My book reviews and rating system

I wanted to talk a bit about my book review process and my rating system. You likely noticed I primarily feature romance genre books in the book review section of the blog. When the expanded website launches in November, there will be at least one additional book review each month, and that will usually be of a book from a different genre … such as history, biography, sci-fi, thriller.

The blog primarily features books that I have given 4 or 5 stars out of 5. Or should I say hearts? ❤  I try to focus on sharing books that I would recommend for you to read, not books that I wouldn’t recommend. And there are plenty of books I wouldn’t recommend! I typically read 6 books a week. Depending on what’s going on and what I’ve committed to, and taking into account the variety of book lengths, it could be as few as 5 or as many as 10 books that I read in a week.

There are several review sites I sometimes post on. The process of writing and posting a review anywhere is something I take very seriously. Anyone who writes anything for public consumption is putting themselves out there and that is not an easy thing to do.

Sometimes I help craft speeches for business executives and politicians. It can be nerve-wracking for them to put out a three-minute or five-minute speech. I torture myself over a 1700-word blog post.  Imagine how stressful it is for an author to put out a book! It has to be like sending your child off to kindergarten and praying bullies will not be mean to them. I believe the majority of authors put a bit of their heart and soul into every book they put out there. Readers invest time and money in each book they read. If I am going to review a book, I feel an obligation to take it very seriously, out of respect for the author and for other readers. Authors put a lot of work into their books. Readers invest valuable money and time choosing what to read, obtaining the book, and actually reading it.

Review sites use different criteria from one another – different guidelines that they put out for reviewers to follow. A 5-star system is the standard scale. Therefore, a 3-star review means a book is just fine.  Not every good book can have a 4-star or 5-star review. If they did, it would kind of eliminate the purpose of giving a score out of 5 stars. A 5-star review should really mean something. Otherwise it becomes the book review version of a participation ribbon, and is awarded for ‘just showing up.’ I don’t think any author or reader benefits from that.

 

Comparing Amazon and Goodreads ratings

This is a quick reference chart comparing how 2 of the most important review sites interpret ratings left by reviewers.

 

Amazon                       Goodreads

 

5 Stars                         I loved it                       It was amazing

 

4 Stars                         I liked it                        I really liked it

 

3 Stars:                        It was okay                  I liked it

 

2 Stars:                        I didn’t like it                 It was ok

 

1 Star:                          I hated it                      I didn’t like it

 

Amazon’s interpretations of star ratings are more generous – more enthusiastic – than that of Goodreads. Think a book was Okay?  That’s a 3-star rating on Amazon but a 2-stars on Goodreads. Like a book? 4 stars on Amazon and 3 on Goodreads. And so on and so forth.

Amazon is a retail site, of course, and books of all types are big business. Reviews of all its merchandise are there to encourage people to buy products, not necessarily to give unbiased opinions. Logically, therefore, high reviews serve their sale purposes better. Is it some crazy conspiracy to trick the reader? Of course not. I just think we should always remember that language is not necessarily unbiased. But Amazon does not write the reviews they post – they just share them.

My rating system

My personal rating system is pretty straightforward. When evaluating any type of fiction that might fit into a broad genre of romance, the following are descriptions of some of the criteria I am keeping in mind.

DNF:          The initials DNF stand for Did Not Finish.  It’s rare for me to not finish a book. Even when a book is poorly written or edited, there is always a chance that it will somehow redeem itself with a great ending. For me to not finish a book means that it was truly awful. It has actually only happened a few times and I have read, quite literally, thousands of books.

 

1❤     –        This rating is for books I flat out don’t like. There may be no plot

at all, or one that is so bad it may as well not exist. Books that fall into this category often have terrible grammatical errors, story continuity mistakes and spelling errors too. Characters in this type of book are frequently very one-dimensional.

 

2❤     –        Typically this would be a book that I didn’t like much. It may be

a situation where I note that YMMV (your mileage may vary). One such book that comes to mind dealt with a male lead character who routinely cheated on the female lead with other women just because he could. Even did it right in front of her one day while she’s pregnant with his child. No. Just no.

Other books that are in this rating might have gratuitous sex or violence that is there just to fill pages and doesn’t contribute to the understanding of the characters or advancement of the plot. If a book is described as erotica, then I have no problem with that type of content. But don’t try to pitch it as a romance novel of any type if it’s just totally lacking any type of plot. A book should be categorized correctly.

3❤     –        A book that earns this rating is OK. I read one such book

recently by an author whose work I typically like. I really did not like the male lead character in this particular book. He was supposed to be a very strong, dominant, alpha man in a fast-moving, instalove story. I thought he was more of a bully than anything else. I did like the other characters though and I thought it was a good story. It was also well-written and well edited. I will read the next book in the series. It was not a book I will read again, but it was certainly not bad just because I didn’t like a character.

 

4❤     –        These are books I really like. Sometimes I have to think about it

a lot to decide if it creeps into being a 5 or 3, but usually I know right away if a book is a 4 as soon as I finish the last paragraph. Books in this category will typically have a very solid plot, multi-dimensional characters that you care about, good descriptions of locations and settings, and good dialogue. They are clearly well thought out and well edited.

Interestingly, I have given this rating several times to books that feature strongly a very kinky lifestyle that you might think would automatically get a lower review. Nope. I read with an open mind. The characters’ unusual (at least I think it’s unusual) kink fit in as part of a well-crafted plot. Characters were good and if it all the rest of my criteria for a 4-star read.

 

5❤     –        These are the books that make you take a deep breath when

you finish and think about the story you just read. The plot is solid, the characters are multi-dimensional, secondary characters add depth, emotions are well conveyed, dialogue is solid, banter is witty, intimate scenes are written to fit the personalities of the characters. There is a satisfying ending, but at the same time you’re sorry to see the story end. Grammar, editing, continuity and spelling are all good.

 

Why don’t I post books with low reviews on From In Here?

On this website I publish primarily 4-star and 5-star reviews because those are books I recommend anybody read if looking for a book in the category. I respect anybody who takes the time to write a book and then has the courage to put it out there. It seems unkind to me to feature a book for the sole purpose of giving it a less than good review. I have posted 1-star and 2-star reviews on different review platforms at times when appropriate, about I prefer to share the good stuff on my own site.

If there is a book you’re considering purchasing and want to know if I’ve read it or read anything by the author, you can post after this article, or email me at frominhere@gmail.com,  or send me a message on Instagram @frominhere. I will always give you a true answer and an honest review. I also regularly review books at the request of authors and or promotional companies, beta read and provide feedback if asked.

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