It's Live!! Cover Reveal: Saltwater Secrets (Cindy Callaghan), Plus Excerpt!


Hi, YABCers!

Today we're excited to celebrate the cover reveal for 

Saltwater Secrets by Cindy Callaghan,

releasing April 28th, 2020 from Aladdin Publishing!




Before we get to the cover, here's a note from the author:



Hello, YABC readers! I am so excited to finally reveal the beautiful cover of my upcoming novel, Saltwater SecretsSaltwater Secrets, coming April 2020, is a fast-paced mystery told by tween half-sister sleuths struggling with their own growing pains. Stella and Josie's initial reunion tension is disrupted by a startling discovery - the newest boardwalk storefront is creating an ecological disaster that not only threatens salt life, but vacationers. They must figure out how to stop their beloved boardwalk from disappearing for good, but how?... You can check out a sneak peak of chapter one below. Happy Reading! 


~ Cindy Callaghan (Saltwater Secrets, Aladdin) ~






Ready to see?

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Here it is!




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Saltwater Secrets
By: Cindy Callaghan

Release date: April 2020

Publisher: Aladdin




About the Book
From the acclaimed author of Just Add Magic—now a hit streaming original series—comes a sweet and last in a series novel about two sisters on summer vacation that explores the intricate bonds of a blended family.

Stella and Josie live for their summers at the boardwalk—each one a carbon copy of the last. Josie lives in Australia most of the year; her half-sister, Stella, lives in New Jersey. But every year, they come together for a beach vacation with their dad, and to make more memories. The real excitement for them is their secret special place under the boardwalk, where they hide their sister scrapbook, adding memories from each summer.

But this summer feels different. Josie isn’t the same—she’s turned into one of the popular girls that Stella can’t stand. Despite the rocky start to their vacation, they still go to their secret, special place under the boardwalk, adding memories to their sister scrapbook once again.

That is, until that place is discovered by the owners of the newest store—the Smoothie Factory, which replaced Josie’s favorite sweet spot. Not only have the owners of the Smoothie Factory discovered the cove, they are exploiting the natural habitat, and endangering marine life and everyone at the beach! It’s up to Josie and Stella to figure out how to stop their beloved boardwalk from disappearing for good.
About the Author

Cindy Callaghan is the author of the middle grade novels Lost in LondonLost in ParisLost in RomeLost in Ireland (formerly titled Lucky Me), Lost in Hollywood, the award-winning Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ’Em DeadJust Add Magic (which is now a breakout streaming original series), and its sequel Potion Problems. She lives in Wilmington, Delaware.




 ~ Excerpt ~ 




JOSIE, Age 9

The Beach, Whalehead, New Jersey

The Minotaur Coaster was a new addition to my favorite place on Earth:  Murphy’s Pier in Whalehead, New Jersey. 

Every summer I find this place exactly the way it was when I left: the ocean, midway games on the pier, shops and restaurants on the boardwalk, and mine and Stella’s special secret hiding place under the boardwalk. 

But, what I liked most of all was being with sister Stella.  Well, she’s technically my half-sister and she’s my best friend.  Since we lived so far apart, and I could only see her during the summers, we spent every waking minute of the summer together and I never wanted it to end. 

We sat on the sand bar, our legs floating in the saltwater.  From out there, I could face the New Jersey coast line, the boardwalk and all of its wild excitement, or I could look out at the vast ocean and imagine that this water touched the coastline of my home, Australia.

A speedboat zoomed by, towing tandem parasailers in flight, a flock of white seabirds behind them.  The parasailers waved down to me and Stella while we stacked fistfuls of wet sand on each other’s shoulders. 

“Ready for the funhouse?” I asked her.

Stella yelled to Dad, who sat at the water’s edge under a beach umbrella. “Dad, can we go to the Funhouse?”

He hollered back, “As long as you get yourselves water ice too.  Summer is the time for guiltless sugar.”

We trudged our way back to the beach.  

Dad pulled out money, then turned his chair to face the boardwalk.  “I’ll watch you from here.”

“Want one?”

“Nah.”  He patted his round belly.  “I’ll just have some of yours.”  He gave us each a hug and kissed the tops of our heads.

Stella broke away first and dashed toward the boardwalk.  When she was a safe distance, she turned, giggled, and said in her New York accent, “What are you tawkin’ about?  I’m not sharing!”

Dad chased her.  “Oh, yes you are,” he called.  When he caught her, they both toppled into the sand, laughing.

I pounced on his back.  “Let my sista’ go!”  My accent is so different from Stella’s, but we understood each other perfectly.

“You win.  You win,” Dad said.  “But, for the record, that was two against one, so it wasn’t fair.”

We hopped on the hot sand until we got to the boardwalk.  We waved to our shore friend, Dario, who bobbed up and down on a big horse on the merry-go-round.  After waiting for oncoming traffic of surf bikes to pass, we finally got in the funhouse line.

“Do you have it?” I asked Stella.

She held up the plastic tail from a kite.  It had broken off last night and I wanted to save it to remember what a great night it was.  We had a special secret place where we stashed these types of treasures. 

We entered Kevin’s Funhouse, zipped to the bright, shiny Hall of Mirrors and paused to laugh at our ultra-short, ultra-tall or ultra-round selves.  Then we giggled our way through foam pillars – a tight fit – and scaled the role bridge finally racing to the barrel that marked the loose floorboards.  We waited for a crowd of toddlers to pass and I quickly slid the barrel, Stella stomped on the end of the loose boards, popping them up, to create enough room for us to jump to the sand below.  I pulled the rope we’d tied to the underside of the boards and the trap door slammed shut above us.

This was our hiding place under the boardwalk.  I walked to our rock that marked the spot where we’d buried a box – not just any box.  It held our special treasures.  I dug it up, opened it, and added the kite tail to the gum wrapper, shell, Matchbox car, marble, Barbie, midway game tickets and other items that represented our many summer adventures – mine and Stella’s.

A few minutes later we were plopped on the edge of the boardwalk, Water Ice World paper cones in our hands, watching the mid-day bustle of vacationers who smelled like coconut sunscreen and sweat.  Our feet swung over the sand below and even though we licked, just as much water ice goes in our mouths as our chin and arms.

I asked, “Stella?”

“Yeah?  What?”  Stella’s wiped red water ice juice off her face with her sleeve.

“I love it here,” I said.

“Me too.”

“Can we do this forever?  Exactly this same exact thing every single summer?  Just like this.  It’s perfect and I don’t want it to ever change.”

“Sure, Josie.  Nothing’s gonna change.”

But, like all perfect things, it did.







Chapter One: STELLA


603 Whalehead Street, Whalehead, New Jersey                                    June 18

The music on the car radio broke: 

“Murielle duPluie here with the Whalehead news from the Jersey Shore.  Welcome to the summer.  It’s gonna be a hot one today.  Stay tuned to WLEO all season for the latest happenings.”

My mom stopped in front of 603 Whalehead Street.  “Listen, Stell,” she said.  “Stay out of trouble, okay?  If you get a third strike…  Well, you know.” 

“I got it, Mom.”

She leaned over and kissed me.  “Have a great summer.  Say hi to Josie for me, and cawl me.”  Mom sounds like me - total New Yorker.  “And text me every single solitary day.  And send lots of pictures.”  She sighed and put her hand on her heart.  “Ugh, I miss you already.”  She kissed me again and drove away without saying hello to her first husband, my dad, Gary Higley. 

I barely got up gravel driveway when my sister, Josie ran out of the house.

“Stellaaaa! You’re finally here!”

As soon as I saw Josie, I knew things were going to be different this summer. 

Well, Josie herself wasn’t different.  She seemed exactly the same as last summer and the one before, and the one before that, right down to the Whalehead t-shirt and grey gym shorts. 

That was the problem.

I’d expected the ready-to-enter-high-school version of Josie.  After all, I’d become the ready-to-enter- high school version of me partly thanks to some new friends who turned out to not really be friends and caused me to get in trouble.  Twice. 

Well, I guess it wasn’t totally their fault—I was partly to blame.   I just couldn’t get in trouble this summer, which wouldn’t be any problem because I’d be with Josie and she never did anything bad.   

“G’day, Stella!”  Josie hugged me and bopped up and down.  “Put your stuff away so we can hit the boardwalk.  I’m dying for water ice.”  With her accent, “ice” sounds like “oyce”.  When we were kids, and Josie wasn’t around, I’d imitate her and tell people I was Australian.  “I can’t get it at home, you know?”

I hugged her back.  “Get outta here, I’m sure they have water ice somewhere – it’s a big country.”

“Oh, it’s not the same,” Josie said and trailed behind me as she wheeled my suitcase into the house.  “Whose shorts are those?”

I looked down at my cut-offs.  “They’re mine.  You like them?”

She poked at the skin that was just at the frayed hemline of my shorts. “They are definitely…cheeky!”

“It’s supposed to be that way,” I said.  I’d worn these shorts a hundred times and never felt self-conscious before, but now I wondered if my butt really did show too much.

Dad met us in the living room.  “Stella!  Where have you been?  We’ve been waiting and waiting.”  He smooshed my face into his chest.  I saw Dad pretty much every other weekend, except when I had activities in the city that I didn’t want to miss, but he always acted like it’d been forever.

“Mom stopped to pee like ten times.” 

He grabbed Josie, too, and squeezed the three of us together.  “My girls!”  He let us go so that he could study us.  “So grown up, but you still look like you could be twins.”  It was an old joke because we don’t look anything alike; we’re both clones of our mothers:  Josie was blonde and blue-eyed, and I was brown hair and eyes and always tan.

I punched his chest.  “You’re still working out.  Did you show Josie?”

“Yup.”  He flexed his arms.  “Check out these puppies.”  His arms weren’t quite “puppies.”  “I’m no-carbing this summer, gonna get ripped.”

“Sounds like a good plan.”  I looked at the tackle box by the front door.  “Gonna get ripped while you’re fishing?  Is that a new exercise thing?”

“I work out in the morning and fish in the afternoon.  At night, I’m gonna try the dating thing.  My friend Jay, he’s the one that’s the detective, is setting it up.”

Josie slapped her hands over her ears.  “Ugh.  I’m not listening to you talk about dating, Dad.”

I actually thought it was a good idea.  “Looking for Mrs. Higley number three?”

“Only if she’s looking for me.”  He winked and glanced at his watch.  “I wish you’d gotten here earlier, Stell.  Sorry, but I gotta run.  Jay’s waiting at the dock for me.  He’s taking me out on his boat, and I’m holding him up.” 

“That’s okay.  We can hang out later,” I said.

“Not just later.  A lot.  I have big plans for us to do tons of stuff together.”  He picked up his tackle box and fishing pole.  “I’ll make us dinner – prepare yourself for my famous steamed broccoli.”

I caught a look from Josie and I knew she wanted me to say something.  “We might get pizza.” 

“Yeah,” Josie agreed.  “I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks.  I can’t get good pizza in Australia.”

“Okay,” he said.  “But after that, we’re starting Game One of a Monopoly tournament, so don’t make other plans.” 

“For sure,” she said, then added, “I love Monopoly.”

This year, I wasn’t feeling the same level of enthusiasm for nightly contests.  I’d hoped to graduate from board games to bonfires on the beach with cute lifeguards and new friends.

Dad picked up his tackle box and, just before shutting the door behind him, he said, “Same deal as always. Text me at nine, twelve and three o’clock, and be home by six for dinner.”

“Yup,” we said together.

“Got it, Stell?”

“I got it.” 

He closed the door.

“What was that about?”  Josie asked about the extra “Got it, Stell?”

I shrugged. “Oh, nothing.  He worries, you know.”

So, about my dad.  He’s been married twice.  First to my mom, Montana – they got divorced before she knew she was pregnant with me.  As soon as they separated, he met Kate.  It was love at first sight.  They got married after just a few dates, moved to Australia to be close to Kate’s family, and had Josie, only four months after I was born.  Turned out that Gary Higley’s dream of love at first sight fizzled in the Outback.  Dad returned to New Jersey.  Now, one daughter (me) lived in New York City with my mom and my new step-dad, and his other daughter (Josie) was in Sydney with wife number two and her step-dad.  The three of us were together for only eight weeks each summer.  Since Kate, Dad hadn’t dated — until this summer, it seemed. 

I was glad Dad was interested in dating again.  He deserved to be happy, but I didn’t love the idea of him getting remarried.  I mean, I had to share Mom, and I didn’t want to share him too.

“So, what’s up, Jo?”  I asked.  “Get me caught up on your life.” 

There was no answer, because she wasn’t there.  I looked around.  Neither was my suitcase.


She popped her head out of the bedroom we shared.  “Putting your stuff in here so summer can begin.  You can unpack later, yeah?” 

“Sure,” I said.  “I just need to look at the ocean to feel like I’m really here.”  I walked onto the back porch that overlooked the Atlantic.  I loved the smell of salt in the air and the rolling sound of the waves.  It was the complete opposite of the concrete and traffic of home.

My dad inherited this house from his parents and carried on the tradition of spending summers here.  It’s perfect that he’s a teacher, s we can live down here.

If not for these weeks at the shore, Josie and I would hardly ever see each other.  After all, she lives literally on the other side of the world.  

This tradition was so important to both of us, that once we got cellphones, we made a pact:  Except for moms, we wouldn’t contact our non-summer worlds while we were in Whalehead.  It was hard for me not to call Pete, my best friend and crush forever.  Two years ago we amended the pact:  for five minutes each day we could maintain our streaks.  I wouldn’t be calling Pete this summer.

“Ready for water ice?” she asked.

“Have I ever not wanted water ice?”  It was our tradition to go to Water Ice World to kick off the summer.  There was no reason that this year’s trip would be any different.


Excerpted from SALTWATER SECRETS. Copyright ©2020 By Cindy Callaghan. Reprinted with permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.



Author Of The Week: Guest Post with Bethany Wicker...
YABC Staff's Current Reads ~ April 29th, 2019

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