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Monday, 5 March 2018

Waking Isabella by Melissa Muldoon

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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
Format available for review: print & ebook (mobi, ePub, PDF)
Will send print books out: internationally
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.

My review:-
A beautifully written and greatly unique book that will take you with it to Italy as Nora solves the mysteries of Isabella. What I loved about this book was the how the inner struggles of Nora were displayed in the book and how masterfully the plot was woven. A fantastic 4 star read that you will love.
Buy the Book:
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Book DepositoryBooks a Million, IndieBound, Indigo
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Watch the Trailer:

Melissa Muldoon
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 ( 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

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 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


Feb 19   - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Feb 19   - The Book Drealms - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 19   - Essentially Italian - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 20   - Paulette's Papers - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
​Feb 20   - Just Reviews - review
Feb 21   - Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 22   - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Feb 22   - Elgee Writes - review / giveaway
Feb 22   - T's Stuff - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 23   - Monica Cesarato - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 26   - Martha's Italy - review
Feb 27   - Olio by Marilyn - review / author interview / giveaway
March 1 - Writers and Authors - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
March 2 - Jayne’s Books - review
March 3 - Books and Tea - review / author interview / giveaway
March 5 - BookLove - review / guest post / giveaway
March 6 - Two Points of Interest - review / giveaway
March 7 - What Cathy Read Next - review / giveaway
March 8 - Literary Flits - review / giveaway
March 9 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / giveaway
March 12 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
March 13 - - review / giveaway
March 14 - StoreyBook Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
March 14 - Italophilia - review
March 15 - Bookworm for Kids - review / giveaway
March 15 - Lovely Loveday - review
March 16 - Books Direct - review / giveaway
March 19 - Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews - review / giveaway
March 20 - JBronder Book Reviews - review / guest post
March 21 - The Pen and Muse - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
March 21 - Tower of Babel (Torre de Babel) - review
March 22 - The Booksnake Etc - review
March 23 - TFaulc Book Reviews - review / author interview
March 23 - Jessica Cassidy - review / giveaway
TBD          - A L' Ouest - review
“Waking Isabella” by Melissa Muldoon – Guest post about Giorgio Vasari a famous 15th-century artist from Arezzo

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 Italian language and culture. My journey to learn the language has brought me even closer to a country that I have now adopted. The friendships I have made and the experiences I have had of living and traveling in Italy have given me insight into so many wonderful stories, traditions, and cultural ambiguities that many people have never even heard of. It has also given me opportunities I never thought imaginable, like zip lining in the Basilicata, taking part in the jousting festival in Arezzo, attending a friend’s wedding in Naples, even meeting Miss Sophia Loren in person! 

In my books, I strive to weave together a bit of the Italian language as well as art history. I want people to be inspired to learn the language and realize that art can "talk" to you if you listen. My novels are set in modern times, but they also take the reader back into the past to get a feeling for Italian personalities from previous eras. The stories weave together historical and contemporary information, as well as a bit fantasy and time travel as well.

Being an Art Historian I love to talk about Italian painters and paintings. Since my novel “Waking Isabella” is set in the small Tuscan town of Arezzo, today I’d like to share a little bit about someone who the Arentini are quite proud of. His name is Giorgio Vasari and his was a not just a painter, but an architect, writer, a the man who we honor as being the “father” of Art History as he is the author of the first book about his contemporary artists called: “Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects.”

Vasari was born in Arezzo in 1511, in Tuscany. During my recent stay in Arezzo I walked the very streets that Vasari walked, had breakfast in the loggia that he designed in the Piazza Grande and I visited the house where he lived. Even after several century’s the artist’s house has been preserved and remains unchanged. The rooms, magnificently frescoed by Giorgio Vasari himself, show Biblical and Mythological scenes, sacred and profane allegories as well as scenes of antiquity.

Although he dedicated his life to painting and architecture, the Vasari’s true claim to fame is the little book he wrote about his friends and contemporaries, Michelangelo and Leonardo.

 The book dedicated to Cosimo I de’ Medici is a compilation of biographies of the most important painters of his day and age. As informative and true to many facts as Vasari was, his stories are also sprinkled with funny anecdotes and invented gossip, so the book should be read with eye to this as well.

Vasari enjoyed a long and prestigious career. He spent time in his home town of Arezzo as well as in Florence and Rome. He built the loggia in Arezzo as well as the loggia that graces the Uffizi Gallery. He also was commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici to build the corridor that connects Uffizi with the Pitti palace. He also painted the murals in the Palazzo Vecchio’s Salone del Cinquecento, covering up the failed attempts of Leonardo and the initial beginning renderings of Michelangelo!

I will be returning to Arezzo this coming September. If you too would like to work on your Italian and immerse in language and culture, I invite you also to come along with me on my next trip. There are more details on my website “Studentessa Matta,” ( / a dual language blog that I write in Italian and English. There are also many tips to help you learn the language!

Alla prossima! Melissa

Here is a link to a video featuring Vasari’s house

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:

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Ends March 31

1 comment:

  1. Ciao! Thank you for featuring “Waking Isabella” on your website today and for your thoughtful review. I appreciate you sharing my new book with your readers! Un abbraccio! Melissa Muldoon