By Adventures in Obsessive Reading 

Ragnarok Unwound

Author: Kristin Jacques
Page Count: 254
Rating: C
Format Read: NetGalley e ARC
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Keywords: Norse, Apocalypse, Prophecy
Kid Appropriate: Hard to tell
Expected Release: August 1, 2019

So I was provided this free galley for review from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I requested this one after reading the synopsis and thinking that it was definitely up my alley. Monsters, Norse mythology, and a prophesied power have all been great loves in my reading life.

First, the good. I like what I could tell about the characters. They seem like they could be a good cast that flows well together and make sense. Also, the overall concept has a lot of potential to be a fun ride of a read. There are segments that are reminiscent of Kim Harrison (The Hollows series), Janet Evanovich, and Jennifer L. Armentrout. All are authors that I enjoy for the fact that they are quite simply fun with paranormal twists.

Now I am going to split my review into two parts because there was a disconnect with the first part of the book and the second:

1st 33% of the ebook:

Unfortunately, I really did not like this part. As this is an ARC I expected it not to be perfect but the formatting on my Kindle was so bad that I could not follow who was speaking or when and I have numerous sections highlighted simply because there was an error in the grammar or the wrong punctuation was used. This just about broke my proofreading heart.

On top of this the execution of the story felt very much like a first draft and I repeatedly was reminded of Stephen King’s On Writing where he lectures about avoiding an overuse of adjectives and to say things simply. The use of synonyms and flowery prose was distracting and made the story line difficult to follow.

Aside from this there is a complete lack of focus in the narrative. It is almost like you are trying to have a conversation with someone that is constantly distracted and goes off on an incoherent tangent. The placement of random details that could easily be edited out of the final cut make the story nearly incomprehensible. Along with this there were moments where I feel like there was information left out that would have been crucial in world building.

Do I believe this story has potential? Absolutely. Would I recommend it in its current state? No.

Remaining two thirds:

At this point the story really began to come back into a more coherent flow and the writing felt like it had been more thoroughly edited. There is a good amount of energy as the tale moves along and some humor.

My favorite character had to be Hel with her quirky personality and fashion sense including unicorns and My Little Pony. However, characters sometimes felt as if they were sharing a single personality whenever they had dialogue and did not give enough of a unique feeling that I always knew who was speaking.

Overall the book ended up being enjoyable enough and it took less than 24 hours to read. With some more editing for the minor mistakes that were driving me crazy while I was reading as well as the occasional jumping of the story line that left massive holes in understanding it could be a good book.

I would mostly recommend this for someone looking for a lighter read, fans of Loki, and mostly readers that already have a firm grasp of the basics of Norse mythology.

Russian Tattoo

Author: Elena Gorokhova
Page Count: 317
Rating: A
Keywords: Immigration, Soviet Union, Identity, Russia
Genre: Memoir
Younger Readers: This is about an adult woman’s life so I would not recommend for very young children but there are not any explicit scenes or anything particularly graphic.

I read Gorohkova’s A Mountain of Crumbs while I was still an undergraduate student and absolutely loved it.

This memoir could be read independently or after completing her first. There would be some information lost in not reading A Mountain of Crumbs but it would not completely hinder your reading experience of Russian Tattoo. A Mountain of Crumbs focuses on Elena’s younger years, growing up in the Soviet Union, and the events that led up to her coming to the United States. My interests in Russian culture, history, and language made this memoir particularly enjoyable for me several years ago. Russian Tattoo emphasizes her life after she came to the United States. 

I enjoyed reading about both her adjustments to life in the United States as well as some of the adjustments her ESL students underwent. There was an array of experiences explored, showing the various routes people would have taken to reach the US as well as how life after arrival can vary. 

Emotions ran high at many points in this book. Elena recounts many instances of loss that were difficult to read and there were absolutely points I found myself quite overcome with emotion. Luckily I was reading at home and did not cry in public…which has absolutely happened before. Some authors handle dramatic life events in an overly emphasized style that can become too heavy. Elena has the gift of offering the events to the reader with just enough personal emotion to make the reader feel but not too much as to become overwhelming. 

Though it was difficult to read at times, I did enjoy the presence of Elena’s mother and daughter. Watching how the different generations were affected by her choices and the way they grew as a unit because of them was refreshing and intriguing. There was little sugar coating, a refreshing take on the realities of what it means to be family.

If you are interested in memoirs, stories about immigration, the Soviet Union, or Russia then I would highly recommend either of Elena Gorokhova’s memoirs. They are beautifully written, heartfelt, informative, and overall enjoyable..

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