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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Author Interview: R.D. Crist

The Interview

Q1). A little bit about myself and how did I get into writing.
Just a little?  Wow.  There is so much that I don’t know where to start.  I’ve been through a lot.  I’ve experienced so many adverse circumstances that I had to sit down and develop a new perspective, which is why I chose a degree in marriage and family therapy.  Originally, I was amazing in math and many people saw me in a more technical field, but here I am, trying to figure it all out.  What I do learn, I love to pass on, which is why I write…
I began writing mostly by chance – a long story, but…  I decided to write stories because I felt people learn through experiences, even other people’s experiences, and I learned that people fight grown when it is expected.  If you put the two concepts together, it’s better than peanut butter and chocolate – you get entertainment and growth.  A self help book can help people, but so can a good story.  If you get one lesson, or just feel a little better about yourself, in one of my stories, then it was all worth the effort.
Q2). What inspired you to write this book?
Adolescence is a difficult time for many people.  Long story short, I believe this book has the opportunity to facilitate a feeling of acceptance and normalcy.
Q3). What theme or message do you hope to convey?
I put the theme right smack in the dedication: “fitting in.”  The entire book – from the love story, the school, the parental aspect, and even in little pockets – was designed to support the theme of a young woman trying to find where she fits in regarding her immediate situation and in the outer world.  It’s not about witches, love, shoes, or even the individual characters: it’s about how Natalie begins, how she negotiates the circumstances, and where she ends.  An example is: some people wanted more love in the story, and some people wanted less love, but the love interest was perfectly designed to help Natalie feel like a normal teenage woman.  Also, the reader may notice how Natalie’s shoes coincide with her influence over the other girls; the more she is accepted as one of them, the more they wear her style of shoes. 
Q4). What drew you to this particular genre?
I didn’t begin in this genre, and I’m not fixed in this genre, but there seemed to be an opening for more empowerment in Young Adults.  Fantasy seemed the perfect catalyst.  I thought I’d experiment with a first chapter, and I liked it.  From there I set aside my other projects to finish this book; and the second one.
Q5). If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
This is such a fun question.  My characters are made from envisioning extreme personalities, and picturing how each would react is exciting to think of.
I love knowledge, and Ms. Haggle knows everything, but she also has no patience for, well, anyone, and can be very temperamental.  I’m drawn to people who need help, and I see myself drawn to Melissa; but I wouldn’t ask her why she’s so angry, that wouldn’t be smart.  I think I’d ask her, “how can I help?”  But she’d probably just reply, “by leaving me alone.”
Q6). What social media sight has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Goodreads by far.  The bloggers there have been patient, honest, and extremely helpful.  Their sites are fun to read and informative.  I think if this book has a great start, it’s because of them.
Q7). What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Do not quit, and do not stress about it?  Advice I still need to follow.  I have walked away from writing and come back so many times, but I just keep getting better.  This story was actually written about five years ago, but it is now just coming out.  Also, I wrote another book before this one, but was frustrated when a similar story came out before I published it, even though it was about four years in the making.  Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.  I think my stories get better each time anyway.
Q8). What does the future hold in store for you?  Any new books/projects on the horizon?
Yes, yes, and yes.  I am working on about ten different stories at the moment.  I piece them together in my mind until they are complete enough to start a treatment.  I am always building them and have numerous treatments written down.  I promised myself I would publish the second book to Scarlet Reign next year, which has been written and needs to be revised, but there are several more I can’t wait to complete.  There are four books in this series, so we’ll see where it all goes, but first I must consider writing as a hobby because I have other responsibilities.  I am happy with my financial situation and would be ecstatic to just have a fan base even if I don’t make money, but the truth is, books will come slow in my current routine.  I will do everything in my power to have one Scarlet Reign book come out every year.  It shouldn’t be hard as the last two are all pieced together and ready to be written – but there may also be a spinoff.  I have already put forth great effort to piece them together so that they connect as a complete story.  Book one is filled with set-ups that are very imperative to the other seven (yes, seven) books.
I will try to keep all my fans updated on our monthly notes, which can be found on our website: www.scarletreignbooks.com

Author Bio:

R.D. Crist is a psychotherapist who generates creativity via long walks and majestic views of nature. True inspiration to write, however, derives from personal hardships that have sparked a desire to help others manage life’s various struggles.

 

Although R.D. Crist has only released one book, three have been written and several more begun, which span a variety of genres.  The focus of these stories are intended to center on Crist’s favorite dynamics of a story – personal conflict, relationship development, inner growth, and social revelation.  Each story is created with a greater purpose to stimulate a person to reflect on common challenges, be they personal, interactive, or in principle.

 

Childhood influences include Ray Bradbury stories and character conflict movies like Twelve Angry Men.

 

Socializing, listening to people’s stories, spending time with family, and relentlessly exercising (as if those last ten pounds cared) are some of Crist’s favorite ways to pass the day.

Thank you again and I hope this helps,
R.D. Crist

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

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

A chilling and fantastic new look at the YA Fantasy genre, author R.D. Crist is set to release “Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch”. The first in a series, this new YA adventure takes a classic supernatural group of individuals and gives them a brand new spin. Here is the synopsis:

Synopsis

After the unexplainable death of her mother on the eve of Natalie’s fourteenth birthday, she is suddenly forced to grow up. Compelled to leave her dismal and deceptive life behind by a mysterious woman who claims to be an old relative, Natalie carries with her the highly coveted, scarlet stoned ring she reluctantly retrieved from her mother upon her death. 

Following Natalie’s irreversible decision, she unexpectedly finds herself alone and thrust into a peculiar all female orphanage where her arrival was strangely anticipated by the inhabitants, and greeted by some with ire. Ultimately, young Natalie must quickly learn to fend for herself against bullies, unexplained forces, a male suitor, and something lurking for revenge. Does she have both the strength and resolve, and can she set the past aside, to uncover the secrets necessary in order to fulfill her destiny?

The Review

This novel was fantastic. With the YA genre stronger than ever before, the author has found a way to not only create compelling characters and a heart-wrenching story, but make the story have a fresh twist in the YA Fantasy world. The story follows a classic young woman thrust into a hidden world theme, but takes this theme and pairs it with the emotional realm of loss and what children experience after the loss of a parent.

What I really enjoyed was how the author managed to not pit two different groups of supernaturals against one another, but instead showed how a group of supernaturals can have division within itself, and how there are good and bad people in any group. The writing was evenly paced, descriptive and yet left readers with enough space to imagine the scenarios in the novel playing out. The action started from the first page and only escalated from there, leaving readers on the edge of their seat as they waited to learn the secrets of this orphanage and where Natalie truly belonged.

The Verdict

This is a must read for any YA Fantasy fan. With fall approaching and the Halloween season approaching, this is the perfect book for YA fans to jump into to begin their holiday adventures in literature. A powerful story that promises an engaging and shocking series, author R.D. Crist has done a fantastic job of creating a world worth diving head first into, and I for one cannot wait for the next book’s arrival. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch today!

Rating: 10/10

Here is the book website: www.scarletreignbooks.com

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41555714-scarlet-reign

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Scarlet-Reign-Malice-Dark-Witch-ebook/dp/B07GTPZ4KN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537547997&sr=8-1&keywords=scarlet+reign+malice+of+the+dark+witch

Author Bio

R.D. Crist is a psychotherapist who generates creativity via long walks and majestic views of nature. True inspiration to write, however, derives from personal hardships that have sparked a desire to help others manage life’s various struggles.

Although R.D. Crist has only released one book, three have been written and several more begun, which span a variety of genres.  The focus of these stories are intended to center on Crist’s favorite dynamics of a story – personal conflict, relationship development, inner growth, and social revelation.  Each story is created with a greater purpose to stimulate a person to reflect on common challenges, be they personal, interactive, or in principle.

Childhood influences include Ray Bradbury stories and character conflict movies like Twelve Angry Men.

Socializing, listening to people’s stories, spending time with family, and relentlessly exercising (as if those last ten pounds cared) are some of Crist’s favorite ways to pass the day.

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