Darlene Foster's Blog

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I am part of an excellent series on Sally Cronin’s blog called, I Wish I knew Then What I Know Now. There are many things I wish I had known when I was younger, but I chose to talk about unnecessary worrying. If you haven’t already read it on Sally’s popular blog, check it out and let me know what you think about the subject.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

I wish I knew then what I know now! by Darlene Foster

I believe we learn as we go, and specific knowledge appears when we need it. If we knew everything at birth, there would be nothing to live for. But one thing I wish I had learned earlier in life is that worrying is futile.

I come from a long line of worriers; my mother and grandmother were masters of the art of worrying. I’m sure the women who came before them…

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Writer D. L. Finn posted an awesome review of Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady along with reviews of two other amazing books. Check out her blog and learn about her own wonderful books.

Embrace your inner child with a huge hug by reading a great book! D. L. Finn

The attention to detail was amazing, and it was like I had gone on tour with Amanda. Read more here

On April 13th, 2010, my first book, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask, was published by Central Avenue Publishing. An auspicious day for me and a dream come true! That was twelve years ago, and what a fabulous twelve years it has been.

On my visit to the UAE where I fell in love with the desert.

The story is loosely based on a trip I took to the United Arab Emirates to visit a friend. I was so amazed at this part of the world, I felt compelled to write about it. After a few failed attempts, a twelve-year-old girl entered my mind and wanted to tell the story from her point of view. I named her Amanda and, well, the rest is history.

The book has had three different covers over the years.

Cover #1
Cover #2
Cover #3

Although Amanda in Arabia is twelve years old, I am happy to say it is still being read. Recently, I was delighted to read a review by James Cudney.

Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask is the first middle-grade book in Darlene Foster’s Amanda Travels series, and I very much enjoyed reading it. Amanda yearns to travel the world, and first up is the United Arab Emirates, but call it UAE or the Emirates as one of her new local friends wisely cautions her upon arrival. One of Amanda’s birthday wishes, this smart young girl finds herself visiting an aunt and uncle who live in the far-away country. Whether she’s magically or realistically transported is a question you’ll have to find out for yourself!

Readers will learn all about camels, the Persian Gulf, a princess who was almost forced to marry an older man, and many more culturally significant items of relevance. Both an educational and charming tale, the book offers a variety of themes and good old-fashioned fairy tale fun. Amanda makes several more international trips in future books (there are 8 to date in the series) and I’m keen to find out what she’s going to explore. You’ll enjoy her witty intelligence, and I’m sure if the shenanigans in this book are a sense of things to come, it will be a delightful collection of books that will appeal to a wide variety of personalities. Great job! – James J Cudney

James is a prolific reader and a great writer himself. Check out his blog where he writes honest reviews of a variety of books. He especially enjoys books in a series. https://thisismytruthnow.com/category/general-blog/

His own entertaining books can be found on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/James-J-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

A huge thank you to everyone who, over the years, has assisted and encouraged me, bought my books, told others about them and written reviews. You have made these past twelve years an incredible part of my life!

Amanda in Arabia is available on all Amazon sites as well as at other booksellers.

I woke up to this amazing review of Amanda in Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind. This brightened a dull rainy day. Thanks to Diane Tibert, a talented author from Eastern Canada.

Amanda in New Mexico is an ideal book for children who are ready to read chapter books. It’s not too long or too complex that a mid-elementary student won’t be able to read it. My daughter would have been able to read this book by mid-way grade 2. Certainly, grade 3 students will be able to read it.

This is one of many books Canadian author Darlene Foster has written in the Amanda series. Foster has sent Amanda to several places on the globe, including England and Holland. In fact, there’s a sneak peek of Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action in the back of the paperback I read.

Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind has just enough spookiness to intrigue children but not scare them or give them nightmares. Foster leaves the ending open in the way she doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of ghosts, which I think is an excellent way to do it because . . . sometimes I believe in ghosts and sometimes I don’t.

Read the rest of the review here

Writing under the name Diane McGyver, you can check out her books here

My review for A December Knight by Diane McGyver

A Christmas romance with a twist. I enjoyed this contemporary knight in shining armour tale. Lily is a hardworking single mom who doesn’t believe in Christmas, love or dreams coming true. But, things take a turn when a handsome but bumbling man enters her store. The characters are believable. Since I’ve worked in retail over Christmas, those scenes rang true. Throw in a nasty co-worker, a sweet ten-year-old daughter, a goth teenager and a demanding ex-wife, what could possibly go wrong. A well-written story with some surprises and a satisfying ending, well worth a read any time of the year.

Happy to be a guest on Sally Cronin´s Smorgasbord Bookshelf where I share an extract of Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

In this series you are invited to share an extract of 500 words from your most recent book published within the last 12 months. Details at the end of the post.

The aim of the series

  1. To showcase your latest book and sell some more copies.
  2. Gain more reviews for the book.
  3. Promote a selection of your other books that are available.

Today I am sharing an extract from the YA adventure by Darlene Foster. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (An Amanda Travels Adventure Book 8) – I have read the book and can highly recommend.

About the book

Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.

Amanda is intrigued…

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I am over at Book Club Mom´s blog today sharing a review of an awesome book I read.

Book Club Mom

Hi Everyone! Today I’d like to welcome Darlene Foster, today’s contributor to What’s That Book. Thank you, Darlene!

Title: The Shadow of the Wind

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Genre: Magical Realism/Historical Mystery

What’s it about? One cold morning in 1945, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel to a labyrinthine library of forgotten titles, hidden in the old city of Barcelona. Allowed to choose one book, Daniel pulls out The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. But as Daniel grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in this book. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to discover the truth about the life and death of Julian Carax, and to save those he left behind. A book lover´s book, and a tale of obsession, the story brings alive the magic and mystery of Barcelona, its…

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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…

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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.

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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.

I am pleased to be part of the blog tour for Bloodstone (The Curse of Time Book 1), a YA Fantasy/Paranormal by M J Mallon, published by Next Chapter Publishing

The Blurb

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who is imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house.

When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden path where she encounters Ryder: a charismatic, perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set and some crystal wizard stones, can Amelina discover the truth about her family?

A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology or the world of the paranormal.

UK Book Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bloodstone-Curse-Time-Book-1-ebook/dp/B097QZBKNY/

US Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/Bloodstone-M-J-Mallon-ebook/dp/B097QZBKNY/

Canadian Book Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Bloodstone-M-J-Mallon/dp/B097SQNYP6/

Universal book Link: http://mybook.to/bstmm

Here is my 5-star review:

For someone who doesn’t usually read fantasy, this YA novel caught my interest. The teenage characters in the book are very real with typical issues such as lack of confidence, jealousy, confusion, parental disagreements, and volatile friendships. Amelina comes from a dysfunctional family with a paranormal twist. If she can figure out the curse, perhaps her family could be happy once more.

In her quest, she meets a self-harming girl locked in a mirror, a heartthrob boy with a mean side, a cottage full of amazing crystals and an old woman with sage advice. I like that the story is based on a real clock, the Corpus Chronophage clock, in Cambridge, England. (Chronophage means time-eater). There is some time travel in the story, which I love. There’s a lot happening in this very descriptive book and not everything is explained. But that is because it is the first book in a series. I look forward to reading more about Amelina and her quirky friends.

I received an ARC of this book from the author. The review is my own.

The 2nd in the series, Golden Healer – The Curse of Time Book 2 is coming soon!

M J Mallon by the Corpus Chronophage clock

AUTHOR BIO

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros!

M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of writing began inspired by their vivid storytelling. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery, heart-warming smile to greet her.

MJ’s writing credits also include a multi-genre approach: paranormal, best-selling horror, supernatural short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She worked with some amazing authors and bloggers compiling an anthology/compilation set during the early stages of COVID-19 entitled This Is Lockdown and she has written a spin off poetry collection, Lockdown Innit.

She’s been blogging for many moons at her blog home Kyrosmagica, (which means Crystal Magic,) where she celebrates the spiritual realm,her love of nature, crystals and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.

MJ’s motto is…

To always do what you Love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even if it appears that the odds are stacked against you like black hearted shadows.

Her favourite genre to write is

Fantasy/magical realism because life would be dull unless it is sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic!

Check out her eclectic blog where she shares her love of reading, reviewing books, writing, and photography: https://mjmallon.com/

AUTHOR SOCIAL MEDIA DETAILS

Authors Website: https://mjmallon.com
Authors Amazon Pagehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon

#ABRSC – Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1829166787333493/


Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-j-mallon 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjmallonauthor/

Spiritual Sisters: https://www.facebook.com/5SpiritualSisters

Kyrosmagica Publishing (MJ’s Imprint), Books by MJ Mallon

Pandemic Poetry:  Lockdown Innit

https://mybook.to/Lockdowninnit

Poetry, Prose and Photography: Mr. Sagittarius

http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

An anthology: This Is Lockdown 

Kindle: mybook.to/Thisislockdown

Shorter version – Paperback: mybook.to/Thisislockdownpb

Excerpt from Bloodstone

My mouth gaped open in surprise. I had waited so long, and here it finally was. I couldn’t contain my excitement, and my hands shook in anticipation of my visit. I breathed in, saturating my lungs until they felt they were about to burst with the deliciousness of this moment. I pondered the realisation that since it revealed itself to me; I sensed that the cottage had made me wait. But why?

I shook off my questions and marvelled instead at the beauty of the quaint old cottage. It had a gated door leading into the garden where many varieties of roses and a fragrant patch of herbs grew. The smells were heavenly. In the front, I spotted a large courtyard filled with bird tables and bird feeders hanging from the trees. Breathless at the beauty, I stood, marvelling in the sights.

I revelled in the sight before me. The cottage sported a round, arched front door. The tiny, shuttered windows and door were a pastel green colour which blended into the landscape, and the stone cottage’s brilliant white exterior colour gleamed. An ornate plaque with angels clustering around the edges like a halo hung next to the door frame. To the right of the door hung another plaque, engraved with gold lettering displaying the name: Crystal Cottage.

I swung round when I heard a sound. The doorstep mat lifted from the ground and spun towards me like a magic carpet. When it reached my side, its coarse bristles formed a mouth that spoke. ‘Open your eyes and you will see.’

I couldn’t believe what I saw. This whole extraordinary experience had me brimming with excitement. I reached out to touch the mat, but it frowned. ‘No touching!’ it said, stiffening. Seeing my confused expression, its bristles softened. ‘Come in! Come in!’ it urged.

I blinked. I struggled to comprehend that I had arrived at the Crystal Cottage of my dreams. I followed the mat’s advice and stepped through the door. Everywhere I looked, a reward of beauty met my eyes. Light reflected off the surfaces of the many crystals and bounced around the room in a kaleidoscope of colour. A myriad of gemstones twinkled at me, winking in a musical symphony of colour, brightness, and warmth. The walls of the cottage twinkled with crystal faceted gems. Their names leaped out at me in quick succession. There were Amethysts, Black Obsidian, Bloodstone, Merlinite, Red Jade, and Honey Calcite, to name a few. Skylights in the ceiling let in rays of sunlight that reflected on the crystals, creating a dazzling display.

The remarkable sight made me feel like crying. I turned in circles, delighted with the sights and sounds. The deceptively large inside of the cottage hid an array of bird cages, housing doves who were bathing in cups filled with rose water. I peered further into the cottage and locked eyes with the owner. She appeared as a delicate, almost bird-like wisp of a person I wouldn’t have noticed if it hadn’t been for her colourful streaked hair. She stood amongst the bird cages, whispering to the doves in a gentle, chirpy sing-song voice.

The tiny woman caught my eye and smiled. ‘I am Leanne, the owner of this dear cottage. Welcome, Amelina. It’s so wonderful to meet you at last! You have been a welcome visitor in my dreams.’ The woman bowed, and smiled wider, adding, ‘No longer a stranger, for here you are before me.’

If you are looking for a fun summer read, this book would be a good choice. And, you don’t have to be young to enjoy young adult fiction!


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© 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.