Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

I am pleased to introduce, Mark Durman, as a guest author today. Mark lives here on the Costa Blanca and we met at a local book fair. He writes exciting Thriller, Suspense, Crime and Mystery stories.

Tell us about yourself and your books and what inspired you to start writing?

My first career was as a British Army officer. During those years I served on combat operations in the Cameroons, the Congo, Borneo and Yemen. During the “cold war” period I  spent several years in Germany, in NATO headquarters in Brussels and in The Netherlands. After leaving the army, I was a director of Brinks, the US-owned international security company. These diverse experiences gave me much of the inspiration and motivation to write. My books draw heavily on these personal experiences.

Do you have a writing routine?

I have no particular writing routine. Sometimes my writing is confined to mundane business correspondence and letter writing to personal friends and relatives. When I get an idea for a book, I tend to spend a period on research, getting fully immersed in the subject and then writing the book in one concentrated period. There then follows the lengthy (and rather tedious!) period of proofreading, correcting and dealing with the production process with my publisher.

What sort of books do you read? Can you list a few of your favourites?

To relax, I enjoy reading fiction by such authors as Robert Harris, John Grisham and Lee Child but my main interest has always been on world affairs, politics and economics.

What writing project are you currently working on?

Much of my present reading and research is about philosophy, religions of the world and atheism. This is an enormous subject from which I’m focussing on elements for my next, fifth, book which I’m currently writing. This has the working title of “I think, hope and want to believe, yet still I don’t know.” There is such a mass of literature on this subject, that I find I’m constantly pausing the draft while I research further relevant texts. This is the most complex yet enthralling work I have so far undertaken!

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

Danièle and I are both keen walkers. Here in Spain we have belonged to a local international walking group for several years and meet with them once a week. We are blessed by having wonderful local areas to explore such as the Sierra Creviente and Carroscoy features. The excellent Spanish climate enables us to walk throughout the whole year. We are also fortunate to own an apartment in Paris where we spend about two months per year. There, we enjoy the theatres, cinemas and other cultural and social venues not available in this part of Spain. Later this year, subject to COVID restrictions, we plan to visit our two sons who both live and work in Asia; one in Bangkok, the other in Bali.

Mark’s latest book:

Adsum: Mission and Passion

Peter Chambers is eighteen when he is summoned to serve two years’ compulsory military service in 1959. He deliberates whether to defer or serve his country. After some tough infantry training, he is commissioned as a young officer and sent to join the Nigerian Army far away from England where he grew up. Peter is thrown in at the deep end and becomes immersed in combat operations in the Cameroons and the Congo where he must lead his platoon in many dangerous situations. He is also embroiled in politically sensitive and deeply personal issues including murder, mutiny, war crimes and passionate love. Adsum is based on the true story of a young man facing the harsh lessons of life.

A recent 5-star review of Adsum: Mission and Passion

Adsum means “I am present” in Latin. This book by author Mark Durman is based on his experience as a conscripted soldier in the British army from 1959 to 1961. He could have avoided the two years of military service by attending university, but he chose to serve his country instead. This interesting book gives you a sense of what it is like to be in an army training camp. You also get an inside look into countries in conflict in Africa and get to learn about his missions there. In some cases, people were killed, both friends and foes. The author himself killed several people in his tour of duty. What happened in the Congo when Durman was there as part of a UN peace-keeping force was particularly disturbing, although I thought he sounded heroic after reading about his description of the events that took place at a Catholic Mission hospital in the Congo.

I liked the author’s descriptive and sometimes humorous writing style. He was not afraid to use the F word when called for and that made reading about his experiences in the military more interesting. Although he seems to have been a capable and honourable military leader, it must have been quite frustrating for him to be frequently buffeted by political forces beyond his control, especially during his tours in the Cameroons and the Congo. For example, here is a typical quote from the author towards the end of the book, “Looks like I’m being dragged into some political quagmire just for doing my fucking duty.” Such is the life of many a soldier.

Reviewed by Nancy Blodgett Klein, author of Torn Between Worlds: An immigrant’s journey to find herself

Other books by Mark Durman

Mark’s books can be found on all Amazon sites.

One of my goals for 2021 was to read more and to read a variety of books. I set my goal with the Goodreads reading challenge at 40 books. I am pleased to see I have read 46. And what a variety. From classics to contemporary, humorous to serious, books for children, middle grade and young adult, cosy mysteries, romance, historical, fantasy, poetry and short story collections, I covered a lot of ground. It’s good to expand your reading interests.

Check out all 46 books I read in 2021. I wanted to list my favourites but it would be too difficult as they were all good. I have left a review for each of them on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/25837732

I ‘ve read some amazing books this year. But the most incredible reading experience I’ve had was joining a read-along which enabled me to complete The Brothers Karamazov. The Book Club Mom has shared my review.

Book Club Mom

Title: The Brothers Karamazov

Author:  Fyodor Dostoevsky

Genre: Classic/Literature

What’s it about? I have wanted to read this novel for years but found it intimidating. I recently joined a read-along where we read one chapter a day of this amazing book. That was one chapter a day for 96 days! I am so glad I did as it was the best way to savour this incredible story. It is essentially a story of three, possibly four, very different brothers from a dysfunctional family, and how their actions affect each other and the people around them. One brother is a ladies’ man and a spendthrift, another an intellectual and the youngest, kind and religious.

The story covers everything, love, hate, family, religion, history, philosophy, mystery and much more. Every chapter makes you think, some make you laugh and others make you sad. The themes are timeless and as…

View original post 322 more words

Just when I thought life couldn´t get any better, I woke up to this fantastic review the other morning. I love when the reader gets what I try to do with these books; inspire a love of reading as well as provide some interesting facts about a place. Thanks, Toni.

Toni Pike

My book review this week is a five-star review for Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady by Darlene Foster. This is the eighth book in the Amanda Travels series, mysteries ideal for children aged 9 – 12 years. If you’re looking for an exciting children’s adventure set in a fascinating country, then I can’t recommend this highly enough.

View original post 1,007 more words

I am so excited to share this amazing 5-star review by Annika Perry. It made my heart dance to read this review and to see that the reader gets it! Annika, a published author of a series of short stories The Storyteller Speaks: Powerful Stories to Win Your Heart and a lovely picture book, Oskar’s Quest has a great blog you should check out.

Annika’s 5-Star review on Goodreads:

With a unique blend of adventure, friendship, history and travel Darlene Foster has hit upon a winning and inspirational combination for her children’s books Amanda Travels.

The series is aimed at middle grade (aged 9-12) children, although from reading her latest book I feel it would also be suited for adept readers of a younger age as well as reluctant readers.

Darlene Foster’s latest in the series, Book 8, takes the reader to Malta after Amanda receives a letter from her best friend Leah. To receive a letter alone sends concern to Amanda in the modern digital age of emails. Leah hints that something is wrong, but gives no detail and wants Amanda to join her.

Amanda would love to leave the cold wintry weather of Canada behind her for the warmth and sun of the Mediterranean island but would it even be possible?

As with all children’s books, a resolution is quickly found and Amanda joins her class mate and his parents on their holiday on the beautiful island.

Immediately the author captures the heavenly warmth of the landscape, limestone buildings and the history perfectly. In snippets, the reader is enveloped in the amazing historical elements of the island, some of which become central to the story whilst others act as a stunning backdrop to the action.

Any reservation I had that the historical might slow down the pace of the story proved unfounded as the plot is quickly propelled along. Although there are dramatic events such a brief kidnapping, ominous warnings, chases and unexplained killings of protected birds these are all pitched gently and safely for the younger reader.

Initially, Amanda cannot even find Leah and when she finds her it turns out that Leah’s aunt has become mixed up with crooks. Two criminals want Leah’s aunt, who is an archaeologist, to steal the 4000-year-old Sleeping Lady statue from the museum otherwise there will be consequences. Could Leah even be involved?

Luckily Amanda and Leah are not alone on their mission. Max is a helpful and able go-between and Caleb, the son of the family friend, provides many comic moments throughout the book, particularly with his strange phobia of fish and love of all things Popeye.

When finally they visit the famous Popeye Village he is ecstatic and his courage shines through as he has to rescue Leah!

I like how all the main characters are slightly flawed with their fears and how through working together they find courage, helping each other. The warmth and kindness is a beacon of hope!

Amanda in Malta is a hugely enjoyable book, the writing flows with ease and the plot had me eagerly turning the pages. The book took me back to my addictive reading of the Nancy Drew mysteries as young and I can see how readers will long to read and collect the whole series of Amanda Travels.

Although I have unfortunately not read any previous books within the series this is no way hampered my enjoyment or understanding of The Sleeping Lady. The author slips in enough backstory to ensure this book is an exciting and stand-alone book.

These reviews make all the hard work of writing and publishing a book worthwhile. Thanks Annika.

The year is more than half over so it might be a good time to see what we’ve read so far. I read about this book tag on There’s Something About KM’s blog

https://theressomethingaboutkm.com/blog/mid-year-freak-out-book-tag-2021/

I thought it would be fun to join in.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2021

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

My review: “A wonderful story told from the point of view of a stiff, emotionally repressed English butler whose only goal in life was to provide perfect service to his employer. Even though his employer was a man of dubious character and misplaced allegiances. The author does a superb job of depicting a man devoted totally to his job, at the cost of friendship and romance. This is writing at its finest.”

Best Sequel You’ve Read so far in 2021

The Family Way by Laura Best

My review: This much-anticipated prequel to the popular Cammie stories did not disappoint. Even if you have not read the other books, this story stands alone very well. The fact that the story is based on a tragic part of Canada’s history, makes it even more intriguing. The writing is so engaging, I felt transported back to the days of the start of WWII.
Like Lucy Maude Montgomery, Laura Best knows how to write an awesome story from the point of view of a young person. Tulia May is a delightful character who tells it like it is. She is a twelve-year-old seeking independence, a young girl who wants to do what’s right. She is wise beyond her years, as is often the case of the youngest of a large family. She says, “I understand that sometimes you do things not because they’re the right thing to do, you do them because sometimes you have no other choice.” Tulia, I couldn’t agree more!

I loved Tulia May but there are many other appealing characters in this story as well like Tulia’s mother, a widow who raised a number of children and is struggling to make ends meet. And Finny Paul, a First Nations boy who faces overt racism. And the delightful Millie Turple, who arrives in a tizzy and takes the world on by storm. This book kept me guessing until the end, and then I wanted to read it all over again. I wish there were more than 5 stars for this book.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

The Gentleman’s Daughter by Bianca M. Schwarz

Biggest Disappointment

I haven’t been disappointed with any book I’ve read so far this year.

Biggest Surprise

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

My review: Wow! A terrific read. I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what happens to Andy and Alex. History is skillfully woven into a story with contemporary themes. Present-day Andy is suffering badly. Not from your regular teenage angst but with serious issues. The reader feels her pain. A visit to Paris with her distant and estranged father, the discovery of a diary belonging to Alex, a young girl who lived during the French Revolution, and her connection to a mysterious musician from the past will either help her or drive her over the edge. Vivid descriptions of today’s Paris and the Paris of 1795 add to this engaging novel. 

Favorite New Author

Nancy Blodgett Klein

Newest Fictional Crush

Prince Larkin from Lava Red Feather Blue by Molly Ringle

My review: A gem for readers of fantasy. Ms Ringle has created an awesome world where humans and fae live together in somewhat harmony. When the Sleeping Prince is accidentally woken up, all hell breaks loose. (You read that right, it is not a Sleeping Princess). It is Merrick, half-human, half-fairy, who breaks a 250-year-old curse by waking up the handsome prince and now he has to pay for it. And pay for it he does as he enters forbidden and dangerous territory to find and stop Ula Kana before she destroys everything and everyone on his island. What he doesn’t plan on happening is falling for the handsome prince from the past, which complicates things. There is plenty of action, fabulous world-building and amazing characters. But this is more than a fantasy novel, this is a story about family and relationships. And ultimately it is a love story with a Fairytale/Lord of the Rings feel written with a humorous undertone. An enjoyable read even for those who don’t usually read fantasy.

Newest Favorite Character

Brody Cody from Brody Cody and the Haunted Vacation House by Toni Pike. I just love this kid.

My review: I fell in love with Brody Cody and his friends in the first book, Brody Cody and the Stepmother from Outer Space. I was pleased to learn there was a second book in the series. In this book, Brody learns he will be a brother soon and is not sure if this is a good thing. Then on a holiday in the Blue Mountains, Brody and his friends discover there is a ghost in the vacation house. They are determined to catch the ghost. This fun book is perfect for kids 6 to 9 as they will easily relate to the characters. The descriptions are vivid and clear with just the right amount of action and tension. I hope there will be more books in the series. 

Book That Made You Cry

Sword of Destiny by Sue Vincent. It made me cry because this wonderful author is no longer with us.

My review: Yorkshire is the perfect setting for this sublime adventure that includes ordinary mortals, ancient deities and Merlin! If you are a follower of Sue Vincent’s blogs and books, you will recognize her wise words and incredible wit. Merlin, one of my all-time favourite characters, echoes the writer’s wisdom, especially when he explains things like happiness, good and evil, light and dark. At one point the mage says, “We can bare far more than we think we can.” Another character says, “Yet by surrendering to beauty and joy, the darkness could find no hold on me anymore.” Pure Sue Vincent gold. The seriousness of the quest to find the sword of destiny is offset with clever humour. This from the ancient Merin had me laughing out loud, “It gets harder to stay up all night after the first millennium or so.” A readable fantasy with plenty of life lessons, humour, romance and gorgeous Yorkshire descriptions. I will never look at the moors the same way again without thinking of Sue Vincent and her amazing words.

Book That Made You Happy

Life Begins When The Kids Leave Home And The Dog Dies by Barb Taub

My review: I loved this book. A laugh-out-loud collection of stories based on the author’s life. Vacations with her mom, dad and nine siblings, as well as later vacations with her husband, four kids and a dog – what could possibly go wrong? The stories are written with heart, humour and truth. I found myself nodding as I recognized the frustrations of motherhood, smiling when the love of the author’s family shines through and choking on my tea at the hilarious episodes in Barb’s life. If you have read her blogs, you will know that Barb finds humour in most situations. This book does not disappoint but makes you want more of the same. My favourite chapters were about her dad, the WWII hero who fathered ten, a wizard at fixing cars long after their best before date, and saw that all his children got a good education. These are the heroes who have made our world so great. Thanks for the reminder, Barb, and for the giggles. 

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (OK, I didn’t buy this book, it was on my mom’s bookshelf and now on mine. I love the cover and the beautiful words.)

My review: A profound story full of emotion, told by a master storyteller. The author states in the prologue, “They say you can bear anything if you can tell a story about it.” I believe this to be true. The story centres around Jessie, a woman in crisis. When her mother does something horrible, she returns to her island home to look after her and try to discover why she did such a thing. Immediately she is thrust back in time and besieged by memories of a much-loved father who died when she was very young. “The wind is spiked with the smell of my childhood.” Filled with interesting island characters and fascinating descriptions of the area, the story takes the reader along Jessie’s journey to find independence, answers and acceptance.

Books You Need to Read by the End of The Year

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky I have recently joined a readathon where we read a chapter a day of this book. We will finish it on the 200th anniversary of the authors birth. A great way to read a classic that is a bit intimidating.

Of course, I read many other great books. This is just a sample.


Now into the first week of August, I tag you, my dear readers, to look back (and forward) at your 2021 reading up to this point. I’d love to hear your answers in the comments or on your own blog.

How great to see this fabulous review of Amanda’s first adventure by Carol Balawyder. Carol and her sweet dog, Bau have a wonderful blog.

Carol Balawyder

I have been following Darlene Foster’s blogfor sometime now and had often told myself that I would want to read one of her books.

Lately, I’d been emersed in a lot of adult literary fiction and so this past weekend, I was looking for something to read which wouldn’t be too demanding on my exhausted brain cells. A book that a middle school child could handle.

So far, Darlene has eight Amanda adventure books, each one set in different countries: Spain, Holland, England, Arabia and Malta or in different states or provinces: Alberta, New Mexico or The Danube.

I had debated whether I wanted to read one of the adventures set in a place I had already visited but finally settled on the exotic, the foreign, somewhere I will likely never visit: The United Arab Emirates or as the locals refer to it as either the UAE or simply…

View original post 279 more words

The love keeps pouring in for Amanda in Malta. Here is a fabulous review by Patricia Tilton from Children´s Books Heal. Patricia writes well thought out reviews of children´s books and I am so pleased she enjoyed this adventure. I often make book buying decisions for the youngsters in my life by reading her blog. Please check it out.

Children's Books Heal

Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (The Amanda Travels Series 8)

Darlene Foster, Author

Central Avenue Publishing, May 11, 2011

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Malta, Travel, Adventure, Mystery, Theft, Friendship

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her Aunt Jenny. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda strikes the lottery when she’s invited to travel to Malta with her classmate Caleb Sorenson and his parents.

Amanda is intrigued by this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colourful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?

View original post 644 more words

Nex on the tour is Kim at By Hook or By Book (don’t you just love the name of her blog!) We talk about Amanda and how she learns and grows by travelling. Kim’s blog is full of great reviews, humour, videos and interesting articles. Definetly worth checking out.

By Hook Or By Book

B14C7669-C775-418C-A092-ED65C99705E9

It is my honor to be part of the virtual blog tour for Darlene Foster’s delightful children’s book Amanda in Malta, which is the eighth book in her Amanda Travels series. If you missed my review, you can find it here:

https://cadburypom.wordpress.com/2021/04/02/amanda-in-malta-the-sleeping-lady-by-darlene-foster-5-0-stars/

Here is Darlene to give you some additional insight about Amanda.

Can you tell us more about Amanda?
Amanda is a twelve-year-old girl from Calgary, Alberta. She is the only child of Evelyn and Don Ross, both accountants. She loves to read, is interested in history and enjoys cooking. Her parents work long hours so she likes trying different recipes for them, especially ones from places she has visited. She is inquisitive and kind and always wants to help people. This gets her in trouble sometimes. She loves animals but has no pets of her own. Once she travelled to visit her Aunt and Uncle in the United…

View original post 497 more words

The next stop on the blog tour for Amanda in Malta is at Miriam Hurdle’s blog, The Shower of Blessings. Miriam is sharing her review as well as my tips on writing a series. Miriam, a great supporter of other authors, has written a children’s book as well as a book of poems. Stop by and say hello to Miriam.

The Showers of Blessings

I’m excited to have Darlene Foster on my blog to share with you about her new release Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (An Amanda Travels Adventure Book 8). When Amanda turned twelve, she made a wish as she blew the birthday cake candles. Here she is with her wishes come true – traveling all over the world.

I was curious about writing the Amanda series, so I asked Darlene to share with you her experience.

Is it difficult to write a series?

Writing a series can be fun. I love getting to know the main characters, Amanda Ross and her friend Leah Anderson. But I worry that the stories might get too predictable. I know my readers expect some things to be familiar, but each book needs to come with something new to keep it fresh and entertaining.

Coming up with new settings is easy for me as I…

View original post 1,080 more words


Click to purchase

Click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Pig on Trial

click to purchase

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,044 other followers

Archives

Categories

Goodreads

click to read review

COPYRIGHT

© Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.