Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Top Five Anime Films - In My Opinion

Reading through some of my past blogs, I realised (much to my horror) that whilst I have done LOADS of blogs related to Fantasy, and even a few dedicated to writing tips, I’ve yet to really do any blogs that are Anime/Manga related. Considering that my writing is heavily inspired by this, it seems a little strange that I wouldn’t do that. So to appease the Otaku’s that follow my blog, today I’m looking at my Top Five Anime Style Films.

 

Anime has grown in strength over the last few years – as has its films. I’m not talking about films based on famous franchises, like Pokemon, Naruto, Dragonball Z and all that, but films done in an Anime style. Whereas these films were fairly underground to begin with, thanks to such studios as Studio Ghibli, Anime films have been thrust into the mainstream and given the attention they deserve.

 

So today, I’m going to be looking at my top five Anime style films. These are the films that for me, have a certain magic to them and give me a sense of magic when I watch them. Or, I just find them damn entertaining to watch! Again, like with all my lists, this is just based on films I have watched and I list them in no particular order. Some are well known – others not so well known to give a balance.

 

But before I start the list, I want to give an honorary mention to one film:

 

 

Howl’s Moving Castle

 

Because I know this film has a strong fan base, I wanted to at least talk about it so that people felt I wasn’t ignoring it. And don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing film to watch. It’s a tale of a young girl that becomes cursed by a witch and turns old. In her quest to become young again, she becomes involved with a young sorcerer that takes her on an amazing adventure.

 

It’s full of colour, magic and amazing visuals. The world it is set in is beautifully crafted and some of the shots are just breathtaking. But, if I’m being honest, I found the English dub to be – well, a little bland if I’m being honest. The voice actors all seem to speak their lines without any real emotion to them. And considering it’s made up of some top quality actors (like Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall and even Christian Bale) that’s a surprise. Only Billy Crystal (who voices Calcifer) seems to have any real character to his voice. That, and the ending is just a cluster of things happening at once – it tries to throw too much at you at one time and get’s confusing.

 

But overall, it is an amazing film visually, so worth checking out.

 

 

Ok, onto my list.

 

 

 

1. Spirited Away

 

My god, this film is just BEAUTIFUL to watch. So much so that it moves me to tears occasionally. Whereas Howl’s Moving Castle lacked emotion for me, the same could not be said for Spirited Away.

 

Our main protagonist is Chihiro, a ten-year old girl that gets trapped in a world inhabited by spirits (all inspired from characters in Japanese mythology) along with her parents – who get turned into pigs. Now stuck, she has to try and find a way out of this world, save her parents and avoid the wrath of Yubaba, a witch that is overly bossy and commanding. Getting a job at a bathhouse, Chihiro makes friends with Haku, the spirit of the river, and many other characters along the way.

 

Much like I had to give praise to the world in Howl’s Moving Castle, the world in Spirited Away is also beautifully detailed. It feels so much like our own world – and yet different. The characters that inhabit it range from the strange, to the downright creepy and disturbing. I think the creepiest character is No-Face, a large blob like creature with a white mask that becomes obsessed with Chihiro when she shows him kindness – then goes on a rampage when she rejects him (this character actually inspired the character Arakune from the Blazblue series). The film also has a slight environmental message to it, as some spirits convey the state of the human world. One example (without giving spoilers) who is a Stink Spirit, covered in muck and waste – representing how the rivers are being spoiled and corrupted by humans dumping their crap in it. It’s not thrown in your face like some environmental messages – but it does get the point across.

 

Chihiro is an interesting and believable protagonist as well. She’s not a wisecracking heroine that knows how to fight – she’s a scared child, lost in a world she doesn’t understand. Whilst she does start off a little whinny and bratty at first, the journey forces her to grow up pretty quickly and in the end, she becomes a much better person because of it, learning to care about others more than herself. The relationship she forms with the other characters helps to eventually overcome Yubaba and reunites with... oh, sorry I’m giving spoilers here!

 

As well as amazing visuals, the music is just stunning. Composed by legendary Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi, the music just sooths your soul and helps you get lost in the moment. It perfectly captures the emotion of the scene – whether it be horror, funny, dramatic, or even heart warming or sad. I guarantee you that at one point, this music will bring tears to your eyes. Music in films can be a very powerful tool if used correctly and the music in this film does its job very well.

 

This is one of those “close to perfect films” that ticks all the right boxes – and one of the few films I can find no fault in. Whether you’re a fan of Anime or not, you have to check this film out and get lost in the magic of it.

 

 

 

2. Princess Mononoke

 

I was actually lent this by a friend at my old job a couple of years ago, hearing that I liked Anime films. I borrowed it and watched it, not really sure what to expect – but I ended up loving it just as much as Spirited Away.

 

Princess Mononoke is a blend of Period Drama and Fantasy, set during the Muromachi period (yes, I had to look that up) of Japan. After saving his village from an attacking demon, Ashitaka becomes wounded by the demon, his arm becoming cursed. This gives him superhuman strength, but will eventually kill him. On his quest to find a cure, he stumbles across a human encampment, fighting for their survival against an oppressive Imperial reign and the spirits of the forest, who seek to take revenge against the humans for plundering their resources. Along this, Ashitaka meets San – a girl raised by wolves and has a hatred for mankind.

 

Throughout the film, there are two main conflicts. The old ways of magic and nature – and the coming of humanity and technology. Both are in constant conflict with each other throughout the film as the spirits struggle for survival against humans that may no longer need them. However, what is really clever about the film is that there ARE not real heroes or villains. Though they are plundering the forest, the humans are by no means evil – they are just trying to survive. Their leader, Lady Eboshi (voiced by Minnie Driver) is a kind hearted and selfless woman who will do anything to protect her people. The forest spirits, angry that their homes are being invaded, are fighting for their survival. It’s an ambiguous conflict that lets you make your own choices.

 

Much like Spirited Away, it has a strong environmental message and is a good metaphor for modern day Earth as much as it is for the time. With the increase in numbers of humans on the planet, more and more forests are being torn down so that they can make more housings (or other things) for the humans. In the process, the forests are slowly dying.

 

The main character Ashitaka is an interesting one (voiced by Billy Crudup – the guy that did Doctor Manhattan in the Watchman film). He’s not your standard hero in the sense that he doesn’t really have a major quest to accomplish – he just is trying to save his own life. By becoming involved in this, he gradually becomes more heroic and tries to find a peaceful way to resolve the battle between the forest and the humans. San (voiced by Claire Danes) becomes his almost unwilling helper, but still mistrusts the humans for what they have done.

 

Finally, the film has strong feminist themes. Lady Eboshi protects her people from the oppressive Emperor and will do anything to look after them. She even teaches the women of the settlement to handle weapons so that they can protect their men – something which would have been unheard of at the time. For those that like strong female characters, you will find plenty in this film.

 

A great mix of magic and modernisation, Princess Mononoke is a highly entertaining film. Whilst it may not be as emotional as Spirited Away, it certainly is a well put together film, with an ambiguous conflict that lets you decide who the heroes and villains are.

 

 

 

3. Fist of the North Star

 

If any film perfectly captures the over the top nature of Anime, it would be this one. This was one of the first Anime films I ever saw – and boy did I think it was demented! This film is little more than over the top violence, gore and completely overpowered characters. And I love it!

 

Based on the Manga of the same name, the film is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth, devastated by nuclear war. The world has now become a sort of Mad Max type wasteland – with gangs, mutants and other monstrosities roaming the planet trying to find food and other things to stay alive. It’s a violent world and only the strong survive.

 

Enter Kenshiro (or Ken as he’s known in the English dub), an expert in the martial art Hokuto Shinken (aka Fist of the North Star), the most deadly form of martial arts known to man. This can cause people to explode from the inside out and allows Ken to do some really over the top martial arts moves. Ken’s girlfriend Julia has been taken by Shin (Fist of the South Star), who is the leader of an oppressive regime that pretty much holds the world in his hands. Add to this that Ken’s brothers Jagi and Raoh are also fighting for control, Ken finds himself in a battle for humanity – and a fight to protect Bat and Lynn, two kids that come under his control.

 

In many ways, there is very little plot to Fist of the North Star, and what there is has more than one hole. But Fist of the North Star is known for its over the top violence and utterly ridiculous levels of violence rather than its story. Ken is seriously overpowered and effortlessly pwns anyone he comes across. Yeah, I guess you could say that he is a bit of a mary-sue. But the bad guys he fights are just so unlikeable and horrible, it’s probably a good thing that he can kick their ass. Heck, there’s even one bit where he punches a building and it falls down. It even lands on him and he walks through it like nothing happened! You KNOW your character is badass when stuff like that can’t hurt him!

 

The fights are bloody as hell, but awesome to watch. Heads explode, gore flies and even buildings get smashed up. It’s completely style over substance – but then again that works in the films favour. For me, the BEST bit of the film is when Ken fights Zender, the huge leader of a vicious gang, who is holding Lynn hostage. He tells him to put Lynn down, Zender refuses. Ken then bursts from his top (yet amazingly in the next scene, he has it back on. Logic... who needs it?), his muscles bulge, then he whacks Zender hundreds of times with punches (called “The Hundred Crack Fist of the North Star” in the Anime). Zender gets up, threatens Ken – who just replies “You’re already dead,” and then Zender explodes in a burst of blood.

 

It’s completely over the top and completely lacking in characterisation and plot – but like the recent Spartacus series, you have to take it with a pinch of salt and not take it too seriously. If you just want a no-frills action movie with lots of violence and amazingly cool fighting moves, this is for you!

 

 

 

4. Barefoot Gen

 

I’ve said before, in past blogs, that Anime and Manga doesn’t always have to be about Fantasy – it can deal with real life issues as well. This is a perfect example of it.

 

Again, this is based on a Manga of the same name – and semi autobiographical. Barefoot Gen is based on the writer’s (Keiji Nakazawa) experiences during the Hiroshima bombings. Already hearing that gives you a cold feeling if you know that moment in history.

 

Personally, I think the Hiroshima bombings is one of the greatest human atrocities ever perpetrated - so any film that can prove to people how horrible it really was, I'm in favour if it can educate them - and hopefully make sure it never happens again.

 

Anyway, the story follows Gen, a young boy who lives with his family. It starts off as a slice of life kind of story, with Gen and his family trying to make a living throughout this difficult moment in Japans history. About 30 minutes into the film, the Americans drop the nuclear weapon – and the horror starts.

 

This film holds NOTHING back in terms of showing the effects of the nuclear weapon. You see people burned alive and melted by the effects of the weapon. There is even a disturbing moment where a mother shields herself to protect her baby from the blast and the two get fused together. Gen survives, as does his mother, but his family are killed when their house collapses. That scene along will be enough to make the tears come forth. After that, Gen and his mother have to try and find a way to survive in Hiroshima – now devastated by the effects of the bomb.

 

I personally think Barefoor Gen is highly underrated amongst Anime films. It’s not an easy film to watch – and is extremely bleak in places. But it is a true story, set around the ever poignant theme of human survival, and the spirit of humanity. If you get a chance to see it, I recommend it. But have a box of tissues nearby – believe me, you’re gonna need it.

 

 

 

5. Akira

 

Hands down, this is my favourite Anime film of all time. Even though I love all the films mentioned above, they cannot come CLOSE to the power and awe that Akira leave me in. Even though I’ve seen it a million times, and in several different dubs, I still feel a sense of wonderment in seeing it.

 

Akira is a cyberpunk adventure, set in Neo Tokyo, years after a massive explosion that decimated most of Tokyo – caused by someone known only as Akira. Little is known about Akira – other than he had intense psychic powers (almost godlike). It follows Kaneda, a young biker, and his friend Tetsuo, who come across children with these same psychic abilities. Tetsuo discovers that he himself has these same psychic abilities – and goes on a rampage across Neo Tokyo, hoping to find who this Akira really is.

 

The overall theme of Akira is the abuse of power and the way it can corrupt people. The idea of psychic powers is very similar to that of the atomic bomb and the destruction it causes. Tetsuo is for all intents and purposes, a walking atom bomb – capable of destroying anything he comes across. However, his powers do have limits – as is discovered in the final act of the film, which is one of the most disturbing moments in Anime. Those who have seen the film will know what I’m talking about! Let’s just say that it gave me nightmares after seeing it.

 

Akira has a fantastic story – with many brilliantly crafted characters – all with their own motivations and reasons for their actions. Within the destruction caused by Tetsuo, there is a heavy political struggle and a resistance wanting to overthrow the oppressive government. Kaneda gets caught up in this as he struggles to stop his friend Tetsuo. Their rivalry is one of the best on screen dynamics I’ve seen in a film. Both are best friends and yet their conflicting ideals force them against each other. It raises a great point – what would you do if you’re best friend became your worst enemy?

 

One of the reasons Akira is one of my favourite movies is the animation. It is by FAR the most realistic animation I’ve seen in an Anime film. Every single movement of the characters is painstainkingly drawn out frame by frame, to add a sense of realism to the characters. The body moments and facial expressions are realistically portrayed and almost feel like you’re watching a live-action film at some points. The whole film is like a comic book come to life and the result is just awesome. The only other Anime film that comes close to replicating this type of realistic Anime style is Ghost in the Shell, but even that doesn’t match up in my opinion.

 

You know how I said that Fist of the North Star was violent? Well Akira is equally as gory and sick in places. But actually, some of the more disturbing moments of the film (other than the ending) is when the city is being destroyed and you hear the screams of people being killed. The violence is obviously not the main selling point of the film by any means, but be warned – you NEED a strong stomach to watch this!

 

Put simply, Akira is a landmark in Japanese animation and arguably the film that catapulted Anime into the mainstream. It isn’t just my favourite Anime film of all time, but one of my favourite films of all time. I heard a while ago that they were planning a live action version of Akira – which I am DREADING with a passion. If you look at past live action films based on Animes (Speed Racer and Dragonball Z live action to name a few), you know it never goes right.

 

As a side note, when my brother first went away to Newcastle to study at University, he actually brought me a boxed set of Akira before he went away. It remains the best present he’s ever given me!

 

 

So that’s my list. What’s YOUR favourite Anime films? I’m sure I’ve missed out a ton I could mention, so please leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

 

Thanks guys!

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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An Interview with Brenna Albert

Today I have something special for you guys. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was bringing a new artist on board to help me with Legacy of the Dragonkin, and today I'd like to take this moment to introduce you to her fully!

 

Brenna Albert has joined Team Draconica (as I like to call it) as an inker for the insert artworks for the paperback version of the book. Brenna is an absolutely amazing artist who I was very keen to get on board with this project after her drawings on a couple of others of my works. I've been putting up some of her work on my FB page (link as always on my signiture) but I wanted to give you guys a chance to meet her in person.

 

But since that would be kinda hard to do, let's settle for an interview instead!

 

 

 

Lines in BOLD are questions asked by me, answers in ITALICS are from Brenna herself!

 

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

 

I don't really know what to say... I'm pretty quiet, creative, and apparently modest.

 

 

What tools do you use for your art?

 

My main tools are my tablet (Bamboo Fun) and Paintool SAI. However, through studies in college I learned to love charcoal as a medium.

 

 

How did you first get into drawing?

 

I started as a very young child, around 5 years old or so. I was the only one in my class that drew a house in attempted 3-D, rather than a box with a triangle on it.

 

 

What/who are your main influences?

 

I feel I have an abnormal amount of influences, so to cut it down to just a few I'd have to say my best friends; Christina, David, and Emily; My boyfriend, Eric; And my favorite musician, Klayton of Celldweller.  

 

 

Do you have any other hobbies?

 

From time to time I pick up a sewing project, or find a video game/computer game that I spend too much time on. But my art keeps me pretty busy throughout the year.

 

 

What do you enjoy most about art?

 

Out of all the many things I enjoy about art, I'd have to say that even the simplest line having the ability to tell a story amazes me most.

 

 

In your opinion, what makes a great character in fiction?

 

Depth of the character. I adore villains who are only villains because of what the world did to them, or how it views them.

 

 

What are your plans for the future?

 

In a few years I see myself living comfortably in a house with my boyfriend. I hope to have enough time by then to have created my own comic, but only time will tell.

 

 

You’re first art you did for me was the cover of All Hail Emperor Gothon. How did that come about?

 

There was a thread on DeviantArt I came across talking about a few different covers needing artists, I believe. I contacted you, and you decided the All Hail Emperor Gothon cover would best suit my style and interests.

 

 

Are you happy with the way it came out?

 

I was absolutely thrilled when the cover finally came out. As with any artist, you are your own worst critic so I was a little nervous, but an artist's most important thing to learn is to trust in their abilities.

 

 

Your next work with me was The Birth of Zephyr, which was a poem. In it you did art inlays for the book. What was that like?

 

There was a LOT of fun to be had with Zephyr, from designing a modest fantasy fighting outfit, to softening the angle of her nose to make her look gentler. As I drew her, she grew as a character in front of me into a more intelligent woman, worthy of the power bestowed upon her.

 

 

Is there anything about the story of the poem that attracted you to it? Does it carry some kind of message?

 

I'd say the main message is not to mess with anything Zephyr cares about, and I think I connected with her character a lot because I'd LOVE to have the powers of Karana to protect those I love.

 

Zephyr showed quite a bit more mercy straight off the bat for me to agree with, but in the end she did what was needed without fail. I can't help but respect her for coming back to save the village.

 

 

For the record, I am currently in talks with Brenna with the idea of discussing a possible story involving Zephyr - watch this space!

 

You can check out Brenna's work on her DA page KASHIDOODLES !

 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment below and do please check out her DA page and show her some love!

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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The Lord of the Rings (1978) Underrated Classic or Critical Disaster?

 

As you probably know from reading my past blogs, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings is my favourite film trilogy of all time – and one of the most faithful adaptations of any book in my opinion. I actually also didn’t mind The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey either. Despite the fact that people have complained that it was too long and added too much to the story – I never had a problem with the length and felt that the stuff added to it was pretty decent. I mean, after all, it is still from Tolkien’s Legendarium, so it’s not like they made it up from thin air.

 

Indeed, The Lord of the Rings, was the major inspiration for my Draconica novels so I owe a lot to it. The films are widely considered to be classics of their time and are still talked about today. I honestly think that these films will stand the test of time as some of the best films ever made.

 

But what some of you may not know is that this is NOT the first attempt to bring The Lord of the Rings to the big screen. In 1978, Ralph Bakshi (a well renowed director of animated films – his most famous being Fritz the Cat and Cool World amongst others) took it upon himself to bring The Lord of the Rings to the big screen. Unfortunately, whilst it does have a cult following, it is generally considered to be a disappointment.

 

 

I do actually remember seeing this film when I was a kid – but can barely remember anything about it. So, on a trip to HMV (before they went into administration) I used some vouchers I won at work to purchase a boxed set of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and saw that the 1978 film was on special offer. So I brought it and watched it. And I have to say I was very disappointed with what I saw.

 

The movie uses a combination of animation and rotoscoping (basically, tracing over live footage with cell animation) to create a rather unique look for the time. I’ll get more into the animation later but I just want to cover the story first.

 

The film basically covers the first two books, starting with Bilbo’s party and ending with the battle of Helm’s Deep. However, being a two hour film, the story is heavily condensed and cuts out a large chunk of dialogue. Unfortunately, this makes the story feel rushed and doesn’t really give it any time to breathe or develop in my opinion. Unless you know the story of the book, you won’t understand what’s going on. Adding to the fact that the voice acting is sub-par to say the least (and considering it has heavy hitters like John Hurt and Anthony Daniels in the voice cast, that’s a disappointment) and the actors don’t really have much in the way of emotion to their delivery. It’s more a case of they’re reading their lines – and that’s it. Shame really.

 

You may think that because this is a condensed version then it’s a quick film, right? Wrong. Despite being a shortened version of the first two books, the pace is just sluggish, especially during the battle scenes, which feel drawn out and dull – with most of the footage being soldiers standing still or marching as opposed to actually fighting. Not only that, but usually they’re shot in the dark, or (in the case of the battle of Helm’s Deep) shot with a horrible red and blue lighting effect that makes it hard to see what’s going on. Whereas the battle scenes in the Peter Jackson films are epic and full of exciting action, the fight scenes in this film are just, well... boring. I fell asleep during the Battle of Helm’s Deep – which was supposed to be the exciting climax of this film.

 

Now, onto the animation. I said at the beginning of this review that this was kind of a new thing at the time and I did say that it gave it a unique look to it. But, I will have to put my hands up to this. Unique or not, the animation is, quite frankly, dreadful. Some may go with the whole “Well, for the time they were quite restricted with what they could do” speech and, yes, I will agree that the animation they had back then was fairly primitive compared to what we have now. But if you consider the Looney Tunes cartoons (which came out several decades BEFORE this film) had fluid animation and fast pacing, then you can’t really consider that an excuse. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

The animation in this film is just jerky and stiff. The movements don’t flow very well and the character designs are just ugly to look at. Gandalf looks ok, as does Aragorn and maybe Sauraman (named Auraman in this film for whatever reason), but the Hobbits just look overly chunky and, in some cases, highly camp and effeminate. Boromir looks like a Viking for some bizarre reason, Gimli looks like an outcast from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and the orcs just look laughable – they look more like children in a Halloween party. The only characters that actually do look pretty cool are the Ringwraiths. The jerky animation actually helps add to the creepiness of their characters and they do actually look a lot more terrifying than the ones in Peter Jackson’s films. But otherwise, it’s just painful and tiring to watch.

 

As a film, it received mixed reaction, but generally most considered it a failure. As such, it never had a sequel and so was never finished. It’s a shame because this COULD have been a great movie – but for me, the overall movie just feels rushed with little time and attention put on it. Not only that, it’s just dull to watch and puts you to sleep – not a good sign.

 

However, I will say this for it, it did inspire Peter Jackson to attempt to make his own Lord of the Rings film (even shooting some scenes exactly like in the Bakshi film as a tribute). But in my eyes, what Bakshi did wrong, Jackson did right.

 

I’d like to say that Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings is an underrated classic, but I’m afraid that, on this occasion, I can’t really recommend this film. If you’re a hardcore fan of Tolkien, then you may want to check this out for nostalgia purposes – or maybe as film study to compare this with the present day films. But otherwise, I’d give this one a miss, it is definitely NOT the one film to rule them all!

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Pandragon Reviews - Murdering Eve

 

You know, I’ve learned something – it sucks to be the main character in a paranormal story! I mean, nine times out of ten, they discover that they are actually not what they thought they were and turn out to be something entirely – such as a god, a spirit creature, or some other form of supernatural being. Usually this discovery ends up ruining their otherwise mundane life and puts a real damp on their day.

 

So imagine how our heroine Eve (the protagonist of Murdering Eve feels when she discovers that she may be linked to the Gods of Olympus, then charged with finding a Wind troll that was banished to Earth within a certain time period or else all hell will break loose. Oh, and add to the fact that someone is trying to kill her, I have to be honest – I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes!

 

But enough with the introductions, let’s check out today books, Murdering Eve by Kelly Lee.

 

 

About The Author

 

I was not given any information or bio by the author, but if you wish to check out her work, you can visit her website. Link below.

 

 

KELLY LEE FICTION

 

 

Cover

 

 

On the whole, this cover is ok – doesn’t really stand out for me though, but it is at least colourful. But I have to wonder, who is the girl on the cover? At first I thought it was Eve herself, but she’s described as having blond hair in the book. I’m guessing it’s Holly, the antagonist of the book, but then she’s described as having red hair. Just a minor nitpick on that really.

 

 

Overview

 

One of the first things I noticed about Murdering Eve was the blurb, which described it almost in a pretty dark way – so I was kinda expecting this book to be really dark as well as romantic. On the whole though, it was pretty tame compared to what I was expecting – but that’s not a bad thing at all. Once I got to grips with the book, I did actually find the story pretty decent. Any story with Gods and supernatural entities always tick a lot of boxes in my book (excuse the pun) and so the idea of Eve trying to find a Wind troll to bring back to Olympus was pretty cool. The story is very easy to follow and not as convoluted as some other books. I was able to keep up with the story pretty easily. It also helped that there were only a few characters in the book, so I didn’t have to keep reminding myself who was what – so props for having an easy to follow story.

 

My first gripe would be that there is maybe a little TOO much exposition in this book. Sometimes, we focus on a character and it then transcends into a flashback, or an explanation into the history of a certain race or magical force. I don’t really have a problem with flashbacks or expositions and realise that they can be important to a story – but too much can really slow the pace down. I honestly think that the author could have just used a few paragraphs in these instances to just give us a general gist rather than going into too much detail. Secondly, chapters tend to repeat themselves occasionally. There is one scene where the heroes get into a fight, and then the next chapter we see the villain and the chapter pretty much explains what happened before. Considering it was just after one chapter, I didn’t feel it was too necessary to go into this detail.

 

Also, there were quite a few formatting issues with the copy I was given to review. Sometimes, lines would be cut off mid sentence and then started again on a new line, it made the text look broken up and messy. I’d suggest a reformat if the author hasn’t done so already.

 

Now, let’s look at the characters. Eve, the heroine, I really wanted to say I liked and supported. But actually, I found her a little bit whiny and needy in places. I understood that she was trying to cope with the problems of finding out her real nature, but she just seemed too dependent on Whit (the troll she was sent to find, who eventually becomes her lover). I prefer heroines that aren’t afraid to take control of a situation when needed. Also, I felt that she was dangerously close to being a mary-sue on some occasions. On the same level, I wanted to support Whit as he had gone through a lot of pain since being banished from Olympus – but honestly I just wanted to slap him on occasions and say “Man up!” Or “Troll up!”

 

Actually, the character I enjoyed the most was Holly, the would-be assassin of the book. She had an interesting back story (being a Titan) and I could actually understand her motivations and needs. She also provided a lot of humour for the piece. In the end I hoped that she would come out ok and that nothing bad happened to her.

 

Aside from those points, I did like the way Kelly Lee tried to do something different with the Olympus myth and I give props to the way she portrayed the trolls in the book. It was nice to see trolls in a more heroic light (mostly) instead of the monsters that they usually are portrayed as. And, on the whole, I felt that the ending of the book did resolve itself satisfactorily, although (without giving away too many spoilers) it did feel a little “Scooby Doo” in places – and by that I mean I was expecting the villains to say “And I would have got away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids...” You know.

 

Admittedly, I felt that this book had a few flaws in it in terms of character and overall formatting, but it’s not a bad read in general. In should mention that at the beginning, it has a mini review that stated that fans of Twilight would enjoy this one. Well, I have to say that I enjoyed this MORE than Twilight, so hopefully Kelly Lee can take some pride in me saying that.

 

 

PROS (Eve-vangelical):

  • Easy to follow plot, with a good resolution.
  • Good twists on many supernatural tropes.
  • Villain is extremely likeable (is that a good thing?)

 

CONS (Eve-ill):

  • Formatting issues ruin the flow of the piece.
  • Main characters slightly less likeable than they should be.
  • Maybe a little too much exposition.

 

 

Summary

 

Whilst for me, it did have some flaws, the bits that were good did make me want to continue reading to the end and I’m glad I did. I would suggest that the author goes back and reformats the book again as the errors are glaring and need to be addressed. But overall, if you like paranormal romance, I’d give this one a try.

 

FINAL SCORE: 3/5

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Murder on Mars - A Guest Post by M. M. Shelley

Hey guys! Got another guest post for you as part of the Page Turner Book Tours. Today, we're hosting a spot for the Murder on Mars blog tour. A paranormal crime thriller. I asked the author, M.M. Shelley to tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind the book and was quite amazed at the reply.

 

Without further ado, I had you over to M.M. Shelley to talk a little about her novel - details of the book, author AND a special competition follow.

 

 

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Thank you to Dan for hosting this stop on my Murder on Mars tour!

 

My new YA is set in New Orleans, LA which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. It’s a charming city filled with amazing character and history. History is important to me and I love engaging locals and learning about stories that I wouldn’t find in guide books.

 

I visited New Orleans after Katrina, I wasn’t sure what I would find and being that I have never been to the city previously I didn’t have anything to compare it to. One thing evident is that the city was filled with so much life and energy I couldn’t help but take some of that home with me.

 

There is one scene in Murder on Mars where my central character, Ava arrives at the New Orleans airport and finds a band playing near the taxi and shuttle area. This actually happened to us, it was amazing and such a welcome. To hear music played with such soul I had to incorporate this experience into the story. It was the little things such as this that provided me with the inspiration for this story.

 

 

Murder On Mars
(A New Orleans Mystery)

 

A paranormal force has lured Ava to New Orleans, where shadows lurk behind every corner and an unknown power has yet to be unleashed. There is a darkness in New Orleans, one that has brought sixteen year old Ava Lopez to the city in search of her best friend, Dyson. A dark crime has been committed, and there are supernatural forces involved. Three sisters who whisper "fate" are awaiting the arrival of the Guardian. Shadow People fiercely haunt the city, unchallenged, but Ava senses that Dyson may be involved with their crimes. She must discover the secret that the Shadows are so determined to keep hidden. Ava will have to risk everything, because where the Fates are concerned there are no second chances.

 

 

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

 

 

About M.M. Shelley

 

M.M. Shelley is a storyteller, word smith and dreamer. She has traveled the world extensively in search of the magic which is often overlooked in every day life. M.M. Shelley is a native of southern California, and a student of mythology from which she gets much inspiration.

 

You can contact M.M at the following places:

 

 

Website

Twitter

Facebook

 

 


About Page Turner Book Tours

 

Page Turner Book Tours is fronted by the face behind Read2Review Kate. Page Turner Book Tours has been put together to help promote authors and give something back to the writing world. Kate has put together a team of incredibly talented people to help with the project by incorporating their individual skills into making new, fresh and exciting promotional plans that we hope you agree are amazing. If you would like to book a tour with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their tour packages. If you would like to become a tour host with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their Tour Host page. You wont be disappointed!

 

 

PAGE TURNER BOOK TOURS

 

 

A huge thank you for M.M. Shelley and Page Turner Book Tours for stopping by. Don't forget to check out the competition that they have running, which you can check out at the following link.

 

 

MURDER ON MARS COMPETITION

 

 

Thanks for reading guys - don't forget to leave a comment below!

 

Until next time.

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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