Thursday, April 28, 2016

Amanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks' Secret by Paula Berinstein Interview & Giveaway

Amanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks' Secret Banner

This is my stop during the blog tour for Amanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks' Secret by Paula Berinstein. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 18 April till 1 May, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.

So far this series contains 4 books: Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy (Amanda Lester, Detective #1), Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis (Amanda Lester, Detective #2), Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle (Amanda Lester, Detective #3) and Amanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks' Secret (Amanda Lester, Detective #4). You can get the first book in the series for only 0.99$ at amazon.

Amanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks’ SecretAmanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks’ Secret (Amanda Lester, Detective #4)
by Paula Berinstein
Genre: Mystery/ Detective/ Fantasy
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: March 31, 2016

What does a dusty old secret have to do with peacocks?

Everything, as it turns out. When Amanda is knocked off her skateboard by a rare all-blue peacock, she learns that the species harbors a vital secret she must race to uncover. But before she can unravel the mystery, a startling archaeological discovery turns all of Britain against the detectives and threatens their very existence.

As old enemies gather strength and new adversaries emerge, Amanda finds herself dealing with hysterical teachers, a disappearing mentor, a mysterious poisoner, and a would-be magician. With so much at stake and so little time, the last thing she needs is to fall in love.

You can find Amanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks’ Secret on Goodreads

You can buy Amanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks’ Secret here:
- Amazon

Earlier Books in this series Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar ConspiracyAmanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy (Amanda Lester, Detective #1)
by Paula Berinstein
Genre: Mystery/ Detective/ Fantasy
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date: May, 2015

A reluctant detective, a criminal mastermind, and . . . sugar?

Amanda Lester wouldn’t be caught dead going into the family business. Her ancestor, Sherlock Holmes’s colleague Inspector G. Lestrade, is a twit. Nevertheless her parents refuse to see his flaws, and she’s going to a secret English school for the descendants of famous detectives whether she likes it or not.

When Amanda arrives at the dreaded school, she considers running away—until she and her new friends discover blood and weird pink substances in odd places. At first they’re not sure whether these seeming clues mean anything, but when Amanda’s father disappears and the cook is found dead with her head in a bag of sugar, they’re certain that crimes are taking place.

Now Amanda must embrace her destiny and uncover the truth. The only snag is that arch-villain Blixus Moriarty, a descendant of Holmes’s nemesis Professor James Moriarty, might be involved, and he doesn’t like nosy little girls interfering in his business.

You can find Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy on Goodreads

You can buy Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy here for only 0.99$:
- Amazon
- Amazon Paperback
- Barnes & Noble

Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal CrisisAmanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis (Amanda Lester, Detective #2)
By Paula Berinstein
Genre: Mystery/ Detective/ Fantasy
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date: September 15, 2015

If only Sherlock Holmes's great-great-grandson weren't such a dork . . .

There’s a new student at the Legatum Continuatum School for the Descendants of Famous Detectives and Amanda is supposed to work with him. Scapulus Holmes is a descendant of the great Sherlock and he’s crazy about her. Unfortunately she thinks he’s a dork and would rather die than have anything to do with him.

But when the kids discover a dead body encrusted with strange living crystals, Amanda realizes she needs Holmes’s help. If the crystals fall into the wrong hands they could be used for nefarious purposes, and only he knows how to protect them.

Can the detectives keep the bad guys from learning the crystals' secrets? It would help if they could figure out who the dead body is too. Only if Amanda and Holmes can find a way to work together can they prevent a disaster, and it isn’t looking good

You can find Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis on Goodreads

You can buy Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis here:
- Amazon
- Amazon Paperback
- Barnes & Noble

Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow PuzzleAmanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle (Amanda Lester, Detective #3)
By Paula Berinstein
Genre: Mystery/ Detective/ Fantasy
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date: November 15, 2015

Purple rainbows, a mysterious crypt, and pots of gold . . .

Things are not going well for Amanda and the secret detective school. A priceless artifact has disappeared, a dangerous hacker is manipulating matter, and zombies are being seen all over the Lake District.

Then the real trouble starts. When her cousins go missing and her friend Clive is kidnapped, Amanda is forced to turn to someone she’d rather not deal with: her old boyfriend Scapulus Holmes. But then he vanishes too. Now’s she’s sure that arch-villain Blixus Moriarty is involved . . . or is he?

You can find Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle on Goodreads

You can buy Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle here:
- Amazon
- Amazon Paperback

Paula BerinsteintAbout the Author:
Paula Berinstein is nothing like Amanda. For one thing, she’s crazy about Sherlock Holmes. For another, she’s never wanted to be a filmmaker. In addition, compared to Amanda she’s a big chicken! And she wouldn’t mind going to a secret school at all. In fact, she’s hoping that some day she’ll get to build one.


Where are you from?
I was born in Hollywood and raised in West Los Angeles, California.
Tell us your latest news?
The fourth title in the Amanda Lester, Detective series, Amanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks’ Secret, is now out. I aimed this book toward a little older audience than the first three. I am calling it a YA title, although I think younger kids would enjoy it as well. It’s just that there’s a bit more romance in this one.
When and why did you begin writing?
I dabbled over the years, mostly writing kids’ stories, but I got serious in the 1990s when I was doing research for screenwriters, novelists, and producers. I enjoyed my work (I used to be a reference librarian and had gone freelance) but I envied them. They got to be creative, which was what I’d always wanted to do. So I vowed to start writing professionally.
At first I wrote articles and books about librarianship and finding information because I knew the subjects and it was easy to break in. Then I started to branch out into writing about science and technology (which almost led to a job with astronaut Buzz Aldrin), and then in 2005 I started my podcast, The Writing Show. I did that till 2012. As soon as the show was over I started writing fiction, and that was because a friend of mine kept nudging me to develop some ideas I’d come up with while doing the show. Those ideas, of course, had to do with Amanda Lester.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Is this a trick question? Wow, I’m not sure. I’ve written for a long time, but I didn’t only write for most of the time I was doing it. I suppose I could go back and look at my tax returns and see when I started listing my occupation as “writer,” but instead I’ll just pick the late 1990s, when I started getting writing gigs that paid. That included writing Web site copy, documentation, articles, columns, and other stuff, as well as books, although I’d had contracts with publishers since the mid-nineties.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Do you mean my first Amanda book? I’d rather talk about that than Communicating with Library Users, which was my first actual book (and fun, but of less interest to your readers, I think).
I wanted to write a detective story because I love mysteries, and I wanted a protagonist who was compelling but flawed. I wasn’t actually sure I could do this, though, and I was worried. So I guess you could say I was inspired by the challenge and the doubt.
Do you have a specific writing style?
If you showed me a passage from just about anything I’ve written, I’d recognize it as mine. Describing that style is tricky, though. I think I’d have to say that it’s colorful, but not in the way you might think. I have a bit of synesthesia, which means I sometimes experience one sense as another, such as seeing words in color, visualizing sounds as shapes, and so on. When I see my words on the page, I feel as if I’m experiencing color. I don’t exactly see them in pinks and purples and greens, but they affect me in a way that’s similar to that. Maybe that’s why I have colors in the titles of all my Amanda books. I suppose this makes no sense . . .
How did you come up with the title?
I have a very specific formula for my titles.
First, I use Amanda’s name because her last name is a variant of Lestrade and implies a connection with Sherlock Holmes.
Next I pick the MacGuffin (, which is the thing that’s being pursued in the story, such as sugar or rainbows or peacocks. When I’m searching for a MacGuffin to use, I look for something catchy that can carry an entire plot. A lot of my ideas can’t, so they end up on the cutting room floor.  
Then I come up with a color for the MacGuffin, such as pink or orange or blue. It has to be something vibrant and visual, because I want my stories to be very sensory and cinematic.
And then I look for a word that connotes conflict or struggle or antagonism, such as conspiracy or secret. I do that to give the title a bit of darkness and mystery and to suggest the presence of villains.
And that’s how I do it!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want them to have fun. Is that a message?
How much of the book is realistic?
I think the characters behave in realistic ways, but the world I’ve built for them is not terribly realistic. Everything I write about is based in fact but is exaggerated, sometimes to extremes, including the technology, although some of the far-out sounding devices in my stories actually exist. For example, there really is such a thing as a powerful microscope built out of a cell phone, and there are acoustic levitators such as the one Amanda’s friend Clive Ng invents. Whether you could use them in the ways I do is doubtful, however.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not really. Only one character, Simon Binkle, resembles someone I know, and even then only slightly. The events in the stories are completely imaginary, although I did belong to a stick dog club with friends named Jill and Laurie when I was about seven.
What books have influenced your life most?
The Sherlock Holmes stories, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden. I’ll tell you why. I love to figure things out, and I must have started doing that because I read mysteries. Or maybe I was born that way, I don’t know. But I think mysteries have taught me how to approach life, to question and reason.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’m afraid I’m going to have to give you three: Charles Dickens, Elizabeth George, and J.K. Rowling.
Dickens taught me how to tell a story. He does overuse coincidence, but his books are stylized rather than realistic, so I forgive him.    
Elizabeth George, the author of the Inspector Lynley mysteries, writes such compelling characters. I absolutely love her detective sergeant, Barbara Havers. She’s so smart and capable and yet so flawed and I become so engaged with her. I’ve also learned about description from reading Ms. George. She doesn’t just recite what her characters see; she imbues her scenes and props with histories, context, even personality.
As for Rowling, her world-building is second to none. The Harry Potter books just sparkle on the page. She’s a first-rate storyteller too.
What book are you reading now?
A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I must say that Tana French is an amazing mystery writer. Her stuff is rather gritty so I wouldn’t recommend it for kids, but In the Woods and The Likeness are riveting. Very creepy too.
Philip Pullman, the author of the His Dark Materials series, is another author I can’t get enough of. His fantasy stories take place in an alternate England where people are literally connected to their spirits, which he calls daemons. Wonderful writer for kids and adults both.
What are your current projects?
I have almost finished the first draft of the fifth Amanda Lester, Detective book, Amanda Lester and the Red Spider Rumpus. In this title a new villain emerges who attempts to use Amanda’s passion for filmmaking against her. We also learn a secret about Simon as well as something we didn’t know about Scapulus Holmes, Sherlock’s great-great-grandson.
What would you like my readers to know?
Here is a writing secret from J.K. Rowling. She draws a matrix of her stories with the timeline down the side and various plot elements along the top. I do something similar, although I put story beats down the side. You can see your story at a glance! A very helpful way to get an overview, and you can adjust the events easily.
I would also like your readers to know that you are awesome! Thank you so much for hosting my blog tour, Vicky!!!!!


You can find and contact Paula here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Paula's blog on Goodreads
- The Writing Show podcasts
- Newsletter

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Amanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks’ Secret. Open International. These are the prizes you can win:
- a Kindle Paperwhite
- A physical copy of all four Amanda Lester books by Paula Berinstein
- 2 physical copies from Paula Berinstein her books, winner's choice

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for being part of this blog tour! I enjoyed reading the interview :)

  2. Thank you so much for being a host on my tour, Vicky!!!!

  3. I am not sure if this would be a series for me but I am sure some of my younger family members would love it.

  4. This book sounds great my daughter would love it.

  5. ANY book that references Sherlock Holmes is one I am going to read. : )