Insights, News

Insights: How I Review Books & What My Ratings Mean

With how much I am reading this year, I am sure some of you have seen me post reviews on Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads…as well as my own blog. Everyone has different criteria for how they rate books and how they perceive the ratings. ⁠

So some you upon seeing my reviews, may wonder how I PERSONALLY review books so the review is HONEST AND FAIR to the author. This is especially important with indie authors, who don’t have as many reviews, so I want to make sure my review is fair to them when a single review can impact ratings. 

I truly try to be fair, honest, and kind in my reviews. I don’t want to let one things sway me from an otherwise good book and give it 1 star because I didn’t agree with how an author handled something or didn’t like a trope. ⁠

So I review books based on 6 criteria. I even have a nifty little spreadsheet to help when I’m unsure what I’m going to rate the book…since I enjoy math like that.

⁠1) The Writing

Not every writer is properly trained. While the book should be cohesive and make sense, I don’t want someone’s writing to hinder my review unless I REALLY can’t read the story. But I also want to give credit to AMAZING writers as well. So 10% of my review is based on writing.⁠

2) The Plot⁠

Did the plot make sense? Did it flow? This makes up 20% of my review…because frankly, if the plot is all over the place, then how am I supposed to enjoy the story?⁠

3) The Characters⁠

Characters can definitely make or break a story. If the characters are entertaining and I connect with their plight, then I want to credit the author for that. This makes up 10% of my review.⁠

4) Tropes⁠

There are some tropes I love, some tropes I hate. Sometimes an author makes a trope I hate work. Sometimes they handle dark topics well, sometimes they don’t. But, if the overall story is good and I loved it, I don’t want my hatred for a trope to completely negate my review, so this makes up only 5% of my review. ⁠

5) The Ending⁠

Occasionally, I might not agree with a book’s ending. But, clearly, the author had a vision. So even if I hated the way a book ended, I don’t want it to completely ruin a review for a book I otherwise enjoyed. This makes up 5% of my review.⁠

6) Enjoyment⁠

Obviously this is the most subjective and guiding factor of my review. Did I enjoy a book? Then I want that to count even if there were flaws I couldn’t avoid. This makes up 50% of my review. ⁠

So…that being said…what do my ratings mean?

★★★★★⁠
This means I CANNOT put this book down. Chances are I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like, and the entire time the story enchanted me. These are books that I highly recommend to anyone who asks. ⁠

★★★★☆⁠
These books are still wonderful reads. But for whatever reason, they aren’t sticking the same way. Perhaps it was due to the writing style, a trope, or just personal taste that knocks it down slightly. Either way, a four-star rating means the book is highly recommended!⁠

★★★☆☆⁠
3-to-3.5 stars is my average rating. This is still a GOOD book. There might be some issues though: possibly the pacing is off, I don’t like the trope, something was wrong with the writing, or another array of issues. But that doesn’t mean the book is bad. It’s still either good or fun, and that’s all that matter!⁠

★★☆☆☆⁠
I haven’t given too many 2-star ratings. Usually it is more of a 2.5 or 2.75 or something. Typically, 2 stars means the book wasn’t for me. Usually I can find redeemable qualities (well written, entertaining enough, etc), but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. That being said, I can see while people will enjoy it. ⁠

★☆☆☆☆⁠
I have not given a 1-star review this year. These are reserved for DNFs (and I do try to finish every book) or a book that has NO redeemable qualities. ⁠These are books that have repugnant sexist/racism/prejudice/pedophilia/etc, as well as books that are just indecipherable. I have not come across any of these (yet) though.

A note…

I will never drop a rating after I rate the book. I don’t think that is fair to the author. I may increase it though if I reread it. ⁠

After reading all this, if you are an author looking for a review, feel free to check out my review policy. I have spots open starting January 2021 and would love to check out your work! 

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