Welcome to the Book Reading at the cafe and today my guest is children’s author Darlene Foster whose books about Amanda have literally taken us around the world. Before we take a look at her books here is a little bit about Darlene.
Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.
She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.
“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.
Darlene’s book reading at the end of the post is from her latest book Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music.
About Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music
Twelve-year-old Amanda Ross finds herself on an elegant riverboat with her bestie, Leah, cruising down the beautiful Danube, passing medieval castles, luscious green valleys and charming villages. When she is entrusted with a valuable violin by a young, homeless musician during a stop in Nuremburg, another boy immediately tries to take it from her. Amanda tries to keep the precious violin safe for the poor prodigy, and along the way, she meets a mysterious monk, a Santa Claus look-alike, and the same nasty boy.
Follow Amanda down the Danube as she enjoys the enchanting sounds of music everywhere she goes, but remains on the lookout, wondering just who she can trust.
Goodreads Reviews can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29363010-amanda-on-the-danube
Patricia Tilton rated it Five Stars
Darlene Foster has written 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. Amanda is an upbeat, inquisitive, caring and memorable character that teens will want to befriend — especially since she has keen radar and is ready to solve a good mystery. Leah spends a lot time texting her friends at home, which annoys Amanda. Readers will also learn a little history, geography and a few German expressions as they cruise along the beautiful Blue Danube River and visit Nuremberg, Regensburg, Melk, Vienna and Budapest. Amanda and Leah explore castles, cathedrals, graveyards, and museums. They learn about Mozart, sample local cuisine and shop for teddy bears at the Steiff store.
Read the reviews on Amazon and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Danube-Sounds-Music-Travels/dp/1771681020/
Also by Darlene Foster
Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA
Now it is time to ask Darlene some questions about her live and work and she is eager to answer your questions if you would please put them into the comments section of the post.
Welcome to rainy Ireland Darlene and perhaps we could start by looking at some of your favourite books..
If you could be a character in any book you have read.. Who would it be and why?
I would choose to be Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Lizzie had a great relationship with her father, like I did. She was strong willed, stuck to her guns, spoke her mind and refused to be bullied. She was happy with who she was and was not willing to compromise to make others happy. Like refusing to marry Mr. Collins and giving Lady Catherine de Bourgh a piece of her mind. And she ended up with Mr. Darcy and got to live in Pemberley!!
Which author would you have to dinner, why and what questions would you ask them?
I would love to have Jane Austen come to dinner. I would like to tell her how much I love her books and thank her for the hours of pleasure she has given me over the years. Hers are the only books I have read over and over and never tire of. I would ask her where she got the ideas for her amazing characters, what kept her going and what was it like to be a female writer in her time. I would hope she would be as witty in person as she is in her writing. It would be an enjoyable meal, I believe. Now what to serve?
Do you have a favourite quote? What does it means to you as an individual?
I have always loved this quote by Maya Angelou, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” I think it is important to be happy with who you are and happy with what you do in life. So many people, including me at times, do things to impress others. I think it is more important to impress yourself. I firmly believe if you are happy with what you do and how you do it, you will be successful.
Can you tell us a little bit about growing up on the ranch in South Alberta?
As a child I found it boring and couldn´t wait to move to the city. Looking back it was the perfect place for me as I used my imagination to make up stories in my head to stop from being bored and lonely. We all worked hard on the ranch, which made me a disciplined person, great training for a writer. The wide open spaces, the limitless sunshine and the hard working, salt of the earth folks around made me who I am today. It was a great place to grow up.
What did you find the most interesting cultural change when you moved from Canada to Spain?
For me, the history is the most interesting cultural change. I love that there is history everywhere you look in Spain and how it meshes nicely with modern everyday life. History is respected and celebrated by all ages in Spain. Attending the religious festivals and the various fiestas has been such a learning experience. I never tire of visiting the many castles, churches and historic sites. I feel like I am living in a story book most of the time. I have so many story ideas, I will not live long enough to get them all down on paper.
We know there will be other ‘Amanda’ books. Do you have a wish list of places to take her to? What tops the list and why?
Yes, I do have a wish list of places to take Amanda. The list includes, but is not limited to, Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and Russia. Russia may top the list because that is where my great grandparents immigrated to Canada from 100 years ago. It would be so cool to create an adventure for Amanda there. So many places, so little time.
Darlene has chosen to read an extract from Amanda on the Danube
The girls continued to look around the market, stopping to pull the strings on jumping jacks and stroking teddy bears dressed in lederhosen, just like the dancers wore the night before.
Amanda looked around but couldn’t see anyone.
Amanda swung around and saw a finger motioning to her from between two stalls. Leah was busy looking at jewellery. Amanda slipped into the tiny space. There crouched in the corner, sat the young boy who played his violin by the Gingerbread House earlier.
“Please, Miss. I need your help.”
Amanda noticed blood seeping out of the dirty bandage on his thumb. “What happened to your thumb?”
“Oh, that. It is nothing.” The young man reached for his violin case. “You are on the boat, yes? The Sound of Music boat?”
“Yes, I am. Why?” She looked at the bloody finger. “You should have that cleaned up. You could get an infection.”
“Please, could you take this with you on the boat?” His large blue eyes pleaded with her as he held out the case.
“Why can’t you take it to the boat?” asked Amanda.
“I do not have a ticket. But my violin must get on the boat. It is of much importance.”
“Well -” Amanda took a deep breath. “I guess I could take it, but then what will I do with it once I’m on the boat.”
“Perhaps you could keep it in your room until you get to Vienna. I will meet you there.”
“H – How…”
“Amanda! Where have you gone?” She could hear Leah shouting.
“OK. I have to go.” Amanda snatched the violin case.
“Danke, fraulein. Don’t tell anyone you saw me, bitte. I mean, please.”
Amanda emerged from the small space between the two stalls just before Leah spotted her.
“I found a rad choker necklace.” Leah held up a clear bag and shook it. “What do you have in your hand?”
“I found a vintage violin case,” answered Amanda. “I think I’ll surprise my dad with it later.”
Leah looked at her watch. “We had better get to the boat before it leaves.”
The girls walked down the street toward the bus. A boy dashed past them knocking Amanda down.
“Hey, you! Watch where you’re going.” Amanda stood up. She held on to the violin case as she steadied herself.
“Are you all right?” Leah asked. “That boy looked very much like the one the crew members chased through the market. What is his problem?”
“I’m fine. I think he tried to grab the violin case.”
“Where did you say you got it?”
“I bought it from an old guy at the market while you were looking at jewellery.”
Amanda spotted a huge nutcracker soldier in a doorway. “Look at that!” She stood beside the wooden figure towering over her. “Take my picture, Leah. I feel like Clara and her gallant Nutcracker Prince from the ballet Aunt Mary took me to last Christmas. ”
Leah snapped a couple of pictures of a beaming Amanda. She noticed something move
and shouted, “There´s that boy. He’s hiding behind the nutcracker.”
Amanda turned around. The blond, curly-topped boy stood, grinning. He grabbed on to the violin case and pulled hard. Amanda held on tight. Leah came over and held on as well.
The smaller boy lost his grip and fell over backward, landing in a pile of spinning tops.
A burly shopkeeper ran over to them. “Get out of my store you trouble makers! Aus, kinder schlecht!”
Amanda and Leah dashed down the street just as the bus pulled away.
“Oh no! Now we’re going to be late and miss the boat.” Leah’s face fell. “My dad will kill me.”
Thank you Darlene and certainly lots to look forward to for all your fans.
Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.
Well certainly looking forward to meeting Darlene in person when she comes to Ireland with Amanda. And I am sure that you have your own questions that you would like to ask this charming children’s author and please leave them in the comments section of the post.
Thank you as always for dropping in and your feedback is very welcome and if you could share that would be great. Sally.