Best Books of 2018

Hello fellow readers and book enthusiasts. I can’t believe it’s the end of 2018 already. This year has both seemed to drag on and flown by way too quickly all at once. This year I really focused most of my energy on not only my day job, but on building this blog into the best possible writing and book related author website possible. I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with some truly amazing authors and publishing companies this year, and as a result I have been lucky enough to review over a hundred novels in total in 2018. 

With so many amazing books under my belt in 2018, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at the year and see which books shone the brightest. So here are my picks for the Best Books of 2018!

Zenith: The Androma Saga by Lindsay Cummings & Sasha Alsberg

As a longtime fan of both Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg on YouTube, I knew I wanted to pick up a copy of Zenith and give it a read, and boy was I not disappointed. As a fan of sci-fi the concept already drew me in, but the way the story was written allowed for some amazing character development. It felt like a modern day, YA version of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with a mostly female All-Star cast of characters. With shocking twists and turns and a good blend of YA character development and mature storylines, this novel perfectly set up the eager anticipation for a sequel, (which I cannot wait for Nexus, the second book in the series, to drop this year). 

Keeper by Kim Chance

Another amazing read for a YouTuber/AuthorTuber that I greatly admire, author Kim Chance’s debut novel Keeper was a fantastic read. I’m a sucker for anything involving the supernatural and fantasy in a modern setting, so this story of a young girl who can see a chilling sight of a ghost and learns she is part of something far greater and deadlier than she ever knew really stood out to me. The story felt raw, emotional and powerful in a very real sense, and as a result I am sitting on the edge of my seat for the next book in the series “Seeker”. 

The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker

One of my all time favorite reads of the year, author J.D. Barker is quickly proving to be one of the next powerhouse horror authors in the industry. The Fifth To Die is the highly anticipated sequel to the thrilling horror read The Fourth Monkey, and the growing mythology of the 4MK killer and the detective obsessed with bringing him to justice takes so many twists and turns that you will be left breathless by the book’s final pages. Ending on a cliffhanger, I am as obsessed as the story’s detective to see how the third book turns out. 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

One of the more surprising hits of 2018 has to be The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. This year’s chart climbing hit thriller focuses on a woman who develops a fear of leaving her home, only to witness horrible crimes at her neighbors home. Battling a police department who fears her phobia of leaving the home is causing her to hallucinate strange events and a shocking mystery involving her seemingly perfect neighbors makes this the year’s “Gone Girl” type of story, and creates a narrative like no other that makes me feel as if author A.J. Finn has a long career in the genre. 

It Came From The Basement by M.R. Kessell

A mature illustrated book that screams of childhood memories, this novel showcases horror filled monster tales offering various horrific situations involving scary beats who emerge from the basement of this home. The illustrations and attention to detail in creating this adult themed illustrated novel make this one of the more unique reads I had this year. 

Superhero Ethics by Travis Smith

This unique read really stuck out to me, as it was unlike any other superhero book I’d read before. A non-fiction book that analyzes various superheroes in popular culture and reflects on who best represents what our world needs from an ethical standpoint, the author pairs various heroes against one another in various categories, from intelligence and brawn to animalistic natures and god-like power. It’s a profound read that will give superhero fans a new appreciation for the genre, while giving us a new perspective on the heroes we thought we knew. 

Boylord: Genesis by Nathan Peabody

One of the most unique graphic novels I had the pleasure of reviewing this year was Boylord: Genesis by Nathan Peabody. I had the honor of meeting Nathan years ago at San Francisco Comic Con when work on this story first began, and I was sent a full hardback copy of the full story this year. The illustrations and artwork were breathtaking, and the blend of sci-fi, fantasy and horror felt less like a mashup and more of a natural progression of the genres. I highly recommend you grabbing a copy of this book. 

Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch by R.D. Crist

A newcomer to the YA scene, this dark tale of witchcraft and a young woman who must grieve her mother’s untimely passing while trying to survive in this deadly new world really stuck out to me. The author had a rich command over the genre as we explored this young woman’s journey to discover who she really was, who her mother was and what dangers she was being hid from while grieving really made this a unique read. 

Dracul by J.D. Barker and Dacre Stoker

One of the highlights of the year had to be the highly anticipated prequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, titled Dracul. Written by my favorite emerging horror author J.D. Barker alongside Bram Stoker descendant Dacre Stoker, the story put Bram himself in the seat of being the protagonist, exploring a “true” history of how this classic novel came to life. Discovering that the author had the first 100 pages cut from his manuscript and that he originally presented it as a true story to the publishers made this read all the more fascinating, and I highly recommend any fans of the Dracula lore to pick up this fantastic novel. 

Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong by Bo Wu

One sub-genre of the YA genre that I’ve always been fascinated by but have yet to tackle was the Mermaid mythology. While films like The Little Mermaid by Disney have showcased some aspects of mermaid lore, author Bo Wu created a whole new twist on the genre, creating a whole world under the ocean. The character development and coming of age element of the story was brilliant, and fans of the recently released Aquaman might be interested in this underwater adventure as well. 

We Are The Underground by Israfel Savid 

If I were to pick one book of poetry that I loved the most this year, it would be Israfel Savid’s We Are The Underground. Blending beautiful poetic imagery with themes from the astrological mythology, the author created a running narrative that people of all backgrounds could find themselves in.

One Night’s Stay by C.B. Collins

The final novel I’ll recommend is the shocking and captivating horror novel One Night’s Stay by C.B. Collins. A blend of Salem’s Lot, Psycho and survival horror novels, the story finds several individuals drawn to this local motel outside of a mysterious town, only to be attacked by some unseen and monstrous force that will force them to fight for survival. It’s a wonderful twist on the supernatural horror genre that I highly recommend.

What do you guys think? Which of these books have you read in 2018? What was your favorite read of 2018? Let me know in the comments below, and check out all of my reviews of these novels by clicking on the buttons above! Have a wonderful New Year’s Everyone. I’ll see you in 2019!

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Interview with Author Bo Wu

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

 

I was born and raised in North Carolina. I’m not really into Astrology, but my sign is Pisces, so that may explain the book about the ocean and all the wonderful creatures who call it home.

 

I fell into the same routine my friends did after graduating university. I joined in the workforce and tried to convince everyone I had “it” figured out as much as they did, but I never really felt like I fit in. It all felt like such a charade at that time.

 

As my friends all started getting married and settling down, I decided to do the opposite. I picked up and moved overseas. I took a TEFL ( Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Prague, then ended up in Taiwan. When I left the States, I really started searching for myself and experiencing life. I ended up all over Southeast Asia, tried Europe once more, and gave Mexico a go, as well.

 

I’ve always been praised for my writing, but I never did anything with it. That changed a few years ago when the book popped into my head.

 

 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

 

I came up with the idea in December/January 2015-2016 while meditating. I was going through a difficult time in life. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was dealing with multiple failed attempts at other ventures, and I was searching, really searching for something.

 

The final scene just popped into my head. That idea caught fire, spread, and Mermaids Are Real became the next venture to focus my energy on. I moved twice so I could put myself in a better position to finish the book. Every decision I made was for the book. It turned into my obsession.

 

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

 

There are several messages in the book. The largest would be ocean conservation.

 

I’ve traveled all over the world. I’ve lived in six different countries. Living someplace really opens your eyes to things. When you’re traveling, you’re jaded by the newness. Having said that, there are certain areas on this planet where people really have no clue about trash and what to do with it. Most of it’s an educational problem. That’s where I want Benji and his pals come in to save the day.

 

My ultimate goal is to be able to use this book as a platform to help raise awareness, to use the characters and scenes as an incentive for people to be more mindful of their actions. I have a feeling there’s going to be a time in the future where the younger generations won’t be able to see or experience these aquatic creatures in real life. That’s a shame.

 

There are some other underlying messages regarding family, success, and life in general, but I’ll refrain from divulging much about those and let the readers discover them on their own.

 

 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

 

I’m a kid at heart. I grew up on Disney movies and Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner Saturday morning cartoons. I think I have a lot to pass on to the next generation, too. I might not have a Ferrari in my garage (I don’t even have a garage), but I’ve seen a lot more and done a lot more than a good majority of people on this planet. I don’t have any children, so this is my way of playing dad. Hopefully, on a much grander scale.

 

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

 

That’d be a tough choice. If I could cheat on that question, which I’m going to do, I’d prefer a town hall-style meeting where I get to talk to all of them. Or maybe a party where they’d all be there, and I’d get to bounce around the room chatting with each one of them at my leisure.

 

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

Goodreads has been good so far. I’ve relied on it the heaviest. I’ve used Facebook sparingly, but I don’t have an author page set up. I’ve been pumping out reviews and news through my personal page which is the only thing I use it for. I told myself when I started out, I wouldn’t get drawn into the whole social media scene.

 

Aside from writing a book people want to read, marketing is the most important. However, I don’t believe I have to be everywhere or everything to everyone. If you’re looking for a place to focus on readers, Goodreads makes the most sense to me.

 

 

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

 

Read. A lot. Figure out what you like, then write a book that you would want to read. After that, get others to help you develop it. Get feedback. A lot. But in the end, remember that you’re the captain of the ship.

 

You can find beta readers on Goodreads, too. That’s something I wish I had done more of. I used a group of friends, family, and their friends and family. If I could go back and do it again, I would have begun using Goodreads much earlier in the process.

 

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

 

The biggest thing I’ve been praised for about the book is the detail. I built such an immersive world with the first book. I have plenty of room to expand on with another. I’ve laid the foundation. Once I slow down with the marketing, and I feel like I’m ready, I’ll dive into the next one. I see myself getting to that point before the end of the year.

 

Extra Info:

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Goodreads Author Profile –

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18267464.Bo_Wu

 

Goodreads Book page –

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40966179-mermaids-are-real?ac=1&from_search=true

 

Amazon Author Profile – https://www.amazon.com/Bo-Wu/e/B07G3C8P1K/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

Amazon Book page –

https://www.amazon.com/Mermaids-Are-Real-Mystiq-Prong-ebook/dp/B07FTMLGQS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1541335981&sr=8-2&keywords=mermaids+are+real

 

Facebook page – (feel free to add me as a friend)

https://www.facebook.com/mebowu

 

Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong by Bo Wu Review

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

A phenomenal new YA adventure begins in author Bo Wu’s novel Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

“’Crabs talk?’ asked Benji. 

‘Everything in nature speaks. Not everything in nature listens,’ said Octavius nodding Topside.” 

Benji Fisher has spent the first twelve years of his life growing up in a small fishing town, Topside. He’s gotten used to the gang of dolphins who follow him on his surfboard and the voices he hears under the water; odd things that have, in their repetition, become part of normal everyday life. 

However, none of that prepares him for the recruitment speech he gets from an octopus named Octavius and three of the dolphins the night before his thirteenth birthday. 

What would you do if your ‘calling’ in life required you to take a leap/dive of faith? Would you take the plunge? 

The Review

This was an incredibly original and unique take on the YA genre. Mermaids have been a constant source of mystery and intrigue in pop culture. Author Bo Wu has created a fabulous mythology not only for mermaids but for the entire ocean world. A world often taken for granted or ignored by humanity as a whole, the author did a wonderful job highlighting the beauty of the natural ocean world and the danger of our carelessness and ignorance of our impact on that world.

The characters drew you in immediately. From the bond between father and son duo Joe and protagonist Benji, to the mermaids and ocean life that Benji bonds with as he gets accustomed to his home world. This story played heavily on the fantasy/mythological side of the YA genre, and the result was a thrilling journey filled with untold danger, a mysterious new world and one of the most original settings in a YA novel this year.

The Verdict

Overall I loved this book. The story was filled with intricate details and characters that kept the reader pulled in the entire read, and made for an evenly paced read at that. The story does a marvelous job of creating a memorable villain and shocking twists that will change the narrative of the story several times. With a satisfying conclusion that leaves the possibility for future books open without leaving readers on a cliffhanger, I certainly hope we get to return to Aquari and explore Benji’s story more in future installments. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong by Bo Wu today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FTMLGQS/ref=x_gr_w_glide_ku_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_ku_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07FTMLGQS&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Learn More About the Author At The Links Below

https://mermaidsarereal.co/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40966179-mermaids-are-real