The Last Station before Heavenby 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.
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.
As an avid reader of Kelley Armstrong, Seanan McGuire, and Charlie Huston, I like to consider myself to be very familiar with the urban monster landscape. I Kill Monsters is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I would label his work as having solid potential. I Kill Monsters isn’t the first of its kind, nor the most original, but it does have its charm.
The book features two brothers Szandor and Mikhail, living on a rougher side of town, who take down the creepy crawlies hiding in the city. They take money as best as they can, but work the daily grind to keep the bills paid (mostly). When a well-to-do client comes along, they jump at the opportunity to play bodyguard for a few days. Unfortunately for them, something much more nefarious than the boogeyman is afoot, and the boys are launched into a part of the monster industry they didn’t even know existed.
Overall, the writing flows well and it is a good, albeit shallow, read. There are times I found myself genuinely laughing, but also times I found myself cringing at some of the bland writing. The main character describes himself to have a “punk” haircut, which I cannot fathom precisely what that may mean. The main character describes at least two women to be “hot”, with little description as to why. There is a fade-to-black sex scene, with little post-coitus followup. I may be spoiled by the many female writers that I read, but if you’re going to include a sex scene, use it. An author friend of mine tells me it’s important to “show, not tell”, and I find this book doing a lot of telling. To give away a mild spoiler, Szandor’s brother uses a nickname that he hates, and that’s how he describes it- as a nickname he hates; with no explanation. Why does he hate that nickname? Was there an embarrassing story involved? An awkward teen obsession? What a wasted opportunity to deepen the character.
One of the things I do enjoy is that neither Szandor nor his brother seem to be the Dark Brooding Type. Not every character in monster-themed books need to carry their burdens in every sentence, and it’s refreshing seeing these guys just going about their lives, having the typical brotherly love that also involves wanting to throttle each other at times.
Despite a few missteps in the writing, I Kill Monsters is a light and easy read, great for anyone on their lunch break or riding on the train. I’ll look forward to reading more of Dennis Liggio’s work.
Overall, I give this read a 4/5 star rating.
Barbie O’Havoc has been considered a nerd since the first time she pissed someone off for having a weird opinion. Since then, she’s been spending her time indulging in the surprisingly expensive habits of reading trashy vampire novels and hitting people while playing roller derby. Both of her main hobbies have led to a love of terrible puns, much to everyone’s dismay.
Barbie O’ also loves coffee and local restaurants, and occasionally rambles about both on the Johnstown Food Blog.
This week, Some Nerd Girl opened its virtual doors to all self-published writers in the way of a free review opportunity. As a self-published author myself, this is kind of near-and-dear to me. These days, there’s generally three ways to get published:
Publish via a small / medium press
Get picked up by a major publishing company
There are pros and cons to each one of these – I can’t speak to the last two bullet points, but I can very much attest to the first.
I have been writing since the age of 13 – now 29, this whole self-publishing thing is a brand new ballgame. I published my first book in March of 2015 – a complete rookie to the process. I used the power of the internet to learn the ropes. I joined some self publishing online communities and I ran, full force, towards my goal.
It wasn’t quite like running straight into a wall, but I learned running full-force at something like self-publishing was not the best approach. In the end, I accomplished my goal, but there was still a lot I hadn’t done.
Like made an online presence or market myself or my book. Just two small things that are, oh, what is that? Completely essential to your success? Balls.
Let me back up for a minute before I really dig into that point. There are a lot of known expenses when you self publish. Off of the top of my head, they are, as follows:
Editing / Proofreading
Maybe even a web designer (for the fancy types with extra cash)
Print copies to provide visuals to possible local readers
Marketing (Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, BookBub)
The risky (and IMO shady) paid review
One expense that we don’t really talk about is this one:
The putting yourself out there, naked and afraid, emotional expense
As I mentioned, I ran as fast as I could to market with my first book, Children of the Fallen. I made a lot of mistakes, and one of them was not understanding that the world was not waiting for my book. The world didn’t know about my book. They didn’t really care about my book. It was my job to make them care.
And so, I made some attempts. I bought some Facebook advertising services (why this made sense, I have no idea), and I posted on Reddit a bunch.
And got caught in spam filters a bunch.
And told by moderators a bunch that self-promotion was a no-no.
The only places that were safe for self promotion were places that were 100% dedicated to self promotion, where the only people subscribed were only interested in promoting their own thing.
I tried another approach – I began to submit my book for reviews. And got turned down all but once. I saw approximately zero difference in sales after my review ran. That is to say; none. None sales.
I attended self published panels (that turned out to be mostly bickering), and workshops where most folks there were scratching their heads the same as me when it came to building a readership.
So I went back to the drawing board and started watching what amounted to self-help videos. One of them recommended publishing more books, then offering some for free in order to build a loyal readership.
That’s cool, bro. Only a few problems with that – getting a book to market, the RIGHT away… it ain’t cheap. If I had a couple grand to plop down on each venture, I’d feel better about it. Quality editing alone is enough to make my bank account clutch its purse. The other problem is allocating the time to write multiple drafts to even get to the editing process.
Don’t get me wrong; this IS a good plan. And I will be utilizing it, but it’s a slow process. And I don’t like slow. I like to run. Like Forrest Gump, if you will.
The cold reality of the situation is that we live in a world, and on an internet, that rather dislikes self-promotion.
It’s ironic, and I would be amused by it if it weren’t so real for me. Who will promote me, if not me? Do you see the paradox here, grumpy moderators?
I went a self-publishing route in part to avoid the crushing, drawn out rejection process that is querying major publishers. Now I understand the process is basically reversed for self-publishing – a quick start up, and then the real work starts. The emotional work of being a constant advocate for yourself – which is an odd exercise. And, again, not entirely welcomed with a warm embrace by people who are not your friends and family.
And I get it; nobody wants a flood of people crying for them to buy their book (not even me!). And I don’t really have a solution – other than to say I know in my gut there is a way for us self-published authors to band together in order to devise a source for interested readers to have a chance to find us. I’m going to let that one simmer for a while – to be continued, if you will.
I think step one is acknowledging that there is an emotional expense to self publishing. And yes, true – for all publishing. We are all human, and we all doubt ourselves (severely at times – we are writers, after all). But in a small or large press situation, you will usually have some backing. Some team of people helping you to achieve your goals. For the self-pub crowd, it’s us, our friends and our family that keep us going. We believe in our stories enough to put them out there – naked and afraid – for your approval.
It’s kind of nerve wracking.
But we’re going to keep going. Because some stories can’t be contained, and these running shoes are barely worn out!
Eve is the founder of Some Nerd Girl and the author of urban fantasy novel Children of the Fallen and science fiction novel Colony One. She has been writing since the age of 13 and has been flying her nerd flag for the past 16 years. Fandoms include Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Basically if it has ‘star’ in it, she’ll give it a shot. You can visit her website at www.somenerdgirl.com.