Are We French Yet? Keith and Val’s Adventures in Provence by Keith Van Sickle


A thoroughly entertaining glimpse into life in Provence.

I absolutely loved Keith Van Sickle’s first book ‘One Sip at a Time,’ and so was delighted to discover this new release.

Keith and his wife Val’s path in life changed five years previously when Keith was offered a work assignment in Switzerland. The experience opened their eyes to new opportunities and so back in America they took the bull by the horns and became self-employed. This brave move enabled them to take their destiny in their own hands and gave them the freedom to split their time between America and France.

The story commences with a restless Keith impatiently waiting for the time to pass so they can close down their American house and spend spring in Provence. However, his wife’s suggestion that they have a relaxing bike ride backfires when a squirrel decides to join in…

Finally, back in their beloved Provence, complete with their dog of course, Keith and Val settle into their rented property and become reacquainted with the area and their French friends. They are keen to learn conversation French so they take lessons with a teacher called Geneviève who takes no prisoners where pronunciation and attention to details are concerned.

Throughout this informative story the open and helpful characters of the French people they meet and befriend shine through, and also the completely different attitudes of the French and Americans to things in life. Perhaps to everyone the most obvious is the pace of life in each country, and this is something which you immediately notice whether you are an expat or you are just on holiday. However, as you spend more time here you can’t fail to notice the French peoples attitude to work and family life are so different.

The author’s wonderfully descriptive writing brings alive the  warmth, culture, food and wine enthused life in Provence, with meals out with friends, visits to vineyards, and of course the marvellous scenery. On this visit amongst other things we find out what it is like to go gluten free in France, discover the French reaction to the Eurovision Song Contest, and experience the famous Courses de Camarguaise.

To be able to live in two totally different countries must be a wonderful experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to savour Provencal life, and meet through his writing some of its people.

However, there is one thing which anybody new to France is in peril of getting wrong and that is the kiss, or is it kisses you give and receive when greeting, and also how many? Not to mention the worry of which side of the cheek you start on. Fear not, the answer to these questions and many more are weaved within the pages of this thoroughly entertaining book which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to relax and enjoy France from the comfort of their armchair.

About the Author:








Keith Van Sickle grew up in Alameda, California, the son of public school teachers. He got his first taste of overseas life while spending a college term in England and later backpacked around the world for six months.

Grateful for the scholarships that helped him pay for college, in 1987 he started a foundation that helps students from Alameda pursue a college education.

Keith fell in love with Europe during a five-year expat assignment in Switzerland, where he and his wife Val lived in a village with more cows than people. After returning to the US, Keith helped start a company whose product was so geeky that he still doesn’t quite understand it.

Keith and Val dreamed of living abroad again but were unable to find another expat gig. So they decided to invent their own. Now consultants, they and their trusty dog split their time between Silicon Valley and Provence, delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.

Read more at 


About the Book:

Can Two Americans Really Become French?

Val and Keith turned their lives upside down when they quit their jobs to begin a part-time life in Provence. But they wondered: Can we fit in? And maybe become French ourselves?

Follow their adventures as they slowly unlock the mysteries of France…
– Is it true that French people are like coconuts?
– Can you learn to argue like a French person?
– What books have changed French lives?
– Most important of all, how do you keep your soup from exploding?

There’s more to becoming French than just learning the language. If you want the inside scoop on la belle France, you won’t want to miss this delightful book!

From the Book

Vive La France!
The first clue that this was not going to be a simple apéritif was when we walked into the house and saw that it was full of people. I think word had gotten out that there were Americans coming over who sort of spoke French and everyone wanted to see this oddity, kind of like a three-headed cat. Or maybe they’d been watching old American movies and thought we would show up with cowboy hats and six shooters and do tricks with our lassoes.

Every driver was being pulled over and told to blow into a breathalyzer, which meant Val because she was the one driving. “I’m nervous,” she said, “because I’m feeling the wine a little bit. Here, check my hand!” It was cold and clammy. “What if they put me in handcuffs and haul me off to jail? Will you know how to bail me out?” I didn’t think I would but this was definitely not the time to point that out.

Bulls Go For A Swim
“The bull has escaped!” Val and I looked up to see a thousand pounds of anger barreling down the street right at us. We ran to safety as the bull thundered past, followed by French cowboys on horseback.

It’s All About The Tongue
The first time we had a class with Geneviève, she pulled a book off a shelf and asked us to each read a few paragraphs to test our pronunciation. I knew we were in trouble as soon as Val started. As she spoke, Geneviève began jotting notes on a pad of paper. After a few sentences she started grinning. Then she started giggling. When it was my turn she put down her pen and started laughing out loud and wiping her eyes.

Out of Gas
Between guests and food and exercise and reading and living a French life, our days are full. And then once in a while something unexpected comes along that takes even more time. Like the day the country ran out of gasoline.

Are We French Yet? is available from Amazon in Kindle format

Forgive Me, Nadia by Veronika Gasparyan



A heart-rending look into the sex-trafficking industry.

Forgive Me, Nadia is an eye-opening, horrifically brutal account of one girl’s life. Natalia was raised in a small village outside Moscow, and then just before her 14th birthday, her alcoholic parents sold her to a sex-trafficking organisation in Moscow, her price, ten bottles of vodka!

A natural beauty, had things been different Natalia could have become a model or movie star. However this is not to be her fate, instead when we meet her for the first time she is just seventeen, locked in a filthy room, fed and watered when her pimp decides, and she is about to have a baby.

Alone Natalia brings her precious daughter into the world, and with her mothering instincts naturally aroused she falls in love with her new-born, whom she calls Nadia. Briefly she dreams of doing the normal mother-daughter things with her as she grows up, however, these dreams are quickly and cruelly dashed when Madam Liz, the organisations overseer of the ‘working girls’ arrives, and announces that the baby is to be got rid of.

Heart-broken Natalia begs Madam Liz for mercy, and pleads for her infant’s life. Finally, she is offered a solution, it breaks her heart, but she knows that if her daughter is to stand a chance she must agree to leave her in a dumpster, and to an unknown fate.

From then on life has other cruel cards to deal Natalia, and it is incredible that one young woman could suffer so much hardship and sorrow, through no fault of her own. However, Natalia’s strong faith, kind heart and compassion to others is a true inspiration, and it is heart-warming to read how she transforms the lives and futures of those who know her with the beauty of her spirit.

Unfortunately it is a horrific fact that sex-slave trafficking is still going on in Moscow, and throughout the world, and very young children are sold and stolen to provide sexual gratification for cruel and perverted adults.

This story brings the plight of one of these children to the attention of its reader. Natalia’s life and what happens next in Nadia’s makes compelling reading.

The author’s attention to detail about the life of Natalia both as a sex slave and afterwards makes parts of it heart-breaking. However, perhaps the most shocking thing is that it is based on a true story, somewhere out there this woman exists…


About the Author:

Veronika Gasparyan, author of “Mother at Seven,” “Forgive me, Nadia,” “It was a Test of Faith,” and other novels was born in the beautiful city of Sochi, Russia in 1981. She is a proud descendant of many generations of Armenian ancestors from both sides of her family. Today she lives in Rhode Island, US, and is an International Bestselling Author with over 10 thousand copies of her memoir Mother at Seven sold from its release in July of 2016.

From a very young age, Veronika enjoyed playing the piano which resulted in her attending a music school for ten years, and eventually the prestigious Sochi College of Arts and Music. Other than the music, Veronika has always displayed a profound love of reading, and at a very young age, read dozens of books from her grandfather’s vast, personal library. Veronika possesses an innate passion to help others in any way that she can, which has displayed itself in many situations throughout her early years and adult life. Veronika is a strong believer in laws of attraction and positive thinking and is working on other books that she hopes will provide emotional support to those who are in need. She is especially hoping that her work can help those who have given up or have already lost their hope for better days and a joyful life.


About the Book:

From the author of the heart-wrenching memoir Mother at Seven, now comes the chilling and unforgettable novel – Forgive Me, Nadia. Based on a true story, this book takes you into the world of secrets and darkness. This thrilling story touches all of your emotions. It has you alongside a young girl in her challenging path filled with love, pain, captivity, betrayal, and the ultimate test of her faith.
The beautiful Russian girl Natalia lives with her parents in a small village outside of Moscow. The day before she turns 14, her alcoholic parents sell her for ten bottles of vodka to a sex-trafficking organization. A month after her 17th birthday, Natalia gives birth to a little girl whom she names Nadia, which means “hope.” Unfortunately, her happiness ends the very next day when a hired killer and Madam Liz, force the young mother to leave her newborn inside a dumpster in a dark alley. That night destiny shows Natalia there is genuine power in belief. The real challenges are still ahead, and her will to survive is about to be tested at the highest possible level. Can Natalia find the strength? Can she find the way out and escape her captivity?

Forgive Me, Nadia is available from Amazon in Paperback  

and Kindle format