Friday, January 31, 2014

Michael J. McCann - The Rainy Day Killer - Review and Giveaway



About the Book

A man in a business suit offers the protection of his umbrella to an unsuspecting woman, and several days later she turns up dead on a river bank, raped and strangled. The terrifying serial killer known in the press as the Rainy Day Killer is now hunting new victims in the city of Glendale ... whenever it rains.

Homicide Lieutenant Hank Donaghue leads the investigation as the killer begins to communicate directly to him through phone calls and grisly packages containing body parts of his victims. Assisted by FBI profiler Ed Griffin, Donaghue and Detective Karen Stainer pursue an elusive predator who leaves no physical evidence behind.

The timing couldn't be worse, however, as Karen Stainer's attention is divided between the investigation and preparations for her upcoming wedding. Distracted and uncertain about her future, Stainer is furious when she learns that the Rainy Day Killer has followed her to Virginia, where the wedding will take place, and that he intends to make her his next victim!


My Review

The victims. For a lot of murder mystery novels, they serve as window dressing, empty composite sketches devoid of depth or personality. It's like staring at someone's driver's license and asking the reader to care about them. Name. Age. Hair color. Eye color. Height. That's about it. But not for Michael J. McCann. He invests the time in humanizing these poor souls that meet such a torturous end. He creates a poignant sense of empathy by having the reader walk around in their shoes for a while. These women are not nameless, faceless corpses to him. He brings them out of the shadows of anonymity and into the spotlight where they're meant to be. They're not props. They're the characters the narrative pivots around. Kudos to an author who recognizes that fact and gives them the respect and dignity that they deserve.

The first is Theresa Olsen. She's a rookie second grade teacher. For the past couple of years, she's lived with her parents, attending college close to home. Moving into her first apartment, she's quiet and keeps to herself. She doesn't have many friends and isn't seriously dating anyone. She doesn't drink, smoke or take drugs. She's the typical all-around good girl. So when The Rainy Day Killer rings her doorbell and tells her that her parents have been in a car accident and that he's there to escort her to the scene - she believes him.

The second is Liz Baskett. She's a starving artist living alone in a tiny apartment, barely making rent. She's a talented musician with no connections, so she sings at the local mall praying that shoppers will drop some spare change into her guitar case. She invests all of her money in instruments and recording equipment, hoping to record a demo and hit it big. Hundreds of miles away from her nearest family member, she doesn't get too close to the fellow musicians she comes in contact with, even though they describe her as gentle and sweet, making it almost too easy for The Rainy Day Killer to wipe her off the face of the earth.

These two, lonely girls aren't just headlines to McCann, they're people. They stand out because of their vulnerability. They're individuals no one bothers to miss until it's too late. By shutting themselves off from the world and relying mainly on themselves to get by, they inadvertently place themselves in jeopardy. Their attempt to be self-sufficient and lead independent lives, unknowingly puts a target on their backs. Mentally deranged stalkers like The Rainy Day Killer prey on women like Theresa and Liz, who are considered the weakest members of society, inflicting their rage on the most defenseless among us.

McCann provides a clear warning to women who live alone or lead isolated lives. Don't be too trusting of strangers, regardless of their appearance or tone of voice. Not everyone is who they seem to be, and it's always better to use an extra dose of caution than end up dead.

***

The Rainy Day Killer can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony, Kobo, Smashwords, Powells, Amazon UK, Amazon CAN, Fishpond AUS, Fishpond NZ

Prices/Formats: $8.99 ebook, $19.99 paperback
Pages: 290
ISBN: 9780987708786
Publisher: Plaid Raccoon Press
Release: August 30, 2013
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. McCann was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. He earned a B.A. (Hons.) in English from Trent University and an M.A. in English from Queen's University. He has worked as an editor and a project and training consultant and manager with the federal government. He is an author of crime fiction and supernatural thrillers. His Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series includes Blood Passage, Marcie's Murder, The Fregoli Delusion, and The Rainy Day Killer. He is also the author of the supernatural thriller The Ghost Man and is currently working on another supernatural novel.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog (mystery)
Blog (paranormal)
Pinterest
Blog Tour Site


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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - Children of the Knight - Review and Giveaway



About the Book

According to legend, King Arthur is supposed to return when Britain needs him most. So why does a man claiming to be the once and future king suddenly appear in modern-day Los Angeles?

This charismatic young Arthur creates a new Camelot within the City of Angels to lead a crusade of unwanted kids against an adult society that discards and ignores them. Under his banner of equality, every needy child is welcome, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or gang affiliation.

With the help of his amazing First Knight, homeless fourteen-year-old Lance, Arthur transforms this ragtag band of rejected children and teens into a well-trained army—the Children of the Knight––where even gay boys and gangsters work side by side. Through his intervention, they win the hearts and minds of the populace at large, and gain a truer understanding of themselves and their worth to society. But seeking more rights for kids pits Arthur and his children squarely against the rich, the influential, and the self-satisfied politicians who want nothing more than to maintain the status quo.

Can right truly overcome might? Arthur’s hopeful young knights are about to find out, and the City of Angels will never be the same.

The Knight Cycle begins . . .


My Review

What's the highest compliment I can give a novel? That it's unlike anything I've read. And upon Michael J. Bowler's urban fantasy CHILDREN OF THE KNIGHT, I gladly bestow that distinction. He takes the framework of Camelot and morphs it into something wholly original and cutting edge. King Arthur is back with a vengeance, but his knights are the ones who end up stealing the show.

So often novels focus on one or two main characters, forsaking the rest as talking heads or blatant stereotypes. Not so here. Bowler takes great pains to humanize his supporting cast. They're not all good and they're not all bad. They come across as real because their individual personalities are so complex, like they're drawn from actual teens that Bowler has come in contact with. They use the language of the street. They bait each other mercilessly. But across the board, all they want is to be loved.

Arthur's knights are throwaway teens, the kids nobody wants. And that designation is most tellingly applied to the gay characters in the novel. It's rare to come across a story aimed at a male audience that has more than one LBGT storyline, and this book has several, giving a more complete picture of an oft-ignored demographic in young adult fiction.

Lance is the hero around which the action pivots. Nicknamed 'Pretty Boy' because of his effeminate looks, not many authors would have given such a character the heartthrob role. But Bowler takes a chance, breaking through the overdone Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot drama and fashioning something completely different by having such a key figure question his sexuality.

Bowler turns the idea of a love triangle on its head by introducing Mark and Jack as Lance's fellow knights. All three provide a unique perspective on what it's like to grow up gay in America. Lance isn't ready to embrace who he is, but Mark and Jack are willing to accept the consequences of who they are. When Arthur brings the three boys together, they spend a lot of time in each other's company and things inevitably get complicated. Signals get crossed. Feelings get hurt. And two of them meet a bitter end. No matter the era, love in Arthur's court is always a dangerous game.

***

Children of the Knight can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback
Pages: 344
ISBN: 9781623806552
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release: June 20, 2013
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 completed the two continuations of Children of the Knight that complete the trilogy - Running Through A Dark Place & And The Children Shall Lead. Both will likely be released in 2014.

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


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