Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – Claire Fullerton, Darlene Foster and Angie Dokos


Welcome to the first of the author updates this week, for books with recent reviews. The first author is Claire Fullerton for her novel Mourning Dove.

About Mourning Dove

The heart has a home when it has an ally.

If Millie Crossan doesn’t know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, eighteen months her senior, becomes Millie’s guide when their mother Posey leaves their father and moves her children from Minnesota to Memphis shortly after Millie’s tenth birthday.

Memphis is a world foreign to Millie and Finley. This is the 1970s Memphis, the genteel world of their mother’s upbringing and vastly different from anything they’ve ever known. Here they are the outsiders. Here, they only have each other. And here, as the years fold over themselves, they mature in a manicured Southern culture where they learn firsthand that much of what glitters isn’t gold. Nuance, tradition, and Southern eccentrics flavor Millie and Finley’s world as they find their way to belonging.

But what hidden variables take their shared history to leave both brother and sister at such disparate ends?

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jan 18, 2019 Jaymi Couch rated it it was amazing

This book took my breath away with its beautiful and emotional story of a family living in Memphis, TN in the early 70s. Millie and her older brother Finley are inseparable and she adores him. 
On the second page we’re told something about the ending, so right away there’s tension as we watch the story unfold.


Millie has a kind of hero worship for her brother. He explains things to her, includes her, protects her and they have a close bond.


”In the dense woods surrounding our house, we built tree houses and horse corrals, just like the Cartwrights in Bonanza. We cleared the earthen floor with brooms made from twigs, and lined the boundaries with rocks we rolled heavily in to set the stage for cowboys and Indians because Finley liked creating imaginary worlds, and I never cared what we did as long as I was with him. “

The Crossan family matriarch is Posey and she is a southern girl through and through. She brings the children from Minnesota to her hometown Memphis after their dad’s drinking goes too far.


There’s no way to summarize succinctly everything that happens. We are observers as Millie and Finley grow up in the 70s in a town where image and reputation are everything. Alcoholism, mental health and religion also play a part.

The time period was captured perfectly, in all its hippie glory from the bell bottoms and drugs to the music scene. It’s southern fiction at its best – the genteel manners, the societal expectations of which schools to attend, the five o’clock mandatory cocktail hour, the “right” families, the “outsiders”, the polite denial in the face of something unpleasant – author Claire Fullerton brings the south to life in a way that reminds me of the late Pat Conroy. I was completely transported and engrossed and captivated.


”Your heart breaks only once in a lifetime. Every offense in its wake is only a variation of the original laceration.” 
This is my first 5 star book of 2019!

Read some of the other reviews and buy the book : https://www.amazon.com/Mourning-Dove-Claire-Fullerton/dp/1946016527

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mourning-Dove-Claire-Fullerton-ebook/dp/B07CP93RTQ

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books : https://www.amazon.com/Claire-Fullerton/e/B00HRJEUJ4

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Claire-Fullerton/e/B00HRJEUJ4

Read other reviews and follow Claire on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7388895.Claire_Fullerton

Connect to Claire via her website: https://www.clairefullerton.com/

The next author is Darlene Foster with a recent review for Amanda In New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About the book

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Amanda and her sixth-grade class are on an educational field trip from their hometown of Calgary, Canada to visit, explore and document their experiences in New Mexico, USA. As the class tours Taos, New Mexico and the surrounding area, their trip is interrupted by ghosts present and past. In “Amanda in New Mexico—Ghost in the Wind,” Foster has written a contemporary fiction story through which middle grade students will not only learn about the region’s geography, architecture, and artifacts—they’ll learn invaluable life lessons along the way. Students and teachers are sure to want to follow Amanda through further adventures in this well-written series.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website: www.darlenefoster.ca

The next author with with a recent review is Angie Dokos for her first novel  MacKenzie’s Distraction.

About the book

Mackenzie’s Distraction is a New Adult Romance about a young lady with a rough past and a promising future. Just when he career is within reach, tragedy strikes. A terrible accident and a family secret turn Mackenzie’s world upside down. She’s sure her life can’t become any more complicated, then she meets Trevor. Will he be just what she needs or the distraction that pushes her over the edge?

This book is not erotica, but does have sexual content. It includes some curse words, but not many. It doesn’t have any major violence.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

Caroline 5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent plot and engaging writing! January 25, 2019

I was super excited to read Angie Dokos’ debut novel, and it did not disappoint. There was a genuine authenticity in the characters’ dialogue and individual personalities. In the wake of tragedy and exposed secrets, Mackenzie finds love and personal growth while maintaining a close relationship with her family. I found Mackenzie herself to be incredibly down to earth and therefore, relatable. She maintained her sense of independence while opening herself up to love. I found the supporting characters to also be well-developed. There were many, which brought a community to life. I was sad when I approached the end of the book as I felt like I was losing some of my friends. The ending was very satisfying. The conclusion to Trevor and Mackenzie’s romance was exactly what I was hoping for. A truly sentimental, heart-warming, and exciting tale. Great job Angie, I cannot wait to read more from you!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Mackenzies-Distraction-Angie-Dokos-ebook/dp/B01BL4H20E

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mackenzies-Distraction-Angie-Dokos-ebook/dp/B01BL4H20E

Also by Angie Dokos

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Angie-Dokos/e/B01BLPOZEY

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angie-Dokos/e/B01BLPOZEY

Read more reviews and follow Angie Dokos on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14905574.Angie_Dokos

Connect to Angie Dokos via her website: https://angiedokos.wordpress.com

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed today’s collection… Thanks Sally.

 

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Second Day of Christmas with guests Darlene Foster and Miriam Hurdle


Welcome to the Second Day of Christmas with some guests, music, and not to forget food… My guests today are children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster, and poet Miriam Hurdle…sharing their most favourite Christmas gift ever…

Before we find out more about the second day of Christmas and meet the guests I would like to get you in the mood with music, and one of my favourite groups has always been Status Quo -‘It’s Christmas Time’ was recorded in 2008. You can buy Status Quo Music Amazon

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how other countries celebrate their Christmas festivities. In China for example, only about 1% of the population is Christian and Christmas is really only celebrated in the big cities for its commercial value. But there are grottos set up in the shops and Santa Claus is called ‘Shen Dan Lao Ren’. According to Why Christmas the younger generation give gifts to each other but more in line with St. Valentines’ Day.

Very few people have a tree and if so it is plastic and hung with paper ornaments. The irony is that the majority of Christmas tree ornaments we use are made in China!

The Second Day of Christmas is also called Boxing Day in the UK and St. Stephen’s Day. St. Stephen was the first martyr who died for his faith.

Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church appointed by the apostles when they found that there was simply not enough of them to cope with many poor, widows and orphans that were so numerous in those times. They ordained seven assistants or deacons of which Stephen was one. He was very devout and well liked. He spoke eloquently and converted many to Christianity. Of course this did not sit very well with those outside the religion and they did their best to discredit him. He did not help his cause by giving his enemies some home truths about their behaviour I am afraid that they reacted by having him put to death. He is therefore the first martyr of the Christian faith and was awarded sainthood.

The carol most sung on St. Stephen’s Day is ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and here is an amazing version from Michala Petri, recorder and Danish National Vocal Ensemble conducted by Michael Bojesen from their own Recordings

Time to meet my first guest who is children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster. Darlene moved to Spain from Canada in the last few years and shares her new found love of the Spanish culture with her photographic posts, and also the new addition to the family of a little rescue dog called Dot. Here is one of her recent travel posts Notre Dame

This is Darlene’s very best Christmas present ever….

My best Christmas gift, believe it or not, was a stamp album. I wanted one so badly and was disappointed that there wasn’t one under the tree. Dad looked under the couch and found a flat gift had slid under, addressed to me from my grandmother. To my delight, it was a stamp album and some stamps to get me started. I loved putting stamps from all over the world in that book, dreaming of eventually visiting those places. I recall the stamps for Espanola at the time, had General Franco on them.

I did not have to think too long for the perfect gift for Darlene and I have decided that perhaps a series of Flamenco Dance lessons might be just the ticket and I am sure with a little practice this is what we might see next Christmas..courtesy of ‘Youtube’

Discover all the books by Darlene Foster: http://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA
Find out more about Darlene via her blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

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One of the recent reviews for Amanda in New Mexico

Even though I am way beyond the age bracket market this series is intended to, the child in me truly enjoyed Amanda and her class mates’ adventures on their school trip to New Mexico, discovering enchanting villages and people along the way and getting into all kinds of scraps that may or may not involve spirits and otherworldly phenomena. I especially enjoyed learning about a part of the world I have never been to, in particular the town of Taos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its History, as well as the Day of the Dead celebrations and Doña Sebastiana, the female saint of death. Darlene Foster takes the young reader into a whole new world, which might just make them travel and explore for themselves. A lot of fun!

We have been so lucky this year to have Carol Taylor writing the Food Column.. she will of course be a guest later in this party series, but she has shared several wonderful festive dishes in the last few weeks and I am going to select some that immediately bring back Christmas memories for me. Although you would usually cook the Christmas pudding in advance, there is still time to make this home-made recipe and enjoy on the day.

Ingredients:

• 300gm fresh white breadcrumbs (I use brown)
• 100gm self-raising flour
• 1 tsp mixed spice
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ whole nutmeg, very finely grated
• 350gm raisins
• 100g mixed peel
• 50 gm flaked almonds
• 250 gm suet
• 225 gm Demerara sugar
• 225 gm sultanas
• 225 gm currants
• 2 carrots, peeled and very finely grated
• 2 cooking apples, peeled and very finely grated
• (shhhh)Wet ingredients
• Zest and juice of 1 orange
• Zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 1 small wine glass of brandy shhhhh and a tad more..ha ha
• 2 tbsp black treacle
• 4 eggs, lightly beaten

Let’s Cook!

  1. Put the breadcrumbs in the biggest mixing bowl you can find.
  2. Sieve the flour into the bowl with the mixed spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. Then add the remaining dry ingredients, up to and including the grated apples.
  4. Combine all the wet ingredients in a jug.
  5. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and mix together, with a big wooden spoon.
  6. Take it in turns to give it a stir, closing your eyes and making a wish.
  7. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave overnight.
  8. Butter 2 x 1.2-litre pudding basins and spoon the mix into them. Place a disc of baking paper on top of the puddings, then seal with a big sheet of baking paper with a central pleat, to allow expansion. Cover with a cotton or muslin cloth and tie with string or foil.
  9. Steam for 6 hours in steamers, or in pans with simmering water that reaches two-thirds up the sides of the basins – be sure to keep the water topped up. Remove and allow to cool.
  10. When cool, re-cover the basins and store in a cool, dry place. On Christmas day, or the day you’re going to eat the puddings, steam for another 1-2 hours. Turn the pudding onto a plate, then pour 75ml of brandy into a ladle and carefully warm over a low heat for 1 minute or so. Light the match and voila a flaming pud

You can find all of Carol’s recipes, including her full Vegetarian and Traditional Christmas menus in the directory: Carol Taylor Food Column

Time now for my second guest today who is poet Miriam Hurdle, who has recently published her debut collection of poetry. Miriam Hurdle is a multi-genre writer. She writes poetry, flash fiction, and short stories. Her poems are included in Letters to Gaia, Whispers and Echoes Issue 2, Whispers and Echoes Issue 3, and Outcast and More Words.

Miriam shares her most favourite Christmas gift ever.

The favorite Christmas gift I received ten years ago from my husband was a GPS. Using Google map in a cellphone was not my regular practice then.

I have no sense of direction in any given new location. When visiting a friend for the first time, I somehow turned to an opposite direction to go home. Before receiving the GPS, I got lost many times and found myself in a parking lot, calling my husband to direct me home. He gave me a GPS for a Christmas gift in 2009.

My daughter got married in May 2010 in Portland, Oregon. My brother-in-law did videotape using my camcorder. He recorded the wedding ceremony in the afternoon and the wedding reception in the evening. In the middle of the wedding reception, he told me the battery was running low. My panicky antenna went up. It would disappoint my daughter and the family not to record entirely such an important event in life.

I left the battery charger in my daughter’s house. My only option was to go get it and come back to charge the camcorder without missing too much of the memorable moments. The reception was in Columbia Edgewater Country Club. With no street lighting, I had no clue how to get out of the golf course to find my way to my daughter’s house. After I turned on the GPS, it kept saying in a robotic voice, “Calculating, calculating…” Finally, the little gadget figured out my position, directed my way to get the battery charger and come back to the reception. The GPS served me well for many years.

My virtual Christmas present for Miriam ….

Clearly Miriam already has a SatNav.. but I searched around and found this that she might find this next generation Car upgrade an interesting ride… the Tesla autopilot test drive..you can mute the Rolling Stones if you wish.. personally I quite like it…even more scary!!!

You can buy Miriam’s debut poetry collection from https://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Hurdle/e/B07K2MCSVW
Find out more about Miriam via her website and blog: https://theshowersofblessings.com/ 

A recent review for the collection

Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude,” is a journey into the mind of a woman who has found her voice in this world through her poetry. Hurdle splits the book into poetic songs categorized by Nature, Dissonance, Physical Healing, Marriage, Parenthood, Tribute, Reflection, Challenge, and Inspiration. These categories lead the reader on a path to understanding her life through times of joy and sorrow. Her photos and artwork are stunning and compliment her poetry. For me, reading poetry is like walking beside the poet and stepping into their footsteps, connecting with their experiences in a deeper realm of being.

Reading poetry is subjective, so I judge most poetry by how it invokes emotions within me and how it makes me reflect on my own human condition. The poem, “Healing,” touched a deep chord within me. Yet, there were so many more connections I experienced. I received this book as a gift from a dear friend. That’s the kind of book this is, one to be shared with others, and to be reread many times. MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars 

And I cannot let you go without offering you a drink for the road (provided you are the passenger)..

Now whilst this is not a traditional Christmas drink… it is a cocktail that goes down well at any time of the year and I have a fail save recipe for you for the simple but highly effecting Margarita.

I suggest making in a large jug and I will give you the proportions per person and then I will give you the overall health benefits.

As many of you will know this is made with tequila and it is my advice that you use the top of the range Cuervo Gold as tastes much better, certainly for the first one and then you don’t really taste anything anyway. Tequila like most of my favourite food pharmacy subjects has been used for thousands of years by the Native American Indians for both medicinal and recreational purposes. It was used as a hallucinogenic and apparently improves all aspects of stamina and enabled the imbiber to achieve the Dream State. You can see this effect for your self after your guests have sampled two or three of your concoction.

Add 1oz per person.

You will also need some Cointreau or Cuarenta y tres or triple sec, which are all orange liqueurs. I have covered the benefits of oranges in several of my healthy eating posts, but obviously in alcoholic form its antioxidant properties are a little subdued. Of course there is still the antiseptic nature of alcohol to compensate.

You will need 1oz per person.

Finally you will need 1oz of fresh squeezed lime juice per person. Now as everyone knows limes are full of Vitamin C and limes in particular have some special properties. They prevent scurvy, if taken every day they can prevent cholera and the vitamin C in the fruit is anti-ageing as it forms collagen that fills in wrinkles and frown lines.

I have looked on a worldwide basis for the health benefits of margaritas and this is a summary of the best I could find.

  1. Apart from the obvious antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-ageing effects of the cocktail there are some other side effects that can be life changing.
  2. If you have feelings of inadequacy or suffer from shyness and lack of assertiveness then drinking just one margarita may be the answer.
  3. It makes you feel more confidant about yourself and your actions and encourages you to tell the world that you are willing and able to do just about anything. You will notice the effects of the margarita almost immediately. You will find that you are able to dance at a higher intensity (particularly on a table), you will be able to sing and give renditions of everyone’s favourite hits from the forties and fifties. You will also find that the dress code does not apply to you because you are not wearing one.
  4. Drinking margaritas may not be right for everyone as there are some side effects including dizziness, nausea, incarceration, lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing and money, delusions of grandeur, lap dancing, headache, dehydration and an increase in appetite for snakes and lizards. 

My guests tomorrow are Jennie Fitzkee and Lisa Thomson and I hope you will join us.

Thank you very much for visiting today.. Please tell us about your most memorable Christmas gift in the comments section.  I hope you have enjoyed yourself and please be careful if you have tried one of the above Margaritas… Thanks Sally.

 

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Buy a book for Christmas – #Children #Teens #YA – Paul Andruss, M. J. Mallon, HL Carpenter, Darlene Foster, Deanie Humphrys-Dunne


Time for some books that would make great gifts for children,pre-teens, teens and young adults. I will be featuring everyone currently in the Cafe and Bookstore as well as new authors, and new releases by existing authors in separate promotions.

The first author with a book that is great for all ages but would make a fantastic gift for teen and YA fantasy fans as well as adults, is Paul Andruss with Thomas the Rhymer

Thomas the Rhymer

About the book

Fans of Harry Potter and Narnia will love Thomas the Rhymer’

‘Thomas the Rhymer leaves you feeling like a child curled up in a comfy armchair on a wet and windy afternoon, lost in a good book’

‘Spellbinding! An ideal Christmas read for young and old alike!’

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…

No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.  And even if they find her… will she let them go?

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Paul Andruss - Author

Connect with Paul Andruss via his blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/

The next author is M.J. Mallon whose book The Curse of Time: Book One – Bloodstone, a YA fantasy and science fiction adventure would make a perfect gift.

About The Curse of Time

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.

With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?

A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.

One of the recent reviews for the book

This is a totally different genre for me, but this year I have been reading books by so many exciting new authors that I wanted to give this book a try, as it had been recommended to me. This book would be great for teenagers, or young adults and it follows the magical story of teenager Amelina as she steps into a world of crystals, magic and wonderment. There are some likeable and not so likeable characters and both are really well written. The book weaves a story of the main character learning new skills and you see her personal growth throughout the story. Nothing is what is seems and you want to find out how Amelia will use her enchanted gifts and learn who she can trust. A book packed full of intrigue, believable characters and poetic verse. I would look out for more books by this author. 

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B074CDJPY9

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L

Find more reviews and follow M.J. Mallon on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

Connect to Marjorie Mallon via her website: https://mjmallon.com/

HL Carpenter are a mother and daughter writing team for children, teens and YA readers. I thought this book would make a perfect gift for Christmas, especially as it is summer in the southern hemisphere. Pirate Summer.

About the book

Fifteen year old Josey is a liar. She’d like to stop. But after Mom left, the lies started popping out, like the time Josey left her little brother at the library and told Dad he’d run away.

Then Josey meets a boy who tells bigger whoppers than she does. He says he’s the son of a privateer who’s been dead two centuries. He’s so convincing Josey’s brother believes every word and sets off to find the privateer’s hidden treasure.

When her brother disappears, Josey is sure she knows where he’s gone. But everyone thinks she’s lying again. Everyone, that is, except the so-called privateer’s son. He knows she’s telling the truth because jeweled riches are only part of his tale. There’s also the snooperscope, a device that makes time leaps possible, like the one that brought him to the present.

The story is fantastical…and yet Josey will do anything to save her brother—including traveling back in time two hundred years with a boy she can’t trust.

One of the reviews for the book

15-year-old Josey is struggling to cope with her parents divorce. Josey has a reputation for lying (which becomes more problematic as the story unfolds). She and her younger brother are sent to spend summer with their grandmother. In the seaside town, she meets Mark, a mysterious young man with a dubious reputation. But Mark is much more than he seems. Without giving away spoilers, the reader will be pulled into an intriguing, page-turning adventure. This story is written well, with a dash of romance suitable for tweens.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GY7EKNA

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pirate-Summer-HL-Carpenter-ebook/dp/B01GY7EKNA

A selection of other books for adults, YA and children by HL Carpenter

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B007SHS9LA/

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/HL-Carpenter/e/B007SHS9LA/

You will find a lot more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5820921.H_L_Carpenter

Connect to HL Carpenter via their website and blog: https://www.hlcarpenter.com/

The next author who writes for pre-teens and young adults if Darlene Foster with her Amanda travel series... Her books are full of adventure and also introduce children and teens to other parts of the world and different cultures.. Here is an excellent example Amanda In New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About the book

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Even though I am way beyond the age bracket market this series is intended to, the child in me truly enjoyed Amanda and her class mates’ adventures on their school trip to New Mexico, discovering enchanting villages and people along the way and getting into all kinds of scraps that may or may not involve spirits and otherworldly phenomena. I especially enjoyed learning about a part of the world I have never been to, in particular the town of Taos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its History, as well as the Day of the Dead celebrations and Doña Sebastiana, the female saint of death. Darlene Foster takes the young reader into a whole new world, which might just make them travel and explore for themselves. A lot of fun!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website: www.darlenefoster.ca

And finally today.. another children’s and young adult author who also delights more mature readers.  Deanie Humphrys-Dunne and  her book Charlene the Star.

About Charlene the Star

Charlene the Star was born into a family of famous racehorses. Unlike her big brother, Charlie, Charlene decides she doesn’t like racing. How will she explain this to her mom?

How does she show her trainers she doesn’t like racing? Will she become a model instead? Will Charlene discover her natural gift? Her career path takes many twists and turns before she finds her place to shine. You’ll love reading about Charlene’s adventures. She may surprise you with her unusual talent.

Charlene the Star is first in the series of Charlene the Star books. The others are Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. In addition, she wrote an award-winning children’s autobiography, Tails of Sweetbrier and a fictional story, Charlie the Horse. Her books have won a number of awards and recognitions.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Donna G. Kelley 4.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden Talent September 6, 2018

This is an endearing story about a horse that did not have the ability or the interest to accommodate what everyone expected of her. She knew that she was meant for a different talent. This lesson can be applied to children as they read the book and answer the questions at the end of the story.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06X3RH9SN

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Charlene-Star-Deanie-Humphrys-Dunne-ebook/dp/B06X3RH9SN

Also by Deanie Dumphrys-Dunne

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Deanie-Humphrys-Dunne/e/B003FFS15S

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deanie-Humphrys-Dunne/e/B003FFS15

Read more reviews and follow Deanie Humphrys- Dunne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3309880.Deanie_Humphrys_Dunne

Connect to Deanie on her website: http://www.childrensbookswithlifelessons.com

I hope that this selection of children, pre-teen and young adult books has encouraged you to buy as gifts for your family and friends… more to come and the start of the other books in the cafe and bookstore over the weekend. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Summer #Sale – 99p/99c – #children #YA #Poetry #African Adventure Lucinda E.Clarke, Darlene Foster, Natalie Ducey and Annette Rochelle Aben


Welcome to the second of the Summer Sale posts with discounted books by authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore. There are two more sale posts scheduled for the  16th and 20th of July.

Some of the books from Monday 9th may still be on sale so worth checking: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-summer-sale-brigid-p-gallagher-hugh-w-roberts-jacquie-biggar-and-victoria-zigler/

The books will be on sale for just a few days around those dates so pick up your copies quickly!

All the spaces have now been filled but if you have any of your books that are FREE in July there is still some room on those posts.

Wednesday July 18th and Saturday July 21st – Spaces filling up quickly

Just let me have the link to the book on Amazon or Smashwords and the dates the book is free … I will have all your other details on file.. sally.cronin@moyhill.com

The first author with a discounted book today is Lucinda E. Clarke for Amie:African Adventureon offer at .99p on UK – 99c (+tax) US.

About the Book

Amie was just an average girl, living in her home town close to friends and family. She was happily married and she had her future all planned out. They would have two adorable children, while she made award winning programmes for television. Until the day her husband announced he was being sent to live and work in an African country she had never heard of. When she came to the notice of a Colonel in the Government, it made life very complicated, and from there things started to escalate from bad to worse. If Amie could have seen that one day she would be totally lost, fighting for her life, and enduring untold horrors, she would never have stepped foot on that plane

One of the recent reviews for the book

I was slightly apprehensive about reading this book as I have traveled to a number of African countries for leisure and work purposes. I have also written a series of non-fiction publications about investment in Africa. I was worried that this book would not jell with my knowledge and experience of Africa. That turned out to be an unnecessary concern. Lucinda E Clarke has a sound knowledge of life for expatriates and the locals in certain war-torn, “least developed” African countries and does an excellent job of setting the scene for this story.

I enjoyed her balanced approach to describing the life styles of both the expatriate community and the locals and the detail that was provided about the schooling, hospitalisation, politics, corruption and difficulties with business dealings in this fictional country of Togodo. The descriptions of Aime and her husband’s visit to a game farm and the African countryside are beautiful and the author shares some interesting facts about survival in the bush.

The story of Aime’s adventure is fast paced and entertaining. My only criticism is that there were to many fortunate coincident and lucky breaks for Aime and her husband that were a bit unbelievable but this did not detract overly from a jolly good story.

I would recommend this book for people who like the idea of an entertaining adventure in a realistic African setting.

Read the reviews and buy the book at 99c : https://www.amazon.com/Amie-African-Adventure-Lucinda-Clarke/dp/1500546992

And Amazon UK 99p: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amie-African-Adventure-Lucinda-Clarke-ebook/dp/B00LWFIO5K/

Also by Lucinda E. Clarke

Read the reviews and buy all the books: https://www.amazon.com/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

Read more reviews and follow Lucinda on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7996778.Lucinda_E_Clarke

Connect to Lucinda via her website: http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

The next book that has been reduced for the summer sale, is Amanda In New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind by Darlene Foster. On offer at .99p on UK – 99c (+tax) US until 20th July.

About the book

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind finds student Amanda Ross on a school trip in Taos, New Mexico. While there, her classmate Cleo thinks she sees ghosts. Amanda feels anxious too, sensing that something or someone is watching her. An engaging adventure ensues during their visit to the Land of Enchantment in this sixth book in the fun and educational series for early middle grade readers. 5/5

Read the reviews and buy the book at 99c: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

and Amazon UK 99p: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

The next book on offer for the summer sale is by poet  Natalie Ducey for her latest collection of poetry The Heart’s Lullaby – on offer at .99p on UK – 99c (+tax) US.

About The Heart’s Lullaby

The Heart’s Lullaby is a candid portrayal of love in all its splendor and pain. Love, in its purest form, is tranquil and soothes the soul. But love, as is life, can sometimes be cruel and unjust with its paths of uncertainty and forced goodbyes. In essence, it is a journey of self-discovery. A continuous journey of becoming. Often, it becomes a delicate dance of holding on and letting go.

We linger in memories of ill-fated love; our minds can easily soil them, and our hearts can effortlessly polish them to perfection, altering their resemblance entirely. We can anchor ourselves to yesterday by zealous choice or solemn grief. So easily, we can become obsessed with what “might have been” and miss the beauty that lies before us. Our minds craft spectacular moments that will never be realized. Why? Is it self-indulgence, or are they necessary companions for our soul’s survival?

Love, its force so formidable, transcends time, distance, and even death. Eternal love is the epitome of its grandeur.

To feel the exquisite, majestic splendor of love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. To have another see the unique beauty in our imperfections, that will protect us and elevate us without greed or envy, a soul willing and proud to walk this journey of life with us and share in its joys and sorrows … this is love, a gift unmeasurable and unmatched by earthly possessions.

But two souls must be willing. Therein lies the intricate complexities of the heart. And in the end, we must never forget … love, as is life, is a continuous journey of becoming.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Mar 09, 2018 Robin Goodfellow rated it Five Stars

The Heart’s Lullaby by Natalie Ducey is a beautiful book of poetry that describes the fragility as well as the strength of the human heart. The book is separated into four parts. Embers of Love focuses on the bittersweet aspect of heartbreak, the pain of saying goodbye to someone you care about. Eternal Love illustrates the beauty of love lasting forever, even after death. The Agony of Holding On & The Angst of Letting Go is about falling out of love, and that despite everything you do to hold onto that person, sometimes it’s better to let go. Finally, The Journey of Becoming is about being comfortable with yourself, and knowing that both the heart and the mind need to work together to bring peace and comfort. Whether it be through pain, loss, or peace, Ducey shows us that love can comfort us in our time of need, and show us how human we really are.

The world is a funny place. Sometimes, we do so much to protect ourselves to the point where we simply forget what it means to laugh or cry, or to even love our own selves again. This collection does, in fact, remind me of a lullaby you would sing to a small child at night, or even to a grown-up in need for comforting. For example, one of my most favorite poems in this collection comes from Eternal Love, where the narrator promises to love their beloved for all time in the memories of their past, even if they’re gone. It’s wonderful, because oftentimes we worry about if we’re missed, if we’re better off gone. It’s a question that’s haunted many people, but this poem answers it easily. In my mind, it shouldn’t be an easy question, but nevertheless, I’m shocked at how easy it is. It’s nostalgically iridescent, to say the least.

Ducey provides a soothing, comforting atmosphere interlaced within her poetry. From the pain of losing a loved one, to the relief of finally finding yourself in the end, this book encourages those suffering from heartbreak, and mesmerizes others just by its messages of hope alone. As such, I would recommend it to fans of Feathers, Shades, Shadows and a Few Raindrops by Mandar Naik, and Catching a Dream by J.R. McRae.

Read the other reviews and buy the collection at 99c: https://www.amazon.com/Hearts-Lullaby-candid-portrayal-splendor-ebook/dp/B072TMDGRB

and on Amazon UK at 99p: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hearts-Lullaby-candid-portrayal-splendor-ebook/dp/B072TMDGRB

Also by Natalie Ducey

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Natalie-Ducey/e/B014XNEG8G

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Natalie-Ducey/e/B014XNEG8

Read all the reviews and follow Natalie on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13534715.Natalie_Ducey

Connect to Natalie via her blog: https://natalieducey.com/

Another poetry collection for you now and Annette Rochelle Aben has reduced A Tanka Picture Book. On offer at .99p on UK – 99c (+tax) US until July 19th.

About A Tanka Picture Book

Life is alive with poetry; all the sights, sounds and smells. Blend it all together in your mind and you will begin to sing songs in your heart. You deserve a reason to smile, to feel good while pondering the magic of your world. You are closer than you think.

Open, A Tanka Picture Book! Consider the story each picture shares through its visual. Enjoy how each is enhanced with a tanka poem. Engage your senses while on a journey of passionate creativity. To feel the excitement found in even the simplest of sights is why A Tanka Picture Book was created.

Tanka is a form of traditional Japanese lyric poetry that uses 31 syllables spread out over 5 lines, to convey its message. The word “tanka” translates to “short song.” The short songs of this book elevate what may be considered average, to a new level of appreciation by connecting imagination and emotion.

Those wishing to be inspired, those seeking an uplifting read and those who are simply curious to see if they might enjoy poetry will love A Tanka Picture Book. You can add this happy, little book to your print or electronic libraries. Be sure to pick-up an extra copy for someone who can use a thoughtful gift.

One of the reviews for the collection

The Tanka poetry form is one of my all time favorites because it uses simile, metaphor, and personification. Similar to a Haiku, a Tanka also has the luxury of a few more syllables in which the poet can use to tell their stories. I’ve followed, read, and reviewed this author’s poetry for a long while. I know her favorite poetry form of choice was always Haiku. I am pleased to see her spread her wings into new writing territory.

Annette Rochelle Aben’s stories or songs bring inspiration and compassion to a weary heart. I always say if you want to get into the soul of a writer or a poet you must read their material and you’ll know everything there is to know about them. The best part is, you can’t help loving everything about this author.

When Annette Aben writes poetry, she bares her soul to the world sharing her most intimate beliefs and thoughts. I read these Tanka poems as songs of gratitude to a life well lived. I felt like part of her world and felt touched by the magic of her photos and meaningful words.

A Tanka Picture Book is a gift that will fill your soul with thankfulness and love. The photos are visually stunning. On those days when I perceive things are not as I had dreamed, I will re-read this book to reinforce my own beliefs in gratitude, magic, and most of all friendship.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5  Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

Buy the collection at 99c: https://www.amazon.com/Tanka-Picture-Book-Annette-Rochelle-ebook/dp/B077MWZXVQ

And on Amazon UK at 99p: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tanka-Picture-Book-Annette-Rochelle-ebook/dp/B077MWZXVQ

Also by Annette Rochelle Aben

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Annette-Rochelle-Aben/e/B00MSQTGUY

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annette-Rochelle-Aben/e/B00MSQTGUY

Find more reviews and follow Annette at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8262554.Annette_Rochelle_Aben

Connect to Annette via her blog: https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Darlene Foster.


Welcome to Getting to Know You where guests have the option of 52 questions to allow us to find out more about them. The quirky, the secrets and the reasons how they have ended up here today… Too deep?? These interviews are turning out to be a lot of fun… for me too and if you would like to participate here are the details and also the previous interviews.

Guests so far this season John Rieber, Ritu Bhathal, The Militant Negro, Balroop Singh, Carol Taylor, Lucinda E. Clarke, Billy Ray Chitwood, D.Wallace Peach, Annette Rochelle Aben, John. W. Howell and D.G. Kaye.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/getting-to-know-you-sunday-interview-2018/

My guest today is children’s author Darlene Foster who is also an avid traveler of the world. Originally from Canada, she now lives in Spain. Apart from her series of books starring Amanda and her travels, Darlene also writes detailed and very interesting travel posts on her blog… and occasionally here in the Posts from the Archives Series.  I will share her books and most recent review later in the post, but here is the official word on my guest.

About Darlene Foster

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” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Time to discover which of the questions Darlene has selected.

Welcome Darlene and can you tell us what is your favourite childhood song and why?

My favourite childhood song is You Are My Sunshine because my dad used to sing it to me when I was a little girl. It always made me feel so happy and loved. I have fond memories of singing it together as we rattled along the dusty prairie roads in the pickup truck. Although Dad has been gone for almost eleven years, I still cry when I hear this song as I miss him so much. There are many versions of this song but I’m sharing this one as it reminds me most of my cowboy dad, who was also a big fan of Gene Autry.

If you could be any action hero, who would it be?

That would have to be the remarkable Wonder Woman. She is tall, gorgeous, funny and smart. A powerful, strong-willed, self-assured woman, who does not back down from a challenge. However, she is diplomatic, prefers peace and would never look for a fight or escalate a conflict. She’s fierce and at the same time nurturing. Wonder Woman is a born warrior who has the genuine compassion and understanding of a true humanitarian. Her natural confidence, strong leadership skills and intelligence, makes her a great role model. And she can sure rock that outfit! Yes, I would want to be Wonder Woman.

Sally here: This is the trailer for the Wonder Woman film released in 2017.. I can recommend the movie.. plenty of action. I am sure not a patch on you Darlene…..

What was the one thing you could never learn how to do no matter how hard you tried?

There are two things, one is milking a cow. My dad tried his hardest to teach me but I never got the hang of it. I didn´t really like hanging around the barn anyway and preferred being in the kitchen with mom, cooking and baking. The other thing I never learned is to type. I didn´t take it in school as I chose to take matriculation courses. Later I enrolled in not one but two adult education courses. But, like milking a cow, I couldn´t seem to catch on. I have, however, managed just fine through life without learning to milk a cow or to type.

If animals could talk, which one would you have a conversation with?

My darling dog, Dot. I would just love to have a chat with her and I´m quite sure she would enjoy talking to me. It would be a most entertaining conversation although it would probably centre around food. She is quite obsessed with food and has quite good taste. Perhaps she could tell me what food she likes best. I know she prefers homemade over store bought. I would also love to learn more about her life before us. I have conversations with her now, and although she appears to be listening, she is unable to respond. A good conversation is best if both parties speak.

If you only had two minutes to get out of your house, what would you grab?

Without question it would be my dog! When I was a child, I always answered this question with, “My books.” I had a plan that if there was ever a fire, I would open my bedroom window and throw out my books (the bookshelf was beside the window in my bedroom), then I would jump out. Since I was on the ground floor there was no concerns about me hurting myself. Mom once asked if I would not be more concerned about saving my younger brothers. I’m afraid I had to think about that. My books have always been very precious to me. They have now been replaced in order of importance by Dot.

Now to find out more about Darlene’s books and her most recent review.

Amanda In New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About the book

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind finds student Amanda Ross on a school trip in Taos, New Mexico. While there, her classmate Cleo thinks she sees ghosts. Amanda feels anxious too, sensing that something or someone is watching her. An engaging adventure ensues during their visit to the Land of Enchantment in this sixth book in the fun and educational series for early middle grade readers. 5/5

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

I hope you have discovered a little more about Darlene and I am sure that she would love to receive your comments and answer any questions you might have. Thanks Sally

 

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist #Music to get the Weekend Started – Requests from Annette Rochelle Aben, N.A. Granger, Jan Sikes, Judith Barrow and Darlene Foster


Since the beginning of this series, I have asked you to share your favourite music with links in the comments. I thought I would create a special playlist, sharing the track and link to the latest post of those requesting the song.

Annette Rochelle Aben has a music background and I would love to do a road trip with her… I am sure we would have a few laughs and plenty of sing-alongs. Her request was for Michael Franti and Spearhead. Michael Franti and Spearhead Amazon

The next request is from author N.A. (Noelle) Granger who has just posted details of her new historical novel…a departure from her murder mysteries. She has requested Private Dancer by Tina Turner – Buy the music here: Tina Turner Amazon

Next it is Jan Sikes, who too has a music background.. this song was new to me.. “So This is Life” by Courtney Patton and you can buy her music here. Courtney Patton Amazon

The next request comes from author Judith Barrow and is for Willie Nelson and The Traveling Wilburys. End of the Line from the album Roy Orbison Collected

 

The last track today is from children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster with a wedding song that brings a tear to her eye.. Anne Murray  – Can I have this Dance for the Rest of My Life  — one of my music idols.. and you can buy her music here: Anne Murray Amazon

 

My thanks to all those who requested their favourite tracks.. one more post next week and then back to the normal Friday posts. Thanks Sally.. keep singing and dancing...

Smorgasbord New Series of Posts from Your Archives. – Visiting Jane Austen on a Motorbike by Darlene Foster


Time for a new series of Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about travel.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog since you began blogging up to October 2017 and you simply send the link to those blogs to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

So far in the Posts from Your Archives from September 2017, there have been over 600 posts from 150 + bloggers that have reached a different audience and encouraged more readers for their own blogs and current posts.

The deal is that you also help promote the post by sharing on your social media and responding to the comments.

Previous participants are more than welcome

The theme for the new series is travel.

  • Places and countries you have visited,
  • Different cultures,
  • Exotic food you have discovered when travelling,
  • Modes of transport – cars, bikes, horses, RVs
  • Camping Trips,
  • Road trips,
  • On the road for work,
  • Train Journeys,
  • Travel themed music,
  • Planes and airports,
  • Ships and other marine vessels,
  • Humorous adventures etc.

To kick off this new series here is author and travel writer Darlene Foster with a visit to Jane Austen on the back of a motorbike.  You will enjoy I am sure and you will also see how it can work as a way to market you work.

Visiting Jane Austen on a Motorbike by Darlene Foster

Our delightful visit to England included Yorkshire and North Wales. Viewing the countryside with its stone hedges and ancient castles was made even more enjoyable as we hurtled down narrow roads on a motorcycle.

We had one thing left to do before flying back to Canada; deliver the motorbike to its new owner in London. We travelled down from York, stopped for lunch at a pub in Cambridge overlooking the Thames and watched the rowers practice. As we rode towards London, I was puzzled when we didn’t turn off the M1 taking us into Guildford, but turned east. Soon I recognized signs for Alton, Strawberry Hill, Steventon and Chawton. We were on our way to visit my hero, Jane Austen! My dear husband had planned this as a surprise for me.

As my knight in shining armour parked the pearl white Honda Goldwing in front of Chawton Cottage, he said, “Take your time. I’m going for a tea.” He pointed at Cassandra’s Tea Shop across the road.

I couldn’t believe I was actually there. Chawton Cottage, a charming 17th century, three storey red-brick house, was Jane Austen’s home for the last eight years of her life. I entered the front door thinking about how many times dear Jane had crossed that threshold. When I mentioned I had come all the way from Canada, and I was a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, the kindly receptionist waved the entry fee.

There I stood in Jane’s house, a gift from her brother which she shared with her mother and her sister Cassandra; the place she wrote most of her work. I entered the parlour and gingerly touched the little round table she wrote on. Prickles ran up and down my arms. I had seen some of her original writing at the British Museum a few years earlier, but this seemed more real. I imagined Jane slipping her writing under a book whenever someone entered. Although she often shared her writing with her family, she only did so when she was ready.

The house, very much as it was when Jane lived there at the start of the 19th century, displays family paintings on the walls. The pianoforte Jane played her music on when no one was around, adorns one corner of the drawing room.

I climbed the stairs to Jane’s bedroom. The first thing I noticed was the patchwork quilt, made with her sister and mother, hanging on one wall. Each floral, diamond patch stitched meticulously into place surrounding a large basket of cheerful flowers in the centre, reminded me of the hours of labour that would have gone into this undertaking. The bed she slept on, covered in crisp white linen, sits peacefully in a corner. On another wall hangs a topaz cross, a gift from one of her beloved brothers and most probably the inspiration for the topaz cross given to Fanny Price by her brother in the novel, Mansfield Park. A window overlooks the garden. Jane spent many happy hours in this room. When she grew ill, she entertained her visitors here.

Other rooms upstairs, house Regency period costumes, carefully preserved and displayed. I enjoyed viewing the muslin, floor length dresses with Empire waists and soft loose skirts in pale pinks, periwinkle blues and lilacs, such as Jane would have worn. At least she did not have to deal with the constraints of a tightly laced corset. Memorabilia of her two Royal Navy brothers, Frank and Charles, can be found in adjoining rooms.

I felt Jane’s presence everywhere in the house, but nowhere near as much as in the lovely garden surrounding Chawton Cottage. I could sense Jane taking a turn around the garden, delighting in the many varieties of herbs and flowers, and resting on the rustic garden bench. Even her old donkey cart, which carried her around when she was too ill to walk, lives on in the bake house.

Back in the cottage I chatted with the host and perused the comprehensive selection of Jane Austen books. Of course I could not resist purchasing a few (not that I needed to read anything else about J.A.) I also chose a few souvenirs and postcards before I bid Jane, the house and her memories goodbye. I walked across the street to Cassandra’s Tea Shop to meet my husband, who had downed three cups of tea, ate two pieces of lemon loaf and washed the bike while waiting for me. He asked how my visit was.

I replied, “Jane was most happy I visited her and approved of my arrival on a motorcycle.”

It was a sweet view – sweet to the eye and the mind. English verdure, English culture, English comfort, seen under a sun bright, without being oppressive.
– from ‘Emma’, Jane Austen’s novel written at Chawton Cottage and published in 1815

©Darlene Foster

Thanks to Darlene for getting the new series of Posts from Your Archives kicked off in style…What a treat it must have been to visit such a role model’s home.. great husband…

About Darlene Foster

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” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

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 Germany, a mean boy immediately attempts to take it from her.

Back on their cruise, Amanda struggles to keep the precious violin safe for the poor prodigy. Along the way, she encounters a mysterious monk, a Santa Claus look-alike, and the same nasty boy.

Follow Amanda down the Danube, through Germany, Austria and Hungary, as she enjoys the enchanting sounds of music everywhere she goes. She remains on the lookout though, wondering just who she can trust.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Michael and I read this book together and we both enjoyed it immensely. It is my favourite of the three Amanda books we have read to date and we will definitely be reading more.

Amanda and her good friend, Leah, are on a boat cruise along the Danube and very much enjoying the good food and fascinating villages and towns that they stop at when they become embroiled in a new mystery. A young boy who plays the violin most beautifully asks Amanda to please take his violin on the boat with her and meet him in Vienna. Amanda agrees to the request and quickly comes to realise that the talented boy is not the only one who wants the violin. There are a few people, both on the cruise and elsewhere, that are determined to lay their hands on this instrument.

I really like Darlene Foster’s books as they have an interesting and face paced story but they also include a huge amount of fascinating information about the specific country in which each specific novel is set. We both learned a lot about the towns and villages in Germany, Austria and Hungary and the traditional foods, entertainment and some famous places of interest. There is a lot of research that goes into each of these books. We rated this book five out of five stars.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Danube-Sounds-Music-Travels/dp/1771681020

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-Danube-Sounds-Music-Travels-ebook/dp/B01J4KULPU

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Thanks for dropping in today and if you would like to participate by sharing some of your travel themed posts, written before October 2017.. contact me sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Semana Santa: Easter in Spain by Darlene Foster


Darlene Foster shares a post from her archives that brought back memories for me of our seventeen years in Spain. Easter is a big festival and is an occasion for all the family to take to the streets.

Semana Santa: Easter in Spain by Darlene Foster

The week before and including Easter is called Semana Santa here in Spain and is the largest religious festival of the year. Elaborate processions take place throughout the week in most cities and towns. During Holy week religious sculptures are taken out of the churches and paraded through the town to the main cathedral. Some of these precious sculptures,created by well known Spanish artists, are hundreds of years old. They are mounted on floats called pasos, surrounded with flowers and candles. Portapasos (or float-carriers) wearing traditional costumes, carry the heavy floats through the streets lined with spectators. No large trucks transport these floats, only dedicated men and women. I was eager to see one of these parades so we took a bus to nearby Murcia city to witness the Good Friday procession.

float

Paso carried through the streets of Murcia

Jesus Nazareno, 1797

Jesus Nazareno, 1797

San Juan Evangelista, 1952

San Juan Evangelista, 1952

float 2

Descendimiento, 2001

Ahead of the floats, carrying lamps, candles or incense, are the Nazarenos, often called penitents. These are members of various religious brotherhoods known as cofradias, wearing robes, capes and capirotes, a type of conical hat that usually covers the face. These robes were once worn by individuals doing penance. As a sign of atoning their sins, they would walk barefoot through the town, their faces covered so as not to reveal the sinners. Although the hooded cloaks look similar to the Ku Klux Klan, they have nothing to do with them. Many of these brotherhoods date back to the Middle Ages and are recognized by the colours they wear. They are responsible for the parade, pasos and music and spend countless hours in preparation, ensuring everything runs smoothly. There were about a dozen floats in this parade, each represented by a different brotherhood.

Penitent with bare feet

Penitent with bare feet.

green robes

red robes

Each Brotherhood wears its own colour

Included in the procession are women wearing the traditional mantilla, a black lace veil worn high on the back of the head. Mantillas are meant to show morning and pain. Marching bands and drummers follow the floats providing stirring music. The entire scene is alive with colour and sound, and the air is filled with the sweet scent of incense and melted wax. As always in Spain, this is a family affair with all ages taking part in the spectacle.

Women wearing Mantillas

Solemn women wearing Mantillas

all ages

All ages take part in the procession.

bishops

Incredible embroideries of gold and silk on standards, cloaks and coats

Drummers are heard throughout the cities and towns

Drummers are heard throughout the cities and towns

Candies and pastries play an important role in the Easter festivities. The Nazarenos and other members of the procession carry candy around their waists and hand them out to children who wait patiently with outstretched hands. Occasionally they give a treat to an adult too. A small robed participant caught my eyes, ran over to me, and placed some sweets in my hand, with a huge grin. So sweet.

Handing out candy to the children

Handing out candy to the children

This person is not fat, he is carrying candy around his waist.

This person is not fat, he is carrying candy around his waist.

Easter candy in the bakery

Easter candy in the bakery.

I love the stockings of the float bearers

I love the stockings of the float bearers

It is difficult not to be moved no matter what your beliefs. A merging of art, culture and religion in a vital and poignant atmosphere, I found it to be emotional and exciting at the same time. I’m thankful I was able to witness the dedication and pageantry of this special event.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter, however you spend it.

©images Darlene Foster 2016

Thanks to Darlene for sharing this celebration of Easter in Spain. As always we would love your feedback.

About Darlene Foster

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” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

 

About Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask

Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing thousands of kilometres from home in the United Arab Emirates? It’s her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe, one full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and wonderful friends. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.

And a recent review for the book.

Jan 18, 2018 Eileen Carter rated it it was amazing  

Adventure on every page.

What a great book for a young girl who enjoys adventure. Darlene Foster has written a Nancy Drew like book set in UAE. Amanda is ready for adventure when she goes to visit her aunt and uncle. She makes a new friend, Leah. But what happens when she buys a perfume flash?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Arabia-Perfume-Darlene-Foster-ebook/dp/B016TX3P26

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-Arabia-Perfume-Darlene-Foster-ebook/dp/B016TX3P26

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Bad Bentheim: Castles, Dungeons and Apple Strudel by Darlene Foster


Sadly we have come to the end of the current series of posts from the archives of Darlene Foster, but hopefully she will share more with us in the future. This week a trip to Germany to the town of Bad Bentheim.. a spa town.

Bad Bentheim: Castles, Dungeons and Apple Strudel by Darlene Foster

On our recent visit to Holland, we took a day trip to Germany to the charming town of Bad Bentheim, just across the border. Bad in German means bath, and this is a popular spa town. In the middle sits a fabulous medieval castle. You know how much I love castles, and this was a great one to explore. Castle Bentheim is the largest hilltop castle in northwest Germany with a recorded history from 1050. For the past five centuries, it has been owned by the Counts and Princes of Bentheim and Steinfurt.

DSCN4392

Burg Bentheim

DSCN4426

The castle keep called the Pulverturn or powder tower

DSCN4405

As we approach the entrance to this massive fortified castle, we are greeted by sheep grazing on the grounds.

Kronenburg Castle

Kronenburg Castle

No one resides in Kronenburg Castle anymore, but it is now a museum depicting how the lords of the castle lived. Both Otto von Bismarck and KaiserWilhelmI once stayed here as guests.

DSCN4443

The Hall of Knights

DSCN4455

A guest bedchamber

My favourite part included the castle keep which holds the dungeon. One of the oldest buildings in the castle, it dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries.

DSCN4462

DSCN4463 (2)

DSCN4464

 

In the interior of the tower is a small opening in the floor called “the hole of fear.” It is the only entry to the windowless dungeon 12 meters below. In the Middle Ages, this was the Castle jail. Entrance to the dungeon is only accessible by means of a rope winch installed above the “hole of fear”. A bit creepy!

DSCN4480

At the top of the tower are panoramic views of the town and countryside.

DSCN4491

The simple Gothic chapel features a two-sided Madonna, carved in 1503, hanging freely from the ceiling. Both sides depict the front of the Madonna.

DSCN4478

In the courtyard is an early Romanesque stone cross of the Crucified Christ discovered in 1828. Called the “Herrgott of Bentheim,” it was created around 1000 A.D. and is considered one of the earliest portrayals of Christ in Central Europe.

DSCN4476

The library holds copies of old books, Bibles, and music sheets. Fascinating.
Happily exploring a medieval German castle

Happily exploring a medieval German castle

Happily exploring a medieval German castle

Schlosspark

Schlosspark

Schlosspark sits beneath the castle with well-manicured gardens and a lovely fountain in the middle. The entire setting is from a fairy tale.

DSCN4408

DSCN4493

We couldn’t leave Bad Bentheim, and Germany, without sampling the apple strudel. It was as good as it looks! A great day trip and a chance for me to practise the little German I know.

©Darlene Foster 2016

Thanks to Darlene for sharing some of her amazing travels with us and I am know she would love to receive your feedback.

About Darlene Foster

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” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Here is Darlene’s latest book –  Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent review for Amanda in New Mexico

Quiet Riley 4.0 out of 5 stars Psychospookalicious! December 28, 2017

Amanda in New Mexico is a young adult novel about a world-traveling student named—you guessed it—Amanda. Her 10th grade teacher (and most suspect chaperon ever), Ms. Bowler, leads her class on a haunted field trip to Taos, New Mexico. Here, Amanda’s eccentric friend, Cleo, has many encounters with “ghosts.” Then, Amanda starts having many encounters with “ghosts.” Trying to enjoy her time in a foreign land, Amanda shrugs off these hauntings as coincidences and carries on, snapping photographs and writing travelogues for her site, Kidsblog. In the meantime, Cleo is going through serious psychological distress and is on the brink of a mental breakdown while their suspect chaperon keeps checking boxes off their itinerary (how about a box for mental clinic, Ms. Bowler? Your student has major issues!). From here, the narrative turns into a spooky whodunit filled with mystery, mayhem and dialogue straight out of a Saved by the Bell episode.

Amanda in New Mexico is the perfect read for teenagers interested in any of the following: ghost stories, adventure, southwestern history and geography. Author Darlene Foster portrays past and present life in New Mexico with great vibrancy and accuracy, even using Spanish terms to draw the reader into Amanda’s charming and elaborate surroundings. Overall, I like Amanda in New Mexico and give it an 85/100 on the Quiet Scale.
 

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels/dp/1771681209

Also by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

If you are interested in joining Darlene and the other writers who are sharing posts from their archives and showcase your books or blog….. here is the link to the new series beginning in March: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/happy-new-year-and-the-start-of-the-2018-series-of-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives/

 

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archive – Madonna of the Letter and 236 Steps in Messina by Darlene Foster


Darlene Foster gives us a guided tour of the port of Messina with its stunning architecture and history.

Madonna of the Letter and 236 Steps in Messina by Darlene Foster

Have you ever been to Sicily? That island off Italy at the end of the boot. As a kid in school I was always fascinated by that part of the map. I was fortunate that our recent cruise made a stop at the port of Messina. We were greeted by a golden Madonna perched on top of a very tall column, as we entered the harbour. The words – “Vos et ipsam cictatem benedicimus” at the bottom made me curious. Although it rained heavily, I was not deterred and left the ship to explore. I was excited to be in Sicily.

Madonna of the Letter

My first stop was the Duomo de Capanile, the main cathedral in the city. It seemed like a good place to start, and to get out of the rain. The massive bronze front door embossed with biblical scenes was impressive. The vast central nave lined with marble pillars and archways, held alcoves with marble statues of the disciples and apostles. In an elaborate setting at the end was an image of the Madonna of the Letter, the patron saint of the city.

cathedral door

Impressive front door of the Messina Cathedral

scene on door

apostles

Apostles in the nave

I stopped in the gift shop to buy postcards and ask questions. The friendly shop keeper was happy to oblige a curious Canadian. She explained to me that the words under the Madonna at the entrance of the port translates into – “We bless you and the city” This was supposed to have been written in a letter to the people of Messina by the Virgin Mary when they converted to Christianity in 42 AD, after a visit from the apostle Paul. This explained why she is called Madonna della Lettera or Madonna of the Letter. I purchased a ticket to visit the museum and attached clock tower.

church and tower

Cathedral with clock tower

After a quick look through the museum, I ventured next door to climb the 236 steps to the top of the bell tower. It was worth every step. The belfry houses the largest and most complex mechanical and astronomical clock in the world. On the landings I viewed, from the inside, the amazing mechanically animated bronze images that rotate on the façade of the tower at the stroke of noon. At the top levels hang the massive bells that ring out the time. I was fortunate I timed my visit between the ringing of the bells. Once at the top, I was rewarded with a splendid view of the city from all four directions. The rain stopped and the sun shone for my benefit.

clock tower bells

view from the top

The view from the top of the bell tower

I took my time going down, in order to have a better look at the intricate figures, aided by explanations on boards in English as well as Italian. The carousel of life was composed of four golden life size figures representing childhood, youth, maturity and old age, with death in the form of a skeleton following behind. Biblical scenes depicted on other carousels are changed according to the liturgical calendar. One scene was dedicated to the Madonna of the Letter where an angel brings the letter to the Virgin Mary followed by St. Paul and the ambassadors who bow when passing in front of the virgin.

carousel of life

The Carousal of Life

madonna carousel2

Madonna of the letter carousel

Madonna of the Letter Carousel

Once back down, I removed my raincoat and wandered the streets. I found an iron worker creating figures in front of his shop called Hollywood, interesting sculptures including an imposing conquistador, a quote from Shakespeare and the picturesque Church of the Catalans built before Norman times on a pagan site. I stumbled upon an overgrown archaeological dig behind a municipal building which gave me a glimpse of life in Roman times.

Church of the catalans2

Church of the Catalans

wind

Amazing carvings and sculptures everywhere you look

conquistador

bard quote

Shakespeare mentions Messina in Much Ado About Nothing

I purchased a bag of Italian pasta, a great reminder of my enjoyable time in this Sicilian city. The shop keeper told me that Messina doesn’t have anything old as there have been so many earthquakes over the centuries and much had to be rebuilt. The last major earthquake was in 1908. I guess age is subjective.

As the ship left port later that day, I waved goodbye to The Madonna of the Letter with her comforting message sent to the citizens of this city two thousand years ago. A day to remember.

©Darlene Foster 2016 – Images

Thanks to Darlene for these stunning photographs and introduction to Messina and Sicily. For those who might not get to make the trip it gives us a glimpse of something spectacular.

About Darlene Foster

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” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Here is Darlene’s latest book –  Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent review for Amanda in New Mexico on Goodreads

Dec 26, 2017 Patricia Tilton rated it Five Stars

Darlene Foster has written another lively adventure story for young readers who enjoy traveling, exploring and solving a good mystery. Fans of the Amanda Travels series won’t be disappointed with this fast-paced book which will keep them on edge with a spooky plot and unexplained events.

The story is character driven. Amanda is a fun, upbeat, curious, caring and memorable character that readers will want as a friend — especially since she has keen radar and is always ready to solve a good mystery. And, Amanda can’t resist a good mystery — even if it involves ghosts, cold breezes brushing her shoulders and unexpected incidents. Her friend Cleo is more sensitive to the presences around and finds it safer to sketch the sites they visit instead of explore. Caleb is more pragmatic, the group photographer and a good balance for Amanda.

Readers will learn about history, geography, architecture, artifacts and shiver at the presence of ghosts that are rumored to be haunting many of the places they visit in Taos — the Mable Dodge Luhan house, the Governor Bent Museum, the Taos Pueblo, the Rio Grande Gorge and bridge, Ojo Caliente hot springs, the Palisade Sills, the St. James Hotel, and the Enchanted Circle Pottery. They will have an opportunity to attend the Day of the Dead celebration. Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind is the sixth book in the Amanda Travels series.

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels/dp/1771681209

Also by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

If you are interested in joining Darlene and the other writers who are sharing posts from their archives and showcase your books or blog….. here is the link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/happy-new-year-and-the-start-of-the-2018-series-of-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives