Monday, November 16, 2015

Michael J. Bowler - Warrior Kids - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

The future looks bleak unless eighteen year-old Lance and his New Camelot Earth Warriors can save the planet from catastrophic climate change. 
Spurred by twelve year-olds Billy, Enya, Itzamna, and his ten-year-old brother, Chris, Lance creates a branch of Earth Warriors, a youth-led movement designed to save the earth from its greatest enemy – greed. His involvement leads to Earth Warrior crews springing up all across America. Millions of kids leap into action, paralyzing the country and alarming the rich and powerful. Having adopted his father’s philosophy of doing what’s right, rather than what’s easy, Lance makes serious enemies when he calls out New Camelot donors who represent fossil fuel or other polluting industries, and then barely escapes a series of "accidents” designed to kill him. When he challenges the United States Congress to step up and act immediately on the climate crisis, the attacks on him escalate. With the majority of America's kids on his side, Lance and his young Earth Warriors prepare for the United Nations Conference of the Parties in Paris, where they will call upon world leaders to stop talking about sustainability and start acting on it. But whoever wants him dead isn't giving up. Will Lance and his crew live long enough to even get to Paris? Warrior Kids is a standalone tale set within the Children of the Knight universe.

My Review

Iztali Canche is a young environmental activist. With his mother's help, he created Earth Warriors, a movement to get kids and teens involved in getting the public to consume less and reuse more. Passionate about the cause since the age of ten, at fifteen he's now a global celebrity, well known for speaking out on behalf of the planet.

"A leader never celebrates himself - he celebrates the accomplishments of those he leads."

And that's where Iztali gets into trouble. His presentations now consist of performing hip-hop numbers to entertain the crowd instead of educating them on the facts. His social media feed is full of shirtless photos of himself. He's lost his center, giving in to the superficiality of his fame.

"Shift people away from thinking about themselves all the time and spend more time thinking about others."

That's supposed to be the emphasis of his message, but instead he's telling kids in the audience that they're consuming too much even though he's doing the same thing. Taking a cross-Atlantic flight to attend an international conference on how to reduce one's carbon footprint, instead of simply Skyping from his home in New Mexico. At the People's Climate March in New York, he doesn't tell marchers to pick up their trash, and his lackadaisical attitude results in a significant amount of garbage being left on the city streets.

When it comes to addressing the critics of the Green Movement, Iztali arrogantly calls them "deniers." He doesn't sit down and talk with the prominent scientists who are against global warming, stubbornly refusing to learn where they're coming from. He's right, and they're wrong, simple as that.

"We are all indigenous to this earth."

Promoting himself at nature's expense, he begins to care more about what people think of him than in mobilizing kids to get out there and do something. Since Iztali is of Native American descent, his speeches become dangerously misleading when he implies that everything from increased emissions to oil fracking is the fault of the white man, even when he's well aware that China and India are two of the world's biggest polluters. Instead of bringing people together, he's driving them apart.

Until he meets up with a very special teen who's able to redirect his course—Sir Lance of Camelot. With Excalibur in hand, Lance forms a coalition with Iztali, working with him to inspire young people toward making a positive change. They address a joint session of Congress. They even speak at a United Nations summit on climate change.

Even role models need role models, and Lance saves Iztali from falling prey to his ego, getting him to remember that it's not just about him. It's about the over seven billion people who call earth home.


Warrior Kids can be purchased at:

Formats: ebook, paperback
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 211
Release: October 6, 2015
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990871149
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

Special message from the author:

THE eBOOK OF WARRIOR KIDS IS FREE FOR EDUCATORS. It is available in the following formats: PDF, Kindle (mobi), and ePub (Nook and iBooks). In addition, teachers can purchase the paperbacks at the per unit cost of $3.08 (plus shipping and applicable tax.) Educators can contact the author via the Warrior Kids Facebook Group ( or directly by email – For paperback orders, the author will generate an invoice from Createspace (the physical publisher of the book) and payment can be made through PayPal. There is no profit motive and he will earn nothing off the paperbacks sold to teachers. Per unit cost and shipping rates are exactly as Createspace charges him – no markup. As an educator, he has always sought supplemental reading material that would engage his students on important issues. Having found very little, he decided to write one and make it readily available.

About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of nine 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; Spinner (Winner Hollywood Book Festival; Honorable Mention San Francisco Book Festival; Bronze Medal from Reader’s Favorite; Literary Classics Seal of Approval), and Warrior Kids.

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.

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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Monday, November 2, 2015

Leta Serafim - When the Devil's Idle - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

In the Book of Revelation, written by St. John on the Greek island of Patmos, it was said a pale horse would appear whose rider was death, others would cry out for vengeance, and the stars of heaven would fall to the earth. Death does indeed come to Patmos when a German tourist is found murdered in the garden of one of the island’s fabled estates. Yiannis Patronas, Chief Officer of the Chios police, is called in to investigate. He summons his top detective, Giorgos Tembelos, and his friend and amateur sleuth, Papa Michalis, to assist him. What the policemen discover will disturb them long after the conclusion of the case. Only six people were at the house at the time of the murder—the gardener and housekeeper, the victim’s son and his wife and their two children, a boy of seven and a teenage girl of sixteen. All appear to be innocent. But access to the isolated estate is severely restricted. Surrounded by high walls, it has only one entrance: a metal gate that was bolted at the time of the crime. Patronas can only conclude that one of the six is a killer. He continues to probe, uncovering the family’s many secrets. Some are very old, others more recent. All are horrifying. But which of these secrets led to murder? 
Book 2 of the Greek Islands Mystery series, which began with The Devil Takes Half.

My Review

Patronas is a cop. He slogs through society's underbelly for a living and when he comes home he expects some measure of domestic tranquility. But his ex-wife Dimitra was unable to provide that for him. That's why he's not married anymore.

"What he had seen had stayed with him, eaten into his soul like acid."

Now he's investigating the murder of an elderly German tourist on the culturally significant Greek isle of Patmos, the same place where, ironically enough, St. John wrote the Book of Revelation. The case doesn't get any easier when it turns out the victim was a member of the Gestapo during World War II, a sadistic Nazi, hiding in plain sight.

"Better to live with the devil than a mean woman."

Patronas's job is never easy. He viewed his marriage as an escape, something that would take him away from all the darkness and death, and he's bitter that instead Dimitra only made life harder for him.

"That his wife who'd kiss the bones of dead saints by the hundreds was more than a little reluctant when it came to kissing him."

In his eyes, Dimitra was frigid, whiny, and manipulative. So when Patronas checks into a seaside hotel to set up a home base to conduct his inquiry into the murder, he's immediately taken by the voluptuous innkeeper, Antigone Balis.

She doesn't hide the fact that she's a loose woman, fawning over her male patrons in sheer, low-cut dresses. Morality has no place in her life. She's out to make a quick buck and stay in business any way she can. She delights in seducing Patronas with her siren song as he struggles to resist the temptation of getting involved with her.

To curb his lust, he goes swimming at night, alone, clinging to a buoy and wishing he had a good woman to cling on to instead. Antigone indicates that she's more than willing to go skinny dipping with him, but he turns her down.

Things change when Patronas learns that Dimitra is leaving Greece and moving to Italy to make a fresh start. He calls her, wanting to say goodbye, and Dimitra surprises him, wishing him well and putting aside any hard feelings that remain. Her selfless act frees him from the regret that's been holding him back, more than having sex with Antigone ever could.

Patronas ends up arresting those responsible for the crime, but the depravity behind the killing gives him no peace. The only thing that brings any light to his life is the blessing Dimitra gives him, hoping one day he'll be happy again.


When the Devil's Idle can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble

Formats: $6.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genre: Mystery Suspense Thriller
Pages: 192
Release: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Coffeetown Press
ISBN: 9781603819985
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


The police cruiser arrived later that day and Giorgos Tembelos and Papa Michalis disembarked, the priest inching down the ramp like a tortoise.

“I think the identity of the old man is the key,” Papa Michalis announced when they’d all gathered in a taverna to review the case. “I analyzed it and that is my conclusion. It simply cannot be anything else. It has elements of an Agatha Christie story, one of her locked-room mysteries like And Then There Was None. Nobody else had access; ergo, one of the people inside the estate, a family member or a servant, must be the guilty party.”

“Anyone could have gained access,” Patronas pointed out. “The Bechtels were careless. They didn’t keep the door locked and there were keys lying around everywhere.”

“No matter. It’s got to be one of them. We can interview other people forever, but it will eventually come back to them. Them and them alone.”

“I think Father is right,” Tembelos said. “The identity of the victim is the important thing here. There was nothing about him in any of the European databases I checked. I called our counterparts in Germany and asked them to run him through their system, but I doubt they’ll find anything. It’s like he never existed. We need to establish who he was. Could be he changed his name.”

“Why would he change his name?” Patronas wondered.

“I don’t know.“

The four of them were sitting outside by the water, it being too hot to venture inside. A haze hung over the sea, and the air was very still. Suddenly, a soft breeze rose up and stirred the tamarisk trees that lined the shore, setting their feathery branches in motion. Patronas liked the rustling sound the trees made, the relief the wind brought. It was almost as if he could hear the earth breathe.

I’ll go swimming tonight, he told himself, looking out at the harbor. Float on my back and look up at the stars. Frolic like a dolphin.

Maybe he’d ask Antigone Balis to join him. He pictured her dripping wet, that long hair of hers hanging down over one shoulder like Botticelli’s Venus. Adrift in his vision, he subsequently lost track of the conversation.

“Hey, boss, you with us?” Tembelos nudged him with his elbow.

Patronas made a show of straightening his back, stretching. “Sorry, it’s the heat. Always makes me sleepy.”

“You were grinning.”

“So what if I was? A man’s allowed to grin.”

“I don’t know, Yiannis,” the priest said. “I think when one is discussing a homicide, it might be better if one dispensed with grinning. At such a time, such behavior is unseemly. It makes one appear insensitive at the very least.”

“Thank you for that, Father. In the future, I will dispense with grinning.” He tapped his pencil on his notebook. “So, to sum up, we have nothing concrete in the case, no witnesses or physical evidence, nothing that will lead us to the killer.”

“Gardener’s clean,” Tembelos reported. “I ran his fingerprints and there was nothing. There was a match on the shoes, too, exactly like he told us.”

“What about the housekeeper, Maria Georgiou?”

“Same thing. The case is heating up. If we don’t catch the killer, it could get ugly. Ministry’s already clamoring for action.”

“We need to turn the housekeeper, Maria Georgiou, inside out, also the members of the family,” Patronas said. “Check their history. Something’s going on here, but as of yet, I haven’t established what it is.”

“You can’t rule out a random act of violence,” the priest said, “directed at them because of their nationality.”

“Worse would be if it were a case of mistaken identity,” Patronas said, “the killer targeting the owners—the Bauers—and killing one of their guests by mistake.”

He was thinking of Charlie Manson, who along with his disciples had wiped out six people without blinking an eye, not realizing his intended victim was a subletter. “Personally, I think someone targeted the family for reasons we don’t know. The cat, the old man. It stands to reason.”

“I’d start with the housekeeper,” Tembelos said. “What she said doesn’t add up. That bit about coming to Patmos on holiday and staying on as a maid.”

“Unlikely, Giorgos. She’s in her seventies.”

Papa Michalis continued to promote the locked room concept. Citing a case in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, he described how the killer had released a cobra through a fake vent and activated its poisonous energy by whistling. “ ‘Oh, my God, it was the band,’ the victim shouted, ‘the speckled band.’”

“Fiction, Father, fiction,” Patronas said impatiently. “Remember? We discussed it.”

“My point is if you are determined to kill someone, a lock is no deterrent. Sometimes murderers are ingenious. Using a cobra as a murder weapon is brilliant when you think about it. Absolutely brilliant. No fingerprints involved, no way to trace it back to you. The snake does all the work.”

“I repeat, Father, there is no snake involved here. A stone maybe, but no snake.”

“A stone? What makes you think that?”

And around they went again, weighing the possibilities. The victim had been hit on the head, but with what? A hammer or a rock? A shovel or pickax? Rock, scissors, paper.

Forget swimming, Patronas told himself. I might as well drown myself.

About the Author

Leta Serafim is the author of the Greek Islands Mystery series, published by the Coffeetown Press, as well as the historical novel, To Look on Death No More. She has visited over twenty-five islands in Greece and continues to divide her time between Boston and Greece.

Links to connect with Leta:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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