Category Archives: Young Adult

Shadow of a Life Cover

Welcome, Tifani Clark!

We’re excited to bring a lover of unsolved mysteries to the Highlighted Author this week! Tifani Clarks’ books are based on real events in history — ones that spark questions and beg for answers. Missing people, missing relics, and (of course) ghost sightings. After reading the book blurbs and watching the attached trailers, I immediately added Shadow of a Life and Haven Waiting to my own TBR list. I’m such a sucker for unsolved mysteries myself. Sigh… Enjoy the feature!

–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess


Shadow of a Life CoverJamie Peters plans to spend the summer before her junior year with her nose stuck in a book—not saving lost souls. Usually the girl that blends into the crowd, Jamie’s world is turned upside down when a mysterious ghost begins to follow her.

But Sophia isn’t just any ghost.

A hundred years earlier, Sophia’s disappearance sparked a national mystery that remained unsolved. Jamie knows the legends surrounding Sophia’s disappearance, but she never dreamed she would find out what really happened . . . or that her family might have had something to do with Sophia’s disappearance.

Determined to set Sophia free, Jamie blows the dust off her family’s past and unearths clues to discover what she must do to save Sophia’s soul. She enlists the help of childhood friend—and secret crush—Peter Ashby as she sets off on a dangerous quest to find a missing map. Spending the night in a graveyard, crawling through a dilapidated barn, and staring down the barrel of a gun aren’t enough to deter Jamie from helping Sophia. But can she find the answers she needs before another ghost gets revenge on her and Sophia?


“Jamie, I know this is odd and it’s a lot to take in, but I really want you to hear me out. I’m thinking the only way to convince you is to just show you. I’ve never shown anyone that I was a ghost before so don’t freak out, okay?”

I didn’t respond.

[Sophia] stood up again, breathed in and out a couple of times, and said in a sing-song voice, “Now you see me . . .”

With her words, she vanished before my eyes and the world around me was completely silent, except for the sound of my heart that pounded so hard it threatened to burst through my chest. I sat motionless, not knowing what to do, until I heard a whisper in my ear, “. . . now you don’t.”

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Haven Waiting Cover (1)Fifteen-year-old Jamie Peters is a Soul Saver. She helps ghosts finish their business and move on. When a mysterious map comes into her possession, she knows a new adventure is waiting. With the help of her friends, Peter and Camille, she follows the map. Her friends hope to find treasure, but Jamie suspects there is more to the map than riches. She never imagined the map would lead her to Haven—and a book of spells.

Haven Mills was accused of practicing witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Unlike the other women hung during the trials, Haven wasn’t as innocent as she claimed to be. In one moment of weakness and desperation, she did something sinister—something that has been bringing evil to the world for centuries.

Jamie promises to help Haven, but the reality of what that promise entails comes back to haunt her as she fights not only for Haven’s soul, but for her own as well.


I leaned in, close enough to examine my face, but as I stared at my image I began to feel uncomfortable.

And then it happened.

As I gazed into the mirror I saw a shadow cross behind me, moving from the window across the room toward my bedroom door. It moved too fast for me to completely see it, but it had an almost human form . . . and it seemed to be red. I whirled around, but the shadow had passed.

“Haven? Is that you?”


“Haven? Please. This isn’t funny anymore.”

My hands trembled as I lifted them to my chest. I could feel my heart pounding through my shirt and I had to work to keep the knot in my throat from erupting into a scream. Breathing heavily, I slowly walked toward my bedroom door, taking one cautious step after another until my trembling hand reached out and turned the knob. I threw the door open and looked out. The hall appeared to be empty and so was the staircase leading down to the rest of the house.

I quickly shut the door again and flipped on my lights. I peered into the closet and under my bed. I even looked behind my curtains. Nothing was there. I had not explanation for the shadow.

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A Note from Tifani

Tifani - Author PhotoI grew up on a potato farm in southeastern Idaho with two brothers and two sisters. Because of our location, I had a lot of space to imagine and daydream, and I often pretended to be a character in a book. More than once I fashioned a hula hoop and fabric into a hoop skirt so I could be Scarlet O’Hara. I’m married to the love of my life and am the mother to four fabulous children. When not writing, I enjoy playing the violin and piano and traveling to new places on my quest to see all fifty states.

I’ve always loves mysteries and I hate it when one goes unsolved. That’s how the Soul Saver series was born. Each book takes on a real event from history. Shadow of a Life revolves around the 1800s, Haven Waiting the 1600s, and the third book—which is nearly complete—will be centered around the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

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Welcome, Hanne Arts!

This week we are excited to welcome an eighteen-year-old, debut author — Hanne Arts. Still in her last year of high school, she is living her dream as a debut novelist. After two years of writing and revisions, her first novel Just Perfect is hot off the presses. It’s about love and acceptance, friendship and equality. Enjoy the feature!

–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

Just Perfect

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00058]When sixteen-year-old Christina Jacobs comes to school one day and discovers that life will never be the same again, she soon finds herself sinking away into self-doubt, haunted by her troubled thoughts and experiences and striving for acceptance and equality. 

Fate was never easy on her, having given her an appearance far from desirable and a family situation far from the norm, but when she is forced to face it all on her own, forced to battle her inner demons, she knows she needs to give all she’s got to fight her way back to the surface and get her life back on track.

“Just Perfect” is a grippingly honest account of love and friendship, betrayal and trust, and inner demons and the fight for a better tomorrow.

Trailer for Just Perfect

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Paperback and Amazon

About Hanne

IMG_1448My name is Hanne Arts and I’m an eighteen-year-old budding author, currently in my last year of High School (IB). I moved to Slovakia one and a half years ago, before which I lived in Hungary and, earlier still, Holland and Belgium.

Writing has been my passion since I was seven years old, and I am proud to announce that I have recently made the big step into the publishing of my first full-length novel entitled “Just Perfect” (link below). For over two years, I had been working and reworking this story, which finds its roots in the difficult times I have gone through. Feeling the need to help others through the sharing of my personal struggles – experienced by so many others as well – I believe it would be incredible to share my work with the largest audience possible.

Before the publishing of my book, I participated three times in Short Story Competition Hungary, for which I received the Short List Award in 2011, Honorable Mention in 2012, and Second Place in 2013. I was shortlisted in the Nancy Thorp Poetry Competition in 2013 and Junior Author Short Story Competition in 2014.

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What Reviewers are Saying about Just Perfect

John Yeoman: “A charming and intriguing story, written with a finesse and maturity of style that would flatter an author of far more seasoned years. Its ironic wit and acuteness of observation are a joy to read and its insights into the problems of mental depression are helpful and acute.”

Koen Maegherman: “The young author Hanne Arts has written a surprisingly nice piece of literature. The novel describes how the main character, partially because she is suffering from bullying, gets more and more dissatisfied with her body and sinks in an eating disorder. Hanne is also able the catch the almost incomprehensible dilemma many youngsters in a similar situation suffer from: What was wrong with me? Why could I not just flip the switch and see all the brightness ahead if only I chose the correct path? Or rather, why could I see the correct path but not choose to tread upon it? The writing style also endorses the main message: with a broad variety of metaphors and similes she sharply and sensuously describes the physical characteristics of her and others’ body. And as such she is able to go beyond the rather simple storyline and to craft a very nice novel that will for sure appreciated by many people (children, youngsters, parents, partners …) who encounter a similar problem.”

Welcome, Coleen Lahr!

We’re excited to welcome Coleen Lahr to the Highlighted Author with her YA novel on life changing events, coming of age, and acceptance. All this from a gal who loves to write despite her avid reading schedule, helping run a family restaurant, and squeezing in an occasional Disney marathon! Enjoy the feature.

Jo Grafford, Highlighed Author Co-Hostess


91Q0Bh53FnL._SL1500_Ashley Smith spent her life being shipped from one family member to the next.  When Ashley’s estranged father dies, she finally has the money to go to college and the chance to find a place where she belongs.

Within days, Ashley has found the one thing she’s always longed for – a family.  She may have even found love.  There’s only one problem.  Ashley likes Colin…a lot, but so does Randi, and everyone likes Randi.  Randi’s approval is the single easiest way to belong.  Falling in love with Randi’s crush is the single easiest way to find one’s self on the outside for the next three years.

When Ashley arrived at college, she never dreamed she’d find this kind of happiness.  Will she allow herself to hold on to this happiness, and Colin, or will her fear of losing her friends, the only friends she’s ever known, dictate her actions?

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Barnes and Noble




As I sat next to Colin in Organic Chemistry, I wondered if having classes together was actually a good thing.

Unlike my first professor, the Organic Chemistry professor comprehensively explained the syllabus, including course requirements, objectives, policies and assignments. All things I was sure were going to be important in the grand scheme of the course.

And I didn’t hear a word she said.

Once again, I was completely distracted by the man sitting next to me.

We were in another massive classroom dominated by stadium seating. We would, over the course of the semester, split our time between this room and the chemistry lab. There were no spaces between the seats, just a thin metal arm rest jutting out from the spot where the seat backs met each other.

Every time Colin moved — to grab his notebook, to turn off his cell phone, to turn the pages of the syllabus we were reviewing — his body brushed some part of mine. By the time we were on the third page of the syllabus, he had brushed me three times with his arm and once with his leg.

And I was frozen.

Every time he touched me, albeit accidentally, my stomach dropped, and my cheeks flamed. My entire face was on fire within the first twenty minutes of class, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the boy to my left. I was afraid to move even a quarter of an inch for fear that I would inadvertently shift myself too far away for his unintentional brushes.

To make matters worse, my mind, which never wanders in class, began to drift away and I, the girl who rarely loses focus on a task, drifted with it.

As I sat frozen in my seat, waiting for the next time Colin brushed against me, I wondered what it would be like if his brushes weren’t accidental — if he was touching me on purpose…leaning his leg against mine casually as he relaxed in his seat, running his fingers down my arms, holding my hand in his, entwining our fingers together…

And as I imagined this, I felt myself smiling, my fantasy becoming so detailed that I could actually feel his warm hand, his long fingers, wrapping around my wrist. I could hear him saying my name again and again, the concern in his voice growing each time he repeated it…


“Ashley?  Ashley?”

Oh no. I looked over at him. His face was filled with concern. I cringed.

“Sorry.” I smiled sheepishly. “I’m just…” I closed my eyes and rubbed my face, which was on fire, in my hands. “…You know, taking it all in. E-everything’s a little o-overwhelming,” I stuttered. I hoped that being overwhelmed was a good excuse for acting like a lunatic.

He smiled. “Don’t worry, Ash. I’ll help you.” And as he stood, he put his hand under my elbow to help me up.

Thank goodness next class is in the lab.

About Coleen

51yE6qgE5LL._UX250_Coleen writes young adult novels, loves running, rock music, the shore, daisies and bread.

When Coleen’s not plotting or writing her next book, she can be found making sandwiches in her family’s restaurant, running (but mostly walking) Disney marathons, reading any book she can get her hands on and playing with her adorable kid. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, two dogs, cat, and lizard.

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