Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Ratings - Why we don't use them, what they'd mean if we did, and should we start using them?

You've probably already noticed that we don't give ratings on books here at Book Review Sisters.  Have we ever told you why?

Well, mainly it's because we believe book reviews are subjective - and I've written a whole post about that before.

But quite often, I do rate books on other sites, such as Goodreads and Amazon.  So I've had to think about what constitutes a 5 star rating to me. 

I don't give many 5 stars out.  To me, 5 stars is outstanding - a book that can't really be improved, a book that totally speaks to me and had me captivated from start to finish.  That's a tall order.  I'm a perfectionist in nature - I'm hard to impress.  I know lots of people give 5 stars more easily than I do, and I'm sure they truly believe in the 5 star rating they bestow.

Certain elements of a book can easily demote it from a 5 to 4 star for me.  These could be:
  • A slightly less than satisfying ending
  • A hero or heroine who I didn't quite identify with
  • A predictable plot
But otherwise, a 4 star rating from me still means a book I really enjoyed, and one I heartily recommend for lovers of the same genre.

3 stars means it was a nice book - one that I was happy to read.

2 stars? I didn't enjoy it, and that could be for a million reasons.

As for a 1 star - I don't think I've ever given one.  I'd probably never pick up a 1 star rating book, or if I did, I wouldn't finish it.

Generally speaking, Jess and I don't post reviews for books on Book Review Sisters which we'd rate less than 3 stars as we like to feature books we recommend to our readers

So that's how I rate books, if I have to.  Which brings me to a question I have for you today:

Would you like us to start using a rating system for books we review?

Please let us know what you think :) I'd also love to know what your criteria is for a 5 star rating.

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.


  1. Hi guys! I don't think it's vital for you to give ratings... knowing you wouldn't feature books with less than a 3 star rating in your opinion is enough for me. I'm probably one of those who are more generous with their 5 stars but that's because I don't always rate the quality so much as the story's enjoyment levels and in not being able to put it down! :)

  2. Yes, ratings and reviews are subjective. I pay more attention to a reviewer's particular issues with a book than their rating, and even then, I shop other reviews of the same book for similar remarks. I think you and Jess do a great job with reviews, and wouldn't change a thing. :-)

  3. Thanks for the support guys! Like Noela, I am more generous with my 5 star ratings as I also rate the story enjoyment coupled with how difficult it is for me to put down. I'm finding though that the more I read the harder it is for me to grant the 5 stars! :0

  4. Sorry I'm a bit slow on here at the moment guys, but thanks Noela & Gwen for your input :) I'm so tired from my travelling, and the girls have been battling a gastro bug ... fun times!

    Gwen - I think I agree with you, it's more important to check out the issues a reviewer has, rather than the rating they gave. You might find, for example, they just didn't like a soft spoken hero, but you know you wouldn't have an issue with that.