Friday, June 27, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - Running Through a Dark Place - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

King Arthur and his extraordinary young Knights used ‘might’ for ‘right’ to create a new Camelot in the City of Angels. They rallied the populace around their cause, while simultaneously putting the detached politicians in check. But now they must move forward to even greater heights, despite what appears to be an insurmountable tragedy.

Their new goal is lofty: give equality to kids fourteen and older who are presently considered adults only when they break the law. Arthur’s crusade seeks to give them real rights such as voting, driving, trading high school for work, and sitting as jurors for their peers charged with criminal behavior.

Understanding that the adults of California will likely be against them, Arthur and his Knights must determine how best to win them over.

However, before the king can even contemplate these matters, he finds himself face to face with an ally from the past, one who proves that everything isn’t always what it seems – even life and death.

The Knight Cycle Continues…

My Review

Heart. That's what fills the writings of Michael J. Bowler. Love, empathy, a warm embrace of humanity, together equals a special kind of goodness that flows through his pages. To be blunt, if you don't like to feel, then don't read his work. But if you're okay with getting emotional, he has the ability to tug at your heartstrings like no one else can.

This unique quality is most apparent in the character of John, an eleven-year-old boy dying of cancer who uses his Make-A-Wish to meet Lance, the lynchpin to King Arthur's return to glory in twenty-first century Los Angeles. Yes, this is a fantasy novel, but the realistic way it's written makes it fascinatingly believable. Lance is everything that John wants to be, but since he's living on borrowed time, he'll sadly never make it out of childhood to follow Lance on his crusade.

But Lance has a lot of pressure on his young shoulders. He's only a teen himself, yet kids look up to him as some sort of role model, admiring how he stands up for their rights against the authority figures in their lives, everyone from government officials to teachers to parents. Under King Arthur's guidance, all Lance wants is to give kids an equal voice in determining their futures, changing laws and putting them on a even playing field with adults.

Of course, this causes a social uproar, creating a new battlefront when it comes to ageism, that pits young against old. Lance is treading on ground that hasn't been crossed before. Those in power don't want to give it up, and those that don't have it are going to rally behind Lance until they get it, collecting signatures and staging nonviolent sit-ins, refusing to talk to adults until they sign a petition that would give all those fourteen and over the right to vote.

John knows that he probably won't live to see Lance's initiatives pass, but he's determined to thank him in person, especially when Lance is caught in a compromising position on camera, creating a serious public relations gaffe. Some people turn on Lance, mocking him for being a hypocrite and for hurting the cause, but not John. He stands by his hero, sending him words of encouragement while others mercilessly rip him apart online.

When John finally arrives at the new Camelot, Lance's trampled spirits are buoyed by the boy's sense of optimism and hope. Lance finds the boy's attitude so contagious, he surprises John with a last minute knighting ceremony, making the dying boy's unspoken wish come true, taking it upon himself to reward John for his unwavering loyalty. Lance makes John one of them, inducting him into the brotherhood he admired so much from afar.

When John struggles to his feet and holds a sword aloft, it's easily the most emotional moment in the book. His faith in Lance, reenergizes his idol, giving him a fresh perspective on just how precious life is, making Lance renew his vow not to take a second of it for granted. John's purity of heart reminds Lance that life is a gift and should not be treated lightly. Lance might be the esteemed leader that everyone looks up to, but John is the one who is able to steer him back on course.

The interaction between the two is just a snippet of the entire book, yet it speaks volumes to the type of author Bowler is and the distinctive young adult characters he so lovingly creates.


Running Through a Dark Place can be purchased at:

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Pages: 388
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: May 12, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990306306
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of three novels - A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time, and Children of the Knight - who grew up in San Rafael, California.

He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University and earned 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 seven 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 has already written the four continuations of Children of the Knight that complete The Knight Cycle and all will be released in 2014.

He is currently at work on a new novel.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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