Losing Normal by Francis Moss Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

One young man finds himself thrust out of his comfort zone and sense of normality as the world around him begins to collapse in author Francis Moss’s novel, “Losing Normal”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

Everyone we love, everything we know, is going away… and only an autistic boy can stop it.


Alex knows exactly how many steps it takes to get from his home to Mason Middle School. This is normal.


Alex knows the answers in AP math before his teacher does, which is also normal.


Alex knows that something bad is coming out of the big screen in his special needs class. It’s pushing images into his head, hurting him, making him forget. Alex pushes back, the screen explodes, and nothing is normal any more.


Giant screen televisions appear all over the city. The programming is addictive. People have to watch, but Alex cannot.


Sophie, the sentient machine behind all this, sees the millions and millions of eyeballs glued to her and calls it love. To Sophie, kids like Alex are defective. Defectives are to be fixed…or eliminated.

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The Review

This was a truly unique, one of a kind YA dystopian novel. For me the way the author connected this sci-fi dystopian story with the real world themes of being considered an outsider by society, the struggle with mental health of various degrees and the way people view those with mental health struggles. As an advocate for mental health awareness, it was great to see someone like protagonist Alex fight to overcome his Autism to become the hero the world needed. 

The way the author created these unique characters suffering or living with various degrees of a mental illness or behavioral ailment and formed a group of fighters and survivors not only overcoming their own problems in life but the possible extinction of civilization as we knew it was the true heart of the story. The story managed to capture the elements of any good YA story, with a ragtag group of young heroes coming to save the day, an overbearing, all powerful foe that seems impossible to beat and an emotional core that brings these characters together. 

The Verdict

Losing Normal is the YA Dystopian novel you have to read now. One of my favorite reads of the genre in 2018, this story both entertained and brought light to the need to redefine what society deems “normal”. It had heart, adventure and shocking twists and turns that will keep fans on the edge of their seat until the book’s end. If you enjoy true YA dystopian reads, then grab your copy of Francis Moss’s “Losing Normal” in eBook or paperback format today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Francis Moss has written and story-edited hundreds of hours of scripts on many of the top animated shows of the 90s and 00s. Beginning his television work in live-action with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he soon starting writing cartoons on She-Ra, Princess of Power, Iron Man, Ducktales, and a four-year stint on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, writing and story-editing more episodes than you can swing a nuchaku at. 

One of his TMNT scripts, “The Fifth Turtle,” was the top-rated script among all the 193 episodes in a fan poll on IGN.COM. A list of his television credits is at IMDB.COM.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Normal-Francis-Moss/dp/1732791023/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42746625

www.francismoss.com

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Interview with Author James Rosenberg

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I am a lawyer, married and have three kids.  Those are probably the three most important areas of my life.  When my kids were small, I started telling them long, involved stories that were embellishments of my real life.  One of them, a story about a lawyer with a soccer prodigy son, will be my next book coming out.  What I found is I could tell stories that used plot as a way to develop character.  I realized I loved stories that constantly moved and disliked narrative that was bogged down with description.  My stories depict what happens when a character is faced with difficult choices, which ultimately, I believe, is incredibly revealing.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I always wonder what is stronger, friendship or the drive for personal enrichment (money).  In my novel, one of the key plot drivers is that three long-time friends are forced to take the opposite sides of an important trial.  The three met the first day in law school but later in their careers find themselves as the attorney representing a woman suing a big company, the lawyer for the company and the judge in the trial.  I thought about all of the major conflict that could arise when each wants to do their best professionally, and how that could affect their friendship.  I have dealt in my career with some lawyers who are highly professional and others who will do virtually anything to win.  What happens if there is a mix of those types in an important case?  Every trial has enough stress.  Add in some volatile personalities and the results can be explosive.

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3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

With every character in the book, you will some good and some not so good.  The three main characters start in the same place ethically.  They are young and impressionable when they are in law school.  Yet just a few years later, they are in completely different places.  Mike still wants to help people and make a positive impact.  Jeri wants to avenge her feelings of rage since almost being raped.  Jack now just wants to become partner at his big law firm and make even more money. 

Sometimes a person doesn’t even realize when he is going down a path that leads towards becoming a lesser person.  Ultimately, lawyers are shaped by their environment.  The people a new lawyer works with teach them how to practice law ethically or how to cut corners.  Good often has to be nurtured and in its absence evil lurks.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

That one is easy.  I’m a lawyer and have been one for too long.  I have been through many trials and think most people find the drama inherent in a courtroom compelling.  I certainly do.  I know I can describe what happens in a courtroom with realism—and I think in a way that brings out the conflict.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I love Jack as a character.  He so flawed, but to me so human.  His primary motivation is success/money, and he lets the ultimate rewards dictate his actions.  I would want to ask Jack if he can see himself the way others see him and whether he would like what he saw.  He has so many good traits—He’s smart, witty, and an incredibly hard worker.  People want to be around him and he’s a leader.  But does he realize what path he’s put himself on because he has only one goal—money?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

This is my first published book and I am just learning how to market.  I am extremely unsophisticated when it comes to marketing.  I also consider myself to be one of the world’s worst self-promotors.  I am trying however.  So once I learn better how to use social medial to attract readers, I will come back and answer this question again.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If you like writing, keep writing.  Write about things that interest you.  Don’t worry what other people like.  If you are moved by your writing, others will be also.

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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I am still working at being a lawyer, but I am trying to write every day.  I am finishing up my next book, The Jersey, about the lawyer with a son who is a soccer prodigy.  It has a significant tragedy in it, but look at it as ultimately uplifting (as much as it can be after such a tragedy).  I have also started by next novel which has a young, rebellious student who kills the president and the effect this has on his family. 

It Came From The Basement By M.R. Kessell REVIEW

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In one of the most original, one of a kind twists this year, I received a truly remarkable children’s book with a horror twist. It’s called It Cam From The Basement from author M.R. Kessell, and it is a fantastic read that I just had to share with you all. Here’s the synopsis:

“It Came from the Basement” is an illustrated, inky homage to monsters and monster movies accompanied by a collection of thirty-one ridiculous rhymes to make you laugh uncomfortably in the night.

Darkly humorous, M. R. Kessell’s “It Came from the Basement” lies somewhere between Edward Gorey’s “The Gashleycrumb Tinies” and Tim Burton’s “The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy.”

Intended for the monster kid in all of us.

I have been a fan of horror most of my life, as well as books. My love for horror came from my mother and her father before her. I still remember the day I first saw the original Trilogy of Terror film as a kid, and despite the ensuing nightmares it brought, my fascination with the storytelling capabilities of the horror genre never dissipated. With author M.R. Kessell’s book, the wonder and dark humor of the genre has finally found a home amongst younger generations.

While it may be a shock to some to have a children’s book within this genre, the truth is horror has always been integrated to a degree within our childhood. Lest we forget shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark or Goosebumps, or perhaps even the chilling moments from classic films, such as the monstrous Rattigan from The Great Mouse Detective or classics like Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, let’s not right off the horror genre for children’s books quite yet.

This book is filled with some of the most gruesome yet hilariously dark rhymes and illustrations I’ve ever seen. From monsters and killers to zombies and other devilish fiends, this book imagines the nightmare ever child has of ghouls traveling from the dark basements of their homes becoming a reality, and the hilarious reactions of the people in the home to these monstrosities will have parents and children alike fascinated, horrified yet strangely entertained all at once.

Overall I loved this book. I can honestly say there is nothing else like it on the market right now. The illustration greatly reminds me of Shel Silverstein, and the writing captures the essence of a good Tim Burton story while the overall book remains truly unique and one of a kind. Author M.R. Kessell has written a truly amazing book that is sure to be a hit, so if you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of It Came From The Basement today!

Rating: 10/10

ABOUT

img_0680

M. R. Kessell is a writer, illustrator, and a musician with a penchant for the weird and macabre.

And smoothies.

Born and raised in New Jersey, he recently made the huge cross-country move to Brooklyn, NY, where he resides with his lovely wife and their fat cat.

By day, he works as a project engineer in New York City’s architectural metals industry. You may have seen some of his work.

https://mrkessell.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Came-Basement-M-R-Kessell/dp/0692110135

Video Review: Spirits of the Heart by Claire Gem

Valentine’s Day Book Giveaway!

I wanted to let you guys know that two of my books will be free starting today and ending on the 17th! The first is Blood and Romance and the second is At First Glance.

At First Glance: A Frightening Romance Novel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008X0NK56/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_umVGAbMERH74E

Blood and Romance: A Book of Poetry and Horror https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0042P5DP6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_4mVGAbAWZFY7K

Why Should You Re-Release Old Books?

Time. 
Time has produced new innovations in the world of writing and publishing. In today’s world of publishing authors have more opportunities than ever to showcase their work without traversing through the process of traditional publishing houses. However as many self-published and traditionally published authors can agree, time allows us all to learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves and our writing. With self-publishing it is easier now than ever before to improve on our previous work.
In a month and a half, I will be releasing I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered. This is a three novella series telling the story of Lisa Etron, a seemingly innocent teenage girl with a dark persona bubbling just beneath the surface. I originally published the first novella, I Was A Teenage Killer, in 2010. This story was fun to write, but as the years have gone on i recognize so many grammatical and story based errors that the time to fix it was here. Not only have i and my skills as a writer changed and improved, but the world has changed as well. Whether its our current political climate or the tragedies of our world reshaping our views or the wisdom and strength that comes with age, this book began to feel outdated and in need of serous improvements. So i went through all of the novellas and realized this would make a great remastered novel, and so i began to work.

In the end, i think this remastered book is stronger and more character driven then it ever was before. The themes are more prevalent and the show versus tell style of writing has helped me to improve how the story is conveyed. This is something all authors can do. Our experiences and our understanding of the world can reshape how we view the past, and with the innovation that is online self-publishing it is easier than ever to strengthen the works that came before. I highly encourage any author out there to take the time to reread their books and look to see if time has given them any new insights or views that can improve their work. I hope you guys enjoyed my brief viewpoints on re-releases and book publishing. If you guys want to check out my work for free be sure to sign up for my free newsletter here on my blog, and if you guys are interested in seeing what a remastered book looks like then be sure to preorder your copies of I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered today on Amazon and soon to be available on iBooks, Barnes & Noble and more!
I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0756SVSGD/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_wwqRzb0T6F1VC

Interview with Michael Bernhart1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became an author.

A familiar story: Much like the disgruntled admen of Madison Avenue who labor in the evening over their own redemptive great works of fiction, I started on a novel in the mid-80s as an antidote to a bad professional and life situation. This may work as an escape, but it isn’t a guarantor of good literature. The result – in my case – was a peevish, angry half of a book; the hero is unlikeable – as are all the other characters, come to think of it. Thirty years later I’m still trying to salvage that book.

Capitalizing on one advantage, I’ve enjoyed a singularly rich and diverse (and lucky) life. If I were to peal out the list of places I’ve lived and jobs I’ve held it would come across as boasting. It’s not; it’s gratitude, mixed with wonder. (Dumb luck is important.) The consequence is I can draw on first-hand knowledge of life on five continents and a variety of interesting occupations.

2) What would you say is the best description for your series of books based on Max Brown?

I’ve attached the label ‘philosophical thriller’ to the series. Pretentious? Of course. There is dry/wry wit, which seems to be my forte as a writer, and a travelogue-esque element as the settings are unfamiliar – and interesting – to most readers.

3) What inspired you to create this series and delve into this genre in particular?

Evil. Each book explores a different face. Jane Austen famously said it all comes down to love and money. I disagree; there’s more. As we move up the evolutionary ladder the higher-level species show an increasing propensity for dysfunctional mayhem. Animals fight and kill for survival, either as individuals or as a species. Humans often fight for the sheer hell of it, and to their disadvantage. Why? Paradoxically, the modern religions we’ve created – notably Christianity and Islam – take as their starting point that God is omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. How can a caring, ever-present, and all-powerful deity be supervising a world that’s convulsing with outright wickedness? It doesn’t square.

There’s no easy explanation for that inconsistency (called theodicy in religious debate) but I did feel some mileage might be gotten out of a closer look at the wellsprings of evil. Hence, greed, lust, ideology and acculturation are central fixtures in the novels. No answers, but if I got it right the questions may have been framed a little differently than in other novels.

4) If you could sit down for a drink with any character from your books, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Ronnie the Redoubtable Scot, a favorite of many readers. I didn’t treat Ronnie well at the end.

I’d ask Ronnie why he does what he does. He’s dedicated his life to the dangerous and underappreciated task of clearing landmines. One of those noble souls quietly trying to clean up humanity’s messes. And a wise-ass.

5) What would you say is the biggest challenge you face as an author when it comes to gaining a readership and marketing your book?

That is the biggest challenge. Each and every blessed day 2,700 new novels are pushed out on an indifferent reading public. Some of them must be good, but average sales are 250 copies, many to family, friends and the author him/herself. How do you break out of the pack? I have no idea. Writing is a losing proposition.

The big houses talk airily about quality control, but there’s little evidence they practice it (e.g., James Patterson continues to be published). I’d like to think the truly good and innovative literature is coming from the independents. The better reviewer/bloggers – like this one – provide a guide and filter but the number of their followers is typically small. 

Are these counsels of despair? Hell yes. If it weren’t for rampant narcissism no one without a signed deal would write.

6) What advice would you give to any new or aspiring authors out there?

I’d like to tell you to scram; we don’t need more competition. More seriously? Read.

7) Any plans for more books in the Max Brown series or any other books on the horizon?

A very difficult one. One of the fascinating jobs I alluded to above was directing a women’s health program in Jordan. Under the umbrella of women’s health I took a brief run at honor crimes . . . and withdrew from the field, unsuccessful. In the current Max Brown novel his wife has liver cancer which leads them to the ‘red-trade’ of organ harvesting and illegal sales. I tie this to honor crimes where victims are plundered for saleable kidneys, livers, etc. Given these topics, it’s been difficult to keep up the dry/wry wit that has received favorable comment in the past.

This is a picture of the author. Some kind folks at a new age festival captured my aura on their aura-cam. They gushed that it was an exceedingly auspicious aura, and they looked sincere when they said it. At least they didn’t ask for money.