Review Swap

OK, fellow writers, let's talk about swapping reviews.

I write a lot of reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon. I read a lot (I'll talk about what I read in a minute), and I used to be a book editor years ago. I also have a couple of books up in the Kindle Store that could do with more reviews.

So my proposal, O Fellow Writer, is that we review each other's books.

There are terms and conditions, of course, and they are these:

  1. If one of us isn't really interested in what the other one writes, then no deal. See below for what I read and write.
  2. We each have a month to read the other's book and write a review.
  3. When we've each informed the other that we've written the review, we both publish on Amazon and Goodreads.
  4. It doesn't have to be a positive review, and neither one of us gets to see the other's review before publication.
  5. It does have to be substantial, and if one of us doesn't like the other's book we will say why (it may be someone else's favourite thing ever).
  6. If your book is poorly proofread, poorly punctuated or full of Inigo Montoya moments ("You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means"), I will call you on it. Remember, I was a professional editor for a large publishing house.
  7. I'll do my best to read charitably and find things I like to mention, and so will you.
  8. We'll both disclose in our reviews that we did the swap.

What I read

I read mostly fantasy, urban and rural. But I'm not into:

  • "dark" fantasy
  • retread epics in which the Chosen One quests after the lost McGuffin of Whozis (while empires clash) in order to defeat the Dark Lord, and it's basically a phone book - long, boring and full of names
  • super-gritty urban fantasy, or erotica with a thin urban fantasy veneer (some contextual sex or violence is fine).

I much prefer werewolves to vampires, and I have a strong aversion to long descriptions of cruelty.

I do not zomb.

I read some SF if it's about how technology affects people (individually or collectively) rather than being all cold and hard (with the people being there mainly to point at the tech).

Post-apocalyptic anything is a turn-off for me, and so is putting the apocalypse in partway through. I've abandoned two series which I was, up until then, enjoying when the nuclear bombs went off.

Space opera is absolutely fine and dandy, and I will happily accept genre tropes in place of actual science if you don't push it too hard. 

I love superhero novels.

Lately, I've been reading more and more steampunk, too. What I've noticed is that some steampunk authors (I name no names here, but read my Goodreads reviews) think that a 1930s-style pulp plot, a veneer of Victoriana, and liberal use of the words "brass", "steam", "crystals", "airships" and "punch cards" make a good steampunk novel. They do not.

What I write

My work in progress, which I'm not soliciting reviews for yet, is a steampunkish secondary-world fantasy with a sci-fi skeleton. It's about heroic civil servants.

I have two (fiction) books up on Amazon at the moment. City of Masks is a nonmagical fantasy - it's in a secondary world, but the spec-fic aspect is sociological, not magical or technological. It's told in the form of diary entries, with a "period language" feel, though it's not the language of any actual historical period. Here's the teaser:

In the city-state of Bonvidaeo, by custom and law everyone must wear a mask and act in character with it, or face civil, social and religious penalties.

Gregorius Bass is sent to Bonvidaeo as the Envoy of Calaria, mainly to get him out from underfoot. Masked as the Innocent Man, and in the company of his radical young Bonvidaoan servant, Bass stumbles into mystery, intrigue, heresy and murder.

(Imagine if G.K. Chesterton and Alexandre Dumas adapted Pepys' diary into a serial killer mystery set in a mad version of Shakespeare's Italy. With wasps.)

Gu is an SF novella set on Earth in an unspecified part of the 21st century, but probably at least 30 years from now. It's told in the second person, in the form of a documentary. (Yes, I do like to experiment, why do you ask?)


Gu is the last industrial product, the substance that can be anything - programmable matter for the masses. Fifteen years after its launch, follow documentary filmmaker Susan Halwaz as she interviews the creators, users and opponents of Gu about how it's changed society.

A Charles Stross-esque novella of future technology and its discontents.  

How to proceed

If, having read all that, you want to participate in the review swap, get in touch with me and we can swap ebooks. Either leave a comment (which will give me your email address), contact me on Google+, or just email masks at


Spread the word

Mike Reeves-McMillan lives in Auckland, New Zealand, the setting of his Auckland Allies contemporary urban fantasy series; and also in his head, where the weather is more reliable, and there are a lot more wizards. He also writes the Gryphon Clerks series (steampunk/magepunk), the Hand of the Trickster series (sword-and-sorcery heist capers), and short stories which have appeared in venues such as Compelling Science Fiction and Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores.

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