I’m so excited to be part of Darlene Fosters launch of her eleventh Amanda book–Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady. This is a wonderful series that take kids all over the world to not only solve mysteries but visit some of the planet’s exquisite sights.
Before we get to my review of this book (spoiler: This Amanda story is great) and let you read an excerpt that will whet your appetite, I had the opportunity chat with Darlene about this book:
Why did you choose Malta as the setting for this adventure?
When I started to write this series, my goal was to introduce readers to interesting locations that may not be that well known. Malta is one such place. It’s not a country many people get to or know much about. My husband and I visited Valletta, the capital, for half a day while on a cruise. We loved it and decided to return for a week a year later. While we were there, I kept saying, “Amanda would love it here.” So, it was not surprising that I choose Malta for Amanda´s next adventure
How do you do your research for each book?
I start my research while I am visiting the location. I take many pictures and copious notes. I write in my journal every evening so I don’t forget things. I also pick up brochures, postcards and magazines while there. While I´m writing, I refer back to my pictures and notes. I also do research on the internet. I find YouTube videos are great as I get the feeling of being there, as are travel blogs. If I can find books or movies that take place in the location, they help with the research as well. There is one scene in Amanda in Malta that came from a news clip I saw on Facebook.
Note: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion:
In Darlene Foster’s eleventh in the popular Amanda Travels Adventures series, Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (Central Avenue Publishing 2021), Amanda receives a postcard from a girlfriend in Malta (a Mediterranean island between Italy and Africa) saying she is in trouble and needs help. As Amanda tries to figure out how to wrangle a trip to this distant location, a friend invites her to join him on a Malta vacation to replace another friend who cancelled. Amanda snaps up the opportunity. Once she is in Malta, her task is to find her friend and help her solve the trouble she is in without involving the family that is hosting her (so they aren’t exposed to undo danger, I suspect). It doesn’t take long before Amanda is embroiled in two mysteries: One, a plot to steal a priceless museum piece, and two, the horrible killing of the island’s endangered storks.
Amanda likes problems, the more complicated the better, so not surprisingly, figures out how to solve both of these while exploring the beauty and sights of this amazing little country. Look at some of the locations she visits:
As always Amanda learns a lot which means I–as the reader–do too:
“’Rambling??’ Caleb raised his eyebrows. ‘That’s what British people call hiking or going for a walk.'”
This is one of the best travel adventures available for youthful readers. The pace is quick but not so fast readers miss the excitement of visiting amazing locations. The characters are endearing with a nice mix of old favorites from prior Amanda books and new folks she meets through her Malta trip (if you know Amanda, you know she is gregarious, fun, and never misses an opportunity to meet new people). Kudos to the author for her creativity and ability to weave problem-solving skills in with the excitement of our planet.
She had been in Malta only a couple of hours and already Amanda’s head spun trying to take in everything. The taxi driver drove her, Caleb, and his parents from the airport to Valletta, the capital city. He dropped them off at the entrance of a cobblestone street, indicating their place was through the archway.
“I just love these colourful doors. They break up the sandstone buildings. From the air it looked like we were about to land on a city of sandcastles.” Amanda studied a worn blue door in front of her. “Look at this cool doorknocker. It’s in the shape of a seahorse.”
“Well, so it is!” Caleb lifted his camera to take a close-up picture.
Mr. and Mrs. Sorensen walked ahead, dragging suitcases behind them. On the phone in his other hand, Caleb’s 5 dad studied a Google map. “I’m sure the place we rented must be near.”
Mrs. Sorensen sighed and adjusted her shoulder bag.
“Should I carry that, Mom?” asked Caleb.
“I’m OK. You look after your roller bag and camera.”
“Here!” Caleb’s dad pointed down a narrow alleyway. “Our place is down there. No wonder the taxi couldn’t bring us right to the door.”
They trundled along cobblestones, suitcases thumping behind them. Amanda looked up at the colourful, square, closed-in balconies. “This place is so awesome!”
Mr. Sorensen stopped in front of an elegant wrought iron gate. He punched in numbers on the intercom pad. The gate slowly creaked open. They walked through it and past a welcoming pool with crystal clear water surrounded by lush bushes and flowers. In a corner, a fountain spouted, creating rainbows in the air.
“Oh, my. This is charming,” exclaimed Mrs. Sorensen as they entered the apartment. “There is a bedroom for you, Amanda, with your own bathroom.” She pointed down the hall. “Neil and I will have the room on the right. Caleb can sleep on the foldout couch here in the living room.”
“Are you sure? Caleb, do you mind sleeping in here?” Amanda asked.
“Heck no. I don’t care where I sleep. Besides, the TV is in here, so I’m good.”
“We didn’t come to Malta to watch television,” said his mom as she pulled the kettle out of a cupboard. “Let’s get settled in and have a cup of tea. Then we can explore the neighbourhood and pick up a few groceries. I know I’m going to like it here.”
“I really would like to find my friend,” said Amanda, anxious to connect with Leah and find out what she meant by something’s not right.
“Do you have her address?” asked Mr. Sorensen. “I can plug it into Google Maps and see where it is.”
Amanda dug the address out of her backpack and handed it to him. “It doesn’t look very far from here.” He looked up from his phone. “Should we go and find her now?
Here are the buy links
Amazon Canada here
Amazon UK here
Amazon US here
Barnes and Noble here
About the Author
Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, traveling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places. Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. When not traveling herself, Darlene divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, Spain with her husband and entertaining dog, Dot.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.