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Reviews - These Thy Gifts

These Thy Gifts Book Cover

Reviewed By Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
These Thy Gifts by Vincent Panettiere is a compelling and timely novel, set against the backdrop of a turbulent Church history when priestly celibacy lost much of its credibility to rumors and facts about sexual abuses across the globe. But has this been something recent or something that could be consigned to history? Here is a powerful love story, one that will entertain and offer insights to readers of the marvels of the human mind and the mysterious, challenging ways of love.

Monsignor Steven Trimboli first met the charming Rosalie LaMarca, widow of a mobster, fifty years ago as a young priest and a bond was established between them, a bond that survived years of trials. Now an old man, the world begins to unveil numerous sexual scandals and crimes involving the Church, and while the Monsignor thinks about the fate of the institution he'd served for many years, he's not aware that a deadly blow is about to hit the Church, and it's too close to home. He has to face himself!

These Thy Gifts is a story of love and faith, but above all, a man's critical look at his conscience and vocation. There is a lot that readers will find enticing in this book. From the beautiful prose, the colossal characters, the relevant and riveting setting, to the compelling plot, this book is a huge success. The author opens by drawing readers into the frame of mind of the protagonist, introducing the Monsignor in his thoughts, and drawing their attention to the conflict that permeates every layer of the story. It's engrossing to watch the solid cast of characters with their diversity in backgrounds collide in this thrilling tale. I loved the way the author explored the vocation of the Monsignor. A huge character, successfully developed. You'll be entertained, you'll find yourself asking questions, and at the end of the book, you'll be forced to re-examine your own choices in life. Vincent Panettiere has the gift of enthralling readers and leaving them mesmerized with a well-crafted story.



Reviewed By Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
In his sardonic, if not downright ironically titled book, These Thy Gifts, author Vincent Panettiere manages from the start to saturate his story with inescapable and unrelenting tension, even in the most non-threatening of moments, which, with his impeccable writing skills, provides his readers with the pure distraction and immersion that they seek. As a young priest Monsignor Trimboli operated from a store-front church with a parish composed of the poor and powerless, those vulnerable to and most at risk from the rich and powerful. He is an individualist and an activist in the strongest of terms, inserting himself with his obstinate sense of justice into the bureaucratic shenanigans and downright moral crimes of his church, while managing to both ingratiate himself with and yet irritate the mob and other entrenched city institutions - like the local firemen, who refer to him as the red priest, a commie. Yes, it is that time in history

Most remarkable about These Thy Gifts is the purely marvelous quality of writing demonstrated by Vincent Panettiere. His command of plotting, character revelation, dialogue, and the demanding task of simply writing well is astounding. He makes reading effortless for the reader, immersing one in this dynamic, award-worthy, epic tale with a pounding sense of inherent momentum and the visual stimulation of any well-made movie. As Trimboli becomes increasingly and emotionally enmeshed with his childhood friend's (the mobster's) wife and future family, the tension becomes unbearably enticing, committing the reader to take a personal stand at the final resolution. A deeply satisfying read.



Reviewed By Grady Harp for Amazon
Los Angeles author Vincent Panettiere began his colorful career as a sports writer for a wire service and Boston daily, altered his path by accepting several executive positions at CBS and Fox Network, wrote several film scripts yet to be produced and served as a literary agent for television and film writers and directors, and as a sports agent for major league and professional baseball players. He is the author of THE INTERNET FINANCING SOLUTION, and while that book is an expose of Internet scams, it is also the experience of the author and his personal unfortunate experiences with the Internet global scams. With the success of that first outing with writing he followed with a well-sculpted mystery thriller A WOMAN TO BLAME, and now he continues his journey to literary importance with this excellent new novel - THESE THY GIFTS.

Vincent's facility with language allows him to say so much in so few poignant words. And example of this is his opening paragraph - 'Years of celibacy had caused Monsignor Steven Trimboli, the new pastor of Queen of Peace, to get a grip on his physical impulses, allowing his intellect to flow freely. Perhaps that's what they meant in the seminary about controlling the energy of the flesh in order to expand the mind. Approaching his seventieth year, he refused to accept that facile explanation as an epiphany. The unused energy of his flesh had become the fuel propelling his mind to create doubts and questions. These were more of a danger and distraction to the body of the church than an epidemic of onanism among priests and parishioners combined could ever be. His dominant question was also his dominant doubt. That was not the best example of an Aristotelian or Thomistic thesis, but it was all he had and it pecked away at his thoughts. In the era of child-abusing priests, he wondered, could a priest or parishioner consider himself both an intelligent and a practicing Catholic?' Unafraid to tackle controversial issues, Vincent more that compensates for his brave subject approach be offering a story about a priest who has been through decades of world and psychological change.

The very brief summary offered before reading is adequate to place us in the realm of the gist of the tale. `These Thy Gifts is a forbidden love story spanning 50 years between a priest and the widow of a mobster. It encompasses history, mystery, comedy, gangsters, beautiful women, war, and religion. 2006 is a tumultuous year for the Catholic Church. Reports of horrific sexual abuse are becoming widespread. Monsignor Steven Trimboli is troubled. He worries for the future of the church-and rightly so. A new crime will soon reverberate throughout his church and hit closer to home than he ever imagined. As Trimboli examines his faith, he must also examine his past. This poignant new novel takes readers back fifty years to meet Trimboli as a young and passionate priest, ready to tackle the world. The church, however, has other plans and exiles him to a small town in New York State. It is there that he meets the intriguing and beguiling Rosalie LaMarca. The two will form a connection that will have lasting consequences for both their lives. Trimboli's adventures will take him to the front lines of Vietnam and back. He will encounter abuse in his time serving the Catholic Church, but he will also bear witness to moments of unimaginable grace. Follow Trimboli as he confronts his past, his choices, and what it means to be a man of God.

Vincent Panettieri is molding a remarkably solid stance as a writer of substance. His insights, sensitivity to issues - contemporary and enduring ones, and his eloquent prose place him near the top of today's authors' peak. Highly recommended.



Midwest Book Review
These Thy Gifts is a love story with a difference. The difference lies not in the romance itself, but in the nature of the two individuals involved and the length of time that their love perseveres. One of the participants is a priest; the other the widow of a mobster. Set against the backdrop of vast changes in the Catholic Church, their deep connection is reflective of society's transformation as a whole; and so to call These Thy Gifts a 'romance' in the typical sense of a one-dimensional relationship exploration would not be adequately describing its wider-ranging prowess.

The world is changing, in 2006. The Church faces regular accusations and spiritual and moral trauma over charges of sexual abuse, social challenges to long-cemented doctrine are rampant, and Pastor Steven Trimboli finds that his own commitments and life challenges pose special conundrums about his faith that results in his close inspection of his life, motivations, and spirituality..

What makes his story so compelling is that romance is woven into these themes of a practicing Catholic's deeper commitments. Sins of pride and passion, continual self-inspections for moral transgressions, and a determination to expose those who would threaten the sanctity of everything he loves leads the Monsignor on a journey that is more than a struggle with judgment and sin. It's about the very survival of the church he loves.

Readers are swept through in an inspection of self and society that walks with the Monsignor through the very streets of his parish. The energy propelling a man approaching his seventieth year is as compelling as his blend of philosophical and spiritual observations of his world around him and his changing place in it.

As a result of a heavier hand on philosophical, spiritual and psychological development, readers are treated to far more than a casual romance story: the true nature of the epic presented lies in these societal and self-inspections as a love affair between priest Trimboli and Rosalie LaMarca evolves against all odds.

Passages replete with philosophical inspection (".by now you should know I find life a difficult journey. We live on the edge of the knife, something I learned in double-you, double-you two."), New York culture and atmosphere, Mob and church operations and politics, and a host of equally-powerful characters makes for a story line that is as full-bodied and complex as a fine wine.

Blackmail, justice, revenge . one doesn't expect these elements of intrigue to enter into a romance read. But again, romance is just the tip of the iceberg in These Thy Gifts. A deeper, underlying theme of public prayers and private dreams delves into life choices that move far from the altar and into the changing world of 2006, crafting and fine-tuning a gripping saga that's hard to put down and whose taste will linger in the mind far after the complex meal is consumed.



Reviewed By Mr. Richard Lw Bunning for Amazon
This is a very well written book that uses fiction to emphasise the need for serious cultural changes, and ideally doctrinal ones, in the Catholic Church. These may or may not be genuinely in progress, but we can't doubt that many ordinary Catholics are doing their level best to see that the good priests drive out the worst of long hidden evils. Other religions and institutions of many sorts have been exposed for similar crimes, but the unnatural sexual denial demanded of the Catholic priests actually makes that church an over-easy hunting ground for the paedophile, misogynist, and cruel manipulator of the weak, rather than acting as a bastion against them. The secrecy of the hierarchy and lack of accountability in that church have also made it vulnerable to penetration by big crime operations, especially financial ones. The historic evils of the 'European Churches' are well documented and, as that history recedes into the mists of time, they can be easily forgiven. But that so many of these practices endure to this very day, can't.

Panettiere looks beyond the sacrament, the alter rails, the impenetrable walls of the established Catholic Church. It is undeniable that the Church, worldwide, has continued to act as a law unto itself, rather than before God; and worse, as a corrupt hierarchical institution that protects its own while claiming to be protecting the trust of the congregation, and glosses over problems rather than cures them. Panettiere looks at the Catholic Church in the United States, though actually the setting could be almost anywhere that the Pope has significant flocks.

We follow the story of an American priest of Italian descent who is everything a priest should be. One that despite not being truly chaste, so having to live with his own crippling 'sins', eventually exposes some rotten apples. Actually, it is the propaganda that any but the most unusual of individuals can be entirely inactive sexually that has got the church into such hideous problems. But enough of that, that is my bias declared, a bias that greatly oversimplifies Panettiere's generally well-measured 'observations' in this story.

Names, places, characters, and details vary immensely in real life, but the fictional characters' behaviours have all been commonplace. Paedophilia, alcoholism, aggrandisement, and financial and 'political' corruptions are certainly far from unique sins of the Catholic church, but they are made all the worse by the fact that the Church pretends to be sitting closer to God, high above the sins of ordinary men.

The majority of honest men, and still only men are in high places in that church, are silenced by the control exercised on their careers, by lies and deceit, and even in the extreme through fear for their very survival. Even the coward at war, the priest that enjoys the ministry of prostitutes, the filth that seeks his own advancement at every opportunity, the ghastly Dykes, is protected by the hierarchy, which he in turn becomes a key part of. He may be an extreme, but his parallel isn't unknown in real life. This fictional deviant was only too happy to help hide the legions of paedophilic priests, so helping obscure his own evil. But that is enough for plot giveaways. For more, buy and read this really necessary, psychologically revealing, fiction.

At times some of the support characters rather melted together in my mind. Perhaps, because I was unable to sustain much continuity in my reading. I enjoyed the book immensely despite that. In truth, only half a dozen characters needed to be clearly distinguished for the book to be fully appreciated. It isn't necessary to follow every path and absorb all the chronology to fully enjoy reading 'These Thy Gifts'.

Sometimes good fiction can be used to explore sensitive issues in a far deeper psychological way that can cold hard reality. The voices in the real world are so often blurred and rendered weak by lies, deception, obfuscation, deception and fear of legal challenge. Fiction can sometimes penetrate far deeper truths. Panettiere outlines this terrible modern history, quite brilliantly. He lays bare the cracks in a one thousand, if not truly two thousand, year old system of unaccountable leadership. Unaccountable to either distant God or downtrodden people, most men, and nearly all women. Perhaps someone should write a fiction in which the Catholic Church is saved by the nun that becomes a pope. Man might not like it, but I'm happy to risk my soul by saying that God would be delighted. Read.

Reviewed By SHughes for Amazon
The title is These Thy Gifts ... but the gift is in the writing. Wow!

Where to begin? This book is richly written and the characters are real, believable, and well-developed. Steven Trimboli, the complex main character, is a priest, and through him the author does a masterful job of taking the reader back in time to the Vietnam War, addresses the church's sexual abuse scandal with candor, and even sprinkles in a bit of New York mob life. Top that off with a touching story of illicit love between Trimboli and Rosalie LaMarca, another colorful character. I found myself rooting for Steven and Rosalie, despite the many roadblocks in their way. Trimboli's faith is tested many times throughout the novel, which makes this a page-turner.

And... the author is a music and film buff. You'll find a fun dose of movie and music references throughout.

If you like books that combine history and mystery with a dose of romance, you won't be disappointed.

Reviewed By Random Musings
Epic, uncomfortable, and, above all, important, "These Thy Gifts" by author Vincent Panettiere is a welcome addition to the canon of modern literature.

Told with an unabandoned ferocity that often does not accompany written pieces that deal with religion as its foremost subject matter, "These Thy Gifts" acts as a hybrid of the seriousness of literature and the whimsy of the human condition. Encompassing a period of 50 years, the books gifted author weaves a tale that is not only highly emotional, but extremely relevant to today's world. With a tendency to act as both an omnipresent and intimate narrator, it's clear from the book's opening chapter (ominously titled "The Beginning of the End") that the story that is to unfold before the readers' eyes will be intense.

From a pedantic perspective, "These Thy Gifts" appears to have been written for the masses without losing its sense of affection for both the finely created characters or an all-too-familiar world. As someone who does not often review books that have religion and the institution of war as such a striking element, I was immediately engrossed by the author's ability to weave the fine line of subtlety of the human experience to the contempt that so often follows the goings on of the Catholic Church.

Set in 2006 when the Catholic Church is embroiled in what appears to be controversy after controversy, the novel's major character Monsignor Steven Trimboli is not only clearly affected by the tarnishing of his employer (so to speak), but also intent on fixing things that are within his sphere of influence. It becomes instantly evident that Trimboli is a deeply flawed but hopeful character. His interactions with the Catholic Church in 2006 act as a springboard to his life 50 years prior where Trimboli is doe-eyed and naïve, and fiercely intelligent. The people he meets in his life act as the foundation for all of his future relationships, including the one he has with God.

Instead of writing a book that is knee-deep in dogma, the author of "These Thy Gifts" goes where the reader does not expect him to. The lens he chooses to wear is not steeped in ridicule or derision of the Catholic Church. Instead, he tackles the idea of Catholicism in America through an open mind, free of mockery. Atypical at best, Steven Trimboli's long lasting friendship with a gangster's wife and an extremely powerful tour of Vietnam as an Army Chaplain, sort of makes him not only incredibly endearing, but also incredibly real. He's a hero you root for and wish the best for.

There is an inherent anger at the heart of "These Thy Gifts" that can perhaps be seen as one of the core flaws of modern society. Sometimes using religion as an excuse to act irresponsibly and kill in the name of a God, the violence, abuse and corruption that exist within many institutions of religion are coming to the forefront of the public consciousness. Here, the author really excels in enlightening the reader on the provocations of questioning the foundations of personal belief systems.

Yes, "These Thy Gifts" is a heavy read. The reader should expect as much by simply reading the book's jacket. Where the narrative really shines is in the author Vincent Panettiere's clear ability to share information without colluding it. The reader is encouraged to form their own standpoint on the many contentious topics written about in the book without being spoon-fed. It's a talent to narrate without telling, and Panettiere has clearly mastered it.

Reviewed By Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
There are two very different groups of readers who might have the same reaction to These Thy Gifts by Vincent Panettiere. The first group is comprised of the very religious, especially Catholics; the second group is made up of those who don't like anything to do with religion. This second group could be immediately put off These Thy Gifts by the religious connotations of its title. The first group, on the other hand, to whom that title may well appeal, might discard it in disgust, thanks to the scene described in the opening chapter! But then, there's the third group. This group is the open-minded, those who are curious about anything to do with religion. These readers love an intricate plot that never slows down, events that make them think beyond the story, and characters who are so real that readers question whether These Thy Gifts isn't based on a true story. What say you, Vincent Panettiere, author extraordinaire?

The protagonist in These Thy Gifts is Father Steve Trimboli. As a young priest, he is dedicated to his calling and the people he has been put on Earth to mentor. His mother, Gloria, has a heart of gold buried beneath her demanding Italian voice that makes both Steve and his father fall in line the moment she speaks. Along the way, young Father Trimboli meets other women like her, one of whom is Rosalie. These Thy Gifts ends up being as much about Rosalie as it is about Father Steve. When the aging Steve Trimboli, now a Monsignor, stumbles across one of his priests molesting a young altar boy, he is incensed and determined to blow the whistle on the Church he has served so faithfully over the years. As Vincent Panettiere reverses the clock and takes the reader back to where Father Trimboli's story really begins, the reader races along a track of unexpected twists and turns that makes These Thy Gifts impossible to put down. Bit by bit, the actions and cover ups by self-serving bishops in the Catholic church erode any naivety the young Father Trimboli has. While he never questions his love of God, he increasingly questions what has been rammed into children's minds while they are growing up Catholic. And where does Rosalie fit in? This loving, pregnant woman, whose husband is murdered by the mob while in jail, will further rattle Father Steve's cage of holy aspirations.

The protagonist in These Thy Gifts is Father Steve Trimboli. As a young priest, he is dedicated to his calling and the people he has been put on Earth to mentor. His mother, Gloria, has a heart of gold buried beneath her demanding Italian voice that makes both Steve and his father fall in line the moment she speaks. Along the way, young Father Trimboli meets other women like her, one of whom is Rosalie. These Thy Gifts ends up being as much about Rosalie as it is about Father Steve. When the aging Steve Trimboli, now a Monsignor, stumbles across one of his priests molesting a young altar boy, he is incensed and determined to blow the whistle on the Church he has served so faithfully over the years. As Vincent Panettiere reverses the clock and takes the reader back to where Father Trimboli's story really begins, the reader races along a track of unexpected twists and turns that makes These Thy Gifts impossible to put down. Bit by bit, the actions and cover ups by self-serving bishops in the Catholic church erode any naivety the young Father Trimboli has. While he never questions his love of God, he increasingly questions what has been rammed into children's minds while they are growing up Catholic. And where does Rosalie fit in? This loving, pregnant woman, whose husband is murdered by the mob while in jail, will further rattle Father Steve's cage of holy aspirations.

Readers who have been raised Catholic will find themselves, like Father Trimboli, questioning the inanity of many of the practices they have been committed to following since children. As much as this is a page-turner, it's very much a thinking reader's book: as Father Trimboli states while reflecting on the Catholic church's teachings, that "when we all think the same, there is no more reason to think," readers nod their heads in agreement. This is true, not just of the Catholic church but of all organized religions, and buried in there is a danger too many deny. These Thy Gifts by Vincent Panettiere is an absorbing and unforgettable read. Don't let the title fool you into thinking otherwise.

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