Category: Sam’s Teen Reads Corner

Ronaldo: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher – Review

Children's Fantasy Book Review by Sam - Ronaldo The Phantom Carrot Snatcher by Maxine Sylvester

About the book:

Ronaldo and Rudi discover friends come in all shapes and sizes as they embark on a superhero mission to help a lost wolf cub called Ernie find her pack.

Rudi comes up with a plan to find the pack and deliver a message during a speed test at flying school; but Ronaldo isn’t totally onboard with the idea. He desperately wants to break the speed record and the plan means jeopardising his chance of becoming champion.

Will Ronaldo go for glory… or will he discover the true meaning of friendship and sacrifice the race for Ernie?

Bumbling Wing Commander Blitsen, head of The Reindeer Flying Academy, and mischievous brothers, Dasher, Comet and Prancer also feature in this fun tale of bravery and friendship.

Published 23 November 2016.

About the Author:

Maxine Sylvester - Autho of the Ronaldo series, including Ronaldo: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher

Maxine Sylvester was born in London, England. She grew up with a passion for Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear. She also loved anything Disney and enjoyed drawing the characters. Maxine’s love of ‘fun’ art grew and she had the privilege of being mentored by cartoonist and caricaturist, Steve Chadburn. She completed further studies in children’s book illustration with talented artist and illustrator, Jan Nesbitt.

She is currently working on the fourth book in the Ronaldo series, due for release in Autumn 2018.Social media for Maxine:

Facebook    Twitter     Pinterest     Instagram    Website

Sam’s Review:

Ronaldo and the Phantom Carrot Snatcher by Maxine Sylvester is different from my usual teen read, but enjoyable nonetheless. Telling the tail of two reindeer and a wolf pup, I loved the story it told.

This book is the second in a series. Ronaldo (AKA Ronnie) and his best friend Rudolph (AKA Rudi) don’t know what to do when Ronnie finds a lost wolf pup named Ernie (just so you know, Ernie’s a girl) behind his house.

Rudi comes up with a brilliant plan to find Ernie’s pack, but Ronnie will need to go to the forbidden forest. Ronnie agrees to do so, but at the same time, he has plans to break the speed record. But he can’t do both at the same time. As it is, he’s taking a risk, and could get expelled from flight school if he’s seen at the forest.

Fun to read, easy to understand, and filled with good illustrations, this children’s book was a fun break from my usual teen read. It’s cute all the way through, and filled with humor.

Sam's Teen Reads Corner reviews Maxine Sylvester's Ronaldo The Phantom Carrot Snatcher - Children's Fantasy Fiction

Buy the Book:

This book is available in Kindle format from Amazon:

Amazon US [affiliate link]     Amazon UK 

Other books in the series:

Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy (rel Dec 2015) [affiliate link]

Ronaldo: Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza (rel Oct 2017) [affiliate link]

Check out all the reviews for Maxine Sylvester’s Ronaldo series here.

The Child Wound in Gold – Short Story Review

Thrice Read Books reviews Megan O'Russell's short story - Child Wound in Gold

About this story:

A little knock taps on the door,
A little girl hiding under the floor,
The safety of the dirt shall build her bed,
While the monster rammoc flies overhead.
For years, the rammocs have tormented the valley, stealing villagers from their homes, destroying crops and cattle so those left behind face the constant threat of starvation.
The only hope the villagers have is the magicians of the convocation. They alone have the power to stop the rammocs. But the magicians demand a price the villagers are unable to pay. Left with nothing but rubble and death, one young girl finds hope in the flames.

About the Author:

Megan O'Russell - Author of Child Wound in Gold, Girl of Glass, Girl without Magic

Megan is a native of Upstate New York who spends her time traveling the country as a professional actor. Megan’s current published works include the Girl of Glass series, How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days (The Tale of Bryant Adams, Book one), and The Girl Without Magic (The Chronicles of Maggie Trent, Book One).


When not on stage or working on her books, Megan can be found blogging on LifeBeyondExaggeration.com


For more information on Megan’s books, visit MeganORussell.com.

Sam’s Review:

The Child Wound in Gold, written by Megan O’Russell, author of Girl of Glass and Girl Without Magic, is a short story. Even though it was but several pages long and had a cliffhanger, it was still enjoyable. Rena’s village has been terrorized by a fearsome creature known as a rammoc.

The Rammoc always attacks, never killing everybody in the village. I guess it knows how to make sure that it’s meals stay plentiful. Magicians are supposed to protect the villagers, supposed to being the key words here. They don’t do their job, but one day, a magician from the convocation (the magician’s council, I’m guessing.) tells the rather close village that they shall kill the wicked beast, but the village must give them something in return. That something must be of value.

Rena, desperate to help, offers her mother’s magician made veil, only to be turned down. The magician attacks her for some weird reason (seriously, there wasn’t an explanation. Maybe he thought that she’d stolen the veil when she clearly said that it came from her mother’s family as a wedding gift.). She finds out that the threads in the veil are nearly indestructible. This gives her the idea of a lifetime.

This was very captivating, and fun to read. This is  a part of the Girl Without Magic series, but Maggie isn’t mentioned until you get to the author’s note. For as much as I liked the story, there wasn’t a whole lot of context, which left me scratching my head in places. I was able to put together some pieces of information, but still.

Thrice Read Books & Sam's Teen Reads Corner reviews Megan O'Russell's short story "The Child Wound in Gold", part of the Maggie Trent series on our blog.

Get this story free here from Instafreebie.

Other books we’ve reviewed by Megan O’Russell:

The Girl Without Magic (Maggie Trent book 1)

Girl of Glass (Nola Kent Book 1)

Boy of Blood (Nola Kent Book 2)

Ghost Hawk – Book Review

Brian’s Book Review:

Ghost Hawk is a great story of dedication devotion, love and hate.  You’ll be on the edge of your seat not wanting to put this book down.  A historical fiction told unlike any before.  A great story for anyone from young teen to adults.

Sam’s Book Review:

Little Hawk is the son of Flying Hawk. He is eleven now, and he must prepare for his three month long ordeal to become a man. But when he returns, he finds a nasty surprise in store for him, and the white man’s plans to settle on his people’s land.

When the time comes for him to take the test that will decide if he becomes a man and finds his manitou, or guardian spirit, or dies in the wilderness, he knows that he will survive. So he leaves with his father blindfolded. When they reach the spot, Flying Hawk removes Little Hawk’s blindfold and leaves him there to start the journey. The first thing Little Hawk needs to do is build a fire. Then he will be ready for his manitou to find him.

When his three months are over he returns home, only to find that most of the village died from a horrible plague, including one of his two sisters, his baby brother, his mother, and his father. When he goes to his tent, the only one left in the village is Grandmother Suncatcher. When she tells him about the plague, he feels like his world has been shattered. They take care of each other until Little Hawk’s friend Leaping Turtle comes, wondering what happened. Now there are three of them.

Soon afterwards, they receive a signal from another village, and they send one in return. Suncatcher tries to tell Little Hawk and Leaping Turtle to go to that other village, but they tell her that if she’s not going, they’re not going. Finally, they decide to build a litter to hold her. When three people from the other village, come to check on Little Hawk’s village, they take what survivors remain to a new village. After the visit, they arrive at the other village, and Little Hawk’s little sister, Quickbird, comes running up to him when she sees that Little Hawk has survived the plague. At least one of his siblings survived the epidemic.

They live in the village for a little while, then, the white men come. Little Hawk meets John, a little boy. When Little Hawk and Leaping Turtle go to deliver a message, Little Hawk is shot trying to save John’s father, and then tossed into the bushes. John picks up Little Hawk’s tomahawk for safe keeping, and then goes home, where his father dies with a broken leg. When one of Little Hawk’s killers, Daniel Smith, marries John’s mother, Margaret, John uses every opportunity he gets to try to make Daniel realize that he shot a man who was trying to help. This gets him apprenticed to a master cooper, where he meets Huldah, a young girl going, as her family promised to him, to work for the other murderer, Master Kelly.

When going to collect shoots so that he can make a barrel, he sees the ghost of little Hawk. Realizing that he can see Little Hawk, John decides to learn Little Hawk’s language. They have many meetings, where John and Little Hawk become fast friends. When John becomes an adult, he plans to marry Huldah, but Master Kelly forbids him to ever do so in Plymouth because of John’s love for the Native Americans, or, as the settlers call them, the heathens, causing John to become angry and spill the story of Little Hawk’s death, in public.

That’s not all that goes on in Ghost Hawk. There are many twists and turns throughout the story. This book was written by Susan Cooper, the author of The Dark is Rising. It was published by Margaret K. McElderry Books in 2013. The book I read was first edition. This book isn’t illustrated. I’d give it five stars for a plot that twists and turns, and for a gripping story and recommend this to young adults and middle schoolers.

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper


From Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper, a story of adventure and friendship between a young Native American and a colonial New England settler.

On the winter day Little Hawk is sent into the woods alone, he can take only a bow and arrows, his handcrafted tomahawk, and the amazing metal knife his father traded for with the new white settlers. If Little Hawk survives three moons by himself, he will be a man.

John Wakely is only ten when his father dies, but he has already experienced the warmth and friendship of the nearby tribes. Yet his fellow colonists aren’t as accepting of the native people. When he is apprenticed to a barrel-maker, John sees how quickly the relationships between settlers and natives are deteriorating. His friendship with Little Hawk will put both boys in grave danger.

The intertwining stories of Little Hawk and John Wakely are a fascinating tale of friendship and an eye-opening look at the history of our nation. Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper also includes a timeline and an author’s note that discusses the historical context of this important and moving novel.

You can buy a used copy of this book from Thrice Read Books here.

The Other Side of Free – Book Review

About the Book:

In 1739, England and Spain are on the verge of war and former slaves are arriving in St. Augustine, where the Spanish will give them their freedom in exchange for their loyalty. Fourteen-year-old Jem has escaped a cruel master but is now in the custody of Phaedra, a difficult and angry woman. He thought he was free, he thought he was a man – but Phaedra controls his every move and takes every opportunity to remind him that he’s still a child. And as the threat of war becomes more real, Jem starts to understand the meaning of freedom and the complex connections that make a community.

Sam’s Review:

The year is 1739. Tons of slaves are running to Spain from England for freedom away from their cruel masters. In return, they are expected to help destroy the English. Jem sees this as a chance to get back at his master, and prove that he’s a man. However, there’s just one teeny, tiny problem. He’s under the custody of the bitter and angry Phaedra. And she won’t let him fight.

Jem and the others have lived in Fort Mose (say Moh-Zay) for almost as long as the war has been going on. Everybody else has taken the oath of allegiance to Spain, but Phaedra won’t let Jem take the oath. She believes that Jem’s too young to fight, to serve for the Spanish army. He’s looking for a sign that he’ll finally join the Spanish army. He believes that the sign he’s been waiting for all this time is the owlet Omen, the one he saved from crows. As Omen gets older, everyone at Fort Mose tells him to get rid of Omen because he might be bad luck, that he might harm their chickens, but Jem knows that Omens is his responsibility. And Jem will always protect Omen as best as he can.

The English begin to attack the fort, and the people living there are forced to move to the Castillo, where refugees are. There is little food, and a tension between the Spanish and the former slaves is growing. The English attack the Castillo, but their attack fails.

Jem learns that one of his friends, the trader Reynard, is a traitor, working for the English. When Reynard asks him to join the English, Jem knows that he’ll be sold back into slavery, and he turns down the offer. This gets hims burns when he’s forced to pay for his refusal. Then comes an attack by the Spanish on Fort Mose, where Jem is finally allowed to fight. When the battle is over Jem sees that he’s not the only one who’s lost kin…

This is only part of Jem’s tale. You can read the rest in the book The Other Side of Free by Krista Russell. This book was published by RR Donnelley & Sons in 2013. I’m giving this book four stars for a gripping tale, and would recommend it to preteens and juveniles. This book is historical-fiction, non-illustrated, and the book I read was first edition.

This book is available from Amazon in Kindle and hardcover editions here. [affiliate link]

Apricots & Wolfsbane – Review

Thrice Read Books reviews Apricots and Wolfsbane by KM Pohlkamp

About the book:

Apricots and Wolfsbane by K. M. Pohlkamp

Historical fiction (Adult/New Adult)   293 pages in print

Published October 13, 2017 by Filles Vertes Publishing

Lavinia Maud craves the moment the last wisps of life leave her victims’ bodies—to behold the effects of her own poison creations. Believing confession erases the sin of murder, her morbid desires are in unity with faith, though she could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves.

Book club discussion guide included!

At the start of the 16th century in Tudor England, Lavinia’s marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, but rising prestige brings increased risk. When the magistrate suspects her ruse, he pressures the priest into breaking her confessional seal, pitting Lavinia’s instincts as an assassin against the tenets of love and faith. She balances revenge with her struggle to develop a tasteless poison and avoid the wrath of her ruthless patron.

With her ideals in conflict, Lavinia must decide which will satisfy her heart: love, faith, or murder—but the betrayals are just beginning.

About the author:

K.M. Pohlkamp is a blessed wife to the love of her life, a proud mother of two, and a Mission Control flight controller. Originally from Wisconsin, she now resides in Houston, Texas.

Jenn’s Review:

Usually, when I get a request to read and review a book, I don’t read other folks’ reviews first, and I’ll admit that I was hesitant at first to add this particular volume to my to-be-read list for content concerns. When I judged Reading Review Wars on this book last month, my apprehension only grew.

My doubts were utterly unfounded.

I’ve never read a book with an anti-hero (in this case, anti-heroine) as the protagonist, so Apricots and Wolfsbane was a first for me. Lavinia Maud is nothing short of a badass, though, as a woman who’s taken on a career that, in 16th century England, is nothing short of dangerous and illegal. However, she refuses to settle into the role of docile wife as she is expected to do, and she pursues her nefarious trade with a passion.

Ms. Pohlkamp has nailed the inner conflict in her creation of Madam Maud with her protagonist’s conflicted morals. She’s okay with murder-for-hire, but craves absolution after each kill. Admitting to her list of victims isn’t a stretch for her, but she refuses to give up the names of who’s hired her.

I won’t say that Lavinia Maud is likable. Even after the last page, I’m still on the fence about whether I liked the main character. She is, however, (as are all the secondary characters in this story) well developed and multi-faceted.

Fans of bad-ass, female protagonists in historical fiction – this one’s for you. It’s hard not to root for a character who refuses to quietly fit into the mold and boldly takes control of her own destiny. This is the first in a series, apparently, so I’ll be watching for book 2 to come out!

Jenn at Thrice Read Books reviews KM Pohlkamp's historical fiction Apricots and Wolfsbane

Sam’s Review:

Murder. To many, it’s a sin. But to Lavinia, it’s her job. And it’s a nicely paying job as well. Apricots and Wolfsbane is her story, and it is a very fun to read story. The author is K. M. Pohlkamp, and I would love to thank her for sharing this book with me.

Poison is an interest of mine, mainly because it makes for a good story, so that helped boost the rating of the book. It was well written, and filled with tension at the right moments. I got chills reading this book, it was that good.

And in the negatives, well, for me, all I can say is, “what negatives?” It wasn’t too predictable, nor was it too unpredictable. I loved the plot twists, the well developed settings and characters, and I loved everything about this book.

Buy the book:

This book is available as a Kindle or paperback from Amazon here. [affiliate link]

Jenn judged the Reading Review Wars for this book. To read the reviewers’ arguments, click here.

Harmony House – Book Review

About the Book:

Carrie meets American Horror Story meets The Shining in this terrifying YA horror novel from the author of Tweak and Schizo.

Something’s not right in Beach Haven.

Jen Noonan’s father thinks a move to Harmony House is the key to salvation, but to everyone who has lived there before, it is a portal to pure horror.

After her alcoholic mother’s death, Jen’s father cracked. He dragged Jen to a dilapidated old manor on the shore of New Jersey to start their new lives—but Jen can tell that the place has an unhappy history. She can feel it the same way she can feel her anger flowing out of her, affecting the world in strange ways she can’t explain.

But Harmony House is more than just a creepy old estate. It’s got a chilling past—and the more Jen discovers its secrets, the more the house awakens. Visions of a strange boy who lived in the house long ago follow Jen wherever she goes, and her father’s already-fragile sanity disintegrates before her eyes. As the forces in the house join together to terrorize Jen, she must find a way to escape the past she didn’t know was haunting her—and the mysterious and terrible power she didn’t realize she had.

Sam’s Review:

First an orphanage, then a hotel, now a home, Harmony House has a dark past, and seventeen year-old Jen and her father are at the center of it all. Jen thinks that the house is trying communicate to her, but she can’t tell what it’s saying. Worst of all, her father is being affected the most.

All it takes is one look at the house, and seventeen year-old Jen knows that bad things are going to happen to her and her father. Not long after, on the same day, she hears her mother tell her good-bye, though her mother’s been dead for a few months. Then she starts having the visions of the orphanage and pieces of her father’s past.

When she has her new friends over for a visit, things take an unexpected turn, and not for the better. Christy jumps off the banister, after disappearing without anyone noticing due to a short power loss. Though everyone tells Jen that Christy will be alright, she still feels shaken up. Jen’s father only makes matters worse by insisting that they pray for forgiveness, even though she tries to tell him that she needs sleep.

When she hears from Rose, the local café owner, that she has special powers, she refuses to accept it. Afterwards, she starts to wonder if it’s her causing the storm, her father’s insanity, and the summoning of the ghost of a long dead boy. If she’s not careful, whatever’s possessing her father may kill her…

Harmony House was written by Nic Sheff, and was published in 2016 by Epic Reads. This book is for teens, and isn’t illustrated. I’d give it 5 stars for a gripping story and vivid details. The genre is horror. The prologue and epilogue are stories of what happened before Jen’s story. I’d recommend this book to all teen and adult horror fans.

This book is available from Amazon in paperback, hardcover, Kindle, audio book or audio CD here. [affiliate link]

Secondborn – Book Review

About the book:

Firstborns rule society. Secondborns are the property of the government. Thirdborns are not tolerated. Long live the Fates Republic.

On Transition Day, the second child in every family is taken by the government and forced into servitude. Roselle St. Sismode’s eighteenth birthday arrives with harsh realizations: she’s to become a soldier for the Fate of Swords military arm of the Republic during the bloodiest rebellion in history, and her elite firstborn mother is happy to see her go.

Televised since her early childhood, Roselle’s privileged upbringing has earned her the resentment of her secondborn peers. Now her decision to spare an enemy on the battlefield marks her as a traitor to the state.

But Roselle finds an ally—and more—in fellow secondborn conscript Hawthorne Trugrave. As the consequences of her actions ripple throughout the Fates Republic, can Roselle create a destiny of her own? Or will her Fate override everything she fights for—even love?

Sam’s Review

Hello once again, and our topic for today is the book Second Born. This wonderful tale of treason and tyranny against the second born children of the Fates’ Republic is very slow for most of the book, but speeds up very close to the end.

The storyline is very good though because of Roselle’s heritage and her allies’ attempts to throw her first born brother off of the throne. The book is science fiction, and the heroin’s spunky attitude will be hard to hate.

It gets 4 of 5 stars. Please do not forget to subscribe, like, and enable notifications.

Check out the link to Thrice Read Books, which is somewhere. Oh! There it is! Check it out, as well as some of my other videos, and I’ll be doing another video next week. Bye!

Buy the book:

This book is available from Amazon in Kindle, paperback, audiobook and MP3 CD here. [affiliate link]

Voices – Book Review

About the book: Ansul was once a peaceful town filled with libraries, schools, and temples. But that was long ago, and the conquerors of this coastal city consider reading and writing to be acts punishable by death. And they believe the Oracle House, where the last few undestroyed books are hidden, is seething with demons. But to seventeen-year-old Memer, the house is the only place where she feels truly safe.    Then an Uplands poet named Orrec and his wife, Gry, arrive, and everything in Memer’s life begins to change. Will she and the people of Ansul at last be brave enough to rebel against their oppressors?Sam’s Review:

Voices, by Ursula K. Le Guin, is a fantasy story built in a land that thrives on books for knowledge, though not everyone sees books like the people of Ansul do. Filled with moments of caution, times of suspicion, and feelings of treachery, people who love prophecies, wars and books in general will love this fine storyline. Memer, the spunky heroine, will not disappoint the ones who have high expectations for those who take it upon themselves to defend their homeland. Filled with magic, lovable characters, and dubious enemies, Voices can keep people going until the end, leaving one wanting more.

This book is young adult level, and please remember to check out the link to Thrice Read Books.com that is in the description box. Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already, enable notifications if you haven’t already, and leave a like. If there is a book you want me to read, please let me know in the comments, and I might get back to you. I will see you all next week in Sam’s Teen Reads Corner. Bye!

Buy the Book:

You can buy the book in Kindle, Hardcover, paperback, audio or preloaded digital player from Amazon here. [affiliate link]

Namesake – Review

About the Book:

It started with a history project. Mr. Gregor assigned a research paper on a figure from the Tudor era, and of course Jane Grey had to pick her namesake – Lady Jane Grey, the fifteen-year-old girl whose parents schemed to place her on the throne of England, then abandoned her to face the executioner. The project is engrossing from the start, but when Jane opens a mysterious prayer book and finds herself in the Tower of London in 1553, she finds herself literally drawn into her namesake’s story.

Soon, Jane is slipping into the past whenever the present becomes too unbearable, avoiding her mother’s demands, her best friend’s fickleness, her crush’s indifference. In the Tower she plays chess with the imprisoned Lady Jane, awed by her new friend’s strength and courage. And it is in the Tower, keeping vigil as the day of the execution draws near, that Jane learns that she, too, must have the courage to fight for her own happiness.

Sam’s Review:

Hi everyone! So today we’ll be talking about Namesake, which was written by Sue MacLeod, in 2013. A single name is able to bring two very different people together, bridging a time gap between them. Lady Jane and her namesake are hard to hate, and easy to relate to. I give it 5 stars for a beautiful read, filled with moments of sorrow and times of joy. The spunky heroines make this story easy to love, and the possible stirrings of love for Jane can help you connect to the characters. I recommend this book to all young adults who love a good cliffhanger, as well as aspiring time travelers and lovers of medieval figures. If you are wondering what kind of genre this is, I’d call it modern and historical fiction.

The link for this book is in the description below, as well as the link to the Thrice Read website. Don’t forget to subscribe and turn on notifications, and help us reach new heights with our subscribers. See you guys next time!

You can purchase this book from Amazon as either a Kindle eBook or in paperback format here. [affiliate link]

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Book Review

About the book:

 “‘There is a plot, Harry Potter. A plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year.'” 

Harry Potter’s summer has included the worst birthday ever, doomy warnings from a house-elf called Dobby, and rescue from the Dursleys by his friend Ron Weasley in a magical flying car! Back at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his second year, Harry hears strange whispers echo through empty corridors – and then the attacks start. Students are found as though turned to stone… Dobby’s sinister predictions seem to be coming true.

Sam’s Review:

Hello again. Today in Sam’s Teen Reads Corner, we’ll be talking about, wait for it,  J.K Rowling’s second book in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Harry and his friends go back for their second year at Hogwarts, once again, they find themselves in the middle of a battle between dark magic and good magic. And once again, Harry is the only one who can defeat Voldemort, only, this time, he won’t be fighting Voldemort himself, but a memory, the young Tom Riddle, the young self of the dark lord. But can he defeat the young Voldemort, or will he fail? And how, just how, does one fight a memory? Read it to answer these questions, and to take your magical journey to the next stop. This fantasy tale will captivate the minds of young adults everywhere from the first page, and is filled with twists and turns. It gets 5 stars, and two thumbs up. Please don’t forget to check out the link, and subscribe. Like and enable notifications and I’ll be seeing you next week, so hang in there. Bye!

Buy the book:

 You can buy this book on Amazon in Kindle, paperback, hardcover, audiobook or mass market paperback edition here. [affiliate link]