The Miracle of Castel di Sangro – Joe McGinniss

Castel-Maine-XXXXIn the summer of 1996, in a tiny, impoverished town deep in the remote heart of southern Italy, a sporting miracle took place.  The footballers of Castel di Sangro (population: 5000) won promotion to Serie B, the division directly below the most glamorous league in world football.  In little more than a decade, the team had risen from the lowest depths of regional amateur football to within touching distance of Baggio and Batistuta.

Feeling something of a football curio himself – an American who understood and loved the game – Joe Mcginniss followed their fortunes throughout their first remarkable season in the big time.  Populated by characters only the passionate, frenetic, absurd world of sport can produce, The Miracle of Castel di Sangro dramatically reveals football’s limitless potential for magic, wonder and improbable romance.

For those of you not into football don’t leave just yet, for this book is an opportunity to not only learn the basic rules of the game but also to experience the magical side of the game, those rare, special moments when teams move beyond what is expected of them and provide the jaded public with some romance and an underdog to cheer for.

To misuse the sporting cliché, this was a book of two halves, on the one hand the reader will get to follow a small team as they fight to survive in a notoriously competitive league and on the other you have the author’s voice which didn’t take very long to annoy me.

when picking the book up, I was slightly bothered by the line in the blurb that seemingly assured us that although the author was American, he understood the game.  I know this book was written in the year of Major League Soccer’s inaugural season but it seems a little worrying that the publisher has to go to lengths to assure us the author knows what he’s on about, surely the quality of the writing should speak for itself?

Football fans are a passionate breed and McGinniss certainly seems passionate, although his short list of games watched before embarking on the project isn’t impressive, it is pleasant to hear the story about how somebody fell in love with the sport.  Unfortunately as the book progresses he seems to think he has an innate understanding of the game and of the team, even having the temerity to ask the manager why he doesn’t play with a second striker or a certain formation. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 26/09/2015 in Sport


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The Mill – Jess Harpley

T'MillDrowning her sorrows in drugs of all varieties never seemed to help Jen with the unending loneliness. Being a twin, she thought she’d always have someone there for her. Someone to look out for, and who would look out for her.

Hunted, alone in the dark she yearns for that companionship.

Welcome to The Mill, where all manner of creatures from the deepest reaches of hell seek to devour body and mind. Jen will have to cross space and time to return home, but will she come out unscathed? Will she ever see her brother again? Can she even survive the night?

It’s rare that, when an author contacts me about a potential review ,they also invite me to email any time I fancy a chat. Naturally the opportunity wasn’t allowed to pass by and that personal touch made me intrigued to read this, that and my favourite old local was called The Mill and so nostalgia played its part.

As short as this book is, covering only 160 pages, I was impressed with the amount of story packed into it.  The story was certainly not what I was expecting and I’m glad of that as I enjoyed the feeling of being caught off balance as the narrative quickly turns from family drama to a fight for survival.

The Mill, at heart is a bloody Sci-Fi horror (a bit like the pub!) with plenty of wit and one liners thrown in to keep the plot from descending into something much darker and serious.  There are plenty of ideas familiar to fans of both genres but those ideas are moulded into something different with enough mystery to keep me wondering about certain things even after the book was finished.  The length of course has me hard pressed to mention anything specific without giving out spoilers. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 18/09/2015 in Horror, Sci Fi


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Fate-al attraction

Some scenes are just beautiful on the eye and entering Jermy and Westerman and seeing the below view, I just had to insist to the guy behind the counter that I would be taking photos for my blog.  Intimidating as I obviously am, he crumpled at my mention of free publicity on the blog which I may have made out to be as popular as the Google homepage.

WP_20150910_002I actually forgot to take more photos because I was too busy trying to limit my spending.  This time my haul consisted of something more analytical than my normal fare, to gain a fuller understanding of what I love, one has to delve deeper like one of the Caribbean sink holes, fascinating but can seriously harm your health.


As I entered one of the rooms two books fell off a shelf, this was of course a sign and after putting back Applied Psychology at Work, my prize was Art and Illusion: A study in the psychology of pictorial representation.  This could be the book that changes my life as fate has obviously decreed that the book fell for a reason, perhaps the secret to what the Mona Lisa is amused at will be revealed. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 14/09/2015 in Blogging, Travel


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Ste J Reviews!

Ste J:

Once again I’m guesting on Resa’s wonderful blog, helping celebrate the talent of street artists and getting outside with open eyes!

Originally posted on Graffiti Lux and Murals:

Ste J from Book to the Future sent in this mostly all B&W Piece.

Photo © Ste J Photo © Steve Johnson

Ste J writes really great book reviews, some film reviews & once in a while a game review.

WP_20150829_004 Photo © Steve Johnson

His reviews rock! What can I say… I only know i enjoy reading them, lots!

WP_20150829_005 Photo © Steve Johnson

Ste J found this piece outside of a bookstore in Nottingham, UK!

WP_20150829_003 Photo © Steve Johnson

WP_20150829_005_2 Photo © Steve Johnson

 Pics taken by Steve Johnson  –  2015

Nottingham, England, UK

:star: THANK YOU Ste J ! :star:

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Posted by on 11/09/2015 in Uncategorized


Weekend Reviews Part 2

I used to love the old eight bit computers, with the bedroom coders, free of any strictures of company rules and management using their full creative talent to enrich the industry.  Lost to the gaming world for a while these inventive times of experimentation and the making of imaginative games are coming back most notably in the mobile phone gaming world as well as in the form of games like the refreshing The Unfinished Swan an indie game for the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita, that manages to delight and surprise in equal measure and is so far removed from the usual stuff that it puts your faith back in not only gaming but imagination.

It’s very rare that a game moves me enough to write about it but I was watching my friend play this at the National Gaming Museum (more of which in a later post) on a big TV with brilliant surround sound and it was the best thing I have seen in games in years, relaxing, fascinating and gentle.  Returning back to Tom’s house we immediately got a copy and proceeded to play it through like the dedicated people that we are.

The story is like an interactive bed time story, a boy’s mother dies and leaves lots of unfinished paintings because she hated to finish anything, the boy, Monroe is allowed to keep one,  he chooses The Unfinished Swan.  One night he wakes up and the bird has disappeared out of the painting but there is an open door which he hasn’t noticed before…

The screen fades to white and being impatient the first thing we did was press buttons – because that always helps the game load quicker – but you are already in the game.   As seen in the above trailer, paint bombs are thrown to reveal the hidden world around you.  It’s that surprising inventiveness that grabs you and ignites that child like feeling of being able to explore the magical unknown which is as addictive as it ever was. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 09/09/2015 in Gaming


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Last Weekend Reviews Part 1

Last weekend being a bank holiday weekend, had me out enjoying life with a couple of mates before a week of night shifts hence my silence of late. Instead of running down our trail of destruction, pillage and debauchery like I usually would, this time I’ll be reviewing two of the pastimes of the weekend that polarised my opinions.

The first was watching Straight Outta Compton, I had high hopes for this biopic of ‘the world’s most dangerous group’ which were sadly dashed fairly early on.   For those not familiar with N.W.A., they were an immensely talented group around from 86-91 who revolutionised Hip-Hop with visceral social commentary as well as some interesting moral values, or lack there of.  Their notoriety stemming from their standing up to an institutionally racist police force and giving a platform to how life was on their streets of Compton.

The film’s running time is two and a half hours so I accept things have to move quickly but the Genesis of the band and the subsequent successes and seemingly meteoric rise to fame felt like they were achieved with no real struggles or setbacks apart from the odd run in with the police, which felt pretty unrealistic.   With such a speedy introduction the protagonist’s histories weren’t given much of a look in and there was little sense of fleshing out as a result.

The gigs are wonderful though, there is a feeling of the energy which their stage presence undoubtedly generated coupled with the obvious talent and ability they had.  This coming out of adversity and driving anger, telling it how it is in a raw way is very well done and having listened to the albums for a number of years, there are some mighty catchy tracks from these lyrical poets.

It was a waiting game for it all to go wrong but that just wasn’t balanced with much in the way of underlying tension, the greed and creative differences just sort of pop up in sequence as it were, rather than being in the background brooding and slow burning before the inevitable clashes.  The main problem of the film for me though is how awkward it feels in certain parts, where instead of using subtlety chooses to stick a massive great signpost into a foundation of clunky dialogue because as an audience we are obviously too unintelligent to understand the nuances what it happening. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 05/09/2015 in Films, Music, Politics


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Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism – Bertrand Russell

Not Russelling SheepI love reading Bertrand Russell’s works, his being a historian, political activist, philosopher, logician, mathematician and Nobel Prize for Literature winner 1950 amongst other things, he manages to combine dry wit and convey big ideas with simple language that allows the lay person to understand his arguments succinctly.

My tastefully tatty old 1919 edition is from St Anne’s College Library Oxford and sadly has no dust jacket (of which more in a later post) and there seems to be a general lack of a decent blurb available online so here are some quotes from the great man to get you in the mood:

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

Patriots always talk of dying for their country but never of killing for their country.

Hunting for a suitable cover image, I was perplexed to find that most of the modern editions are titled ‘Proposed Roads to Freedom’. I can only assume this is to differentiate it from John-Paul Sartre’s later series The Roads to Freedom which was a response to events in World War Two as Russell’s is, albeit for different reasons to World War One.

The book came about at a time of European reconstruction from the ashes of war, it was the perfect time to debate the relative strengths and deficiencies of three political systems for the good of nations.  It’s an excellent overview and accessible read that despite being out of date still retains some pertinent ideas, especially with today’s global political unrest.

Part one gives the reader a history of socialism, anarchism, and syndicalism, looking at the catalysts for each philosophy and the key players in turning each into the movement that it what at the time.  It acts both as a grounding for the casual reader in the pros and cons of each system (that is backed up by the history) and a handy reminder for the keener students. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 25/08/2015 in Philosophy, Politics


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