Saturday, May 7, 2016

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Young Ladies of Mystery by Stacy Juba


Series: Young Ladies of Mystery #1-3
Author: Stacy Juba
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Mystery, Young Adult, Paranormal

**Books for when Nancy Drew fans grow up**

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today #1
Summary:
Should we dig for the truth when Pandora’s Box is a coffin of buried secrets? When obit writer and aspiring reporter Kris Langley investigates the 25-year-old unsolved murder of Diana Ferguson, a young artist obsessed with Greek mythology, not only does she fall in love with Diana's nephew, but she must also fight to stay off the obituary page herself.

Sink or Swim #2
Summary:
Personal trainer Cassidy Novak garners popularity and fame while starring in a hit reality show. She catches the attention of an obsessive stalker that turns her well-ordered life topsy-turvy. As Cassidy's competitors disappear in a string of murders, she teams up with Zach Gallagher, the photographer tasked to record her personal moments for a local newspaper. Is Zach trustworthy? He shadows her as easily as the stalker. Cassidy hates the bizarre rules in this guessing game, but when her stalker forces a showdown, she plays to win.

Dark Before Dawn #3
Summary:
If you could control minds...would you? It's hard enough for Dawn hiding that she's a teen psychic from her new classmates and new step-family, but it gets even tougher when she learns that ESP spells D-A-N-G-E-R. When Dawn gets involved with a fortuneteller mentor and two girls who share her mysterious talents, she finally belongs after years of being a misfit. When she learns her new friends may be tied to freak "accidents" in town, Dawn has an important choice to make - continue developing the talent that makes her special or challenge the only people who have ever accepted her.




Twenty-Five Years Ago Today
“Kris? Kris?"

Her eyes snapped open, the scream ripping from her throat. She glanced around the dark room, shapes foreign, distorted by shadows. "No. I'm sorry Nicole ..."

"Kris? Kris?" Someone shook her shoulder. She gasped.

"Kris." Eric hugged her. Warm. He felt so warm. He stroked her hair, whispering in her ear. "It's okay. Everything's gonna be okay."

Reality rushed back to her. She hadn't lasted through the movie. She had turned off the television and slipped into unconsciousness. Eric's face fuzzed in and out of focus.

He switched on the lamp. "Want a glass of water?"

"No."

"What were you dreaming?"

"I don't remember."

"You screamed out ‘Nicole.’ You woke me up."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. Nicole was your cousin, right? Tell me about her." Eric rubbed her hair again, the gentle strokes calming her.

"We were the same age," Kris said. "Our families were close. We lived in the same neighborhood."

"That must've been fun."

"It was. Lots of fun." Tears spilled down her cheeks. Eric traced one with his fingertip.

"My mother told me your cousin was the girl who was killed by a neighbor," he said in a hushed voice. "I remember hearing about it when I was a kid. She went to a different school, but it still shook up all my friends. It was awful."

He wasn't wearing a shirt, just sweatpants. She must've scared the hell out of him.

"I’d rather not discuss it," Kris said.

"I want to help."

Kris felt the words surging to her throat, but she couldn't tell him. Not now. Not ever. "You are helping, just by being here. I don't want to be alone."

She pressed her lips to Eric's, first softly then more urgent. He responded without hesitation, crushing his mouth against hers. Kris dug her nails into his shoulders and the smooth contoured muscles of his chest. He gently laid her back and nibbled her ear, working a sensuous trail down her neck.

He glided down the zipper of her hooded sweatshirt and skimmed his thumb across her belly. She closed her eyes, arching as his hand slipped upward with agonizing slowness. Her stomach rose and fell as his fingers splayed over her heart. Kris's breathing quickened into a pant, every nerve ending igniting.

His eyes moved up to her, communicating desire. "I care about you, Kris. I was happy when you showed up tonight. I was afraid you didn't feel the same way about me."

"I do."

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yes," she whispered. "Stop talking."

Kris reached behind his head and pulled him down. Her thoughts scattered as she banished Nicole's disapproving ghost to the dim recesses of her mind.


Sink of Swim
Cassidy sat poised in her chair as former contestants filed onto the soundstage at WBC in New York. Together, the studio audience and television viewers had watched the recorded footage of her walking the plank. Gabriel would now interview the competitors from the inaugural season one final time.

More importantly, he would announce her prize. If it erased most of her debts, then it would at least make this whole embarrassing experience worthwhile. Cassidy’s heart kicked in her chest and sweat moistened her brow.

As one of her old teammates entered, her heart rate skyrocketed for a different reason. Josh Sanchioni slid into a bucket seat, carrying himself stiffer than normal in his sharp gray suit. Studio lights caught his sunbleached strawberry blonde waves, brightening the reddish gold tints.

Cassidy slipped her gaze to his leather shoes. If Josh hadn’t been engaged, they could have been an item. Instead, they’d been good friends until that one evening when the cameras were off and they almost kissed. They’d both realized their mistake and backed away. Things were strained until Josh walked the plank a week later.

Tonight, not only did Cassidy have to face Josh, she would probably meet his fiancΓ©e.

Her cheeks heating, Cassidy focused on the competitor beside Josh as a distraction. Adam Horton sat erect, hands folded in the lap of his olive green khakis. He wasn’t military, but he dressed like an Army wannabe. His reptilian eyes drilled into Cassidy, his angular face revealing the shape of bones underneath. A blond goatee darkened his pointy chin.

Cassidy shuddered involuntarily. Adam never said much, but he made her uncomfortable just the same.


Dark Before Dawn
Dawn gave an involuntary shudder as they drove past the beach. The gray tide pitched forward, swallowing the slick mirror of sand. She gazed down at her knuckles, fisted in her lap. Her mother and Jeff worshipped the ocean, but to her it was a mysterious monster foaming at the mouth.

She heard Ken's voice rambling about some girl, Renee, and how he planned to approach her at her locker. Renee had a boyfriend, but Ken had seen them fighting a couple times over the summer. Maybe if he started saying hi to her, he’d have a chance. After all, she’d smiled his way at the movies last weekend. At least, Ken was pretty sure the smile was meant for him. All his friends were getting hooked up and he wanted to find someone special.

Dawn turned away from the beach, surprised and a little flattered that Ken was confiding in her. "What’s she’s like?"

"Who?"

"Renee."

"You listened to me talk to Billy last night, didn't you?" he demanded. "I don't believe this. I don't get any privacy."

Hot numbness swept over Dawn’s face. Oh, no. Ken hadn’t been speaking aloud just now. She’d picked up on his thoughts. Every once in awhile, that happened and Dawn couldn’t control it. Sometimes she caught on and managed to avoid making a fool out of herself. Other times, she blurted out something dumb. You idiot, you’ve got to think before talking, Dawn chastised herself.

"What were you doing, standing outside the door?" Ken asked.

"I walked by your door when you were on the phone. Sorry, I didn’t mean to overhear."

"Yeah, I'll bet."

"I didn't do it on purpose." Dawn swallowed as he tightened his grip around the steering wheel. What an awful day, and it was only 7:15 a.m.

"Why’d you bring up Renee now?"

"I don’t know. I … I thought maybe I could help."

"I doubt it. Just forget it, okay?"

That was exactly what Dawn wanted to do.

"Sure." She let out her breath as Ken fixed his attention on the road.

This curse had haunted her since she was seven. Dawn never confided in anyone that she was psychic, but whenever she slipped, other kids shrank away from her. Like last year, with Samantha, a transfer student Dawn tutored in math. She and Samantha hit it off until Dawn asked why Sam’s father was in prison. Samantha's eyes narrowed and she asked how Dawn knew that. No one knew that. Soon, Samantha found a new best friend.

At least Ken had accepted her apology and his own explanation, even though it made her look nosy. 

Something made her turn her head. A weather-beaten cream cottage rose on a bluff, stunted and defiant against the broad swath of sky. Shades blocked the windows and silver wind chimes swayed from an overhang on the white-painted porch.

Iciness dripped over her body. A word detonated in her mind.

Evil.



Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

Sink of Swim


Author Bio: 
She loves to write about Characters at a Crossroads: individuals who are finding themselves and getting on the right life path after overcoming obstacles. Her goals are to entertain readers of all ages as well as inspire them through her mystery, romance and contemporary fiction books for adults, teens and children. She has written about ice hockey, sibling rivalry and sportsmanship, teen psychics, U.S. flag etiquette for kids, and determined women sleuths solving mysteries. Her latest novel is Fooling Around With Cinderella, the first in the Storybook Valley chick lit sweet romance series. Stacy is always happy to hear from readers.


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Twenty-Five Years Ago Today #1

Sink or Swim #2
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Dark Before Dawn #3
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Rise of Alpha: The Prodian Journey by Lorenz Font

Title: Rise of Alpha
Author: Lorenz Font
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Coming of Age
Release Date: May 3, 2016

Summary:
All Brian Morrison wants is to be an ordinary teenager with normal teenage problems, but his uncontrollable twitching and phonic tics make that impossible. The butt of jokes in school, he is nothing but a laughing-stock until a visit to a local tarot shop turns his life upside-down.

The psychic’s strange prediction thrusts him into a mysterious world of ghastly creatures and bizarre events, and he must come to terms with the abrupt changes if he is going to survive. One mother’s plea for help presents him with an impossible challenge, but it also brings him closer to the most popular girl in school. Brian must overcome threats from all sides to honor his promise, and he is determined to succeed. His heart won’t let him turn his back on someone in need, especially when he’s fallen in love with her.

Protecting Shannon McKesson soon becomes the greatest purpose of his life. Brian discovers many things on this new journey, but the biggest one might be the truth about who he is. If only he and Shannon can stay alive long enough to unlock the mystery.


“Bro, you’re acting weird today—weirder than usual, anyway. I know you well enough to know something’s up, so spill the fava beans!” Mark made that Hannibal Lecter hissing sound from one of our favorite movies.

“Yeah, you ran out of that psychic shop like you’d seen a ghost.” Darryl seconded. “Then you got sick and wouldn’t answer our calls until this morning. Spill, dude.”

I wavered between the truth or a lie about what had happened over the past few days. Telling them would also mean I had to tell them about Shannon. For some selfish reason, I wanted to keep her all to myself. My own little secret.

“We’re your best friends, in case you’ve forgotten. We’ve shared dirty secrets since middle school,” Mark reminded me.

As long as I could remember, these two had been watching my back.

I still hesitated, but the overwhelming need to share my fears with them overcame the urge to keep Shannon to myself.

“Fine. It’s weird, and I expect you to keep this on the down-low, aΚΌight?”

They nodded.

“That night at Madame Elizabeth’s, she said something that scared the crap out of me. I know it was bogus, but it freaked me out bad.”

“What did she say?” they asked in unison.

I mimicked Shannon’s mom. “With your curse comes a blessing.”

“Really?” Mark narrowed his eyes. “That scared the shit out of you?”

“Yeah.” I was sure they’d start making fun of me, but when neither of them said anything, I continued. “She’s creepy, bro.”

Again, there was silence except for the crunching sound of their chewing, and the music of the forgotten video game’s menu screen.

After a moment, Darryl began picking at his ear piercings, a nervous habit of his. “Okay, fine. Madame Elizabeth confused the hell out of me with my reading. I got the man hanging upside down. She said that it symbolized self-sacrifice and adapting to changes. Like there’s going to be a pause in my life until I give up something for the greater good. So I asked what it really meant, because my creep-o-meter shot through the roof. She said that my friend would be going through a transition and I needed to be there for him.”

Mark and I looked at each other while Darryl resumed his assault on the chips.

“Who is transitioning?” I asked, not sure what it meant.

Mark raised both hands and shook his head with a grin. “Don’t look at me. My voice doesn’t squeak. I’m circumcised, and all cylinders are a go.”

I socked Mark in the arm. “You’re stupid.”

“What did Madame E tell you?” Darryl asked him.

He was thoughtful for a moment. “Well, mine was kinda freaky, too. She had me pick a card, and I got temperance. She said it meant I had self-control and was able to handle tough situations, but that I had to deal with impatience and conflict. It could also mean angels and guardian spirits were around, but in my case, she said I was it.” He sighed and looked over at me. “Go figure what that means. Anyway, now you can tell us whatever it is you’re holding back.”

Cornered, I knew it was time to tell them about the dreams. I turned my desk chair around and straddled it. “That night, I started having weird dreams. First, this creature was chasing after Shannon McKesson. It was all a blur. I went back to sleep and dreamed something different. This random woman was being bitten by a rattlesnake. It was like I was there watching it happen. Then the next day, there she was in the news.”

I stopped to take a deep breath, and my friends stared at me like I’d lost my marbles. “See, I told you it’s weird. But that’s not all. I dreamed about Shannon and the weird creature again. It woke me up. I went back to sleep, I had another dream. This time, there was a girl running away from a man, and he was holding a bat. I could see everything around them, but I had no idea where they were. The next day, Shannon came over, and she and my mom were watching the—”

“Hold it right there! Shannon was here?” Disbelief was all over Mark’s face. Darryl stopped chewing, mirroring Mark’s surprise.

My secret was out. “Yeah, she came over when I didn’t show up for class yesterday.” I tried to make it sound like it wasn’t a big deal.


Author Bio:
A professional daydreamer, Lorenz Font discovered her love of writing after reading a celebrated novel that inspired one idea after another. Since being published in 2013, she has been conspiring, butting heads, and enjoying her spare time with vampires, angels, samurais, and other creatures she has created in her head.

Her perfect day consists of writing and lounging on her garage couch (a.k.a. the office) with a glass of her favorite cabernet while listening to her ever-growing music collection. She finds writing urban fantasy exhilarating and places an intense focus on angst and the redemption of flawed characters. Her fascination with romantic twists is a mainstay in all her stories.

Lorenz lives in Southern California with her supportive family and three demanding dogs.


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