Category Archives: BOOKS

A Glimpse Back to My Top 5 Best Reads of 2019

Say ‘yes’ on the comments if you have already made a partial list of books you want to read this 2020.

I already have a few, but before diving into new adventures, I’d like to pay tribute to some of the best reads I’ve had last year – books which I would not mind rereading and hyping up to friends. They’re that good.

Plus, if you haven’t read them yet, consider them as my personal reading recommendations to you this year:

In no particular order…

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Date finished: January 6, 2019

Synopis: The circus arrives with no warning. No announcement precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Reves, and it is only open at night.

My thoughts: Beautifully-written, dream-like and spectacular. I love it.

Goodreads average rating: 4.04 stars / 5

Deep Fathom by James Rollins

Date finished: January 27, 2019

Synopsis: Ex-Navy SEAL Jack Kirkland surfaces from an aborted underwater salvage mission to find Earth burning. Solar flares have triggered a series of gargantuan natural disasters. Earthquakes and hellfire rock the globe. Air Force One has vanished from the skies with America’s president on board.

My thoughts: Awe-inspiring adventure to the world beneath the seas! Makes me want to explore ancient ruins up close! Here’s my full review on this book.

Goodreads average rating: 4.09 stars / 5

The Judas Strain by James Rollins

Date finished: March 18, 2019

Synopsis: From the depths of the Indian Ocean, a horrific plague has arisen to devastate humankind – a disease that’s unknown, unstoppable…and deadly. But it is merely a harbinger of the doom that is to follow. Aboard a cruise liner transformed into a makeshift hospital, Dr. Lisa Cummings and Monk Kokkalis – operatives of SIGMA Force – search for answers to the bizarre affliction. But there are others with far less altruistic intentions. In a savage and sudden coup, terrorists hijack the vessel, turning a mercy ship into a floating bio-weapon lab.

My thoughts: Byfar the most action-packed adventure in this series! No less than wonderful! And I’m totally in for GrayxSeichan ship!

Goodreads average rating: 4.15 stars / 5

Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman

Date finished: July 6, 2019

Synopsis: Call me by your name is a story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.

My thoughts: Can’t put words on this. It’s a masterpiece.

Goodreads average rating: 4.26 stars / 5

Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle that Made England by Juliet Barker

Date finished: November 10, 2019

Synopsis: Waged almost six centuries ago, the Battle of Agincourt still captivates. It is the classic underdog story, and generations have wondered how the English-outmanned by the French six to one – could have succeeded so bravely and brilliantly. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Juliet Barker paints a gripping narrative of the October 1415 clash between the outnumbered English archers and the heavily armored French knights. Populated with chivalrous heroes, dastardly spies, and ferocious and bold king, AGINCOURT is as earthshaking as its subject – and confirm Juliet Barker’s status as both a historian and a storyteller of the first rank.

My thoughts: Fine historical read with helpful references.

Goodreads average rating: 4.11 stars / 5

I’m still beefing up my 2020 reading list, so if you have some recommendations up your bucket, drop them down on the comments!

Sigma Force Series Book 1: Sandstorm – Explosive!

How else can you best commence an action series than starting it off with a kickass pilot installment?

Sandstorm is everything I wished for in an action-adventure story! Great characters, full-on action, fast-paced storytelling, and awesome settings! Nothing surprising really, considering my first experience with Deep Fathom. But I should say that Sandstorm brought the whole science-religion-mystique game to a new level.

Quick peek: 

A strange and deadly explosion at the British Museum that piqued the attention of Lady Kara Kensington, Safia Al-Maaz and SIGMA force. Questions eventually lead to a trip to the Arabian Peninsula in search of answers – of a lost city and a lost race birthed from an ancient queen of the Bible. 

!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!

Points of interest:

The myth of Thenisnasesare – otherwise known in the story as the ‘Boogeyman of the Dessert.’ It is said to bring sure death to trespassers of the area they guard – the same place incidentally (or intentionally) threaded by Kara’s father during their hunting trip on her 16th birthday. The same day when he vanished – a precursor to Kara’s untiring search for the real cause of her father’s demise.

Cassandra Sanchez–  Who proved to be a formidable foe among all others. She started as Painter Crowe’s partner. Skilled in combat, smart, deceptive and a total femme fatale in action.

  • She marked the first significant act of betrayal in SIGMA, much to Painter’s dismay both professionally and personally as it was hinted that their relationship could’ve lead to romance.
  • She foreshadowed the existence of a secret terrorist organization with global influence – the very same people she serves. 

Too bad. I actually thought they’d make a power couple. And I hoped for a change of heart in the end. But well…

Dr. Safia Al-Maaz’s ancestry – Born from a mother who turned out to be a descendant of the ancient Ubar Queen (a.k.a Queen Sheba of the Bible) – sharing the same genetic material and bearing a close resemblance to the women of their blood.

Interestingly, these women can conceive at will – a process scientifically termed as parthenogenesis – making it possible to preserve their clean and pure bloodline.

Those who have the blessing of Ubar have the ability to project their will upon their minds.

Such as….vanishing at will. A real perk, don’t you think?

Side characters worth mentioning…

Omaha Dunna skilled archaeologist who is also Safia’s ex-boyfriend. An adventure-seeking man who’s spent most years of his life on the field than being grounded home. 

Coral NovakPainter’s new partner who replaced Cassandra after the upfront betrayal. She’s an ex-military who also holds a doctorate degree in Physics. She’s sharp, skilled in combat and knows enough of science to figure out some of the mysteries surrounding Ubar. 

Kara Kensington Safia’s best friend who is also a multi-billion dollar business tycoon. She’s a major sponsor to the British Museum and collects special artifacts uncovered from the Arabian Peninsula. 


This is an action-packed story and a page-turner that keeps you glued on your seat from start to finish. Difficult to put down once you’ve started. And Painter Crowe……I’m an instant fan.

 

 

 

Overview on the Aerial Ethereal Series by Krista & Becca Ritchie

It enthralls, captivates and strikes you like no other. That’s what a circus is. And so much more.

Aerial Ethereal introduces us to a stunning cast of gymnasts and aerialists tasked and paid to entertain in front of a live audience. But the story focuses more on the personal struggles of central characters, their dreams, family, psychology and mental issues that are too relatable to ignore.

Amour Amour tells the story Thora James and Nikolai Kotova. Thora, a girl who dreams of being a part of the fantabulous Aerial Ethereal and Nikolai who is a star of the company – naturally gifted with the ability to hold the audience’s attention. Two individuals sharing the same passion in the circus. Two individuals with very different skills set.

Theirs is a love that started as a simple attraction, turned passionate and deep in time.

Infini is the coffee to Amour Amour’s cream. It’s angsty, dramatic and tackles some real psychological and mental issues that many of us today may easily relate to. It focuses on Baylee Wright and Luka Kotova’s story. Both already active members of Aerial Ethereal but performing on different shows. Both aching to strike a conversation, but are legally-bound not to.

Theirs is proof that first love never dies – it stays. And the more it’s drawn apart, the stronger the feeling stays.


I’ve finished reading both books and I can’t help it! I crave for more. There is complexity in its beauty and I hundred percent love to read more (if any.)

As to my thoughts on both, we’ll have to save that for another post!

Deep Fathom by James Rollins – ‘I feel humbled.’

You know that experience after reading a book and don’t know how you feel about it just yet?

That’s exactly what I felt after Deep Fathom. It’s thrilling, action-packed and has a bunch of really good characters to root for – all key ingredients to a wholesome reading experience. 

deep fathom

But while ‘impressed’ is an expected reaction from Rollins’ work, I’d say ‘humbled’ is a more appropriate term for this.

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced reading something that makes me feel humbled. I’m not sure how but something in the story struck a chord. Now that I think about it, it’s something along the lines of:

  • There’s so much more out there – deep sea–  that we don’t know of. Secrets that invite curiosity but might be best left undiscovered.
  • We never really know when things end for us. One day it’s all sunshine, the next it’s over.
  • It’s always great to have people with the same interest – sharing your dreams, helping each other. To know someone has your back when you need it.

And Jack Kirkland is a beautiful protagonist – someone you can sympathize but is equally complex to fully understand. I especially liked his methodical approach to things and the way he easily diffuses panic by staying ‘focused’ – not an easy feat but one thing he did so very well in the entire story.

This was what Jack liked best about diving. The isolation, peace, the quiet. Here there was only the moment. Lost in the deep, his past had no power to haunt him.

The ending….is just plain WOW! I didn’t expect that. A literal out-of-this-world twist that I welcomed with open arms after everything. It’s an experience that I think every thriller and science-adventure fan deserves to experience.

And I thank James Rollins for this work. I’ve been a fan of Sigma Force and I’m always left in awe. This is amazing. Go check this out, dive deep!

Mark Your Calendars! January 17 – ‘Tangled Like Us’ (Like Us Series Book 4)

Like seriously. Never have I  been very excited waiting for a book sequel!

Damaged Like Us, the first installment, was an accidental find as part of my Kindle’s free ebooks and it’s amazing! Needless to say, I had to purchase books 2 and 3 because I just had to. There was no debate. No second thoughts.

So when I learned how book 4 was on its way, HURRAY!

Yes! I need more and the Ritchie sisters don’t disappoint!

Patience isn’t my strong point, but I’m being tested. Two days more. Just two days more and Tangled Like Us will officially be available! I can’t wait.

Here’s a sneak peek of the book’s first page from Krista and Becca’s official Instagram.

kbr - tangled like us

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan – better fiction than true story

A novel based on a true story and set during the war against the Nazis, this book pretty much presented a solid train of events that spanned years while staying focused on the story of its hero – Pino Lella.

While inspired by true events, it can be tricky to identify along the way which of it is true and which is pure fiction. And if you have preset expectations on reading something autobiographical, this may not appear good.

Overall, though, I like the story. But I viewed it mainly as a fictional work based on the Nazi war rather than a recount of experience by someone who lived through the tragedy of that era. I suspect it has something to do with Mr. Sullivan’s writing style.

Still, the story is a fine read and shows a decent amount of drama, struggle, politics, and religion fit for its setting.

It’s not something I’d recommend but if you want a glimpse of what that war felt like without boring yourself out with dates and names, I say you give this a try. 

More details from Mark Sullivan books’ official website.

Stay current with Mark Sullivan on Twitter: @MarkSullivanBks

 

 

 

Damaged Like Us (Book 1) by Krista & Becca Ritchie -A sizzling series debut!

Honestly, if there’s one special, accidental find I consider on this year’s random reading list, THIS will be IT.

Damaged Like Us came as a free read in my Kindle device, and it’s practically more than what I expected. Way, way more. Even better than some books I purchased for more than the entertainment it offered.

I never read the synopsis. I went and dove into the book for the sheer interest I had with the title and the book cover. Yes, cover design matters.  I like visuals.

Surprise, surprise!

First 3 pages, I knew it will be romance. Good-looking protagonist, with a hot bodyguard and all that’s missing, is our guy’s romantic interest. And I was so damn sure it’s a woman. A cool, highly-trained female bodyguard for our American billionaire – and he has no idea. Interesting start. Quite predictable, but interesting.

Dear World, stop fucking with me. Sincerely, an agitated human. – Maximoff

Exactly! Because while I was dead sure we’re looking for a lady bodyguard, a solid buff walks in the scene and my surprise-slash-confusion skyrockets to a maximum level. And it doesn’t help that I’m grinning so hard for that twist.

So this is what it is….

Like right now, I try to ignore his overwhelming presence, and I slowly cap the juice jug again. My gaze stays on him. No matter how hard I say look at the juice. – Maximoff

And the initial flow of the story is so beautifully written, characters well described that I have all the reason to jump on the same boat as Maximoff. Because he’s being too overly affected that the emotions metaphorically seeps out of the book! (technically, the ebook).

So yes, I was surprised by the twist, but I was all in for it.

The Maximoff-Farrow chemistry

Is more than just a theory. You see, ALL protagonists for romance stories have to have chemistry. It’s a need to keep the interest up – the fuel to the plot’s engine, the spice to the potentially bland monotone of a plot. Without it, romance dies.

And this ship, whatever it’s called at this point, is far from dead. It is sailing first-class!

TENSION is overwhelming, I dare say. And there were more instances that I could count when I wished to get a knife to cut the tension myself. And when it finally came to that point when tension has to be broken, it was just plain EXPLOSIVE! Maximoff and Farrow are memorable characters, but they’ve elevated themselves to a whole new level when placed in a romantic ship with them both as captains. And I was in for the ride!

This is the first book in the Like Us series which dedicates at least the first three books to Maximoff and Farrow’s story. Needless to say,  I’m grabbing myself a copy of the next installment!