowhere to turn, and, propelled by a firm sense of duty, Bess takes her in. Once inside Bess’s flat the woman reveals that a quarrel with her husband erupted into violence, yet she wants to go home—if Bess will come with her to Sussex. Realizing that the woman is suffering from a concussion, Bess gives up a few precious days of leave to travel with her. But she soon discovers that this is a good deed with unforeseeable consequences.

My take:  Charles Todd had me guessing all the way to the end of A Bitter Truth and I still didn’t figure out the murderer! Honorable Bess finds out the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished. She becomes one of several suspects in the murder of a house guest at Lydia’s home in Sussex. Over the course of a few weeks more bodies turn up. Not a great way to spend her leave from her work as a nurse near the front in France.

Simon Brandon, Bess’s family friend, tries his best to help her discover what’s going on. I wonder when these two will figure out that they have true feelings for each other. Sooner than later, I hope. I also can’t help wondering if we’ll see more of  Sergeant Larimore in upcoming books. He’s a tall, handsome, charming Australian who seemed to really enjoy teasing Bess when she treated him in the medical tent and when they met up elsewhere. I enjoyed their interactions.

All in all, A Bitter Truth is another good mystery in the Bess Crawford series. I look forward to reading the next book: An Unmarked Grave.

Source:  I bought it.

I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert

  • Title:  I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events – the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don’t
  • Author:  Jennifer Gilbert
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Published:  May 2012 – HarperCollins
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag is a compelling memoir that begins with a young woman just starting out in life. College is behind her and she’s ready to get out in the world and make her way. But before she can even start, a horrible event changes everything.

In May of 1991 Jennifer went into Manhattan to visit a friend and got off the subway at the wrong stop. She didn’t know someone was following her as she walked to her friend’s apartment. She was followed into the apartment building and then brutally attacked.

Jennifer Gilbert tells her story of how she climbed out of the depths of despair following the attack. It’s a journey that moved back and forth in terms of progress until she finally realized she needed to get her life going again – to not let the attacker win. She interviewed for jobs and was hired by an event-planning company. She threw herself into her job and found that not only was she good at it, she loved it. Jennifer eventually started her own company Save the Date. Over the years she dealt with trust, control issues, an eating disorder – all related to the attack.

I was glad that Gilbert’s story is not a perfect plan for surviving a horrific event. It’s a very personal account of how she made it through with determination and a lot of help from loved ones and professionals. I appreciated her honesty of how she continues to deal with life’s unplanned events. I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag is a truly inspirational memoir.

An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

Bess Crawford Mystery Series #2

Published: August 2011 – HarperCollins

Goodreads synopsis: In the early summer of 1917, Bess Crawford is charged with escorting a convoy of severely wounded soldiers from the trenches of France to England. Among them is a young pilot, burned beyond recognition, who carries a photograph of his wife pinned to his tunic. But later, in a crowded railway station, Bess sees the same woman bidding a heart-wrenching farewell to a departing officer, clearly not her husband.

Back on duty in France, Bess is shocked to discover the wife’s photograph in a newspaper accompanying a plea from Scotland Yard for information about her murder, which took place on the very day Bess witnessed that anguished farewell. Granted leave to speak with the authorities, Bess very quickly finds herself entangled in a case of secrets and deadly betrayal in which another life hangs in the balance, and her search for the truth could expose her to far graver dangers than those she faces on the battlefield.

My thoughts: Although it may seem that the synopsis is a spoiler, it isn’t. We learn that information in the first few pages.

I thought the second book in the Bess Crawford series had a different feel to it than the first. Much of it centers around upper class people. There’s an underlying uneasiness that made me think that’s how Bess felt. Bess finds out that murder actually can happen to “nice people”. She’s not as insulated from the world as she once was – even though she’s a nurse on the front she’s finding out that terrible things can and do happen close to home.

As in A Duty to the Dead Charles Todd put me in the atmosphere of the novel. I was in the crowd at the train station,  the fog in a small village, the medical tent in France. It’s one of the things I love most about the series. I can see, hear and feel the setting.

I had two possibilities for the murderer. One was right but I still wasn’t entirely certain. I’m really enjoying the series and look forward to the next book:  A Bitter Truth.

Note: I wonder if Simon will start to play a more personal role in Bess’ life.

Source:  HarperCollins via Book Club Girl for the Bess Crawford Read-Along.

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

J’adore New York by Isabelle Laflèche

Title:  J’adore New York

Author:  Isabelle Laflèche

Genre:  Chick Lit

Published:  April 2010 – HarperCollins

About:  When Catherine Lambert accepts a transfer from the Paris office of the Edwards & White law firm to their Manhattan base she doesn’t know what she’s in for. Sure she’s used to working long hours but she wasn’t ready for the cut-throat office politics at the firm’s headquarters. Catherine aspires to be a partner in the firm but what will it take to reach her goal? And is she willing to do what it takes?

My take:  Isabelle Laflèche’s fast-paced novel is filled with entertaining characters. Some are larger than life, some are stereotypes, and a few are understated and relatable. The attorneys are type A, power hungry, ‘get out of my way’ people who pretty much make Catherine’s life a living hell. Her flamboyant assistant Rikash provides the comic relief and always has her back.

Catherine’s days are spent trying to reach her quota of billable hours, juggling contemptible clients, and if she’s lucky she may find time to sleep. A personal life? Forget about it! Unless it’s mixed with business, she rarely gets out. Catherine starts to wonder how long she can keep this up. Is this really what she wants to do for the rest of her life.

J’adore New York made me a bit anxious while reading about Catherine’s work pressures but, in the end, I enjoyed it. Most of all, I liked Catherine. She’s on a roller coaster ride to finding a fulfilling life and it was fun to be along for the ride. I look forward to more from Isabelle Laflèche.

Source:  BookSparks PR

Disclosure Policy:  see sidebar

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Title: Russian Winter

Author: Daphne Kalotay

Genre: Fiction

About: The story of a Russian ballerina who becomes a star of the Bolshoi Ballet, falls in love with a poet and tries to live the best life possible under Stalin’s rule until that is no longer possible.

My thoughts: This is one of those novels that pulled me in immediately and kept me interested throughout. Daphne Kalotay’s descriptive writing immersed me in life in post WW II Russia – especially what it was like for people in the arts.  I felt like I was in the audience watching Nina Revskaya dance in Swan Lake.  I could imagine falling asleep at the dacha listening to the nightingale sing.  I could even visualize the working crews of women smoothing asphalt on the roads.

Once Nina defects from Russia she travels to London, Paris and finally Boston.  She smuggled her jewels with her when she left and now, decades later, crippled and in a wheelchair, she has decided to have her collection auctioned with the proceeds going to the local ballet.  The jewels have stories of their own that connect several characters in the novel.

One of the characters is Grigori, a professor of Romance languages in Boston.  He has a pendant that he believes is part of Nina’s collection and is trying to find out what the connection is.  He has his own assumptions and he would like Nina to confirm them.  He has contacted her a few times over the past few decades and each time she has refused to discuss her past or the jewels.

As the auction of the jewels draws near Nina finds herself remembering her past more and more.  There are a few twists and turns near the end and  Grigori and Drew, who works for the auction house, make their own discoveries which converge in a satisfying conclusion.

Source: Dawn from She Is Too Fond Of Books sent me her review copy.  Thank you, Dawn!

Recommend? Yes, especially to fans of historical fiction.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Ten Ways To Be Adored When Landing A Lord by Sarah MacLean

Author: Sarah MacLean

Genre: Historical Romance

About: Lord Nicholas St. John has made the list of London’s Lords to Land – a list he wishes not to be on.  Pearls and Pelisses, the ladies magazine responsible for the list, offers lessons in how to land these lords.  The ladies of London have Nick in their sights so he and his trusted friend Rock happily accept a request to find the Duke of Leighton’s sister who has gone missing.  Their search takes them to Yorkshire and ultimately Townsend Park – home to Lady Isabel Townsend.  Isabel’s only relative is her young brother, and  future earl, James.  Her father left his wife and children and went to London to live a scandalous lifestyle.  In doing so he wasted his fortune and shamed his family.  His wife took to her bed and slowly faded away.  He died penniless leaving his children only Townsend Park which is in disrepair.

Nick has occasion to save Isabel from a runaway team of horses and that leads Isabel to invite Nick and Rock to Townsend Park.  Knowing Nick is an esteemed antiquarian she wants him to see her statuary collection.  Selling the marbles is her only hope to raise funds to repair the house.  She needs the house because in addition to Isabel and her brother, there are about two dozen other young women living there.  Isabel has become a protector of sorts.  She takes in wayward girls who have nowhere else to go.  She has to keep that a secret because it could be seen as aiding and abetting these runaways.  Little does Nick know that the girl he and Rock are searching for is practically under their nose.

Descriptive Words: Romantic, amusing, steamy.

Thoughts: After reading Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake (MacLean’s previous book) I knew I’d enjoy “Ten Ways”.  I love the way she works humor into her characters.  Yes, there’s drama and romance but I find the sparkle she gives her main characters wonderful.  They are honorable, trustworthy, at times self-deprecating and at other times laugh-out-loud funny.  MacLean has a gift for writing dialogue.  I look forward to the next book in the series.

Source: HarperCollins via NetGalley

Recommend? Yes, to fans of Historical Romance and Sarah MacLean.

Every House Needs A Balcony by Rina Frank

Every House Needs a Balcony by Rina Frank: Book Cover

In the 1950s Rina, her sister and their Romanian immigrant parents lived in a crowded apartment with other relatives in Haifa, Israel.  It may have been a tight fit but at least they had a balcony. That was their way to see what was going on in their world and vice-versa.   Rina’s parents worked hard at jobs outside their training.  Their mother was an accountant in Romania but now cleaned houses. Their photographer father  now worked small jobs and looked after his daughters. Life wasn’t easy but the girls knew they were loved.

The novel takes us primarily through Rina’s life – her sister becomes a supporting character.  Rina falls in love, marries a young man from Spain and they move back to Israel to be near her family.  As in any life they experience heartbreak and we find out how they deal with it.

My thoughts: Although a lot of things happen in this book it felt more like a list of family events than a fluid novel.  The chapters move alternately between Rina as a stubborn young girl and Rina as a stubborn – some might say selfish – adult. The bones of a good story are there but I never felt emotionally drawn to the characters. Perhaps it lost something in the translation.   The cover of the review copy states that it is an “International Bestseller” so other readers may have a different reaction.

Did you read Every House Needs A Balcony? Feel free to leave a link to your review.

Uncorrected Proof from HarperCollins

Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart

Husband and Wife

Goodreads synopsis:

In her youth, Sarah Price had dreams of becoming a poet. But the meticulously responsible 35-year-old traded her MFA for a steady job that allows her husband, Nathan, to devote himself to his fiction. And there are two small children who need their mother’s attention as well. But Sarah is happy and she believes Nathan is too, until she discovers that his new novel, Infidelity, is based in fact. Suddenly Sarah’s world is turned upside down. How well does she really know Nathan? And more importantly, how well does she know herself?

* * * * * * *

My thoughts:
This is one of those books that makes me wish I belonged to a book club. Early on I wasn’t certain that I’d like it – I found it a bit depressing. But the writing kept me going. It was like listening to my best friend tell the awful thing that happened recently in her marriage. I couldn’t put the book down. I felt badly for her. I wanted to smack her selfish, idiot husband.

The story moves forward and backward as Sarah tries to figure out how she/they got to where they are now. When did she cease being Sarah the poet? How had marriage, children, a job changed her? That seems like a no-brainer but Leah Stewart takes us on Sarah’s journey of discovery and we find that it’s not that simple. I think any woman, especially one who is also a wife and mother, will identify in some way with Sarah. And, quite possibly, any man will identify with Nathan. I’d love to read Nathan’s version of the story. Husband and Wife is a good novel. I recommend it.

Review copy from Goodreads First Reads and HarperCollins

It’s All Greek To Me by Charlotte Higgins

It's All Greek to Me By Charlotte Higgins

From the back of the book: The legendary civilization of ancient Greece shaped nearly every aspect of our lives, from how we organize our societies to how we define the very essence of life. Consider the way we think: about morality, about the nature of beauty and truth, about our place in the universe, about our mortality. All this we have learned from the ancient Greeks. They molded the basic disciplines and genres in which we still organize thought: from poetry to drama, from politics to philosophy, from history to medicine to even ethnography.

* * * * * * *

My take: I really liked this “layman’s guide” to many (if not most) things Greek. Charlotte Higgins walks the reader through the Iliad and the Odyssey; the ins and outs of Sparta; Greek architecture (which brought back memories of Mr. Tippery’s History class sophomore year – I had those column styles down pat!); mythology; and the philosophers. And that’s just some of the information that is packed into this gem of a book. There’s also a timeline, a map, and a Who’s Who of Greeks – actual and mythological.

It’s All Greek To Me will remain on my keeper shelf because it is such a handy source of information. Really, if you’d like a Greek reference book that’s easy to read and understand – and also quite interesting, this may be the book for you.

Review book from HarperCollins

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani: Book Cover

Brava, Valentine begins on a day filled with happiness in Tuscany. The sparkling snow that falls reflects the spirit of the Roncalli/Angelini family. Their beloved matriarch Teodora is marrying Dominic Vechiarelli. The octogenarians kept their relationship a secret for many years but finally decided to marry. Adriana Trigiani had me laughing at the family antics as they prepare for the wedding. Dominic’s son is at the wedding. Gianluca Vechiarelli made quite an impression on Valentine on her last trip to Italy (Very Valentine). She definitely feels something for him when she sees him at the church but things don’t go as she would hope. From the reception on, surprises seem to come at her full force. Life is changing.

Teodora will live with her new husband in Italy while Valentine takes the reins at the Angelini Shoe Company back in Greenwich Village. There are challenges to be faced: a new business partner; a long-time employee who hints at retiring; the need for a business loan to launch a new shoe line; a possible new branch on the family tree to check out; and a long-distance romance. Valentine is full of energy and up to the challenges at work but something is missing in her life. Gianluca (17 years her senior) is very interested in her as she is in him yet how can they make it work? He is in Italy and she is across the Atlantic. He sends romantic letters that get her attention but can she possibly be the woman he seems to idolize?

Trigiani takes the reader to Italy, New York, and Buenos Aires. I loved the descriptions of the different locations. It was also fun to read about Valentine’s friend and new roomie Gabriel as he redecorated the living space above the shoe company. The rooftop garden never looked so good! I also enjoyed the descriptions of shoe design and manufacturing.

This is a very romantic book – I loved it. I can’t wait for the next book in this wonderful series.

Brava, Adriana Trigiani.

Review copy from HarperCollins


Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb

Book Description

It’s 1964 and ten-year-old Felix is sure of a few things: the birds and the bees are puzzling, television is magical, and this is one Christmas he’ll never forget.

LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on everyone’s turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade—easier said than done when scary movies still give you nightmares and you bear a striking resemblance to a certain adorable cartoon boy.

Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his readers straight into the halls of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School—where Mother Filomina’s word is law and goody-two-shoes Rosalie Twerski is sure to be minding everyone’s business. But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of substitute teacher Madame Frechette, straight from Québec, and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kabakova. While Felix learns the meaning of French kissing, cultural misunderstanding, and tableaux vivants, Wishin’ and Hopin’ barrels toward one outrageous Christmas.

From the Funicello family’s bus-station lunch counter to the elementary school playground (with an uproarious stop at the Pillsbury Bake-Off), Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a vivid slice of 1960s life, a wise and witty holiday tale that celebrates where we’ve been—and how far we’ve come.

* * * * * * *

My thoughts: Wishin’ and Hopin’ is an amusing novel about Felix Funicello (Annette is his third cousin) and his 5th grade year at St. Aloysius Gonzaga.

I really enjoyed reading about Felix and his classmates, teachers, and family. I went to Catholic elementary school (in the 1960s) and could relate to much of the story. Wally Lamb infused humor throughout the book. That said, there were a few times when I really felt sympathy for a couple of Felix’s classmates. The class is guided through the first semester by a memorable substitute teacher. Lamb’s story culminates in a hilarious Christmas program.

I recommend placing Wishin’ and Hopin’ on your reading list this season.

Review copy from HarperCollins

The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri

The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri: Book Cover

I’ve been to Ireland a couple of times and after reading The Lace Makers of Glenmara I really want to go again. I so enjoyed my time spent reading this book. Heather Barbieri wrote an engaging story about people dealing with loss and trying to go on with their lives.

Kate, a young American woman of Irish descent, has travelled from Seattle to Ireland. One day she misses her bus and winds up walking. She takes a ride from a kind stranger who drops her at the road leading to Glenmara. She meets some friendly people in the village who invite her to stay and learn how to make lace. From that point on the world becomes a bit larger for the ladies who dare to try something new and Kate finds a place where people won’t leave her.

Kate stays with Bernie, a 50-something widow whose husband died a year earlier. Over a cup of tea one evening Kate says to Bernie “I was just thinking how funny life is. Seems like the more you want something, the more it eludes you. Then, when you least expect it, there it is.” This is a theme of the story. I liked seeing both small and big changes happen in the characters’ lives – changes that some didn’t even know they wanted.

A lovely book has found a home on my “keeper shelf” and I’ve added another title to my 2009 favorites list. I recommend The Lace Makers of Glenmara to fans of Women’s Fiction and anyone who enjoys an enchanting novel.

My thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy.

For Staci’s review, visit Life in the Thumb

The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews

Cover Image


After her boss in a high-powered Washington public relations firm is caught in a political scandal, fledgling lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew is left almost broke, unemployed, and homeless. Out of options, she reluctantly accepts her father’s offer to help refurbish Birdsong, the old family place he recently inherited in Guthrie, Georgia. All it will take, he tells her, is a little paint and some TLC to turn the fading Victorian mansion into a real-estate cash cow.

But, oh, is Dempsey in for a surprise when she arrives in Guthrie. “Bird Droppings” would more aptly describe the moldering Pepto Bismol–pink dump with duct-taped windows and a driveway full of junk. There’s also a murderously grumpy old lady, one of Dempsey’s distant relations, who has claimed squatter’s rights and isn’t moving out. Ever.

Furthermore, everyone in Guthrie seems to know Dempsey’s business, from a smooth-talking real-estate agent to a cute lawyer who owns the local newspaper. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the pesky FBI agents who show up on Dempsey’s doorstep, hoping to pry information about her ex-boss from her.

All Dempsey can do is roll up her sleeves and get to work. And before long, what started as a job of necessity somehow becomes a labor of love and, ultimately, a journey that takes her to a place she never expected—back home again.

My thoughts:I like a book that has me laughing as I turn the last page. The Fixer Upper is smart, funny, and pretty much charmed my socks off. The political scandal is secondary to what I think is the main story – no, not the house rehab – I think its more about Dempsey fixing her life. Or at least figuring out what she wants to do with her life instead of trying to measure up to her parents’ expectations. In the process she meets some wonderful people in Guthrie who show her some of what life has to offer. If you’re looking for a good book to read this summer, you can’t go wrong with The Fixer Upper. It will be in bookstores on June 23.

Thanks to Kyle at HarperCollins for the review copy.


HarperCollins made available 5 copies of The Fixer Upper.

(Usual rules: no P.O. Boxes. US/Canada residents only)

1. Your entry must include your email in the comment

Contest ends June 18, 9pm (EDT)

Thanks For the Memories by Cecelia Ahern

Thanks for the Memories by Ahern Ahern: Book Cover

Back of the book: How can you know someone you’ve never met? That’s the question driving Joyce Conway these days. As she recovers from an accident, she’s suddenly plagued by an overwhelming sense of deja vu that makes her feel as if her life is not her own. She dreams night after night of a little girl she’s sure she doesn’t know, remembers cobble-stoned Parisian streets she’s never visited. She’s convinced she’s going crazy. . . until a series of coincidences takes her on a journey to find the one person who may hold the answer she needs. Thanks for the Memories is a heartwarming story of hope, love, and second chances – and Cecelia Ahern’s most magical novel yet.

I’m probably not Ms. Ahern’s target reader. While I enjoyed the film version of P.S. I Love You, I haven’t read any of her books. When this book was made available as an arc I thought I’d give it a try. I found it almost “sit-com”ish in it’s pace (as if the laughs were timed). That was distracting to me – but it may not be to her fans. I thought the overall concept was far-fetched but, again maybe not to her usual audience. There were some amusing spots and it was a very quick read. So I’ll just say that if you’ve enjoyed Cecelia Ahern’s other books, there’s a very good chance you’ll like Thanks For the Memories.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the ARC.

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani: Book Cover

Blurb from the ARC: In this contemporary family saga, the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of custom wedding shoes since 1903, is one of the last family businesses in Greenwich Village. The company is on the verge of being wiped out by the spiraling Manhattan real estate market and the overwhelming availability of factory-made goods. On the brink of disaster, the business falls on the shoulders of thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli, the talented but unsuspecting apprentice, to bring her family’s old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century to save the company from financial ruin.
While juggling a romantic relationship with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design competition for a prestigious department store, Valentine accompanies her grandmother and master artisan Teodora to Italy in the hopes of finding the inspiration and elements that she needs to win. There, in Tuscany and on the Isle of Capri, she discovers her artistic voice and much more, turning her life around in ways she never expected.
With a vibrant cast of memorable characters, the rich terrain of intergenerational family dynamics, the lush backgrounds of magical Manhattan and enchanting Italy as seen through the eyes of an artist, Very Valentine, the first novel in a new trilogy, is sure to be a favorite of fans and an irresistible invitation to new readers.
Adriana Trigiani is back in a big way. She has created a wonderful character in Valentine Roncalli. And the good news is that Very Valentine is the first of three books – yay! I found my visit to Valentine’s Manhattan and Capri quite enjoyable. In fact, I’m ready to book a trip to Capri. Trigiani’s attention to detail and her ability to describe in a way that doesn’t make my eyes glaze over is quite wonderful. And, at this point, she has me ready to shell out for some good Italian leather flats.

What has me impatient for the second book is the story of Valentine. She is a real and relatable character. I can’t wait to see which direction her life takes in the next installment.

Watch for the release of Very Valentine this February 2009. You can read more about the author and her previous books here.
My thanks to Adriana Trigiani and HarperCollins for sending the ARC.