Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - Running Through a Dark Place - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

King Arthur and his extraordinary young Knights used ‘might’ for ‘right’ to create a new Camelot in the City of Angels. They rallied the populace around their cause, while simultaneously putting the detached politicians in check. But now they must move forward to even greater heights, despite what appears to be an insurmountable tragedy.

Their new goal is lofty: give equality to kids fourteen and older who are presently considered adults only when they break the law. Arthur’s crusade seeks to give them real rights such as voting, driving, trading high school for work, and sitting as jurors for their peers charged with criminal behavior.

Understanding that the adults of California will likely be against them, Arthur and his Knights must determine how best to win them over.

However, before the king can even contemplate these matters, he finds himself face to face with an ally from the past, one who proves that everything isn’t always what it seems – even life and death.

The Knight Cycle Continues…

My Review

I have to admire Michael J. Bowler's imagination. He moves King Arthur and company out of the gutters of Los Angeles and into a veritable hotel-like castle, owned by adherents to the Kabbala no less. How very Hollywood!

But it's not too much of a stretch since Lance is the biggest celebrity of them all after he cheated death and was granted a second chance at life. He was too good to die, or at least that's what Arthur and his merry band of do-gooder teens keep telling themselves after one sacrifices himself so that Lance can live. Everyone loves Lance, too bad Lance can't love himself.

Lance never asked to be famous. He doesn't want his every move analyzed and recorded. He just wants to grow up and be allowed to make mistakes. But that's not going to happen, not when there's a horde of angry protestors outside his door each morning, not when he's being likened to Jesus and the antichrist all in the same breath. It's a lot for any boy to cope with much less someone with Lance's history of traumatic abuse and systematic violence.

He's the kid who should've fallen through the cracks, but didn't. Arthur pulled him out of anonymity and made him into a household name. Now he has photo ops with the president. He tweets with Harry Styles from One Direction. He's a fixture on the talk show circuit, chatting it up with everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Anderson Cooper. The world can't seem to get enough of him, even though he's had enough of the world.

Lance goes to a pretty dark place in this one. He starts feeling sorry for himself, wishing the cost of his rebirth didn't involve the loss of a close friend. He's more willing to give into his fears and insecurities and let them control him. He's all about being who he thinks people want him to be, instead of feeling comfortable enough to be who he is. He's endlessly searching, trying to be something he's not in order to please everyone around him, except himself.

However, the foolish choices he makes come back to haunt him. Everyone expects so much from him, always placing him on a pedestal that he never asked to be on, that for a time he takes a perverse delight in doing the exact opposite of what he should be doing. It's a case of teenage rebellion at his finest. He knows what he is doing is wrong, but he does it anyway, embracing that frustrating phase that all adolescents go through, even the chosen one of the new Round Table.

Bowler once again hits the mark in setting his tale among movie stars and media moguls, the rich sequestered in their mansions in the hills, never bumping elbows with the throwaway kids on the star-lined streets. Lance flows between both cultures, at times painfully. He knows where he came from, his jaw will never fail to drop at the ostentation that surrounds him. He'll always miss the trickling water deep within the sewers lulling him to sleep. No matter how far up the social ladder he climbs, he's still acutely aware of being the only brown skinned boy at the party.

Lance might still be discovering who he is, trying to figure it out by reading people's Facebook comments about him online, but he can't fool his heart. It identifies with the downtrodden, the neglected, the marginalized. He's their knight and they'll always be his people. He's Hollywood all right, all sides of Hollywood.


Running Through a Dark Place can be purchased at:

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Pages: 388
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: May 12, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990306306
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of three novels - A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time, and Children of the Knight - who grew up in San Rafael, California.

He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University and earned 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 seven 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 has already written the four continuations of Children of the Knight that complete The Knight Cycle and all will be released in 2014.

He is currently at work on a new novel.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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  1. Wow! Thanks so much, City Girl Who Likes To Read! You really got the message of this book. Appreciate your comments immensely.

  2. You really captured the headspace that Lance is in in this one, Victoria! Thanks for the review :)