The War of the Stars

So I’m making a concerted effort to be a good reader/reviewer. I think my reviews are succinct and helpful (at least, that’s what I’m going for!), but my struggle always comes when choosing how many stars to give. I mean, they don’t allow for decimals, so that means either rounding up or down… Being an optimist, I generally round up, or give a solid number if that’s what I really thought. As far as I’m concerned, anything 3 stars and up is a good review.

Now in case those stars have got you confused, here is a handy little guide for how I base my ratings. Feel free to copy (or modify) as you like! And, since sex is always on my mind, I took the liberty of adding analogies to each of the star ratings. In literature, as in love, don’t settle for less than 3-to-5!

***** 5 stars – This is a book I will heartily recommend to my readerly friends. I want to hold it in my arms and cuddle it. These are the characters that live with me long after I devour the last page. This is the setting that swept me up and transported me. This is the writing that made me weep with its beauty; and the story made me feel I was a part of it. Five-star books keep me up at night – in a good way. Most importantly, a 5-star book lingers with me. I think about it frequently after it’s done; it lives on in happy memory. If I give five stars than I can honestly say I loved it. (And fortunately, I am liberal with my love!)

  • You should consider a serious relationship with this book. It belongs on your bookshelf, where you can stroke it as you pass by. Take it to bed with you on a regular basis, to enjoy again and again and again!

**** 4 stars – Wow! I totally enjoyed reading this! A four-star book is the kind I will remember and mention to friends. It has all the elements I look for in terms of plot, character, writing style, story flow, and all that good stuff. There are surprises; there’s tension; I read on eagerly waiting to find out what happens next. The only thing preventing it from getting five stars (besides my mood, which can be fickle on occasion) is that, despite my enjoyment of it, it is not necessarily a book I feel I’ll read again. In other words, it doesn’t quite earn a permanent place on my already-crowded bookshelf.

  • This is the hot one-night-stand of books! Had a great time, good luck and all, thanks for the memories… Have a nice life…

*** 3 stars – A solid prime number! If this was a student, they would be easily passing. Just not, you know, top of the class. For me, a three-star review means several things have been achieved: 1) a good story, engaging and enjoyable all the way through; 2) interesting characters; 3) a writing style that is correct, fluent, and clean; 4) something that, at the end, I think to myself “that was a nice read.” What sets it apart from higher scores may range from me just not digging the author’s style; to ho-hum characters; to I’m not the right audience for it; to just an overall lack of excitement for me as a reader. The book was fine for me, but may be great to someone else.

  • Hey, we probably fooled around, enjoyed one another, and said goodnight with no hard feelings. A successful date with someone with whom you had only moderate chemistry.

** 2 stars – Usually this means I gave the book an honest chance but, for whatever reason, just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. I understand what the author was going for; it had some redeeming qualities; but all in all, not good enough to keep me reading all the way through. And if you can’t keep a reader’s interest, usually it’s because the story is, essentially, boring.

  • You just gotta do better than that, writers. (And lovers.)

* 1 star – I don’t give one-star reviews, because I didn’t finish the damn book. We all wish it wouldn’t happen, but sometimes you come across a real stinker. The writing is bad; there’s no editing; you hate the characters from page two. Basically, the thing sucks. DON’T READ IT! Don’t bother reviewing it. Just put that shit away and get something better.

  • Life is too short for bad books. (Or bad sex!)

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