Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Policy change

Due to a recent unpleasant experience, I have updated my reviewing criteria. The changes are primarily in the realm of BDSM. and now look like this  (it's also on the If You Want a Review page);

A story that pleases me will have a couple of well developed characters, a relationship, and something plotwise outside the relationship. I like plot, that's the point of a book. I like sex, too, but sex has to drive the plot. The daily drivel of the character's lives in between sex scenes is not plot -- plot has conflict and resolution, and it needs to make sense. Logic fail will get noticed out loud and if I can't find the plot beyond "hawt guys fuck" you can call me Cryssy Crankypants.

Things that stop me in my tracks:

  •  Rape, unless it's a past trauma and offstage
  •  Incest, especially twincest. A survivor is fine, but current relationship -- NO
  •  Non-con -- don't kid yourself, the right name is rape
  •  All the squicky stuff that epublishers put in their 'don't submit to us' list
  •  Most BDSM. Personal preference, no apologies. Please don't offer it. Absolutely no pain play, blood play, flogging, bondage, humiliation, gagging, CBT. If it requires implements, I don't want to read it, I don't have to explain why, and I don't want to be nagged for exceptions. Wheedle or push, and I will review, using boilerplate. "Book, DNF, author, TSTL."**
  • Het. Really, people. I'm not the right reviewer for that.**

Iffy stuff:
  • Dub-con. We might not agree about where the line is. I'm likely to be more restrictive in my definition than you are.
  • Soul mates -- this one hits the gag reflex, no matter what the writing looks like, 99 times out of a hundred, and the hundredth one is probably involving a non-human. A deep bonding after personalities get explored is fine, just no "only one personnnnnn in the universssssse for meeeeeeeee!" 
  • BDSM of the non-implement variety. Psychological aspects might be okay, but know you're taking a risk.

**Yes, someone tried. Learn from their error.

This is not to say I will never read BDSM, it's just that I will choose it myself. I already know of one book I intend to read that has some psychological elements going, but I don't expect it to be a regular thing.

What happened was a classic case of how not to ask for a review. It went something like this, and I paraphrase to protect the guilty.

Review my book please.
No thanks, it’s het.
Review my book.
No, it’s heavy BDSM.
And I don’t want to set the keyboard on fire again by repeating what I said after that. Maybe instead of “No” I should have said “Shakespeare” or “Chrysanthemum.” 


  1. *passes Cryselle a warm cookie and a shot glass full of something high proof*

  2. Wow, some people are so rude! Good for you to stick to your guns and be more explicit in your reviewing policy. Why would someone press for a review of a book that you've told them you probably won't like? That's like asking for a low grade from a review! There are plenty of reviewers out there who will review the things you don't like.

    1. With the header on this blog I honestly didn't expect to have to say "no het." Especially since het isn't m/m, m/m/m, or m/m/f. And if I already said no heavy BDSM, it wasn't unclear before.

      This made me so mad, and the contrast with another author's approach was night and day. This other author said, this is what I have, (here's a snippet)and is this something you'd want to read? I said no thanks to that book but am reviewing another of hers. One is a pro, and the other needs to go back to kindergarten.

  3. I don't really get authors who think THEY will be the one to change your mind about something. Respect goes both ways. Readers don't tell authors what to write, and authors don't tell readers what to read. As Jen said, there are many people out there, be respectful that something is not to someone's taste and move on.

    1. THIS. All I can think of was that she was getting desperate to even ask here, which is nicer than thinking she's TSTL, but the effect was the same.

  4. What Jenre said. Good grief, that's dumb. :/

    Everyone has their own tastes and preferences, and reviewers aren't exempt from that. There are more books out there, even just m/m books, than any one person could read in their lifetime. You have to thin down the list somehow, and doing a first cut based on topics and tropes you know you're not into no matter how well they're written is just good sense.


    1. Right, I have to draw the line somewhere, although I do read a lot of different topics.

  5. The soulmate thing drives me up the freaking wall every time, too. UGH.

    1. It's why I don't read a lot of shifters stuff, because the blurb usually makes me think of soulmates or fated mates or whatever you call it, but something that's unavoidable.

      I did read a shifter book where the author went for comedy and it was really cute, so I guess there aren't absolutes. Or it was the 100th book. (Galen and the Forest Lord, Eden Winters)

  6. I'd go bonkers if I were a reviewer. Can't stand the "out of the blue, I'm gay for you" trope, can't tolerate rough BDSM (for personal reasons), and would have a lot of trouble objectively evaluating a story about fated shifter mates, unless it were a comedy.

    Yeah, I can fully understand why reviewers need theur boundaries. Good for you, Crys.

  7. Poor, Crys *petpet* That author will figure out what they did wrong and do a little growing up. Maybe because of this very situation or it may take another reviewer getting frank with them. Good on you for sticking to your guns. I'm not a fan of BDSM either, light or rough, and I couldn't imagine having to sit through something that not only turns me off to the story but makes me physically uncomfortable.

    Also, ditto on the soulmates B.S. Another trope, more of a hetero paranormal romance trope than any of the m/m I've read, is the hate=love. Two characters that hate each other and have for possibly thousands of years are not going to fall in twoo wuv in a few days time. I hate only a few people and I could never love any of them. The very thought *bleck*


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