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

Find the perfect gift for everyone on your list with the Barnes & Noble Gift Guide.

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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Heartsong by Annie Douglass Lima Review

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

What would you do if you found yourself on a new world filled with intelligent alien life, but you were now the alien? In a world of half truths and no answers, Liz must discover who she can trust and who she is when faced with the life or death circumstances that come with space travel in author Annie Douglass Lima’s YA novel, Heartsong. Here is the synopsis:

Synopsis

Two alien worlds.

One teen emissary.

No reality she can trust.

Thirteen-year-old Liz Smith has been ripped away from one foster family after another for years, so the idea of a permanent home is tantalizing. Who cares if that home is a colony sixty-five thousand light-years from Earth? The friends in her trusty e-reader will keep her company just fine on her interstellar relocation. 

But when the adventure of a lifetime turns into the disaster of the cosmos, Liz can only retreat so far into the books that have always sheltered her from loneliness and loss. Trapped in half-truths and secrets that leave her questioning reality, can one orphaned bookworm find a way to stop two races from destroying each other … and somehow write a happy ending to her own story?

If you like books about space travel, aliens, or cross-cultural transitions, you’ll love this poignant science fiction adventure. Get your copy of Heartsong now to start the journey today! 

This novel was really unique, as it explored what would happen if the human was the alien from another world, and the “aliens” had to decide whether or not the human was hostile or a friend. The author did an amazing job exploring a universal truth, which is the distrust and fear that comes from the unknown, and how sometimes opening ourselves up to new possibilities and finding common ground is the only way to avoid unnecessary violence and come together as one people. The unique differences highlighted between Liz and the alien people she comes into contact with made this an engaging, thought provoking YA adventure like no other.

The exploration of these new worlds highlights the different environments that would allow life to thrive and grow on other worlds, and puts our own history on Earth of conquering and taking what’s not ours, as well as the distrust we have for anyone or anything different than us, into a whole new light. The imagery used was breathtaking to imagine, and the emotional struggle of Liz and the people she meets is something a lot of people will be able to relate to.

Overall this was a fantastic story. Filled with heart, emotion and amazing sci-fi goodness that was kind of reminiscent of Lost in Space, this was a one of a kind novel that deserves to be read. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Annie Douglass Lima’s novel Heartsong today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DB6DKRY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07DB6DKRY&linkCode=as2&tag=jabla-20&linkId=f371eb4fbb911be6ad7fcf5b2f236cf5

Author Bio:

cape cropped

I was born in the United States of America but raised mostly in Kenya, which was my home for 14 years.  Upon returning to the US, I attended Biola University in Southern California, where I majored in elementary education with an emphasis on Intercultural Studies.  Shortly after graduating, I accepted a position as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Papua, Indonesia (a country where I had long dreamed of living).  The job lasted for a year, and not long after my return, I married my wonderful husband Floyd, who I’d met at college.  The two of us lived and worked in California for nearly five years, but when we felt the time was right, it was a joy to move overseas and start a new life in Taiwan.  We return to America every summer, but otherwise, we’ve lived in Taiwan for six wonderful years (and counting).  I love my job teaching fifth grade at Morrison Academy in the city of Taichung.

A few of my blog posts about interesting aspects of life in Taiwan:

Touchdown in Taiwan

Linguistic Misadventures at the Prawn Palace Restaurant 

Typhooning with Krosa

Christmas Dinner… Sort Of

Swine Flu!

Shui Nan Market (a Poem)

What About my Writing?

I’ve always loved writing.  Reading and writing were my favorite subjects in school, and I was seven years old when I decided I was going to be an author.  My first novel (an untitled piece of Christian science fiction) was as ridiculous as you’d expect from a seven-year-old, and it’s probably a good thing I never finished it.  But it got me excited about the idea of writing a book, and I can’t remember a time after that when I wasn’t working on some novel or other.

I was a college student when I woke up one morning after having an interesting dream and thought, That would make a great story.  I should write it down!  I did, and it turned into the first draft of what is now Prince of Alasia.  I set the manuscript aside and forgot about it for a few years, but later I brought it out again, revised it, added details, and turned the short story into a novel.  It was a dream come true when it was finally (after eleven and a half years and a lot of hard work) published as an eBook and later a paperback.

The more I worked on improving the story, the more I pictured other adventures the characters could have and other events that could happen in that setting.  In the Enemy’s Service grew out of those ideas and was published nine months after I started it.  Next came Prince of Malorn, which tells about the same events (and others) from the perspective of the neighboring kingdom. I have lots more ideas, and am currently working on two more books in the same series.  Stay tuned for excited announcements as soon as they’re done!

Besides writing, my favorite hobby is traveling.  Click here to see pictures and a brief description of my adventures in the nineteen countries I’ve had the joy of visiting so far.

Click here to read 25 random facts that most people don’t know about me.

Twitter

Google+

Facebook page (remember to “like” it to get updates about my writing, new publications, and when my books are on sale or occasionally available for free).

Goodreads 

Guest Post: Redemption by Author Mike Schlossberg

Note From Anthony Avina: 

 

Hi there everyone! I am thrilled to share with you an amazing guest blog post from an author I will be working with in the months to come. Please read and enjoy this post from author Mike Schlossberg on how he came up with the title for his book Redemption and how others can learn from it. 

 

 

My book is called Redemptionand it’s about depression, anxiety and saving the world. From the blurb:

Twenty young people wake aboard the spaceship Redemption with no memory how they got there.

Asher Maddox went to sleep a college dropout with clinical depression and anxiety. He wakes one hundred sixty years in the future to assume the role as captain aboard a spaceship he knows nothing about, with a crew as in the dark as he is.

Yanked from their everyday lives, the crew learns that Earth has been ravaged by the Spades virus – a deadly disease planted by aliens. They are tasked with obtaining the vaccine that will save humanity, while forced to hide from an unidentified, but highly advanced enemy.

Half a galaxy away from Earth, the crew sets out to complete the quest against impossible odds. As the enemy draws closer, they learn to run the ship despite their own flaws and rivalries. But they have another enemy . . . time. And it’s running out.

Now, here’s the question I keep getting: Why is it called Redemption?

First is the obvious: It’s the name of the ship. But it’s the name of the ship in the book for a reason.

Okay. So I wrote this thing not just to tell a science fiction story, but to tell a story of mental illness and give those who suffer hope. That’s sort of been my driving force, as an elected official and advocate for the mentally ill. And to be perfectly honest, that permeates just about every facet of the book. Including the name of the ship.

I named it Redemption because I think the idea of guilt – and seeking Redemption – was and is a big part of my depression. Guilt is a common symptom of depression. It’s something I certainly got to know in a very personal way. And I spent most of my life searching for redemption. I desperately wanted to be redeemed from some unknown sin. And I think that’s something that’s relatively common among those who have suffered.

The entire plot is, at it’s core, a redemption story, but not from a sin: From mental illness, from depression and from anxiety. It’s a redemption that I think we all strive for. In my experience, it’s almost not complete obtainable. Personally, I know I will never be completely free from mental illness. It will always be there, running in the background like an iPhone app. Recovery isn’t an end state, it’s a journey. And that’s a lesson I that I have tried to learn all my life, and a journey I try to highlight in Redemption.

As always, I’d love to have your thoughts. Is this an experience you understand? No? Either way, let us know in the comments!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C7M8WT8

https://mikeschlossbergauthor.com

http://www.twitter.com/MikeSchlossberg

http://www.facebook.com/MikeSchlossbergAuthor

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39896276-redemption

Summary:

Redemption Cover from Amazon

Twenty young people wake aboard the spaceship Redemption with no memory how they got there.

Asher Maddox went to sleep a college dropout with clinical depression and anxiety. He wakes one hundred sixty years in the future to assume the role as captain aboard a spaceship he knows nothing about, with a crew as in the dark as he is.

Yanked from their everyday lives, the crew learns that Earth has been ravaged by the Spades virus – a deadly disease planted by aliens. They are tasked with obtaining the vaccine that will save humanity, while forced to hide from an unidentified, but highly advanced enemy.

Half a galaxy away from Earth, the crew sets out to complete the quest against impossible odds. As the enemy draws closer, they learn to run the ship despite their own flaws and rivalries. But they have another enemy . . . time. And it’s running out.

Author bio:

Michael Schlossberg

Mike Schlossberg has been a writer since he wrote his first short story in eighth grade, a Star Wars fanfiction. While he claims it was terrible, the creative passion followed him into adulthood.

Serving as a State Representative in Pennsylvania, Mike has had the chance to make a difference. The problem closest to his heart is mental health, where he strives to break the stigma surrounding those who suffer from mental illnesses and give them hope. For Mike, this issue is personal, as he has been treated for depression and anxiety related disorders since he was 18. It was this desire to help which drove him to write Redemption, his first novel, but not his first book. That honor goes to Tweets and Consequences, an anthology about the varied ways elected officials have destroyed their careers via social media.

When not writing, Mike plays video games (both modern and old school), watches anything related to the Muppets (specifically Fraggle Rock!), reads, attempts to get to the gym, and calls his constituents on their birthdays.

Mike lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with his wife Brenna and his two wonderful children: Auron, born in 2011, and Ayla, born in 2012.

Zenith (The Androma Saga #1) by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings Review

If you were to combine the complex characters of Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity series with the phenomenal world and galaxy building of the Mass Effect franchise and threw in a YA twist, you’d find yourself falling in love with authors Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cumming’s novel Zenith. The first in what is being called The Androma Saga, the amazing new YA science fiction series finds a story filled with strong, complex and intriguing female characters fighting to survive in a hostile galaxy. Here is the synopsis:

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

This book has definitely set the bar very high for the YA genre in 2018. I absolutely loved this complex world the authors built together. It tests the boundaries of the classic tale of good and evil by showing the “heroes” of the story taking some shocking actions to achieve their goals, while the “villains” actions are horrifying yet you see the heartbreaking backstory that set them on this dangerous path, and at times you’ll find yourself empathizing with them. Androma, or Andi, is an incredible new female protagonist, bringing the emotional performance of Clary Fray from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series with the ruthless heroism of Zoe from the Firefly series. It’s refreshing to see a story explore the many sides of a female protagonist, not just the “kick-ass” side or the “emotional” side, but rather all of it put together, making a well rounded and fantastic character you as a reader will fall in love with throughout the course of the novel.

In a time where projects like Guardians of the Galaxy are taking a hold in pop culture, this story of an all-female crew having to fight and survive in a male dominated world of piracy and politics is a fun twist on the genre, and something we need more of in both books and entertainment as a whole. The setting and imagery used throughout the story is breathtaking as you can instantly picture the scenes in your mind as your reading. The time and creativity the authors took to bring this galaxy and the many planets and races together is evident in every page, and the writing was well done, keeping an even pace while still making you hungry to get to the next chapter with every page of the novel.

Overall I loved this book. It’s a great first book in what I hope will be an incredible series, introducing the Mirabel Galaxy and all of the fun, dangerous and vast elements that drive the characters of this story. I couldn’t find one fault with this story, and with a huge twist and cliff hanger ending leaving room for a second book, I am eager to delve into this powerful universe that was beautifully written by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copies of Zenith (The Androma Saga #1) today!

Rating: 10/10

 

Book Blitz: Marked by Fate (A Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction Collection)

Marked by Fate: A Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction Collection
Publication date: October 24th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Synopsis:

Marked by Fate is now enhanced with Augmented Reality! Read, Watch, Listen. The new ultimate reading experience!

Step into adventure with Marked By Fate; the ultimate reading experience. Be immersed in twenty-six fantasy & science fiction worlds with state of the art Augmented Reality technology. Read, listen, and watch bonus content inside to bring the characters and story to life around you.

Enjoy the added features of this special edition, which allow you to enjoy bonus content right from your reading device. See character artwork. Listen to your story’s soundtrack. Watch book trailers and bonus videos. Experience behind the scenes like never before, thanks to Augmented Reality technology. Immersive Fantasy™; bringing fantasy worlds to life.

 

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25 COMPLETE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY NOVELS BY 26 BESTSELLING AUTHORS. PLUS, A SPECIAL BONUS NOVELLA.

Embark on fantastic journeys through magical realms, dystopian lands, and faraway galaxies in this exciting collection of fantasy & science fiction novels brought to you by some of today’s hottest authors. Encounter werewolves, robots, angels, time travelers, shifters, and more in this action-packed box set that will leave you breathless.

Authors:

Kristin D. Van Risseghem
Rhonda Sermon
Kelly St. Clare
Raye Wagner
Ednah Walters
Erin Hayes
Siobhan Davis
Jamie Thornton
Debra Kristi
Sarah K. L. Wilson
Hilary Thompson
Ingrid Seymour
Jeanne Bannon
Melle Amade
Lena Mae Hill
C.J. Anaya
Jackson Dean Chase
D. L. Armillei
Emily Martha Sorensen
Amalie Jahn
Dionne Lister
J.L. Weil
Alisha Klapheke
Angela Fristoe
Meg Cowley
Brandon Barr

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GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses Boxed Set by Sarah J Maas
Now available 1 - Copy

Last Descendants (Assassin’s Creed: Last Descendants #1) by Matthew J. Kirby Book Review

The beloved video game series reaches the YA genre with Matthew J. Kirby’s stellar new novel, Last Descendants!

I must admit something: I love video games. It’s not the most shocking revelation, but I actually enjoy games for the same reason that I enjoy
books: great storytelling. One of my favorite stories in games is the continuing story of the Assassin’s Creed universe, and that story has
now been driven into the Young Adult book world with Matthew J. Kirby’s Last Descendants (Assassin’s Creed: Last Descendants #1). Here is the
synopsis:

Nothing in Owen’s life has been right since his father died in prison, accused of a crime Owen is certain he didn’t commit. Monroe, the IT guy
at school, might finally bring Owen the means to clear his father’s name by letting him use an Animus—a device that lets users explore the
genetic memories buried within their own DNA. The experience brings Owen more than he bargained for. During a simulation, Owen uncovers the
existence of an ancient and powerful relic long considered legend—the Trident of Eden. Now two secret organizations will stop at nothing to take
possession of this artifact—the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. It soon becomes clear to Owen that the only way to save himself
is to find the Trident first.

Under the guidance of Monroe, Owen and a group of other teenagers go into a memory they all share within their DNA: the 1863 Draft Riots in
New York City. Owen and his companions will find themselves tested on the gritty streets of New York, and their experiences in the past will
have far-reaching consequences in the present.

I loved the transition of the series into the YA genre. Bringing together this random group of young teenagers gives the readers more of a connection
with the story of the AC universe, with each character coming from a difficult background and almost becoming the readers eyes and ears, as each
teenager is as much of an outsider to the war between the Assassins and the Templar Order. Learning about the war and the technology of the
animus, the teens go to a tumultuous time period to an era where their ancestors were at the forefront of the Civil War, showing the impact
the war had on a city divided such as New York, and the stakes of that war.

It’s message of racism and divide between the country has clearly never been more real and has not had as deep as a connection as it does in
today’s political and social scene, as our country faces a similar divide once more. The story does a great job of highlighting the struggles
each teen deals with, from racial or societal issues to questions of friendship, sexuality, disabilities and more. This is a book that is just as
multi-cultured as the video games themselves, and the deep use of the AC mythology was perfectly used in this new story. With this being the
first of a new book series, this is a fantastic read that helps start a wonderful new story-arc, and I highly recommend it! I give this book a
10/10, and hope you guys will pick up this book today!

Girl of Fire (The Expulsion Project #1) by Norma Hinkens Book Review

If Firefly were to be made into a modern day CW Teen Drama, it would look a whole lot like author Norma Hinkens book, “Girl of Fire (The Expulsion
Project #1).” A fast paced adventure that explores a whole new galaxy filled with androids, cyborgs and warring worlds, this is a fantastic
sci-fi world that fans will want to dive head first into. Here is the synopsis:

ORIGIN. DESTINY. FATE. How far would you go to unravel the truth?

Trattora is the adopted daughter of the Chieftain on a primitive frontier planet. Velkan is an indentured serf who has never known a day of
freedom. Forced to flee an invasion by Galactic Pirates, they find themselves thrown together on a ramshackle mining vessel that harbors more
than one dark secret. Fate and chemistry combine when the pair’s matching birth bracelets lead them to a shocking discovery about their true
lineage. Stakes rise when they uncover the classified Expulsion Project, and the devastating sacrifice their birth families made to spare their
lives. Determined to save them from liquidation, Trattora and Velkan plunge headlong into a race against time and space to take down the
genocidal self-actualizing software that now controls large swathes of their home planet.

But will they navigate the treacherous dealings of the seedy Galactic underworld in time to rescue the families who loved them enough to let
them go?

Girl of Fire is the first novel in The Expulsion Project, a sci-fi, dystopian thriller trilogy with a whisper of romance, a heavy dose of
adventure, and action galore. If you are a Firefly or Dark Matter fan, or in Divergent withdrawal, this is the book mashup for you!

This was an edge of your seat read, filled with lots of action, great character growth and phenomenal chemistry between the characters. From the
first pages of this book you get a sense of the scope of this galaxy, and the differences that separate the worlds. Getting to see how these
characters started off from the same world and then grew up to be so different was fun to see unfold within the plot, and the story itself
had me invested and hooked immediately.

Much like the supporting characters of the book, one can’t help but feel enthralled with protagonist Trattora and her bravery. Raised on a lone
planet for most of her life, she isn’t afraid to be herself and goes to extreme lengths to save the people who matter to her. With a sense of
justice and pride she throws herself into danger, and takes charge when decisions need to be made.

Overall, this is a must read novel for YA science fiction fans. Readers will love going on this adventure as they delve into the lives of Trattora
and her friends as they explore harsh worlds and seedy cities in the galaxy. The action and shocking cliff-hanger will keep fans invested for
this exciting new series, so be sure to get your copy of “Girl of Fire” today!