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February 15, 2017

Review: The Blue Moon Narthex



Title: The Blue Moon Narthex
Author: N.J. Donner
Publisher: Steel Page Press
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!


LINKS: Amazon | B&N

Overall Rating:4.5/5
This book in my opinion far surpassed the average quality of middle grade literature.  While I reserve a number five rating for the best of the best, this book was so far up my alley that I couldn’t resist giving it at least a four point five.  I also couldn’t help but be a little biased due to the creative science fiction the book as a whole represented.  Clearly it can be seen that a lot more effort was put into developing the story for this book than most other middle-grade fiction.  More than anything I look forward to reading the future book(s) of this series.


31429077.jpgCover:5/5


Not only do I feel this cover is absolutely spectacular eye candy but I am in love with it’s clever design.  The font is very fitting to the early 1900’s era and is shadowed by the backdrop of dark stone.  Dead center is the symbol described to be on the Blue Moon Narthex itself.  So in a way the cover matches the story in an excellent manner.



Characters:4/5

Cole was the main character of the story.  He fit the stereotypical “chosen one” character that is the lead in these sort of stories.  Even while falling into this stereotype I still found him to be a very enjoyable character and if anything it made it easier to jump right into the story.

Sophie fit the standard intellectual female character role.  Between her love of books and clever nature she was constantly helping the main trio (Including herself) in their adventure.  In many ways she was my favorite character of the story.

Britten is the dumb but loveable friend.  He often brings about comic relief to the story but in many ways was not completely necessary for the story to progress.  Nevertheless he made an excellent support role considering the level of reading this book was targeting.  I’m sure many middle-aged kids will enjoy the jokes and humor he brings to the story.



Plot:4.5/5

The Blue Moon Narthex had a very intriguing plot for a middle-grade novel.  The plot was a little slow at first yet I feel it was necessary to set the tone for this book.  Especially when you consider the fact this book declares to be the first of a series.  I really enjoyed the book much more once it reached its second half.  Between steam-punk styled tech and the ability to travel from one place to another in an instant this book definitely held strong science fiction themes.  There was plenty of action spaced throughout the entire book which kept me glued to the pages and reading.  My only complaint is that I felt the story was cut a little short.  That all might make more sense upon reading future books of the series so I won’t count it against the scoring.



Quotes:

“These won’t be my best clothes after today.” - Cole

“I guess we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.” - Sophie

“A secret latch!” - Britten


ABOUT N.J. DONNER:
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.



Tour Schedule:


Week 1:

Week 2:

Week 3:

Giveaway:
Blue Moon Narthex Swag Box (US Only)

Rafflecopter Code:

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January 10, 2017

Another Book Signing Adventure

An Exciting Book Signing In Menlo Park

So to start things off I just wanted to say that this book signing was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had the privilege of attending.  It all started with a fun filled and Dutch Bros fueled car ride to the Menlo Park library.  Along the way Ashley and I had a blast singing songs in the car and yelling curses at the suicidal maniacs on the road.  One of the most interesting parts of the journey there related to questions Ashley had asked me from the book, The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon.  The questions led to deep and intriguing conversation on everything from a dinner with Abraham Lincoln to the more personal and difficult ones.  I would guess I will not truly understand her questions until I read the book.  Unlike our drive to Leigh Bardugo’s book signing we spent much of this ride laughing and discussing literature.

When we arrived in Menlo Park we made sure to stop by Kepler’s Books.  Which was a very refreshing book store when compared to the generic Barnes and Noble standard.  The entire place seemed more energetic and fun and if I could have stayed longer would have compelled me to fill my entire shelves with books.  I must admit Ashley and I did indulge and make a few purchases while we were there.  How bad can a reading addiction really be though?  Next door we stopped by the lovely Cafe’ Baronne to grab a cool drink and relax for a bit.  Cracking jokes and sipping on an Arnold Palmer can sometimes be the right amount of bliss after a car-ride.  

About an hour before the book signing be made our way to the Menlo Park Library so we could wait in line.  Upon entering the library we attempted to use the elevator.  I am pretty sure I heard a loud clunk and after much waiting we decided to use the stairs.  To our surprise there were only two other people waiting in line before us.  Especially when you consider the fact this event was hosting a panel of five authors.  Needless to say the line grew and eventually we sat in great anticipation of what can only be described as the most comedic banter I have heard outside of a comedy sketch group.

The fantastic panel of five authors were, Jay Kristoff and Aimie Kaufman co-authors of Gemina, Jessica Cluess author of A Shadow Bright and Burning.  Kiersten White author of And I Darken and last but not least Arwen Elys Dayton author of Seeker.  It felt almost instantaneous that the room filled with laughter and intrigue as Jay and Aimie started off by describing the sci-fi book they had written.  Let me clarify that this was laughter joined by Jay and Aimie themselves.  Ranging from discussions on the numerous deaths that occur within their books and researching astronauts having to wear diapers and condoms.  Note that this was only more entertaining while they spoke to us in Australian accents. They also temporarily stole the show by having everyone play a game for a chance to win the honor of being killed in their next book.  All I can say is it involved touching heads and butts.

Kiersten also made quite an entertaining show discussing how Vlad the impaler had influences her recent book.  Just imagine Vlad being a young girl and impaling people.  Jessica made an enjoyable effort and did hit the spotlight with her puns and lighthearted humor.  Which as a debut author showed how much she really cared about what she had written.  The main author that I felt was quite overshadowed by the whole event was Arwen.  This isn’t to say that Arwen’s book didn’t sound enjoyable.  She simply lacked the energetic personality and excitement that inspired the crowd to go forth and read her work.  I would like to say that the fantasy world she had created in Scotland did sound enticing and perhaps I may read some of her books in the future.

All in all I left this event with a warm pleasant feeling.  The authors certainly did their job and made me leave longing to give some of their books a read.  I would like to give this event a 4.9/5, only due to the fact that when Ashley and I rode the elevator back up it seemed like we may die.  Just kidding, this event is definitely deserving every bit of a 5/5.  Hopefully in the near future I will be able to enjoy another trip similar to this one.


Live Long and Prosper,

- Joshua

January 09, 2017

January Update

Hello all and Welcome to Books Buying Beauty the 2017 Edition




 Now onto the mini review;

Spindle
E.K. Johnston
355pgs
Disney Hyperion
12/16


Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars
The concept behind this was amazing but I felt like it fell flat.I didnt really realize how it tied into A Thousand Nights but I guess it does. Overall I think the writing was amazing but the story itself just wasn`t for me. I gave it three stars because I did enjoy the characters and their growth.



I wish you all a Happy New Year.

TTFN,
Ashley

November 23, 2016

Guest Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch 

Author: Susan Dennard
Published On: 01/05/16
Page Count:416
Synopsis:
In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.


Overall Rating: 3.5 / 5
I found this book to be pretty interesting most of the way through, though a bit repetitive at times. It had good character development and a plot that moved along well but it still ended up taking me awhile to finish.

Cover: 3/5
The cover is very pretty and the art is well done, but it has 2 things that I strongly dislike for book covers; Quotes, and a character’s face. I really don’t like quotes from reviewers or anywhere else on book covers, and I also very much prefer to have the main characters left mostly to the imagination of the reader. Both of these things vary in importance to each reader, but I couldn’t grade the cover any higher than a 3 because of these things.

Characters: 4.5 / 5
The character development was the strongest part of this book for me. I found them to be interesting and enjoyable the whole way, with lots of depth.
Safiya: A truthwitch and one of the two main characters of the story, Safi is headstrong and confident. She complements her sister in many ways, and controls one of the most potent and rare magics / witcheries in the world.
Iseult: She is a threadwitch, and close friend / sister to Safi. She is much more timid and sort of the opposite side of the coin to Safi. I found her past very interesting and as the story develops and you learn more about her family, her character gets a lot more depth. She can see the ties that bind people to each other, and so gets to make a lot of discoveries about other characters.
Aeduan: The Bloodwitch who is chasing down the two sisters. This guy is an extremely dangerous individual who is hired to hunt down Safi and Iseult. He too has an intriguing back story, and reasons behind his actions. He starts as an obviously antagonistic character but starts to change as the story moves on.

Plot: 3.5 / 5
The plot is action packed and always has something new going on. I enjoyed the story and the world the author built around these characters. The main gripe I had with the story was what I felt was overuse of the ‘witch’ powers that seemed to govern everything in the story. If there is an element, a metal, even an idea, there is probably a ‘witchery’ for it in the story. I felt that if there was ever any need for a device to move the plot forward, a random new witch power would surface. Everything from water, wind, earth, steel, truth, thread, blood, and fire, there was someone with witch control over it. I think that limiting the use of this magic would make the story a bit more believable and relatable, and it got to be frustrating for me when a new witch was around every corner.

~Brian

November 19, 2016

Will`s First Signing in Seattle,WA

A little more than a month ago Ashley, Walt and I drove to Seattle for the final stop of the Fierce Reads Tour. We left a little before 3:30am, which I thought was overkill at the time. Ash drove until 5 or 6ish. Then Walt took over and we continued until breakfast at 7. The two of them switched off every so often for the drive. I wasn’t allowed to drive Walt’s car so I spent most of the drive sleeping. We arrived at the Hotel a bit before 5 and got some R&R before leaving for the signing at 6.

This was my first book signing, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. There was an unfamiliar energy in the bookstore. A mix of calm excitement and combustible excitement, the kind that threatens to overwhelm you at any moment and burst forth. However any calm would soon be gone, replaced with an outpour of vocalized joy, glee and love of the authors when they came onto the stage.


Once the authors were introduced, Ashley got called out by the moderator. Apparently she had mentioned that she drove over 10 hours and, as a reward for her dedication, was presented with some gift items. Naturally this blew any chance she had of stealthily stalking Leigh Bardugo as the moderator was standing right next to The Queen (that’s what Ashley calls Ms. Bardugo).

video

The event began with a series of questions the moderator had prepared. One of my favorites was centered around how the authors wrote their books. The Queen started off by saying that she skips around. She then elaborated on how and why that process works for her. The next author to answer was Ms. Garcia. She stated that while she has an outline, she skips around in the writing process. While these two were answering, I swear Mr. Roehrig’s face was becoming more baffled. When it was his turn to answer he questioned how the other two could possibly skip around while writing; stating something along the lines of “what happens in chapter 1 directly leads to what happens in chapter 2 which leads to what happens in chapter 3.” This sparked a brilliant volley between The Queen and Ms. Garcia, and Mr. Roehrig. I wish I had the whole debate on video so that you could all see that fantastic back and forth. When the mic finally passed to the fourth and final author, Ms. Mills stated that she does a variation of skipping around. She prefers to write the “good parts first” and then “thread them together.” This sparked another round of back and forth which left Mr. Roehrig hopelessly outnumbered. It was great fun watching this series of exchanges.
video


Some questions later Ms. Mills stated that the new book she is working on, which is a Young Adult Contemporary, involves role playing games (RPGs). I was caught a bit off guard by her statement, as I had not expected a video game, or the world of gamers, to come up at a book signing. As a gamer, I was very pleased to hear that an RPG was going to be referenced in a book. She said that she was shown a RPG by a friend and that “it was surprising to [her], [she] did not expect to get into that.”
video

After the moderator had finished her questions she turned it over for some audience questions. While doing so she offered some prizes to the best questions as chosen by the authors. Admittedly I was only half listening to the questions as I was attempting to think of a really good question. I eventually thought of a question but we were at dinner by then. It was “If you could switch places with any book character and live their life, before, during and after the story, while retaining your personality, who would you switch with and why?” incase you were curious.

After the signing both Ashley and myself went through the line to have The Queen sign our books (they were actually both Ashley’s so I was her stealthy stalking agent) and to try at pulling the Inej card. Sadly neither of us pulled Inej. With the event wrapping up we went across the street to get some dinner before returning to the hotel.


Once at the hotel we proceeded to crash so that we could make the 13 hour (I don’t know why it was so much longer going back than getting there) drive home. We stopped on the way for Voodoo Doughnuts and they were fantastic. I specifically appreciated how they named some of their menu items. If you are ever near one I would highly recommend getting something.

Overall the trip was great. I’m not sure I could’ve asked for a better group of authors for my first book signing. I am looking forward to reading some of these author’s works, especially now that I have had a taste of their unique personalities and learned a bit about their writing processes. I hope to have the opportunity to attend more signings in the future as I definitely enjoyed this experience.

Rating:

A couple of quotes from the night I liked:

“A first draft is like an awkward first date. You’re still getting to know your characters.” - Leigh Bardugo

“No means no!” - Mikaleb Roehrig on nonlinear writing

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