Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘reviews

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.

My eighth book in the Amanda Travels series, Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady, is set to be launched on May 11th and I am as excited and nervous as if it was my first book. A writer puts so much time, energy and emotion into a book, it really is like birthing a baby. And there is always the self doubt and nagging questions. What if no one likes this one? What if I´ve lost the ability to create a good story? What if no one buys it? What if the reviews are bad or nonexistent?

I am delighted to see that the early reviews, from the book being on NetGalley, have been positive.

Here are snippets of the reviews on Goodreads so far that have made my heart dance.

Author Darlene Foster has such a great way to tell a story and impart information about a location at the same time that I found myself thinking “Hey- I want to go to Malta!”. Beth

Armchair travel has never been so exciting! I love the author’s ability to bring the settings alive, from the Blue Grotto to a beautiful cathedral in Valletta, all while keeping the suspense high. Jacquie – Click on her blog for more of the review https://jacqbiggar.com/2021/04/05/bookreview-amanda-in-malta-by-darlene-foster-travel-mystery-supermegawoman/

This is a lovely middle grade novel that whisks you away to the island of Malta. I’ve never been but have heard a lot of rave stories about Malta and Amanda in Malta made me want to visit! MJ – Click on her blog for more of the review https://mjmallon.com/2021/04/05/book-review-amanda-in-malta-by-darlene-foster-supermegawoman-netgalley-book-review/

Darlene Foster’s Amanda is what I wish I’d had the courage to be as a tween: adventurous and well-traveled, making friends easily wherever she goes. Molly

The Blue Lagoon in Malta

Since I am unable to hop on a plane and do a book launch and tour in Canada, as I usually do, I have decided to do a blog launch/virtual tour. This is the first time I´ve done this. What I need are bloggers who would be willing to be part of the tour. If you are interested, let me know by email, darlene.foster@telus.net and I´ll send you the information. I´ll make it as easy as possible and hopefully we will all have fun. The goal is to get the word out about my book to as many readers as possible and to drive some traffic to your blog at the same time.

The YouTube trailer.

Thank you to everyone who has left a review. I really appreciate it.

The book is still available on NetGalley.

It’s six weeks until the release of Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady and I’m getting excited.

Here is what early readers have had to say about Amanda’s latest adventure:

“A missing friend, a mysterious boy . . . Amanda’s holiday on the island of Malta takes you on a fast-paced adventure through ancient forts and fishing villages, sea caves and spooky castles. A real page-turner!”


“I love how the author mixes creativity, imagination and cultural appreciation in her writing – for minds of all ages!”


“Middle-grade readers will be drawn in by the action, pulled forward by the mystery, and absorbed by the colourful backdrop of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean.” 

Amanda in Malta, the eigth book in the series, is now available on NetGalley if you would like a free advanced reading copy and are willing to write a review.

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/?text=Amanda+in+Malta

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 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?

Join Amanda and her friends as they visit ancient temples, an exciting falconry and the enchanting Popeye Village, as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Sleeping Lady.

Check out the trailer I’ve created.

Please share and let your friends know. Thanks!

One of the good things about 2020 is that there was more time to read. My goal was to read 36 books this year and I read 39. I read an assortment of books, including many I’ve wanted to read for a long time – classics, contemporary, children’s and books of poetry and short stories.

Check out my report from Goodreads.

https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2020/2916220

They were all good. My reviews of the books I completed can be found on Goodreads.

Here are a few of my favourites:

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is not a 5 it is a 10!! It is one of the best books I’ve read, up there with One Hundred Years of Solitude and A Fine Balance. It is a story within a story. It is complicated, full of many interesting and complicated characters. But I was never confused. Barcelona is the perfect place to set a story like this; a tale of books, writers, history, lovers and mystery. The author uses words so well – “Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.” I loved every word.

Wolf Willow by Wallace Stegner


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book dear to my heart. It is the history of the area near where I was born and raised, told by someone who lived there as a child when it was just being settled. It is so cleverly written, in a narrative that makes history come to life. He tells the good, the bad and the ugly of prairie life in the early 1900s. The writer returns to the small prairie town 40 years later and this is what he says, “Things look the same, surprisingly the same, and yet obscurely different.” Things haven’t changed that much in these places. The smells, tastes, heat, cold, and sounds of the prairies are all there between the covers and brought back vivid memories. The descriptions of blizzards, cyclones and drought are so real. My favourite line and there were so many, is this one. “I may not know who I am, but I know where I am from.” Reading this amazing book, masterfully written, reminded me of where I’m from.

The Hermit by Jan L. Coates


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great book for kids and those of us who think like kids. I loved this book. When Danny and his friends discover a hermit living in the woods, they are intrigued. Danny is determined to find out more about him. He also needs to find a way to stop land developers from building condos on the soccer field. Plenty of action, believable characters and real-life situations. The kidspeak was perfect. I liked the main character, Danny, kids will identify with him. The events unfold in a timely fashion with a satisfying ending, and there is a loveable dog in it! I highly recommend this book.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An incredible book by the incomparable Toni Morrison. The reader is taken on the fantastic journey of one man´s life, with prose that pulls you in, as he tries to find his place in the world. The importance of family, even a dysfunctional one, and the relevance of knowing where you come from is woven in with a cast of diverse and quirky characters and intriguing settings. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, one that will stay with me for a long time.

How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this classic tale. It took me to another time and place; to a coal mining village in South Wales at the end of the 19th century. The writing is so descriptive I felt I was there with the Morgan family. Every sense is used so that you can taste the food, smell the earth, feel the grime of the coal dust, see the verdant valley, and hear the singing of the choir. The feelings and emotions of young Huw Morgan, the main character and point of view, are so vividly described that you laugh and cry along with him. The book was written 80 years ago, so some of the words are old and unfamiliar, but it doesn´t matter. In fact, the lovely Welsh way of speaking comes through and makes the story even more endearing. If you are looking to read a classic, I highly recommend this book.

Good Mothers Don’t by Laura Best

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 49085854._sx98_.jpg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What would you do if you were a mother and felt you were losing your mind? This incredible book introduces us to Elizabeth, a wife and mom in the early 1960s who is grappling with her sanity. Then something happens to push her over the edge, resulting in a family that is torn apart. This well written, gripping story is told by Elizabeth and those affected by her. I have enjoyed everything Laura Best has written in the past, but she has outdone herself with this story. She has created characters so believable you begin to think you have met them somewhere before, perhaps a neighbour or a family member. I felt the pain, the hope and most of all, the love. I closed the book and wanted to start reading it all over again. This story will stay with me for a long time. Thank you Vagrant Press for the ARC.

Fragments of a Dream by Ruth Larrea

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 49251559._sx98_.jpg


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A well-written story about love, regrets, and possibilities. The story takes place in Greece for the most part. I like how the author skillfully incorporates the sights and scenery within the story of Rosie and Angelo without info-dumping. Both characters are believable and well developed. It is a story of cultural differences and misunderstandings, family and friends. I highly recommend this enjoyable read that will keep you turning the pages wondering what will happen next. This is more than romance, it is about complex relationships in a captivating setting.

Perhaps you will be inspired to read some of these books. I would love to hear about your favourite reads from 2020.







I’ve read some great books this year. I’m so pleased Sally Cronin is featuring this one on the Smorgasbord Children’s Cafe and Bookstore along with my review.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series where you can share your reviews for any children’s books you have read recently and posted on your blog, Amazon, Goodreads or any other online bookstore. If you would like more details here is the post that explains how it works:Showcasing Children’s books

This week a review for children’s author Darlene Foster for The Jigsaw Puzzle King by Gina McMurchy-Barber

45308133About the book

When you’re new in school, all you want is to fit in. When eleven-year-old Warren and his family move to a new city, his twin brother, who has Down syndrome, attracts too much attention for Warren’s liking. Bennie’s different and doesn’t care about it. But while Bennie may be oblivious to those who are curious or uneasy with him, Warren notices every smirk, comment, and sideways glance.

Warren is weary of flip-flopping between trying to be just like everyone else and…

View original post 638 more words

Attention authors of children´s books! A great place to showcase your work and get the word out. Many thanks to Sally Cronin for putting this together.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new Children’s Cafe and Bookstore where authors with books suitable for ages up to 12 can share their work and reviews.

It is very difficult to market and books at the current time without physical launches, particularly for children’s books with many in print versions only.

The authors with books suitable up to 12 years old will have separate entries for their children’s books in this new Cafe but will still retain their entries in the main bookstore with a selection of all books they may have.

Getting into the bookstore

If you are already an author in the bookstore then I will automatically share your children’s books in this directory.

If you are not already in the Cafe and Bookstore please email me with the following to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

  1. Link to Amazon for the book( and even  if you have one book please set up an…

View original post 1,824 more words

Once again, the amazing Sally Cronin has been busy promoting other authors. She recently featured an extract and a great review for Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action on her blog. If you haven´t seen it, check it out. Thanks, Sally!!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series where authors in the Cafe and Bookstore an extract from their most recent book. If you are in the Cafe, and would like to participate you can find all the details here:Share an Extract

Today’s author is Darlene Foster sharing an extract from her most recent book in the Amanda travel series – Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action.

About Amanda in Holland

Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah; as well as travelling the canals of Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House, checking out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and taking pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. She is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy…

View original post 935 more words

There are many things that make me happy, but as a writer, good reviews and happy readers just make my day. A super review for Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action was recently posted on Robbie Cheadle´s blog.

https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2020/02/15/amanda-in-holland-missing-in-action-by-darlene-foster/

Darlene Foster has a lovely series of travel combined with mystery books for middle school readers. Amanda in Holland is the fourth book in this series I have read and it certainly did not disappoint me.

The book is action-packed and filled with interesting titbits of information about life in Holland, WWII and perseverance and determination in unraveling a mystery.

Amanda is a clever and kind girl who will appeal to middle school and young teenagers who will admire her pluck.

Read more about what she has to say here

Jacquie Biggar posted a great review of Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone on her blog https://jacqbiggar.com/2020/02/24/bookreview-amanda-in-alberta-by-darlene-foster-childrensmystery-supermegawoman/

Amanda in Alberta is a fun, page-turning mystery with interesting tidbits of indigenous history along with Alberta landmarks thrown in.

While geared toward the pre-teen age group, this book has something for every reader to enjoy.

I give Amanda in Alberta four lovely kisses- Traveling with Amanda is an adventure!

Read the rest of the review along with a couple of perfect pictures here

And a long time blogging friend and amazing photographer, Ruth Hendricks, https://rutheh.com/ sent me a great picture of her granddaughter, Maura, receiving Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting in the mail. She looks pretty happy.

These are the things that make the hard work of writing books worthwhile.

It’s been ten years since my first book, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask was published. I never imagined I would have a series of seven books out there. A huge thank you to everyone who has read my books, written reviews, told friends, family, and teachers about my books, given them as gifts and sent me emails and pictures. It has been the huge support of so many that has made this dream of mine come true. I can’t thank you enough.

You can read more about my books on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

or on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Copyright © 2020 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved

We are on the home stretch. Just doing the last spit and polish of Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action before it is printed. I’ve created a trailer for the book. Let me know what you think of it.

A huge thank you to everyone who downloaded the book on NetGalley and to those who wrote reviews, I so appreciate it. The e-book is still available free on NetGalley for a limited time. If you would like one click here

This little ornament, a gift from Holland, is mentioned in the book.

What people are saying abut Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action

As always, I love the way these books teach kids about new places. Darlene does a great job combining history, cuisine, architecture and in this case, botany, from new countries in a way that children will enjoy. Looking forward to the next of Amanda and Leah’s adventures! Alex Lyttle

I had to smile as page after page the essence of the country is superbly captured through Amanda’s eyes. A delightful way for a young person to be immersed in the local lifestyle while being swept away in an exciting tale with a great ending! Irene Butler

Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action has a great conversational read style and one of the things that I loved the most is that Ms. Foster incorporates a lot of history and facts into the story to give the reader a lot of information about the country that Amanda is exploring. From Anne Frank to tulips to wooden shoes to windmills Amanda experiences. Beth Ann Chiles

The story is told in a conversational voice that will draw all readers in and deftly mixes the cultural details with how Amanda engages in and solves the mystery. Jacqui Murray

Amanda comes across this comical character while exploring Holland.

Available for pre-order on all Amazon sites.

I am back to my home in Spain after a fabulous time in Canada, promoting my latest book and visiting family and friends. I’ll write more about the trip soon. I came home to some pleasant surprises, including two very wonderful reviews for Amanda on the Danube by a couple of reviewers I admire.

The review by Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal means a lot to me as I have much respect for the quality books Patricia chooses to review. Please check out her blog as you won’t be disappointed. I have often bought books for the young folks in my life based on her reviews.

Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music by Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster has penned a lively adventure story for young readers who enjoy traveling and solving a good mystery. Fans of the Amanda Travels series won’t be disappointed with this fast-paced book which will keep them engaged and quickly turning pages to discover what happens next. Read more here

The second review is by a young man I admire. Erik at this kid reviews books has been reviewing books since he was nine and has reviewed all of the Amanda books. Getting a good review from a young person is always a treat! He is a bit older than the target audience now, but still enjoys Amanda and her adventures.  Erik is always honest and extremely professional in his reviews. He has also given me great gift ideas.

Review! Amanda on the Danube by Darlene Foster

I really like this series. Ms. Foster has a neat way of writing that involves the adventure and intrigue of a mystery, but while also including information about real-life places. Read more here

Thank you, Patricia and Erik! Drop over to their blogs and leave a comment if you have a minute during this busy time. You may get some gift ideas. 

 


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 8,886 other followers

Archives

Categories

Goodreads

click to read review

COPYRIGHT

© Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com, 2020. 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.