Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘books

I had set my goal for the Goodreads challenge for 2022 at 48 books. I read 46 so almost made it. But I did read two books not listed on Goodreads and since one of the books I completed was War and Peace (which should count as two or maybe three books) I feel I actually met the challenge. https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2022

MY 2022 BOOKS

Crimson Frost by J.P. McLean
Donkey Boy and Other Stories by Mary  Smith
Waiting For Frank-Bear by Frank Prem
Love, Me by Jacquie Biggar
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
Golden Healer by M.J. Mallon
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Frozen Stiff Drink by James J. Cudney
Chocolate Fudge Saves the Sugar Dog by Robbie Cheadle
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Father by Allan Hudson
Naomi's Tree by Joy Kogawa
Shadows in the Fog by B.J. Darling
Linda's Midlife Crisis by Toni Pike
The Barren Grounds by David Alexander Robertson
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Di... by Jonas Jonasson
My Evil Mother by Margaret Atwood
Amanda in France by Darlene Foster
Poetry Treasures 2 by Kaye Lynne Booth
Just an Odd Job Girl by Sally Cronin
MEMORIES OF MOM by Nonnie Jules
The Skylark's Secret by Fiona Valpy
Hues Of Hope by Balroop Singh
Not That Sort Of Girl by Mary Wesley
Pattern of Shadows by Judith   Barrow
Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
Knuckleheads by Dan Antion
The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet by M.J. Mallon
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Baby Steps by Anne Stormont
The Winding Road by Miriam Hurdle
Two Middle Aged Ladies In Andalusia by Penelope Chetwode
A Gold Satin Murder by Debra Purdy Kong
Between Two Shores by Ruth Larrea
The Alpine Path by L.M. Montgomery
What's So Special About Spain? by Nancy Blodgett Klein
Mud Girl by Alison Acheson
Brazos Wind by Jan Sikes
All Dogs Are Good by Courtney Peppernell
The Christmas Bird by Robbie Cheadle
Things on a Tree by D.L. Finn
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Kind by Kellyn Roth
Variety is the Spice of Life by Sally Cronin
Distant Flickers by multiple contributors

They were all great books and it would be difficult to say which were my favourites. I read a variety of books which I’m pleased about. All of my reviews are on Goodreads. I would suggest you check them out.

For 2023 I have set my challenge at 48 books once again as I am determined to meet the goal this year.

Happy reading in 2023!!

A number of my writer friends have joined this wonderful site, https://shepherd.com/ This is a way to promote books with a similar theme as well as your own. Also, a perfect way to look for good books to read. So it is great for readers and writers!

This is my page. I’m delighted with how it turned out. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

https://shepherd.com/best-books/childrens-adventures-on-strong-female-protagonist

I am very impressed with this site. This is what they have to say:

When it comes to books, human recommendations are always better than algorithms. 

6,000+ authors have shared five of their favorite books around a topic, theme, or mood. And we make it easy to find the books they recommend through a book you already love, an author you adore, or a Wikipedia topic that interests you. For example adventure, https://shepherd.com/bookshelf/adventure

Here’s more info from the site:

Authors pick their 5 favourite books around a topic, theme, or mood they are passionate about, along with why they recommend each of those books. Then, we feature the author and one of their books alongside that list forever. And we promote the author, their book, and their book list throughout our website and marketing channels.

The topic, theme, or mood you pick should be in the same area as your book. Then the readers who visit your book list will be equally interested in your book. And, by making book recommendations, you are showing them your voice/personality, which gets them more interested in you and your book.

It’s a fairly new site, since April 2021, and they are improving it all the time. I found them to be very professional and easy to work with.

Did I mention, it’s free for a writer to list their book? https://forauthors.shepherd.com/

I am pleased to be part of Jacqui Murray’s Book Blast for her third and final book in the Dawn of Humanity series, Natural Selection. Once again Jacqui has penned an exciting story about our prehistoric ancestors. She will also share with us how early humans told time. The research Jacqui does for these books is phenomenal.

Summary
In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribe members captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events. Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Book information:
Title and author: Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray
Series: Book 3 in the Dawn of Humanity series
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Editor: Anneli Purchase
Available print or digital) at: http://a-fwd.com/asin=B0B9KPM5BW

Author bio:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to the United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/
Blog: https://worddreams.wordpress.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher
Twitter: http://twitter.com/worddreams
Website: https://jacquimurray.net

How Did Early Man Tell Time?

Like today’s most primitive communities and survivalists, both living without the technology that ticked off hours and minutes, earliest man had no concept of quantifiable time. He didn’t need it when the most important metric was how much daylight remained to finish hunting and gathering and find a safe place to sleep. He told tribe members when he would return–or they
should–well, I’ll tell you how that happened later in this article. When the sun slept, our primeval ancestors slept, leaving whatever chores remained for the next day and the sun’s return.

In Natural Selection, that usually sufficed, but if a character needed more than that, say to indicate more definitively when s/he would return:

– s/he could point to a place in the sky along the sun’s forward path, the inference being when sun reached that position, s/he would be back.
– s/he could place a finger–or a hand–overhead, next to the sun, inferring that when the sun moved the width of a finger or a hand, s/he would return.
– at night, the Moon’s progression across the night sky could be used to indicate how long before the sun reappeared.

For longer periods of time, beyond a stretch of daylight, early man used the Moon’s face. It changed nightly and with regularity. The disappearance and reappearance of the Moon, the size of the orb, made it a reliable marker of how long something took or the period before something happened, like herds returning or hunters arriving from a long trip.

How long is a hand or finger? So how much time is inferred by a finger or a hand placed next to the sun? A finger is roughly
fifteen minutes and four fingers—a hand—an hour. Test it yourself. Place a finger next to the sun. The sun will take approximately fifteen minutes to reach the far side of your finger. If there is one hand between the sun and the earth, it means there is one hour until the sun sinks below the horizon. 

Early man knew that the sun moved at the same speed across the sky which meant a hand or both hands always meant the passage of the same amount of time. What he didn’t know was why. Here’s the reasoning he wouldn’t learn for thousands of years, but will be clear to you:
Take your height, for early man about 5 feet.
Multiply it by 1.5 = 7.5
Find the square root = 2.7
That means 2.7 miles to the horizon, or about two hours of walking on their bandy legs.

Do you have any tips for telling time without a watch or phone?

What readers are saying about Natural Selection

“In the third book of the series, Lucy is again beset with challenges.
Besides Lucy struggling to keep her tribe safe, and free the tribe members that were stolen by an enemy tribe—plenty to grab and hold a reader’s attention—there were substories hurtling through the book with characters I grew to care about. A Canis tracking another Canis to be her mate. A Homotherium kit looking for a pack. And Lucy’s former pack members that have been enslaved and are looking for a way to survive and escape their bonds.

Once again, Ms. Murray has woven prehistory into a lovely, understandable story. One of her signature themes is the blending of different cultures into one tribe. Proving that in spite of our differences we can get along.
On a personal note, I loved that Boah said goodbye. (You’ll know what I’m referring to when you read it.) And last but not least my favorite quote: “If Night Sun knew, it wasn’t telling.”

NATURAL SELECTION is a must-read for all Murray fans, of which I am one, prehistory buffs AND for folks that just like a well-told tale.” Sandra Cox

“The final book of the Dawn of Humanity series ends on a positive note though I suspect that Lucy’s story of survival in the prehistoric world will continue to be riddled with danger and challenges. As the title suggests, not all the branches of primitive mankind will survive and those who do will depend on their ability to develop new skills and think strategically.

The plot is straightforward with two main threads. The first is Lucy and her group’s continuing search for a sustainable home base. The second is their plan to rescue past members of her tribe from Man-who-preys before they become so weak from hunger that they’re killed. Lucy is the main character, but not the only point of view, and other characters are frequently brought to the forefront. These include her two-legged group members as well as those with four.

Murray’s research continues to add depth and realism to the read, and I found it as fascinating as I did in the first book. Our ancestors had it tough, and their lives were intricately entwined with the world around them. I appreciated that Murray didn’t spare our modern sensibilities. Grooming bugs from each other’s skin, eating rotten meat, and “fear poop” aren’t very glamorous, but they added to the authenticity of the story. Her word choices—to describe the harsh environment, its rhythms and wild creatures, and the nature and skill of each member of her diverse group—bring life on Earth 1.8 million years ago into vivid relief.

For readers who enjoy a meticulously researched primitive world and the remarkable challenges faced by our evolutionary ancestors, I highly recommend this series. It’s fascinating.”
D.W. Peach

In case you haven’t seen this, I’m a guest on Teri Polen’s terrific Bad Moon Rising series. Check out the spookiest ghost story I’ve heard. Read some of the other guest’s interviews as well. Happy Halloween!!

Books and Such

I’m a big fan of this author’s Amanda series. I haven’t traveled to all the places Amanda has, but after reading the book I feel like I have. They’re so well-researched they could double as travel guides. I follow this author on social media and get to see adorable pics of her fur babies, but if you haven’t met them yet, today is your chance. Welcome Darlene Foster!

Would you rather visit a haunted house or a haunted graveyard?

A haunted graveyard. (Aren’t they all haunted? I mean, they are full of dead people, right?) I love graveyards and spend a lot of time in them. They are outside and easy to escape if things get tense. You can get locked inside a haunted house. Yikes!

What is the spookiest ghost story you’ve ever heard?

The story about a young couple who are making out in a car when they…

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I woke up to this terrific post from Barb Taub which describes her love of Paris and the wonderful cooking experience she had there, as well as an amazing review of Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral. Please do pop over and read, you are in for a treat.

Barb Taub

A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” —Thomas Jefferson

It’s possible, I suppose, that somebody somewhere doesn’t like Paris. After all, I’ve heard there are people who don’t like chocolate, and babies, and puppies. (Puppies!) But even if those people exist, they would still have to admit that Paris is one of the most walkable cities in the world.  One of my favorite walks in Paris is the early morning market cooking class I’ve taken on a couple of different Paris trips. It’s different but fabulous every time. Here’s a post from a class several years ago.


“Meet at Metro Maubert-Mutualité, in front of Café le Métro” the message said.

My market cooking class was gathering at the oldest outdoor market in Paris to choose the ingredients and determine the menu we’d be cooking that day. I got there early to…

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Sorry for my absence but I have been travelling lately and will share all about my travels soon. I wanted to share this amazing review by Teri Polen, who is an excellent writer. This review had me dancing on the ceiling.

Books and Such

Amanda explores the exciting streets of Paris, the fabulous Palace of Versailles and the gardens of the painter Claude Monet, while being drawn into the mystery surrounding the destructive fire of Notre Dame cathedral.

Amanda is in love! With Paris – the city of love. She’s in awe of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral. While there, she gets to work as a volunteer and stay in a famous book store, along with her bestie, Leah, and Leah’s eccentric Aunt Jenny. A dream come true for a book lover like Amanda.

Except, while she’s at the Paris Opera House there is a bomb threat. Then the lights go out during their visit to the Louvre. Worst of all, a devastating fire blazes in Notre Dame. Why does a mysterious man, who claims to be a busker, writer and artist, show up every time…

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The launch date for Casey Holland #7, A Gold Satin Murder (a novella) by Debra Purdy Kong is on Thursday, September 8th. I love this series and am pleased to have fellow Canadian author, Debra Purdy Kong, here as a guest to tell us more about her latest book. Check out the other books in the series here

With six published full-length mysteries in the Casey Holland series, why write a novella?

Members of my writer’s group asked me this question when I brought the first few pages for feedback. The answer is that I wanted to stretch my creativity with this series. Although the earlier Casey Holland mysteries do have lighter moments, they are serious stories. I decided to switch the focus to a fun, light story with serious moments. To do this, I needed to create an uncomplicated plot and fewer characters. Since this is still a whodunit, readers can follow Casey along in trying to figure out the killer’s identity.

While working on an early draft of A Gold Satin Murder I’d been writing other novellas (generally 17,500-40,000 words) for a small press. I discovered a love for this length, not only as a writer but as a reader. When life is frantic, it takes me nearly a month to read a 300+ page book. I often forget the roles and relationships of the characters as well as the subplots. So, it seemed logical to write a book that could be read in one or two sittings. From a writer’s standpoint, revision is a quicker process. Where it might take me from two to six months to edit the second draft of a full-length novel, a novella can be edited in a few days.

The idea for this book popped up over six years ago, however, other projects kept me from working on this novella consistently. Given the many challenges facing people these days, it seems timely to release a light, fun story. If I can bring a smile to a reader’s face, then I’ve achieved my goal.

Launch day is September 8, but you can pre-order now:

Amazon: https://mybook.to/AGoldSatinMurder

Kobo Canada: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Kobo U.S. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6443255297

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-gold-satin-murder-debra-purdy-kong/1141951058?ean=2940166433930

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Debra_Purdy_Kong_A_Gold_Satin_Murder?id=FxF_EAAAQBAJ

Blurb for A Gold Satin Murder:

Transit cop Casey Holland has never met a bus passenger like the charming artist and exotic dancer, Eduardo. The bus driver Lily has certainly befriended him. But when Eduardo’s charged with murder, Lily’s caught in the middle of his legal trouble. Afraid of losing her job and custody of her son, she begs Casey for help in proving Eduardo’s innocence.

Casey’s search for answers takes her and her best friend Kendal to a troupe of strippers known as Man Cave. While the men are busy peeling off their clothes, Casey’s peeling back layers of secrets and betrayal. Nuttier than her usual adventures, the risk is just as deadly in this seventh installment of the Casey Holland transit mysteries.

Debra’s Bio:

Debra Purdy Kong’s volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs inspired her to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Her employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provided the background for her Casey Holland transit security novels.

Debra has published short stories in a variety of genres as well as personal essays, and articles for publications such as Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul, B.C. Parent Magazine, and The Vancouver Sun. She is a facilitator for the Creative Writing Program through Port Moody Recreation and a long-time member of Crime Writers of Canada. She lives in British Columbia, Canada.

Connect with Debra at:

Blog: https://debrapurdykong.wordpress.com/

Newsletter: https://sendfox.com/debrapurdykong

Website: www.debrapurdykong.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraPurdyKong

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraPurdyKongAuthor

Email: dpurdykong@gmail.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.ca/Debra-Purdy-Kong/e/B000APLEFU/

I was a beta reader for this story and just loved it. Here is a sneak peek at the first chapter.

A Gold Satin Murder by Debra Purdy Kong

After a decade of security work for Mainland Public Transport, Casey Holland had learned that troublesome passengers were usually rude, loud, and poorly dressed. But the gorgeous, broad-shouldered man in the charcoal suit, white shirt, and bright red tie strutting down the aisle was a new, intriguing challenge.

The moment the man spotted Casey, he gave her a broad, toothy smile. Cool. Her silky, low-cut tank top and dangling crystal earrings were doing their job. Undercover assignments rarely involved dressing up, but passenger complaints about a hot guy who’d been badgering women to model for his paintings required a different fashion choice. Besides, the bus was way too warm this late-July evening. The less she had to wear the better.

Casey winked at the man, then tilted her head toward the empty seat next to her. He slowed his pace and nodded to the gaping middle-aged woman he passed by. Judging from a quick survey, the man had caught the attention of most passengers. The men didn’t look as impressed as the women, though.

“Hola, señorita.” Gold-flecked brown eyes glanced at her hands as he sat down. “I am Eduardo from Ecuador.”

“Casey. From Vancouver,” she replied. “How are ya?” To reveal she was a señora who’d been happily married for just over a year might put him off, so the wedding rings stayed home.

“Excelente.” He beamed. “I am here only three months, but I am in love with Vancouver. It has many interesting people.”

“That it does.” His cedarwood and vanilla cologne sent a jolt of nostalgia through Casey. When Dad was alive, she occasionally gave him a bottle of something similarly scented for Father’s Day. She sat up straighter and zeroed in on Eduardo. Not the time for reflection.

“I apologize if my English is not so good,” Eduardo said.

“It sounds fine to me.” She smiled. “Do you live in this part of the city?”

“Si. Only one block away. I love to walk and ride the buses and talk to people.”

He’d have many opportunities to do exactly that in Vancouver’s densely populated West End. Thanks to nearby Stanley Park, the popular English Bay beach, and many eateries, the area attracted tons of tourists as well as visitors from other areas of the Lower Mainland.

“Your eyes!” Eduardo slapped his hand over his heart. “La violeta. Extraordinario! I have not seen such a shade before. I am professional artista. May I paint you? It would be great honor! You are so be-eau-tiful.”

“Thank you.” Great honor and beautiful were the exact words two of the complainants had used in their written statements. “So, how many women have you approached about painting their portraits, especially while riding this bus?”

“Qué? Eduardo’s smile faded. “Why do you ask me this?”

“I’m with Mainland Public Transport security.” She showed him her ID card. “We’ve had harassment complaints about you. One woman threatened to involve the police if it happened again.”

His eyes widened. “This cannot be.”

“The complaints said you wouldn’t take no for an answer until they either changed seats or left the bus.”

Eduardo sat back in his seat. “I am stupefied!”

Casey didn’t buy the naïve act. “Harassment of any type on MPT buses is against company policy.”

He fidgeted, not quite meeting her gaze. “I am just a single man who loves ladies and to create art.”

Eduardo produced a business card depicting an elegantly designed maple tree with crimson and tangerine leaves. But anyone could create a card and pass himself off as an artist.

“Is difficult to find models in new city. Art schools are filled up.” He frowned. “And many ladies choose to sit next to me and ask what I do to earn money.”

She believed him. Given the lusty stares a couple of women were tossing his way, Eduardo had probably found more than a few willing models and dates.

“Is it wrong to talk about art, or to ask a be-eau-tiful lady on a date? I might break bus rules, but I am not breaking real laws, no?”

Casey sighed. “Are you and I going to have a problem?”

He raised his hands, palms facing her. “I do not want trouble, but I must pursue my art.”

“Eduardo, the rules are there for a reason. They also give me the authority to kick you off any MPT bus if you’re breaking them.” Casey paused. “If you’re going to discuss portrait painting, then be clear about what you want. If you’re turned down, then I strongly advise you to leave the passenger alone. I assume you expect to be paid for your portraits?”

Eduardo nodded. “I do this not only for money but to find true soulmate.” He lowered his head. “I am not so lucky in love. Is heartbreaking road filled with big potholes.”

“Uh-huh.” She studied him. “Do you think you’ll find love on a bus?”

“I search everywhere.”’

Eduardo’s expression and demeanor seemed sincere, but she had her doubts about this guy.

“You must have tried dating apps,” she said.

“Si.” He grimaced. “They were not good. Is better to meet ladies in person.” He gave her a whimsical look. “Everywhere.”

Meaning he intended to keep chatting up women on MPT buses. Eduardo might be better looking and more polite than other rule breakers, but his resistant attitude was all too familiar. She’d be seeing him again, no doubt, and their second encounter wouldn’t be as cordial.

“Just be careful about what you say,” she cautioned. “Misunderstandings happen easily.”

The corners of Eduardo’s full, sensuous mouth turned down. “What shall I talk about? The boring weather? Is what others do.”

“Eduardo, buddy, unless someone speaks to you first, it might be best if you didn’t talk at all.”

Order your copy of Gold Satin Murder to learn more about the charming Eduardo.

You don’t have to have read the other books to enjoy this one!

One of the most common questions asked of a writer is, “Where do you get your ideas from?”

Fellow Canadian author, Allan Hudson, runs an interesting series on his blog called, The Story Behind the Story. Recently, I was honoured to be featured on his blog where I talk about how I got ideas for my latest book, Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral

The Story Behind the Story: My dream to visit the romantic city of Paris came true when we took our dog on a road trip to visit friends living on the outskirts of the city. Paris, and the surrounding area, was everything I imagined it to be and more. Our friends kindly took the time to show us around this fabulous city as well as Monet’s gardens in Giverny and the amazing Palace of Versailles. I was so excited and knew it would be a perfect setting for Amanda’s next adventure.

Hop over and read more about my inspiration, and what I like and don’t like about writing.

http://allanhudson.blogspot.com/2022/08/the-story-behind-story-with-author.html

Allan Hudson is an accomplished author from New Brunswick, Canada. I recently read his novel Father.

Blurb for Father by Allan Hudson

In 1942 everything is going good for Tanner Hill. He has a good job, two healthy sons and a wife who loves him. As he makes lots of extra cash with his moonshine, he can afford many luxuries his neighbours cannot. And he’s not worried about conscription.
However, he soon realizes good things do not last forever. One argument after church with a disgruntled man with revenge on his mind and Tanner’s world is turned upside down. Forced into making a choice, Tanner chooses to follow his brothers and enlists. He leaves for the fighting so far away as a private in the Royal Canadian Engineers.
It will be three years until Tanner returns home. It won’t be the same.

Here is my review:

A quick read that carries a punch. There are no wasted words in this tale about family and the effects of war on relationships. The characters are real and relatable. The main character, Tanner Hill, is a flawed individual, but one you can’t help but love. The author paints a picture, with carefully chosen words, that take the reader to a specific time and place. An enjoyable read, I recommend this book. – Darlene Foster

Available on all Amazon sites

It has been ten years since we published Amanda in England: The Missing Novel. So I thought we should celebrate with some cake!

I based this book on my numerous visits to England, a place I love. On one visit we stopped at Windsor Castle. The Queen was in, but we did not see her as we explored her fascinating home. Although I thought I saw a curtain twitch as we watched the changing of the guard.

I enjoyed the castle very much but one of the things that really caught my attention was Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. It was well worth the wait in line to view it. A few months later, when browsing a local bookstore in Canada, I found an amazing book all about the Dolls’ House.

I have spent hours pouring over this book and its wonderful pictures. It clearly depicts the details that were put into creating this miniature palace.

The doll’s house was built between 1921 and 1924 and presented to Queen Mary (the current Queen’s Grandmother) as a gift in 1924. It is now a piece of history. It depicts life between the two World Wars and has a very Upstairs Downstairs/Downton Abbey feel about it. There are forty rooms and vestibules on four levels, with two staircases, two elevators that stop on every floor, hot and cold running water in all five bathrooms, toilets that flush, electric lights, a cellar, a garage and a garden. No detail was missed; from the tiny books in the library, paintings on the walls, toys in the nursery and cars in the garage. It is a delight and I’m so glad I have the book to revisit it as often as I want to.

The elaborate entrance

The opulent dining room
My favourite room – the library
I also love the nursery
Toys in the nursery
Items in the pantry
In the housekeeper’s room, a Singer sewing machine
a motorcycle in the garage
and a baby carriage in the garden
Of course, there is a throne room!

I found this delightful video which will give you a better idea.

I just had to include a visit to this place in Amanda in England: The Missing Novel

Here’s the excerpt:

Amanda squealed with delight. Before her stood a replica of Windsor Castle, in miniature, completely furnished. The entrance with the marble staircase, the dining room with the long table set for dinner with tiny dishes, the paintings hanging on the walls and the sparkling chandeliers were all there. A library with mini books on the shelves, the nursery with toys scattered about and even a puppet theatre, caught her attention.

“Look here,” Liam shouted. “There is even a garage with six fancy cars, a bicycle and a motorcycle too. They’re all in perfect scale too. Blimey, I bet they even run.”

“There is so much to look at,” said Leah. “Look at the little paint box and book of nursery songs, the teeny mirror and hair brush set. It’s so adorable.”

“This would have been so much fun to play with. Do you think the princesses were allowed to play with it?” asked Amanda.

Rylee looked at the miniature garden with three-inch trees and small shrubs. “Here’s a baby pram and look, birds in the trees and – even a cat.”

“Oh, I do hope Rupert is all right in the car,” said Leah.

Mesmerised by the scene before her, Amanda felt like she had entered the land of Lilliputians. She wanted to disappear into the miniature building or become a princess who could spend hours playing with it.

“Amanda, Amanda,” Leah tugged at her sleeve. “We should go now.”

The sun shone fiercely when they emerged from viewing the doll house. Amanda rubbed her eyes. “This is bright, isn’t it?” She rubbed her eyes again. “Is that her?”

“Is that who?” asked Liam and Leah at the same time.

“I swear I just saw that weird lady go into the castle.”

“Well, I don’t know what you saw, but I saw those two blokes who were at the hospital, sneaking behind a statue in the garden,” said Rylee.

“And there’s Rupert. Now, how did he get out of the car?” Leah ran into the garden after him.

Join me in wishing Amanda in England: The Missing Novel a very Happy Birthday!

Another great review for Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral by Toni Pike. Toni is a multi-genre Australian author who enjoys writing page-turning fiction for adults, hilarious books for children, and non-fiction. Please check out her blog and her books. I am so delighted that readers all over the world are enjoying my latest book.

Toni Pike

I was delighted to hear that Darlene Foster had written another exciting adventure in the Amanda Travels series – and this time it is set in Paris, one of my favourite cities. It’s available now for pre-order, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive an advance copy for my honest review.

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Pig on Trial

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