Book Review: Frozen Secrets

When thirteen-year-old Max finally gets his chance to live on Jupiter’s moon, mysteries unfold in unexpected ways.

Myles Christensen has his hands in a lot of technology, an area some might consider an odd recipe for the makings of an author. As a design engineer and freelance product developer who teaches CAD at the university, he likely gets pieced in with those who live their lives surrounded by nothing but logic. However, each of these skills require creativity and finesse. Add game inventor to Christensen’s list of accomplishments, and author isn’t such a far stretch.

Christensen’s first novel Frozen Secrets is a middle grade, science fiction story that takes readers on an adventure to space and throws in an action-packed mystery in a way I didn’t expect.

My thoughts about Frozen Secrets

In Frozen Secrets, main character Max and his group of friends get tangled up in a mystery while on their way to Jupiter’s moon Europa. Before he knows what’s happening, someone tries to kill him… or a friend… or the pilot of the shuttle they are touring. Max thinks it’s because of something he saw, and he’s determined to learn the truth. What thirteen-year-old boy wouldn’t want to solve that mystery?

Though I’ve read some middle grade novels in the past, most of what I have read has bordered on the YA side of things. So, when I first started Frozen Secrets I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Too young my mind shouted at me. I had expected the book to fit within a higher reading level. Once I acclimated to the necessary he felt sentences, my interest in the story rose a surprising amount.

While reading, my eyes widened at times. My heart even raced. Such reactions were unexpected, considering my need to adjust to the reading level. But, instead of focusing on my other reading projects, I found myself intrigued with what would come next in Frozen Secrets.

Christensen’s writing and the editing done on this book is impeccable. Usually, I find at least a few typos in review books. None–that’s how many I remember in Frozen Secrets. And while those things matter, especially when I’m reading as a reviewer, the true test is whether or not the story pulls me in. While Frozen Secrets took a bit of time for me, an adult, to fall into, I believe young readers will have no problem immediately entering the adventure Christensen has laid.

Squeaky clean. Parents will find no swearing. There is a mild murder mystery and some middle grade ‘crush’ romance. Christensen lists the reading level at 8-18, which I agree with, especially on the lower end. Narrowing it significantly, I believe most 8 to 10-year-olds will find it a fantastic read. Who can go wrong with a space adventure?

Official blurb

Thirteen-year-old Max Parker is a grounded Earthling with the soul of a space explorer. So when he learns his family is relocating to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, he readily agrees to stay out of mischief. But his promise is soon forgotten, and his snooping lands him on a shuttle doomed for a fiery disintegration.

Convinced someone sabotaged the craft to cover up the theft he witnessed, he digs into the incident. Why was this robbery worth attempted murder? Dodging a series of deadly accidents, he follows the clues to an abandoned outpost and discovers a secret that could blow the lid off a moon-wide conspiracy…

Can Max solve the mystery before his interplanetary escapade gets him killed?

Frozen Secrets kicks off the thrilling, teen science fiction series, Europa Academy. If you like fearless friends, high-orbit mysteries, and immersive worlds, then you’ll love Myles Christensen’s action-packed adventure.

more info

Purchase your copy of Frozen Secrets on Amazon

Follow Myles Christensen on his website Facebook Twitter Goodreads

I received a free  copy of this book in exchange for this review, which contains my honest opinions.
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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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