Thursday, August 13, 2015

Discussion Post: Star Ratings and How I Review

I've been thinking about star ratings lately. I saw a discussion post on Cornerfolds about a month ago where Tracey was talking about how she is thinking about going to half star ratings. It got me thinking about my star ratings and how I review books.

Part of what has made me think so much about ratings is because it's different across platforms. Goodreads uses a five star rating and I use a 10 star. But they don't perfectly line up. Things I give 3 stars on Goodreads aren't necessarily 6's to me and vice versa. Plus I like to do half stars because it gives me more variety.

But I do feel like I often use the same rating over and over again. I've been considering going to a five star review system or maybe even something different. But before I do that let me explain the method to my madness.

On Goodreads:

I'm pretty good about updating my Goodreads (especially lately) when I'm in the process of reading. Although sometimes I'll forget to add a book until I want to add a thought. I sort of think of Goodreads as my first line of defense (offense?). It's my guideline for my actual reviews.

I went through a long stretch of time where I would forget to cross-post my reviews on there because I wanted to make them more detailed and I realized that didn't work. But then I decided to go back to the way I used to do it where as soon as I finish a book I give a star rating and write up a quick review. You could say that these are my initial thoughts on the book. (I actually really like when people do initial thoughts and then a full review, Brittany from The Book Addict's Guide does that).

In case you were wondering, here is what those star ratings on Goodreads mean to me.

1 star - Hated It

You will probably never see me rate a book 1 star. I would without a doubt DNF anything I hate that much and I don't rate books I did not finish. That's not a fair representation of the book for me. (I'm not saying you can't do that, it's fine. I've done it in the past, I just don't do it that way anymore).

2 star - Didn't Like It
Equally rare but not as illusive. I have rated a few books 2 stars. These are the few books that I say that I legit hated. They either made me angry while I was reading them or I felt like they were boring regurgitation of something else.

3 stars - It Was Okay
This is pretty common for me. I tend to give 3 star ratings to books that were basically very "meh" for me. Like it didn't impress me or more likely, there were some elements that I loved and some elements that I hated.

4 Stars - I Liked It
I love a good 4 star rating. Without a doubt this is my most common rating. I give this to probably 2/3rds of the books I read. For me, these are good books that maybe had one major element that I didn't like such as the characters, the pacing, or the world-building.

5 stars - I Loved It
I give a pretty good amount of 5 star ratings. These are books that did blow me away or books that I loved even if they had an element that I didn't like. It doesn't have to be perfect to get a 5 star rating from me but it has to be pretty close.

But like I said, these Goodreads reviews are my initial thoughts. Sometimes I will like a book because of the way it finished but the more I think about it, elements don't sit well with me or I'll get that book hangover feeling and realize that I loved a book much more than I thought when I closed it. In these cases I wonder about whether or not I should go back and change my ratings. Lately I think I am being more critical then I used to be and I'm giving more 3 stars to things I would have given 4 stars. Or maybe a few months ago I was being a little bit more generous. Have you ever changed a star rating after a few months? Or after writing your full review?

On the Blog:

So once I have my Goodreads review written, I move on to writing my review of the book for the blog. I usually take a day to sleep on it in this case. I want some time to collect my thoughts and let the initial glow of finishing the book wear off.

When I'm writing my full review, I usually take my Goodreads review as the jumping off point. Sometimes I will use the actual language from that review and elaborate, other times I will paraphrase or check back for the general sentiment. I try to read books as close to release date as possible so there isn't usually a big gap between when I read it and when I post my review. This review also tends to be a little bit more critical. Now that I've taken the time to consider what I liked or didn't work for a book my thoughts are much more detailed.

This can actually be a bad thing at times. I will often write a review of a book that I loved and have critical things to say about it. In these cases I feel like I need to justify my thoughts and explain that I really did like the book. Also sometimes I think I'm being too generous with a book I didn't like. I don't want to trash it. Just because I didn't like the romance doesn't mean you won't. My intention is rarely to talk you out of reading a book. It's just to prepare you for it. I've actually read some reviews of books where the person didn't like elements that I knew I would like. We all have different tastes, these are just my thoughts... literally (see what I did there).

So after the review is written, that's when I make my star rating. Sometimes when I finish writing the review I'll realize that maybe I didn't like it as much as I though initially so I'll make a different star rating than I first planned. Or I'll give it a higher rating because the review is just a flailing session. The star ratings are just a representation of the review, they're not the content to me.

But here's what they mean.

1-4 stars
This will never happen. I will always DNF a book that is capturing my interest so little.

5 stars- Awful
I have given a 5 star review though. This is my way of saying a book was awful. Maybe there was one redeeming thing about it but in general I kind of hated it. These are books that when I'm done I wish I had DNF'd it because I ended up seriously hating it.

6 Stars - Pretty Bad
It was okay but in general it just didn't hold my interest and there were more things I disliked than things I liked. These are also books that I probably should have DNF'd. Sometimes I'll even give a book 6 stars because I was really liking it until the very end where I wanted to throw it across the room.

7 stars - Okay
If I rate something 7 stars it's kind of like my 3 stars on Goodreads. It was okay but didn't blow me a way. I'm like the pH system when it comes to review, this means a middle of the road book.

7.5 stars - Above Average

This is where I start using half stars because it was a little better than okay but not great. A 7.5 star review typically means that were were a few major things that I didn't fully connect with but I enjoyed the book.

8 stars - Good
An 8 star read was a good book for me. I enjoyed it but there was maybe one huge thing that I didn't really like. All in all a really good read that had some really fantastic elements but something was missing or something didn't work. I would still call this a 3 star read on Goodreads but it was better than okay.

8.5 stars - Pretty Good

Pretty Good. These are books that I liked a lot but there was either one thing I didn't like or a few small things that I didn't really enjoy. Maybe I didn't connect with the characters or the world-building was problematic. Usually I will give something 8.5 stars if I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads but while writing the review I have a lot of things that didn't work.

9 stars
Really Good. These are books that I really liked but there were maybe a few small things that I didn't enjpy. This is probably my most frequent rating her on the blog. It's what I consider my 4 star rating. I'll often give a 9 star rating to something that I didn't expect to blow me away and it kind of did, or vice versa. A really great read but didn't blow me away.

9.5 stars
Fantastic. This is a book that was nearly perfect but there was one minor thing that I didn't like so much. I will rate these books with 5 stars on Goodreads because I loved them but with a very critical lens they aren't perfect. I sometimes think I'm too generous with this rating but that's not a bad thing.

10 stars 
Flawless, a new favorite.  I've given a book 10 stars because I didn't immediatley find something I didn't like. But to me these are mostly those books that just blow me away. The books that gives you a book hangover. The books you can't stop talking about or pushing on others. Those books you truly loved and you want everyone to know it.

Those are my are my rating systems. I hope it helps you understand not only the distinction between my Goodreads and blog ratings but also why I gave a book a specific ranking. How do you rate and review? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I've debating going to half stars because I feel like I need more levels than what I have. But because Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble don't have them, I haven't switched. I want to be able to use the same rating on all platforms. Here's a description of my ratings:

    1. Yeah, the standardized 5 star rating is what makes me want to stop using 10 stars. But I like the ability to give half stars. Like sometimes there are books that aren't quite five stars and are better than 4 stars. Honestly though, just do what works for you. Especially on your own blog.

  2. Interesting post. I use stars on Goodreads but not on my blog. My star ratings are just too inconsistent to put on the blog. I’ve found that I’ve become a much tougher reviewer over the years. A book that I would have rated 5-stars a few years ago would probably be a 3-star book now.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. I definitely agree with that. I am kind of inconsistent too. But I think in general it's all subjective. Like I'm not much of a mood reader but your mood and what you've read recently can really influence your thoughts. I've been more generous on a book if I haven't read anything that has blown me away recently and vice versa.

  3. Thanks for mentioning me! :D I think it's really interesting that your Goodreads reviews are different from the ones you write for your blog. I've never considered making one more detailed than the other, but I can definitely see how that would work better based on your rating system. I've definitely found things to be much easier since adding half stars to my rating scale! I just round up for Goodreads ratings. Thanks for elaborating on your star ratings though! It's nice to be able to understand exactly what the process is behind the 10 star scale!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    1. You're welcome! Thanks for inspiring this post. Yeah, the other thing is I am the kind of person who reads Goodreads reviews before I read a book, especially if I'm on the fence about it and I like the shorter ones better. But really it's just that if I don't write some quick thoughts on Goodreads I will forget to write the review. I sort of look at the two as very different entities that influence one another.

  4. When I first started my blog, I didn't have half stars, but then I realized for some books I really needed them and once I incorporated them into my reviews, I found them to be SO much more accurate and easier! I don't know if I could do ones out of 10 though; too many options for me! haha! Kudos to you though on the Goodreads reviews! I couldn't do two separate reviews. I usually end up writing my review right after I finish a book in a notebook, then type it up on my blog a few hours or a day or so later and tweak it after I've had some reflection, then I just copy that review over to Goodreads and Amazon. For my half star reviews, I usually just round up on Goodreads or Amazon. This was a great post idea!

    1. It is a lot of opinions. I honestly didn't realize how many until I started doing this post. But I like opinions, 5 stars feels too confining. I'm so much more impressed with people who write their reviews down before posting them. I used to do that but I gave up on that for Goodreads.

  5. Nice post! I don't really do star ratings. If I post that I read something on Goodreads, I tend to not give it a star rating unless it's a 3, 4, or 5, but sometimes, I just don't rate it because I'm so unsure. On my blog, I might say "this is a 5 start read for me" once in a blue moon, but I tend to just write out my thoughts (good and bad) and leave it at that.

    keep in touch - i always comment back

    1. Thanks Lauren. I totally understand not using stars. I think for me it's a good way to just wrap everything up and give a quick thought. Like if you don't want to read a full review because you haven't read the book yet, looking at the star at the bottom shows that I liked or didn't like a book. But everyone has their own style and that's what is so cool.

  6. I just wanted to say that I thought these Community GIFS were fantastic. Excellently done. :)

    1. Haha, thanks Melissa. I like doing themes and I knew I wanted the last one so it just felt right.

  7. I really like your 10 star rating system. I think it allows for a larger spectrum and a more concrete rating for a book. I wrote a discussion post ages ago about how I was dropping the whole star ratings thing on my blog. I could't distinguish books enough when it came to give them 1-5 star ratings. I am glad you have found something that works for both you as a blogger and us ass readers!

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend lovely! :)

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

    1. Thanks Alex. I'm glad it helps. I agree, it gives me a larger spectrum and allows me to be a little bit more critical. But I like that everyone is different. Some people use stars, others don't, some people have fun little sayings or other icons. There's so much creativity.