Adam Bird

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Thursday, 21 February 2008

The Wonderful Works of R J Ellory

One of my very first blog postings back in 2006 was a book review, about a novel called "One Big Damn Puzzler". Since then, I have read on average a book a week since and engrossed myself an hour a day in the wonderful world of fiction during my commute home.

I am not a reviewer of books purposely in that a book is a personal journey, I can tell you about it, recommend it and advise you to read it, but ultimately your enjoyment, or lack of is entirely of your own making.

However, on an occasion, such as my discovery of "One Big Damn Puzzler" I will feel that need to spread the word and make a sincere personal recommendation. During the course of this blog, I hope to not encourage a relationship with a single novel, but with an author whose back catalogue has enchanted me and compelled me to purchase not one, but ALL of his novels all in one go!

My purchase history via Waterstones, or Amazon when I know what I am looking for is to the norm, fairly boring. I have become rather addicted to three or four "series" of books, Lee Child's Jack Reacher in particular, so I tend to stick with what I know, a nice easy thriller, macho Jack Bauer style hero, shoots the bad guys with a little bit of mystery and a hot female sidekick.

Literature for the masses, an hours entertainment on the way home to take your mind of the fat sweaty guy sitting next to you dribbling on your shoulder.

Occasionally I will pop into Waterstones, have a little look around, pick up something that is on offer, has a fairly appealing cover and an interesting summary on the back. This is how I came across a book called "A Quiet Belief in Angels". It also had a shiny sticker declaring that it was part of the Richard and Judy Channel 4 bookclub, which gave it (in my eyes) an extra level of creditability.

To offer a synopsis, I copy the Amazon content, purely because it summarises it better than I can and I am being lazy:

"Joseph Vaughan's life has been dogged by tragedy. Growing up in the 1950s, he
was at the centre of series of killings of young girls in his small rural community. The girls were taken, assaulted and left horribly mutilated. Barely a teenager himself, Joseph becomes determined to try to protect his community and classmates from the predations of the killer. Despite banding together with his friends as ' The Guardians', he was powerless to prevent more murders - and no one was ever caught. Only after a full ten years did the nightmare end when the one of his neighbours is found hanging from a rope, with articles from the dead girls around him. Thankfully, the killings finally ceased. But the past won't stay buried - for it seems that the real murderer still lives and is killing again. And the secret of his identity lies in Joseph's own history... "

Far from being a traditional crime thriller "A Quiet Belief in Angels" spans multiple genres, and if you take the time to read the reviews on Amazon it will become quickly apparent that it is very difficult to "pigeon hole" this particular novel into a specific type be it thriller, drama, adventure, biography, history etc.

I can get caught up in a story fairly easily and find myself many times detached from myself and totally immersed into what I am reading. it is the beauty of literature, the images painted by an author are more vivid than the silver screen or TV because they are projected directly into your subconscious.

What Ellory manages to do during the course of A Quiet Belief in Angels is to turn his "painted images" into fully functional 3d models, throwing me, as a reader directly into the world of Joseph Vaughan, so that I can too walk alongside him into Augusta Falls, smell the air around me and listen to the sounds and ambiance of this very fictional place.

Long before I reached this books conclusion I had decided that I would have to find out more about R J Ellory, and read his (if any) other books, so visited his website to see if had an earlier bibliography. Apparently A Quiet Belief in Angels was his fifth novel and thus far his most commercially successful.

Being a blogger myself, I took some time to read Ellory's blog, and was astounded when I discovered that he was an Englishman and not (as I was lead to believe by his writing) an American.

Other readers had left him messages as support, or questions about his book which he was more than happy to answer. I too left a message and was immediately acknowledged. I take that as a compliment and a measure of someone whom is clearly appreciative of his audience. Not everyone is as easy accessible as Ellory and when you have a direct access to someone who is so enthusiastic to respond it becomes rather difficult (at least for me) not to become a semi stalker and bombard him with further questions!

On reaching the end of A Quiet Belief in Angels, I was in a totally different place emotionally, and throughout I was thinking to myself "If I could write, or ever wrote a book, this is the book I would write". People have told me how much they enjoy reading this blog, or have paid me a compliment by suggesting that I should attempt something more substantial, but this is the very reason I am not willing to take things a step further. However, I will suggest, if I was too take the "big leap" - I have found an author who I can aspire too.

If I was to place a cross against, or provide a negative about A Quiet Belief in Angels it would probably be the ending. It wasn't quite in living with the rest of the novel. However, I would argue that the events in what lead you there, the journey you were taken upon as a reader far out weighed this and no matter which way the book ended it would not have been sufficient. Purely because as a reader you was waiting for something explosive, an added twist, an alternative conclusion. A story isn't just a beginning, a middle and an end. It is what gets you there, how you get there, the bits in between and your experiences as a reader throughout.

On finishing A Quiet Belief in Angels I quickly purchased Ellorys first two novels, Candlemoth, which I have now finished and Ghostheart, which I will be starting on Monday.

Was I as impressed second time around? Without doubt. There is no doubt that the two books are written by the same writer, the same colourful flowing prose is evident, hence is the imagery created for the reader. The only difference being was this time around I was expecting something special, and will be on Monday when I dive head first into another one of Ellory's worlds. Whenever someone expects something, the results tend to be anti climatic, which they were not in this case, my enjoyment was never diminished, just the experience was not about discovering something new and unexpected.

If you enjoy a good read, I would strongly recommend reading an Ellory novel. Start from the beginning with Candlemoth, work your way through and start a relationship with a novelist whom you may never have heard of. A novelist whom I hope goes onto bigger commercial success and has the largest audience I believe that his work deserves.

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Friday, 8 February 2008

Paris - potential doppelgänger?


Following on from mums shocking blast from the archive here is Paris wearing the same spectacles!

Little Me!


Mum had the pictures out seeing if Oliver looked like me! She doesn't think so but Paris is a bit freaky!


Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Yes Sir, No Sir

How refreshing was it this morning reading about the new regime Fabio Capello is structuring within the England Squad?

-Lateness will not be tolerated, room service is banned and mobiles can only be used in bedrooms.
- Players must eat together in smart dress and must wear team blazers when in public and at matches.
- Players will be called by their surnames.
- No WAGS, relatives or agents are allowed to visit.

No longer will we have to cringe listening to the England manager calling players by their nicknames such as "Stevie G", or "Wazza".

Prima Donna footballers, particularly those adorning the three lions have a lot to make up to the general public after their poor showing in the European Qualifers, and Mr Capello's sweeping broom approach is a step in the right direction.

Whilst at work I have to, and most people will also have to abide by rules and regulations. It keeps people on an even keel and adds an important heirachy in terms of respect. If my manager allowed me carte blanche on what I could and couldn't do, I would take it to the maximum and work to a set of parameters which were set against not my clients or my workmates wishes but my own.

Why should the England football team be any different?

By abiding by a set of clear rules not only do you have a clear chain of command, but a level of respect is established. Playing for your national team should be a prestigious accolade, one that is not only earned by your ability, but also should be an understanding of the responsibilty you are given.

If you are unable to respect the wishes of your managers rules, why should you be trusted to respect the wishes of the general football supporting public? Whether it be for England, Wales, Brazil or Andorra, you are carrying the hopes of a nation out into battle on the football pitch. If you cannot make it out of bed to have breakfast with your team mates what chance have you got when it comes to taking a winning penalty in the last minute of a World Cup final?
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