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: Diving for Love by Jenny Rabe

What do you do when you realize you’ve fallen in love with your best friend and he’s dating the girl that’s tormented you all year? Mariana set out to fulfill a new goal: forget about it. See how it all works out in Diving for Love by Jenny Rabe.

Book Review: Diving for Love

Jenny Rabe, a wonderful YA author and one of my favorite online personas, went on more than 150 dates before settling down with her husband and having soon-to-be four children. Certainly, this plays a part in her romance-writing abilities, which she demonstrates clearly in Diving for Love. This story may be for young adult readers, but ladies, you are bound to enjoy it, too.

My Thoughts:

Who of us hasn’t enjoyed the tingle of young love? I’m all for the rich and fulfilling love twenty-three years of marriage has provided me, but remembering the feelings of teenage love still puts a smile on my face. And though Disney stories are fun, my favorite young love stories include characters who don’t experience love at first sight.

Diving for Love starts with the classic story of a girl who falls in love with her best friend. When events turn against Mariana, due to the thick blinders Dennis wears when it comes to his mean girlfriend, she sets goals to forget the whole crush idea, focus on earning money for college, and to take care of Abuela. Having the new employee, Sam, diving with her at the snuba shop seems to help, especially when he shows interest in her.

The situations Mariana finds herself in float readers through a fictional reality that I quite enjoyed. Her love for Abuela and confusion over Dennis and Sam don’t come across as contrived, but as the emotions everyone feels at one point or another. I found myself laughing with and talking to the characters as if they could hear me, as well as worrying about what might happen next. The author’s casted ripples of mystery that appear throughout the story riveted me. Well-written, filled with plenty of punny humor, and completely clean, every romantic is sure enjoy Diving for Love.

Official Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Mariana Rodriguez is devastated when her best friend and long-time crush, Dennis, chooses to date her tormentor over her. She plunges into work at her uncle’s dive shop, determined to sink her feelings for Dennis. When the new employee, Sam, shows interest in her, Mariana feels like she’s found the perfect springboard to moving on.

After both the shop and her abuela’s house are vandalized, Mariana can’t help but suspect that the two events are connected. She reluctantly calls on the one person who can help her, but allowing Dennis back into her life only makes her feelings for Sam murky. To protect her family from financial ruin, Mariana must decide who to trust. And with any luck, she’ll get her chance at true love along the way.

More Info:

Purchase your e-book or print copy of Diving for Love on Amazon.

Follow Jenny Rabe on Facebook   Twitter   Goodreads
Visit Jenny’s website and her newsletter.

Receive your free download of Sometimes A Bird Has to Fly, my favorite flash fiction piece by visiting KameoMonson.com, where you can also find more book reviews, recommended reads, flash fiction, and stories about me.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.
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Book Review: The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers

The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers by Kimberly King takes Nikki Baker’s desire for her first magical kiss to a whole new level, especially now that sparkles, potions, and magical twists are involved.

Kimberly King

Behind every book stands a creative author, and Kimberly King definitely has the creativity down. The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers introduces you to Nikki Baker, a teenage girl nearing the end of her freshman year. And like so many others, Nikki wants nothing more than to experience her very first kiss. Unlike other teenage girls, she discovers she has a fairy godmother, one who doesn’t believe in turning mice into footmen and definitely doesn’t like the idea of turning pumpkins into coaches. In this debut novel, readers laugh through confused spells and wacky high school experiences as they easily relate to those embarrassing teenage moments.

My thoughts:

High school filled my life with plenty of fun, choir, sitting with the band during football games, dances, and the occasional date or three. And though I don’t often admit it, my teenage mind was wired like most other teenage girls. I wanted that magical experience where a boy’s lips suddenly careened into mine for the very first time.

Kimberly King takes those dreams and adds embarrassing moments and humiliation, giving our daughters (and us too) a great deal to laugh at. Though Nikki’s fairy godmother doesn’t appear in every chapter, we know she’s busy behind the scenes, working to get Nikki that very special kiss. Kimberly brings life to her characters, when they smile, I smiled—when humiliation knocks on their doors, I remember it knocking on mine.

I can’t wait to share The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers with my daughters, who are the perfect ages to enjoy every minute reading it. Recommending this clean read comes naturally to me as I find it a great book for all middle and high school aged girls.

The Official Blurb:

All Nikki Baker wants is her first kiss. All her fairy godmother wants is to get the job done as quickly as possible. Hilarious adventures follow when Nikki discovers her fairy godmother’s magic isn’t quite up to par…along with her taste in boys. Nobody is safe as spells bounce around from the school’s biggest nerd to the biggest jerk in ninth grade and everyone else in between.

As love triangles grow ridiculously complicated, Nikki soon discovers that being a boy magnet has its downside. One best friend starts hating her, and another stops at nothing to prevent Nikki from getting her happily ever after. Is love really worth the cost of friendship? Nikki must decide for herself, but that means betraying either her best friends…or her impatient fairy godmother.

More info:

Purchase The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers for Kindle or in Print on Amazon, or read it on Kindle Unlimited.

Follow Kimberly King on Facebook

Visit KameoMonson.com for more reviews and other writing fun, and receive your free download of my flash fiction piece Sometimes A Bird Has to Fly.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.
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