Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle, by N.D. Wilson

outlaws of timeUpon first glance, Sam Miracle’s name appears to be a misnomer. After all, he is stuck in an orphanage in the middle of the desert, and his arms don’t work. Miracles aren’t exactly likely for this teenager. All he has going for him are his incredibly vivid dreams in which he time-travels to fight the evil El Buitre . . . and in which his arms function properly. Continue reading


The Secret of Spellshadow Manor, by Bella Forrest

spellI’d like to say that I’ve never succumbed to the lure of clickbait. Usually I’m a strong person on Facebook. Clickbait? That’s for simpletons. But … well, there was this kind of ad post with a cool-looking book cover for The Secret of Spellshadow Manor that said “If you loved Harry Potter, you will LOVE this new series! Get the kindle deal today only!” And unfortunately, I’m a huge HP fan, and, well, anyway it was a great kindle deal. I mean, yeah, the author is known for a ton of cranked-out vampire mysteries, but this could be her Shining Star … right? Continue reading

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: Wingfeather Saga, vol. 1 – by Andrew Peterson

by AB

As a middle school English teacher, I am always looking for quality fantasy fiction for young readers. Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga first came to my attention when it was recommended to me by my 13-year-old nephew. Here’s a tip: if a teenage boy sings the praises of a fiction book, that’s a big deal and worth your attention.ap Continue reading

Interview with Robert Beatty, author of the Serafina books

We were thrilled to meet up with best-selling author Robert Beatty at a book signing; and we appreciate his time in allowing our interview. We hope you’ll enjoy it as well!  

Interview by AB


RB1What inspired you to write a book set at the Biltmore Estate?
My family and I live very close to Biltmore, and we visit there often. It’s a place filled with history, beauty and a sense of mystery. We thought it was the perfect setting for a mysterious, spooky story from a child’s point of view.

The character of Serafina was inspired by my middle school-aged daughter, Genevieve, who used to prowl around our house and try to sneak up on me in my office when I was writing.

How has being a father played a role in your Serafina stories?
I’ve always been interested in strong, young female characters. I’ve always felt that girls can do anything they want to do, and be anything they want to be. One of my main goals in writing Serafina was to give my three daughters a story about a heroic girl they can relate to.

Do you have plans to write a third Serafina book? (Please say “yes.”)
Yes, a third book in the Serafina Series is in progress now.  Look for it in summer 2017. Continue reading

Serafina and the Black Cloak series

By Robert Beatty            Genre: Middle Grade Lit (mystery)
Reviewed by AB                   5/5 stars

You probably wouldn’t expect that one of the pioneers of cloud computing, the Chief Technical Officer and Chairman of the Board at
Narrative Magazine,Sera both books and an entrepreneur in the field of robotics would care anything about writing children’s stories. But that’s exactly what Robert Beatty did when he began pursuing writing full-time in 2013.

#1 New York Times Bestsellers Serafina and the Black Cloak (2015) and its sequel Serafina and the Twisted Staff (2016) were born out of a love that Beatty and his family have for Asheville’s Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home.

0714161842 (2)Recently, I had the chance to attend a book signing for Serafina and the Twisted Staff  (already in its second week on the New York Times Bestseller List) held at the Barnes and Noble on Woodruff Road in Greenville, SC. My 8-year-old daughter and 12-year-old niece were with me along with about 200 other young fans.

Mr. Beatty, who lives in nearby Asheville, NC, spoke briefly, answered questions, showed a trailer that he and his daughters had made for the second book, and signed hundreds of copies (including the 6 I had with me for all the founding members of The Shabby Coat Book Club). The excitement at the event was palpable and with good reason. Continue reading

Wolf Hollow

By Lauren Wolk                                            Genre: Historical fiction
Reviewed by Natalie                                   4/5 stars

Being hailed as a new To Kill a Mockingbird, Wolf Hollow relates the Wolf HOllowstory of a school-aged girl, from a good family, who runs into trouble and befriends a reclusive man thought crazy by the town. However, it lacks the powerful social commentary found in Harper Lee’s classic work. Yet this YA book is nonetheless filled with important themes of truth and courage, making it a fantastic book to read along with your teens.

Annabelle, Wolf Hollow’s likable young heroine, lives in a farming community set in 1943. She loves to read and learn and is a good daughter to her parents. Betty, the antagonist, is a bully who decides to target Annabelle. But she’s not your average bully: Betty is frightening, cruel, and seems capable of anything. Annabelle’s life becomes more and more complicated as Betty commits heinous acts. But then one rainy day, Betty disappears. Everyone is quick to point the finger at the town recluse, but Annabelle is sure he is innocent. Her belief in him and attempt to prove his innocence leads her to create a web of lies she can’t untangle. Continue reading

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club

By Phillip Hoose                                  Genre: YA Nonfiction
Reviewed by Meg                                          4/5 stars

Perhaps it is the times we live in – or maybe my appreciation for history is finally growing as I age (maybe) – but I have found myself reaching for more and more books that I never imagined I’d have an interest in: namely non-fiction, particularly in war history. Last month I checked out Herbert Hoover’s Freedom Betrayed, especially since I’d heard it provided a fascinating perspective on Franklin Roosevelt – and Hoover’s assertion that the United States was more or less manipulated by Roosevelt into a naval war with Germany (still up for debate) – and the idea that FDR unnecessarily appeased world leaders like Joseph Stalin (which, of course, looks like good men being silent at the wrong time). I suppose that some might view Herbert Hoover as a “past president” merely sore at not being in charge anymore. But who better to analyze the doings of a president than a former president? No one else would have an understanding of the way things work – or the enormous pressure of the job itself.

But getting back to the book at hand …

churchillI’m excited to share a piece of non-fiction about the first Danish resistance group during the German occupation of Denmark in WWII – a group of teenage boys, mostly aged 15 or 16. After more than a decade of waiting to interview Knud and record this story, Phillip Hoose has painstakingly crafted a fitting tribute to Pederson and his fellow Churchill Club members. The book flows seamlessly between Hoose’s historical narration and Knud Pederson’s own recollections – both of which are interjected with photos and fact boxes that give a picture and understanding of the times.   Continue reading