How Did I Come Up With That Rating?

Over coffee and honey lavender toast (!!) this morning my sister asked me about my process when writing a review. As I answered her – at length, possibly to her chagrin – I realized that I’ve never really shared my rating process. So, I’m sharing it now. In case it isn’t obvious, I don’t have a degree in literature – I just love books. I don’t claim to be a professional literary critic.

What is my rating system?

I rate on a (very subjective) five-star system:

  • Five stars – the book is practically flawless. Would recommend without reservation.
  • Four stars – the book is largely excellent but has one or two perceived flaws that very slightly impact my reading experience – possibly an uneven pace or a small plot hole. Would highly recommend.
  • Three stars – an overall enjoyable read with a few deficiencies that are noticeable enough to pull me out of the story, such as three or more grammatical errors or typos, a significant plot inconsistency, or a sudden change in a character’s speech patterns. Would still recommend, with a caveat.
  • One or two stars – multiple “fatal errors” that prevent me from enjoying the book. Would not recommend. With a few exceptions, I don’t publish two-star reviews on this site, though you might see them on Amazon, Goodreads, or Reedsy. I can’t recall ever publishing a one-star review, probably because I wouldn’t finish reading a one-star book.
Do I rate all books on the same scale?

No.

I review a wide range of books. Some are classics, some are traditionally published with a mainstream publisher, and some are labors of love: self-published titles for which the author doesn’t often have the benefit of an editorial staff, agent, or publicist. I don’t believe it’s fair to compare a new author’s first self-published novel with To Kill a Mockingbird. This doesn’t mean that every self-published book gets five stars, but I consider carefully before rating them with less than three stars.

Here are a half-dozen titles, all rated 4.5 to 5 stars; take a look!

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