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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

ARC Review and Giveaway! The Blue Moon Narthex by N.J. Donner

Please Note:  I received an advanced reader's copy (ARC) of this book from Irish Banana Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis:
The balance of good and evil has been left in the hands of a thirteen year old...

Since the beginning of time, Karmanic matter worked silently and unassisted keeping good and evil in balance, until growing greed in the world meant Karma couldn’t keep up. As World War I rages, the secret Karmanic Sovereign Legion works behind the scenes to help Karma.

A suspicious train accident and an odd stone-shaped object that belonged to his father thrust Cole McCarthy and two schoolmates into the middle of this battle to keep dark forces in check.

With only the powerful stone, a letter, and grandfatherly Norm to guide them, the trio must unravel clues and tap into unknown strengths to discover who Cole’s father really was and keep themselves and those they love safe.

Includes chapter 1 of book 2 in the Karmanic Sovereign Legion series!


Review:
I truly love fantasy books and there have been plenty of them for middle grade readers over the years.  But, as much as I love J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan, I am always on the lookout for a new, fun series.  The Blue Moon Narthex, by N.J. Donner, is entertaining and a promising start to a fantasy series for middle grade readers.

What I Liked:
The Narthex Lore:
I thought the explanation of Karma and the KSL (Karmanic Sovereign Legion) was really fun.  A secret society helps the world by trying to keep Karma in balance.  People in the society use a Narthex to move from place to place on missions. 

The Narthexes themselves were intriguing and kind of like the wands in Harry Potter.  Each Narthex is unique and seems to be meant for only one person.  But they can be stolen and used (somewhat less effectively) by others, so a Narthex is guarded fiecely.

There is also a good explanation of the concept of karma that I think is accessible to younger readers.  This book does not go into any religion's theology, so I think the reader will understand karma without it being associated with religion. 

Characters:
I really liked Cole, the main character.  He is thirteen years old and just trying to figure out who he is when he is left without his father (his mother died years ago).  I thought the author found just the right balance for Cole between awkward child and emerging young teen.  Cole is angry about his relationship with his father and feels dad put work in front of his family.  That is something I think many kids can identify with.

Norman (a friend of Cole's dad) is also a great character.  There is more to Norman than meets the eye, and as the book progresses we see why he was Richard's best friend.  

I also appreciated that Cole's stepmother was not the stereotype "evil" stepmom.  She is a complicated person who emerges as someone who loves Cole as a mother would, even when it is not reciprocal. 

Themes:
I think one of the main themes in this book is the transition from child to teen.  Children usually see the world only in terms of themselves.  They have a hard time getting the big picture.  I think, as Cole learns how his parents were involved in the KSL, he comes to understand that his parents were working to make the world a better place.  Sometimes, that meant they couldn't be doting parents.  But they still loved him.


What I Was Mixed About:
Historical Setting:
The story is set during WWI in 1917, yet I never really got a sense that this was happening in that time.  I wish there had been more details about the war and how people lived at that time.  It would have provided a contrast and added to the wonder the characters felt at all the secret technology being used by the KSL.

I also felt that Sophie's character should have been put in an historical context.  In the book, Sophie is given immense opportunities to learn and participate in the KSL.   At a time when many girls did not even go to high school, Sophie being allowed to learn, work, and contribute, would have been astonishing.  I wish that Sophie's role as a trailblazer would have been acknowledged and explored.   I feel it was a missed opportunity.

Confusing, At Times:
With the vast amount of information presented to the reader, the book became confusing in parts.  There are many characters that make very brief appearances and then are gone for long stretches.  This left me thumbing through my copy, trying to figure out who they were.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  With lots of action, a cool mythology, and an engaging main character, this novel is a fun introduction to the Karmanic Sovereign Legion series. 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31429077-the-blue-moon-narthex?ac=1&from_search=true

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0997476311/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=sl1&tag=theiribanrev-20&linkId=c5bb454b111c74a01d15ec8048fdff55
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-blue-moon-narthex-nj-donner/1125553120;jsessionid=0B3F7F2F366A0F8FC2084D55641834BF.prodny_store02-atgap02?ean=9780997476316&st=AFF&2sid=Goodreads,%20Inc_2227948_NA&sourceId=AFFGoodreads,%20IncM000004

Rating: 





Release Date:  February 7th, 2017

Genre:  Middle Grade Fantasy

Source:  Irish Banana Blog Tours

Format:  Hardcover book

Recommendation:  A promising start to this series, this should be entertaining for middle grade readers.

Giveaway Time:
Blue Moon Narthex Swag Box (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About The Author:

N.J. Donner is the author of the new Karmanic Sovereign Legion books. N.J. loves to explore. The world fascinates him and he wants to figure out why and how things work, including Karma.

College adventures took N.J. far from his small Nebraska hometown to the southern hemisphere and the inner city. This was the beginning of his wanderlust and today he loves to travel with his wife, Amanda, and their three children.

N.J. became the first person to graduate with a minor in international affairs from Nebraska Wesleyan University and spent the years right out of college building a successful steel company.




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