Friday, March 20, 2015

Ellen March - Love on the Menu - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Jago Tanner is a loner. He works up a good hunger at his outdoors pursuits centre in Wales and looks upon each female conquest as just another meal. When he’s sated, he doesn’t go back for dessert. Until Riley shows up. A Londoner hired through an agency to assist him with activities, she isn’t at all what he asked for. For starters, with the name Riley, he expected a man. But Riley is all woman—the sexiest woman Jago has ever laid eyes on. Unfortunately she dresses like a trollop and curses like a sailor. Though ignorant about most outdoors pursuits, she’s a skilled horsewoman, able to calm even his nerviest stallion. And her lively and generous nature enchants his housekeeper Emily and his ancient friend, Tom.

In short, Jago’s new employee is a bundle of contradictions. Which is why, when Jago falls for her, he doesn’t trust his feelings. Riley seems unusually accident prone, and when her brother’s shady friends menace her, she plays the innocent. But how can anyone so self-sufficient and mouthy also be so trusting and naïve? And can a man with Jago’s volatile nature endure the jealousy a woman like Riley provokes just by strolling down the street?


My Review

Cowboys in Wales?

It certainly makes for an intriguing concept.

Alas, there aren't any Stetsons or pickup trucks in this novel, but there are plenty of boots and saddles to go around. Wide open spaces give way to the bleakness of a rough and rugged mountain range, while the wind-swept moors stand in for the prairie heartland. Yet that fierce independent spirit of the Old West remains the same on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cowboys make good romantic heroes, whether they have a British accent or not.

Tyrian is the rustic domain of Jago Tanner. It's the name of the country estate he inherited from his uncle and turned into an outdoor pursuits centre. It's the type of place where corporate types go to bond outside the office with Jago as their naturalist guide. However, it turns out Jago's not a steer-wrestling, bronco-bucking rodeo star. In fact, he's more like a stock broker in tight fitting jeans than some cattle rustler. Jago has a shrewd hand in managing his finances, knowing how to build upon his family's wealth. While his large fortune allows him to indulge in his passion of being in the great outdoors full time, it doesn't necessarily make him happy.

And the small neighboring village is well aware of the moodiness of their most affluent resident. Jago is known for getting into fights, even though he always walks away the winner. That's because he's a big, strapping guy that no one ever gets the best of. He's brash and arrogant. The kind of man who's used to getting his way.

That's why the patrons of the local pub cheer when they see a girl like Riley Smith put him in his place. They've been waiting a long time to see Jago taken down a few pegs, and she's just the girl to do it. The old toothless sheep farmers, with bailing cord holding up their trousers and muddy wellies on their feet, enjoy watching Riley get Jago all flustered. He's usually the one leaving women speechless, including the eighty-three-year-old barkeep, until Riley takes him on.

Jago's not safe anywhere now that she's arrived. He's getting it at home, as well as in the village. His longtime cook, Emily, places herself firmly in Riley's camp. She was taken with the young lass as soon as she walked through the door, hoping her cantankerous employer finally met his match. Emily delights along with the rest of the villagers in introducing the young Londoner to some of the area's signature dishes from a made from scratch potato pie pastry to cawl, a piping hot vegetable lamb stew. Riley is someone who's used to eating frozen dinners or grabbing takeaway whenever she has spare change. So she wastes no time in scarfing down these home-cooked meals, letting them dribble down her chin, much to Jago's chagrin.

Jago always expected the woman he'd fall in love with to be dignified and ladylike. He never dreamed that he'd fall for a foul-mouthed bartender with nothing but a broken-down Volkswagen Beetle to her name. Riley only has a few quid in her pocket, yet she's willing to spend it on him, buying him a thank you gift for letting her keep her job at Tyrian as his assistant. She had no experience when he hired her, but he kept his word, giving her the chance to prove herself.

Little does Riley know that she might actually become the lady of the manor in the very near future, if Jago has any say in the ending to this rags to riches tale.

***

Love on the Menu can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble 
Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 244
Genre: Steamy Cowboy Romance
Release: February 14, 2015
Publisher: Fanny Press
ISBN: 9781603815680
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Ellen March and her husband live on top of a mountain in Wales, which is ideal in the summer but not so much in the winter months or when it rains. She has three grown children, one suicidal cat--it really does have nine lives--and three Alaskan Malamutes. One of her hobbies is showing and working them. Ellen's first love, however, is reading and writing. Since childhood, she has devoured every romance and fantasy she can get her hands on and enjoys acting out her own fantasies in print. Her body of work includes erotic romance, psychological thrillers, and supernatural fantasies. Fanny Press has published three of her erotic romances--Promises, His Girl Friday, and A Ghost of an Affair--and will be publishing more in 2015 and beyond.

Links to connect with Ellen:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Friday, March 6, 2015

Sharon St. George - Due for Discard - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Aimee Machado is thrilled to be starting her first job as a forensic librarian at the medical center in the town of Timbergate, north of Sacramento, California. Her ebullient mood is somewhat dampened by her recent breakup with her former live-in boyfriend, Nick Alexander. And then there's a little matter of murder: on Aimee's first day on the job, a body is found in a nearby Dumpster and soon identified as her supervisor's wife, Bonnie Beardsley.

Aimee's heartbreaker of a brother and best friend, Harry, just happens to be one of the last people to see Bonnie alive, but he is hardly the only suspect. Bonnie was notorious for her wild partying and man-stealing ways, and she has left a trail of broken hearts and bitterness. Aimee is determined to get her brother off the suspect list.

Aimee's snooping quickly makes her a target. Isolated on her grandparents' llama farm where she fled post-breakup, she realizes exactly how vulnerable she is. Three men have pledged to protect her: her brother Harry, her ex, Nick, and the dashing hospital administrator with a reputation for womanizing, Jared Quinn. But they can't be on the alert every minute, not when Aimee is so bent on cracking the case with or without their help.

Book 1 in a new mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Aimee Machado.


My Review

Race is a complex issue. Yet in fiction when it's dealt with subtly, it can make such a strong impact. A competent writer can take readers inside the skin of a character and have them feel what it's like to go through life as a person of color, or an ethnicity different from their own. Understated prejudices run just as deep as any verbal slur or uttered epithet. Oftentimes, daily interactions are tinged with an undercurrent of mistrust backed by false assumptions. The individual isn't seen, only the stereotype.

In the opening of DUE FOR DISCARD, Aimee Machado is confronted with the question, "You're not from around here are you?" Even though she's the new research librarian at Timbergate Medical Center. Even though she just received her master's degree from Southern Connecticut State University. She's no dummy, yet the security guard views her with suspicion because she's half Portuguese, half Chinese. She doesn't look like everyone else so for him it automatically throws up a red flag. She's targeted solely for her skin color, and this ignorant authority figure makes her feel the sting.

It's not the first time that Aimee's stood out in her hometown, a rural section of Northern California that's predominantly white. In fact, it's the reason why growing up she learned how to defend herself by studying martial arts at the local dojo. One particular childhood incident really left its mark on her. She still harbors painful memories of the day she laid into a bully on the school bus, breaking his finger in the process. It was the only time she ever resorted to violence, yet to this day she continues to carry with her a reluctance to hurt anyone. Afraid of her own strength, so to speak.

However, when her brother, Harry, is viewed as a suspect in the murder of Bonnie Beardsley, the wife of a prominent plastic surgeon, Aimee's fears are quick to resurface. Harry is a fit, good-looking guy who's known around town as the successful architect who just landed the new mall project. However, he was seen coming out of his abode with the beautiful, blonde Mrs. Beardsley hours before her disappearance. It doesn't take long for the police to point the finger at Harry, especially when the evidence indicates there may have been a sexual component to the crime, as well.

But the suggestion is preposterous since Harry recently saved Aimee from being raped by the brother of a police officer. When Aimee pulled over to check out a flat tire, she was jumped from behind and nearly assaulted before Harry showed up. Harry was charged with using excessive physical force to protect his sister, and the assailant was sent to prison. Yet the pall cast on his brother's law enforcement career continued to fester, accounting for the eagerness of the police department to pin Mrs. Beardsley's murder on Harry. But the corruption doesn't stop there, because it turns out this particular officer is also bedding the female DA.

It's no wonder that Aimee says that her twin blisters are jealousy and insecurity. The Machados have worked hard to maintain their exceptional reputation in the community, and now it looks like it'll all be for nothing. After their father retired, the family business was left to Harry, and he thought he was on the right track until his fiancée left him because her parents didn't want their grandchildren to look foreign. That's when Harry started shacking up with random women. In the book, he never admits to sleeping with Bonnie Beardsley at any time before her death, but he does claim that she tried to get him in a lip lock when he walked her to her car, insisting that he thwarted her advances and pushed her away.

Yet it seems like the Machado siblings don't have much luck when it comes to love. One of Aimee's hard-and-fast rules is to never date a cheater, and when she thinks she catches her boyfriend, Nick, with another woman, she cuts off all ties with him. Her heart aches because it was the first time she ever considered herself to be truly in love, yet she stubbornly guards her heart, refusing to believe that he might actually be telling the truth when he said nothing happened between him and his ex-girlfriend.

Nick knows how rare a woman like Aimee is. Nothing about her smacks of manipulation or pretense and he claims that he'd never do anything to jeopardize losing her. However, Nick doesn't give up on Aimee. He's determined to help her prove Harry's innocence, no matter how much she keeps pushing him away.

And Aimee needs that kind of loyalty when Bonnie Beardsley's husband makes a play for her. The philandering doctor doesn't waste any time pursuing Aimee after his wife's tragic death. Aimee knows that he has a penchant for exotic-looking women and every time he looks at her she feels like he's envisioning her in a kimono. He's enthralled by her chameleon-like tendency to transform from Mulan to Pocahontas, but his interest in her just plays into all of the insecurities she has about herself. She feels that when a man like him looks at her eyes and cheekbones, all he thinks is concubine and the only time he thinks wife is when he comes across a blue-eyed blonde like Bonnie.

The author, Sharon St. George, nails the tone of what she's trying to express through the character of Aimee with the clever title, DUE FOR DISCARD. It's a librarian's term for the stamp placed on outdated books and periodicals. Aimee knows that that stamp was already placed on Bonnie Beardsley when her body was found in a Dumpster outside the hospital, and she has no intention of the same thing happening to her, or her brother. No amount of racial profiling is going to pin the buxom blonde's murder on them, not if Aimee has anything to say about it.

***

Due for Discard can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Pages: 340
Genre: Detective Murder Mystery
Release: March 1, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812238
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Sharon St. George had the good fortune to spend an idyllic childhood in a small northern California town, riding horseback and camping with her family in the nearby mountains. One of her favorite pastimes was reading fiction, and a trip to the library was always an occasion of great joy. She’s traded horses for llamas, but she still treks to the high mountain lakes near her home—always with a mystery novel in her backpack. Sharon’s writing credits include three plays, several years writing advertising copy, a book on NASA’s space food project, and feature stories too numerous to count. She holds dual degrees in English and Theatre Arts, and occasionally acts in, or directs, one of her local community theater productions. Sharon is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and she serves as program director for Writers Forum, a nonprofit organization for writers in northern California.

Links to connect with Sharon:
Web Site
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Friday, December 12, 2014

Cristelle Comby - Danse Macabre - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are hired to succeed where the police have failed, to safely return home a missing ballerina. With no lead to pursue and no idea who could be behind the young woman’s kidnapping, they soon find themselves at a loss as to what to do.

To make matters worse, the heart of England seems to be caught in the middle of a little Ice Age. With snow endlessly falling and Tube lines either too cramped up to use or out of service, it is a pain to do any legwork in the huge metropolis.

Oh, and because trouble never comes alone, there may also be a serial killer on the loose in the streets of East London...


My Review

"I will always come and find you."

That's Alexandra Neve's promise—to her blind investigating partner whenever he gets in trouble, to the kidnapped women she hopes to rescue, to the serial killer she has in her crosshairs. Yet, her doggedness turns her into a magnet for danger. Her life is threatened on more than one occasion, but she channels her fear, using it to fuel her passion for her life's work because once she's involved in a case, she can't stop until she solves it. It drives her, consumes her. She views her job like a chess game, making strategic moves against an invisible opponent, one who's determined to win at all costs.

But she has one weakness—the well being of her fellow investigator, Ashford Egan. He knew he was going to lose his sight before it happened, but he still wasn't prepared for how alone it would make him feel. His mother was more concerned about finding an impossible cure than in helping him adjust to his condition. His father retreated into his work and virtually turned his back on him, so Ashford was left with no one, until Alexandra entered his life, changing it forever. She was his student at University College London and together they left academia and embarked on this new endeavor together, opening their own private eye agency.

Now they're hunting a murderer who turns his victims into puppets made of flesh and bone, the horrid tableaus at the crime scenes eliciting nothing but wretched disgust in those unfortunate to witness them. Young girls are being mutilated for no reason—talented girls who excel in the performing arts from choir soloists and concert pianists to prima ballerinas and reality show singers. The killer's after something in particular, Alexandra and Ashford just aren't sure what.

But there's one thing standing in their way—"the curse of the uniform." Detective Matthew Stenson of London's Metropolitan Police Force is more than a little interested in Alexandra. He helps them with the case, putting his job in jeopardy as he becomes more and more disillusioned with the blatant corruption in his department. Ashford doesn't get in the way of their burgeoning relationship, but it's worth noting that Alexandra spends the majority of her time with her partner and not with her copper boyfriend. She teases Ashford about being 'Mr. No Social Life' but she's just as guilty when it comes to not making room in her life for romance. She'd rather work a case with Ashford than risk being stood up on dates that Stenson keeps canceling.

While it's hard to schedule alone time with Stenson, Alexandra has no problem getting through to Ashford. She's able to look past his anger, hurt and pain and really listen to him, knowing that what he's really trying to say is, "Don't leave me." Ashford doesn't want Alexandra to "mother-hen him," viewing him as a child in constant need of her help and attention, yet somehow she always seems to know exactly what he needs from her, clearly making him her number one priority.

Their friendship is heartfelt, yet humorous. When they climb down a ladder and into the tube system, she tells him to stop looking at her bum, even though he certainly can't see it. When she guides him through tight quarters placing his hands on her hips, the moment is likened to their dancing in a conga line. She helps him unzip his coat and he ribs her about always wanting to undress him. She gets back at him by encouraging him to order a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey in Braille, even though he has no clue what the book's about. They ease the high stakes tension by joking around with each other, but there's more to it than that. When they're interrogating a witness and Ashford clenches his fist, he relaxes only at Alexandra's touch. After his apartment is burglarized and he's alone and bleeding, the first person he calls is Alexandra, and she drops everything to come to his aid.

Clearly, they're two parts of the same whole, but sometimes Alexandra questions if their laid back approach is getting in the way of the job. She kicks herself when they miss the killer by mere minutes and instead discover the body of yet another victim. She regrets taking so many breaks, feeling like they're not taking the case seriously enough, thinking they're capable of doing more. But when Ashford's eyes glaze over and become as dead as those of the victim they were too late to save, she knows something's wrong, and that she needs to slow down, pull back and be there for him. They're both dealing with a lot, but Alexandra knows that Ashford comes first, and always will, because that's what she promised him, and she never goes back on her promises.

***

Danse Macabre can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $11.99 paperback
Pages: 254
Genre: New Adult, Detective Mystery
Release: October 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781502723772
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.

Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.

She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

Danse Macabre is her third new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.

Links to connect with Cristelle:
Web Site
Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram
Blog Tour Site


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Monday, December 8, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - Once Upon a Time in America - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

With Lance leading the way, the Knights of the Round Table have set out to convince the American people that amending the Constitution to protect children is right and just and long overdue. As the team travels from state to state, they are met with acceptance, indifference, and even hostility. But Lance’s popularity and mystique as The Boy Who Came Back, coupled with his innate charm, gradually sway more and more of the populace, not to mention state legislators, to their cause.

The journey becomes a rite of passage that propels the young people into adulthood, and solidifies Lance’s status as an iconic and influential figure.

But he’s uneasy. He knows Arthur is hiding something from him, something that will bring him great sadness. After The Excalibur Incident in Las Vegas, Lance becomes more and more certain that the future is one he won’t like, despite his stunning success at winning over some of the most intractable states.

Then comes the attack, sudden and brutal.

Now the Round Table is in disarray, and Lance must confront a cold-blooded killer who’s luring him into an obvious trap. But if he refuses the challenge, more loved ones will die, and everything he’s fought for will die with them. Surrounded by the diverse young knights who have become his family, Lance sets out to battle his enemy with the knowledge deep in his heart that only one of them will survive. Is this the end of the Round Table?

The Knight Cycle concludes…


My Review

Self absorption—the danger of living in a world full of Facebook status updates, Instagram selfies and tweet after tweet about me, myself and I.

Lance Pendragon knows a little something about that—being the most famous boy in the world and the adopted son of the legendary King Arthur—but he takes a different path. He doesn't use his notoriety to promote himself, instead he works to obtain social justice for others, seeking to give all American children their own Bill of Rights. However, he's not just about lobbying Congressmen or schmoozing with the President, Lance relishes mingling with the ordinary people he meets along the campaign trail from chain restaurants to hotel lobbies, passing out New Camelot stickers and bobbleheads to the eager, young fans who cross his path, inspiring them by the good example he sets.

Lance's popularity stems from the public latching on to him as the figurehead they're so desperately seeking in this day and age. Even his fellow knights look up to him, urging him to keep walking the straight and narrow, one of them begging him, "You're too good, Lance. I need you to stay that way. Please." Lance is the role model people are craving, a person they can genuinely admire. Yet their devotion requires that he "stay pure and unsullied…to be a hero." By taking up the mantle, Lance agrees to a sort of death to self when he responds to their plea of, "You're our king. There's no you anymore. There's only us."

Lance's purpose in life is no longer about individual accolades, it's about advancing the greater good. Author Michael J. Bowler makes an excellent case in comparing the knights' group effort toward bettering the community versus personal academic achievement. Bowler makes the argument that "[the knights] accomplished so much more than winning a scholarship because [their] deeds were aimed at helping others, not [themselves]." He theorizes that students don't want to be limited to spitting out memorized facts on standardized tests simply to get into a good college, they want to be challenged in the classroom and outside of it.

Arthur's followers shoulder each other's burdens, and share each other's pain. They are teenagers dealing with a lot of outside pressures amid a slew of temptations that could easily get them in trouble. Arthur teaches them to be there for each other and to lighten the personal struggles that each and every one of them is dealing with. Lance and Dakota are recovering alcoholics and they watch out for each other, making sure they don't fall off the wagon when things get tough. That sense of camaraderie is what binds the knights together and makes them strong. They can only "carry the world" when they lift up each other.

This selflessness in action is the way Lance looks out for his younger adopted brother, Chris. Lance will never put his own needs above those of his little brother. He doesn't shirk his duty, instead he gladly takes on the responsibility. Lance always puts Chris first. In the final pages of the book, Lance has a choice. He can either gratify his own desires, or he could be there for Chris at a time when his little brother needs him the most. What Lance does provides a telling glimpse into the character of the man he's become on this crusade.

Bowler's much anticipated conclusion is bittersweet, yet full of resonance. There's a scene where all of the characters get to let loose and enjoy each other's company, after making it through quite a harrowing ordeal in Washington, D.C. Bowler describes it thus: "At times like this with everyone just having fun, we're all exactly what God had in mind when he made us—human." It's a fitting sentiment for saying goodbye to these characters, and getting a chance to see them happy and fulfilled. Bowler drives home that time is fleeting and only one thing matters—the people who fill up the days and hours of a person's life. As King Arthur shares with Lance, "You have been the greatest gift I ever received, and you will live on in my heart for eternity." Bowler succeeds in heralding how love endures when a person's heart is truly given to another, expecting nothing in return, through the compelling guise of Camelot.

***

Once Upon a Time in America can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 328
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: November 12, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990871101
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of seven novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, and Once Upon A Time In America.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed he and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He is currently at work on a horror/suspense novel based on his screenplay, “Healer.”

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Tumblr
Pinterest
Instagram
Blog Tour Site


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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - And The Children Shall Lead - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The campaign to save California’s children was only the beginning. Now King Arthur and his Round Table of teenaged knights set their sights on fixing something even bigger – the entire country. How? By targeting America’s most sacred document – The Constitution.

Native American teens Kai and Dakota, despite harboring secrets of their own, join the team, and swear undying loyalty to Lance. They carry the hope of their people that the crusade will better the lives of Indian children, who are the most neglected by government. This new campaign will take the young people to The White House, the halls of Congress, and beyond in their quest to change the prevailing opinion that children are property, rather than human beings in their own right.

But an unseen nemesis stalks Lance and Arthur, and ratchets up the attacks on New Camelot, promising to kill them and destroy all that the king has put in place. Lance, Ricky, Kai, and Dakota become the enemy’s favorite targets, and barely escape with their lives on more than one occasion. Who is this mysterious stalker, and what is the motive for these attacks? Lance has no idea, especially since he’s never intentionally hurt anyone.

“You were right, little boy, death is coming for you, but slowly, and only after it takes out the people you love.” That chilling promise haunts Lance, but also strengthens his determination to protect the people he loves at all costs. Or die trying.

The Knight Cycle Continues…


My Review

There's something to be said about a continuing series with a revolving cast of characters.

It never gets old.

It always stays fresh.

That's what makes Michael J. Bowler's THE KNIGHT CYCLE—an anthology of five, full length, YA novels—something truly special.

As a modern day version of King Arthur's Round Table, teenage knights come and go—literally live and die—but the heart of the story remains the same. The saga revolves around the plight of Lance and his journey into adulthood, but it's so much more than that. It's about the people he meets along the way, and how they shape his perspective on what it means to lead such a diverse group of individuals.

This time around, Lance is introduced to two Native American boys, Dakota and Kai, when they crash New Camelot's Thanksgiving dinner. They turn up unexpectedly after leaving the reservation determined to let Lance know how their rights are being violated, hoping he can help them put an end to the rampant pattern of abuse afflicting their people. Children are being taken away by the government and sold to white families. Non-native adults are committing heinous criminal acts against native children, but under current law are unable to be prosecuted under their jurisdiction. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, without even bringing into question the lack of internet access to the outside world, the flagrant alcoholism pandemic to Native culture and the lack of opportunities available to young men like Dakota and Kai once they reach the age of eighteen.

And the two new recruits couldn't be more different, personality wise.

Dakota is dubbed 'Sir Cloudy Boy' because of his recalcitrant attitude. He doesn't talk much and he often keeps to himself. He's harboring a lot of guilt for the mistakes he made in his past which caused him to become estranged from his mother. He wants above all else to be known as a warrior, someone who's dependable and strong, but he's going through quite an identity crisis in terms of the person he is on the inside versus the image he's trying to project to the outside world. He doesn't think the two match up and it's causing him a lot of grief because he can find no peace due to the inner turmoil raging inside of him.

Kai is affectionally knighted as 'Sir Laughs A Lot' because of his sunny, lighthearted disposition. He's the raging optimist to Dakota's gloomy pessimist. But he's not simply a one-dimensional contrast to Dakota's more developed backstory, he's the shining example of a boy with a healthy, positive self-image. He's okay with himself, and he's not afraid to show it. While Dakota grapples with his identity as a man, Kai does not come across nearly as tortured. He comes of age with grace and dignity without making it into the painful, agonizing process that Dakota puts himself through.

In a way, they're echoes of Lance and Ricky, the emo boy versus the tenderhearted guy. Lance battles his problem with alcohol addiction, as does Dakota, whenever they're in danger of reliving past trauma. Ricky and Kai play more of a supporting role to these troubled youth, but only because they've faced the same demons themselves and have come out better and stronger on the other side. They teach Lance and Dakota that love can light their way out of the darkness too. They don't have to let their pasts define them.

Bowler does a commendable job of weaving these new faces into his ongoing narrative thread. He's not a fan of labels but he broadens the scope of his story by branching out to all different races and nationalities, encompassing everybody as the story goes on. All ethnic groups, ages and genders are represented from Latinos (Lance, Ricky and Esteban) to Native Americans (Dakota and Kai) to African Americans (Justin and Brooks) to Asians (Techie) to Caucasians (Chris) to women (Reyna and Jenny) to middle age and older (Arthur and Merlin). Bowler leaves no one out. Anyone who picks up this series will be able to relate to one or more of the characters. They're all human, and they all make mistakes, but they do so together, as a unit, as a family, and that's what makes Bowler's take on adolescent angst stand out from all the rest—it's inclusive. Everyone's welcome at the Round Table.

***

And The Children Shall Lead can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 302
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: September 25, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990306368
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About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of seven novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, and Once Upon A Time In America.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed he and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He is currently at work on a horror/suspense novel based on his screenplay, “Healer.”

Links to connect with Michael:
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Blog Tour Site


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