Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book Reading and Author Interview – Darlene Foster

Sally's Cafe and Bookstore

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:

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:

Also by Darlene Foster

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

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.”

©Darlene Foster

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.


Bloggers around the Christmas Tree – Walking above Toronto, Tom Jones, Jewelry, Vultures and Fairy Stories


Welcome to this week’s glimpse into the magical world of blogging with a look at just some of the informative, entertaining and thought provoking posts I have read this week. Also an opportunity to promote some of the followers of the blog who have gifts or services that would make great presents for friends and family this Christmas. 



The first of my selections is from Baran who reminds us that we sometimes need to step outside our comfort zone to get the most out of life.. and in this post Baran does just that.. literally..

Meet Baran...
I write about my passions which include good health, exploration and motivation! Unlike boring blogs I like to include fresh and intriguing thoughts about situations that I have experienced. You won’t ever find someone who holds these things so high up in their life. Living in Canada, I began this journey a month ago and have been immensely enjoying it! My objective is to inspire a life full of adventure and clean living, and cannot wait to continue to do just that.

Living a Life you love

When was the last time you did something for the first time.”

A few months ago, my sister and I got the amazing opportunity to walk along the outside of the CN tower in Toronto. The moment I found out that you could literally walk on the outside of a building at 1168ft above the ground I knew I had to experience it. To me it didn’t matter what the cost was or how high up we would be, I just needed to do it so I took advantage of the chance that presented itself.  Read the rest of the post


My next guest is author Brigid P. Gallagher who made some life changing decisions that led to a brand new career and a book.


Meet Brigid

Welcome to “Watching the Daisies.” My name is Brigid P. Gallagher – I have included the P (for Philomena) as there is another Brigid Gallagher writing out there! I have a passion for gardening, and learning to slow down has been one of my major life lessons, hence the title “Watching the Daisies.”

In this blog, I will share some of the therapies and lifestyle changes which have aided in my own self healing. I have also written a memoir and self help book called “Watching the Daisies – Life Lessons on the Importance of Slow.”

Brigid will be the guest on Christmas Reading on 13th of December. Being a fan of Tom Jones I thought this would be the post to share from Brigid.

Titanic Belfast

This weeks taster from my book “Watching the Daisies – Life Lessons on the Importance of Slow,” comes from the prologue “Rainbows Over Belfast,”and describes my colourful experiences at a Tom Jones concert, in August 2012.

“Seconds later, a series of efficient roadies dressed in sombre shades of black, grey and olive clear the stage for Sir Tom, before tuning guitars, taping song order sheets to the floor and laying out six cool glasses of water for our septuagenarian hero.
Read on…..


Debby Gies… D.G. Kaye asked me to write an exclusive story for her blog based on my What’s in a Name series.. She has a long-term friend called Sanja and this was the name she requested.. I thought it was time for a Christmas Fairy Story… Debby wrapped the tale in a wonderfully glittering introduction and promotion for my blog and books and I was delighted to have been invited to her party.

D.G. Kaye Author

Sanja – A Princess in Despair – A Christmas Fairy Tale.

Sanja looked through the lead glass window of her bedroom, and watched as her three brothers disappeared into the distant forest. The dark trees swallowed them in an instant, and closing her eyes she imagined she was beside them; riding Anica her white filly. How she loved the trails through the dark woods that suddenly opened into sun dappled glades of wild flowers and mushrooms. But her father had banned her from accompanying her carefree brothers, decreeing that it was time at seventeen to adopt a more ladylike and regal demeanour.

Read the rest of the story……


For those of you who have yet to meet Olga Nunez Miret then you are in for a treat.. One of my long-term blog supporters and friend, Olga is a prolific author and is getting ready to release her latest book before the New Year.

Olga Nuñez Miret-amazon-author-The Writer Next DoorObviously I will be featuring that in a full post for the new book when it is available


Read more about the book here:

A little more about Olga.
Hi, I’m Olga. I trained in Medicine in Barcelona, Spain, and came to the UK in 1992 (shortly after the Olympics) with the plan of training in psychiatry. I spent quite a few years working in psychiatry (most recently forensic psychiatry), but on the way I’ve studied a few other things (American Literature, Criminology). Early in 2014 I left psychiatry as a full time occupation to explore other avenues, carry on writing and also translate other authors’ books.

In this blog I post about things that interest me, random thoughts, advice, I post reviews, I have guests, both alive and classics…

Translation Service
Olga offers a translation service which is an area of increasing interest for Indie authors. There are millions of Spanish speakers around the world and it is a market that is largely untapped by independent writers.. Olga has translated several excellent novels for Spanish authors into English and also of course from English to Spanish including all her own books. Here are some of the books and authors that she has worked with.


I have long been a fan of Cindy Knoke whose photography from around the world and her little bit of heaver.. The Holler… Is stunning.. Whether ancient buildings, landscapes or her particular speciality, wildlife, there is something for someone

0acd8acf1e33598ca9971304aaca47e4 I think that only Cindy could make vultures look photogenic and in this post she has also included one of my most loved flowers.. Sunflowers were the emblem of my nutritional therapy business and symbolises life and health to me.

Here is the latest post from Cindy and as you can see she has a huge following..I hope you will join them.


Finally some beautiful jewelry from Irene Skov Hansen who has been part of my Christmas gift series for the last four years. This year is no exception and here are just two of her designs.  You will find the link to buy in the posts on her blog :


Pink Shell Nuggets & Roses Bracelet


Carved Coral Studs Earrings

Christmas tree courtesy of motivational writer, poet and broadcaster Annette Rochelle Aben

Annette 3D Promo Oct plus B

Read all the reviews and BUY Annette’s books:

Connect to Annette through her website:

Thank you so much for dropping in this morning and I hope you enjoy visiting these talented writer’s, photographer’s and designer’s blogs.  Have a great weekend. Sally

New Book In Series – Resolution – Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure by Andrew Joyce

New book in series

Today the featured book is Resolution – Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure – the latest book by Andrew Joyce.

Resolution-800 Cover reveal and PromotionalAbout the book.

It is 1896 in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The largest gold strike in the annals of human history has just been made; however, word of the discovery will not reach the outside world for another year.

By happenstance, a fifty-nine-year-old Huck Finn and his lady friend, Molly Lee, are on hand, but they are not interested in gold. They have come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure.

Someone should have warned them, “Be careful what you wish for.”

When disaster strikes, they volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They race against time, nature, and man. With the temperature hovering around seventy degrees below zero, they must fight every day if they are to live to see the next.

On the frozen trail, they are put upon by murderers, hungry wolves, and hostile Indians, but those adversaries have nothing over the weather. At seventy below, your spit freezes a foot from your face. Your cheeks burn—your skin turns purple and black as it dies from the cold. You are in constant danger of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.

It is into this world that Huck and Molly race.

They cannot stop. They cannot turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance – including theirs.

Buy the book 

Amazon     Smashwords      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     iTunes

Other books in the series  by Andrew Joyce and what the readers are saying.

51wekGJV+4L._UY250_Twice Read, Twice The Fun  By Susan L. Jones-Savka on May 1, 2015 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Stayed up all night last night reading Redemption for a second time. I finished Molly Lee recently and went back to Redemption only intending to clarify a few points between the two stories that I might have missed during the first run. I say run because that is what I find myself doing when the story gets exciting or tense, running through the passages, eager to discover how the situation is resolved or what possibly could happen next. And finding nuances that I might have overlooked during the first reading of the story is always a plus..

Needless to say, I had as much satisfaction from the story on the second time around as from the first time.

51jymDwgCkL._UY250_I want more!!! Great author! By Tinsta156 on May 4, 2015 Format: Paperback

I have waited for this book for so long! After reading the author’s first book, Redemption: The further adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, which took me back to the adventurous 19th-century life of the two Mark Twain characters, I couldn’t wait to read another great adventure by Mr. Andrew Joyce. I was surprised it was a woman’s adventure, but he proved he could do that amazingly well! Molly, at the beginning of the story, is a naive 18-year-old youngster growing into such a brave woman who has to go through a lot more than I was expecting.

It really was exciting reading and, as in his first book, I loved how fiction is intertwined with history. The reader gets to experience the way life was in those days. This is a great book, and I so wish my German friends knew enough English to be able to read it. Unfortunately, they will have to wait for a German edition.

I hope I won’t have to wait another two years for the sequel announced in the epilogue!
I purchased the book through Amazon Germany.

About the author


Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, RESOLUTION. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, YELLOW HAIR.

Connect with Andrew

Website      Andrew’s Blog      Andrew on Facebook        Twitter

Thanks for dropping by and we would be delighted to have your feedback and if you could share Andrew’s new book with your network.

There are several ways you can share your work on Smorgasbord completely FREE so take a look at the options and email via the link in the post. Look forward to hearing from you.