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.

 

 

 

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!

Dear ABC Network, DECEPTION Needs a 2nd Season

I’ve long been a fan of crime & mystery drama series so it’s fair to say that I have my own bias when picking shows in a pool of good ones this season.

Deception, an American Series created by ABC network, was my pick 2 weeks ago and I’d say it’s one of the shows on top of my list of recommendations at least for this season.

There isn’t so much terror and bloodshed on it like my other favorites, The Blacklist and 24,  but it sure has one unique allure that sets it apart from the rest – magic.

Image: The Ringer

And while others might contest how the series potentially destroyed the mystique of magic by showing how one trick is done and all that, I’d say it’s fairly logical and entertaining.

I could say a couple of things that I like best about it but here are the key points:

  1. Family Intrigue – with members from past generations apparently growing up as magicians and most likely something more.
  2. Cameron and Jonathan – I just find the contrast so appealing in so many aspects.
Image: @bestofdeception
  1. Storytelling / Delivery / Execution – Can’t say anything bad about it. The narrative was consistent, easy-to-follow, but not boring – engaging.
  2. Mystery – With the FBI involved, we can expect crimes committed after crimes, yet we also see a significant buildup of mystery the more we learn about the characters involved. And damn if it’s not intriguing.
Image: Antredeluciole.fr

All these things considered, and I highly expected ABC to give us more!

But then again, they say don’t expect so you won’t get hurt.

Deception, apparently, will not have a second season and I just cannot wrap my head around it yet.

I mean, it’s probably not the first show that suffered the same demise in the industry. But still why?! After giving us that ending, just why?!

It holds more promises than how it started. Revelations led to us, having more questions – understandably- and that twist at the end is a vivid cue to what’s coming next.

But then what, there’s no more?

I’m not an expert and this could just me ranting my disappointment for a good show thrown away.

It has potential.

Casting may not be stellar, and yes, Cameron and Kay may not have that romantic chemistry a lot may have hoped for but guys….even without the romance, the show can hold its fort just well.

Anyway, there are several forces at work in producing the show.

So while I’m convinced how the show needs more, it’s up to the hands of the makers.

Still…

Dear ABC Network, Deception needs a 2nd season.

Image: The Ringer

 

Iris Johansen’s What Doesn’t Kill You – A Review

“It’s the deadliest poison known to man. 

He’s the only one who knows its true power.

She’s the only one who can stop the evil.

The chase is on.”

What Doesn’t Kill You is a fine read that I think would appeal to fans of thriller stories especially those with a particular interest for badass female leading the whole gang of heroes set on saving the world for surefire doom.

It was published on 2012 and is the 2nd installment in the Catherine Ling series. While it’s a standalone book on its own, I feel like it would’ve been better if I read the first book. Anyway, I’ll make sure to add that one on my reading list.

3 Things I like best

Catherine and Luke’s Mother-son relationship

This element of the story is one that convinced me to read (soon) the first installment. Catherine and his son’s relationship in this book is strained, but not so complicated. Concise backstories were provided to give idea on what made this 11-year old child the way he is.

While Catherine’s character is distinct for her cold bearing (fit for a covert operative), I always find it a good experience to see her work on her maternal responsibilities towards Luke. It provided a warm angle against the fast-paced, bloody encounters that dominated the entire story.

More importantly, it shows her humanity.

As for Luke, he’s on the same page. He had it rough as a kid, but he’s learning. And I like watching him grow. This kid’s got so much potential.

Hu Chang’s character

Is fascinating.  He’s a narcissistic genius who operates in certain life philosophies he considers as the only true in the world. I say he’s too full of himself. Catherine and Venable will agree.

But despite the blatant arrogance, Hu Chang’s a loyal man who takes very good care of those important to him (read: Catherine and by extension, Luke). Very good in fact that he’s willing to take lives to spare theirs. Not so agreeable, I know. But he will. He had.

There were several times I found him unreasonable, but I always end up trusting the man. He gets the job done, albeit unconventionally. He can be very convincing with his words too.

“Words are like bits of crystal, the more faceted, the more beautiful. Speech should not be boring.”Hu Chang

Catherine and John Gallo’s chemistry

Is downright intense, sexy and deadly. You know that pair who’s not even a couple but emits that explosive tension by doing nothing more than staying in a room planning for their next attack? Catherine and John is that pair.

Few Fiction facts about these two:

  • They’re both fighters. (On several levels above the typical special ops members)
  • They’re not always ‘legal.’ (Yes, they’ve worked with the government, but have been shown independence in decisions if a situation demands it.)
  • They’re both parents. (Unfortunately for Gallo, his daughter already passed away.)
  • They’re physically attracted to each other. (And they both knew it.)

They operate well individually, but this story showcased how their tandem can yield even better results than going solo. And I like reading their scenes. It’s exciting, and yes, as I’ve said, sexy. They have chemistry. And perhaps we’re not just looking at something physical in here.

1 Thing that felt lacking

The villain Nardik

To be fair, he had a strong ‘villainy’ background that served as a credible foundation for his role in the story. He’s rich, greedy and ruthless. But while his actions and strategies worked at some point, I do think he lacked the crucial element of being a ‘strategist’ in this game of cat and mouse.

He had the logistics, but not the method to mobilize them well.

To be honest, I wasn’t really convinced that Nardik can pull it off against Catherine, Hu Chang, and Gallo. He just felt lacking.


In a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, I’m giving What Doesn’t Kill You, a

3.2

This book is available in Amazon at $14.99 (Price is subject to change without prior notice.)