Friday, November 20, 2015

Michael J. Bowler - Warrior Kids - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The future looks bleak unless eighteen year-old Lance and his New Camelot Earth Warriors can save the planet from catastrophic climate change. 
Spurred by twelve year-olds Billy, Enya, Itzamna, and his ten-year-old brother, Chris, Lance creates a branch of Earth Warriors, a youth-led movement designed to save the earth from its greatest enemy – greed. His involvement leads to Earth Warrior crews springing up all across America. Millions of kids leap into action, paralyzing the country and alarming the rich and powerful. Having adopted his father’s philosophy of doing what’s right, rather than what’s easy, Lance makes serious enemies when he calls out New Camelot donors who represent fossil fuel or other polluting industries, and then barely escapes a series of "accidents” designed to kill him. When he challenges the United States Congress to step up and act immediately on the climate crisis, the attacks on him escalate. With the majority of America's kids on his side, Lance and his young Earth Warriors prepare for the United Nations Conference of the Parties in Paris, where they will call upon world leaders to stop talking about sustainability and start acting on it. But whoever wants him dead isn't giving up. Will Lance and his crew live long enough to even get to Paris? Warrior Kids is a standalone tale set within the Children of the Knight universe.



My Review

What if it were illegal to abuse nature?

That's the question Michael J. Bowler poses in his rollicking middle grade adventure tale, WARRIOR KIDS.

He makes a valid case that environmental damage continues to be tolerated as long as it generates a profit. Everyone from governments to international organizations are willing to turn a blind eye if they're persuaded to believe that increased pollution, overflowing landfills and the destruction of natural ecosystems can somehow benefit the bottom line.

When it comes down to it, jobs are considered more valuable than the future viability of the planet. Consume more, think less. That's the message. The endless cycle of production needs to go on, for if it stops, the consequences of wide scale unemployment will be catastrophic.

"You'll be dead by the time the damage you created falls on us."

That in a nutshell is Bowler's counter-argument. Do we really want to leave the problem for our kids and grandkids to solve? It's not something most adults want to ponder, but it's a reality the young people of today are going to have to face.

"Selfish people who had no intention of changing their lifestyle so the next generation would have a sustainable planet on which to live."

The theme of Bowler's novels centers around the message, "Strive always to do what's right, rather than what's easy." He's well aware that where things stand now, a solution is probably beyond reach. But he doesn't think sitting back and doing nothing is a justifiable alternative. He offers a multitude of ideas that readers can incorporate into their lives, everything from using the cold water setting on a washing machine to giving away useable items to those in need instead of throwing them in the trash. It can be as simple as turning off a light switch when leaving a room.

"Most people weren't willing to sacrifice their personal ambitions for the greater good."

It's an uphill climb when preservation isn't the priority of many. Yet Bowler feels strongly that the kids of today are "a generation on the rise" and that they "intend to rise to the challenge." His characters don't want to be treated like their generation doesn't matter. They want their voices to be heard.

It's only a matter of time before it becomes apparent if kids like Billy, Itz and Enya will succumb to the same pitfalls as their parents or if they will in fact rise above them and change things for the better. Putting books like WARRIOR KIDS into their hands may very well be a critical first step in a new direction.

***

Warrior Kids can be purchased at:
Amazon

Formats: ebook, paperback
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 211
Release: October 6, 2015
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990871149
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


Special message from the author:

THE eBOOK OF WARRIOR KIDS IS FREE FOR EDUCATORS. It is available in the following formats: PDF, Kindle (mobi), and ePub (Nook and iBooks). In addition, teachers can purchase the paperbacks at the per unit cost of $3.08 (plus shipping and applicable tax.) Educators can contact the author via the Warrior Kids Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1505241449796357/) or directly by email – stuntshark2.0@gmail.com. For paperback orders, the author will generate an invoice from Createspace (the physical publisher of the book) and payment can be made through PayPal. There is no profit motive and he will earn nothing off the paperbacks sold to teachers. Per unit cost and shipping rates are exactly as Createspace charges him – no markup. As an educator, he has always sought supplemental reading material that would engage his students on important issues. Having found very little, he decided to write one and make it readily available.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of nine 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; Spinner (Winner Hollywood Book Festival; Honorable Mention San Francisco Book Festival; Bronze Medal from Reader’s Favorite; Literary Classics Seal of Approval), and Warrior Kids.

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.

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
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Tumblr
Pinterest
Instagram
Blog Tour Site


About the Giveaway

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Leta Serafim - When the Devil's Idle - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

In the Book of Revelation, written by St. John on the Greek island of Patmos, it was said a pale horse would appear whose rider was death, others would cry out for vengeance, and the stars of heaven would fall to the earth. Death does indeed come to Patmos when a German tourist is found murdered in the garden of one of the island’s fabled estates. Yiannis Patronas, Chief Officer of the Chios police, is called in to investigate. He summons his top detective, Giorgos Tembelos, and his friend and amateur sleuth, Papa Michalis, to assist him. What the policemen discover will disturb them long after the conclusion of the case. Only six people were at the house at the time of the murder—the gardener and housekeeper, the victim’s son and his wife and their two children, a boy of seven and a teenage girl of sixteen. All appear to be innocent. But access to the isolated estate is severely restricted. Surrounded by high walls, it has only one entrance: a metal gate that was bolted at the time of the crime. Patronas can only conclude that one of the six is a killer. He continues to probe, uncovering the family’s many secrets. Some are very old, others more recent. All are horrifying. But which of these secrets led to murder?

Book 2 of the Greek Islands Mystery series, which began with The Devil Takes Half.



My Review

"An old enemy cannot become a friend."- Greek proverb

So begins a mystery novel where a ninety-year-old man is found murdered, a swastika carved into his forehead.

Not many people are killed in such an idyllic setting—in a garden on a Greek isle in the Aegean Sea. His death raises the question: Why would someone brutally kill a man who only had a few years left to live?

His identity turns out to be a key component. Living under an alias in Germany, he's been in Greece before. Namely, during World War II.

"Evil was indeed an entity and certain human beings embodied it, wore it like skin."

It's only when the police begin to look at the villa's housekeeper that a possible motive begins to emerge. As a child, the woman's entire village was massacred by the Nazis, and she's one of the last remaining survivors. When the police ask her if she had ever encountered the victim before, her response changes the scope of the entire investigation.

"Maybe that's how they grieve in Germany. They cry themselves out and return to their computers."

The cultural divide between the victim's family and the local community is a chasm that isn't easily breached. The man's son is a UN humanitarian worker in Africa. His daughter-in-law is a Heidi Klum knockout, who's devoted to her children. They swallow their grief without making an outward display of it. This confuses the Greeks in their midst who are more accustomed to a show of theatrics when it comes to the ritual of mourning. They expect to see wailing and gnashing of teeth, not a stiff upper lip.

Does this lack of remorse implicate the family in some way? Or are these two cultures still trying to come to terms with each other? One, mired in guilt. The other, bearing the burden of memory. Yet both seeking a way forward, beyond death, beyond grief.

***

When the Devil's Idle can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

Formats: $6.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genre: Mystery Suspense Thriller
Pages: 192
Release: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Coffeetown Press
ISBN: 9781603819985
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


Excerpt

The police cruiser arrived later that day and Giorgos Tembelos and Papa Michalis disembarked, the priest inching down the ramp like a tortoise.

“I think the identity of the old man is the key,” Papa Michalis announced when they’d all gathered in a taverna to review the case. “I analyzed it and that is my conclusion. It simply cannot be anything else. It has elements of an Agatha Christie story, one of her locked-room mysteries like And Then There Was None. Nobody else had access; ergo, one of the people inside the estate, a family member or a servant, must be the guilty party.”

“Anyone could have gained access,” Patronas pointed out. “The Bechtels were careless. They didn’t keep the door locked and there were keys lying around everywhere.”

“No matter. It’s got to be one of them. We can interview other people forever, but it will eventually come back to them. Them and them alone.”

“I think Father is right,” Tembelos said. “The identity of the victim is the important thing here. There was nothing about him in any of the European databases I checked. I called our counterparts in Germany and asked them to run him through their system, but I doubt they’ll find anything. It’s like he never existed. We need to establish who he was. Could be he changed his name.”

“Why would he change his name?” Patronas wondered.

“I don’t know.“

The four of them were sitting outside by the water, it being too hot to venture inside. A haze hung over the sea, and the air was very still. Suddenly, a soft breeze rose up and stirred the tamarisk trees that lined the shore, setting their feathery branches in motion. Patronas liked the rustling sound the trees made, the relief the wind brought. It was almost as if he could hear the earth breathe.

I’ll go swimming tonight, he told himself, looking out at the harbor. Float on my back and look up at the stars. Frolic like a dolphin.

Maybe he’d ask Antigone Balis to join him. He pictured her dripping wet, that long hair of hers hanging down over one shoulder like Botticelli’s Venus. Adrift in his vision, he subsequently lost track of the conversation.

“Hey, boss, you with us?” Tembelos nudged him with his elbow.

Patronas made a show of straightening his back, stretching. “Sorry, it’s the heat. Always makes me sleepy.”

“You were grinning.”

“So what if I was? A man’s allowed to grin.”

“I don’t know, Yiannis,” the priest said. “I think when one is discussing a homicide, it might be better if one dispensed with grinning. At such a time, such behavior is unseemly. It makes one appear insensitive at the very least.”

“Thank you for that, Father. In the future, I will dispense with grinning.” He tapped his pencil on his notebook. “So, to sum up, we have nothing concrete in the case, no witnesses or physical evidence, nothing that will lead us to the killer.”

“Gardener’s clean,” Tembelos reported. “I ran his fingerprints and there was nothing. There was a match on the shoes, too, exactly like he told us.”

“What about the housekeeper, Maria Georgiou?”

“Same thing. The case is heating up. If we don’t catch the killer, it could get ugly. Ministry’s already clamoring for action.”

“We need to turn the housekeeper, Maria Georgiou, inside out, also the members of the family,” Patronas said. “Check their history. Something’s going on here, but as of yet, I haven’t established what it is.”

“You can’t rule out a random act of violence,” the priest said, “directed at them because of their nationality.”

“Worse would be if it were a case of mistaken identity,” Patronas said, “the killer targeting the owners—the Bauers—and killing one of their guests by mistake.”

He was thinking of Charlie Manson, who along with his disciples had wiped out six people without blinking an eye, not realizing his intended victim was a subletter. “Personally, I think someone targeted the family for reasons we don’t know. The cat, the old man. It stands to reason.”

“I’d start with the housekeeper,” Tembelos said. “What she said doesn’t add up. That bit about coming to Patmos on holiday and staying on as a maid.”

“Unlikely, Giorgos. She’s in her seventies.”

Papa Michalis continued to promote the locked room concept. Citing a case in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, he described how the killer had released a cobra through a fake vent and activated its poisonous energy by whistling. “ ‘Oh, my God, it was the band,’ the victim shouted, ‘the speckled band.’”

“Fiction, Father, fiction,” Patronas said impatiently. “Remember? We discussed it.”

“My point is if you are determined to kill someone, a lock is no deterrent. Sometimes murderers are ingenious. Using a cobra as a murder weapon is brilliant when you think about it. Absolutely brilliant. No fingerprints involved, no way to trace it back to you. The snake does all the work.”

“I repeat, Father, there is no snake involved here. A stone maybe, but no snake.”

“A stone? What makes you think that?”

And around they went again, weighing the possibilities. The victim had been hit on the head, but with what? A hammer or a rock? A shovel or pickax? Rock, scissors, paper.

Forget swimming, Patronas told himself. I might as well drown myself.



About the Author

Leta Serafim is the author of the Greek Islands Mystery series, published by the Coffeetown Press, as well as the historical novel, To Look on Death No More. She has visited over twenty-five islands in Greece and continues to divide her time between Boston and Greece.

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


About the Giveaway

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