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Book Review: The Last Station Before Heaven by Peter J. Mylin

The Last Station before Heaven by Peter J. Mylin is set during a time where Christianity has been outlawed. It is narrated by a journalist invited by a former priest to find the last station before heaven – located in a kind of underground. At first our nameless journalist tells us about his story; that he doesn’t know where his wife is, his son is gay and doesn’t know if he survived the persecution of homosexuals and he hopes that this journey to find the last station before heaven will be worth it.

He meets the former priest, John Campbell, and his cat, Eva, and they spend the rest of the book decoding messages in hidden CDs that play hymns. Our journalist and John talk about John’s former life, being the head of a massive corporation-like church.

As the road trip continues we learn more about why Christianity was outlawed, and why most people wouldn’t like it; churches ruled like governments, and basically sucked the money out of their parishioners and spit them back out when they didn’t have any more money.

I thought the world described by Mylin was believable, and more than that, it was interesting. I read this book online, and I couldn’t stop clicking to advance the page. Usually I find a lot of fault in books that have a clear stance on religion and why we as a society should or shouldn’t have it, but the story was engaging and well developed. I also thought that the main characters were developed and weren’t just the two sides of the story. They were hilarious, and confusing, and weird and sad. I myself preferred John’s frank manner of speaking about all the mistakes that he had made in his life, and whether he felt that his actions were justified.

I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story even though the characters went through a cycle of getting a secret disc, cracking the code, and then going to the next location there was enough variety at each destination to keep me interested.

Although I really enjoyed this story I thought that it could have used more female characters, and the female characters like Jael could have been more developed. I won’t spoil it, but I felt the ending was too perfect. As a reader I felt like I had followed this story, this journey about characters that I cared about, for no reason.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book and I would give it three out five stars.

3outof5


MirandaMiranda is a college student studying Adventure Education and Sustainable Agriculture. Don’t let all that outdoorsy-ness fool you, when the Deathly Hallows came out Miranda was at the release party. Other nerdy credits include having deep discussions about various book series on reddit, tumblr, and twitter. She loves Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, the Delirium series, basically anything dystopian and the community of Nerdfighteria. You can find her on twitter @genderisweird, check her out on her blog and tumblr.

 

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The Power of Fans: the Harry Potter Alliance and All the Cool Sh!t They Do

Graphic above attributed to Karen Kavett.

With the first book that was more than mildly interesting to a large group of people came the fans, and then, more recently, the fandoms. Fandoms are groups of people who all follow the intricacies of a show, book (singular or series), or a podcast.

Basically, fans are people who care a lot about something. ‘A lot’ being a relative term that can sometimes be a gross understatement.

HP_Fans.jpg
These fans, for instance, are DEDICATED!

The question is, what do they do with that enthusiasm and excitement? I’m sure you could ask anyone who writes for this website, but personally, I have loud and hurried conversations about everything that I love, and I rewatch, reread, and try to connect with people who like the same things. And that’s it. All that enthusiasm is an untapped resource, but according to organizations like the Harry Potter Alliance, we should be using that enthusiasm in efforts towards social change.

The Harry Potter Alliance was founded in 2005, and since then has worked to accomplish many things, like helping Warner Brothers change how their Harry Potter chocolate is sourced, so it can be 100% UTZ or fair trade.

chocolate-frogs
Check out the story here!

From donating books to raising money for critically needed supplies to Haiti, the HPA seeks to use the “renewable resource of enthusiasm for social change”. If you look on their website, the Harry Potter Alliance believes in magic, love as a weapon for change, and the concept of unironic enthusiasm as a renewable resource.

Look no further than one their key values to understand what kind of organization they are:

Knowing that fantasy is not only an escape from our world, but an invitation to go deeper into it

They also endeavor to celebrate both online and in real life (IRL) communities.

I think that these two values separate the HPA from just any ol’ fan club. They acknowledge that although the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts is great, there are real problems beyond the pages of our favorite book series that can be fixed with enough work and determination.

The power of a community like HPA is something I hope to be a part of with the same level of enthusiasm for the rest of my life. I am drawn to their values for two reasons:

  1. They acknowledge that there are different types of communities, and it legitimizes online communities that often are seen as worthless or not real.
  2. They call into the mind an image of a bunch of nerdy people fighting, and winning. Our power is in representation and tabling and campaigning, and it is powerful, because it changes lives and the world.

The HPA is currently working on a bunch of campaigns such as Fan Works are Fair Use, focusing the awesomeness of fan made creations, Positive Fandom, which is working to create guidelines for a “more positive fandom”, Fandom Forward which are toolkits that help fans think about current issues, and lastly Accio Books, which basically a magical book drive.

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More on this here!

The Harry Potter Alliance’s work doesn’t stop there, they are planning events such as  The Granger Leadership Academy, and others.

If you’re wondering what to do with your unironic enthusiasm check the Harry Potter Alliance out, join a chapter, and continue to be awesome!


MirandaMiranda is a college student studying Adventure Education and Sustainable Agriculture. Don’t let all that outdoorsy-ness fool you, when the Deathly Hallows came out Miranda was at the release party. Other nerdy credits include having deep discussions about various book series on reddit, tumblr, and twitter. She loves Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, the Delirium series, basically anything dystopian and the community of Nerdfighteria. You can find her on twitter @genderisweird, check her out on her blog and tumblr.

Book Review: The Three Kings by Grace E. Pulliam

In The Three Kings, we join our main character Kate Fox after a flashback from before she is born. After the flashback, the story picks up at a point in Kate’s life where she is being raised by a cult/religious group called the Blood of Christ. Eventually she is rescued and brought back to live with her Aunt and cousin who, until that time, had assumed her dead. She registers at a college and finds a job, only to find out that she has a connection to her employer through her late father. Unbeknownst to Kate, the powers she has yet to realize were promised to another and she must play a magical game to fully actualize them.

I found this book to be super engaging and hilarious. I thought that Essie and Billie were both amazing characters, a great balance to Kate’s troubles throughout the book. Even though the cult was pretty hard to read about, I could appreciate how Pulliam fully developed their ideals to make them believable and impacting to the reader.

Although the romance between Kate and Hemming is unnecessary and silly I appreciated he and Helen’s characters and how they interacted. I think they are some of the strongest characters in the book.

While I was engaged with this book and found it very difficult to put down, I did, at times, question the flow of the story. The concept of being turned into a supernatural being because of a human injection is very odd, and then the needing of a teenager who can do magic to reverse that seems unlikely.

After Kate gets liberated from the Blood of Christ compound the story also takes an unrealistic turn. Even if she is a carbon copy of her mother it doesn’t make sense that her aunt and cousin would immediately accept her, give her money, and her own apartment/place to live. Her recovery time from being in an abusive cult feels like it happens too quickly. She just magically gets over being told that she’s ugly and fat and it’s not a huge issue when Pulliam decides it doesn’t need to be. There was a lot of potential here to see Kate’s growth as she recovers and it feels like a bit of a miss.

Another miss is the miraculous recovery of Kate’s documents. For example; did Aunt June really have a spare birth certificate and social security card lying around? Both would be needed to integrate back into the educational system. In the same vein I was glad that Kate was placed in remedial classes at her college.

I will say that while I am I’m excited for the next book, I am also worried about the plot holes and confusions that I might read in the next two books. I hope some of these issues are resolved or explained in the next two.

Overall, I would rate The Three Kings 3 out of 5 stars.

3outof5


Miranda

Miranda is a college student studying Adventure Education and Sustainable Agriculture. Don’t let all that outdoorsy-ness fool you, when the Deathly Hallows came out Miranda was at the release party. Other nerdy credits include having deep discussions about various book series on reddit, tumblr, and twitter. She loves Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, the Delirium series, basically anything dystopian and the community of Nerdfighteria. You can find her on twitter @genderisweird, check her out on her blog and tumblr.

 

A (Very) Brief Summary of Why the Internet is Awesome (pt 1)

The following is a series SNG will run where our contributors explain why, particularly to them, the internet is (OBVIOUSLY) awesome.


 

Although there are many reasons why the internet is awesome here are my two favorites:

The Internet facilitates connections

 

Besides the fact that the Internet is literally wires upon wires all connecting computers to each other, access to the internet is access to (other then practically the entire world) websites like Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, and Twitter and programs like Skype, where you can talk to people you don’t know and people you do know.

My uncle lives in England and the only way I can actually have a conversation with him is over Facebook Messenger or while we are on a Skype call.

Connect.png

If you’re feeling really excited about a fandom, you can log onto a forum where you can fangirl about a book, a movie, or anything really with someone who also cares about that thing as much as you do.

fangirl
Did someone say fangirl?!

Collaborative (Collab) channels on Youtube are a really prevalent example of how people who barely know each other can start connecting and maybe even build that into a friendship or enterprise.

nerdfighteria
Exhibit A

Whether the connections are shallow or don’t matter as much is up for debate, sure, but having access to other people does facilitate connections.

The Internet is a great resource

 

If you’re having a conversation and someone says something that doesn’t sound right you can look up that factoid and either confirm it’s right or tell them that what they have believed all this time is wrong and they should have done some research.

google
The real tie breaker!

If anyone wanted information before the internet was invented it took hours to research the information they needed in books, and while books are great, the internet is like having a library at the touch of a button.


 

Miranda.pngMiranda is a college student studying Adventure Education and Sustainable Agriculture. Don’t let all that outdoorsy-ness fool you, when the Deathly Hallows came out Miranda was at the release party. Other nerdy credits include having deep discussions about various book series on reddit, tumblr, and twitter. She loves Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, the Delirium series, basically anything dystopian and the community of Nerdfighteria. You can find her on twitter @genderisweird, check her out on her blog and tumblr

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