I’m always surprised how people rate their books and I’m always eager to see if their reviews match the ratings of the books. For me, my rating credentials are pretty simple: 1 star means I probably didn’t finish the book and never will, 2 stars means I finished the book but there was little redeemable about it, except for the fact I finished it, 3 stars means I enjoyed it to a point, but there were faults with it, 4 stars means I enjoyed it a lot but feel it didn’t have the added sparkle and 5 stars means the book was absolutely stunning and I’d automatically say would be a contender for my favourite book of the year.
I never rate the book until I’ve written the review; a snap judgement is no good, I need to put it all down and see how I feel half an hour later. I write about the good, I write about the bad (if there are any and more frequently there are some bad points). I compare it to the author’s previous novels I’ve read – where does it stack up in my mental list of the author’s books? It’s easy to think when closing a book that it’s the most super-duper book ever. I’ve enjoyed many a book this year, but felt there’s been things missing. Alternatively there have been loads of books that have also been brilliant. It all depends how I see it once it’s all typed out.
To me it does seem a lot of readers snap-judge the books they read; totally their prerogative, I totally have no idea how anybody else sees a book, but if reviewers want me to read their reviews they have to at least show me something. I used to follow a lot of blogs and appreciate the opinions of many reviewers, but that’s slacked off recently and I’ve removed them from my Google Reader because they don’t offer me anything besides the fact the novels they read are all brilliant. I read a lot of books I deem brilliant, sure, but I also read my fair share of mediocre books too and it’s the luck of the draw which reviews you get to see, really. I think a lot of reviewers are more flexible with their ratings. I think being sent books to review influences them. I truly don’t believe there are people in the word that love everything they read. It’s crap and they’re undoubtedly lying, hence my removal of other book blogs on Google Reader.
I want reviews I can rely on. I want reviews that actually tell me why I should or shouldn’t buy the book. I’m sorry but I don’t need to read it’s ‘X author’s best book ever’ when you said that last year or that it’s ‘your favourite book this year’, when you’ve already said it fifty times. So now I just read Amazon reviews because you don’t get more balanced then Amazon. I understand writing bad reviews isn’t exactly the most pleasant thing in the world, but the only way I’m going to respect other reviewers is if they are balanced and the ones I used to read aren’t, at all. It drives me nuts. I’d love to get into their heads and see what they really think.
As for me, I’ll stick to my own rating system. It works for me, and I know unequivocally how I feel once I’ve managed to get the review down how I really felt about the book. I just recently finished California Dreamers by Belinda Jones and although I enjoyed it, in no way did I feel it was as good as the earlier novels of hers I’ve read. I’m almost sure I’ll be in the minority there, in fact I’d bet my house on it that the 5-star reviews come flooding in. But for me Divas Las Vegas, The California Club, Cafe Tropicana and Out of the Blue would all rank higher! Maybe I’m just weird…