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 Fifth To Die (4MK Thriller #2) by J.D. Barker Review

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

Today is a special treat my friends. I was recently sent an advanced copy of the highly anticipated sequel to one of my favorite thrillers in the last few years, The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker. This time around the author has published The Fifth To Die, a thrilling ride that explores the continuing hunt for the deadly 4MK. Here’s the synopsis:

In the thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, a new serial killer stalks the streets of Chicago, while Detective Porter delves deeper into the dark past of the Four Monkey Killer.

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. 

While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

This book was incredible. Of course as with all my reviews this will be a spoiler-free review. However I can honestly say that author J.D. Barker has mastered how to write the perfect sequel, upping his game greatly to create an even more intense, thrilling and engaging story than The Fourth Monkey. Delving deeper into the killer’s past, Detective Porter finds himself drawn into the twisted world of 4MK in ways no one can ever imagine, unless of course you’re J.D. Barker.

The way the story takes readers into the minds of everyone involved in the case, from new investigators and the team you came to know and love in the first novel to the killer himself and the newest victims who have to face the very heart of darkness and evil alone. It’s a powerful and explosive story from the first page, showing the way everyone was affected by 4MK’s surprising actions in the first novel and how just when you thought you knew the limits of this killer, he takes things so much further. By the end of the story your heart will be racing and you’ll be on the edge of your seat, gasping for breath because you got so enraptured with the twist ending that you forgot to breath.

Overall I loved this story. It was so fun and thrilling to take part in, and the entire time I was reading it I kept asking myself when someone is going to make a movie or show about this story. The tale of 4MK and those hunting him is the modern day serial killer story we’ve been waiting for, and makes for the perfect summer thriller read. In J.D. Barker we’ve found a spiritual successor to the incredible Stephen King, taking the characters of the everyday man and transforming their lives into one of a kind adventures and thrill rides that only these one of a kind authors could come up with. If you haven’t preordered your copy yet, be sure to do so now. The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker comes out July 10th, 2018, so grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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ABOUT J.D.

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Barker was born January 7, 1971 in Lombard, Illinois and spent the first fourteen years of his life in Crystal Lake, Illinois. A staunch introvert, he was rarely seen without a book in hand, devouring both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series by the age of six before moving on to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. The discovery of Shelley, Stoker and Poe fueled a fire and it wasn’t long before he was writing tales of his own which he shared with friends and family. These early stories centered around witches and ghosts thought to inhabit the woods surrounding their home.

At fourteen, Barker’s family relocated to Englewood, Florida, a climate better suited to his father’s profession as a contractor. He attended Lemon Bay High School and graduated in 1989. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the arts but unsure of a direction, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he later obtained a degree in business. While in college, one of his writing assignment found its way into the hands of Paul Gallotta of Circus Magazine. Gallotta reached out to Barker and asked him to join the staff of 25th Parallel Magazine where he worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. Assignments dropped him into the center of pop culture and by 1991 Barker branched out, interviewing celebrities for the likes of Seventeen, TeenBeat, and other national and local publications. In 1992, Barker syndicated a small newspaper column called Revealed which centered around the investigation of haunted places and supernatural occurrences. While he often cites these early endeavors as a crash course in tightening prose, his heart remained with fiction. He began work as a book doctor and ghostwriter shortly thereafter, helping others fine tune their writing for publication. Barker has said this experience proved invaluable, teaching him what works and what doesn’t in today’s popular fiction. He would continue in this profession until 2012 when he wrote a novel of his own, titled Forsaken.

Stephen King read portions of Forsaken prior to publication and granted Barker permission to utilize the character of Leland Gaunt of King’s Needful Things in the novel. Indie-published in late 2014, the book went on to hit several major milestones – #2 on Audible (Harper Lee with Go Set a Watchman held #1), #44 on Amazon U.S., #2 on Amazon Canada, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to Barker and asked him to co-author a prequel to Dracula utilizing Bram’s original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public. The novel, titled Dracul, sold at auction to G.P. Putnam & Sons, with film rights going to Paramount. Andy Muschietti (IT, Mama) is attached to direct.

Barker’s initial indie success drew the attention of traditional agents and publishers and in early 2016 his debut thriller, The Fourth Monkey, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt set to publish in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the UK. The book has also sold for both film and television.

Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

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