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
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
Blog Tour Site

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Friday, October 24, 2014

DJ Wilson - Ride to Restoration - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

In this second book, D learns that paying it forward is not without costs, toss in Candi Parker, the girl of D’s dreams gone rogue, along with vivacious Victoria Lawson, attorney at law, who willingly steps in to fill Candi’s thong, and D’s hilarious misadventures continue across Canada. Reality sets in and the bullets begin to fly just two days after he returns to the states.

D sends Victoria away to keep her out of harm’s way, before tackling his real life demons, aka A.J. Standford, the Ponzi scheming banker who has a bounty on D’s head, and Candi’s extended family, the Gambinos, who will profit from his demise.

The romantic side of the story poses multiple questions: Will D settle for Victoria after being royally screwed by Candi or will his feelings for Candi propel him back into her life and the crime family’s ongoing chaos? Will Candi take back her sleazy ex-husband Joseph or will she somehow manage to break with her powerful family and come crawling back to D’s loving arms?

With all of this going on, there’s bound to be hell to pay sooner rather than later. Like momma always said, “When you play with fire, you’re gonna get burned.”

My Review

There are many words of wisdom scattered throughout DJ Wilson's RIDE TO RESTORATION.

"Choose substance over style."

"To have a friend, you have to be a friend."

"The newness is gone along with the thrill of the chase."

"Our lives reflect the decisions we make."

"Look beyond that which disappoints you."

"Our minds are constantly at war with our past."

"Circumstances change, forcing people to change."

These little tidbits are meaningful in of themselves, but they combine to form a powerful whole. Wilson has a deft touch for infusing his fiction with life lessons that can benefit anyone. No matter where a person's at in life, they resonate beneath the surface of the story, making it that much richer.

Sure, the novel revolves around D and the women on the back of his motorcycle, but as a character he's also a biker philosopher, a deep thinker endlessly searching for inner peace and unconditional love. He's made a lot mistakes, having to start over one too many times, making him feel like he's alone in the world, drifting along in a sea of users and hypocrites.

But it doesn't dim his optimism any. He still believes in doing the right thing and championing people in need from terminally ill children to emotionally scarred war vets. He has an overwhelming desire to make the world a better place. Oftentimes, he gets frustrated when the people around him don't live up to their potential. He gives a lot because he expects a lot in return, not in terms of a monetary value or material goods, but an exchange of the heart, a union of spirits.

That Woodstock feel good mentality extends to everyone D comes in contact with. He may be naive. He may often get duped, but he's willing to give people a chance, no matter how many times he gets burned. His ex-wife leaves him after twenty plus years of marriage. His new girlfriend steals from him and takes off. He can be a bit of a sap when it comes to women, but it doesn't stop him from reaching out to members of the female variety who happen to catch his eye. He always goes in to each new relationship with the hope that maybe this time, this one will be the one for him, that kindred spirit he's been dreaming of.

His fortune cookie style of wisdom is simply stated, but it's backed by hard won experience. He's well aware of what it's like to end up on the short end of the stick, and he'd never knowingly do that to someone else. He wants to give everyone a fair shake, considering it his sacred duty as a human being. Of course, if a person dares to cross him by endangering someone he cares about, then all bets are off. He'll defend those he loves tooth and nail, right to the end, his loyalty knowing no bounds.

D's a lover and a fighter, but that's what makes him interesting. He tries to reconcile the two sides of himself and make them into a solid individual, but at times he struggles living up to the image he has of himself, breaking down at unexpected moments when he starts to lament his past. It's only when he sets his mind firmly on the future that he's able to move past his feelings of unworthiness and rejection and grab life by the handlebars. As a biker, forward motion is where he's most comfortable, when he forgets to look in the rearview mirror and focuses solely on the road ahead.

It's no wonder his signature line is, "Let's ride!"


Ride to Restoration can be purchased at:
Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Google Play

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $11.95 paperback
Pages: 318
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release: July 16, 2014
Publisher: Riscatto Publishing
ISBN: 9781604148022
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

FREE ebook download 
of book one of this series

Smashwords Promo Code: MU83Y
expires 10/24/14

About the Author

Raised in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, I graduated from Cumberland University, located in a small town you've never heard just inside Kentucky quite a few years ago. At the present, we're living beside beautiful Dale Hollow Lake.

Blessed to travel, blessed with health, blessed with second chances, too numerous to list here.

As a blogger, featured on many sites, including the Huffington Post, I have been humbled beyond measure, more times than not, by all that life has thrown our way.

Successful, that's me, catastrophic failure, that's me too. We've been there, done that and have the life changing scars to prove it.

Our writings reflect life through the throes of heartache and loss, as well as through the joys redemption brings.

"Life is not waiting for the Storms to Pass, It's Learning to Dance in the Rain."

Links to connect with DJ:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Richard H. Hardy - The Infinity Program - Author Interview & Giveaway

About the Book

Jon Graeme and Harry Sale are unlikely friends. Harry is a world-class programmer, but his abrasive personality alienates co-workers. In contrast, Jon is a handsome and easy-going technical writer, the low man on the IT totem pole.

Sharing a love of nature, the men set out together, planning to go their separate ways--Jon on a hike and Harry, fly fishing. Three days later, Jon arrives at the rendezvous point, but his friend is nowhere in sight. When Jon finds Harry unconscious on the floor of a cave, Harry claims to have been lying there the entire time. But he is neither cold nor hungry. What Jon doesn't know is that Harry fell into an underground cavern, where he came into contact with an alien quantum computer.

Back at work, Harry jettisons his regular tasks and concentrates exclusively on inventing new operating language to access the alien system. In the process he crashes his office's Super Computer and is fired. Jon convinces the company to give Harry a second chance, arguing that the system he has invented will make them millions.

Jon has no idea what havoc Harry is about to unleash.

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
I’ve never been very good at coming up with titles, but in the case of The Infinity Program I was lucky. While I was working on the book one morning, the title came to me out of thin air in a line of dialogue. When I write dialogue, it’s almost like I stop being me and become the character who is talking. My lead character used the phrase “infinity program” and as soon as I re-read the draft, I realized I had my title.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My main goal in writing The Infinity Program was to write an entertaining book. But there is a message behind the fun: We must be better caretakers of our world or all that we love and cherish will be in jeopardy.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
I tried hard to create a realistic setting. Part of it was created out of my own work experience but most of it came from stories told to me by people who had previously worked for much larger companies. I must confess too that a lot of it was purely imaginative.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
If I could re-write the book at this point, I think I would re-work the love triangle in the book. I think there were many possibilities that I could have developed more completely.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I always have trouble with the middle section of a book. When you get to the mid-point of a novel, it seems like so many different directions are possible. It’s almost like moving through a labyrinth. There is always the fear that you will take a wrong turn and end up totally lost. I had to do a lot of re-writing to get the middle section right.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think the most important thing I learned is that problems can only be solved one scene at a time. If you try to work out every detail in advance, you end up locking yourself in a box. A corollary of this is persistence. I learned to stay with a problem and solve it before I moved on. A programmer/analyst once told me that making a programming mistake was like taking a wrong turn on a highway. If you catch the wrong turn immediately, then you can get back to where you want to go. But if you take a wrong turn and then make a second wrong turn, you can end up hopelessly lost.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was a big reader from a young age and even wrote a few stories. But I never thought of myself as a writer until I read a short story by Thomas Wolfe called Gulliver. It was a story about an exceedingly tall man and the difficulties he faced because of his height. At the time, I was 14 years old and over 6’4” tall. I was blown away with how a fictional story could get so directly to the truth of an experience. I decided then and there that I wanted to be a writer.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
This is really difficult question because I love so many books. But the book that had the biggest impact on me was Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann. When I finished this book I turned back to the first page and read it over a second time. I recently purchased the new translation by John Woods and am looking forward to reading it again. I love all the different levels of meaning in the book. I found the main character, the composer Adrian Leverkuhn, absolutely fascinating.

9. Tell us your latest news.
My latest news is that The Infinity Program is now available on Apple’s Itunes.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A writer is nothing without a reader. My sincerest thanks to all the readers out there!


The Infinity Program can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $5.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 250
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Release: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819336
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Richard H. Hardy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, during a week of relentless bombing raids just before the close of World War II. The day he was born an incendiary bomb fell on the church across the street from where he lived, so he is fond of saying that he entered the world with a big adrenaline rush.

His family later moved to England and then on to America.

After college Richard bounced through a series of temporary jobs as he traveled around the country, wanting nothing more than to write fiction. A job driving a library van allowed him free time to write several short stories and work on a novel.

He and his wife moved to New Hampshire, where he took an entry level job at a software company. He was soon promoted to the technical writing department and ended up producing over 500,000 words of online documentation. After a few years he was promoted to the programming department and ended up as the Senior EDI Programmer, creating EDI maps and writing UNIX scripts and troubleshooting on AIX systems throughout the U.S. and Canada.

After he retired, he started writing fiction again. The Infinity Program is his first published novel.

Links to connect with Richard:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

Read an Excerpt:

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