Book Review: The Spec Set

Spending several weeks of his summer at a geeky science camp babysitting his odd younger brother isn’t the highlighted path E wants to travel.

Spending several weeks of his summer at a geeky science camp while babysitting his odd younger brother isn’t the highlighted path E wants to travel. Then, to top it all off, paths surround him as he and his brother become the focus of the FBI in The Spect Set.

Taya Okerlund creates a remarkable story that follows two brothers on the unexpected adventure of their lives. And though Max, the younger brother, knows of his talents, Emile (E) is just discovering his. A fun YA story filled with excitement, The Spec Set is one I enjoyed reading.

My Thoughts on the Spec Set:

Told through the eyes of Emile, the Spec Set brings the fun vernacular of a teenage boy burdened by too much responsibility for a younger sibling. What makes it worse? Max doesn’t speak. On the rare occasion he does, the single word response hardly covers the required answer. Though watching his brother at science camp isn’t an idea E likes, he still stands up for him regularly. Luckily, Lilly, the latest pain in his side, likes Max and helps out as much as she can. Eventually, when E’s own reality seems to explode, Lilly and Max let him in on a little secret, and he meets the rest of the Spec Set.

I quite enjoyed reading this fun story. Much of Max’s characteristics are obviously written in a way that leads the reader to believe he has Autism with selective mutism. Having a child of my own with Autism, I found the writing well-done. In fact, the story follows kids with conditions who have developed superpowers. The story states clearly they are not savants, but, wow, do they have talents!

So often, incredible children with neuro-diversities are left by the wayside, uncelebrated despite their amazing talents and qualities. The Spec Set may be science fiction but the preface behind it isn’t.

The book could use a good proofread. There are several instances of simple mistakes, usually out of place or incorrect words. It did affect my attention to a degree, and I would preface this point before handing it to my children to read. The story is squeaky clean and perfect for both boys and girls of any age, though readability probably begins with middle graders.

The Official Blurb:

Copernicus Science camp looks harmless enough on the surface, at least no one will tell you otherwise, least of all Max McKenzie, who doesn’t speak at all. He can’t even defend himself when he’s implicated in a high stakes chemical theft from the camp lab. Or can he?

His brother Emile is desperate to help, but he’s waking up to his own problems–chief among them the fact that he’s developed an incredible (and incredibly dangerous) new ability. He doesn’t know how to control his awesome new power, and turns to the one person he’s loathe to ask: Lilly Fang.

Lilly has everything under control, including other people’s biochemistry. (Or is Emile really that crazy about her?) Either way, she’s hiding a boat-load of secrets (and secret powers).

Lilly assembles a team of friends like none Emile’s ever dreamed of to help Max.

There’s Fetu, a near giant, whose presence alone seems to suck the air out of the room. Or does he do that literally?

And Danika, who’s so shy she seems to fade right into the background. Or does she actually become invisible?

And Eliza, who never lifts a finger–but is that because she lifts things with her mind? 

The Spec Set will need all of their combined strengths (and their weaknesses) to combat a threat reaching all the way go to another universe.

More info:

Purchase your copy of the Spec Set on Amazon
Follow Taya Okerlund on Goodreads

I received an ARC copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
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Book Review: Realm of Beasts by Angela J. Ford

When Citrine makes a deal with a dark creature the balance within Paradise becomes tipped. Can Tor Lir reach Paradise soon enough to help Citrine reset the balance?

Realm of Beasts: the mortal realm only survives when good and evil are balanced. When Citrine makes a deal with a dark creature the balance within Paradise becomes tipped. Can Tor Lir reach Paradise soon enough to help Citrine reset the balance?

Realm of Beasts: An Epic Fantasy Adventure with Mythical Beasts (Legend of the Nameless One Book 1) by [Ford, Angela J.]

Rated #60 in Amazon’s Witches and Wizards category, Realm of Beasts holds a world with both the perfect paradise and its counter-balance the evil forest. Award-winning author Angela J. Ford has done beautiful work at creating another fantastic fantasy for those who easily slip into worlds unlike our own.

My Thoughts on Realm of Beasts:

I’ve read a lot of fantasies. There is something about being able to completely forget what’s real and become immersed in worlds filled with magic that I find relaxing. However, with that comes discovering the rules and dwellers of those worlds. That takes time, which means learning patience when reading. Patience was a necessity while reading Realm of Beasts. The story jumps right and the world and character-building parallels, giving readers just the right amount of information as they read. But if you expect it all up front, you’re not going to get it. This, in my opinion, is a sign of a good author.

Many fantasies deal with one kind of beast, for instance, dragons. But, as this title suggests, there is more than one kind of beast in Angela’s story. If you prefer to read fantasies that revolved around swords and armies and an occasional magical being, this is probably not the book for you. However, if you enjoy the fight for a balanced world of good and evil, with an enchantress who speaks to beasts, and a wicked master that only a talented author can create, the Realm of Beasts might just become your favorite book.

This book is well-written and easy to read. The chapters are short—something I appreciate. There are some sexual innuendos. And toward the beginning of the book, it is mentioned that some of the characters have had partners—this is not an integral part of the storyline.

The Official Blurb:

Tor Lir, the Nameless One, is unsure what he is. However, he knows he was born to bring balance to the powers of good and evil.

Forsaking his birthplace and fleeing from suggestions of a dark knowledge he’d rather not discover, he decides to take his fate into his own hands.

A chance encounter with a dead body, a dangerous beast, and a desirous creature lead him on the path to Paradise, where he senses imbalance.

Banished from her village and lost in a wicked forest, Citrine makes a deal with a dark creature, but that was before she found Paradise—the legendary land of a friendly giant.

Falling in love with the land, Citrine takes advantage of her time to study the lore of herbs and craft a spell of protection for her mythical beasts.

When darkness creeps into Paradise, bringing the mysterious Nameless One and an omen of death, Citrine realizes the consequences of her actions spell danger for herself, her beasts, and Paradise.

As time runs out the undead come to life. Citrine faces the ultimate showdown as everything she holds dear is ripped away.

Will the Nameless One save Paradise or destroy it to welcome an era of peace?

Immerse yourself in a tale of the balance between good and evil with mythical beasts sprinkled in.

Realm of Beasts is the first of six planned books in the epic fantasy series: Legend of the Nameless One.

More Info:

Realm of Beasts comes as an ebook, print book, or audible book and can be found on Amazon.

Follow Angela J. Ford on her website   Facebook    Instagram     Twitter     Goodreads

Read more book reviews and flash fiction at kameomonson.com. Don’t forget to download your free copy of Sometimes A Bird Has to Fly.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
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