Monday, June 15, 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

Orphans always have a way at tugging at the heartstrings, and Alex O'Sullivan is no exception. Born with spina bifida and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, he never knew his parents. Not only that, but he was told they tragically perished in a fiery car crash. He wasn't just given up for adoption, he was left without any living family members and thrown into an impersonal foster care system to fend for himself.

But what makes Michael J. Bowler's young adult characters so unique is how adoption can become a life-changing, transformative process for them—if they connect with the right people who are willing to care for them. Once placed in a loving, stable environment, they finally get a chance to flourish and thrive.

The novel starts out with Alex at the mercy of his current foster guardian, Jane. She's the worst of the worst, a manipulative con artist who's only in it for the money. She takes in as many juvenile offenders, former gang members and handicapped teens as she can house under her roof, siphoning every last penny out of the stipend she receives from the state. She gets away with feeding them next to nothing, and even encourages them to pummel each other while videotaping their altercations, hoping to make a quick buck on the side. This is her way of punishing them for "starting trouble."

But despite her numerous threats of intimidation and her constant barrage of verbal abuse, Jane is afraid of Alex. He has a secret power, an uncanny ability to control her emotions whenever she speaks. It's a special gift he dubs "spinning," hence making him the "Spinner" of the book's title. For Alex, spinning is the only thing he's good at.

Yet not all adults fear Alex's talent. Nathan, the father of his best friend, thinks he possesses an extraordinary gift. He welcomes Alex into his home without trepidation, seeking to adopt him and make him a permanent member of the family. He knows how close his son, Roy, is with Alex and how many times Alex has saved his boy from mortal danger, and he wants to offer Alex some kind of protection. Nathan is genuinely concerned about Alex's well-being. He knows how Jane treats him, and he wants to get him out of her house for good.

Alex is grateful for Nathan's offer of assistance until a boatload of secrets from his past begin to emerge, starting with a video message from his dead mother that Jane tries to keep from him. Is he "the boy with round legs" who's the source of an ancient Iroquois legend and the healer the Bible itself references? As he begins to sort through the clues his mom left for him to uncover his true identity, he learns that he may not be alone in the world after all. There just might be someone who shares a special bond with him that runs a whole lot deeper than blood—a conjoined power that could very well corrupt the entire human race.

Alex faces a tricky dilemma. Does he move on and start a new life with the people who mean the most to him? Or does he explore this new tie to his affections that he never even knew existed until now? It's a weighty decision for a fifteen year old to make, but the beauty of a Michael J. Bowler novel is that he always gives his adolescent protagonists the power to choose what they want based on what kind of person they want to be.

It's a dual journey of self-discovery and acceptance that culminates in an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. Will Alex be the great peacemaker or the great destroyer? Will he choose love over hate?

Bowler sums it up best, "Thoughts don't make us good or evil. Actions do."


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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