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review 2016-12-25 04:14
My Turn: A Life of Total Football by Johan Cruyff
My Turn: A Life of Total Football - Johan Cruyff

I received this book via Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.


Total Football burst into the popular consciousness with the Dutch national team at the 1974 World Cup led by Johan Cruyff.  In Cruyff’s posthumously published autobiography My Turn, the former player and manager talks about the course and evolution of his entire life in football as well after his time actively involved in the sport.


Cruyff is upfront from the outset that he won’t recount every big match, for him the important thing was the development of technique and the evolution of getting better by learning from successes and failures.  However, Cruyff’s explanation of his development as a player as well as the style he both played and coached are a fascinating read in which the results of certain matches come in to play.  Cruyff’s stories about growing up at Ajax from a ball boy then through the developmental system give a insight about how talent is developed over in Europe, especially once he explains what he took away from how talent was developed in the United States when he played in the NASL.  Yet, the most interesting stories were Cruyff’s time at Barcelona and the politics of Catalonia and Spain were a literal culture shock to him and his family.


The latter part of the book covers Cruyff’s most “controversial” time in football, his managerial tenures at Ajax and Barcelona as well as the shakeups to both clubs that he was an advisor for to bring them both to prominence.  Cruyff is upfront about his thought about his loathing of boardroom managing the pitch in place of the pitch dictating the boardroom.  For Cruyff this direction from on high, especially at Ajax is one of the reasons that the style of Total Football that he advocates is no longer seen in Dutch football as both technique and fundamentals instilled at an early age are never truly developed because of the increasing change of trainers and development personal because of agendas of non-football individuals who have an agenda of their own.  This critique of money interfering goes handed in hand with Cruyff’s explanation of his preferred style of football as well as a rather informative explanation of the tactics of football is easy to understand even for those uninformed about the game. 


Although My Turn seems to have been cut short by Cruyff’s death in March 2016, it is still a wonderful read for anyone interest in football or sports biographies.

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review 2016-11-11 02:07
Fractured - A Review

FRACTURED by Catherine McKenzie

Having a book published is every author’s dream but for Julie Prentice it slowly turns into a nightmare that forces her to move her family to get away from a crazed stalker.  They move to what seems like an ideal neighborhood in Cincinnati only to find that, this too, does not ensure peace and quiet.  Very quickly it all begins to go down hill again.  Is there something about her?  Do the neighbors just not like her?  Or has her stalker found her again? 
Despite everything Julie and her husband refuse to be forced from their home again.
I have a love/like relationship with Ms. McKenzie and “Fractured” falls closer to the first category.  The action in this book moved along quickly.  The back story was doled out in bits and pieces throughout the book which made it fun to try and figure things out before the end.  The look into a small close knit neighborhood and what goes on behind closed doors seemed almost voyeuristic but emphasized that not everything is always as it seems.  Everyone has secrets and when those secrets leak – the outcome is never predictable.
It took me a little while to pick up this book, but once I started it the pages turned pretty quickly.  It definitely made me willing to pick up another by Ms. McKenzie.
* I received this book at no charge from Goodreads First Reads *
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from www.catherinemckenzie.com)
A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine practises law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. Catherine's novels, SPIN, ARRANGED, FORGOTTEN, HIDDEN and SMOKE, are all international bestsellers and have been translated into numerous languages, including French, German, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, Slovakian and Czech. HIDDEN was also a #1 Amazon bestseller and a Digital Bookworld bestseller for five weeks. SMOKE was named one of the Top 100 Books in 2015 by Amazon and one of the Best Books of October by Goodreads, and was an Amazon bestseller.
ARRANGED has been optioned for film, and SPIN has been optioned for a television series. A short film of ARRANGED was made in 2014 and won a Canadian National Screen Institute Award. Catherine was on set while they filmed it. It was one of the cooler experiences of her life.
An avid skier and runner, Catherine climbed the Grand Teton in 2014.
And if you want to know how she has time to do all that, the answer is: robots.

Visit her online at www.catherinemckenzie.com, on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/catherinemckenzieauthor, and on Twitter at @cemckenzie1










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review 2016-09-04 07:48
Brian and Wendy Froud's The Pressed Fairy Journal of Madeline Cottington - Wendy Froud,Brian Froud

Like Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book, a copy of which I owned in the early 1990's and am not sure where it has gone, this is a mix of photos, ephemera, and fabulous illustrations. The psychic imprints (pressings) of fairies are whimsical, ranging from the expected girl with wings and pointy ears to the nearly goblinesque, bringing to mind other work by Brian Froud (especially for those of us who might have an inordinate amount of affection for movies such as Labyrinth, just as an example). The illustrations and images are well suited to the text by Wendy Froud, consisting of her delightful forward, Madeline Cottington's journal entries( both 'handwritten' and typed) as she discovers fairies and her heritage, notes between early 20th century Cottington twins, and even a letter from THE Lady Cottington. In retrospect, the forward might even be my favorite part of the book's text.


This book holds great appeal for those who enjoy the eccentric and fantastic world of the Frouds and the aesthetics of fey and somewhat steampunk worlds. While I do enjoy the photographs that are included, and in particular their allusions to the original photographs of the "Cottingley fairies," the majority of those depicting the early 1900's feel too similar to those of the modern Maddi. This does not, however, detract from the amusement they provide.


Recommended. This is a quick, enjoyable read.  Reading the previous, related books is not a prerequisite, but you may very well find yourself wanting to read them all afterward.


The full review, including a few quotes, was previously posted at bookworlder.wordpress.com.  This review refers to a finished copy (available for pre-order prior to it's Sept 27, 2016 publication date) won in a First-Reads giveaway on GoodReads, from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

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review 2016-04-25 04:57
Mothering Sunday, A Romance by Graham Swift
Mothering Sunday: A Romance - Graham Swift

Strip everything away and this is just the story of a day in which a maid has her last tryst with the youngest, soon to be married son of an upper class Berkshire family.  Oh, but it is the everything that makes this little book.


Within the story of that day and that tryst (so, adults only on this one, with a tolerance or taste for a bit of the naughty and a few crass terms) we are given a whole history, a picture of a time and a way of life.  A bit of a transitional upstairs/downstairs between world wars, when traditions were held onto as the world was irrevocably changed and changing. British traditions like "Mothering Sunday," one that I had no knowledge of, but it slowly came together for me in the first 30 or so pages.


When I found out that I had won a copy of this novella, I reread the synopsis and had winner's remorse.  Stories of affairs are not usually my cup of tea.  But while some of the subject matter and content is not to my taste, it was redeemed and elevated by the writing, which I cannot adequately describe (or quote here, as I read an uncorrected proof).


This story, to me, was written with a bit of a cinematic hand.  It had a feeling of the nostalgic glance backward, the thoughtfulness, the stillness, the brightness even in the most tragic moments, of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, A Handful of Dust, or of a Merchant & Ivory film.  Indeed, the author leaves me wanting to rewatch those films and the Brideshead series and to delve into the novels that inspired them, to see where this feeling comes from and how it is evoked (and his main character, Jane Fairchild, left me wanting to read Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness).


While the story is firmly set on one unseasonably warm day in May 1924, the narrative glides back in time and forward to when Jane is an 80 year old author, encompassing her present, future and past all with a sense of nostalgic melancholy.  Again, I am thinking how interesting it would be to study, to discover the mechanics of how Swift did this - both the mood and the slippage of time.


I think I'll be looking to see what Graham Swift's back catalog might have in store for me (though I'll be looking a bit closer at each synopsis before choosing my second Swift read).



This review refers to an uncorrected proof of Mothering Sunday that I won in a GoodReads First Reads Giveaway, courtesy of the publisher.  While not required, the First Reads program does encourage winners to post honest reviews. This review was originally posted on bookworlder.wordpress.com at http://wp.me/p5Tcfi-VU  Please do not reblog without permission.

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review 2015-09-19 17:49
Remember Harvey? Meet Crenshaw!

CRENSHAW by Katherine Applegate

After my reading meltdown yesterday I wanted to read something that made me feel good.  Something light and maybe even a little fluffy?  I have had this book sitting on my shelf for a couple of weeks and it seemed to fit the bill.
I requested this book solely based on the cover – I love it!  Oh, don’t roll your eyes, I KNOW I am not the only person to do that.  As it turned out, I loved the book too.
Jackson’s family has always been on a little bit of a roller coaster ride when it came to financial stability.  When he was in grade one they spent 14 weeks living in their van – that’s when Crenshaw first appeared.  Jackson knew Crenshaw was an “imaginary” friend and surprisingly enough, Crenshaw knew it too.  But when someone needs a friend to help him or her get through the tough times sometimes the imaginary kind is the best kind.  Now Jackson is in grade six and once again his family faces the prospect of being evicted from their apartment and spending some time in the family car.  Once again, Crenshaw appears, but Jackson can’t figure this out … he’s too old to have an imaginary friend.  Crenshaw doesn’t think so!
Despite their financial hardships Jackson’s family has no shortage of love.  Jackson knows this and doesn’t understand why his parents are not being honest with him … when you have to go to Best Buy to watch the “big game” because your dad sold the television … you know something is wrong.
Crenshaw helps with that too.
This is a wonderfully written book about love, family, friends, hard times and keeping everything together.  The book is written for middle-graders and I would not hesitate to recommend it to child and adult alike.  It’s a feel good book … because really? … How can anyone resist a 7-foot tall imaginary cat who loves to take bubble-baths?
*I received this book through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review*
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her Goodreads page)
Applegate was born in Michigan in 1956. Since then she has lived in Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina, and after living in Pelago, Italy for a year, she has moved back to Southern California. She has an eleven year old son named Jake Mates, although she says the Animorph leader is not named after him. In 2003 she and her husband, Michael Grant, her co-author on many projects including Animorphs, adopted their daughter, Julia, in China.[citation needed] Following the end of Animorphs, Applegate took three years off. She is back at work and has written a picture book called "The Buffalo Storm," a middle reader novel called "Home of the Brave," and an early chapters series "Roscoe Riley Rules" with Harper Collins. Her book "Home of the Brave" has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, the Bank Street 2008 Josette Frank Award, and is a Judy Lopez Memorial Award honor book.
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