Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - Once Upon a Time in America - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

With Lance leading the way, the Knights of the Round Table have set out to convince the American people that amending the Constitution to protect children is right and just and long overdue. As the team travels from state to state, they are met with acceptance, indifference, and even hostility. But Lance’s popularity and mystique as The Boy Who Came Back, coupled with his innate charm, gradually sway more and more of the populace, not to mention state legislators, to their cause.

The journey becomes a rite of passage that propels the young people into adulthood, and solidifies Lance’s status as an iconic and influential figure.

But he’s uneasy. He knows Arthur is hiding something from him, something that will bring him great sadness. After The Excalibur Incident in Las Vegas, Lance becomes more and more certain that the future is one he won’t like, despite his stunning success at winning over some of the most intractable states.

Then comes the attack, sudden and brutal.

Now the Round Table is in disarray, and Lance must confront a cold-blooded killer who’s luring him into an obvious trap. But if he refuses the challenge, more loved ones will die, and everything he’s fought for will die with them. Surrounded by the diverse young knights who have become his family, Lance sets out to battle his enemy with the knowledge deep in his heart that only one of them will survive. Is this the end of the Round Table?

The Knight Cycle concludes…

My Review

What Michael J. Bowler crafts across five books is a beautiful message about the saving power of adoption. When King Arthur takes a young orphan named Lance in off the streets, and proceeds to nurture a group of neglected children, he becomes a father to them all. He never forces them to do anything they don't want to do. He gives them a choice, and they in turn, come to honor and respect him for his wisdom and love.

Many of these kids come from broken homes, but Bowler states that their birth parents aren't bad because they're poor, they're bad because they view their children as property and nothing more. Bowler even addresses a possible contradiction in his novels when a politician questions Lance, "Well, it worked out pretty well for you, didn't it?" referring to Lance's status as a Latino boy whose circumstances were vastly improved by having a white guardian. But Lance is quick to fire back, "But I had a choice." Lance wasn't placed with Arthur by Social Services or some government agency who under normal circumstances would not have given him a say in his placement in the foster care system. Instead, Lance and Arthur were able to freely choose each other.

King Arthur also forms a powerful relationship with the ex-gang banger, Esteban. The tough as nails youth hasn't seen his father in years after he up and left, placing his loyalty to his gang over that of his family. When his father reappears after he becomes one of King Arthur's famous knights, Esteban has a hard time handling it. He considers Arthur to be his real father now, and Arthur counsels the troubled Esteban telling him, "His loss was my gain. You are a son any man would be proud of." After Esteban's father makes a tremendous sacrifice on behalf of his son in a last ditch attempt to show him just how much he loves him, Arthur reaffirms Esteban's worth by helping him see his father in a new light, one that he can live with and accept.

"Cherish the children. All of the children. For they are the hope." That is the essence of what Arthur believes in and what brought him to modern day Los Angeles in the first place. He wants to instill the core values of courtesy and dignity in a whole new generation of American youth. He tells his knights to pass down his beliefs, saying, "Do the same for your children and teach them to do the same for theirs. That is a true legacy."

Even when his work is over and his task is completed, the disciples of King Arthur are determined to raise the bar that he set for them. They intend to carry on his crusade, his lifelong work, because now they see that he was right—a nation's greatest natural resource is its children. They're living proof of that.


Once Upon a Time in America can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 328
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: November 12, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990871101
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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  1. Esteban is a favorite of mine in this series. Thanks for mentioning him in your review :)

  2. A fascinating subject matter & story line.