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!

Thoughts on The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer

Heart-pounding…the novel’s overall theme of family resonates, and the relentless pace and twists of the narrative sizzle on the page.Library Journal

I have a fair deal of reading favorites when it comes to the mystery/suspense genre. And while I’m far from being an expert, I can easily add or dismiss a book based on how it appeals to me on the first 3 chapters.

The Book of Lies had me in the first chapter.

It’s curious, fast, and dramatic, and when combined in the opening act, how can you resist?

One element that is worth mentioning and something which sets it apart from many  suspense stories is the ‘family angle.’ Whereas a lot of work belonging to the same genre introduces villains and protagonists as having some direct connections with huge conspiracies, The Book of Lies builds up in a story of a boy’s personal family loss and how it affected his actions which eventually led him on the quest to find one of the world’s greatest mysteries while at the same time struggling to keep himself (and his loved ones) alive.

The ‘family theme’ has remained intact throughout the narrative. It never got lost.

The Book of Lies quote

We also see a very unique mystery twist between pop culture and the Bible. With Superman’s history being brought at the center stage and how it relates to the world’s very first murder – that of the Bible’s Cain and Abel. Who would’ve thought, right?

Only Meltzer.

But it’s quite anticlimactic at the end and a part of me (the adrenaline-induced me) wished to find something a bit more shocking. I mean, all these times people died and killed for that single mystery behind ‘The Book of Lies!’  It must be worth those lives!

But perhaps it is. After all, most of the answers to complex riddles are found in plain sight. We just don’t see it. This story is one of those. Beautifully delivered.

It’s an intriguing treat, with a unique ingredient to fans of Bible mystery fiction. Plus, the family drama is worth the read!

Rating:

                    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ / 5                   

Mood:

😎       

Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

You want a real page-turner, but you don’t want to tarnish your reputation for literary taste. THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL is your kind of…book.Janice Numura, Newsday

Historical facts can easily get lost in a pool of fictional narrative, but what’s the harm?

First off, the book is very clear on one thing – A WORK OF FICTION. A fabrication, inspired by the existence of real-life individuals of the past. Surely, one can’t expect a blow-by-blow recount of who did what.

I’ve read several reviews from dissatisfied readers who are straightforward in their dislike for this book – on how it supposedly distorted history and exaggerated the characters’ experiences to favor drama.

But isn’t that a crucial point for all fictitious works?

The challenge is to learn how to mindfully recognize facts from fiction and still enjoy the mixture of both – not exactly easy.

First, Ms. Gregory crafted the characters in a way that made them alive and highly human for the readers to relate. She writes beautifully in a way that makes it easy to believe that the lines were actually spoken by Mary or the late Queen Anne Boleyn. Characterization was consistent, and she takes care of everyone, making sure that they do their part as they did in history, but of course with an added spice.

A look into Mary Boleyn’s thoughts:

But Queen Katherine was more to her husband than an ally in wartime. However much I might please Henry, he was still her boy – her lovely indulged spoilt golden boy. He might summon me or any other girl to his room, without disturbing the constant steady affection between them which had sprung from her ability, long ago, to love this man who was more foolish, more selfish, and less of a prince than she was a princess. 

Second, the sequence and presentation of events were pretty much how it really was.

Third has something to do with the details used to fill in the gaps that remained a mystery throughout history. I always find it welcome to read something out of one’s imagination to fill that void. The intrigue and conspiracy are dominant in this work. 

I would still say, though that this isn’t for everyone – as with other books. But for fans of England’s rich monarchial history and those who remain fascinated by Queen Anne (just like me), then this is an easy, fast-paced read worth a try.

Rating:

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ / 5

Mood:

🙂

Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – A Review

Gloriously eccentric and wonderfully intelligent. – The Boston Globe

How far will you go to solve a neighborhood murder?

Perhaps not that far. Most likely not at all.

Murder is dangerous. And dangerous things are bound to get you in trouble. Or your family. Or friends. Even the innocent lives of those who become aware of your quest to solving the mystery.

But 15-year old Christopher John Francis Boone believed in the importance of solving this particular murder – the bloody demise of their neighbor’s dog, Wellington.

A Personal Take

This is an interesting read that combines humor and wit in an easy-to-follow storyline. It’s that type of book that you can finish in one sitting and that which can be hard to put down once you get yourself at ease with Christopher.

I find his character interesting, weird at so many points, but definitely a likable kid. Five simple facts about him include:

He is a Math prodigy. And he knows it. 

And that is why I am good at chess and maths and logic, because most people are almost blind and they don’t see most things and there is lots of spare capacity in their heads and it is filled with things which aren’t connected and are silly, like, “I’m worried that I might have left the gas cooker on.”

He finds people confusing. For two reasons according to him:

  • Because ‘people do a lot of talking without using any words’
  • ‘ people often talk using metaphors.

He hates the color yellow.

It’s unlikely for him to lie. He doesn’t lie.

This is another reason why I don’t like proper novels, because they are lies about things which didn’t happen and they make me feel shake and scared.

He doesn’t like to be touched. Nor shouted at.

What started as an innocent quest for a kid to solve a dog’s murder is really a story of family, acceptance, and reconciliation. It’s a nice read that leaves me a feeling of gratitude.

We can learn a thing or two from Christopher. Few of which, are those we often take for granted.

 

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.)