Tuesday, June 16, 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

Pulse-pounding, spine-tingling, chill-inducing horror.

Michael J. Bowler, a prior screenwriter of scary movies, should stick to what he does best because his writing comes alive when he delves into the crazy, demented things that go bump in the night.

The opener where the poor, feeble Special Ed teacher is mauled to death by a massive wave of demonic cats is brilliantly jaw-dropping in the sheer terror of how it unfolds. Bowler employs the right amount of tension and gore that'll have the hair standing up on the back of your arms. It's a scene that reminds me of the best R.L. Stine novels I used to read as a kid—the ones that would leave me terrified to turn the page, but too morbidly enthralled not to.

As a reader, there's a two-sided fascination that encompasses such a visceral level of fear. One, we're glad it's not happening to us, and two, we can't turn away from watching it happen. In fact, we WANT to watch it happen. There's a primal curiosity that's aroused that can only be satisfied through fiction. We don't want to stare at a car crash as we drive by, but we do. We don't want to watch continuous replays of a plane crash, but we can't look away. But in story form, we know it's not real, and we're able to feast on the delightfully juicy details in our own little private nooks because we know what we're reading's not real—even though it feels like it is.

And that uneasy sense of foreboding is certainly captured at Eucalyptus Park. The streetlights go out one by one. The wind picks up. And strange things begin to occur. And what makes it even more frightening is that it's all happening to a paralyzed boy in a wheelchair. He can't run away. He can't call for help. He has to depend on his friend to get him out of there as a dark, hooded figure comes at them with a knife.

Great stuff!

I love passages like, "Individual drops made a pop pop pop sound like bullets he'd sometimes hear in the neighborhood at night," and "The wind felt like a whole football team pushing against him."

For me, I would've liked the novel to have been shorter and focused more tightly around those types of scenes. I'd take twelve to fifteen concisely written chapters of sheer horror over the lengthy conglomeration of genres the book turned out to be. I'd scrap all the subplots and concentrate on Bowler's strengths—because the man can definitely bring it. He just needs a firmer editing hand in order to show off his skills to their best advantage instead of letting them get bogged down in the wordiness of overly detailed "camera angle" movements and repetitive dialogue that doesn't advance the plot. Having ten characters speak in one scene gets confusing for even the most diligent of readers.

SPINNER doesn't have to contain YA, LBGT, and a whole alphabet soup of different subject matter in order to find an audience. Horror fans know good writing when they see it, and Bowler should be rewarded for what he's accomplished in these pages, whether or not readers have to sift through all the teen speak and inner self-loathing to discover the true gems hidden within.


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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