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: Devil of Gilding

After the death of his wife, nobleman James Blake cares little for anything other than his son Toby. But life changes when Toby goes missing in the book Devil of Gilding.

After the death of his wife, nobleman James Blake cares little for anything other than his son Toby. But life changes when Toby goes missing in the book Devil of Gilding.

Book Review: Devil of Gilding

December Knight, lover of counting to three in several languages, superfluous facts, God, and searching for Big Foot, has also brought us a great story, Devil of Gilding. The story, filled with mystery and convoluted plans by more than one villain, kept my attention from page one to page done.

My Thoughts on Devil of Gilding

Set in the time of carriages and corsets, Devil of Gilding begins with the birth of Toby and the death of his mother, Leah. A tender-hearted boy, Toby grows into a loving thirteen-year-old under the hand of his father, James, uncle Clemit, and caregiver Adelaide until he goes missing.

The exciting book includes wonderful descriptions, intricate plans, gypsies, criminals, and someone we only know as D, short for Devil. The well-developed characters drew me into the story, as did the perfect descriptions.

Devil of Gilding is written in a third-person omniscient point of view. Knight, however, does not project the narrator’s voice well, so occasionally the bounce from one character to another is jarring. I also found myself re-reading several sentences due to missing commas. That said, I didn’t find either too difficult to look past.

As much as these weaknesses exist, the story is well worth the read and the writing, itself, is quite engaging. I enjoyed the story immensely and cannot iterate strongly enough that the weaknesses should not dissuade anyone from reading the book.

Now, if you don’t like cliffhangers, you may want to wait a few weeks until the second book comes out, but add the Blake Duology to your list of series to keep your eye on. I know I’ll be waiting for the second book.

The official Blurb

Despite their troubled past, the Blake family have found their own kind of perfect. James, a nobleman, and his less than reputable brother Clemit discovered something to live for in James’s son, Toby. When jealousy enters their lives in the form of a new personality, all hell breaks loose. 

In a single instant, all of their lives change for the worst. A new greedier villain enters their world wrapping tightly around the one thing that kept everything together, Toby. Toby is forced to fight for his life, as James and Clemit desperately try and find him while avoiding the other villain that is still hungry for more. 

Will the Blake’s survive this trial or will they be pulled apart by the hands that have taken hold?

More Info…

Purchase your copy of Devil of Gilding on Amazon.

Follow December Knight on Facebook Instagram Goodreads
and don’t forget to check out her website.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Book Review: The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife

If you spend your day changing diapers, eating chocolate every chance you get, or doing your best to squeeze into those pink exercise shorts that rise way above your belly button only minutes before a string of crimes ravage your neighborhood, you might be Lotty Brooks, the main character in The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife.

Book Review: The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife

Crissy Sharp, author of The Enemy Nextdoor and Other Misunderstandings and Love and Fat-free Cheese, has written another humor-filled mystery. The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife had me laughing from page one and my husband questioning my hysterical giggles through to the end. Somehow, Sharp managed to add a mystery in the middle of it all, making this book one you can’t put down.

My Thoughts on The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife:

We’ve been there, all of us. We spend our days wondering if we’ll get the chance to shower. And forget the cute clothes—comfy yoga pants and t-shirts are all we need for a life with toddlers anyway. The effort’s still worth it, but exhaustion took over our lives a long time ago, and of course, across the street, lives the perfect woman, thin, stylish, and a mother. We hate her. Add to that a failing marriage, and that is Lotty Brooks. To us, she’s awesome, unlike her neighbor (and ours). Scene after scene, Lotty tells it like it is. All of our hurts and failures, all of our wants and desires, outed by one fictional character so flawlessly written, we know she should be our best friend.

I haven’t had children in diapers or hanging on my leg as I walked down the street in years, but I love Lotty. Her husband, Jason, is a pretty cool guy too, which makes it hard to understand what happened to their marriage all those months ago.

As the title suggests, this book is lighthearted and fun with a mystery you can solve right along side of the characters. I enjoyed solving it while giggling at the predicaments Lotty finds herself in. There are a couple of tense places, but Sharp balances tension and humor beautifully. This read will keep you smiling. Grab the chocolate and a blanket and cozy-up, then thank me later.

The Official Blurb:

Lotty Brooks’ days consist of avoiding thoughts of her failing marriage, changing diapers, and trying not to eat chocolate brioche for breakfast and lunch. However, everything changes when her perfect, lakeside Montana neighborhood begins bustling with crime and she seems to be the target.

Jason Brooks wants to know what happened to the woman he married. Lotty’s a mere shell of her former self. When she becomes the focal point of neighborhood threats, and the town seems to question her innocence, he must decide how well he knows his wife.

As Jason and Lotty try to get to the bottom of the threats and find those responsible, they’ll need to remember what they once loved about each other. Otherwise, they may lose everything and everyone they care about.

More Info:

While both The Enemy Nextdoor and Other Misunderstandings and The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife are both Strawberry Lake Estate Mysteries, the books stand completely on their own.

Purchase your copy of The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife on Amazon
Follow Crissy Sharp:  On her website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

Read more reviews, flash fiction, and more fun at KameoMonson.com

I received a free copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.
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Book Review: One Among Them by M.K. Dymock

Keenley grew up in the Rocky Mountains. Unpredictable and dangerous as they were, they only brought her comfort…until they didn’t.

Book Review: One Among Them M.K. Dymock

An outdoor enthusiast herself, M.K. Dymock hits this writing trail and rides it to the end. Lucky for us, we can follow along in her fictional mystery One Among Them. This novel keeps readers on their toes as they wonder if Keenley’s family will find her before her attacker or the elements of nature take her life.

My Thoughts on One Among Them:

The blurb and subject of One Among Them called to me, and I picked this book up for myself. With just enough knowledge of the Rockies to think I had a clue, I jumped into chapter one. Then I spend several days trying to figure out where in the Rockies the story took place. My small knowledge of the 3,000-mile mountain range confused me. For the record, my limited understanding comes from a very small section of the Wasatch Front, which is located in Utah. Though I understood from the start that most people think of Colorado when considering the Rockies, my mind immediately went to Utah when the author described the western slopes. I also didn’t realize there was a desert in northwestern Colorado, or that the Wasatch Front didn’t butt directly up to the mountains in the neighboring state. So much for those geography lessons! Once I humbled myself and asked people to help me locate the area I was reading about, a whole new world (enter Disney music here) opened up to me.

One Among Them starts with action and keeps it going while allowing the reader to connect with the characters. I loved the way the author helped me to connect, not only to Keenley but also to her parents and others involved in the search. Throughout the story, I wondered who on earth the attacker was. As I got closer to the end and things were wrapping up, I thought I had it all figured out—nope. The swing and a miss didn’t hurt too much, but it did smart a little. When I finished, I  thought about immediately turning to page one and starting over. Alas, too many other books await reviews. Still, this isn’t a one-time read, not by a long-shot.

Official Blurb:

Everyone in town wants to find Keenley, but someone doesn’t intend for her to come home.

The town of Lost Gorge, hidden and protected from the world by the Rockies, hides some secrets of its own. When Keenley Dawson never returns home from mountain biking, the town unites to find her. Most everyone assumes she’s lost on the rugged trails or hurt.

She is lost and hurt, but it was no accident.

After being attacked and abducted, Keenley escapes into the wilderness. She knows how to survive the wilds, but what she doesn’t know is how to live when she’s being hunted.

More Info:

Purchase your copy of One Among Them on Amazon

Follow M.K. Dymock on Goodreads

Read book reviews, flash fiction, and more at KameoMonson.com

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