Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

First Look: Amanda Moonstone: The Missing Prince

Check out this trailer for my forthcoming novel through Paper Crane Books - Amanda Moonstone: The Missing Prince.

 

I've mentioned it on my blog a couple of times, but this is the first official look at the story. Check out the video on Youtube here.

 

 
 
 
 
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PANDRAGON

 

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Pandragon Reviews - The Turnarounders and the Arbuckle Rescue


I was kinda worried that I wouldn’t be able to get this review out on time this month – considering that this week has been really busy for me. But, I preserved and, as promised to my author, I have the review here ready to go.

 

Today’s book I thought was gonna be a nice light hearted children’s book – but I was amazed at how dark it was in places. But not so dark that I don’t think others couldn’t enjoy it. In fact, it had a very interesting concept.

 

So today, we take a trip back in time to WWII Kent and follow Ralf and the Turnarounders as they fight to protect the world from a great evil. So let’s delve into The Turnarounders and the Arbuckle Rescue by Lou Heneghan.

 

 

About the author

 

Lou Heneghan was born a long time ago in a very small house on the edge of a deep, shadow-filled forest.
Now living in a ramshackle building on the edge of London, Lou's front windows look out over shimmering spires and distant city towers. To the back of the house is a footpath that winds deep into the woods. At dusk, Lou often follows it into the promise-filled darkness of the trees.

 

Lou nods at black cats, salutes magpies and never, ever, walks under ladders.

 

Links are below:

 

THETURNAROUNDERS.COM

https://twitter.com/LouHeneghan

https://www.facebook.com/lou.heneghan.3

https://www.goodreads.com/profile/LouHeneghan

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lou-Heneghan/e/B00G8EELZ2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

You can also see a trailer for the book at http://www.theturnarounders.com/#!trailer/c1pz

 

 

       

 

 

Cover

 

There are two covers for this book, one with a more darker, adult look (left) and a more child friendly look (right). Both work well and capture both the upbeat and dark nature of the story, but if I had to choose I’d choose the one on the left myself. However both work well.

 

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

 

Ever felt you knew what was about to happen?

 

Ever had a strange feeling that you've done something before?

 

Ralf Osborne just wants to be a normal boy but, as his twelfth birthday approaches, he starts to recognise people he’s never met and know things he can’t possibly know. He also suspects that the mysterious hooded man he keeps seeing is following him.

 

He is.

 

Why? Because Ralf Osborne is far from normal. He has lived before.

 

Ralf and his friends are Turnarounders. They have power. And a long, long time ago, they made a solemn vow to help if ever they were needed.

 

Soon the Turnarounders are plunged back in time to the start of the Second World War. At first, they are only concerned with getting back home, but then they uncover a plot that could alter the course of history.

 

It's time for the Turnarounders to keep their promise…

 

 

What I liked

 

With the group consisting mostly of kids, it’s clear that the writer is aiming this at the younger market – but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a standard children’s story. It has a dark subtext and some “nightmare fuel” places in it – especially with the main villain. I don’t really want to spoil anything about the plot, but let me just tell you – the scene in which you meet him is straight outta Lovercraftian horror!

 

The Turnarounders are an interesting bunch of characters, ranging from brainacs to tough, streetwise kids, so you get a good mix of characters and something for everyone. For me, nothing is more annoying that having a team where everyone has basically the same traits, so it was refreshing to have a group where they all had difference personalities. Ralf, of course, is the main protagonist, but he’s not the key problem solver – everyone plays their part in this story.

 

So the plot basically revolves around children that are sent back to a Kent village during WWII to stop an evil force from taking place – and no, it’s not the Nazi’s this time around. Here’s the twist – they all have special powers (ala Harry Potter) and they have lived before. Apparently a long time ago they made a promise to stop some evil dude from coming back and now he’s here – or something like that.

 

Actually, the plot isn’t as complicated as I’m making it out to be above. The story is very easy to follow and has a great balance between humour and action. I quite liked the character of Alfie with his modern expressions in WWII England – that was funny. There are also a lot of puzzles for the Turnarounders to solve so that adds a real sense of mystery to the plot. The story also has some genuine twists that shocked me on occasion. Again, I don’t want to say too much, but the story did keep me hooked the whole way through. I felt it was the right balance of action, story and mystery.

 

I mentioned it having some dark moments in it as well. Bearing in mind this is set during the Great War, it doesn’t skimp over the horror and fear that was in the country at the time – think Blackadder Goes Forth. The horror is toned down a little as this is a young persons story, but it certainly brings awareness to the plight of the country. On the whole, the dark elements are justified and still makes this books suitable for younger readers.

 

 

What I didn’t like

 

To be honest, there wasn’t a lot about this book I DIDN’T like. In fact, for the first time since doing these reviews – I’m actually struggling to think of any negative points.

 

I suppose if I had to pick something, though this would only be a nitpick, it’s that one of the puzzles the Turnarounders had to solve did have me shouting “Oh come on! Even Adam West couldn’t put that together!” But then, stories don’t have to be realistic.

 

 

Pros: (Turnaround – every now and then I get a little bit closer)

  • Young protagonists make this suitable for younger readers.
  • Perfect mix of humour, action and mystery.
  • Dark when it needs to be, but not too dark.
  • Great plot and twists.

 

Cons: (If only I could turn back time)

  • To be honest – none!

 

 

Summary

 

With a mix of action, humour, mystery and great storytelling, The Turnarounders andd the Arbuckle Rescue is one book that is guaranteed to capture the imaginations of child and adult alike. Move over, Potter – the Turnarounders are here to claim their throne!

 

FINAL SCORE: 5/5

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Final Ragnarok Competition - win a free copy of Final Ragnarok: She Returns

Well, Final Ragnarok: She Returns less than a week for release, I figured it was time that I put out a little competition to get you guys ready for the release.

 

Starting today up until the release of Final Ragnarok: She Returns (7th August), you guys have a chance to win yourself a free ebook copy of Final Ragnarok: She Returns. How do you win it? Simple, each day up until the release, I will be giving away a free copy of Final Ragnarok: She Returns EVERY SINGLE DAY to one lucky reader! How do you win? As a famous meerkat once said - "Simples!"

 

Each day in the FB event page, I will be posting a teaser picture from Final Ragnarok: She Returns. All you have to do is add a comment below of what caption you would give this picture (sorta like a meme if you will). Funniest or cleverest one I think will win a free ebook! Simple as that! You can put any caption you like, but please keep them clean guys - overly offensive ones will be disqualified.

 

The competition has begun now - so head over to the FB Event Page to get started!

 

FACEBOOK EVENT

 

Good luck peeps!!!

 

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Pandragon Reviews - Underneath the Draconian Sky

When an author submits a book for review to me, the one thing that I ask is that they let me know if there is any strong sexual content. By that, I don’t mean a standard sex scene, or even an erotic sex scene, that I can handle. However, what I take issue with is the more, shall we say, extreme type of sexual content – such as torture, rape, bestiality and, um… scat. And no I’m not talking about the music genre – google it at your own risk.

 

I really just don’t enjoy this, it’s not for me. When I first started getting into Anime and Manga, a friend of mine showed me some hentai stories and personally I found a lot of disgusting (let’s just say I’ll never look at an octopus the same way). For me, rape and torture should be put across as a despicable act to horrify the readers, not be put across as a sexual fetish.

 

So when I was reading Underneath the Draconian Sky, I was a little dubious about it if I was being honest. But I did promise a review – and the author, Dale M. Chatwin was a reasonable enough guy when we talked via email, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt. So today here is my review of Underneath the Draconian Sky, a Steampunk/Fantasy/Horror novel that delves into the depths of insanity and depravity. Those with a weak stomach may want to look away now!

 

 

About The Author

 

Dale M. Chatwin was born in Warwickshire in 1988 and grew up in a small town called Sedgley located in the Black Country.  He part wrote his first novel at the age of 14 titled Destiny and Death, a vague pastiche of The Body and Dreamcatcher by Stephen King with elements of his own folded into the mix. But writing has been a passion and lifelong dream of his since before then. At 19 he moved to Southsea in Hampshire to gain some independent experience in life, and as a result of his time on that island (many short stories and poems later) he produced his first complete novel at the age of 24: Underneath the Draconian Sky which is available in paperback and eBook on Lulu and Amazon. Now after realising his dream of becoming a published author, Dale M. Chatwin is on a mission to expand and perfect his craft as a writer.

 

The link to his author central page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dale-M-Chatwin/e/B005Y4GT9S

 

 

 
 

Cover

 

For a novel that is so brutal in its content, this cover is surprisingly gentle. It almost leads the reader into a false sense of security – which I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but that’s an interesting technique if so.

 

 

Synopsis

 

When 1107 is hired by saloon proprietor Sylvester Claproot to exterminate a group of escaped residents from the Bachman Gardens Institute for the Criminally Insane, it all seems like a run of the mill extermination: capture, torture and kill. He soon finds himself plunged into a brutal world of sexual lust, unhindered violence and where the fringes of sanity are lost to the winds of time. At the heart of this dark tale is the story of one man's acceptance of his own demise and his journey into a chaotic world where he is forced to chase his death across a brutal dystopian landscape. It is a novel that will keep you reading until the Sun scars the horizon.

 

 

What I liked

 

1107, also known as The Guy is an interesting anti-hero – the kinda “shoot first, forget the questions” sort that Clint Eastwood made popular. He’s a brutal, no nonsense kind of mercenary that likes to get the job done however possible – and some of the stuff he does would make Jack Bauer cringe! Whilst I personally don’t enjoy these type of characters, the world he inhabits is a cruel and unforgiving one, so I could accept the brutal things that he did to an extent. That being said, he did show some signs of humanity every so often so he wasn’t completely a monster.

 

I also have to give particular praise to the world of Underneath a Draconian Sky. As previously mentioned, the world is a mix of Steampunk, Sci-fi and even Fantasy. Normally, if you mix in too many genres, it can sometimes make the world a little too over the top and unbelievable, a trap I myself have fallen into. But the elements mixed in here work well and create a nightmarish hell – with dusty deserts, rusted industrial areas, dirty streets and decedent, corrupted religious ideology. It is a place that has no place for kindness or meekness, ruled by alien creatures that are pretty much dictators. It builds a dark and creepy atmosphere that puts you at unease pretty much the entire novel.

 

The story is both straight forward, but also quite complex at the same time. We follow The Guy as he tries to track down the High Occultist, who is the “Big Bad” of the story. There is a lot of build up to this character prior to meeting him, which worked well. Along the way, we learn a little more about the history of the world and the characters. It was good that the book didn’t give too much away at once so that we only learned a bit at a time, this helped paint a gradual picture of the events and created an interesting story.

 

All in all the plot works and sets up a nightmare of a trip where the fragility of the human mind is explored in horrific detail. However, there were some issues I had with this that I will explain in the next section.

 

 

What I didn’t like

 

Now, I have no problems with stories being disturbing or having disturbing imagery – in fact I like it when a story leaves me in a disturbed state of mind. However, what I did find hard to take was the amount of strong sexual content involved. Practically every other chapter involved someone being raped, tortured or worse. As I’ve said in my intro, I am not a huge fan of stories that put across rape and torture as a sexual fetish. And whilst I’m not saying that Underneath a Draconian Sky is anything like that, I do felt there was too much of this.

 

The major problem I had was that a lot of it was unnecessary and just put in just for shock value. The plot had already set a disturbing element, but this extra content just seemed to detract from that in some way and make it feel more mean spirited then it needed to. Plus, most of it I found was out of context and didn’t really do anything to help the scene. A lot of it could have easily been cut out and it would have preserved the nightmarish themes and atmosphere. Not only this, but I think it could also put off a lot of potential readers. Which is a shame as there is a good story underneath, exploring the themes of insanity and the dark side of human nature – but it kinda gets lost in all the rape and torture. And that’s just the stuff I can tell you about!

 

As you probably guessed by now, this book is NOT suitable for young readers. Also, I don’t recommend reading this whilst you’re eating. I made that mistake when reading it at lunch and I couldn’t finish my sandwich!

 

 

PROS (Sky’s the limit):

  • Main character is pretty badass!
  • Disturbing atmosphere.
  • Mythos of the world nicely thought out.

 

CONS (Draconian tactics):

  • Overly sexual context undermines the otherwise good setting.
  • Relies too much on shock tactics.
  • Totally unsuitable for younger readers.

 

 

Summary

 

It’s a good story with some nightmarish themes and disturbing imagery – but the extreme sexual content and unnecessary torture undermines it somewhat and takes away from the tension. Not one I’d recommend to someone with a weak constitution, but if you like your stories dark and atmosphere tense then you’ll most find this one an interesting read.

 

FINAL SCORE: 3/5

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Pandragon Reviews: Blue on the Horizon: Troll

Today I’m reviewing a very interesting piece on trolls. No, not the type that cause chaos on the internet, but rather the mythical creatures. Now trolls often get a lot of bad press in Fantasy stories, but this time they are the central characters, which is a refreshing change to say the least.

 

This one is heavily stepped in Norse mythology, but also adds a lot of social commentary. Which is an interesting concept that made me want to read it. So, why don’t we dive into the world of Fantasy and review Blue on the Horizon: Troll by Rebecca Ferrell Porter.

 

 

About The Author

 

I wasn’t provided any links from the author, so I got a link to her Goodreads page. Feel free to check it out if you wish to follow this author.

 

Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

Cover

 

The cover certainly matches the title, and it is a nice cover. You can see the blue eyes with the aurora borealis, looking over the horizon – so it’s Blue on the Horizon! Get it? Ahem, anyway, I think it works well and certainly attracts attention.

 

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

 

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but what if those eyes reflect your worst fears? Fairies have planted a changeling in the poor troll village of Torv. Gaven’s blue eyes blink out at a world where only fairies bare the pale eyes of the fey. She is declared an abomination, and as the fear oozes through Torv, Gaven is banished and bullied, left to linger in the marsh, where alone, she will not survive. Then, mere heartbeats from the snapping jaws of a fearsome predator, Gaven finds a friend: Azool, the most feared fairy in the valley. How could the trusting trollkin have understood the implications as she enters into an apprenticeship with the duplicitous blue fairy of Torv?

 

The treachery expands as Azool orders her swarm to invade the dragon lair where she forces the mysterious creatures into colorful saddles, and uses the murderous lizards to incinerate the wealthy village of Breen. Azool and her swarm assume everyone is dead, but as Uredd stumbles from the only home he has ever known, his mother’s words echo in his head, ‘he is the one’.

 

With both ends of the valley in turmoil, the fairies start to squeeze the middle, but Azool’s changeling has grown stronger. Still, it will take everything Gaven has to survive the events that follow, but with help from her squabbling friends, she might avoid a fate worse than death.

 

 

What I liked

 

The first thing I liked was the role reversal of the trolls and fairies. Normally, fairies are considered the good guys and the trolls the bad guys. But here, it was the mirror opposite – in fact the fairies are actually really nasty to the poor trolls, wanting to destroy them all, burn their village and even use poor Gaven as part of their plans. It kinda felt like a social commentary, the fairies representing the “master race”, wanting to wipe out the inferior species.

 

In fact, Blue has quite a few social commentaries. Gaven is an outcast because of her blue eyes and is often bullied for it. It brings up a lot of ideas of bullying and the fear of those that are different – something that I’m sure everyone can relate to. It’s a good message and it works well in this context. Thankfully, Gaven does work hard to find acceptance from her people and in the end is able to use her fairy powers to her advantage. Overall the book has a very good moral – and being a Young Adult story that’s important to have.

 

Uredd is the only troll that accepts Gaven for what she is and I have to say the paring worked well together. I have to say, I didn’t really like him as much as Gaven as he didn’t really do a whole lot – but he was there for Gaven where it mattered so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The dragon (Stump I think his name was) was also a great character – he’s one of the funniest and wittiest characters in the books. Think Yoda, but more sarcastic!

 

Each chapter is a POV of the main characters and this is something that I really like, hearing the characters thoughts and seeing things from their own POV. Each chapter is actually pretty short as well (usually about 3-4 pages or so, at least on my kindle) and you can breeze through it in a few moments. I actually read through about twenty chapters in one sitting without realising it. It makes this book really easy and very quick to read.

 

 

What I didn’t like

 

This is where I kinda will contradict my earlier statement. Despite what I said about the short chapters and it being quick to read, not a lot really happens in the book. I’m not saying that there isn’t any storyline, because there is, but most of the time it just focused on Gaven and Uredd’s relationship and trying to settle in and setting up a new home after their first one was destroyed by Azool. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I just felt that some stuff that could have been cut out to get to the action a lot faster.

 

Also, if I’m being honest, I found the final battle with Azool a bit of a cop out. I can’t really say why as it would spoil the ending (and I like to keep spoilers down to a minimum in my reviews as much as possible) but I think the last fight could have been a little more epic, considering all the build up it had. But that’s probably just me nitpicking – I guess once you’ve seen The Battle of the Blackwater or Helm’s Deep, you expect every Fantasy battle to be huge. XD

 

 

PROS (I’m a troll man):

  • Interesting role reversal of the trolls and fairies.
  • Strong moral message.
  • Short chapters makes the story quick to read.
  • Accessible to all ages.

 

CONS (Trollololo):

  • Balance of action and story could have been better for me.
  • Ending a bit of a cop out.

 

 

Summary

 

A nice Fantasy story with a strong moral, based around the theme of acceptance – all set around a magical world of trolls and fairies. If you like stories with a strong message then I recommend you check this one out. It’s suitable for all ages so anyone should enjoy this tale.

 

FINAL SCORE: 4/5

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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