Monthly Archives: January 2015

Messages – John Michael Hileman


Published by Amlin

Source: Kindle free edition

David Chance can see messages in the sea of words around him, messages that warn him of future events.

Words are everywhere– on labels, magazines, sign posts, t-shirts– everywhere. And as much as David Chance would like to hide from them, he can’t. Words keep leaping off objects around him, forming messages in his mind. But how is this possible? Has his brain suddenly taken an evolutionary leap forward, or are the mysterious messages proof of divine intervention?

Driven to answer a question he’d long ago abandoned, and stalked by the killer he’s trying to stop, David risks everything to follow the messages to a dirty bomb set to go off in the heart of Boston. But can he trust the author of the messages to protect him from a terrorist who seems to know his every move.

Good God this one was painful!

To be fair, my early impressions were that this was a nice, light read – it wasn’t brilliant writing but entertaining nonetheless. I like a good sci-fi action thriller, and that is what I was expecting. Then it all started getting a bit ridiculous…

Our protagonist, David, starts seeing messages forming from random words he sees all around him, and these messages predict the future, so naturally he thinks he’s going a wee bit crazy. Not his friends and family though, they all believe him immediately, no questions asked… I mean really?!

Then, Oh, hello religious propaganda! – of course it’s God speaking to him isn’t it?! Telling him that the president is going to die in two days, then leading him to the terrorists behind the plot, and instructing him to stop it all from happening.

Of course this is God, so he doesn’t tell him exactly what or how to do this – enter David’s neighbour, Frank, who will happily explain all about God’s mysterious ways and how important it is for a ‘prophet’ like David to have faith in these messages – it’s fine buddy, just go into that warehouse full of dirty bombs and gun-wielding zealots and look around for some words that will vaguely tell you what to do next…

Now as ridiculous as this all sounds, and God-bothering and xenophobia aside (there is a lot of it), there was something somewhat faintly redeeming in the plot. I mean, it had some action and suspense. Unfortunately this just became comical when the plot moved far too quickly, was completely far-fetched (and I’m a sci-fi fan!), and as far as the discourse between the characters goes… well you can almost hear truly awful actors on some made-for-tv movie reading these lines, and for added zing there are even a couple of Bruce Willis-esque one liners in there! Jeez!

Oh and I particularly liked the ‘daddy issues’ part where David could not tell a little white lie to get out of work (in order to protect his family from the terrorist neighbours across the street) because that would make him a liar and he would never be like his father… oh come on!!

With so many reasons to dislike this book, why oh why did I keep reading? I can only deduce that it was some sort of morbid curiosity, akin to picking a scab… it hurts, but you have to keep going until you’re done. Or perhaps it was God willing me on…

When I don’t like a particular book, I do always try to think of the kind of people who may enjoy it, so… If you are a heavily religious, xenophobic, sci-fi nut who isn’t too snobby about plot-holes, poor characterisation, and cheap, tacky discourse..then yeah, this might be for you.


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Love and Fallout, Kathryn Simmonds


Published by Seren Books

Source: Publisher review copy

When Tessa’s best friend organizes a surprise TV makeover, Tessa is horrified. It’s the last thing she needs—her business is on the brink of collapse, her marriage is under strain, and her daughter is more interested in beauty pageants than student politics. What’s more, the “Greenham Common angle” the TV producers have devised reopens some personal history Tessa tried to store away. Then Angela gets in touch, Tessa’s least favorite member of the Greenham gang, and she’s drawn back into her muddy past.

Moving between the present and 1982, and set against the mass protests which touched thousands of women’s lives, Love and Fallout is a book about friendship, motherhood, and the accidents that make us who we are.

This story is divided into two parts, narrated by two different versions of our protagonist; Present-day Tessa – the 50-something under-appreciated wife and mother who spends her days working on charitable causes or sitting on her marriage counsellor’s couch; and Tessa of the past – a lovelorn young woman who decides to join the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common in order to find herself and contribute to the righting of the world.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find much to like about this one.

The switch between the two time periods was very easy to follow, as each ‘Tessa’ was given alternate chapters in the main. However, neither version of Tessa was particularly likeable. Young Tessa was a bit weak and pathetic, and older Tessa was self-pitying and indignant.

The whole reality makeover slant is overplayed in the synopsis, as this occurs more as a kick start for the main story – in which very little happened.

There are some moments within the story which I believe were intended to be main events (and apologies for the spoilers here) – Tessa discovering her husband’s infidelity, her arrest at Greenham Common, a fiasco at a beauty pageant in which Tessa’s daughter is a contestant, the untimely death of a Greenham Common friend…however, none were given enough drama for me. It seemed almost as if the author had a lot of good ideas, but didn’t quite know how to develop them and give them the attention they required. If something deeper was intended to be taken from this – like a ‘sisterhood rocks’ message or ‘the universal plight of the mother’… well I’m afraid it didn’t hit me.

Many of the characters seemed under-developed and thus lacked any authenticity. I neither loved nor detested anybody, I was merely left feeling indifferent about a lot of people who could have potentially been very interesting. Unfortunately, I feel far too much page space was given to Tessa’s self-indulgent babbling and not enough to either the characters or the plot.

Having said that, if you are the type that likes a nice, easy read where you can escape into someone else’s eventful yet still somehow boring life; then this might be a nice ‘tea-break’ read for you.

My thanks to Seren Books for providing this book for review.

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Welcome! Views and reviews from Storm in the stacks!

Hey there

Many of you will know me from where I’m known for my often brutal honesty on my latest reads…

Well welcome to Storm in the Stacks, my own little soapbox where you can catch up on all those reviews that got me started, and continue to follow my own brand of ‘cruel to be kind’ opinions.

Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t intentionally slate everything I read! If I like something, I mean really like something, I will shout it from the rooftops… BUT… if I don’t then you are going to hear about it!

Flawless reviews are very few and far between – but they do happen. And in the main I do try to be as constructive as I possibly can be… although you will see that sometimes that is just not possible!

So stay tuned and happy reading y’all

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