#BookReview Steve & FranDan #BlogTour @RonButlinMakar @BCKidsBooks @BirlinnBooks #ScottishAuthor

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We are delighted to be part of the Steve & FranDan book blog tour. Allison Brady is our guest reviewer for this spot, we are over the moon to feature her review today.  Find out what Allison thought about the trio’s adventures. Steve & FranDan is out in paperback and on Kindle.


Synopsis |

Steve has had enough – enough of cyber-bullies, enough of adults messing up the world. Sharp-witted Fran and her brother worry-wart Dan feel exactly the same. And so, along with his dog Nessie, Steve and the FranDan twins leave town in the dead of night to start on the biggest adventure of their lives…

But if things were bad before, they soon get worse. Much, much worse. Some seriously bad men show up. Why have Steve and Dan been overpowered and led away as prisoners? Why are they kept tied up in the barn of a disused farm?

Having managed to escape, and with no way to call for help, Fran knows it’s up to her to mount a one-woman rescue.

| Review |

This tour de force of teenage related adventure and social issues is a modern day famous five with an edge, and five are four. Fran and twin Dan, Steve and his faithful four legged friend Nessie have had enough of everyday pressures and run away to take time out, especially from Cyber Bully Thor.

The adventure is dramatic and will easily hook readers into wanting to know what happens, will they survive. There’s a lot of adult themes raised throughout the book including drugs, guns, alcoholism, bullying and bad parenting, refugees, suicide to name but a few. There is also the use of bad language and given this I would rate the age band more at 12 plus but that’s just my personal view.

The characters are very addictive and the comradery between them all leaves a warm cosy feeling whilst reading. As the plot thickens and the adventure takes on a new dangerous twist, this story is actually quite hard to put down.

The cover is very attractive and appealing and the layout is perfect, well-spaced prose and images on each page gives a visual cue to make reading more pleasurable.

This would make a fabulous series of adventure books for children and I certainly hope there are more on the way.

By Allison Brady on behalf of Love Books Group

| Buy Link |

| Kids Books by Ron Butlin | 

I don’t think I have ever enjoyed writing a book so much as my recently published and first-ever YA novel, a thriller for kids (for 10 to 14 year-olds). Steve & FranDan Take on the World is a rattling adventure story involving hidden treasure, baddies, captures, escapes – you name it! To my delight kids seem to love it. ‘An awesome story with meaning,’ says one 12 year-old critic on LoveReading4Kids. Others chime in saying ‘I enjoyed it so much I stayed up till 11pm each night to finish it.’ ‘Humorous, exciting, packed with adventure.’ ‘I couldn’t put this book down as it was such a good book.’ ‘Brilliant . . . I would give this 5/5.’

For most of my life, I’ve been a literary novelist and poet – I was the Edinburgh Poet Laureate for six years –and writing for children has opened up a completely new and exciting world. Better late than never! Two years ago I found myself writing a poem that just got wilder and wilder. It was anarchic flight of fancy about tiny creatures who lived under the Edinburgh streets and came out to create mayhem and havoc. Most of all, they came out to have fun:

‘We are the trolls and we live underground,

We’re tangle-haired, curly-eared tiny and round . . .

For breakfast we feast on gutter-fish roast,

on drain-slime, slug stew, squid eyes on toast,

Our Troll Day treat is Rat-on-a-stick

That we eat . . . and we eat . . . and we eat . . . till we’re sick!

We smash things, crash things, making folk mad,

Doing our worst to be badder than BAD!’

When I read it out loud to my wife Regi, she said that kids would really enjoy it, and I should get the poem illustrated and published as soon as possible. So I did! Enter James Hutcheson, who took the manuscript of Here Come the Trolls!and created the Troll-look – mischief on two legs!

After our first school event, at Trinity Primary in Edinburgh, a little boy who was only just slightly bigger than a troll himself, came up and threw his arms around my legs – he couldn’t reach any higher – and said ‘I love you!’ Believe me, you never get that sort of heartfelt response at a poetry reading.

And so, after five novels (including The Sound of My Voice which was twice an international prize-winner and Ghost Moon which was nominated for the International IMPAC Award 2016) and ten collections of poetry (‘Butlin is the best, the most productive Scottish poet of his generation,’ says the Scotsman) I am at last discovering the true joys of creativity.

I began Steve & FranDan Take on the World when I was getting on a bus one day. Some words popped into my head that I guessed might be the beginning of a new story or even a new novel. As I took my seat the words started to become a sentence. Which then suggested a second sentence. Rather unexpected sentences. But there you go.  By the time I got off at my stop Steve & FranDan were urging me home to get on with their adventure.

Who was Steve, what were ‘FranDan’ and what on earth were they up to? Then a dog appeared, Nessie, who resembles our own dog Leila, especially when it comes to her appetite! I never think about what I’m writing – for me, thinking always gets in the way. Too much thinking too soon – and everything grinds to a halt. Best is when I take whatever my imagination gives me, and then run with it. This time, things just kept getting more and more exciting. Within a fortnight I was waking up in the middle of the night and my first thought was – how are Steve & FranDan going to get out of THIS! Some readers claim to have been so gripped they read nearly the whole book in one sitting. All agree it is a real page-turner. I know that when I was writing it, I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to discover what was going to happen next!

If I were a teenager I would be so angry. Angry at the mess grown-ups are making of the world – pollution, global warming, terrorism, knife crime, drugs, online porn, child slavery – to name but a few of the things kids now have to cope with from an increasingly early age. Not to mention the likes of Trump, a presidential ‘role model’ who seems to believe that telling the truth is for wimps. And who’s going to be left to clean up this mess? Kids like Steve and FranDan. In the first book they take on cyber-bullies. Their second adventure is almost completed – at this very moment Steve and FranDan are onboard a boat, battling with an international gang of people-traffickers while a storm rages all around them. I’m sure they’re going to survive – but how? I can’t wait to get back to writing the story and find out!

Ron Butlin



Huge thanks to Ron Butling and BC Kids Books for the opportunity.  Allison Brady, thank you so much for reviewing. I do hope this is the first of many for the blog.

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