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Monday, 15 September 2014

Apologies for Absence, And a 5 Star Review!

Regular readers will be aware I've been a bit spasmodic with my posts recently. There are reasons.
Mostly domestic.
My wife's beloved sister died recently. I'm undergoing some minor, but disruptive, medical treatment, my daughter has returned from a lengthy spell of adventure overseas and is now seeking work here, our house is up for sale and attracting viewers, my brother is scheduled for heart surgery, and I'm attempting to end a 10 year spell of relative physical inactivity by making myself fit again (amazing how you discover muscles you never knew were there!).

So, things have been a little disconnected here for a while and will probably remain so for a while longer! Nevertheless, I've kept up with many of the things that keep contact with the wider world, and even done a bit of writing. For the future, I shall attempt to make my posts here a little more regular once more.

In the meantime, here's a 5 Star review of 'Joinings', that I came across by accident whilst searching on Amazon. I thought I'd share it because it's from a complete stranger who has clearly enjoyed the work.

5 stars
This review is from: A Seared Sky - Joinings (Paperback)

Joinings by Stuart Aken is the opening book in the projected A Seared Sky trilogy. This science fiction, romance, action and fantasy-adventure novel of epic proportions spanning over 800 pages will delight lovers of the genres as this is one in which they can afford to really bury their heads in. It is also a testimony of the creativity of this British author who through this book loudly proclaimed that he has much to write and share. The beautiful prose, delectable style of writing and the sharpness of the story is enough to keep one absorbed to the last page.

But what really is inside this tome of a novel? To put it simply, it is the story of Tumalind and her betrothed, Okkyntalah, and the precarious situation in which Tumalind lands when she is deceitfully chosen as a Virgin Gift instead of another with important connections. In a world ravaged by superstitious beliefs, fanaticism and hierarchal corruption of the highest order, nothing ever really stands the test of the ordinary, and nothing is what it seems. Dagla Kaz is no ordinary leader either. As the high priest, he is feared and adored, and he is determined to exchange the virgin gifts before the scorched skies returned to normal.

Stuart Aken crafted an extraordinary story populated by extraordinary characters. Aklon, a renegade and the son of Dagla Kaz, is one fascinating character who readers will root for as he walks the path of redemption. Aglydron, the father of Tumalind, is on the most important mission of his life. Aken beautifully spins a tale that is both complex and riveting, as stunning as the world the characters inhabited.

Will you be stiff bored by this mammoth novel? If you are seeking my advice, here’s my answer: Anyone on the lookout for a mesmerizing read will really enjoy this tome. Though set in a fantasy world, Aken created relatable characters with relatable teething troubles which most readers will be able to identify with.

It is a story driven by false prophecy, recklessness and the desire to right a wrong. Joinings: A Seared Sky by Stuart Aken is one of the most enjoyable fantasy novels that I have read in a long, long time. It is incredibly intriguing, gratifying, gripping and spellbinding.


There are buying links here on the blog, but, for your convenience, one click here will take you to your local Amazon page. And a click here will take you to the publisher's store, where UK readers can obtain the print book post free, and may even get a signed copy, if there are any of those left!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Zero, by J.S. Collyer, Reviewed.

Wow! This book moves at a great pace, and rarely lets up. This is a space adventure, a fast-moving action piece with little time to spend on explanation of the setting. However, the author cleverly integrates plenty of clues within the action so that the reader is able to envisage the world she has created here. And it is a world of undesirables, military types, skilled and able technicians, heroes and villains in many guises.

This is a story that gamers in particular will love. The reader experiences the action as the story progresses. And those who love their scifi films with plenty of combat will find this a very satisfying read.

It’s a page-turner, but it’s also a book with plenty of twists and turns. Who can be trusted? Who is telling the truth? Who are the real heroes, here? The characters - and those who know my reviews will be aware this is of real concern to me - are well drawn. The danger of stereotyping has been avoided by giving the people who populate this work individual quirks and sometimes unusual motivations. The mix makes for an engaging and absorbing story.

I read this under less than ideal circumstances, with many breaks due to things over which I had no control. But I never lost the thread and was always able to pick up where I left off. It would have been an even better read in one sitting, but at 364 action-packed pages, this was never an option for me.

If you like your space adventures full of hard men, and women, with plenty of physical conflict and dark humour, and with an undercurrent of subtly applied moral comment thrown in, you’ll enjoy this tale. I did, and I heartily recommend it.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Another 5 Star Review for Joinings.

5.0 out of 5 stars Religious Dystopia v Enlightenment, 7 Sep 2014
Linda Acaster (Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Joinings (A Seared Sky Book 1) (Kindle Edition)

Although this novel fits firmly into the Epic Fantasy subgenre, it would be an underestimation to view this first book as a mere quest story to right wrongs. It is an examination of dogma and believers of a religion, the Followers of Ytraa, physically split into three many generations before the opening of the trilogy. In ‘Joinings’ readers experience only two – those of the land of Muhnilahm ruled by a priesthood, and the land of Litkala ruled by a royal house. Yet for all their extolled differences and mutual mistrust they are reflections of the same, societies built on sex - publicly orchestrated and privately profligate - with emotional love, devotion and self-sacrifice funnelled only towards the fuelling of the dogma.

It is the ‘why?’ that I found fascinating. What had occurred in the far past to bring this about? Certainly the approaching Skyfire, with its lore of burning all unbelievers, is at its root. Had a group of survivors of a natural disaster instigated a method of rapid repopulation – at all costs? Certainly there are no old, or sick, or malformed, or merely ‘ugly’. Eugenics? There is mention on Muhnilahm of ‘The Point’, a desolate area where unfortunates are banished, or escape to rather than face a tortured death in the name of the religion. Yet within the society there are hardly any children to be seen or, for all the constant euphemistically-termed ‘frowking’, no pregnant women, and the Virgin Gifts, female despite the vaunted equality of the sexes, are exalted in the creed as an exchange of blood lines.

It is the quest to exchange Virgin Gifts – and to secure the release of one fraudulently chosen – that journeys the main groups of characters through lands of unbelievers and, because of these ongoing experiences, the tenets of their own religious dogma. Hypocrisy is emphasised early on as the fanatic Aglydron attempts to ‘free’ an exploited young woman by replacing her people’s indoctrination with his own without realising what he's doing.

Into this mix are dripped the personal stories, each with its own layered secrets: Tumalind, chosen falsely as a Virgin Gift who holds a striking likeness to the daughter of the High Priest; the high priest’s son and rebel leader, Aklon, an escapee on pain of death for refusing to embrace and promote the secrets of Ytraa when its history was revealed to him; Feldrark, son of the royal house, who professes undying love to gain the high priest's daughter, Jodisa, while hiding his true reasons. Some walk with veiled intellect, others with that veil gradually being stripped away by the experiences encountered. As the groups move into Book 2, and the mind-talkers manipulate and are manipulated, this layered tale promises much. Enjoy.

Friday, 29 August 2014

A Writer’s Nightmare Transformed into a Dream of Delight.

Regular readers will know that I have real difficulty with marketing and promotion. Well, recent experiences have taught me it needn’t be so. 

Rather than bore you with repetition here, let me direct you to my guest post on that popular writing blog, Writers’ Village, where you’ll find a short tale of  my conversion to Marketing Master (that, of course, is a spot of hyperbole, but there is some stuff on there that might help you if you’ve been having the same concerns as me about marketing).

Monday, 25 August 2014

After FantastiCon 2014, What Next?

As it’s relevant to what I’m doing, I thought I’d share the latest release of my publisher’s enewsletter here:

Dear Fantastic Subscriber,

This week we have been recovering from the high octane weekend that saw the first ever FantastiCon launched into the stratosphere. It was a cracking success and to say thanks to everyone  who made it happen would mean filling your inbox so instead we'll simply say a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone involved. Plans are already afoot for FantastiCon 2015 and we'd love your input so please get in touch with your ideas by emailing;

One of the ideas we have already locked in for next year is a cosplay competition that will net winners CASH PRIZES!

Now, it's the moment lots of you have been waiting for since we published the longlist for our short SF competition earlier this month. The final shortlist entries for the first pure science fiction Fantastic short story anthology are;

The Everything Equation by John Goh
Regen by Colin Ford
Nobel Savage by Thomas Pitts
Alice by David Styles
All in the Mind by John Hoggard
Two Reviews by Thomas Pitts
Striker Amok by Pierre Le Gue
Eternal by Shaun Gibson
Fastbreeder by Pierre Le Gue
Hope by David Styles
Indirect Harm by John Harper
Lisa Lives by Anthony M Olver
Manikin by Nici Lilley
Night Monsters by Pierre Le Gue
Private Show by David K Paterson
Starburst by Andrew Wright
The Moon a Balloon by Rose Thurlbeck
The Package by Aaron Miles
The House by John Hoggard
Three Second War by Darren Grey
If we start killing by Ulla Susimetsä
Dying Star by Marko Susimetsä
Congratulations everyone!

The judges have been wrestling with the longlist and, for the first time ever for one of our competitions, they have been unable to remove a single story from the longlist!

We will shortly start the process of editorial tennis with the authors and we hope to have the anthology released in ebook format by mid October this year.

Our next projects are building up steam and comprise a wonderful collection of poetry, prose and short stories by Boris Glikman, the third and final novel in Stuart Aken's 'A Seared Sky' series (the second book 'Partings' was officially launched as an ebook at FantastiCon and will be released very soon as a print paperback) and a debut fantasy trilogy titled 'Travels with the Red Friar' by Marty McMullen. More news of these projects will be incoming shortly.

In other news, now that our Elite: Dangerous books are all produced and out in the world, we will be starting the mammoth task of fulfilling everybody's Kickstarter pledge gifts including the production of special boxes for the books and the printing of silk screen printed faction flags for the special editions. These will be created over the coming weeks and everyone should have everything they pledged for well in time for the December holidays.

And finally, a huge thank you to all our friends and new followers who have signed up to this newsletter, followed us on Facebook and followed our Twitter feed, you are all Fantastic!

Just imagine,
Daniel and Gabi Grubb

And my involvement? Well, there’s the news about Partings, of course, but the publisher has also asked me to contribute a short story for the science fiction competition prize-winner’s anthology, as I did previously for their first, Fusion. So, watch this space.