Review of I am the Secret Footballer and Tales from the Secret Footballer

secret

So this is technically a review of two books; “I am the Secret Footballer” and “Tales from the Secret Footballer”. Since they are both written by the same mysterious author (cough* almost certainly Dave Kitson *cough) and both are dealing with the exact same subject matter I am going to review them together. Essentially, “I am the Secret Footballer” and “Tales from the Secret Footballer” are almost completely interchangeable and to review one is to review the other.

Years ago after reading the fantastic “All Too Human” by George Stephanopoulos I remember reading an amazon review that felt the book wasn’t very good and could simply be reduced to the machine chewing up and spitting out Stephanopoulos causing his retirement from the White House due to ill-health.

In my opinion this is a huge injustice to what is a great political memoir that actually gave me an insight into what its like to serve as an advisor to the President of the United States but it applies very nicely to “I am the Secret Footballer” and “Tales from the Secret Footballer”

To explain why I feel this it is best to start with the titular authors own words with a lenghty(ish) quotation that can serve as a manifesto for the books.

If you want to know the truth about how modern football works the “only way you would ever find out the answers to many of these questions is to read a book that was written in anonymity by a player who has played at the highest level. In this book, I will try to explain how football really works, away from the prying eyes of the outside, by drawing on my own experiences. Many of the stories I shouldn’t be telling you about . But I will.”

Essentially then the Secret Footballer (TSF) is promising to give us an insight into the truth behind how football works.

For a sports and football fan like myself this is like manna from heaven. I’d love to get the unvarnished account of how such and such player felt as they went onto the pitch for this relegation clash or what there opinion was on another star player.

TSF feels able to do this because, he is anonymous. In fact his very anonymity is an implicit promise to go further than any standard autobiography. The thing is thought this anonymity removes context and ultimately robs his revelations of all interest. Due to the self-imposed anonimity TSF can’t say I was playing for this club at this time we were fighting relegation and had a must win match against Manchester United coming up and whilst this was going on the dressing room was feeling this way. To do this would rumble the secret.

As a result the discussion about football become “lads” stories about how this group of players got pissed and did something stupid. The thing is though other than the budget and potentially media attention these escapades aren’t qualitatively different to stuff any fresher at university does. In fact, perhaps because of the money, they are much less imaginative. Furthermore, I don’t really care about stories like this even if the TSF is occasionally quite amusing.

If this was all that happened then TSF would be an average and forgettable quick read. Where it moves beyond this and I begin to get exasperated though is in the depressing almost whiney tone that TSF’s anonymity allows him to wallow in.

On the one had the TSF opens up that he has battled depression and this opening up is entirely commendable. I have no problem with sportspeople (or anybody else) suffering from depression. By putting his experiences in such stark terms TSF has undoubtedly moved the cause of accepting mental illness further forward and this is a good thing.

In terms of writing an anonymous book though having a depressed slightly embittered author does not make for the best read.

You see TSF is very much out of love with the professional game. He hates it. He has seen how players, coaches, chairmen and agents are driven by cash and he finds it all distasteful. It is after all in this environment that he began suffered depression it is understandable that he doesn’t like it.

TSF then vents his spleen at any number of things especially the fans. Fans don’t know what goes on and are abusive and nasty to him. I understand why he finds people chanting nasty things at him distasteful it cannot be a nice experience I can also happily say it is not something I have ever felt the need to do at a football match.

Because, the author is anonymous though these grievances become a moaney tirade which due to his anonymity he cannot be called on. Furthermore, since woisthesecretfootballer.com has essentially (in my mind) proven that Dave Kitson is TSF some of his claims about what a great player was are fairly hilarious.

If a professional footballer like Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Alex Bruce gave this woe is me soliloquy he would be told to sit down and shut up because, when you get down to it footballers train for two hours a day, play two games a week and are paid an amount of money that isn’t a good allocation of resources for society as a whole. It is an incredibly easy life especially given how sheltered and pamper footballers are.

TSF doesn’t acknowledge this aspect however and as such his constant Debbie Downer statements about the beautiful game get tiring very quickly.

The TSF’s claim to reveal the truth about football never quite happens and ultimately the whole TSF persona is essentially a very clever marketing technique. Had TSF put out the exact same book in his own name (lets set side issues of libel for now) the level of interest would have been tiny by comparison.

In the end I enjoyed about half of each book before the moaning became too much. Since I got each book on the kindle daily deal for 99p this didn’t bother me at all. If I had paid full price however, I wouldn’t be happy.

As it is if you are interested in sports I would recommend reading one of these books provided you can get it on the cheap. Otherwise avoid or just read a column on his website.

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Review of Edge of Tomorrow (SPOILER KLAXON)

So In keeping with my quest to populate this blog with nothing but the most up to date of morsels of film entertainment I bring to you my review of the Edge of the Tomorrow which is still hanging in there on the big screen.

When I first saw the trailer for “Edge of Tomorrow” I dismissed the film as being firmly in the “do not see” camp. The trailer was poor and Tom Cruise films tend to be far more miss than hit.

How did I end up writing this review then?

A large amount of the reason was word of mouth buzz. People kept telling me it was very good.

The clincher though was when I learnt that Tom Cruises character (Cage) is initially at least an incompetent jerk. Typically, with your big stars they play the same perfect character everytime. There may be a token flaw like alcoholism or (the good old standby) they just caring too damn much but in reality they are just playing the same perfect protagonist every time. Or if they are Nicolas Cage the same crazy protagonist every time.

Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t fall into this trap though. Cruise’s character is a liar and a coward. He ends up on the frontlines very much against his will and spends the first quarter of the film attempting the wriggle out of it.

This then sets up what is the key strength of the film Cage’s character arch in which he actually grows and changes throughout the film.

Combine this character arch with a well written script and action/CGI that borrows heavily from sci-fi classics like “Dune”, “Final Fantasy 7”, “The Matrix” and “Starship Troopers” and you have a winner.

In truth there is nothing ground breaking about Edge of Tomorrow but it does what it does very well with minimal saccharine Hollywood rubbish. Plus any film that heartlessly and brutally executes Tom Cruise over and over again is a winner in my book.

I’ve seen most of the big sci-fi/blockbuster releases this year and I would say that Edge of Tomorrow is better than any of them. Do you agree? Vote for you favourite below.

Hannibal Season 2 Review – The gore is wearing thin (SPOILER KLAXON)

Justice may be blind but does that mean the writers have to be aimless also?

Justice may be blind but does that mean the writers have to be aimless also?

I’m a big fan of the fictional world of Hannibal Lector. Thomas Harris’ original trilogy  are modern masterpieces. Ditto for the Silence of the Lambs movie. I even enjoy the not so great Hannibal stories (***cough*** the prequel novel) [***cough*** the movie Hannibal].

When I first heard about the TV series Hannibal though I was sceptical about the whole idea. It was on network TV and I thought it would be tame and uninteresting. I figured that the dark edges of the story would be missing.

Eventually, I caught the first couple of episodes though and I was hooked. The series was dark and disturbing. The acting was great. The plot was arresting. The tone and the acting were enough for me to keep watching the show even as some of the murderers, lets just say, stretched the bounds of credibility.

The finale of the first season, with Will Graham being sent to prison for Hannibal’s crimes, set season 2 up as a barn burner.

Sending the hero to jail was a gutsy move. It obviously subverts the dynamic of the Silence of the Lambs and puts the good guy in a pretty appalling position to boot. More than this though it does something that many good stories do. It takes a strong character, one who was already under pressure, and gives them a push.

wileycoyoteSeeing how the mentally unstable and innocent Will Graham reacts the gravity (I like puns) of his incarceration whilst the titular Hannibal goes about planning more ‘dinner parties’ is both stomach churning and potential story gold.

Three episodes into season two though and I am worried that the writers are not up to the task they have set themselves. Like the poor judge in Will’s trial they are blind.

Shot after shot of Will Graham mentally fishing is wearing my patience thin. The writers have made a big mistake in showing Will Graham’s trial. It would have been more dramatically interesting to either skip forward in time or to just have Graham declared insane and avoid a costly trial.

Regardless as the story currently stands with Will Graham in prison the tension of the cat and mouse duel between the two is grinding to a halt. The scenario worked when Hannibal is in prison because, the sense of physical and mental menace the character exudes.

As a good guy Will Graham isn’t so mesmeric to watch when he’s caged plus since he is locked up in the equivalent of Arkham the character’s ability to do anything is severely restricted. This is doing nothing good for the story line.

The writers need to bring some sort of ticking clock into proceedings. The previous season hinted that Hannibal had his own special attraction to Dr Alana Bloom. Maybe the show could ratchet up the tension but having Hannibal turn his attentions onto her. Give Will Graham something to strive for.

Maybe the show could begin to make more use of the Freddy Lounds character. Why not have her interview Will Graham in prison. Will could use her to uncover the truth. Hannibal could take precautionary measures.

Failing that you need a killer who can force Will and Hannibal to work together. I got excited in episode one when I mistakenly thought that the Buffalo Bill was about to enter into the narrative. Do something to inject some pace into things. Anything

As it is the writers are currently ‘injecting’ pace into proceedings by amping up the yuck factor. The first season was not shy about killing people in ‘inventive’ ways but the story was so strong that the show got away with it. As the plot stagnates though and the killings become ever more theatrical the series is starting to resemble something Eli Roth would direct. For the record that is not good.

Hannibal needs to step up its game. It it is already airing on Friday nights. It can’t afford to be anything less than great.

Review of Heir of Novron by Michael J Sullivan

I enjoyed the conclusion to the Riyria Revelation but with hindsight I’m not sure the last book (book 6) was quite as good as the previous ones. I am giving this four stars but I’m rounding it up from three and three quarters.

The first book ‘Wintertide’ was for me the best in the collection. Everyone got to do that which they do best. Hadrian fight, Arista do magic etc but the conclusion really subverted my expectations.

The second book was pretty much typical of the fantasy genre with the same sort of scenes playing themselves out that anyone who has read an epic quest will be familiar with. It was enjoyable enough however, I especially enjoyed how the book burner got his just deserts. I had characters/people that destroy knowledge.

I was however disappointed with the final fight scene. With Joe Abercrombie writing such fantastically gritty one on one battles and the Wheel of Time having a really emotional one in the last book I felt that Hadrian’s fight with the elf just wasn’t up to standard.

Overall though I enjoyed the book and would fully recommend the series. You can read more from me at awclarehugh.wordpress.com

Welcome (some entirely non-essential instructions about reading this blog)

The writer. I'll let you decide whether I'm Harry Potter or Daniel Radcliffe

The writer. I’ll let you decide whether I’m Harry Potter or Daniel Radcliffe

You know writing an interesting welcome page isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do so why don’t you just imagine that this blog is filled with all the things that you find most interesting on the internet (excluding boobs).

Provided that the things you find most interesting are reviews of films, books and the occasional post about sports then this is the place you. If you aren’t interested in any of those things though you should read this blog anyway because, it will make you richer, more intelligent and more attractive*.

If the above doesn’t convince you to read you may wish to consult a doctor about your sanity. If you have done this and the doctor has affirmed you are sane though but are in need of some more specifics about what is actually going to be posted then here it is.

You can expect a steadyish diet of blockbuster movie reviews (these may or may not be mostly superhero related don’t blame me blame Hollywood), the goodreads widget should give you some clue about what books I am going to be reviewing. And finally I am going to be posting up a reread of the Discworld series and a rewatch of the Farscape series in the near future i.e. when I get over my mild Mario Kart 8 addiction or more likely smash my controller in frustration at being beaten by seven year old kids again. Damn you red shell!

This is going to hurt!

This is going to hurt!

*Some parts of the above text may be lies. Not the kind of lies that send you to hell, but lies nonetheless.