One thing I love about reading and reviewing is that everyone has a different way of rating the books they read. Some people do star ratings only, others do blurb reviews, and some do huge, in-depth reviews that are like a novel themselves (I don’t know where you find the time and stamina to do it!). I love all of these types of reviews. I do try to avoid most reviews before reading a book, but there are some fellow readers where I’ll quick glance at them to get an idea of what I’m going into (this has helped me tremendously with some books).
I recently received an email telling me that they think I can’t be considered a reliable reviewer because I “only rate 4 and 5 stars” and that I should “change my rating system”. Well, excuse me sir, but you clearly haven’t looked too hard at my reviews and my blog because there are plenty of 3 and 3.5 star reviews and, unfortunately, some 2 and 1 star reviews. I only recently started giving some books a DNF, which pained me to start doing, but you can’t spend all your time on a book you aren’t connecting with. I also tend to stay within the genres I love and selecting books based on authors I love, synopses that jump out at me, or recommendations from fellow reviewers that have similar tastes as I do. This usually results in me really enjoying the books I pick up!
So I wanted to kind of explain how my rating system works to help shed some light on my thought process with books.
Here’s My Rating System:
5 Stars – I could not put this book down. The author had me sucked in from the beginning and I found it hard to find a stopping point. The writing is fluid, characters developed, and a solid plot. Bonus points for those that actual provoke an emotional reaction from me (this is incredibly rare and there is one that comes to mind that did this recently). Some specifics for a few genres I enjoy
- Thrillers – plenty of twists, red herrings, unreliable characters, and multiple POVs. Short chapters are my best friend.
- Horror – if you have me looking over my shoulder when I’m done, then it’s a job well done! That sense of impending doom, an eerie atmosphere, something that makes you hold your breath in anticipation, and monsters that terrify (real or fictional)
- Historical fiction – a time period that is well-researched, characters and dialogue that fits the setting, and descriptions that transport you through time. Bonus if it’s based on an actual event or person.
- Retellings – all the tropes! I love fairy tales and the retellings that authors come up with. It can be a straight up retelling or it can be one that makes fun of fairy tales (The Storyteller Series and Kill the Farm Boy to name a couple).
- True Crime – Give me all the gory details. Well-researched goes a long way and I don’t mind if it reads like an encyclopedia or a research paper. I’m all about the facts and timelines for these killers.
4 Stars – I read this one quickly, maybe in two or three sittings. The writing is solid with great characters. Maybe there were some continuity issues or the pacing varied. There could have been some minor confusion on characters or POVs in the beginning but I was able to straighten it out with minimal effort.
3 Stars – I’ll begin by saying, this is NOT a bad rating. This means it was middle ground for me and I liked it but it didn’t blow me away. I could have loved the concept but the execution just didn’t work for me, pacing could have been choppy, or characters I couldn’t connect with. I will still highly recommend these books to those that love the different elements within the story.
2 Stars / 1 Star – This is incredibly rare for me. There are a few that come to mind but not many. Could be the language used in the book, choppy pacing, too many characters that are underdeveloped, plot structure, editing errors (mainly when the book is finished, I always take this into consideration with ARC/Galley copies), and a few other things. It could also be a case of reader/genre mismatch which I always take into account when reviewing these titles. Lack of chapters has been a big one for me lately. I need chapters because that’s how I read, so when it’s broken up into parts that are around 100 pages each, I can’t just stop in the middle of it.
DNF – Did Not Finish – Three words that I always wanted to avoid when reading books. I couldn’t exactly tell you when that started, because in high school and college I definitely had no issues putting a book down that I wasn’t enjoying. I guess at some point I decided that if I started something then I was going to complete it. This, sadly, has resulted in dreading picking up some books or some less-than-stellar reviews. I will give a book 100 pages to hook me and if that doesn’t happen, then I will set it to the side. This does not mean I won’t go back someday to try again (I know timing can play a major role).
How do you rate books? Do you try to stay within your chosen and preferred genres? How are you selecting the next book to read if you are trying to branch out?
I would love to know your thoughts 🙂