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review 2014-10-05 03:13
MyTro by John Biggs, a fantastic middle grade read
Mytro - John Biggs

Mytro is the story of Paul (known as Turtle), an 8th grade boy in New York who discovers a mysterious “train” station and meets a (temporarily) mysterious girl, Agata, whose parents have gone missing.  It is an action-adventure/science fiction novel that leans  toward fantasy, includes some fun with alternate-history and dips a big toe briefly into horror. 


MyTro is the second self-published book I have read, and the second one to obliterate my pre-conceptions of the quality of a self-published book.  A well-written and fast paced middle grade novel, John Biggs has created an extremely readable, fast-paced story.  Admittedly, I was a bit unsure in the first few chapters of  this seemingly standard middle grade boy type story, but by chapter four I was very interested and chapter five’s first paragraph had me completely hooked.  My middle school aged nephew, who has just started reading the book, informed me that he was hooked by chapter three.  


Though this novel reads well as a complete story within itself and could have been left as a stand-alone novel, it is the start of a trilogy.  I am very interested to see where the author takes the story next (and my inner Doctor Who fan loved it too, as I could easily see a story for the Doctor being lifted from or inspired by this novel).


I was the lucky recipient of a free copy, courtesy of the author, through a booklikes giveaway.  Here is a summary of my honest opinion: If you enjoy middle grade fiction or if any of the descriptions of this book interest you, buy a copy!  When the second MyTro book comes out, I certainly will.

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review 2014-09-18 05:40
MYTRO by John Biggs
Mytro - John Biggs

Mytro by John Biggs brings together Paul "Turtle" Fulton, a boy from New York City, and Agata, a girl from Barcelona, Spain. Paul stumbles on a secret subway system, by following 2 friends, and finds out that this secret subway can get you anywhere in the world in the matter of minutes. He is given a map, meets Agata who came over on the Mytro from Spain, and together the go on an adventure to find her parents who have been taken by people who want to take over the Mytro.

Once I sat down to read this, I couldn't put it down. The adventure takes the 2 teens to different countries, introduces them to another teen from another culture who becomes a friend, and gives them a chance to break secret codes to help put the pieces together as to where Agata's parents are. John Biggs has been able to keep the fast pace of the plot consistent throughout the story. Both Turtle and Agata are intelligent, thoughtful, and likable.

The ending did seem a little open ended, but Mytro is the first installment in what is to be a trilogy. I am definitely interested in reading what comes next.

****This book was won in a giveaway through Booklikes from the author, John Biggs.***

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review 2014-09-16 05:58
Mytro - John Biggs

Intensely vivid enjoyable read to take your mind to a fantastical place, where you ask?  A secret subway, under ground train that runs under New York and around the world the world.  A boy and girl from two different continent collide in this under ground train of fantasy, wonderful read for young adult and young at heart.  The author's narrative and characters so believable.  Nate and Nick, the twins and Paul aka Turtle riding a secret train and guess who they bump into?  Agata Llorente from Barcelona.  Then it begins, kidnapping, men with dark clothes, bullet whizzing by.  Wonderful history lessons WWII, Old town of Prague and Barcelona and more.  I have to catch up on my Spanish, where's that dictionary?  The Germans were near to finding a station in Dresden, ugh!  Mytro has a mind of it's own, it opens itself up only to certain groups and individuals, allowing them to discover it in it's time of need.  Wow, a short story that carried a wallop of adventure and mystery.  The writing superb and characters, you know just perfect for this story.  The author wrote with such finesse that I actually believe maybe just maybe under those tunnels?  Won this book on BookLikes and I thank you, Darlene Cruz

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review 2014-09-14 00:58
Mytro - John Biggs

It looks like such a small book but it provides so much adventure, history, and drama within its pages. John’s great imagination shows through with this fantastic storyline with unique characters, realistic imagery and a fast-paced novel. Nate and Nick ride the Mytro every day but they don’t know the Mytro’s history nor the capabilities this mysterious train system has, they just know that it helps them get where they need to go faster.   Finding the hidden passageways, they climb aboard and off they go. Their father has been quietly unearthing the history of the rails unbeknownst to the twins.  Just a few individuals are aware of the rails existent and of course, everyone has plans for what they would like to use this powerful rail system for.   The Mytro itself is unique and with its long history, it’s not ready for change.   John provides the reader with lots of interesting history setting the stage for what is coming next and for that, some of the characters are put into motion and you are off and running. Make sure you catch the next train and don’t forget…… you’ll need a map. Can’t wait to see book two of the series leads me.

I won a copy of this book from BookLikes and John Biggs. Thanks!

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text 2014-08-06 11:55
Author Talks: John Biggs

We're happy to introduce the next guest in BookLikes' Author Talks.


John Biggs author of the YA novel Mytro agreed to talk to us about his recently published novel, he reveals how a journalist becomes a writer, and how to use crowdfunding to publish a book. 


You can meet and follow John Biggs on BookLikes where he shares his reading and writing passion on blog: John Biggs


Plus: you can win Mytro on BookLikes. Read on to know more. 




You’re a busy man, a tech enthusiast, a full­-time journalist, writer at TechCrunch, speaker, blogger, and now a writer. What inspired you to start writing a fiction novel? 
I love writing and I love sharing my writing. Journalism is a sprint, but a long fiction book is a marathon. Both have their benefits but, as I get older, I feel the marathon is more rewarding. So I'm trying my hardest to train, write, and build a body of work of which I can be proud.
Is it difficult for a journalist to become an author of a fiction? 
I don't know. I think so. I think the fact that I wrote 10,105 posts on TechCrunch over the past few years is good practice. I've been writing a few thousand words a day for years. It's great experience and it helps with my discipline. It's exhausting, though, and wouldn't recommend it unless you really love to write.
Recently, you’ve published your first YA novel Mytro. How did the idea of Mytro appear in your head? 
I was traveling in Spain a few years ago and we were in the Retiro Park. It's a   beautiful old park on a set of rolling hills surrounded by beautiful old homes (at least that's how I remember it.) We were walking there and passed by a statue of a falling - or fallen - angel. I read the inscription and it turns out it was the only statue of Lucifer ever commissioned for public viewing.
It was a chilling sight and I imagined what would be under the statue - a cave, a doorway, a subway station? Suddenly, the name Mytro popped into my head and I fell in love with the idea.
It took years for the whole thing to truly gel but once it did all the pieces fell into place.
Tell us something about Mytro. Why Young Adult? Are action and adventure your fav subjects for your novels?
I wanted to give something to my kids. I've been writing for adults - tech nerds, really - for a almost 15 years. Now I wanted to write something for the coolest readers in my life - my eight year old, my five year old, and my two year old. So they, and the rest of the world, got Mytro.
You’ve decided to try crowdfunding for Mytro. The book is out so we know it went well. Can you tell our readers more about the process and the outcome. 
I was very lucky. I had good friends at Indiegogo and lots of great readers on TechCrunch. They helped push the funding way past my goal. I also learned how to lay out and publish my own ebooks and paperbacks. That was a hard job.
Building a book is amazingly messy and frustrating. But it can be done. I also learned that schedules slip and I feel bad that a lot of my readers are waiting for the 3D printed trains I promised. They'll be getting them soon! I swear!
Would you recommend publishing books with crowdfunding? What are the pros and cons? 
I would, if you have an audience. If you don't you'll probably be disappointed.
I think, in order, you should first get really good at writing. Then try to find an agent. If you don't like the publishing world, do it yourself on Kindle, and finally crowdfund once you're popular. 
Crowdfunding is a very powerful engine but there's nothing like seeing your donations come up zero at the end of the day.
In your opinion, is crowdfunding the future of the publishing, an answer / complement to self-­publishing? 
It's a complement. It's not quite the future unless we're talking about paper books and especially artistic or difficult books that require resources. I could see, for example, crowdfunding a very complex book about history or politics as well as a detailed autobiography. I could also see crowdfunding a travel book.
Why do publishers pay advances? To cover expenses. That's why, if you don't get a good advance, you can lose money writing a book. It's awful.
Can you reveal to our readers what are you working on right now?  
I'm working on a New York fantasy called More Gods Than Men and a mystery about a Polish tailor called The Tailor of Optimist Street. When I'm done with those, I have to finish the Mytro trilogy.
Can you tell us something about your writing process? 
I sit down and I write. I try to write at least 1,000 words of fiction a day, sometimes more. There is no secret to it. You make the time and you do it.
It's like asking how a marathon runner trains - she doesn't, she just runs every day, without fail, and knows that if she stops she'll suffer for it. 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
Always be writing. Get your stuff out there. Put it on a blog. Don't get confused by social media. Social media is useless. It doesn't help you sell anything nor does it help you gain a following. I've had people with a million Twitter followers mention me on the Internet and it got me absolutely zero in return. Gain a following on a site frequented by nice people and write for them. Then write a book. Then publish that book. Rinse. Repeat.
Use Scrivener to write. It's an app for long-form writers. It helps immensely when you're building a story.
Also keep a file of "sparks." Have it always available, anywhere you are. You can even use a notebook for this, if you like paper. But the key is to always have it with you. This is the place to jot down notes for future projects. You'll soon discover that there are hundreds of things floating in your head that could be great books. 
What are you reading right now?
Under the Skin by Michel Faber. 
What books won your heart?
Which titles would you recommend? 
I like a lot of books. My favorite book is probably Catcher In The Rye and I really liked American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
For a long time I couldn't read fiction so I read a lot of non-fiction. I really like histories, especially the Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. It's a sprawling series of histories and I listen to them while I run. They are so full of amazing stories and explanations that I've been grabbing the best ones in a text file for later research.
Paper books or e­books? Why? 
E-books. I don't like carrying paper books anymore. They're nice to hold and smell and touch, but reading them is a pain.
Any favorite quotes?
I like Neil Gaiman's.
1. Write
2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
There are five more rules - you can find them yourself - but those are the most important ones.
Also try to be happy and try to be kind. The world gives you stories when you are.
(pic source: Brain Pickings)
What's your favorite writing and reading spot?
(our readers would love to see some photos ;-) ) 

Anywhere my computer is. I have a nice attic space at home in Brooklyn where I can stand and walk on a treadmill but I travel so much that I'm rarely there in the summer. And I tend to read on planes or in bed.
This is my space right now in Warsaw. It is an absolute mess, which is just how I like it! 
Thank you, John. It was a real pleasure. 
And here's a candy from John Biggs to BookLikes bloggers: Mytro Giveaway! You can't miss it! Enter to win:
You can find books by John Biggs on BookLikes:


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Literary Inspirations of Rayne Hall

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part One

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part Two

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part One

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part Two


Blog Talks on BookLikes: 

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part One

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part Two

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part One

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part Two

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