Black Magic Reviews

Review Policy + Submissions

I tend to buy whatever books I stumble across that interest me, flash by my Twitter timeline, and fit my book budget at the time; that generally shapes my reviewing choices, and I often focus on under-represented groups (whether the author or the book characters themselves are from those groups) to boost voices that don’t get as much traction in the market. If you’d like to send me your book for review, keep in mind that I review on my own time, at my own pace, around a very busy schedule with many other obligations and my own book deadlines; generally I can’t and won’t commit to posting a review by X date unless you send me your book at least 3 months in advance of that date. Also keep in mind that I simply may not select a book for review; review choices are made at my discretion.

To submit a book for review, email reviews@blackmagicblues.com with the subject line “REVIEW REQUEST: [Book Title], by [Author Name]” and the following details (NOTE: tell me first thing if you are a WOC author; actively seeking to elevate WOC voices):

  1. Genre.
  2. Age group.
  3. Blurb.
  4. Average length, in pages or wordcount.
  5. Whether it’s part of a series, or standalone. If it’s part of a series, tell me the series name, which #, if it can be read independent of the previous books, and the titles of the previous books.
  6. Whether or not the book is #ownvoices or features marginalized characters (B/NBPOC, LGBTQIA+, neurodiverse, disabled, etc.). You aren’t required to disclose details of your own background. Just saying “this is #ownvoices” is enough. But make sure it is #ownvoices, if you claim that. If you aren’t sure what that means, check here. Basically, if you aren’t writing from your own experience/background, it’s not #ownvoices, but can still have diverse rep.
  7. Any potential triggers/harmful content in the book.
  8. Anything you think might make me throw the book at the wall. Be honest about your biggest point of doubt about the book. It won’t be an automatic no, I’m just curious from the author’s perspective.
  9. Link(s) to the book on Amazon, Amazon UK, and/or B&N or other retailers. Including the GoodReads link is also nice.
  10. If sending an ARC: I prefer .epub for Nook sent as an email attachment, though if all you have is Kindle .mobi I can make it work. Not fond of PDFs. If you have physical ARCs you prefer to send, please contact me for a mailing address. Include only the paperback or hardcover of the book. I will not accept printed, unbound manuscripts on loose copy paper, swag, or any other items that aren’t specifically a book.
  11. Send your cover art as an attachment, at least 600px x 900px, preferably high-res .png but I’ll also take uncompressed .jpg, .bmp, and .tif. Actually, I can work with any format as long as Photoshop can open it, but please make sure the image you send is high-resolution, high-quality.
  12. (Optional) Brief author bio and photo. Include links to your social media.

Review Policy (READ THOROUGHLY):

  1. Most reviews will consist of a YouTube video reading my favorite quote from the book, a blog post with purchase or preorder links, and crossposts to GoodReads, Amazon, and B&N – in an ideal situation. Extenuating circumstances may occur that might limit me to a text post.
  2. Sending an ARC doesn’t guarantee I’ll read your book. Conversely, not sending an ARC doesn’t guarantee I won’t. If it’s a book I want to support, I’ll buy it anyway.
  3. I will not rate a book unless I can give it at least three stars; I’ll post a brief review of why it didn’t work for me or why, if I DNFed, I made that choice, but out of professional courtesy and to avoid conflict of interest or accusations of bringing down their rating, I won’t rate 1-2 star books—meaning I won’t crosspost to retailers either; only to GR. Reviewers and book bloggers have every right to honestly express a negative opinion of a book; as an author and reviewer I’m just making a personal choice to straddle certain professional lines. That’s a bit of a fraught minefield, authors downreviewing other authors, and I’d rather avoid it.
  4. Limited exceptions to this are extremely problematic books that can be harmful to marginalized people because of poor representation, bigotry and various -isms, triggering content handled poorly and/or without trigger warnings, etc. I’ll post commentary about why it’s an issue, with or without rating at my discretion.
  5. So I gave your book a less than glowing review/wouldn’t star rate it. You’re not happy. You want to strike back by downrating one of my books. Knock yourself out. I’m sorry I won’t be reading it, but if I didn’t enjoy reading your book I doubt I’ll enjoy reading your revenge review.
  6. If I don’t review a book you asked me to read, you can ask me why, but that doesn’t mean I’ll answer. Most likely the answer is either “didn’t have time” or “not for me” and I won’t be inclined or obligated to provide specifics, so save yourself the time and assume it’s one of those.
  7. Sometimes I will review really old books. I’m not rushing to stay up with every new release ever. I read what catches my interest and what friends recommend to me, knowing my tastes. I also tend to read books by author friends because I adore them and get excited about their work and want to support them. Also, because I’m actively seeking to read more by women of color, I do a lot of backlist. Point is, I bounce around a lot. Don’t expect me to be the one you come to for hot new buzz, and don’t be disappointed if I’m reviewing things from the 1860s just because I can.
  8. You stay in your lane. I’ll stay in mine. As an author I don’t comment on reviews of my own books, or even look at them if I can help it. The last place an author belongs is wading around reviews of their own book. I know where my lane is; find yours and stick to it.
  9. Tipping through the Tip Jar / Ko-Fi does not guarantee a positive review, or any review at all. I don’t do paid reviews or endorsements, and the Tip Jar is primarily there for readers who appreciate what I do and know that producing both books and reviews takes time, labor, and money. Leaving a tip will not sway me in an author’s favor. There’s a whole mess of ethical concerns there, but short version is I’m gonna do what I do and that can’t and won’t be bought.
  10. If I review your book, you are preemptively granted permission to use quotes from the review on your book’s Amazon page or other pages, attributed to X @ Black Magic Reviews.
  11. My reviews do not constitute endorsements by any of my publishers; nor are they in any way affiliated with any of my publishers. Thoughts and words are my own.

Some Things I Love:

  1. Science fiction and paranormal. Particularly love anything post-apocalyptic or far-future, especially grimdark. Currently would chew on my own toes to see grimdark teen military sci-fi.
  2. Horror of any kind, though I particularly jones for stories that vibe with The Ring, The Grudge / Ju-On, and other Japanese horror in a similar vein.
  3. Magical realism; urban fantasy.
  4. Historical.
  5. Gothic literature.
  6. Romance and erotica – contemporary, historical, SFF/paranormal, romantic suspense, dark/taboo erotica.
  7. Adult, NA, YA. Particularly sex-positive*** stories for younger readers.
  8. Villains! Antiheroes! I love darker stories with morally complex characters and well-written dark protagonists who make you love them even when you hate them.
  9. Retellings of classics with a fresh take, especially a queer take.
  10. #ownvoices, #ownvoices, #ownvoices. This should really be at the top, but this is about to get detailed, so what I’d love to see is…
  11. Stories centering Black, Indigenous, and POC characters, narratives, and stories. Particularly interested in WOC authors.
  12. Romance between two POC.
  13. Anything LGBTQIA+/QUILTBAG, but especially stories centering transgender, agender, genderqueer, and/or nonbinary characters. Also F/F! There is not enough F/F on my Nook!
  14. Stories centering characters on the asexual and/or aromantic spectrum.
  15. Demisexuals!
  16. Stories centering characters who are neurodiverse and/or disabled.
  17. Intersectionality! Marginalized people can tick off more than one box, and it would be nice to see Black characters dealing with mental health, lesbian Chicanas, trans Muslims, any trans women of color (seriously, bring me your TWOC books), aromantic First Nations, disabled agender Chinese people…you name it. People have complex identities made up of many factors and coming from many roots, and I love to see that represented.
  18. Speaking of Muslims—I’d love stories that showcase the diversity of Muslims around the world. African Muslims, American Muslims, Middle Eastern Muslims, South Asian Muslims, Muslims from everywhere and every background, rather than the narrow pigeonholed stereotype we’re often presented with.
  19. Feminism! Girl-centric stories! Women’s fiction! Girls and women doing amazing things! Girls and women being diverse individuals with the power to be anything and everything they choose to be!
  20. Stories where Black women in particular are given latitude for emotion, vulnerability, softness, femininity, and desirability, occupying a role and complexity they’re often denied in the Strong Black Woman narrative that’s been co-opted by people outside the Black community. Particularly love Black women in fairy tale love stories that they’re often excluded from.
  21. Stories with young Black male leads who aren’t gang-bangers, drug dealers, criminals in general, hypersexualized as sexual predators, etc. Stories that let young Black boys see themselves as everything they want to be, and everything they could dream of.
  22. Stories where marginalized people tell their experiences with marginalization authentically.
  23. Stories where marginalized people get to have adventures (and powers, and everything!) without it having to be solely about their experiences with marginalization (but without erasing the reality of those factors, either).
  24. Fat heroines (and heroes!) who aren’t trying to lose weight, don’t hate themselves, don’t see their fat as less attractive, aren’t shamed, and don’t center the entire story on their weight as a plot device or obstacle to happiness.
  25. Stories that explore the effects of abuse and assault without glorifying them, but without flinching away from the very real effects.
  26. Indies and small pubs! I mean obviously I pick up traditionally pubbed books; I’ll grab anything that piques my interest. But I like to show special attention to indie authors and small pubs.

Some Things I Bleh:

  1. Middle grade or younger; picture books. I can enjoy reading them, I just don’t feel qualified to review in a way that would help the book or author.
  2. High fantasy. I like it sometimes, but I have to be in the right mood; it’s an occasional taste rather than something I’m always hungry for.
  3. Political thrillers.
  4. Most mystery. Especially cozy mysteries. (Romantic suspense, on the other hand, can get my interest.)
  5. Nonfiction.
  6. Christian fiction. Mostly meh on spiritual fiction in general, but I’m more open to #ownvoices stories from marginalized and under-represented faiths. I make a large exception for Muslim fiction. I deeply want Muslim fiction, in case that wasn’t clear before.
  7. Comedy. I’m a morbid humorless bastard who is generally flatly unamused by things most people find witty. Sorry.
  8. Ménage/threesome as a kink. Stories depicting poly relationships or consenting open relationships are fine, but not really into using it as a kink trope.
  9. Anything that could’ve easily been written by Nicholas Sparks. I mean, there are good stories out there that, well, have your standard white cishet heroine and hero, and I’ll read them and enjoy them; I just give priority to marginalized voices.
  10. White male power fantasies, aka Chosen One narratives. Anything where some white cishet American guy is so absolutely ordinary Everyman Joe, but also really good at everything and just happens to be the Chosen One who Has All the Powers and Saves All the Chilluns and Gets All the Wimmins.

“Bleh” isn’t an automatic no. It’s just a harder sell when I have limited reading and reviewing time, and certain things have to really turn their trope on its head to win me over.

Some Things Worse Than a Root Canal:

  1. Nazi romances or any other kind of anti-Semitism, Jewish erasure or—look, just don’t. We’ve been through this. Don’t do it. There is no “Good Nazi” narrative.
  2. Islamophobia. See point #1. Just don’t.
  3. Racism of any sort toward any people. Also racial fetishization.
  4. Homophobia.
  5. Transphobia. Trans erasure, too. It’s LGBTQIA+. Not LGBQIA. Please don’t send me any TERF narratives. Or trans acceptance stories that center wholly on a cis person’s journey to self-actualization by learning not to treat trans people like filth when they should’ve just known that already. If you send me a transgender character’s story, it better center on that transgender character in a positive way.
  6. Misogyny. This includes transmisogyny and misogynoir. Any form or flavor of misogyny is not okay.
  7. Bisexual erasure or gay-for-you that’s just biphobia packaged up in a queer story. Basically I don’t want to read two pseudo-straight dudes fucking each other in the most homophobic fashion possible. That said, I don’t mind characters finding out they’re queer later in life when they meet the person who pushes their queer buttons. I just don’t want to read denial of queerness while still desperately asserting and defending heterosexuality “except for you.”
  8. Bisexuals who won’t date/have sex with/love trans people. If that’s your bag, whatever, but I’m not going to read a story that both hurts trans people and makes bi people look like arseholes.
  9. Ableism. Physical, mental, any kind. Nope. FOH.
  10. Portrayals of asexuals or aromantics as sterile, frigid, broken, unlovable, undesirable, lonely, sociopathic, incapable of happiness or fulfillment—the usual.
  11. Shittiness around enby pronouns. If you write enby, you handle pronouns properly and with respect. (This applies to trans stories, too.)
  12. Poor/harmful representations of mental health, disordered eating, self-harm, suicidal ideation. While these are all serious issues that deserve space on the page when written with empathy and sensitivity, I don’t want books that portray them in a way that misrepresents, glorifies, or denigrates them. That’s harmful to readers and I refuse to support it.
  13. Fatphobia.
  14. Claiming that a story is #ownvoices when you aren’t from the marginalization you’re writing about.
  15. White savior stories. Or all-white casts where somehow every person with melanin has disappeared from the vicinity of the main characters.
  16. Magic Negro stories. (I will, however, take negroes having magical adventures. Give me all your amazing Black kids finding their powers and saving the world.)
  17. Appropriation of marginalized voices and experiences.
  18. Master/slave romances from any era in human history, real or imaginary. Slaves cannot consent to a relationship and the power imbalance makes it rape. Period. (No, I’m not referring to BDSM Master/slave play. That’s consenting kink. Consenting kink is fine. I’m referring to actual enslaved or indentured people being portrayed as in love with their masters.)
  19. Stories where the tragic queers die in the end. Actually, stories in which any marginalized person dies in the end as some kind of cautionary tale. Death happens in fiction regardless of your demographic, but if you’re going to give me a story where a prominent marginalized character dies, it better be done really well and for a plot-driven purpose rather than “but tragedy!” When in doubt on this one? No. Just no. (Note: I make exceptions for horror. All bets are off in horror.)
  20. Clichéd stereotype portrayals of various cultures, religions, etc.
  21. Rape apologism. Rape in general. Dubcon I evaluate on a case-by-case basis, as it can easily go from “this is my fantasy and is presented in that light, let’s look at some of the factors driving why so many people have noncon and dubcon fantasies” to “X is puking in a trashcan and refuses to read another page.”
  22. Pedophilia or anything involving deliberate harm to children or sexual assault of a minor. And don’t think you can pull a Milo and get away with other shite only for pedophilia to be that bridge too far. There’s a lot of bridges up to this point, and they all cross over things I don’t want to touch.
  23. Anything involving animal torture.

***”Sex-positive” has a lot of really complicated connotations, and some people frame it to mean “you should be having all the sex, all the time, and constantly want sex sex sex and frame everything in the context of sex or you’re broken. Here, let me push sex on you. Sex. Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me.” When what I mean by sex-positive is “your body is yours and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it or the things you do with it, whether you have sex or not. Have sex, don’t, whatever, but be informed and have the option to choose what you want, how you want it, and enjoy those things without shame or reservation.” Part of being sex-positive is also respecting someone’s right to just…not want sex (translated: sex-positive means also respecting and accepting asexuality) as much as you respect their right to have sex however they want it. It’s another facet of “your body, your choice,” and I’d like to see more stories representing that and not treating sex like a taboo subject younger readers (or any readers) should be shamed over or misinformed about.


FollowThingy
TipJar

LATEST NEWS

TheLost6x9NEW CROW CITY COVERS
The Crow City Series now has a new cover set – dark, sleek, and just in time for the latest book in the series. See the full series covers here.

deadpoolTWENTY NOTES TO THE ANXIOUS, MELANCHOLY WRITER
Judging yourself? Feeling down on your writing? Over-comparing until you work yourself into a hole and can’t get out? Here are a few reminders to help you breathe and refocus.

Autum6x9AUTUMN (CROW CITY #2.75)
The latest installment in the Crow City series is here – with series favorites Walford Gallifrey and Joseph Armitage returning in a poignant story of reconciliation and newfound love in the first contemporary M/M in the Crow City Series.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *