Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mia Kerick - The Red Sheet - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape. Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.

Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.

Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.

With a foreword by Cody Kennedy

My Review

The middle class American mindset comes close to choking the life out of Bryan Dennison. The stifling conservatism. The narrow minded thinking of white picket fence suburbia. The 'stand out only to be praised' mentality. On the surface, THE RED SHEET is set in the idyllic setting of small town New Hampshire, but it could really take place in any similar environment across the country where the overriding message is: Jocks can't be gay.

Unfortunately, basketball phenom Bryan is head over heels for a boy named Scott. The problem is Scott's the only one who knows Bryan's gay. Not even Bryan's mother suspects that her big, strapping, free-throw-nailing son is secretly dating a boy in his English class. Bryan is good at coasting under the radar, until Scott issues him an ultimatum—acknowledge their relationship in public or it's over. He's desperate for Bryan to make a stand, until something tragic occurs. The memory of what happens to Scott is so traumatic that Bryan doesn't even know he's repressing it until the end of the story when it all comes rushing back.

Because in the town where they live, disturbing incidents like that aren't reported. If one boy is doing something unspeakable to another boy, they say the victim was "beat up." These euphemisms for violent behavior are as dated as they are disturbing. In 2014, teenage boys still aren't encouraged to be who they are and express themselves openly if they happen to be gay, or at least a certain type of boy is expected to remain in the closet.

Since Scott is small boned and effeminate looking, people automatically assume that he's gay and they're okay with it. Bryan, on the other hand, is the 6' 4'' standout player starting on the varsity team. He's expected to date the hot girl who puts out, even if he's not really into her, even if he's into a boy with wavy blonde hair he's dying to run his fingers through with crystal clear blue eyes he just wants to lose himself in. That's not supposed to happen, not in their town. It's too much for Appleton, New Hampshire to handle. It upsets the natural order of things.

Author Mia Kerick calls things as she sees them. She's aware of the hypocrisy that runs rampant through Main Street U.S.A. Same-sex relationships are viewed as okay in metropolitan areas where the Mom and Pop types don't have to come in contact with them. But two high school boys getting affectionate on the dance floor? The queasiness is readily apparent on the page. It's not what a lot of people are ready to stomach. But Kerick makes a compelling argument, illustrating the humanity behind these characters and the depth of the attachment between them. They're just as in love with each other as any of their peers who are in boy/girl relationships, in fact, they're probably more so.

When it comes to love, it's known to cross all boundaries from nationality to income level to race—so in THE RED SHEET, Kerick is well within her rights to ask the question: Why not gender?


The Red Sheet can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Dreamspinner Press, All Romance Books

Prices/Formats: $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Pages: 190
Genre: Young Adult
Release: February 20, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781627987219
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them

Links to connect with Mia:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - There Is No Fear - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

The most famous boy in the world is a prisoner. He’s been charged with a crime he didn’t commit, a crime that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. Languishing within The Compound, the most secure juvenile facility in California, while the district attorney vows to make an example of him because of his celebrity status, Lance must endure the daily indignities of the incarcerated.

New Camelot is fractured without him. Ricky and Chris are bereft, living for the weekly phone call that becomes their only lifeline to the brother they so desperately love, while Arthur and Jenny feel the loss of their son with a sadness that can’t be quelled. And what about Michael, the highly volatile teen who helped write the proposition that will change California forever? Could he really be the monster he says he is? His hatred of Ricky is palpable, and his instability may well threaten the lives of everyone at New Camelot.

As the election looms closer, Proposition 51 takes on an even greater significance in light of the pending trial of the century. The more harshly fifteen-year-old Lance is treated within the broken justice system, the more he contemplates the wisdom of his idea that children need more adult rights. If The Child Voter Act becomes law, won’t it simply allow adults to throw more kids into prison with impunity?

Whichever way the voters decide, his greatest fear remains the same: will he ever again be with the people he loves?

The Knight Cycle Continues…

My Review

There's no setting bleaker than a prison, especially when the inmates are children. The Compound, the high security detention center for juvenile offenders, is the place where the city of Los Angeles hides its dirtiest of secrets, housing the kids no one cares a lick about. The ones that rot behind bars for twenty-five years or more because nobody speaks up, nobody cares.

But Michael J. Bowler does. He's not going to sit idly by and remain silent. He's going to reveal the corruption of justice for all to see. The picture he paints is so vivid that no one can walk away after reading it and not have a change of heart when it comes to prosecuting those under eighteen. These lives are too young to be lost, so wholly and completely, buried under years and years of departmental incompetence and public indifference. Their plight needs to be addressed, and Bowler is brave enough to champion their cause.

The choice to place his novel in a juvenile prison is a bold one. It broaches difficult subject matter, taking readers where they might not venture to go. Bowler is taking a risk, but then he's never shied away from addressing controversial topics before. If he feels strongly about an issue, he's going to write about it, and that's to his credit. He doesn't follow trends in attempt to pander to a mass audience. He's about telling stories that are important to him and having that enthusiasm trickle down to his readers.

And it's not to say that prisons haven't been used effectively in popular culture before. From ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK to THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, looking at how a person reacts to the loss of freedom is always captivating, but no one examines the youth angle quite like Bowler. Not many differences exist between adult convicts and their juvenile counterparts and that's shocking in and of itself. Child inmates may have to attend school, but as far as insufficient meals, lack of privacy and guard brutality, it's pretty much the same. These kids are treated like adults and society willingly turns a blind eye, for the most part, locking the door and throwing away the key.

Bowler, in the third of the five books of his magnum opus, THE CHILDREN OF THE KNIGHT, writes about a place that no child ever wants to end up, much less visit. That's why THERE IS NO FEAR provides a kind of voyeuristic journey. Bowler does the heavy lifting, committing it to the page, all readers have to do is let his words work their magic, as he transports them in and out of what is for many, hell on earth.


There Is No Fear can be purchased at:

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 284
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: July 17, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990306337
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of five novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, and There Is No Fear––who grew up in San Rafael, California. 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 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 two remaining books that complete The Children of the Knight Cycle and both will be released in 2014.

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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