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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The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Book Volume Book 1) by Dr. William Anderson Review

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

Author Dr. William Anderson dives head first into the complex world of medical examiners and the far too often injustices that our legal system fails to recognize or get justice for in the medical/crime drama, “The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Volume Book 1). Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

There was a day in the early times of the invention of the medical examiner where this esteemed doctor and pathologist held the job of declaring people dead. Nowadays it is much different. Not only does he affirm time of death, he is involved with the entire community of law enforcement officials, their politics, as well as the many different agendas they hold. 

The cases of Dr. Lyons will shows you the different hats a medical examiner must wear during a single case on the street, in his office, and in the court room. 

The Review

This was one of the most interesting, gripping and intense medical crime thrillers I’ve read in a while. Instead of focusing on a single case, the author does a brilliant job of highlighting the failure of law enforcement and state medical examiners to properly investigate the deaths of individuals who have had no justice done in their investigations. These three cases seem to mirror real life events, or at least speak to the current injustices we see plastered over the internet in this day and age.

In a time where racial violence is on the rise and distrust between people and the police is more and more evident, the author does a marvelous job bringing these issues into the novel. The cases are presented in a clear and concise way, with the author’s medical knowledge showing in every passage. The detail that goes into the examinations of the victims and the detailed account of what each finding means in regards to the victim’s death is fascinating to see unfold, and readers will be left breathless and on the edge of their seat as the investigations unravel before their eyes.

The Verdict

This is a must read novel! Filled with elements of thrillers, mysteries, and detailed medical forensics that give this novel an air of authenticity that few other medical/crime thrillers have, author Dr. William Anderson has created a remarkable novel filled with three heart-pounding tales that will fascinate, enrage and engage readers on multiple levels. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Volume Book 1) today!

Rating: 10/10

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Spiral: A Catalyst for Innovation and Expansion by Amy Simpkins

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

Author Amy Simpkins uses her years of experience to bring a totally unique and creative approach to business in her novel Spiral: A Catalyst for Innovation and Expansion. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis

Discover a new creative framework to help you transform your biggest ideas from imagination to reality, fusing the practicality of engineering design methodology with the magic of alchemy.

Spiral is an epic weaving of threads from engineering, design thinking, spirituality, business, and physics that will empower you as both a business builder and as a human. Rather than a step-by-step process for success that can feel like fighting the tide, this book acts as a guide to building your business on your own terms, in harmony with your own natural rhythms. 

Based on her personal experience as a spacecraft systems architect, a serial entrepreneur, and a business strategy coach, Amy Simpkins offers simple-yet-powerful tools to approach the creative process as a whole person. Whether you are creating disruptively innovative solutions, a world-changing business, or a life that lights you up, Spiral helps you integrate all of the random, varied parts of yourself so that you are free to shine your brightest. 

The Review

This was one of the more unique business style books I’d read. It was fantastic to see an author who seems to truly care about the reader and isn’t focused on selling their services necessarily, but in promoting self-confidence and changing a person’s perception of their worth and the validity of their ideas. 

The creative way the author blends the spiritual side of everyday life with the business concept itself was a truly one of a kind method that I believe could help struggling enterpenuers, creatives and business individuals overall. The concept of the various “Spirals” and incorporating these stages or phases into your business model was an inspired choice, and will help the reader better understand how to move forward with their business ideas overall.

The Verdict

Overall this is a must read novel for anyone interested in business and seeking new and creative ways of starting your own business. If you’ve been struggling with the confidence needed to take a leap of faith and start that business you always wanted to start, or wanted to find an approach to business that was less cut-throat and more spiritual, then this novel is for you. Be sure to grab your copy of Amy Simpkins novel “Spiral: A Catalyst for Innovation and Expansion” today!

Rating: 10/10

Explore the Best Books of 2018 at BN.com

About the Author

I’m Amy Simpkins…

…speaker, facilitator and thought leader in innovation for technology, entrepreneurs, and everybody. I want to help you intentionally design fulfilling, high-impact work that leverages your natural cycles of ebb and flow.

As an MIT-trained engineer, I spent 15 years as a spacecraft systems architect (my mom would say “rocket scientist”), responsible for holding the big picture vision for complex space exploration missions, ensuring that all components of the vision were well-integrated into a cohesive whole, and implementing that vision with flexibility and adaptability. Now I take those proven design methodologies and big-picture mindset, infuse them with a heaping side of intuition and soul, and put it all to work to get you the clarity, confidence, and momentum you need to thrive.

I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Master of Science degree in Astronautical Engineering from the University of Southern California. I have designed, integrated, and flown spacecraft with Lockheed Martin, and I am CEO of the hot renewable energy startup, muGrid Analytics. I geek out about innovation and iterative development, spirals are my favorite shape, and I get turned on seeing patterns emerge in seemingly unrelated subjects.

I live with my amazing entrepreneurial husband and three rambunctious children in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains outside Denver, Colorado.  I am a messy chef, a world traveler, a taekwondo yellow belt, a vocal music minor, a homeschool mom, and a tough cookie in the Colorado backcountry.

“When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”

~R. Buckminster Fuller

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We Are the Underground by Israfel Sivad Review

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

I am happy to share that I have reunited with author Israfel Sivad to bring you an in-depth look into the passionate, creative and unique book of poetry the author has collected. Titled “We Are The Underground”, the poetry explores the intricate journey into the depths of the human spirit. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis

More than a simple collection of poems, We Are the Underground delves into Israfel Sivad’s psyche to inspire you to liberate your own. With each carefully defined section, you’ll explore inner worlds and find the keys you need to unlock hidden truths. For, as Israfel Sivad demonstrates, it’s when we enter our own personal depths that we find true freedom. This poetic journey is your invitation to go deeper than you ever have before. Don’t remain content staring at what the rest of the world has already seen. Look through these inspired poems. Unravel Israfel Sivad’s “Zodiac Cycle”, which contains one poem for every astrological sign in the Western and Chinese zodiacs. Enter the underground, and discover this hidden revolution of souls.

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The Review

This was a truly moving work of art to partake in. One of my favorite poems was What Is Poetry?, which artfully dives into the concept of poetry and beauty in the world being in the eye of the beholder. What is “poetic” to one person may not be to another, and we and we alone can determine what makes for poetry. 

The truly special part of any good book of poetry is when the poems themselves allow the reader to take their own meaning from the work themselves. Poetry is the gateway to the heart of any person, and as we are all individuals, we all view works in our own way. The creativity of adding the zodiac cycle into the works was a stroke of genius, giving the book a unique feel that few others have had before it.

The Verdict

Overall this was a fantastic read. Touching on truly emotional aspects of every person’s life and exploring the concept of growing up, individuality and making your own mark on the world, author Israfel Sivad has done a fantastic job creating a one of a kind poetic experience. If you haven’t yet grab your copy of We Are The Underground today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Israfel Sivad is the founder of Ursprung Collective, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, “Crossroads Blues”, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review). His second novel, “The Adversary’s Good News”, was a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Award. His stories and poems have appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, The Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal. 

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One Night’s Stay by C.B. Collins Review

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

A group of strangers with dark pasts find themselves in a never ending nightmare in author C.B. Collins novel “One Night’s Stay”. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis

Thirteen strangers check into the Sunset Inn hoping to find rest. When one of them is murdered in the middle of the night, the survivors realize they’ve found something else entirely; an ancient evil looking to satisfy an undying hunger. If the guests want to make it through the night, they’ll have to discover the secret behind the motel and the mysterious town it serves. However, in uncovering the truth, they might find that the town’s past is nowhere near as dark as their own.

The Review

This was one of the most original horror stories of the year. A twisted tale of damaged souls and great evil coming face to face with something more sinister than any human could imagine, the author does a wonderful job of turning a classic supernatural horror element into a fresh batch of hell. A blend of both supernatural and classic serial killer style horror, the story reads like a mix of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs. 

The story had equal parts horror, scares and emotional storytelling. Each character had a backstory that was either twisted, sad or highlighted humanity’s struggle with the world around them. The character development nearly outshone the horror story being told, but in the end both showcased truly amazing command over the genre that the author has. 

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The Verdict

Overall this is a must read novel. Filled with scares, chills and everything in between, the author did a wonderful job of creating a story horror fans will love while giving a wider audience characters that would draw them in. What is the terror facing this unlikely group of survivors? Find out by grabbing your copy of C.B. Collins novel “One Night’s Stay” today.

Rating: 10/10

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The Sojourners by T.L. Hughes 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’s adventure seeking to fulfill lifelong dreams turns into a journey of self discovery in author T.L. Hughes novel The Sojourners. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

When Chasing a Dream Leads Deeper Within……

Picking up where Searching for Paradise left off, Mike Hogan, Decky Brady, and Luke Coppens start off in London, still chasing and believing their Hollywood dreams of working in the music video business. But after only a few days into the trip, the friends quickly abandon their efforts and put new plans into place. 

On his own developing journey and through encounters with other travelers and new friends, Mike Hogan experiences the love of finding oneself again. With vivid imagery, poetry and references to great songs throughout, The Sojourners stands on its own as a complete work, with colorful characters and simple people who resonate with the beauty of life. This inspiring, reflective novel shows the importance of ultimate belief in ourselves, and the realization that despite our differences, deep down inside, we all share a common good.

What others are saying:

“Throughout it all, Hughes maintains a tension that transforms this meandering tale into one of complex depictions of human compassion. A charming, soulful entry into a popular (and often disappointing) genre.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Hughes gives us beautiful sentences and finely crafted imagery throughout, with a comforting cadence in his prose, rolling along like a train journey. The story offers carefree country-hopping for the armchair traveler, and each new location – bar, disco, train car, or sidewalk – serves up a vicarious thrill. The Sojourners is a beautifully written work of travel writing, which will be especially appealing to those who have yet to travel, or those who may want to rekindle the expanded horizons of traveling abroad.” Self-Publishing Review, ★★★★ 

The Review

This was an incredibly deep, emotional and thoughtful read. Filled with flowing storytelling and memorable characters throughout, the novel featured incredibly beautiful imagery used by the protagonist, describing his journey through Europe and through the inner workings of his own mind. 

The themes of dealing with loss, finding one’s purpose and discovering the meaning of your own life through travel and adventure really stuck out to me. Unlike other stories of self-discovery, this story stood out for delving into the Cold War era 1980’s, and with each new character introduced in the journey the author saw the real life struggle of topics like racism, politics and religion play out in a completely natural way.

The Verdict

Overall this was a phenomenal read. A detailed, thorough yet pleasant read, the story held the readers attention throughout and painted an image of the protagonist’s journey with such ease that it felt as if you’d lived the journey yourself. Full of humor, wit and charm, the story felt relatable and like something current day readers could draw their real life struggles from. If you haven’t yet, grab this emotionally driven novel The Sojourners by T.L. Hughes today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

T.L. Hughes was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and at a young age moved to Lowell, Massachusetts where he grew up, attending the local public schools through high school. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 1980, he headed west to California. Today, he lives in Orange County with his wife and family.

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