Monday, July 25, 2022

My Favourite BookTubers

 Hey everyone, and happy July! Is it sunny where you are? Because once again, the summers we "enjoy" in the UK are not always the most... summer-y. I thought I'd bring something a little different to this month's post - it's another "my favourites" list, but it is of a slightly different variety.

If there's one thing I love almost as much as reading books, it's talking about books. Unfortunately, very few of my friends read for fun, and the ones that do don't tend to read what I read. So I have no one to talk to about books, basically. And this is how I discovered BookTube - a delightful area of YouTube where people talk about books. Now, I'm not delusional, I realise these people can't see me through their videos, and don't hear me when I talk back. Er... not that I talk back.


It's just nice to listen to people sometimes, whether they're expressing the same opinions as me about something I love or hate, or providing a different perspective. So here are some of my favourite BookTubers and channels, in no particular order:

Jaime En Fuego from The Horror Channel

I was on a Stephen King binge when I discovered Fuego's personal playlist on The Horror Channel, entitled Hail to Stephen King. How delighted I was to discover a dude who started making these videos after finishing a reading mission - every Stephen King book published. That is a lot of books, man. For someone who mostly discusses one author (he also includes other members of the King family in his videos), he offers a lot of variety in his content; straight-up book reviews, worst to best lists, tier rankings, Stephen King news, screen adaptation discussions, the list goes on. Plus, I dare anyone to try to dislike this guy, even a little bit. He's just such a lovely person to watch and listen to, and he's assembled a community of like-minded people who feel much more like friends and family than random people on the Internet. He even has a Hail to Stephen King group on Facebook, which is a lovely place to hang out and chat.

Mike's Book Reviews

Mike is another BookTuber I discovered whilst looking for Stephen King reviews, but he covers much more. I'd say his specialty genres are fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. Once again, a lovely, sincere person who offers interesting and honest insights - so interesting actually that I watch his content even if I haven't read the work in question. He's the reason I started reading fantasy and sci-fi (I was basically exclusively reading horror before) because he sold me on so many great books. I really should thank him for prompting me to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy.


Man, is Kat funny. She basically reads everything and I don't know how she gets through so many books. There's nothing technical about her channel - she doesn't have an intro or an outro, there are no graphics, no effects, no music. There's hardly any editing, even. She just sits there enthusing/ranting about what she's read, and it's the most entertaining thing ever. As it happens, I have completely opposite books tastes to her, which has worked out really well for me because whenever she absolutely hates something, I immediately buy it, and love it. It's a system that hasn't failed me yet!

Maven of the Eventide

If you want vampires, this is where you go for vampires. This woman is a bonified vampire expert, I tell you! Her set is all cool and gothic and she has stacks of books, and a campy online persona that reminds me of Bela Lugosi and Anne Rice, and I just love her.

If you know of a BookTuber I might like, please let me know! There's always room for more!

PS. Special shout out to Red Letter Media, who don't review books but I can't talk about YouTube without bringing them up. I mean, Mr. Plinkett's Star Wars reviews alone...

Friday, July 22, 2022


 Here on ATB we have a sporadic tradition of the Back Jacket Hack Job, where we badly rewrite the summary blurb of a well known novel. 

Today I have selected a "classic" novel, The Mill on the Floss, by George Eliot. This is, quite literally, the worst goddamn book I have ever read in my life. Here is my review I posted on Bookstagram a while ago: 

No stars, one finger.

The context in which I read it didn't do it any favors. It was assigned reading in 11th grade English class. At first, it didn't seem too bad. The books being handed out were small and fairly thin. 

PSYCH! They were 500 pages of single spaced 10pt type on wafer thin paper that was almost translucent. It gave me a headache to read it, and the book was lousy so it gave me a headache comprehending it. 

It's apparently supposed to be a searing social commentary of Victorian England, centered on a brother (who wants to restore the family fortune) and sister (who wants LUV). What it is, is a big ol' pile of boring. Nowhere near as sharp as Austen, no compelling plot like Dickens, it's just a gloomy slog of misery. 

The characters are, to put it mildly, jerks. Tom, the brother, is a self-righteous git. He shuns his sister, Maggie, and calls her a harlot because she took a boat ride with a friend. There is no one here you'd care to spend five minutes with, let alone five hundred pages. 

And should you stick it out to the end of this wade through the mire of drudgery, you get a twist ending. After our two siblings finally reconcile, they immediately drown. For no reason. At all. It's as if George Eliot has to meet a deadline and just decided to stop writing because ye olde delivery boy was coming to fetch the mauscript. It's dreadful. 

Anyhoo, here's how I would write the back jacket to better describe the book:

"Two annoying siblings spend 500 pages bickering and striving to climb in Victorian society and die in a flood on the last page for absolutely no reason. Take this book and throw it at a fascist politician and you'll have preformed a better social commentary than  Eliot does here. There, I saved you literally days of your life."

Hey, NY Times Book Review! Consider this my resume. 

Victor Catano lives in New York City with his wonderful wife, Kim, and his adorable pughuaua, Danerys. When not writing, he works in live theater as a stage manager, production manager, and chaos coordinator. His hobbies include coffee, Broadway musicals, and complaining about the NY Mets and Philadelphia Eagles. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @vgcatano and find his books on Amazon

Monday, July 18, 2022

Genre-Hopping with Short Stories

Hey everyone! A very con-brained Mary here, just back from Shore Leave, which was lots of fun and full of that special con chaos. One of the panels I was on was titled "Never Have I Ever" and consisted of panelists discussing writing-type things they haven't yet done and would like to, plus a few things they'd never do. Biggest surprise of the panel was that prolific tie-in author Greg Cox had never even WRITTEN an original novel until the pandemic (the guy has, like, 100 published titles).

During this panel I realized that my list of genres I've never written in (but would like to) has gotten rather short, and it's all thanks to short stories. I think I've written about this topic on this blog before, but short stories really are a great way to stretch those creative muscles in directions you haven't taken them in before (yes, I'm encouraging everyone to become genre contortionists).

Thanks to having lots of friends who like putting together indie anthologies, I've had the opportunity to write a bunch of funky little tales that I otherwise wouldn't have. So far, these include:

And next on the list, for THRILLING ADVENTURE YARNS 2022, will be a 1950s-style noir detective tale, just because I like noirs but have never written one. On the list of things I haven't tried yet but would like to is a rom com (I also keep threatening to write a cheesy Hallmark-style Christmas story) and hard sci-fi.

Sometimes these short stories turn into something more, like how what was supposed to be a one-off Sherlock Holmes reimagining turned into several more short stories and a novel manuscript (Kickstarter coming 2023?? I keep getting asked about it...).

There are some genres I would steer clear of just because I'm not interested in them (sorry, military fiction), but in general, I like genre-hopping because you never know where it might lead you. Hey, if you'd told me in 2012, when I was working on my debut novel and thought I'd be writing mostly adult fic, that perhaps my best-received book would be a YA sci-fi romance, I would've been like "WTF I don't write YA or romance" (HAH! After that debut and its sequelseverything else I wrote was YA other than short stories). 

Are there any genres you've been hankering to write it?

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Author Interview: John Urbancik

For my interview this week, I chose horror author John Urbancik!

What got you into writing? 

I was young when I started, but it was probably a healthy mix of Star Wars, Batman, Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, and children's versions of novels like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the Three Musketeers that ignited my imagination. I was writing my own comic book scripts as early as fifth grade and drafted my first "novel" in seventh. I'm not sure I ever got started writing so much as I started this whole life already a writer.

Tell us about some of your published works.

Recent stuff includes collections of poetry, John the Revelator and Odyssey, and a novella, The Night Carnival, that's a dream--or is it?--narrated to you. Choose Your Doom puts you into the horror novel with over a hundred ways to die. The six-novel DarkWalker series starts with a man who can walk through the dark untouched by all the things in the night, in book two goes to Hell and in book three goes to Virginia, and it just gets stranger as it goes. My nonfiction book, InkStained, on Art, Creativity, and Writing, is all about how to nurture your creativity.

What is your favorite genre to read and write?

Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, and Horror.

What are you working on right now?

Follow-ups to two of my previous novels, Sins of Blood and Stone (which was my first, published back in 2002!) and Stale Reality, which might be one of my darkest.

What’s your ‘day job?’

I have a "stupid little day job" in which I earn enough money to pay the rent and get health insurance doing something mindless for a giant evil corporation.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 

Never stop writing, learning, trying, pushing, experimenting, and failing. Finish what you start, but abandon the things that have lost your heart. Be true to yourself. Be brave.


 Author Bio:

John Urbancik shares a birthday with B.B. King and David Copperfield (with their combined talents, he can make the blues disappear), as well as England’s King Henry V. Also, in the year 16, Julia Drusilla (sister of Caligula). None of which means anything.

He began writing at a young age, creating one-page comic scripts in fifth and sixth grade, and later went on to write Star Wars–at least, an awful variation of it. Fortunately, no copies of that story exist. He saw his first published story in 1999, “A Portrait in Graphite”, and couldn’t say today where all his various stories, articles, and poems have appeared.

He spent his youth in New York City and Long Island, leaving for upstate to attend college (where he studied video and audio production, skills he rarely put to use after). Fate conspired to send him to Orlando, Florida, where he spent many long years. Fortune’s later conspiracies led him briefly to the other side of the world, Sydney, Australia. There, he met spiders. Lots of spiders.

He describes his fiction as “fantasy, dark fantasy, and horror”; his stories span these and other genres, and are often difficult to categorize.

When John Urbancik arrived in Australia, he possessed a very nice camera. (It was not his; he merely carried it), and thus began a love of photography. One day, he might actually study the craft.

At first glance, his life does not seem colorful. No time in jail or in the armed forces, and no game show victories. However, he feels lucky to have been able to see and do all he has. Among his several mottos for life: “Go everywhere, do everything.” Another is: “It’s all fun and games until someone gets eaten alive by a tiger shark.”

Currently, his whereabouts are uncertain, though he’s recently been spotted somewhere in Florida. He has several books and stories coming out in the near future, and many more to be written.


You can learn more about John and his books at


Monday, July 11, 2022

Book Review: Suffer The Children by Craig DiLouie

"Suffer The Children" by Craig DiLouie

Imagine waking up to another ordinary day during Christmas time. Some people are working. Others are running errands for the upcoming holiday. Children are playing and laughing waiting to see Santa at the end of the line.  But then, one by one the children begin to die. They die all over the world, causing a global crisis beyond any parents worst nightmare. The hospitals are at capacity, the morgues are as well, and now in this particular community kids are being readied for mass grave burial. But then something unexplainable happens. The children awaken and come home as if they never died at all. But these kids are slowly rotting, the decay evident in every inch of their bodies. These kids aren't the same kids these parents birthed and brought home so many years before. They now hunger for blood and they're only semi normal again when they feed. But with so many mouths to feed and the whole world still in crisis, how far would you go to keep your children alive? 

I was really worried when I started this novel that it'd be another basic and boring zombie/vampire novel. I wasn't prepared for the mind boggling rollercoaster I just hopped off of. This book is one of the most original books I've read in regards to vampirism and the lengths the people in this novel went to in order to save their children was unlike anything I expected. The novel bounces between the main character's inside and by doing this the story ties together quite nicely. I couldn't have asked for more from this eerie and utterly disturbing story. Solid 5 🌟

Friday, July 8, 2022

Updates, News, and New Releases!
 I'm a  day late with my blog post and I apologize. I'm fine at my day job, and not too bad at executive tasks at home (like cooking, cleaning, paying bills, shopping, etc.), and hobbies that don't require a lot of problem solving are okay too. But writing is another problem that requires a level of focus, energy, and thought that escapes me many days. It's kind of hard to prioritize solving fictional problems when I'd rather devote my energy to real life ones. Y'all, I've written SO MANY letters and emails to politicians in the last few months. Maybe I should just post the contents of one of those missives here... Just kidding. I'll keep my existential dread to myself, for now.

However, it's not quite as dry in my author garden as that previous ramble would indicate. I'm still working on my Vella project, Serendipity at the End of the World. I've passed the halfway mark, and I'm rolling quickly towards the conclusion. Episode 49 is off to the proofreader and Episode 50 is with my beta reader now. I anticipate another 20 episodes are left between now and the end of this epic adventure.
Serendipity Blite and her sister, Bloom, use their unique talents to survive the apocalyptic aftermath of the Dead Disease. When Bloom is kidnapped, Sera is determined to get her back. Attempting a rescue mission in an undead-infested city would be suicidal, so Sera forms a specialized team to help retrieve her sister. But unfortunate accident sets Sera teetering on the edge of death. She must fight to save her own life, because surviving could mean finding family, love, and possibly a cure.

Considering that we (my publisher and I) have released one episode a week, then 50 episodes means we've been at this for almost a year. I don't know if, financially, it'll be worth it or not (I mean, not to kink shame or book shame, but the title of the fourth most popular title on Vella right now is "Sold as the Alpha King's Breeder", whose readership is probably is not my target audience?) . But, personally, it feels good to have an ongoing project that forces me to come to the writing table every week, even when there are a lot of days I'd like to stay in my little author cave and never come out again.  In related news, my publisher, Red Adept Publishing, has decided to turn completed Vella stories into novels, for those who like to consume their stories in a more traditional manner, and a couple of fellow Red Adept  authors who were the first to complete their Vella stories have recently released their novel-versions.

I'm looking forward to giving Serendipity the novel treatment in the months to come. Particularly since I know Vella isn't available to readers outside the U.S. There are SO MANY English-language readers out side of the U.S., so this limited availability makes little sense to me, but what do I know about such things? If I had an answer, I guess I'd have a job at Amazon. But... no thanks.

Additionally, this week I get to celebrate the release of my short story, "Mystery Aboard the Old Faithful," in the latest volume of Brave New Girls (Brave New Girls: Chronicles of Misses and Machines)

"S" is for Steampunk. In my story "Mystery Aboard the Old Faithful." Best friends Olivia and Johanna use their STEM skills to find a thief and recover the stolen, newfangled technology that powers their high-tech paddle-ship on the Mississippi river.

For young and old, girls AND boys, this anthology includes 22 young adult sci-fi short stories about girls in STEM who use their smarts to save the day. Steampunk young ladies who tinker with automatons, cyberpunk girls who hack virtual reality, space heroines who engineer starships, and more. 

Proceeds from sales will be donated to the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund.

Monday, July 4, 2022

New Release Announcement: YOU'RE MINE by Somer Canon

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!

Hey, everybody!  I have been building up to this here on the blog for at least two months, so it's hard to believe that the day is finally here!  My personal imprint, French Press, has finally released our first book from another author.  What a book!  And what an author!  I hope you'll all check it out and enjoy.

Insecure misfit Ioni Davis never thinks she’ll find love in her sleepy West Virginia hometown. Then the tall, fascinating stranger Raber Belliveau transfers to her school.

Their attraction is instant and red-hot. And a shared fascination with witchcraft bonds the young lovers even closer.

But while Ioni is responsibly studying her newfound religion of Wicca, Raber has chosen an altogether…different path.

Soon, Raber’s behavior becomes manipulative. Even abusive. And their love story for the ages is turning into a macabre farce. All Ioni wants to do is get out.

But Raber has discovered a dreadful way to control their relationship. A ritual which hasn’t been attempted in over a century. A spell to unleash a bloodthirsty terror which can never be satisfied.

Ioni finds herself trapped in a struggle for her life and even her free will against a once-trusted lover who has assured her…

ebook and paperback:

Coming soon!

And let us know how you liked it on:

“Somer Canon delivers a gripping tale of doomed love and the dark twisted need to control.”
- Ali Seay, author of GO DOWN HARD and TO OFFER HER PLEASURE  

“I loved this novel! A blend of occult horror, suspense, and coming-of-age, the story kept me in its grip from the first page to the last. A cautionary tale about the dangers of power, magic, and the desire to be loved, this is one of Somer Canon’s finest books.”
- Regina Garza Mitchell, co-editor of THE BIG BOOK OF BLASPHEMY 
and two-time Golden Apple Writer-in-Residence

“Twisty, dangerous, sexy, and tense, YOU’RE MINE will seize you by the throat and tighten its stranglehold until the very last page. Somer Canon is a fantastic storyteller with a fearsome, unforgettable voice.”
- Jonathan Janz, author of THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER and MARLA

"Somer Canon is a vibrant, vital voice in the horror genre today, and YOU'RE MINE is proof why. Creepy, cool, and unforgettable, you'll descend into the world of Ioni and Raber as they fall for witchcraft and each other, all with disastrous, devilish consequences. Read all of Somer Canon's work, starting with this killer book."
- Gwendolyn Kiste, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of 
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