Monday 9 June 2014

Book Reviews - Roses for a Diva and The Rise and Fall of Great Powers


Roses for a Diva - Rick Blechta

This is a fast paced, exciting novel telling the story of one opera singer's experience when she receives flowers from an anonymous donor... The soprano originally thinks they are from her husband, but it soon transpires something more sinister is at hand. Jumping between England and other european cities, with an exciting climax, Roses for a Diva will take you on one roller coaster of a ride.

Marta lives an idyllic life, of sorts. But when things fall into place and she discovers the depths to which she has been violated by her stalker, her life seems to crumble before her. It is a crime story, but also a tale of self discovery for Marta. I understand that Blechta is writing a series about Marta and her life. Although I enjoyed this one, I'm not sure that I would read any more of her.  Crime is not my preferred genre, and it would also feel very implausible for someone to be caught up in more similar events, unless, of course, they are a detective or similar.

Still, this was a well paced, thoroughly thought out novel. Although it felt a little unrealistic at times, it was great fun!

The Rise and Fall of Great Powers – Tom Rachman

This book started out very promisingly. With such a fantastic name as Tooly Zylberberg, and the setting of a book shop (pretty sure based in the real Hay-on-Wye) I had high hopes.

For me, unfortunately, they were all for nothing.

The Rise and Fall of Great Powers tells the story of Tooly's highly unconventional childhood and lifestyle through distinct three plot lines. One starts when Tooly is nine and living a nomadic lifestyle with her dad, Paul. Her distracted, chaotic mother, Sarah, enters and takes her away to live an even more bizarre lifestyle, following people round the globe. Enter more unlikely characters: supposedly Russian Humphrey, who plays chess and ping pong with her and lets her drink Cola for breakfast; and Venn, a sort of leader of their group, who Tooly idolises. The second plot line follows Tooly in her early twenties, and the third is Tooly in the present day, starting out in that Welsh bookshop. She receives information to say that her father is ill, but through a long series of misunderstandings, it is to Humphrey's bedside she flies out to.

It is a journey of self discovery for Tooly as she realises all was not as it seemed during her eccentric childhood, and the people who brought her up never shared the whole story with her.

For me, it just didn't work. The dotting about between the different storylines felt too chaotic; it was difficult to get a hold on some sort of plotline. But, worse than that, I didn't really resonate with any of the characters. There were aspects of many of them that I liked, but they were not consistent enough for me to feel for. Fundamentally, I didn't care what happened to them. This was such a disappointment to what I felt was going to be a fantastic book.

Note: I received an ARC from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Rise and Fall of Great Powers comes out on Tuesday June 10th.

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