$10 Amazon gift card and Book Giveaway: Waking Isabella by Melissa Muldoon

Book Details:

Book Title: Waking Isabella: Because beauty can’t sleep forever by Melissa Muldoon
Category: Adult Fiction, 250 pages
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Matta Press
Release date: December 2017
Tour dates: Feb 19 to March 23, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (The story begins with violent rape and murder scene, touches on themes of miscarriage, murder, Nazi violence during war, adultery)

Book Description:

Waking Isabella is a story about uncovering hidden beauty that, over time, has been lost, erased, or suppressed. It also weaves together several love stories as well as a few mysteries. Nora, an assistant researcher, is a catalyst for resolving the puzzle of a painting that has been missing for decades. Set in Arezzo, a small Tuscan town, the plot unfolds against the backdrop of the city’s antique trade and the fanfare and pageantry of its medieval jousting festival. While filming a documentary about Isabella de’ Medici—the Renaissance princess who was murdered by her husband—Nora begins to connect with the lives of two remarkable women from the past. Unraveling the stories of Isabella, the daughter of a fifteenth-century Tuscan duke, and Margherita, a young girl trying to survive the war in Nazi-occupied Italy, Nora begins to question the choices that have shaped her own life up to this point. As she does, hidden beauty is awakened deep inside of her, and she discovers the keys to her creativity and happiness. It is a story of love and deceit, forgeries and masterpieces—all held together by the allure and intrigue of a beautiful Tuscan ghost.

To read reviews, please visit Melissa Muldoon’s page on Italy Bok Tours.

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Guest post about Arezzo’s Famous Antique Fair



Ciao a tutti!


I am the author of “Dreaming Sophia” and “Waking Isabella.” I am also the “Studentessa Matta.” In Italian that means “crazy student.” For the past seven years, I have been writing a dual language blog in Italian and English to promote the study of the language and culture. My new novel “Waking Isabella,” takes place in the small Tuscan town of Arezzo. The town is known for its jousting festival and its Antique Fair. Both these events play a part of the story in my new book.


Today I’d like to tell you a little more about Arezzo’s Antique Fair. In Italian it is called “La Fiera Antiquaria.” Every first Sunday of the month Arezzo opens its city portals to the world and invites treasure hunters to wander through its famous open-air antique market. The past two years, during my stays in Arezzo I have experienced the fair for myself.  It is quite an event and is one of the oldest and largest fairs in Italy with over 400 exhibitors, who come from all over Italy.


At the fair you can find everything and anything, from grandma’s silver settings, jewelry and paintings to grandpa’s original Vespa rusty tool collection and dial up phone. There is no end to what you might uncover in the market: furniture, bric-a-brac, clocks, chandeliers, toys, carpets, even spinning wheels. If you keep your eyes open, you are sure to spot a unique treasure. If you are lucky, enough it might even fit in your suitcase!


Usually, the market takes place in the Piazza Grande in the center of historical Arezzo. The main section of the fair is located under the Vasari Loggia. When I was there in September however, the Piazza Grande was set up for the Giostra – Arezzo’s jousting festival that happens twice a year in June and September. During the Giostra weekends, the fair is held in the park next to the Duomo at the very top of Arezzo near the Belvedere.


Originally the fair was started back in 1968 by the famous collector and antiquarian Ivan Bruschi. Since then antique market has just kept on growing, both in size and popularity. The last wish of Ivan Bruschi, was to establish a foundation with the aim of spreading a love for art and antique culture. Today the Fair is a reality thanks to the precious collection left by Bruschi to the city of Arezzo. When you are in Arezzo, you can also visit Bruschi’s home, which dates back to the 13th century, now museum to view his lovely collection of art, objects, and furniture.


Wandering through Arezzo’s Antiques Fair, I was sorely tempted many times to make a purchase. But I was good and refrained from pulling out my wallet. That is until the very end when I spied a table with antique jewelry. I finally succumbed to the allure of Arezzo’s antique fair when I saw a stunning but not that expensive antique ring. Well, at least I could fit my purchase into my suitcase!


Here is a Youtube link I put together in which I talk about the joust.

On the Studentessa Matta language learning site you can find lots of free ways to practice Italian. I write both in Italian and English so you can flex and improve your communication skills – for free. Each week I post about Italian language learning as well as fun and interesting stories about Italian culture. You can find all the videos from this channel on the blog as well, with transcripts and translations.

For those of you who want to dive in a little deeper into Italian language studies in Italy, I also organize small group language immersion programs. This year the programs will be held in Montepulciano and  Arezzo. I invite you to join me! Please visit the Studentessa Matta site for more details: www.StudentessaMatta.com











Meet the Author:

Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta—the crazy linguist! In Italian, “matta” means “crazy” or “impassioned.” Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.

Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, “Tutti Matti per l’Italiano,” and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.

Waking Isabella is Melissa’s second novel and follows Dreaming Sophia, published in 2016. In this new novel about Italy, the reader is taken on another art history adventure, inspired by Melissa’s experiences living and traveling in Italy, specifically Arezzo, as well as her familiarity with the language and art. For more information about Waking Isabella and links to Melissa’s blogs and social media sites, visit www.MelissaMuldoon.com.

As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she’d never need it again, but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event. Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency—a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways. Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Waking Isabella and Dreaming Sophia. She also curates the Dreaming Sophia blog and Pinterest site: The Art of Loving Italy. Please visit the Pinterest page for pictures of Arezzo, the Giostra del Saracino, and all the places we go in Italy in both books. Visit MelissaMuldoon.com for more information about immersion trips to learn the language with Melissa in Italy, as well as the Studentessa Matta blog for practice and tips to learn the Italian language.

Connect with Melissa: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Youtube

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