Friday, June 19, 2015

Michael J. Bowler - Spinner - Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Fifteen-year-old Alex is a “spinner.” His friends are “dummies.” Two clandestine groups of humans want his power. And an ancient evil is stalking him. If people weren’t being murdered, Alex might laugh at how his life turned into a horror movie overnight. In a wheelchair since birth, his freakish ability has gotten him kicked out of ten foster homes since the age of four. Now saddled with a sadistic housemother who uses his spinning to heal the kids she physically abuses, Alex and his misfit group of learning disabled classmates are the only ones who can solve the mystery of his birth before more people meet a gruesome end. They need to find out who murdered their beloved teacher, and why the hot young substitute acts like she’s flirting with them. Then there’s the mysterious medallion that seems to have unleashed something malevolent, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy humanity. The boys break into homes, dig up graves, elude kidnappers, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront an evil as old as humankind. Friendships are tested, secrets uncovered, love spoken, and destiny revealed. The kid who’s always been a loner will finally learn the value of friends, family, and loyalty. If he survives…

My Review

Freak. Idiot. Loser.

These are just some of the hurtful names that are hurled at Alex and his Special Ed classmates. They're the misfits of Mark Twain High, the ones no one wants to be seen with. But Alex has it especially hard because he's also in a wheelchair, and the popular cheerleaders have no problem adding another insult to the list.


Author Michael J. Bowler admits in the foreword to SPINNER that he has a special place in his heart for those with disabilities because he, too, suffers with a hearing impairment and for years he was in charge of students just like Alex and his friends as a teacher in the public school system. He knows what makes these kids tick based on his own personal experiences, and from observing what other kids go through. He pens a full and comprehensive outlook from both sides of the issue, a feat that really brings his characters to life.

He portrays Special Ed teenagers not as victims but as heroes. They don't need anyone to fight their battles for them. They stand up for themselves. The deck is certainly stacked against them, but they prevail by working together and believing in each other. And they have a lot of issues they need to combat—limited language processing skills, attention deficit disorder, the inability to stop talking. They can't read well enough to find a name on a tombstone or look up someone's address in the phone book. They can't understand multi-syllabic words that authority figures from cops to priests use with ease. But they have the know-how to drive a truck through a high speed chase and the brute strength to climb up an apartment balcony. They learn to play to their strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses.

And that's a good thing because in SPINNER they're embroiled in a centuries-old mystery, that nobody really understands. All they know is that Alex has been granted some kind of mystical power that allows him to heal people, and drive away negative emotions. In the book's afterword, Bowler admits that Alex is the character who's most like him because of their shared empath abilities. Alex feels what others feel, and he hates seeing people suffer. But he's able to fix everyone except himself. He gets really down about being in a wheelchair, and that's when his reckless side emerges, leading to all sorts of trouble.

Relating so easily to people isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just becomes overwhelming when Alex is unsure how to channel it. Some people want him dead. Others want to use him for what they can get out of him. Alex doesn't know where to turn, but he trusts his fellow classmates. Society dubs them as intellectually challenged, but to him they're the bravest guys he knows. They may be afraid to follow him into danger, but when they're put to the test, they come through time and time again.

Alex is proud to call them his friends, or as Bowler lovingly puts it, "losers touched by God."


Spinner can be pre-purchased at:

Format/Price: $6.99 ebook
Genre: Horror, Young Adult
Pages: 463
Release: August 5, 2015
Publisher: YoungDudes Publishing
ISBN: 9780994667519
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of eight 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 (Bronze Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, Once Upon A Time In America, and Spinner.

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 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 him and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He is currently outlining a sequel to Spinner.

His goal as a YA author is for teens to experience empowerment and hope; to see themselves in his diverse characters; to read about kids who face real-life challenges; and to see how kids like them can remain decent people in an indecent world.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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  1. Thanks so much for your heartfelt words, Nicole. :)

    1. Keep on writing, Mike! And all the best with your new release :)

  2. oooo Another one with a non-traditional protag! Those are my favs. :)

  3. This book is "my cup of tea", looking forward to reading it!