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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Zenith (The Androma Saga #1) by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings Review

If you were to combine the complex characters of Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity series with the phenomenal world and galaxy building of the Mass Effect franchise and threw in a YA twist, you’d find yourself falling in love with authors Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cumming’s novel Zenith. The first in what is being called The Androma Saga, the amazing new YA science fiction series finds a story filled with strong, complex and intriguing female characters fighting to survive in a hostile galaxy. Here is the synopsis:

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

This book has definitely set the bar very high for the YA genre in 2018. I absolutely loved this complex world the authors built together. It tests the boundaries of the classic tale of good and evil by showing the “heroes” of the story taking some shocking actions to achieve their goals, while the “villains” actions are horrifying yet you see the heartbreaking backstory that set them on this dangerous path, and at times you’ll find yourself empathizing with them. Androma, or Andi, is an incredible new female protagonist, bringing the emotional performance of Clary Fray from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series with the ruthless heroism of Zoe from the Firefly series. It’s refreshing to see a story explore the many sides of a female protagonist, not just the “kick-ass” side or the “emotional” side, but rather all of it put together, making a well rounded and fantastic character you as a reader will fall in love with throughout the course of the novel.

In a time where projects like Guardians of the Galaxy are taking a hold in pop culture, this story of an all-female crew having to fight and survive in a male dominated world of piracy and politics is a fun twist on the genre, and something we need more of in both books and entertainment as a whole. The setting and imagery used throughout the story is breathtaking as you can instantly picture the scenes in your mind as your reading. The time and creativity the authors took to bring this galaxy and the many planets and races together is evident in every page, and the writing was well done, keeping an even pace while still making you hungry to get to the next chapter with every page of the novel.

Overall I loved this book. It’s a great first book in what I hope will be an incredible series, introducing the Mirabel Galaxy and all of the fun, dangerous and vast elements that drive the characters of this story. I couldn’t find one fault with this story, and with a huge twist and cliff hanger ending leaving room for a second book, I am eager to delve into this powerful universe that was beautifully written by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copies of Zenith (The Androma Saga #1) today!

Rating: 10/10

 

Channeling some #zenith vibes right now. My video review of @sashaalsberg and @authorlindsaycummings new book #zeniththeandromasaga goes live on my @youtube channel #AvinaVlogs tomorrow at 11 am, while the written review is live on my blog, authoranthonyavina.tumblr.com right now! @tumblr

Zenith (The Androma Saga #1) by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings Review

Imagine if science fiction cult classics such as Joss Whedon’s Firefly or the visceral story of the hit gaming series Mass Effect, and then you
put a YA spin on both franchises, then you’d have this soon to be fan favorite YA Science Fiction book Zenith (The Androma Saga #1) by Sasha
Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. The fresh voice of Sasha Alsberg when combined with the seasoned voice of author Lindsay Cummings makes for one
of the most adrenaline fueled, heavily character driven YA stories I’ve read.

First, here is the official story synopsis.

There is darkness sweeping across the stars.

Most know her as the Bloody Baroness, the captain of a fearsome glass starship called The Marauder. Androma and her crew strike terror in the
hearts of those who cross them amongst the many corners of the Mirabel Galaxy.

When a routine mission goes rogue, the all-female crew is captured by a bounty hunter from Andi’s past and forced into a job that could, quite
literally, start a war that will devour worlds.

Meanwhile, on the far side of the galaxy, the ruthless ruler Nor waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time. The final pieces
are about to fall into place, liberating a plan that will tear Mirabel in two.

As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, there is one lesson that proves to be true: No one can be trusted in a galaxy that runs on lies and
illusion.

From internet sensation Sasha Alsberg and multi-genre author Lindsay Cummings comes a new serialized space opera, full of action, intrigue, and
steamy star-crossed romance.

Perfect for fans of Hugh Howie, Sarah J Maas, and Beth Revis.

Now as both a newcomer to the YA genre and a fan of science fiction, I was already excited about the release of this book. What really sets this
book apart is that there is no set good guys in this story. The protagonist of this story, Androma, the Bloody Baroness, is a feared outlaw who
isn’t afraid to get bloody and kill to accomplish her goals. While there are even deadlier threats in the galaxy, she isn’t ruled by an overwhelming
sense of honor or duty, but rather very real human emotions and complicated histories that have shaped her into the person she now is. It was
refreshing to see a predominately female driven book that showcased how men aren’t needed to have an action-fueled adventure.

The pace of this first story is very fast, and the complicated history the characters bring to the book immediately hook the reader in, to the
point where I finished this book in one day and am ready for a second go. In just a few pages, the reader immediately gets a sense of just how
large this galaxy is, and the bubbling conflict that is sure to consume it with just one conflict. Overall, this is one of the most promising new
YA series that both YA readers and science fiction readers will want to consume now. By the end of the story, readers will be eager to sink their
teeth into The Androma Saga #2, so be sure to pick up your copies of Zenith (The Androma Saga #1) now and help support authors Sasha Alsberg and
Lindsay Cummings to get more of their incredible work out in stores now! Be on the lookout for an official video review on my channel, Avina
Vlogs, soon!

https://www.amazon.com/ZENITH-Androma-Saga-Sasha-Alsberg-ebook/dp/B01DIIU7DK?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01DIIU7DK&linkCode=as2&redirect=true&ref_=x_gr_w_bb&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20