"How many stars should I give this book?"
This is a difficult question to ask, especially for a blogger. When a writer or publisher sends me a book for a review, I really WANT to like the book. I never want to give a bad review. Even if you're not a blogger, you don't want to shit all over something that some writer somewhere has put their heart and soul into, because frankly, that's just rude.
There are other factors involved as well.
Genre. If a book is written in my preferred genre, I am more likely to like that book more. It doesn't mean that the book outside my favorite genre is not as good, so how on earth do you account for that? I do my best to think of each book in relation to other books of that category. But let's face it, emotions factor in too. So I always make sure to list the genre in each review.
Series. I generically like the first book in a series the least, with very few exceptions. The first book is just always flatter, with less room for plot because the writer is busy setting up characters and worlds. They tend to build up to a grand finale, which I tend to like the most. Ok, always! In addition, sometimes I'm so engaged in a story that when I finish that book, I start the next before writing my review, and then end up having mixed feelings of the two books. So I try my best NOT to start the next one before writing my review of the first one!
Narrator. Since I listen to books on my commute, I review those too. (I do not differentiate reading a book and listening to a book - but that's a whole can of worms for another day.) A narrator can make or break a book. The narrator of Caraval actually narrated the Bella Forest series', and I would not have continued to listen to those books if it wasn't for her. If you're a sci-fi fan, RC Bray is the king, and if he narrates it, I'll listen to it. Conversely, bad narration can ruin a book, making it impossible to finish because you're gritting your teeth at the awful narration.
Author. There are a few authors whom I will automatically buy a book by them the day it comes out. Some I'll even preorder. Even if it's in another genre. I love and trust that author and my feelings on their other works may sway my feelings on what I'm currently reading by them.
So over time I've developed my own review system based on MY personal feelings. Because hey, it's my blog, and I dO wHaT i WaNt!!!
I use a 5 star system, because that's consistent with the places I leave my reviews, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookish First, and GoodReads.
1 Star - Ok, I'll admit, I've never given anything one star. It's hard for me to post something so negative. Someone put a massive effort of time, blood, sweat, and tears into creating that book, and to me, that effort alone is worth at least 2 stars. I've only felt a couple of books were 1 star worthy, and only because it felt like it was written by some farm of writers only concerned with sticking something up on a shelf to take my money, not a real, thoughtful story put together by a real person. (FINE, it was Bella Forrest. Is she even a real person? Or does she just write ideas on napkins and turn them over to a group of careless ghost writers?! Dammit, there you go, getting me to be all rude. If you are real Bella, and you're reading this, please put ENDINGS in each of your books and I'll start reading them again! The ideas are there! The writing effort is not!)
2 Stars - This book just did the bare minimum. It's a book, the author put real effort into it, I mean come on people, do you know what it takes to get published nowadays? But I just didn't like it. Even a DNF (did not finish) can get 2 stars, if it might be a good book for someone else, but I personally just did not like it. The Gilded Wolves was a DNF for me, and some people loved it. I just couldn't get engaged.
3 stars - I read it, and I liked it, but would give the book away to a friend or trade it at a used bookstore. I wouldn't read it again.
4 stars - I liked this book, and if there's a next one I will read it, and if you're thinking about reading it, would recommend you do. It's quality writing, and I might decide to read it again one day. Someday. When my TBR isn't staring at me with constant disapproval.
5 stars - I loved this book. I shall keep this book. I shall look up this author and follow them on Bookstagram to see what they are coming out with next. You should definitely add this to your TBR.
6 stars - "But Brittany, you just said you use a 5 star system..." SHHH. My blog. My rules. Sometimes I give a book 6/5 stars.
Yes, I know this doesn't carry over to other review sites. No, I don't care. 6 stars means this book gave me ALL THE FEELS. I will reread this book. More than once. I will not let anyone borrow this book. This book is my preciousss. You will add this book to your TBR. I will harass you and ask you if you've read this book yet. I need you to read this book so we can talk about all of our bookish feelings together. Have you read this book yet? WHY NOT? I NEED YOU TO READ THIS BOOK. NOW. Put down what you are currently reading and proceed to the route.
(I know I could probably bump all of my review types down a star, but I'm unwilling to do that, because these are people's livelihoods we are talking about, and writers make money based on star reviews, because that's how people decide to buy books. )
*Side note - I NEVER change my reviews. If I didn't like the first book in a series and write a 3 star review, I won't change it because I liked the next one better. If an author asks me to change it to a better rank, I won't do that either. I felt how I felt, and honesty is important in the book review world. I do my very best to be polite and kind in all my reviews, because I greatly respect writers and what they do. And that's all I'll say about that.
So you see, my ranking system is strange, like me. "Mister, we are the weirdos." I will add that I automatically add a star to a book's rank if I throw said book. If it made me FEEL enough to throw it, the author deserves recognition of that, because the fact that someone can write words on a page that make me feel so much that I literally throw a book across the room, well, that's frankly friggin amazing to me, and is the whole reason I read. Call me the Jennifer Hudson of books. (If you don't watch the Voice, well, she throws her shoe at singers she really likes. She is also, apparently, a weirdo.)
There you have it, a peek into my ranking system. I'm interested to know how other people rank their reads. Leave me a comment and tell me how you rank yours!