Well, okay, so this isn't so much "frequently" asked questions - as they've never been asked - but I wanted a place to put information on the subjectiveness of my grading, how I determine my labeling, and anything else that comes to mind.

FTC Disclosures

In accordance with FTC Guidelines.

I would like everyone to know that while I do purchase my own books quite frequently, you should assume that every book reviewed here at Touch the Night was provided to the reviewer by the publisher or the author for free - this in no way affects the review/rating. Regardless of how the book was obtained, every review here is my honest feelings on the book.

Additionally, I do use affiliate links - such as Amazon Associates. I will earn a small percentage of the sale if you click on those links.

Rating Scale

This is the most subjective part of any review site. Though we can talk about technical writing until the stars come home, it doesn't really matter - I've read some technically perfect books that didn't touch me at all and left me desperately wanting something good to read. So my reviews, and my grades, rarely talk about technical perfection.

I will, however, mention grammar, spelling, and formatting issues if they are egregious enough, annoying enough, or if I think others might be bothered by them.

As always, my reviews are completely personal and my own "rules" are subject to change at any time. I am as transparent as possible in my reviews, noting any triggers or personal pet-peeves.

A(+/-): Fan-frakking-tabulous!! Must read. And re-read. This book rocked my world and I want to dive back in immediately.

B(+/-): Really good, solid book. I enjoyed this a lot, and will definitely be reading more by this author.

C(+/-): I like it. Average book with some issues.

D(+/-): Not for me. Didn't like it. Lots of problems. Unable to get "swept away" at all.

F(+/-): I wish I could un-read this book.

DNF: Did-Not-Finish - I either rage-quit because of issues, or was so bored I couldn't force myself further.

Length Definitions

These are my own personal definitions - I know that every publisher pretty much has their own word- or page-count that will determine the length 'category' the story will get placed in. For me, this is how I feel about what I'm getting.

Snippet: Less than 10 pages

Short Story: 10 to 49 pages

Novella (aka. Short Novel): 50 to 249 pages

Novel: 250 to 449 pages

Doorstopper: 450+ pages

Sexual Content

Again, my own personal definitions - which includes my very subjective tastes. I find flowery, euphemistic descriptions to be beyond tame, and well as sex scenes that are so vague it's hard to actually tell what's going on. If a book has these sort of scenes they will generally be on the lower end of the "heat" scale. Explicit, descriptive scenes and talk will land a book's heat rating more towards the other end.

Closed Door: Pretty much exactly that. If a story hints at sex, but never actually describes it, instead fading to black, or closing the door.

Tame: Sweet, flowery, euphemistic, or vague sex scenes. Not a lot of description, nearly a fade to black, but not quite.

Sensual: Average - meaning it's steamy and yet still somewhat euphemistic. Uses frank descriptors for male and female genitalia and acts, and doesn't shy from the sexual encounter.

Fan Myself: Holy frak! That's hot! Frank descriptions, and slang for genitalia. Detailed, usually fairly lengthy, sex scenes. May have to take a break after reading one.

Off the Charts: Graphic, detailed, lengthy. Can sometimes run the risk of being too graphic, detailed and lengthy for me.

Romantic Pairings

Because I primarily read Male-Female pairings, with the occasional Male-Male, Female-Female, or various Menage pairing throwing in. Honestly, I used to tag if something was *other* than M/F. But I'm starting to go back through my blog and will be tagging what kind of pairing it is in every single instance.

M/F: Male / Female

M/M: Male / Male

F/F: Female / Female

(Permanent/Temporary) Menage: Three or more. Most menages I've read are threesomes. They are handled in a couple of unique ways, that I've also broken out below.
     M/M/F or F/F/M: All three partners are equally involved, sexually and emotionally in the relationship. This means that the men and women all have sex with each other and have a bond with each other. 
     M/F/M or F/M/F: The two men both have sex with the female, or the two women both have sex with the male, but not with their own gender. So they are "sharing." There's generally an emotional bond between the men, or women, but there also tends to be a 'no-touch' thing between the same gender participants.

Transgender: If one (or more) of the pair/group is transgender, then I will list that separately. They will be listed in the pairing/group as they identify on a case by case basis. If I come across some that don't seem to identify in a particular specific way - and I hope that I do! - I'll determine how to list that then.


This section will be a lot more vague, and a lot more subjective. 

POV: Points-of-view can be anything from first- to third-person. There can be a single POV or multiple POVS.

     First: Generally limited in one characters' head. "I" statements. Most First-Person-POV books I read tend to stick with one character viewpoint throughout the entirety of the story.

     Second: Please, gods, no. I hate second-person and probably will never read a book that does it. "You" statements.

     Third: Limited (Narrator is inside the head of a single character and possesses no outside knowledge of world events) or Omniscient (Narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all characters and - possibly - world). There's a huge sliding scale in there. "He" or "She" statements. Generally most Third-Person-POV books I tend to read focus on a single character at a time, but the Narrator (and thus the reader) tends to have knowledge the character doesn't. So closer to the Omniscient end of the spectrum, but not completely open and all-knowing.

HEA: Happy-Ever-After or Happily-Ever-After

HFN: Happy-For-Now

Because I primarily read stories that have some sort of romance going on, and most of those have an HEA, I'll list if it has an HEA (or HFN), or if it does not. If the romance is part of the ongoing series, I won't put either of these tags until it's known for sure, but I'll definitely end up saying something about the romance and/or chemistry in the review.

Cliff-hanger / Serial / Series: These all three mean different things to me. But if any of them are present you can bet I'll be noting it.

     Series: A series can either follow the same protagonist for several books (Kate Daniels, Fever) or in the case of romance series, can follow a different couple in each book (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Psy-Changeling)

In the case of the single protagonist, there is generally and over-arcing story-line that ties the series together, something that builds from book to book, however each individual book has a main plot resolved with the majority of those threads tied up. Think, monster-of-the-week, or the characters resolving a particular issue in a larger plot, or winning a battle but not yet the war. These are almost always necessary to read in order. Almost always in these series the romance isn't tied up until several books in, or until the very end of the series.

In the case of different couples taking the lead in each book, generally there is an over-arcing story-line or group dynamic that ties the whole thing together. They're often better read in order, but you can probably still enjoy and understand them if you don't. Instead of there being a plot that's completely tied up in a book of this series, it's usually the romance that's resolved by the end of each book for that particular couple. 

     Serial: A serial is one story broken up into parts. It's a single overall book, that's parcelled out in serial format - each bit released closely together. Somewhat like how stories were serialized in the dailies. These generally will have natural (hopefully) stopping points at the end of each installment, but nothing will be tied up until the end of the serialization. At the end of the serialization, the romance and the plot for that particular story is completed. Serials can be part of a series.

     Cliff-hanger: This can be present in a serial, series, or all by its lonesome. However, not all series (or serials I suppose) have to have cliff-hangers. I define these by the feeling that I have at the end of the book that goes something like: "Wait! WHAT?! I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!!!" I don't hate cliff-hangers - especially when they're done well. In fact, I kind of like spreading my waiting-misery with my best friends (just ask anyone that I convinced to read the Fever series with me and the year-long waits for each book). I would, at least, like part of the story tied up though. I'd like to feel like it's a natural-ish ending point for that book (or part of the book in the case of a serial). If I feel like it's being done as a gimic to get me to buy more, or purposefully torture me, I'm going to be PEEVED.

Speaking of pet-peeves...

It's easy to say if it contains rape, violence, cheating, etc. It's much harder to say if it contains vagaries that are more subjective. I've read many books where I saw non-consent and a friend thought there was plenty of cons. I've split these into two lists - Pet Peeves: things that will irritate the hell out of me; and Beloved Tropes: things that I'll generally love and enjoy and/or get excited about reading a story that contains them. 

Conversely, if an author handles a 'pet-peeve' particularly well, I will likely end up loving it. Or if they handle one of my 'beloved-tropes' so bad, it could make me rage.

***Edit: The things listed below will be updated with thoughts and definitions as I have time - this list is subject to change. I'm still deciding if I'll list these separately from the review, but they are almost alway discussed in review, because they either bug the hell out of me, or I love them to pieces.

Big Misunderstanding: 
Martyr Syndrome: 
Alpha-hole Hero/ine: 
Slut Shaming: 
Pulled-to-Publish Fan-Fiction (P2P): 

Beloved Tropes

Alpha Hero/ine: 
Beta Hero/ine:
Contraception Use/Discussion: 
Passes Bechedl Test:
Persons of Color (POC):
Friends and Family:

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