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 Israfel Sivad (December 2018)

1)      For any newcomers to my blog, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Well, the truth is I’ve pretty much always written. After my parents split up when I was in fifth grade, I started writing myself to sleep at night. I did that all through middle school. I wrote lyrics based on all the song structures in the liner notes to the heavy metal tapes I owned. In high school, I turned that talent into an opportunity to write lyrics for the punk rock bands I played in. I wound up collecting many of those lyrics in my book Soundtrack for the New Millennium. Then, when I went away to college, I started keeping journals, and eventually those journals evolved into stories, novels and poems.

2)      What inspired you to write your book?

We Are the Underground initially started as a project for a writing group I joined when I left New York City in 2012 to move back down to Richmond, VA for a little while. I met a group of guys and girls at a café, and they started giving me writing prompts. Eventually, after I had already written a handful of random poems, I decided I wanted a theme running through the work as a whole. The poems so far had been very personal to me. So, I decided to incorporate my childhood spirituality into the work. Having grown up in Southern California, that wasn’t quite the same as many of my peers. It was based on the mysticism and philosophies my grandmother studied. She called herself The White Witch. Those poems eventually turned into the “Zodiac Cycle,” and that determined the structure for the rest of the book.

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

I really hope readers will be inspired by We Are the Underground to create for themselves, whether that be artistically, spiritually or simply in their day-to-day lives. In addition to that, I’d love for readers to go deep with these poems and find their own meanings in them. I believe I’ve left a lot of room open for interpretation with this book. I hope people will explore all those meanings.

4)      What drew you into this particular genre?

I started writing these poems as a break from another project I was working on (the novel you reviewed earlier, Anthony, The Adversary’s Good News). The poems were able to be jotted down quickly and then revised and modified slowly over time. That allowed me to feel like I was making progress when my novel was progressing so slowly. After finishing the novel, I kept working on the poems as breaks from a handful of other, larger projects I’d started.

5)      What major differences (other than genre) did you notice when writing this book as opposed to The Adversary’s Good News? Would you say it was more difficult or easier to write this book?

Writing The Adversary’s Good News was harder than this book. The Adversary’s Good News took me nearly ten years to complete. It was a massive undertaking. The plotting and wordsmithing was unbelievable. However, We Are the Underground surprisingly required a great deal more research, particularly for the Zodiac Cycle. The Adversary’s Good News was inspired by books I’d already read. Whereas, with We Are the Underground,I spent a lot of time researching astrology for the poems themselves as well as poetic structures so that I could vary the styles and tones of each poem while simultaneously finding forms fitting each one’s content.

6)      Since we last spoke, what social media site has grown to help you connect with readers the most?

Instagram has been garnering a lot of my social media attention. I find it to be a great medium for reaching readers and interacting with the world in general.

7)      What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or poets out there, or to anyone looking to expand and explore the poetry genre as a whole?

First, to aspiring authors and poets: Believe in yourself, and don’t give up. Nobody else can determine if you’re a writer. Only you know that. Don’t believe in artistic “gatekeepers.” Nobody else can tell you whether you’ve succeeded in accomplishing what you want to accomplish. As far as expanding and exploring the genre of poetry, I urge everybody to read everything from yesterday’s classics to today’s big press and self-published authors. Read everything from Instagram poets to The Epic of Gilgamesh. And while you’re doing all that, keep exploring what this world makes you think and feel. Write it down. Write it all down. The structures will come. You’ll discover them. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to live.

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

I’m pretty much always working on new projects. What I’m most excited about right now, though, is the first draft of a new novel I recently completed. I hope to release this project in the next year or two. It’s currently called Pomegranate Sutra, and it’s the story of how to find love when you believe you’re too damaged to ever let that emotion take hold. I look forward to sharing it with you all when it’s finally ready for publication.

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. 

Website: www.IsrafelSivad.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/israfel_sivad/

Twitter: twitter.com/UrsprungCollect

Facebook: www.facebook.com/UrsprungCollective/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ursprung-collective

Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise

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. 

Explore the Best Books of 2018 at BN.com