Monday, October 27, 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

For a teenage boy, Lance gives a lot of speeches—a lot. Whether he's addressing reporters in a press conference or standing before both houses of Congress as the only juvenile ever to do so, he tends to act more like an adult, even with the occasional "damn straight" and "fool" or "dumbass" comment thrown into mix. His nickname becomes "the young Mr. Lincoln" and fittingly so because he can command a soap box like nobody's business.

But sometimes, the effect is overused. His importance to the country, to the world for that matter, is at times over-exaggerated. He's unique. He's special. Crazy things happen to him. But is everyone on the planet waiting with bated breath, ready to hang on his every word? It's made to seem like everybody's life comes to a screeching halt whenever Lance speaks. Could anyone, anywhere really have that much power and influence, even in fiction?

Lance is a hero to kids everywhere as he tries to amend the United States Constitution to include a Children's Bill of Rights. A lofty ambition, but one he thinks he can convince two-thirds of Congress to accept. He marches ahead into the fray, arriving in Washington on Air Force Two before dining in the White House with the president and his family. He knows he's just a boy from the streets, and he appears humbled by all of the attention, but he's never reticent when it comes to speaking his mind, eager to put those above him in their place.

He's a ballsy kid, whether he's saving his boyfriend Ricky from being carried away in a helicopter to a frantic chase on horseback when masked pursuers try to gun him down, Lance knows what it's like to be in mortal danger and survive. He is the boy who came back from the dead, after all, so that swagger is always there when he needs it. He's comfortable with being the one in charge, the guy that everyone looks to, to call the shots.

But the pressure might be wearing on him, the strain becoming a little too much. He fears that his fate might mirror that of Abraham Lincoln and that he won't live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor, that he might end up being a martyr for the cause. And he's okay with that, as long as it doesn't affect anyone else he cares about. He tells Ricky that he will lay down his life for him, before he'd let anything happen to him. Lance found the one thing worth living for (in his love for Ricky) and he's not going to let it go without a fight, regardless of whatever happens to him personally.

That's the Lance that gives the series its oomph. Not the little smartass standing at the pulpit endlessly pontificating about having all the answers to society's ills. That's all well and good, but the power of Lance's message is seeing it in action, watching him live the words he preaches. That's what makes him credible. That's what makes a reader want to invest in him as a character. He's at his best when he's just like us, not when he's posturing, thinking he's above us.

It's a heady thing for a teenager to have so much fame. For the most part, Lance handles it well. It's nice to see him as a prince, and not yet a king. There will be time for that because he's more than just a mouthpiece working an agenda and spewing rhetoric, he's a boy with a huge heart. Sure, he has towering—bordering on unrealistic—goals but that's because he's a dreamer. At the core he brings about positive change in people's lives just for being who he is, without all the pomp and circumstance.

With young adult literature, it's all about keeping it real, and the more Lance gets to do things like go to the prom and hang out with One Direction, he doesn't have to be so serious, at least not all the time. It's important to have a moral message, but kids want to read about kids having fun and the series thrives when Lance does just that.


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

About the Giveaway

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