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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Spinner by Michael J. Bowler - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Review by Anniek

Alex has been using a wheelchair his entire life. He's also an orphan and attends special ed classes at school. Alex is a spinner. This exceptional ability makes him able to heal people and adjust their thoughts and feelings. His current housemother, Jane, is a cruel woman. She takes advantage of Alex's powers and doesn't care about and look after the children in her home. Lately Alex has been having horrible dreams. When Alex learns that his dreams are actually happening, a battle against an evil force begins. Alex and his friends all have special needs, but what if they turn out to be the strongest kids in town?

Alex spends a lot of time with his best friend Roy. Roy always picks him up for school and they're very close. Roy has a crush on Alex, but he's too scared to tell him. He's afraid that Alex will turn away from him and that their friendship will never be the same. Alex has had a dream about Roy being murdered and he'll do anything to keep that from happening. Alex has suspected for a while now that Roy might be in love with him. Their strong connection is needed to stand against the dark forces that are coming for Alex. It is said that Alex has the power to destroy the world and there are many humans and demons who'd do anything to take over control. Will Alex find out the truth in time to stop more killings from happening?

Alex is such a sweet teenage boy. He's never felt love as a child and he's been bullied because of his condition. Even after all the bad things that people have done to him, he's still a kindhearted soul. He always tries to see the good in people, even if they don't deserve it. The kids in the special ed class are close friends and I loved their banter and jokes. They aren't afraid to open up to their friends and don't always take things too seriously, they regularly mock themselves. These kids are exceptional inside and out and Alex and his friends found their way into my heart immediately.

Spinner is a spine-chilling story about surviving true evil. Alex was alone for a long time, but now he and his friends stand united against a malevolence as old as humanity. I admired how Michael J. Bowler writes about serious topics with much knowledge and empathy and I loved his unique approach of the horror genre. I greatly admired his young heroic main characters. Spinner is a fast-paced thrilling story that has a lot of interesting twists and turns. It managed to captivate me from beginning to end. I'm a big fan of creepy stories and loved this surprisingly scary book.


If you love to read fast-paced, thrilling stories with strong main characters, Spinner is one story you shouldn't miss.

About Michael J. Bowler

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author who grew up in San Rafael, California. He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University and 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.

Putting his degrees to use Michael taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook. Using what he learned from his master’s degree Michael wrote two screenplays. 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 also 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.”

Michael is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens and serves as a volunteer Big Brother with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and has been a volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles for over thirty years. 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.

Michael’s goal as an 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. The most prevalent theme in his writing and his work with youth is this: as both a society, and as individuals, we’re better off when we do what’s right, rather than what’s easy.


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The Importance of Friendship in YA Novels
Guest post by Michael J. Bowler

Sadly, most YA books focus on instantaneous romances that in the real world would never last or, most likely, never happen in the first place. In these books, there is no organic relationship building that leads naturally into romance – it’s all tropes, meeting “cute,” and love triangles. What teens in high school should be more focused on is friendship, even though the current term “friend-zoned” is considered a negative because it means the person we like “only” wants to be friends. But putting down friendship is a major mistake. Quite often, the friends we make in high school stay with us for life. But almost no books aimed at the YA market focus on friendship, and they should. Romance doesn’t happen every time a boy and a girl (or boy/boy-girl/girl) meet, except in YA books or on television. Sometimes romance endures beyond high school. More often than not, it doesn’t. But real friendship is forever.

In my books, I put friendship above romance, and those teens who end up falling in love do so after a long period of time, and after they have already become the best of friends. Most YA books take place over a short time frame, too short for real romance to realistically occur. Sure, there’s instant attraction, but it’s physical, not emotional or spiritual. Friendship is not based on the superficialities of physical attributes or pretty looks. Friendship is, at its heart, based on the essence of each person, and that makes it the more significant relationship. Teenagers naturally self-obsess, and pining for a girlfriend or boyfriend is inherently “me-centered” thinking. But real friendship, like a true romantic relationship, means putting the needs of another first. No one should strive to find a girlfriend or boyfriend in high school. If the right person comes along, the magic will take care of itself, as I often saw happen with students during my teaching career. But every teen should strive for a best friend, and to learn how to be a best friend in return.

My newest release, Spinner, is an urban horror tale in which six kids with learning —and/or physical disabilities—must solve a mystery and survive attacks from forces of evil pitted against them. These boys have already bonded by virtue of their special ed-ness and outcast status among the school population, but the events that transpire within the story cement their friendship into a lifelong commitment that fuses them into a surrogate family. While the supernatural elements are not likely to be experienced by teen readers, the other traumas inflicted on these kids are very real and relatable. The essence of Spinner is the friendship, the bond, between these boys that enables them to endure, and it’s a message teens can’t see too often.


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy of Spinner by Michael J. Bowler.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. I really enjoyed this one. It was fast paced and had some great characters.

  2. Spinner sounds like an emotional, unique thriller with a captivating premise that will keep you glued to the pages.

  3. Spinner sounds like a fantastic and interesting read, can't wait to read this.

  4. This novel sounds like a captivating, thrilling book, a pleasure to read I'm sure.

  5. I totally agree that friendships will last longer tham superficial romances at the high school level. I still talk to a few of my high school friends and I'm very glad for that. I'd love to read this book as horror mixed with supernatural is a genre I like reading :)

  6. Spinner sounds like a real page turner definitely want to read it on my wish list!

  7. Sounds a real page turner, can't wait to read x

  8. I love what Alex can do! What an amazing character.

  9. This sounds like such a unique book!

  10. This novel sounds like a really interesting book. I would be glad to read it.

  11. It's a wonderful metaphor for a young person's desperate need for a sense of empowerment, especially the most oppressed among us.

  12. Sounds like a good read

  13. Wow - the cover! Love it. And the blurb. I'm reading it, thank you.

  14. I do enjoy creepy stories. Love the review.

  15. I love that this book is about kids with special needs, it gives a great message.

  16. Many thanks for the nice review!

  17. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Fingers crossed!

  18. A completely different type of read for me, sounds like a real page turner to me