Saturday, February 1, 2014

This YA Adventure Fantasy series is awesome for any readers 12 years and up. Check it out!

Featured Book of the day-
Cassidy Jones and The Secret Formula 
(Cassidy Jones Series)
Featured Author-  Elise Stokes

Elise Stokes lives with her husband and four children. She was an elementary school teacher before becoming a full-time mom. With a daughter in middle school and two in high school, Elise's understanding of the challenges facing girls in that age range inspired her to create a series that will motivate girls to value individualism, courage, integrity, and intelligence. The stories in Cassidy Jones Adventures are fun and relatable, and a bit edgy without taking the reader uncomfortably out of bounds. Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula, Cassidy Jones and Vulcan's Gift, and Cassidy Jones and the Seventh Attendant are the first three books in the series. Book Four, Cassidy Jones and the Luminous, will be released in 2014.

Description- Cassidy Jones and The Secret Formula

One Girl. One Accident. One Incredible Superhero.  
Cassidy Jones is your typical fourteen-year-old-- that is, until a seemingly harmless accident in the laboratory of a world-renowned geneticist turns her world upside down.

Discovering incredible strength, speed, and enhanced physical senses that defy logic, Cassidy embarks on an action-packed adventure that has her fighting for answers...and for her very life.

Chapter Nine: A New Friend
Summary: Cassidy takes Emery into her confidence.
We sat on opposite benches, our knees a foot apart. 
Emery watched me curiously while I considered 
how to start. I resorted to small talk. 
 “Uh, Emery, so where do you live?” 
 “We rent a condo near Wallingford,” he answered 
patiently, making no attempt to elaborate. 
 “Oh.” I touched my forehead. “Were you born in 
 “No, Washington, D.C.” Placing his forearms on 
his knees, he leaned forward. “How did you hurt your 
 I dropped my hand. “Funny. That’s what I want to 
talk to you about.” 
 Intently looking at my face, he waited for me to 
 I touched my nose. “Before yesterday, I had freckles. 
They were light, but they were there.” 
 Narrowing his eyes on my nose, he attempted to 
 Taking a deep breath, I continued, “Sorry, that didn’t 
make any sense. Let me put it this way—I had freckles 
when I went to your mom’s lab with my dad.” 
 His expression became so intense, frightening 
almost, that I hesitated. My feelings about him were 
conflicted. He made me uneasy. Everything about him 
was so foreign. 
 Emery’s voice took on a soothing tone. “I understand 
that you injured your head in my mom’s lab. Please, tell 
me how. You can trust me. I want to help you.” 
 I searched his eyes. It was difficult to penetrate 
through the blackness, adding to my unease. “I don’t 
think you can.” 
 Impulsively, or maybe intentionally, he grabbed 
my hand, holding it between his. “Please, tell me,” he 
 I took another deep, tortured breath. “Your mom 
had something cooking in beakers on that Bunsen 
burner near the coffeemaker. While Dad interviewed 
her, I sat on a stool next to them. The stool collapsed 
and I fell, knocking everything over onto the table. 
When the liquids ran together, they formed this white 
cloud, and I breathed it in. It’s difficult to explain exactly 
what happened. My whole body felt like it was on fire, 
melting from the inside, and then everything went 
black. I guess I passed out or something. Afterward, I 
 “What do you mean by ‘changed’?” he asked, slowly 
and calmly, squeezing my hand. 
 Pulling my hand from his grip, I lifted it to my fore- 
head. “When I passed out, I hit my head on the edge of 
the counter. My forehead split, or at least, that’s what 
Dad and Ben said, and with all the blood, I don’t think 
they were wrong.” My fingers trembled against the 
gauze. “The doctor at the ER said it was only a surface 
wound. He thought Dad and Ben had been fooled by 
the blood, thinking it was worse than it really was. He 
put a bandage over it and this gauze.” 
 Emery’s gaze fixed on my unsteady fingers, watching 
as I pinched the surgical tape and hesitantly pulled the 
gauze away, exposing my forehead. His eyes filled with 
 “How did this happen, Emery?” 
 Shaking his head, his gaze dropped to his hands in 
his lap. 
 Quiet minutes ticked by. With each passing one, 
I sank deeper into despair. When I couldn’t take 
the silence anymore, I pleaded, “Please, Emery, say 
 “Be patient. I’m thinking.” 
 “Well, think out loud.” 
 Smiling slightly cock-eyed, he said, “Trust me, you 
don’t want me to do that.” 
 Does he think this is a joke? Furious, I slapped the 
gauze on my forehead. “Trust you? Apparently that was 
a mistake.” Abruptly, I stood up, causing the swing to 
 “Cassidy, sit down,” Emery commanded calmly. 
 Glaring, I sat. I had nowhere else to go. 
 “Trusting me is the right thing to do. Aside from 
my mom, I’m the only other person who understands 
anything of depth about Formula 10X.”
 “Formula 10X?” I said with hope. “That’s what was 
in the beakers?” 
 “Yes, or at least, a variation of it. I don’t know for 
certain, because she kept her latest experimentation 
with the formula undisclosed.” 
 “Why would she keep it a secret from you?” I asked, 
truly interested. 
 He smiled to himself. “That’s the way she is. I assume 
she wanted to prove out her new theories before bring- 
ing me back in.” 
 Strange, I thought. He says this like he didn’t ask her 
about it. Why wouldn’t he ask? “Well, she did it. It works. 
I’m living proof she succeeded.” 
 “No, I don’t think she did,” he disagreed, sounding 
regretful. “How the formula has affected you would not 
have been her intention.” Pausing, he looked thoughtful. 
“However, it’s premature for me to come to that con- 
clusion until I know precisely how you’ve been affected, 
or changed, as you put it. Tell me everything.” 
 “Everything” poured out at once. I ended my 
twenty-seven-hour saga with this: “At the police station, 
I thought you’d figured it all out. The way you looked 
at me all intense, it seemed like you guessed everything 
that was going on.” 
 Shaking his head, Emery smiled. “Though I admit I 
did find your behavior odd, I wouldn’t have guessed this 
in a million years.” 
 Despite the situation, I laughed. He found my behavior 
odd? I also thought the “million years” was an exaggera- 
tion. I had a feeling Emery wasn’t in the dark about 
anything for long. “Okay, now you know everything. 
What do you think?” 
 Silence was his only response as he studied my face. 
His scrutiny reminded me of his mother’s—clinical, 
detached—like he observed me under a microscope. 
This was disturbing, to say the least. 
 My brow furrowed. “Stop staring at me like that. I 
know I’m a freak.” 
 “Cassidy, you are not a freak,” he contradicted, his 
expression softening. “Don’t ever say or think that. I 
certainly don’t view you that way. I’m only astounded 
by how you’ve been affected. From a scientific perspec- 
tive, it’s impossible.” 
 “It can’t be.” My eyes welled. “Look at me.” 
 Alert to the coming despair, Emery placed a reas- 
suring hand on my shoulder. “But that doesn’t mean we 
won’t find a solution. I promise you, we will.” 
 Emery spoke with such earnest confidence that I 
couldn’t help but believe him. Nodding agreement, I 
dabbed my wet eyes with my sleeve. 
 Dropping his hand from my shoulder, he said in a 
formal tone, “Allow me to tell you about Formula 10X. 
It’s a type of gene therapy containing a variety of animal 
DNA, among many other components. My mom’s goal 
is to find a way to manipulate these DNAs to benefit a 
human recipient by choosing genes that represent dif- 
ferent strengths of the nonhuman and infusing those 
genes into the weakened cells and tissues of the human. 
For example, a human who is crippled would perhaps 
be infused with puma genes, since they are known for 
their agility and strength. The goal is not to make the 
human like the puma, but to restore the human’s func- 
tion and health within a normal range.”
 “Well, why am I like a puma, then?” 
 “I don’t know exactly. Obviously, by your intense 
physical reaction when initially exposed, something in 
the formula overloaded your nervous system. Maybe 
10X affected you so extremely because you’re a young, 
healthy girl who received the formula in its entirety. 
What I mean is, you would have never been a 10X 
candidate, since you suffer none of the disabilities and 
ailments an appropriate candidate would. Also, the 
recipient would have been administered the formula 
in small doses, tailored to their needs. Your exposure 
was radical, and now you’re experiencing the full potent 
affects of 10X. Do you understand?” 
 I nodded. “I think so. It’s like a glass half filled with 
water, slowly having more added until it reaches the rim. 
I was already a full glass, and 10X was an entire pitcher 
poured into me at once.” Dread brewed inside me as I 
continued. “And now that the water has spilled, there’s no 
way to tell where it will go or what will happen to it.” 
 “That’s one way to look at it,” Emery said, dismally 
looking at the woods. For several seconds he didn’t 
speak, lost in thought. 
 During those quiet seconds, I stared at the ground, 
not thinking, only waiting. When I felt his eyes on my 
face, I looked up. His expression was determined. 
 “None of this makes sense, but obviously, it isn’t 
impossible. As you pointed out, you’re living proof. 
Since it isn’t impossible, there is an answer and solution. 
Tell me again, in detail, what you experienced when the 
liquids converged.” 
 Quickly, I explained again. Finishing the account, I 
held my breath expectantly. 
 Smiling slightly, he shrugged. “I have nothing.” 
 My breath rushed out in an offended gust. “What? 
Do you think this is a game or something?” 
 “No,” he quickly clarified. “I’m sorry, Cassidy, that 
came across as glib. I truly have nothing, and it frus- 
trates me. I understand the compounds turned to a gas, 
but I have no idea why. And I have no idea what they 
formed or why your nervous system reacted so violently 
when you inhaled the gas. There has to be an unknown, 
a catalyst that pushed everything over the edge. What 
that catalyst is, again, I haven’t a clue…Cassidy, are you 
listening to me?” 
 Actually, I wasn’t. A black cat near the path leading 
to the woods had caught my eye. Low to the ground, 
it focused intensely on something in the tall grass. 
I recognized what it was doing because I had done it 
myself. The cat was hunting, stalking its prey. After 
commando-crawling toward its victim, it sank low in 
the grass, anticipating the kill. Opportunity arrived. 
Black fur gracefully glided through the air. The cat 
easily landed on the unfortunate victim: a brown field 
 I watched the cat excitedly toss the mouse in the air, 
remorselessly tormenting its victim. Dread slid through 
my stomach. “Emery, you mentioned pumas. Do you 
think there was cat DNA in that stuff I sucked in?” 
 Turning back to him, I saw that he had been watch- 
ing the cat, too. He replied, “She experimented with 
feline DNA.” 
 I took this as a yes. Oh, geez. 
 “There is another thing I’ve noticed different about 
me,” I began hesitantly. Emery looked back at me, and 
I could feel my cheeks warm under his gaze. I really 
didn’t want to bring this up, but thought I should after 
what he witnessed at the sports field. “I don’t usually 
have meltdowns. I’m not one of those emotional girls… 
at least, I wasn’t…I have no idea why I started bawling 
like that.” 
 His response wasn’t hesitant at all. “The changes 
you’ve experienced are not only physical, but chemical, 
so it stands to reason you will be more prone to mood 
swings and extreme reactions. And it will be more diffi- 
cult—how should I say it?—to shove feelings down.” 
 I stared at him in surprise. He had pegged me. I 
was the queen of shoving down unwanted feelings. “If 
you’re right, Emery, poor me—poor everyone.” 
 To this, he only smiled, and then said, “It’s about 
time you showed me what you can do.” Glancing across 
the sprawling lawn, his eyes settled on a couple lying 
together on the grass. They were far enough away that 
their facial features were indistinguishable. “Tell me 
about them.” 
 Rising to the challenge, I adjusted the couple until 
they appeared a few feet away. On their stomachs, they 
turned their heads in so they were nose to nose. 
 “Okay, the guy has shoulder-length, brown—” 
 Emery interrupted, squinting his eyes. “You’ll have 
to do better than that. Even I can see his hair.” 
 “Well, can you see he has a silver hoop through 
the right side of his bushy, black unibrow? And there’s 
a mole smack in the middle of his left cheek.” I gri- 
maced. “Geez, he should have that removed. Okay, his 
girlfriend has multiple piercings. She looks like a pin 
cushion. There are three small hoops through her left 
eyebrow. One. Two. Three. No, four diamond studs on 
the left side of her nose. Gross. A gold hoop hanging 
between her nostrils—” 
 With a look of distaste, Emery cut in. “You’ve con- 
vinced me with vision. All right, they appear to be 
talking. Can you hear what they’re saying?” 
 “No prob.” I smiled confidently, weeding through 
surrounding noise. After a moment, I tuned into the 
man’s husky whispers. “Okay, got them. He’s saying—” 
My jaw dropped. Immediately, I severed the connec- 
tion, but not before turning bright red. 
 Emery laughed hysterically. 
 Still blushing, I watched him sternly. Every time he 
looked at me, he laughed harder. Child prodigy or not, 
ultimately, boys will be boys. 
 Taking a deep breath, he suddenly composed 
himself. “Sorry, Cassidy, but your expression was hys- 
terical. You’ve convinced me that you heard them.” He 
 In response, I scowled. 
 “Again, I apologize,” he repeated with an amused 
grin. “All right, let’s move on to another test.” Scanning 
the park, his gaze settled behind me. “Don’t turn around. 
Behind you, that toddler is now eating something.” 
 Closing my eyes, I sniffed the air. There were so 
many competing scents. “Is it sweet?” I asked. 
 “Yes, it is.” 
 Nodding, I took in a deep breath. Distinguish- 
ing scents, I pinpointed a sweet, edible one close by. 
Opening my eyes, I grinned. “My, you’re tricky, Emery. 
First of all, that isn’t called eating. That’s called drink- 
ing, and he’s drinking apple juice.” 
 Emery gave me an impressed look. “I can’t see the 
juice box from here, so I’ll take your word for it.” Grab- 
bing my hands, he stood up, pulling me to my feet. 
“Now, let’s test strength.” 
 “Are you asking me to toss you off here or break 
your fingers?” I teased, slightly squeezing them. 
 Grinning, he pulled his hands away. “Definitely not 
the fingers, and I think tossing me from this swing is 
too public, though I admit it would be a good show.” 
He nodded to the woods. “We’ll find something more 
discreet in there.” 
 While following the path through the woods, 
Emery’s eyes roamed for that something discreet. About 
a hundred feet in, he suggested, “Let’s get off this main 
path. Over there.” He pointed to a thinly trodden trail 
cutting through thick growth. 
 Following Emery, we pushed our way through the 
growth. Obviously, no one had come down this over- 
grown trail in a while. I got the brunt of the overgrowth 
as the branches Emery pushed forward sprung back at 
me. After getting slapped in the face with one, I was 
prepared to demand that I lead, when Emery said, “Yes, 
this will work.” 
 Stepping into a clearing, he pointed to a fallen tree 
twenty feet ahead. 
 Smiling, I decided to show him leaping before 
strength. “Stand back,” I warned, pushing him aside. 
Then, running forward, I leaped for the target. Leading 
with my right foot, my body glided easily through the 
air. The exhilaration I had felt while speeding around 
the school track returned, and that strange, pent-up 
feeling released. For whatever reason, this very unnatu- 
ral thing felt as natural as walking to me, and incredibly 
freeing, as if I had been meant for this. 
 My right foot touched the top of the massive trunk, 
and my left pulled in next to it. The landing had been 
perfect, steady and strong, without even a hint of 
balance loss. Pivoting on the trunk to face Emery, I 
smiled smugly. 
 Walking toward me, he exclaimed, “That was incred- 
ible. You move like a cat.” 
 His praise wiped the smile off my face. “Cat,” I 
grumbled to myself. “What’s up with the cat theme?” 
With a sigh, I hopped down next to him. “I suppose you 
want me to move this.” I patted the thick tree trunk. 
 Emery examined the area around the tree. “It appears 
safe. I don’t see any danger if you disturb it. First, make 
sure there isn’t anyone nearby.” 
 My ears quickly searched. “All clear,” I announced, 
moving up to the trunk. 
 Emery stepped back, his face shining with anticipa- 
 Resting my palms against the trunk, I prepared to 
move the giant tree. Pulling in a breath, I pushed. The 
tree was heavy, but with exertion, the giant’s resistance 
gave way. I rolled the trunk up out of the indented 
ground. From underneath, something scurried up the 
trunk near my left hand. Squealing, I jumped back. The 
thick trunk rolled back into its resting place.
 Emery grinned. “It was only a lizard.” 
 “I hate lizards.” I shuddered. “The nasty thing almost 
ran over my hand.” 
 “Ironic. You can push fifteen hundred pounds, and 
you’re scared of a little lizard.” 
 I gasped. “One thousand five hundred pounds?” 
 Surveying the tree, he nodded thoughtfully. “At 
 The information stunned me. “Okay, then. What do 
you want me to do next?” 
 For the next couple of hours, Emery sought out all 
kinds of challenges, from moving boulders and leaping 
into trees, to distinguishing sounds and scents. He even 
had me describe in detail what tree bark looked like 
 Something else took place during this time. My 
unease around Emery disappeared. In fact, it amazed 
me just how comfortable I felt around him. Though he 
was my age, he had none of the uncertainties we teens 
are usually plagued with. For the most part, I walked 
on eggshells around girls my age. Saying or doing the 
wrong thing could trigger an instant “girl war.” Even 
though my friends weren’t petty, instinctively, I was 
careful. The boys weren’t as sensitive but were every 
bit as gossipy. So in general, I watched my back, never 
letting my guard down. It was exhausting. With Emery, 
I believed I could be myself, say the wrong thing, do the 
wrong thing, and he wouldn’t hold it against me. He 
really was a breath of fresh air. 
 After testing senses, strength, and agility, Emery 
announced, “It’s time for speed. Let’s see how fast you 
can go through these woods.” 
 Back at the main path, we parted ways. The plan was 
for Emery to go to one entrance and me to the other. 
After listening to be sure the coast was clear, I would 
tune in to him where he would be looping a countdown 
out loud. From my end of the path, I tuned in to the 
woods. All I heard was Emery’s looping countdown. 
Positioning myself to run, I listened. 
 “. . . Three, two, one—” 
 I took off at a mind-boggling speed. Within seconds, 
I stood before Emery. Wide-eyed, he stared at me like 
he’d seen a ghost. 
 “Unbelievable,” he uttered above a whisper. 
 His reaction made me edgy. “How fast do you think 
I ran?” I asked, attempting to sound casual. 
 “My guess would be forty miles per hour. Imagine 
how fast you would be on a solid, straight surface. I’ve 
never witnessed anything like this.” His mouth pulled 
down in the corners. 
 With an anxious feeling in my gut, I studied him. 
His face held no expression, as if he wore a mask to hide 
real emotions. The more I looked at him, the more I 
believed the emotion he hid was fear. If he’s terrified of 
me, everyone will be, I anguished. 
 “What  do  you  want  me  to  do  now?”   I  said 
 “Nothing,” he answered, distracted. “Let’s head 
out.” He motioned for me to walk ahead. 
 With Emery following silently behind, I walked in a 
daze. I assumed he had me walk ahead to keep an eye on 
me. I am the most dangerous thing out here, I bitterly told 
myself. I’d make me walk ahead, too, and—
 Something scratchy brushed my cheek, interrupt- 
ing the thought. Reflex kicked in, and before a second 
passed, I was crouched on a tree branch, looking down 
at Emery. Smirking, he waved a dry tree branch in his 
 “What’s the big deal?” I snapped, hopping down. 
 Tossing the branch, he stated, untroubled, “I 
assumed you would react that way when startled. We’ll 
have to work on those involuntary reflexes.” With a 
grin, he added, “We can’t have you jumping up in trees 
in public.” 
 Glaring hard, I grumbled, “Nice. Real nice.” With 
my shoulder, I shoved past him, stomping down the 
 “I couldn’t have taken you off-guard if I warned you 
beforehand,” he called after me. “For your protection, 
I needed to know how you would handle it.” 
 I spun around. “For my protection? Don’t you mean 
for yours or for the innocent public’s?” 
 He grinned with understanding. “Oh, you think I’m 
afraid.” Walking toward me, he continued, “Cassidy, I’m 
fascinated, hardly afraid. Not of you, at least. I am con- 
cerned about you being exposed, though.” He stopped in 
front of me. 
 Glancing up at him, I asked, “So you think I should 
keep this a secret?” 
 Alarm washed over his face. Abruptly, he grabbed 
my upper arms. “Cassidy, you can tell no one about this. 
Absolutely no one.” Bending close to me, he searched 
my eyes. “Do you understand? No one can know. Not 
your parents, not anyone. Keeping this a secret is not 
only for your safety, it’s for your family’s safety, too.” 
 My eyes widened. “Why would my family be in 
 “Think, Cassidy. Whoever has my mom will want 
you. You are Formula 10X, and they would view you as 
a nonentity, something to be acquired. Your personal 
value and rights would mean absolutely nothing to 
them. You would become a lab rat. Imagine what they 
would do to you.” 
 I tried not to. 
 “If they become aware of your existence, they’ll do 
anything to get you. People like this have no bound- 
aries. Everyone and everything becomes free game 
for them to get what they want. That includes Nate, 
 “Stop,” I interrupted, shaking my head to dislodge 
the terrifying images. “I get it. I won’t tell anyone.” 
 After quick scrutiny, Emery released my arms. Calm 
replaced the alarm on his face. I believed this expres- 
sion was his standard mask. For a moment, I studied the 
mask that showed no signs of strain or worry. As far as 
facades go, it was a solid one, but I wasn’t fooled. I knew 
the turmoil that had to be going on underneath. 
 “Emery, I’m sorry about your mom,” I said for the 
first time. 
 Tightening his lips, he nodded acknowledgment. 
 “Do you know who has her?” 
 He stared off into the woods. “No, but I know she’s 
 “Please forgive me, Emery.” The words wanted to 
stick in my throat. It was wrong to ask, but I had to. 
“But how do you know?”
 Looking back at me, he stated matter-of-factly, 
“She’s too valuable to kill. They abducted her because 
she has something they want. The fact that I’m here 
talking with you means she must be cooperating to 
some degree. It’s unfortunate.” 
 It took me a moment to decode his meaning. “You 
don’t want her to cooperate, even if it means she’s pro- 
tecting you? What is it they want from her?” 
 His smile was a mix of sadness and resentment. “I’ve 
already told you. They want you. Formula 10X. It is 
incredibly lucrative, and yes, I want her not to cooper- 
ate, no matter the sacrifice. In the wrong hands, 10X is 
detrimental to the world. Visualize an army of you.” 
 “But they don’t know about me.” 
 “And I plan to keep them ignorant.” 
 Staring up at him, I let his words sink in. He plans to 
protect me. I’m not alone. With this realization, I threw 
my arms around his neck, like he was a life preserver. 
“Thank you,” I said in one grateful breath, tightening 
my arms. 
 Grabbing my biceps, he attempted to loosen the 
hold. “A little tight,” he choked. 
 “Oh.” Blushing, I released him. 
 Rubbing his neck, he smiled with ease. “You have 
quite a grip.” Noting that my cheek shade deepened, he 
continued, “Please, don’t feel embarrassed. I understand 
how scared you are. I promise you, though, everything 
will be all right. You will be all right.” 
 “Thank you,” I whispered, believing every word. 
 As he continued to smile, a curious glint appeared in 
his black eyes. “My mom will shed light on the situation 
when we get her back,” he said in a casual tone. 
 Knitting my brow, I rewound his previous state- 
ments to figure out what I had missed. 
 Reading my expression, his smile broadened. “Oh, 
I didn’t I tell you, did I? You and I are going to find 


"Brimful of danger, secrets, a bit of romance and fun, this debut author's entertaining plot and well-drawn characters not only is all it promises to be, but will leave readers looking for more.." -- Gail Welborn, Examiner

"Elise Stokes ranks up there with other YA masterminds!" -- Kitty Bullard, Great Minds Think Aloud

"Can I vote now for a movie on this series? With the adventure, the mystery and Cassidy's super powers, Elise Stokes has delivered everything that a young reader could hope for." --Stephanie Laymon, Five Alarm Book Reviews

Amazon geo links-
Cassidy Jones and The Secret Formula -
Cassidy Jones Vulcan's Gift -
Cassidy Jones and the Seventh Attendant -

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Michael! And thanks for inviting me to participate in the Fantastical Reads event. :)