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.
Such a cute middle grade book about Amanda venturing to the United Arab Emirates. It is educational too, various aspects of living in the desert and the culture and customs of the people are explained in an interesting way throughout the book. It is descriptive, fun, and amusing too. I particularly loved the sections with camels and how the author explained different types of camels and how wonderful the camel is especially in a sand storm!
What a great way to educate youngsters about the diversity of cultures in this world.
It transported me away for a while, and made me smile, which I’m grateful for particularly at the moment when we can’t go anywhere.
The last time my eldest daughter left home I wrote a flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch which I entitled The Riptide Suitcases expressing my emotions at my daughter moving abroad.
The Riptide Suitcases
The riptide hid in two shallow suitcases. Foreign tee-shirts lay crushed against jumpers, jeans pressed unfolded next to sandals and boots. I lifted my daughter’s larger suitcase up; it was heavy but not as heavy as my swirling heart.
No traffic impeded our journey. The ripples began early, too early. We shared coffee but didn’t eat. The departure gate beckoned. The riptide began. It burst out of me. I cried, no I wailed. Guilt crashed against waves of sadness. Sadness wrestled and drowned my heart. Never again will I feel such depths of emotion. My adventurer, daughter had gone.
That was three years ago. Natasha stayed in South Korea for a year and absolutely loved it. I’m so proud of her for taking that courageous step, to travel to the other side of the world to teach English takes a considerable amount of guts especially when you don’t speak the language and you are so young. She was the youngest EFL teacher in her school, newly graduated from University.
You can see a little about that here: (unlike her mum she never really got into blogging, she only wrote two blog posts! )
Why Scotland? Natasha has always loved it. My hubby and I always make Edinburgh our home-from-home, so it’s no wonder that at least one of our children might decide to stay there…
This is my piece of flash:
Three years ago, we said our goodbyes at the departure gate before that first flight. How I cried. I wept for a day, and the next day I wept without weeping. My darling daughter gone so faraway. She braved how scared she was. Now, she is adventuring again – not so far this time! And yet her friends miss her already. I miss her already. This is life, young adults are always moving, taking those steps to independence. They never leave your thoughts. They’re always a part of you, wherever they are.
Daughters always stay in your heart.
It will be my youngest daughter’s turn next – Georgina – and then it truly will be empty nest syndrome! Still, I still have her for now… Yay!
Having spent so much time with both of them during lockdown I know I will find it especially hard.
Last year in May my daughters and I went to Montreal and treated ourselves to salon nail gels.
So, we thought as we’re in Lockdown why not do it this at home instead? We clubbed together to buy a gel nail set from Amazon complete with nail gel polish, base, and top coat.
Saturday 4th April we cheered ourselves up, by painting our nails.
It wasn’t quite salon luxury – I donned the necessary hygiene accessories: gloves, disinfectant wipes to clean, a fresh sheet of newspaper for each person, etc, and we were ready to go. (Don’t do this at home if anyone is ill – i.e. has a cough, sore throat or any symptoms of Coronavirus, or if you are at high risk of getting the virus, or have serious underlying health conditions.)
I pretended I was a professional! And we had a good laugh. We even joked with my hubby that he could have a go to but he declined.
When it came to my turn I chose a neon colour, I love jazzy nail shades. Inadvertently, I chose the same brightness of colour I had last year in Montreal, though the shade this time is more pink/red than pink/purple! My eldest daughter went for red and my youngest for a pink, plus she decided to paint one nail on each hand in glitter purple.
They turned out really well and took ages to do, so it’s a great way to spend time!
Poor hubby felt a bit left out. He disappeared in the garden with earphones to listen to music but when he saw our nails he said he thought they were very nice. And, he even said my longer hair, (which I normally get cut every 6 weeks,) suited me.
Later on I skyped mum and dad which really cheered me up too. My dad always says the nicest things – I think he thinks I’m perfect! Lol, so if I ever need a boost to my ego all I need is a five minute chat with him. Mum and dad are both staying fairly cheerful considering everything. Bless them.
A Frightening Dream
Last night I had the most frightening dream. I was on campus somewhere, (a mature student!) and these three young lads terrorised me, (one was only fifteen,) as I walked home one night, They taunted me with sexual innuendos and followed me all the way to my bus stop. Then they sat near me on the bus home. I was terrified that they were planning to get off at the same stop as me. By chance a friend of mine joined me on the bus, and they started chatting to her as if everything was normal. I asked her to move with me to the back of the bus, so I could tell her what happened without them hearing. She seemed a bit surprised by my request but did as I asked. As soon as we were seated I explained what had happened – how they had been suggestive, threatening and lewd. She was shocked to hear that. We were so relieved when they got off the bus before us.
If I was analysing this dream I’d say it shows the depth of my anxiety and uncertainty about life at the moment. We have no idea how long Lockdown will continue, how many people will become infected, or how many will die. It is so unsettling, upsetting and disturbing.
So, it’s even more important to focus on those things that will lift your mood and take your mind off the situation. Whatever makes you happy – whether it is pottering in the garden, drawing and painting, watching TV, reading a book, keeping fit, caring for your house plants, meditating, or painting your nails! Everything that makes you happy is so important right now.
From Richard Dees who is in self isolation in Devon – all his daughters are in the nursing profession – one daughter is a midwife, another one is a nurse in ITU, (her husband is a consultant,) and daughter three is in her third year nursing training. Do pop over to his blog to say hello. He has some books on sale: https:///another-week-has-passed/
Last day of Anne Allen’s promo #booklovers Bargain! The Guernsey Novels Books 1-3 boxset only 99p/99c until 5/4/20 drama/love/mystery on a beautiful island https://books2read.com/TheGuernseyNovels1-3 @AnneAllen21 #guernseynovels
One of the things I discovered as we were sitting in the taxi on route to catch our bus to Heathrow was I’d forgotten my coat! So, I ended up borrowing my eldest daughter’s jacket when I could – this furry brown one was my favourite!
As you can see we stopped for a cocktail – the first of many!!! We went there on another evening to sample their fantastic pizzas. Yum…
I did buy myself a new jacket… think tulips and jazzy coat. I’m in the slideshow below. The tulips were stunning at the Botanical Gardens, Montreal. Talk about a field of colour…
Getting back to cocktails. See the green one below? That was my favourite! We were on a rooftop bar, and it was the bizz!
The food… Boy, was it tasty – my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Here are a few of the amazing dishes we tried… Look at this plate of beautiful food at Arthurs Nosh Bar… 4621 Notre-Dame O Rue, Montreal QC H4C 1S5 Not only does it look like a work of art it tasted like one too! It was well worth the wait. We had to queue to get in but this looked and tasted fantastic. A definite favourite!
And these two meals were from the same pub which was very near our AirBnB, Pub Bishop and Bagg 52 Rue Saint Viateur O, Montreal QC H2T 2K8 the food was amazing. See those potatoes they were cooked to perfection. Yum… And there vegetarian option was fantastic too. All very hearty but tasty food.
https://www.lov.com/ At Taiyo we ordered from a tablet on our table and after a while we couldn’t quite remember just how much we ordered! Needless to say we ate everything but had less room for the amazing banana fritters. 1709 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal H2X 3K4.
Montreal is definitely a foodie’s paradise. This is just a sample of some of the amazing restaurants we went to and the cocktails… what can I say? Whilst on holiday, it’s imperative to let your hair down!
This beautiful basilica is situated in Old Montreal, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The church is located at 110 Notre-Dame Street West and faces the Place d’Armes square.
It is a truly stunning church, perhaps one of the most beautiful I have seen. The colour and splendour of the interior is so dramatic that you can’t help but draw a breath of astonishment as you walk in. Moreover, there is a definite sense of calm in this church, a spiritual feeling which is apparent from the moment you arrive.
I would definitely recommend it as a must see location if you are visiting Montreal.
Here is a short extract from Wikipedia singing its praises:
The interior of the church is amongst the most dramatic in the world and regarded as a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture. The vaults are coloured deep blue and decorated with golden stars, and the rest of the sanctuary is decorated in blues, azures, reds, purples, silver, and gold. It is filled with hundreds of intricate wooden carvings and several religious statues. Unusual for a church, the stained glass windows along the walls of the sanctuary do not depict biblical scenes, but rather scenes from the religious history of Montreal. It also has a Casavant Frères pipe organ, dated 1891, which comprises four keyboards, 92 stops using electropneumatic action and an adjustable combination system, 7000 individual pipes and a pedal board.
I had the fortune to visit Montreal with my two daughters in May. Here they are in the photo below walking ahead of me taking in the spectacular view…
Approximately 11 million people visit Notre-Dame every year, making it one of the most visited monuments in North America.
I’m a contributing author in the Plaisted Publishing House Ghostly Writes Anthology 2018 with my story Ghostly Goodbye. Available on Amazon, Apple, Nook, Kobo, Scribd, 24S, Playster, Indigo, Angus & Robertson, Mondadori Store:
My hubby and I went for a long weekend to Lisbon. Unfortunately I had a fall on holiday and hurt my foot. I’d been out the night before at the Hard Rock Cafe, (indulging in cocktails and behaving like I’m one of the youngsters.)
My hubby and I were listening to a very good cover band. The next day I was feeling pretty good – no hangover! But it was raining heavily and the cobbled pavements were very slippery.
We arrived at this spot – we’d been there the evening before. This was taken when it was sunny…
The next day the band were there again. They were about to set up. Imagine those wet cobble stones, see that foot. It’s probably mine. Yes, you get the picture.
I felt a sharp pain
Hubby rushed to help me up
Good nothing broken
A hard rock holiday fall
A low-risk trip, groan get up!
So the band and my hubby rushed towards me to help. I felt like a celebrity!
It was my birthday but it was not quite what I had in mind for a birthday present. Lol.
Still the Altis hotel made up for it with this unexpected surprise.
Luckily no major harm done but I am still hobbling about a bit.
… Ouch.. I should have caught this instead…
If I had I would have admired this awesome graffiti… Which I did on another occasion.
I should have hugged a tree instead to stay safe. This one reminded me of an enormous, hairy gorilla with big caring arms!
Luckily the first two days were very sunny. Blue shades weather. I pinched my hubby’s sunglasses. He said they suited me!
We saw some wild life – this charming fellow caught my eye… He looks astonished doesn’t he? Camera shy perhaps? Or perhaps he heard about my fall.
All in all I had a lovely birthday break away in Lisbon. It’s a beautiful city, I’d really recommend a visit.
I LOVE PORTUGAL.
But watch out for those cobbled streets in the rain. I wish I hadn’t had that fall. But, it could have been much worse.
I’m grateful I didn’t get whisked away in an ambulance – this has happened to me and various other family members before…
Have you been to Lisbon? Do let me know in the comments. x
Stay safe and out of the rain.
Bye for now,
I’m a contributing author in the Plaisted Publishing House Ghostly Writes Anthology 2018 with my story Ghostly Goodbye.
Ghostly Goodbye by M J Mallon
Ghostly Goodbye is a paranormal love story about a young woman called Iris who can’t get over her husband’s death. She is mourning him so much that she feels dead inside. Her husband Ed sends her a ghostly message from beyond the grave via an old forgotten garment in her wardrobe. She responds by dragging herself from her tomb-like bed and he draws back the curtain of death to visit her in a most unusual way.
Available on Amazon, Apple, Nook, Kobo, Scribd, 24S, Playster, Indigo, Angus & Robertson, Mondadori Store: Universal Buying Link
A huge welcome to Darlene Foster who is over at my blog home today for a Q and A about her children’s adventure series: Amanda Travels.
Some of you might know that I like to interview using my nickname MJ…
MJ: I’d love to find out more about your amazing travel series featuring a twelve year old girl. Who is Amanda Ross and where does she like to travel to? What mysteries does she uncover/solve? What adventures does she have?
Darlene: Amanda Ross is an average girl living in Alberta, Canada and she is bored. On her twelfth birthday she makes a wish for travel and adventure before blowing out all her candles. The next day tickets to visit her aunt and uncle in the United Arab Emirates arrive in the mail. She has an amazing adventure in the UAE that includes a mysterious perfume flask, a beautiful princess, a loyal camel and a chase across a dangerous desert. You can read about her adventures in Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask
Amanda now has the travel bug and when her friend Leah invites her to come to Spain on a holiday with her, she jumps at the chance. She visits Madrid, explores a mountain town with houses hanging on the edge of cliffs, stays overnight in an old, spooky monastery, takes part in a tomato fight and discovers the amazing sights of Barcelona. A young girl, looking amazingly like a girl in a famous painting, shows up wherever Amanda and Leah happen to be. Can Amanda keep this sweet young girl, and her beloved pony, safe from the clutches of an evil horse thief without bringing harm to herself and Leah? This adventure is in Amanda in Spain-The Girl in the Painting.
Amanda travels to England to spend spring break with Leah where she has to get used to funny accents and cars driving on the opposite side of the road. The girls visit the Isle of Wight where they meet Charlie, a kind old bookseller, and his cat Rupert. They discover a vintage book is missing from a set, meet a couple of dubious teenagers and a suspicious woman. Amanda explores Hampton Court, Harrods, The Tower of London and Windsor Castle while trying to find out what happened to the missing novel and why Charlie is acting so strange. Find out more in Amanda in England-The Missing Novel.
Amanda is delighted to show Leah around Alberta when she visits from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, tour a ranch, go on a cattle drive, visit a Buffalo Jump, spend time at a Dinosaur Museum and explore the Hoodoos. When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s very important, until everyone appears to want it. Is this stone worth ruining Leah’s holiday and risking their lives? Spend time with Amanda in Alberta as she attempts to decipher the writing on the stone in Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone.
On a river cruise down the Danube, Amanda is given a valuable violin to look after by a homeless musician. She is fascinated by the medieval castles, green valleys and charming villages of Germany, Austria and Hungary, learns about European history and enjoys the sounds of music along the way. But, she is not sure who she can trust and if the violin can be kept safe for the poor prodigy in Amanda on the Danube-The Sounds of Music.
MJ: How many books have you written? I’m sure my readers would be fascinated to find out more…
Darlene: I have written six books in the Amanda Travels series and one Spanish/English book called, Pig on Trial/Cerdito a juicio. The most recent Amanda Travels adventure takes place in New Mexico where Amanda is on a school trip. One of her classmates claims she sees ghosts but Amanda has trouble believing her, until strange things start to happen. The beautiful but haunting landscape, an ancient pueblo and a haunted hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past in Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind.
MJ: Is Amanda a little like you, when you were her age?
Darlene: There is always a little bit of you in your characters. But, Amanda is more like the girl I would have liked to have been when I was twelve. Unlike Amanda, I didn’t start to travel until I was twenty-eight years old. Perhaps I should have made a wish before I blew out my candles.
MJ: Where do you currently live? What is it about your home/s that you love?
Darlene: I have a house in Spain, on the Costa Blanca, where I spend most of my time. I love the never ending sunshine and the relaxed life style. I have plenty of time to create my stories and am close enough to other parts of Europe that I can explore. I will always be a proud Canadian though.
MJ: I am a keen traveller and you are too! Is there a favourite holiday/travel destination that you like to visit frequently? Or do you prefer to discover new places?
Darlene: I so often fall in love with a place and say I must return but I always want to check out new places too so seldom do. We once made a stop at Malta on a cruise and decided we needed to see more of it. A year later we spent a week there. I think Amanda may visit Malta too.
MJ: It sounds like you’ve had a very interesting background: growing up on a ranch in Southern Alberta. That sounds fascinating! Tell me more…
Darlene: It was an incredible place to grow up but I didn’t appreciate it at the time. I was often bored and lonely and couldn’t wait to grow up and move to the city. The plus side was that I had lots of time to make up stories in my head and plenty of time to read, when my chores were done.
MJ: What are your accomplishments that you are most proud of:
a. With regard to writing.
Darlene: I am proud of the fact that I have published seven books in eight years.
b. A non-writing one! Darlene: I am proud of raising two amazing kids, one an accomplished potter and another who is not only a great dad and grandfather but a talented musician. Creativity in one way or another seems to run in the family. Of course, I encouraged it.
MJ: I believe you do speaking engagements and the like. What are your tips for public speaking?
Darlene: Be natural and be prepared. Know who your audience is and involve them. Be energetic and enthusiastic about your subject matter. Once you make a connection with the audience, the rest flows naturally.
MJ: What is the best part of being an author? And what is the worst?
Darlene: The best part of being an author is having a reader tell me how much they enjoyed my book. That is the icing on the cake for me! The worst is sitting in front of the computer plugging away alone. I am an extrovert and am energized by being around people, so the solitary part of writing is hard for me. But if I don’t do it, I won’t have readers telling me they enjoyed my book!
MJ: What are your favourite things to do, besides writing?
Darlene: Walking my dog, eating chocolate, reading, chatting with friends and family, exploring new places.
MJ: Have you found any resources/websites that you would like to share that are particularly helpful to authors?
Darlene: A friend gave me a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi and it is the best resource ever. There are others in the series which I have since purchased as well. Their website Writers Helping Writers has great writing tips too. https://writershelpingwriters.net
MJ: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Darlene: I am a paid up member of the panster club and have the badge to prove it. I have tried to be a plotter many times and have failed miserably.
MJ: What kind of food do you like?
Darlene: You mean besides chocolate? I am a vegetarian and love most vegetables, if done right. I especially enjoy Asian food as I love how the vegetables are prepared. So Thai, Indian, Chinese and Japanese food are high on my list. I also prefer my food to be spicy and not boring. Please don’t serve me plain steamed vegetables.
MJ: What advice would you give new authors such as myself?
Darlene: To persevere and believe in yourself. Writing is hard work but it is so worth it when you hold that finished book in your hands. Never give up!!
MJ: If you were to lose one of your senses which one would you feel the loss of most and why?
Darlene: I think I would have to say the sense of sight. There is so much to see in this amazing world we live in and I am thankful I have seen a lot. But there is still much more I would love to see.
MJ; Finish this sentence. A travelling onion…
found itself part of a pasta sauce in Italy and said “Sono contenta”
Darlene: Thanks so much for having me as a guest, Marjorie.
MJ: It’s been my pleasure Darlene.
Reading through your responses to my questions I have to say we have a fair amount in common: a love of travel, chocolate, (who doesn’t like chocolate – I have met one person who didn’t but that is a long story,) reading, writing, spicy food, and a paid up membership of the pantser club!
Thank you for taking my travelling onion to Italy. He needed a slice of the action on a holiday abroad! Lol…
Buy Paperback Book link: http://mybook.to/TheCurseofTime
Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’
“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)