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ReadingBifrost

ReadingBifrost

Extension of my book blog, ReadingBifrost

#Nerd

#Nerd - Cambria Hebert
“Dangling right here before me was an entire life. Friends. A guy. Something more than just me, myself, and I. I wanted it.”

I dove into this book knowing it was going to be predictable and full of stereotypes, but I was looking forward to a nice nerdy romance. I didn’t find it between Rimmel and Romeo.

Rimmel is a typical clumsy nerd who does nothing but studies in college; wearing baggy clothes and never taking the time to fix her hair. Of course, under it all she’s gorgeous. Romeo is the most popular jock in the college who plays the field and is most defiantly not looking for love. Due to his low grades, he ends up being paired with Rimmel as his tutor.
The story started off fine as Romeo seemed to become charmed by the clumsy Rimmel, but after the frat initiation challenge is given to him he becomes dead in the water. The author tries to turn Romeo into a hero, but the fact is he’s a thief who ultimately got someone else arrested for his crime and a player who isn’t ashamed of his or his friends’ actions.

Rimmel is such a disappointing character as well. There was so much potential, especially with her background. Instead her background was used against her in the story and made her character even more of a disaster.

Overall, what I was hoping to be a nice, mindless romance turned out to be just a pigheaded frat-boy getting his way. I can’t recommend this one. So disappointing.

www.readingbifrost.com

Jackaby

Jackaby - William Ritter
“Monsters are easy, Miss Rook. They’re monsters. But a monster in a suit? That’s basically just a wicked man, and a wicked man is a more dangerous thing by far.”


Meet Miss Abigail Rook; fresh off the boat from England to New England. She’s spunky with a lot of reserved sass and doesn’t take well to the roles women are supposed to settle for. She wants adventure and found it in an ad for an assistant with Jackaby. Abigail is the narrator for the story, writing down the happenings just as Watson had for Sherlock. She doesn’t know what to think of her new employer, but I think at first she mostly keeps following him around because everyone tells her it’s “unfit” or “unladylike” for her to hang around the likes of Jackaby. Call it a silent rebellion.

Jackaby is an investigator who overlooks the mundane but has the power to see the supernatural. He isn’t a brooding, anti-social Sherlockian detective like the original detective, but he is still rather rude in a doesn’t-really-mean-what-he-says way. Jackaby instead is shunned by normal people because of his rantings about the paranormal world.

The book is described as Doctor Who meets Sherlock. If I were to agree with the comparison, I would have to say Abigail meets the criteria for Sherlock while Jackaby plays more into the Doctor category instead of having a Sherlock/Watson relationship. Jackaby is weird and eccentric, but also seems to know how to command attention and has a sense of humor. Abigail is the character that fits better into the social outcast mold with her utter defiance of traditions of the times and he snark remarks to anyone who tries to “put her in her place”.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the secondary characters again and learning more about them. A very stubborn duck named Douglas (who is a duck, but not a real duck), a ghost, and a crazy lady who only seems to only be crazy half the time have stuck with me and I hope they all have roles in the next book.

As for the story and mystery itself; it’s full of paranormal creatures! The mystery that used to be “who did it?, how did they do it?, why did they do it?” has an extra “what is it?” thrown into the loop. Figuring out the “who, how, and why” was pretty simple past a certain point in the story (with a few healthy doubts thrown in), but it bugged me racking my brain through years of fairytales and mythology studies tying to piece together the clues to answer the “what”.

Overall, I recommend this to anyone who is interested in paranormal mysteries or retold Sherlockian stories. Jackaby has just the right amount of mystery and paranormal to appeal to both readers. I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series!

Tainted Energy

Tainted Energy - Lynn Vroman www.readingbifrost.com

Tainted Energy is a take on reincarnation where instead of deciding what creature you deserved to be, your life is dependent upon what dimension you deserve. Some worlds are greatly evolved, others are still in infancy; each with a Warden to watch over and protect its dimension.

Lena is seventeen and living on Earth as a punishment, fallen from grace that is Exemplar, the highest of dimensions, and forced to live out her cycle in an abusive home with no memory of who she really is.

Three other dimensions were mentioned in this book: Exemplar, Arcus, and Empyrean. Exemplar we don’t see very much of in this book, but Arcus and Empyrean are extraordinary worlds built by the author. Arcus is a very low level dimension filled with vibrant, almost cartoon quality colors and a mishmash of not-quite-right creatures. Empyrean is a medieval-ish quality dimension with cities that float in the air.

Lena’s character is strong, sharp, and a bit hardheaded. She does seem to what things her way most of the time, but not in a “spoiled” sort of way. Tarek is a big, cocky, teddybear who can be very protective and jealous. The romance between the two was mostly light, but does have a few fluff filled moments for long sighs and girly giggles.

The baddies were delightfully evil and fun to toss thoughts about. Casimir makes many valid points but goes about things wrong. I’ve already made several guesses about the villain/s for the next book!

Overall, Tainted Energy is a great start to a promising new series. I recommend it for anyone who likes to read paranormal romance that hints on the side of soulmates.

Glimmers

Glimmers - Barbara Brooke In Glimmers the reader follows the female lead, Paige, as she discovers a new “superpower” that allows her to see glimmers of peoples memories through items they had a strong connection to. The book isn’t heavy on the paranormal aspect- the characters just accept what happens to Paige without too much fuss and carry on (with little explanation later on). I didn’t mind it not being heavy on the paranormal, but a bit more curiosity on Paige and her husband’s part wouldn’t have hurt.

The lives Paige jumped into became incredible short love stories! Each one depicted a young women facing a turning point during a relationship that was restricted by society or prior relationships. Social hierarchies, engagements, and families stand between the couples and their heart-driven romances.

Paige also has to cope with planning her sister’s wedding while having the glimmers, but with Paige I think there could have been more conflict centering around her. There’re a few dramas mostly centered around her sister, but the main character doesn’t really see much conflict through the book.

Overall, Glimmers is a good, clean romance book I’d recommend to anyone looking for quick and sweet romance reads.

www.readingbifrost.com

Minstrel's Serenade

Minstrel's Serenade - Aubrie Dionne Danika is a young princess who is struggling with a choice between duty and love. Her father would tell her duty to her kingdom is above all. Her mother would tell her that her only duty lies with her heart. Bron is the Chief of Arms in Ebonvale, bodyguard to Danika, and is very loyal to his position in the kingdom. Valorian is the minstrel prince from the House of Song who is enchanting just as much as he may be Danika’s last hope to save her kingdom.

This isn’t just a story of romance or fantasy; it leans heavily on sense of duty and loyalty, and the line one must make for themselves before they will give up their duty for their own desires. Bron and Danika both feel the heavy weight of the kingdom’s future on their shoulders when the wyverns attack, but it doesn’t stop them from feeling the deeper longing that’s been with them since Bron first left his farming village to join the soldiers.

Prince Valorian enters the picture which complicates their emotions and the future of the kingdom. He’s charming and has an army of minstrels that could save Ebonvale from the wyverns, but Bron has always been by Danika’s side. Danika herself isn’t just a pushover, either. She isn’t as well practiced as a soldier, but she enters the battles and manages to keep from being a distressed damsel too much.

The minstrels I love. They use music and song to get to the heart of their enemies and play havoc on their emotions. Ebonvale’s army could use a little work. If a kingdom is described as having a great force of archers, I do expect to see arrows fly more than once.

The world building is a big part of fantasy, and Dionne’s world fits together perfectly without getting overly complicated or skimping on the details.

I do love the characters, but there aren’t very many side characters named other than a boy named Nip (who I adore, by the way) and Valorian’s father. A few very good side characters give fantasy novels an edge.

Overall, I recommend Minstrel’s Serenade to anyone looking for a light fantasy/romance novel. Next please!

www.readingbifrost.com

Every Breath

Every Breath - Ellie Marney www.readingbifrost.com


“I’m only a genius with facts. I’m an academic genius and a social moron.”
“At least you admit to being a moron at something.”
“I admit to being a moron at lots of things. Being a moron in one or two areas serves to highlight my extraordinary brilliance in everything else.”


James Mycroft likes to refer to himself and Rachel Watts as Mycroft and Watts, because like every Sherlock needs a Watson, every Mycroft needs a Watts. He’s an eccentric teenage genius with a tragic past that he can’t forget.

Rachel is a country girl whose family moved to the big city of Melbourne against her will. She teasingly calls Mycroft the smarter Holmes brother and is constantly pressured by teachers and friends to keep him under control.

The interactions between the two main characters are amazing. While one tries to deny the attraction the other completely uses it as a science experiment. Most of all- they were still teens! Many YA-books try to put teenagers in stories where suddenly all the normal teenage problems go away, but in Every Breath Watts and Mycroft still have to deal with the same situations as normal teens (plus a little extra).

On to the plot! Mycroft naturally has his very own homeless-network, and when one his closest homeless friends turns up dead he and Watts know that the police will do little to nothing to catch the murderer. There’s a detail that Mycroft points out at one point in the investigation that later proves vital to the mystery; which is also a big part of what really brings out his character. It’s a typical “Who-How-Why” problem to solve like most mysteries, with characters trying to pull you into the wrong directions and other just being distractions.

Overall, I would recommend Every Breath to anyone who is looking for a light mystery and romance novel. There’s also a sequel out in Australia (and another on the way) so maybe it’ll make it to your country soon as well (not in the US yet).

Henge (Le Fay, #1)

Henge (Le Fay, #1) - Realm Lovejoy www.readingbifrost.com

“My will is pure, driven by madness. ‘Nothing is more powerful than madness,’ or so my mother used to say.”


Henge is a re-write of the Arthurian legends with Morgan le Fay as the central character. It’s more of an urban-fantasy, giving the tale a twist and bringing Camelot and magic to modern day Britain.

Morgan is a fire user, and with it she’s hot tempered and strong willed. Throughout the book she struggles with being herself and with being who she thinks other people want her to be: her father, her friends, the royals, and her instructors in the Round.

Merlin is a water user; calm and quick witted and everyone seems to like him without him ever seeming to try. Morgan can’t help but admire him for his talent with magic, but something keeps her from trusting Merlin.

The story is well-written with references to both an ancient Camelot (history class, ugh) and modern-day Britain. The magic is based more on elements then wizardry that’s seen in the usual Arthurian legends, but it allows each character to show unique skill sets.

It brings familiar characters into interesting new roles (who wouldn’t want a flirty Lancelot as an instructor?!) and it leaves the reader guessing who’s going to be the antagonist of the story and who’s the true protagonist.

Overall, I recommend Henge to anyone who is enjoying the wave of YA re-writes or if you enjoy stories on elemental magic.

Always Yours

Always Yours - Kari March Cam is used to having women hanging on to him because of his father’s business, one particular one that broke his heart named Amber, and he started using women without getting emotionally involved.

Cara watched all the significant men in her life walk out the door without ever glancing back. She threw herself into working in her stepdad’s bar as soon as she turned eighteen.

One major thing I didn’t like about this book is that the author focused really hard on setting up plots to other books of the series in the background. It really distracted me from what was happening in this story and sometimes created forced dialog from characters to explain a certain event.

The romance between Cam and Cara was nice, but there wasn’t much actual romance there. Plenty of attraction was going on, but as soon as the story took a slightly romantic turn the characters would hit a bump. I did enjoy the bumps and twists in the story, but I also would have liked to see less of the drama (as there was PLENTY to be had) and a bit more romance; it started to turn into too much of a soap opera as the story carried on.

Cam is a lovable character, when he’s not being a complete jerk. Which I guess is the point. Both he and Cara have their own pasts they have trouble dealing with and of course at times they chose to deal with them the wrong way.

Amber is a typical bubbly blonde bimbo that you hate right when she shows up. But really her character is a bit to stereotypical, even if it does suit the story nicely. If the author would have given her a bit more of a backstory to humanize her and allow readers to have a bit of sympathy for Amber it would have made the story have a bit more depth.

Overall, Always Yours is a good, quick contemporary romance with plenty of drama to fill your nights!

Talon

Talon - Julie Kagawa In the first installment of Talon we are introduced to a variety of characters and their organizations.

First off we have Talon. Every dragon (other than rogues) is a part of Talon, which seems to be operated as more of a company than a government. Dragons are tested as they grow and given jobs based on the results.

The Order of St. George is a militant group that has hunted dragons for centuries; their soldiers being young as most don’t live past twenty.

Ember and Dante Hill are clutch mates, extremely rare case among dragons when more than one egg is lain at a time.

Ember is all fire and flames. She’s resentful toward Talon and her instructors for keeping her and her brother locked away in hiding for their studies. She wants their promised summer, the one chance all dragons get to be free before Talon assimilates them into a role that’s already been chosen.

Garret is a soldier of St. George sent as a spy to find the “sleeper” dragon in the same coastal town Ember and Dante are assigned to. Much like the dragons, he grew up out of society and isn’t sure how to blend in well among civilians for this mission. Ember’s fiery attitude immediately catches his attention among the potential sleepers.

Ember was told she couldn’t feel human emotions, but she is. Garret starts to lose focus on his mission. Enter: Riley, a rouge dragon that makes Ember question everything she knows about Talon.

The beginning of the story was rather slow in starting, but once you get past the information dumps it really starts moving. Most of the characters are shrouded in mystery; except for Ember who really is an open book for anyone to read. The others keep at least a few cards close to themselves, but Embers lays them all at the table.

The biggest mystery of all is the secrets behind Talon and the Order of St. George, as both organizations seem to have secrets from their own operatives (what secret organization doesn’t?).

Overall, Talon is a good start to a promising series. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a bit of conspiracy theories with their urban fantasy.

The Here and Now

The Here and Now - Ann Brashares www.readingbifrost.com

The novel starts out fair enough. Ethan meets Prenna when she falls through time to escape her dystopian future along with several other “survivors”. But as the book moved on, it made less and less sense and the characters never got past the flatness that they first impressed.

The plot revolves entirely on a group from the future escaping a misquote-borne plague by traveling into the past, but it’s explained in the “future” everyone wears recycled clothes since none are made anymore and there’s a food shortage. It doesn’t hold any ground to have such sophisticated technology and not be able to make clothes.

Prenna tells the story in first person perspective, but her tone is so formal and distant the narration falls flat. Prenna as a character is hard to know. For someone who seemed so concerned with the conflict she wasn’t doing much of anything throughout the book.

Ethan turned out to be a Mr.Perfect know-it-all who had all the skills needed for the conflict, even tricking a scientist from MIT. He also doesn’t seem too concerned about the rising conflict, as he’s too busy chatting up Prenna for sex while they’re on the run.

The romance was a complete let down. It wasn’t insta-love, they were crushing on each other in the beginning, but as soon as the first barriers are down the “I’ve always loved you”s start spewing out.

The biggest disappointment was the preachy approach the author took to the subject. I couldn’t help but feel like I was being scolded for global warming though half the book. It’s fine to make a political point through a fictional book, but don’t slap the readers in the face with it.

Overall, The Here and Now was disappointing and I really can’t recommend to anyone unless you like preachy political fiction.

Monsters All the Way Down

Monsters All the Way Down - Ryan McSwain www.readingbifrost.com

Have you ever seen a surrealism painting by Salvador Dali? They’re creepy. But, for some reason, you can’t tear your eyes away from it. Monsters All the Way Down is kind of like a Salvador Dali painting. A quick glance just won’t do, because there’re dozens of angles and “reality” is optional.

The story starts with Brennan being accused of murders he doesn’t remember committing. The mysteries quickly start piling up from the very beginning. The reader just met Brennan, and Brennan himself is unsure of anything that’s going on; confusion on top of confusion. Do we trust him? Who are we supposed to be rooting for here? It doesn’t make the reader like Brennan any less, but it does start you out with a heathy dose of paranoia.

On to the mid-point of the book and we’ve already hit enough twists and turns on this macabre roller-coaster to make even the strong-stomached a little nauseous, and where we finally start getting answers, but the paranoia only deepens. But now we have Joan to share in our paranoia.

Joan is a survivor of the murderer. Then she meets Brennan. Joan is a like-able, non-winey character that can stand on her own feet, but I did feel that her character could have been a little more developed. I know specific details about other characters, like ones love of meatball sandwiches, but I don’t feel that same level of connection the Joan.

There’s a bit of romance thrown into the book, of corse. My main complaint here is that because of the situation the characters were in the building of romance between the two was a bit rushed.

The last section of the book is were you just forget everything, throw the rulebook out the window and listen to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on continuous repeat because you’re not going to make it to the end of the book with your brains still in place anyway.

Overall, I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of psychological/horror/sci-fi stories which may or may not cause grey matter ooze from your ears after reading. You’ve been warned.

When Mystical Creatures Attack!

When Mystical Creatures Attack! - Kathleen Founds www.readingbifrost.com

“Plenty of teachers have thrown a terrarium out a window and shouted, ‘You’re driving me crazy!’ But you’re the first who actually followed through.”


First off I have to say that this book wasn’t at all what I first expected. I expected a witty commentary about how a school teacher in the midst of a midlife crisis is handling school systems, parents, and disrespectful students. What I got instead was a book full of life lessons learned through experience and through the eyes of others.

The three main characters are Laurel Freedman- the teacher- and two of her students, Janice and Cody. Laurel’s mother had mental problems of her own, and her father wasn’t exactly “Father of the Year” material, but she was a young teacher determined she would change the world through her students. BUT, she suffers from a mental disorder (bipolar?) which eventually leads her to a mental breakdown- which is really where the novel begins (our story here isn’t linear).

Janice was abandoned by her mother as a child, and left to live with her aunt when her father remarries. Her character is a hurting teenage girl with a problem “acting out” for attention.

Cody is the dreamer/geek of the group. His short stories are my favorite featured in the novel and will most likely get the most laughs.

There are times when the point of view switches to second person, which really just confuses the story and made me want to skim over those parts. The rest of the story is first person from one character to another through letters, e-mails, cookbook recipes, and short stories- which really worked. I don’t know why there were sudden switches to second person that just blew off the flow of the story.

Overall, I would recommend When Mystical Creatures Attack to anyone who enjoys novels with mixed media (email, letters, etc…) and that’s hits serious topics but still a bit on the silly side.

Falling into Place

Falling into Place - Amy Zhang www.ReadingBifrost.com

“They were catalysts, the fingers that tipped the first domino. They started things that grew into nothing things that were much greater than themselves. A touch, a nudge in the wrong direction, and everyone fell down.”


Usually when you read a novel that’s about suicide, the character is the victim of bullying. But Liz Emerson and her friends, Julia and Kennie, are the mean girls at the top of their class. Liz Emerson is the bully. In the novel she uses her physics project as a way of explaining her suicide plan. She thinks that once she started bullying people she became an object in motion, and an object in motion stays in motion, so there’s nothing to stop Liz from continuing to hurt others no matter how much she hates herself for doing it.

Liz’s character is hard to sympathize with, but I think that’s part of the point. She is a “mean girl” and a bully, but as Liam continuously points out she is plagued with her own problems. It doesn’t excuse her actions, but it does lead to forgiveness.

The narration of the novel, while creative, did little to move the story. I actually think that the narration hindered the story as it didn’t allow the characters to show through as much as a traditional narration would have allowed.

When the blurb says the story is written in “nonlinear” fashion, it really means nonlinear. The chapters skip from just before Liz’s wreck, to when she was a child, to after the wreck at the hospital, to weeks before the wreck and every time between. It’s not hard to keep up with the story, though, and details are given at appropriate times in the story.

Overall, this was a nice debut novel and there’s sure to be more great novels from Zhang in the future, but Falling into Place was a little short on emotion for the topics it touched on and needed to dig deeper into the lives of the characters to be a really great novel.

FBP: Federal Bureau Of Physics Vol. 2: Wish You Were Here

FBP: Federal Bureau Of Physics Vol. 2: Wish You Were Here - Simon Oliver, Robbi Rodriguez www.ReadingBifrost.com

“With only our five senses to guide us through what we perceive as ‘Reality’… chances are we’ll never know for sure if it’s real or not. But when we die, who’s to say we don’t just pass into another reality, and that none of this was ever real. It doesn’t matter where you are. If your reality is actually ‘real’ or not. No matter what reality you inhabit, it’s just as frightening and no less real…”


Welcome to volume two of Federal Bureau of Physics, where our favorite agents Rosa and Adam find themselves dealing with multiverses and alternate realities!

This volume is ordered in a non-linear fashion, which worked really well for the topic and story line. It skips from not only past to future, but also from one reality into another. This can also make it a bit confusing to follow the story if you don’t pay attention while you’re reading, and you can miss out on valuable hints.

There’s also so much quantum physics going on in so few pages it can make your head spin (see quote above). Rosa and Adam are in a quantum physics experiment that deals in questioning reality. But, really, as the saying goes- some people should not be left to their own devices.

I do feel like Rosa’s character took a leap in development somewhere between the first and second volume and we missed out on it. Where in the first volume she had trouble communicating even in small talk, in this volume she had no problems at all speaking her mind.

Overall, the story is compelling and handled the topic with flare. I’m still wanting to see a bit more detail with facial expressions with the art, but it’s as psychedelic/pop-artish as the first volume.

Life Over Death

Life Over Death - Grant W. Fletcher (I received this book for free from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)

“Am I really equipped to make decisions like this? Can I justify that man’s death by assuming he is better off or that his family is better off? How in the world would you know without seeing how his life would have played out?”


The idea behind Life over Death itself is thought-provoking and interesting enough. It hammers down heavily on subjects such as morality and religion- mostly edging toward Universalism- and “the validation of Hope”. Tom is gifted with ten miracles in exchange for ten deaths, each of which is his own choice. He was chosen for the gift because of his pure heart, and of course he struggled with the morality of his gift and wether or not to share his secret with his wife. Though the book does have a great story line, it could have been executed better. It tends to repeat the same train of thoughts often.

The narration switches from Tom’s point to view to the view of people he has met/ will meet. He shakes up an otherwise mundane mundane tempo and gives a little insight into Tom’s decisions.

The dialog can get extremely wordy and is sometimes unbelievable, giving huge information dumps to give backstories on characters or just theological/religious/philosophical babbling.

Overall, Life Over Death has an interesting concept but could have been executed better.

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics Vol. 1: The Paradigm Shift

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics Vol. 1: The Paradigm Shift - Simon Oliver, Robbi Rodriguez www.ReadingBifrost.com

Mature-Content Rating: Language, Violence, Sexual Content, Mild Nudity

“And the nature of your emergency…fire, ambulance, police… or physics?”


First I have to to say I love the outstanding covers created by Nathan Fox. They’re pop-artish in style and simply pleasing to look at. The art within the story itself can be great, but at some points there’s little to no detail that could make it better - especially the facial expressions.

The story includes Physical absurdities such as anti-gravity pockets, a bubbleverse, time pockets, and quantum tornadoes. The FBP are special agents that work to keep physics in line and put everything back in its proper place. BUT, as out FBP agents discover, all these absurdities just might not be as random as everyone was led to believe.

Adam’s character has a long history with physics- almost a vendetta against physics itself- for his reasoning for entering the FBP. His character is laid-back and happily goes with the flow, but when things get nasty he steps up. There’s good backstories for Adam, and good character development.

Agent Rosa Reyes is the character that really intrigues me. The story gives only a few small glimpses into her past, but those glimpses are enough to get me hooked and wanting to know more about this mysterious woman.

The antagonist is… not really my cup of tea. I can see where Olive is going with his ideas of the antagonist - it’s not that hard to grasp - but I was hoping for something a little more dramatic than what it turned out to be.

Overall, I recommend Federal Bureau of Physics - The Paradigm Shift to anyone who loves… physics! Also for anyone who likes reading about scientific theories coming to manifestation. Bubbleverse!