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Review & Giveaway: Blood Rose Angel by Liza Perrat

Blood Rose Angel

Release date: November 14, 2015
at Liza Perrat
349 pages
ISBN: 978ñ2954168197

Website | Goodreads

 

About Blood Rose Angel

1348. A bone-sculpted angel and the woman who wears it––heretic, Devil’s servant, saint.
Midwife Héloïse has always known that her bastard status threatens her standing in the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne. Yet her midwifery and healing skills have gained the people’s respect, and she has won the heart of the handsome Raoul Stonemason. The future looks hopeful. Until the Black Death sweeps into France.

Fearful that Héloïse will bring the pestilence into their cottage, Raoul forbids her to treat its victims. Amidst the grief and hysteria, the villagers searching for a scapegoat, Héloïse must choose: preserve her marriage, or honor the oath she swore on her dead mother’s soul? And even as she places her faith in the protective powers of her angel talisman, she must prove she’s no Devil’s servant, her talisman no evil charm.

My Review

I could not tear myself away from this book. Liza Perrat has now joined the ranks of my favorite authors.

The first few pages hook you and never let up. I tore through this book so quickly I was sad when it ended. Yes, I found it that enjoyable.

Perrat has a way with words, her style is fluid and flows easily, downright solid and mesmerizing.

I completely connected with Héloïse from the start. She is compelling, possessing strength and kindness while dealing with acceptance by few and disdain from the majority in her community for various reasons. Her strength and commitment allows her to endure the scorn of many, her bravery and inability to hold her tongue intimidates. Héloïse really pulled at my heartstrings even more so when she was put in a precarious position by her husband, you can sense how torn she is between her ultimatum. He husband didn’t exercise the best judgement which Héloïse experiences first hand.

When the pestilence hits the community both embraces and forsakes Héloïse. The behavior, superstitions and ignorance of the people of her hamlet will leave you frustrated and angry. Perrat’s writing really sketches a dark time in history along with misplaced beliefs of people. There were moments I wanted to reach into the pages and shake sense into people.

Perrat deftly balances heavy moments with uplifting outcomes. Given the time period, the treatment of women, political and religious struggles, balancing the bad with the good was a challenge, luckily Perrat succeeded.

There were twists I didn’t see coming, especially towards the end. I adored the ending.

Perrat created an enthralling read with a powerhouse character Héloïse. Well done from start to finish, not excluding every thing in between. Fans of historical fiction, strong, independent and smart women, those with an interest in midwifery and herbalists will enjoy. Perrat’s writing style along with outstanding execution is reason enough to add to your TBR.

About Liza Perrat

Liza Perrat 2

Liza Perrat grew up in Wollongong, Australia,
where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus,
she moved to France, where she has been living
with her husband and three children for twenty years.
She works part-time as a French-English medical translator,
and as a novelist.

Since completing a creative writing course twelve years ago,
several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004
and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines.
Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines
such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in her French historical trilogy, The Bone Angel Series.
The second – Wolfsangel – was published in October, 2013,
and the third, Blood Rose Angel, is published in November, 2015.
She is a founding member of the author collective, Triskele Books and reviews books for BookMuse.

Visit Liza’s blog
Follow Liza Perrat on Twitter | on Facebook | on Pinterest | on Google +
Sign up to receive her Newsletter.

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Review & Giveaway: French Illusions by Linda Kovic-Skow

French Illusions

Release date: October 3, 2012
at Dreamland Press
275 pages
ISBN: 978-0988464018

Website | Goodreads

 

About French Illusions:My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley

French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, is the first of two books based on the author’s diaries.

It’s 1979 and Linda needs to learn a language fast in order to fulfill her dream of becoming a flight attendant. Broke yet determined, she chooses French immersion and contracts to become an au pair for a wealthy family in the Loire Valley. Yielding to poor judgment, she lies on her application and claims to speak basic French, confident she’ll be forgiven once she arrives at the Château de Montclair.

As she struggles to adapt to her challenging new environment with the hard-to-please Madame Dubois and her two incomprehensible children, Linda signs up and attends language classes at the local university. When she encounters Adam, a handsome young student, her life becomes more complicated—much more complicated—adding fuel to her internal battle for independence. Join Linda on her adventure of discovery and romance in an extraordinary part of the world.

My Review

I never realized how vulnerable an au pair is until I read Linda’s story. You travel to a foreign country, most likely unfamiliar, you have no idea what the family employing you is like except for what you’ve discovered through minimal correspondence via paper and phone and of course the contract which needs to be crystal clear as we gather from Linda’s woes. You are completely at your patrons mercy unless you have financial freedom and alternate housing, employment arranged. Pretty scary, rewarding if all goes well.

Linda’s story was interesting, I’m sorry it didn’t turn out as planned. She certainly handled herself well and was far more patient and tolerant than I would have been. Despite not being fluent in French and embellishing her fluency to Madame Dubois, doesn’t excuse Madame’s horrible behavior and treatment. The way things ended could have put Linda in danger, luckily this wasn’t the case. Madame Dubois issue with Linda’s personal life during her off hours was ridiculous. In my opinion a few of the tasks requested of Linda were a bit much, Madame was clearly taking advantage of Linda and her white lie.

I am happy Linda moved forward and enjoyed her stay in France once out of the clutches of virulent Madame. Linda found love, friends and became more comfortable with the language making leaps and bounds. Thankfully she encountered many kind people lending a hand.

I wasn’t a fan of the ending, clearly leaving the reader hanging only to have resolve in the sequel. Not a fan when authors do this.

A story of one young womans experience as an au pair as she finds her place in the world, stumbles upon love and enjoys meandering through France. A great story for those curious about life as an au pair or those considering.

 About Linda Kovic-Skow

Linda Kovic-SkowLinda Kovic-Skow is a best-selling author in travel in France.
Originally from Seattle, she currently winters in Gilbert, Arizona
and spends summers on a boat in the Pacific Northwest Waters
of Washington and British Columbia.

She earned an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting in 1978
from North Seattle Community College
and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
from Seattle University in 1985. She has been married for 30 years and has two daughters.

An enthusiastic traveler, Linda also enjoys hiking, boating, gardening and socializing with friends. French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, was her debut memoir. The sequel, French Illusions: From Tours to Paris, recounts the rest of her adventure in France.

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Review: How To Be Brave by Louise Beech

How-To-Be-Brave-A-W-page-001-2-e1443816829134

About How To Be Brave

This is a novel about how stories bring magic to our lives. Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat where an ancestor survived for fifty days. Natalie struggles when nine-year-old daughter Rose is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and refuses her life-saving injections and blood tests. When they begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar they realise he has something for them – his diary. Only by using her imagination, newspaper clippings, letters and this diary will Natalie share the true story of Grandad Colin’s survival at sea, and help her daughter cope with her illness and, indeed, survive. This is a haunting, beautifully written, tenderly told story that wonderfully weaves together a contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life through the medium storytelling with an extraordinary story of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War.

My Review

This is an absolutely beautiful book. I’m not a fan of split narratives, however in this instance the alternating between past and present worked wonderfully. I’m also not a frequent reader of paranormal, yet again Beech masterfully knitted this into the narrative with perfection.

Beech’s writing is stunning, penetrating. Considering Colin’s story is fact based on his experience and journal entries makes it all the more moving and haunting. Beech’s use of language emotionally grips her audience from beginning to end. Both Colin and Rose’s story will capture you mind, body and spirit.

I connected with Colin’s story the most, poignant. His harrowing ordeal, the thread of hope he maintained when his peers perish around him. His hunger and thirst never ceasing. His bravery was arresting. I felt the sting of saltwater, the burn of the sun, constant hunger pangs, counting the days adrift bargaining with God, his ordeal is beyond moving.

Louise Beech impresses with this amazing debut novel. Her writing is solid, she certainly comes across as a seasoned author rather than a neophyte. I am anxious to read future writings from this gifted authoress.

A marvelous book demonstrating bravery and courage we all possess, along with how a story wields unimaginable power. A story not to be missed.

About Louise BeechDSC06211

Louise Beech has always been haunted by the sea, and regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show. This is her first book.

Expected publication: April 1st 2016 by Orenda Books

Just in the Nick of Time $250 Christmas Cash Giveaway

Just in the Nick of Time

An Awesome Group of Authors & Bloggers have joined with me to bring you 1 fabulous prize!!

The winner will be selected on December 23rd making it just in the nick of time to help with last minute Christmas shopping!

We’re giving away $250 in Paypal Cash! Or alternately you can choose a $250 Amazon.com eGift Code!

GOOD LUCK to ALL!! Please take the time to visit the generous sponsors listed.
Happy Holidays!!!

Sponsor List – Thanks to these awesome bloggers & authors for sponsoring this giveaway!!

Sponsor List
I Am A Reader
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The Discerning Reader
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Author Devon Ashley
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Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke
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Author Ednah Walters
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Author Cindy C Bennett
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Echo Ridge Books
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Author Jeanette Lewis
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A Leisure Moment: A Casual Conversation about our Love for Literature
JL Weil

Giveaway Details
$250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon.com eGift Card
Ends 12/22/15
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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or who can redeem an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Review: The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce

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About The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit

David, a college student, takes a summer job at a run-down family resort in a dying English resort town. This is against the wishes of his family because it was at this resort that David’s biological father disappeared fifteen years earlier–but something undeniable has called David there.

Something different is happening in this town. David is haunted by eerie visions of a mysterious man carrying a rope, walking hand-in-hand with a small child, and the resort is under siege by a plague of ladybugs. When David gets embroiled in a fiercely torrid love triangle, the stakes turn more and more menacing, and through it all, David feels as though he is getting closer to the secrets of his own past.

My Review

I enjoyed the period depicted. I was also fond of David, he’s nondescript yet fascinating. He’s invisible but visible. His plainness is what I find appealing, apparently others in the narrative as well. His vulnerability and innocence endearing. Other characters were memorable in their motley way.

The narrative skims the 1970’s, Britain’s dying seaside resort business, the recession, the hottest summer, and the National Front which is grand, however, the minimal length prevents from delving into further, as is you are merely given a gloss over, nothing to dig your teeth into or make a substantial impression in the plot.

The paranormal aspects, the imaginative along with nightmares were well done, perfect amount without becoming a distraction or commanding. Loose ends coming together in the end.

The length is the handicap, more elaboration would have been welcomed in order to explain the neglected areas in a better fashion as it stands it feels rushed and untidy.

Offbeat coming of age story running the gamete of love, high and lows, fear, family secrets.

About Graham Joyce25027

Graham Joyce (22 October 1954 – 9 September 2014) was an English writer of speculative fiction and the recipient of numerous awards for both his novels and short stories.

After receiving a B.Ed. from Bishop Lonsdale College in 1977 and a M.A. from the University of Leicester in 1980. Joyce worked as a youth officer for the National Association of Youth Clubs until 1988. He subsequently quit his position and moved to the Greek islands of Lesbos and Crete to write his first novel, Dreamside. After selling Dreamside to Pan Books in 1991, Joyce moved back to England to pursue a career as a full-time writer.

Graham Joyce resided in Leicester with his wife, Suzanne Johnsen, and their two children, Joseph and Ella. He taught Creative Writing to graduate students at Nottingham Trent University from 1996 until his death, and was made a Reader in Creative Writing.

Joyce died on 9 September 2014. He had been diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013.

Published August 5th 2014 by Doubleday

 

Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: Bach, Casals & The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volumes 1-4 by Steven Hancoff

ENTER THE CREATIVE WORLD OF J.S. BACH IN INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED GUITARIST STEVEN HANCOFF’S GROUNDBREAKING FOUR-VOLUME E-BOOK

Bach #1

Bach #2

Bach #3

Bach #4

Bach, Casals & The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volumes 1-4 by Steven Hancoff
Publisher: iTunes
Release date: June 2015

Book Description:

FROM TRAGEDY TO TRANSCENDENCE

ENTER THE CREATIVE WORLD OF J.S. BACH IN INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED GUITARIST STEVEN HANCOFF’S GROUNDBREAKING FOUR-VOLUME E-BOOK: BACH, CASALS AND THE SIX SUITES FOR ’CELLO SOLO

A Totally Immersive Multimedia ExperienceRichly Detailed Text Embedded with More Than 1,000 Illustrations Illuminating Bach’s Masterpiece, from Its Creation to Its LegacyBach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo and 3-CD set Audio Recording of ’Cello Suites to be Released June 23rd

Exclusively on iTunes and CD Baby

Includes Hancoff’s Complete Recording Of His Acoustic Guitar Transcription of Bach’s ’Cello Suites

From tragedy to transcendence is the theme that embodies the essence of the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach. “This man, ‘the miracle of Bach,’ as Pablo Casals once put it, led a life of unfathomable creativity and giftedness on the one hand and neglect and immense tragedy on the other,” says Hancoff.

Bach’s life was rife with hardship and tragedy from the start. By the time he was nine years old, he had witnessed the deaths of three siblings and then, within a year, his father and mother also passed away.

For all his education and talent, however, his first job was serving as a lackey for a drunkard duke. Subsequently, he spent the next fifteen years in the employ of Weimar’s harshly ascetic Duke Wilhelm Ernst, who cared little for music. When he was twenty-two, he married the love of his live, his distant cousin, Maria Barbara Bach. During the thirteen years they were married, she bore him seven children, three of whom died at birth.

In 1717, Prince Leopold of Cöthen offered Bach a position as the musical director for Cöthen. Bach jumped at the chance. The officials of Weimar, however, threw him in jail for “the crime” of daring to resign his present position. Still, Bach was on the verge of a career breakthrough.

Three years into his happy and contented tenure in Cothen, Prince Leopold and Bach visited the spa town of Carlsbad for a month of vacationing and music-making. Unfortunately, upon his return Bach learned of the death of his wife and then only when he entered into his home. Imagine the shock, the impact. He never even discovered the cause of death.

Yet this tragic setback in Bach’s life was a major turning point because he came to grips with his personal tragedy by unleashing a flood of masterpieces for which he is and will be forever revered. First came the Six Violin Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo and then the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo.

In the ’Cello Suites we hear Bach expressing his own seeking, yearning, love, loss, sorrow, grief and determination and their overtones of surrender, resolution affirmation and transcendence. He aspired to articulate an ultimate personal confession, a revelation, entirely unique, entirely sublime, as an ultimate act of artistic and creative testimony, a heavenly statement about his own life and even of life itself—as a final gift and an enduring, heavenly send-off for his beloved wife.

Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo invites readers and music lovers into a unique experience, contained in an immersive four-volume e-book from Steven Hancoff – a virtuoso musician’s restless, passionate, multimedia exploration of a musical masterpiece that only grows in stature almost three centuries after it was written.

The many fascinating and inspiring aspects of the book include:

• How Bach struggled and overcame adversity and the lessons his example offer us today.

• The ultimate meaning of the Six Suites for ’Cello.

• How almost all of Bach’s works would have nearly sunk into oblivion were it not for the extraordinary efforts of Sara Levy, the great aunt of Felix Mendelssohn, to rescue them.

• How Felix Mendelssohn singlehandedly created with the performance of the St. Matthew Passion a Bach renaissance and a legacy that continues to be enjoyed to the present day.

• The miraculous discovery of the six ’Cello Suites by Pablo Casals in a Barcelona thrift shop and why he studied them for twelve years before performing them in public.

• What Pablo Casals meant when he spoke of “the miracle of Bach.” Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo promises to be an adventure for anyone fascinated by the enduring power of music, art and why they matter.

Buy the music & ebooks: iTunes

Excerpt 1 – Volume One: Cöthen: Contentment and Despair

The personal relationship between Sebastian and his Prince must have been extremely convivial, and there is every indication that the Prince treated Sebastian as a revered and cherished friend. His 400-thaler salary (about $28,800) was equal to that of the Court Marshall, the second highest official at the court. Surely Bach and the Prince must have shared plenty of good times playing music together at Leopold’s palace, the keyboard virtuoso accompanying the violinist and gambist, who was playing music composed especially for him!

The very first official piece of business Bach concluded immediately upon his arrival in Cöthen was to present to his new sovereign a secular song, Durchlauchtster Leopold (“Serene Leopold”). And far more meaningful, in 1718, when Maria Barbara gave birth to their only child born in Cöthen, not only did he name the infant Leopold after the Prince, but Prince Leopold accepted the responsibility and honor as godfather to the child. Bach being no stranger to tragedy, baby Leopold was the third Bach child to die before his first birthday.

Always a practical man, Bach made an early decision to move rehearsals to his own home so that he could augment his salary by collecting an extra stipend — 12 thalers per year (about $864) — for rental of rehearsal space.

And the terms of his employment prove the high estimation in which the “Prince held him, for it was dated, and the salary paid, from August 1, 1717, “hough Bach cannot have entered his service before the end of November. This, with a few other meager notices, is all that is known to us concerning his official position in Cöthen. Time has effaced or overgrown almost every trace of his labours, as the grass has overgrown the castle-yard which the master must have so often crossed; and his name has died out among the people of the place almost as completely as the sounds with which he once roused the echoes of the now empty and
deserted halls. [Bib. 3]

As for Bach’s creative output in Cöthen:

… the accounts of the bookbinders who bound the parts copied from Bach’s scores attest the new conductor’s frenzy of productivity…. A great part of Bach’s output in these years is lost; but what has been preserved works like the suites for orchestra and the Brandenburg Concertos [and I must include these “wondrous Cello Suites] reflect the exuberance of an artist discovering new means of expression, and the peace of mind of the composer who had found real understanding and appreciation in his new patron. [Bib. 8]

Pic for Excerpt 1

 



 

Meet Steve Hancoff

Steve Hancoff began playing guitar when he was 13 years old, captivated by the folk music craze of the 1960s. Within a year he was performing in coffeehouses around Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

For nearly 15 years, he toured the world—about 50 countries—as an official Artistic Ambassador representing the United States of America. His recordings include Steel String Guitar, New Orleans Guitar Solos, Duke Ellington for Solo Guitar, and The Single Petal of A Rose. He is also the author of Acoustic Masters: Duke Ellington for Fingerstyle Guitar and New Orleans Jazz for Fingerstyle Guitar. He is a graduate of St. John’s College, home of the “100 Great Books of the Western World” program and has a Masters degree in clinical social work. He is a psychotherapist, a Rolfer, and a practitioner of Tai Chi. An avid hiker, he is also a member of the Grand Canyon River Guides Associations.

Connect with Steve Hancoff: Website   ~  Twitter  ~   Facebook

Subscribe to Steven’s Hancoff’s work on YouTube

Giveaway

Enter to win Win 1 of 50 2-disc CDs “The Six Suites for ’Cello Solo” (open to USA & Canada). See entry form for complete details
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Thanks so much to iRead Book Tours for organizing this great tour. Don’t forget to visit the other stops on this tour. Click HERE to view the full tour schedule and see the list of participating blogs.

 

Spotlight & Giveaway: The Winemaker Detective: An Omnibus by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen

winemaker omnibus1

 Release date: December 5, 2015
at Le French Book
309 pages
ISBN: 9781939474568

Website | Goodreads

About The Winemaker Detective: An Omnibus

The ideal gift for mystery and wine lovers — An immersion in French countryside, gourmet attitude, and light-hearted mystery.

Two amateur sleuths gumshoe around French wine country, where money, deceit, jealousy, inheritance and greed are all the ingredients needed for crime. Master winemaker Benjamin Cooker and his sidekick Virgile Lanssien solve mysteries in vineyards with a dose of Epicurean enjoyment of fine food and beverage. Each story is a homage to wine and winemakers, as well as a mystery.

In Treachery in Bordeaux, barrels at the prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion wine estate in Bordeaux have been contaminated. Is it negligence or sabotage?

In Grand Cru Heist, Benjamin Cooker’s world gets turned upside down one night in Paris. He retreats to the region around Tours to recover. He and his assistant Virgile turn PI to solve two murders and a very particular heist.

In Nightmare in Burgundy, a dream wine tasting trip to Burgundy turns into a troubling nightmare when Cooker and his assistant stumble upon a mystery revolving around messages from another era.

This made-for-TV series is “difficult to forget and oddly addictive” (ForeWord Reviews).

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Alaux-Balen

Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balenwine lover and music lover respectively, came up with the idea for the Winemaker Detective series while sharing a meal, with a bottle of Château Gaudou 1996, a red wine from Cahors with smooth tannins and a balanced nose.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATORS

Anne Trager loves France so much she has lived there for 27 years and just can’t seem to leave. What keeps her there is a uniquely French mix of pleasure seeking and creativity. Well, that and the wine. In 2011, she woke up one morning and said, “I just can’t stand it anymore. There are way too many good books being written in France not reaching a broader audience.” That’s when she founded Le French Book to translate some of those books into English. The company’s motto is “If we love it, we translate it,” and Anne loves crime fiction, mysteries and detective novels.
***
Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado where she wrote Camus and the Americas: A Thematic Analysis of Three Works Based on His Journaux de Voyage. Her career includes more than twenty years of translating and teaching French and Italian at Berlitz and at University of Colorado Boulder. She has worked in scientific, legal and literary translation; her literary translations include Operatic Arias; Singers Edition, and Reality and the Untheorizable by Clément Rosset, along with a number of titles in the Winemaker Detective series. She also served as the interpreter for the government cabinet of Rwanda and translated for Dian Fossey’s Digit Fund. In addition to her passion for French, she has studied Italian at Colorado University, in Rome and in Siena. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband.

***

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