books · discussion

Let’s Chat! How I Review & Rate Books

Hey everyone!

I’ve been reviewing books for a while now, and over time I’ve developed a mental scheme of how I would evaluate the books that I read. Today I want to share with you guys the stuff that goes through my head when I review books. I’ll also share my (very very super scientific) method of rating books.

I want to make this into a discussion, so please let me know what sorts of things you think about when you are writing a book review πŸ™‚

*Note: I am NOT an expert by any means, and this is not meant to be an instruction manual of how reviews should be written. This is just how I approach my reviews!!

Characters

Characters are super important for me. This is why they are the first thing I talk about when I am reviewing a book. As I read a book, I am thinking to myself, can I relate to this character? Does this character feel real to me? Are they too flawless, too perfect?

The “perfect” character is a red flag for me. As soon as I find out that a MC is beautiful, adored by everyone, intelligent, and donates to stray cat shelters*, I am probably about to throw this book out the window.

(Psssst…. I don’t mean any offence towards animals, I love cats and I love pet shelters. It’s the principle.)

Relationships between characters are a big deal for me. I love reading about meaningful relationships, particularly platonic and family relationships. As much as I love a good romance, it gets dramatic and overblown and unrealistic when the MC and the love interest are in a bubble all by themselves. Hey, as much as we have a crush on XYZ, life still goes on and we still have to deal with family and friends, okay?

Aside from the MCs, I also love books with great villains. I love it when villains have a solid reason for doing what they doing, and they’re not only CACKLE CACKLE CACKLE I am SO evil. The signature of a good villain is that they are SO confident and passionate and feeling justified that what they are doing is the right thing.

Plot

I don’t have high requirements for plot. If I love the characters and I want them to win, then I am reading the book from beginning to end. However here are my basic plot requirements:

It has to make sense. I love convoluted plots and I love plot twists that surprise me… as long as things are explained in a way that I am not lost.

Characters’ actions should be in line with their motivations. Do you ever read a novel where you don’t understand why a character does something? Where it feels like a character does something just to move the plot forward? This is one of the things that pull me out of the story.

I love fast-paced books. I love it when one plot point follows the next, with just enough reflection and padding in between. The number one reason that I put down a book is because nothing is happening and I…. simply can’t stay awake reading it haha.

Writing

To be honest this is more of a personal preference than anything. There are some writing styles that speak to me while there are others that I do not care for. Personally, I enjoy concise and specific writing that get to the point of what is happening in a scene. I don’t have as much patience for long, drawn-out and elaborate setting descriptions- I just want to get to the story! At the same time, there has to be enough description so that I can imagine where the scene takes place.

My Rating System

Like many bloggers here, I use a 5 star rating system and occasionally give out half-stars. Here is what my rating system looks like!

  • 1 star: WORST book ever. The only reason I did not DNF is so that I can give it a 1 star rating and rant about it here.
  • 2 stars: Did not enjoy, but could be worse.
  • 3 stars: Overall a book that I enjoyed, although there are certain aspects that I disliked. I would not reread this book.
  • 4 stars: A great book that I would recommend to others! I would consider rereading!
  • 5 stars: One of my FAVOURITE books of all time that I would DEFINITELY reread.

Most of my books are between 3 and 4 stars. I occasionally have 2 star books and I am thrilled when I get a 5 star read!! 1 star ratings are rare for me however they do happen.

To be honest, I don’t use an algorithm or anything to determine a book’s rating. It’s kind of based on… uh, how should I explain..

Yes what she said πŸ™‚

However I often struggle between whether a book is 2 star or 3 star, or 3 star or 4 star, therefore I end up with half-star rating sometimes :’)

What do you look for when you review books? What are your most common book ratings? Do you do half-star reviews?

28 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! How I Review & Rate Books

  1. Characters are definitely important to me as well Sophie. There was been which I’ve down-rated because even though the world building was good and the plot was interesting I’ve hated the main character. If I can’t root for the main character what’s the point of reading. Also yes relationships between characters are a major thing for me too; you know how much I love good friendships/family relationships/sibling bonds in my books right? πŸ˜€
    The other thing for me is world building, I read a lot of fantasy and I need the world to be well written or it will keep puling me out of the story.
    You’d think the plot would be the main thing but it sometimes comes after the world building and the characters for me. Sometimes it’s like if the world and the characters are there the plot can sometimes just fall into place.
    Great post Sophie. πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Beth!! Yes! I cannot agree more! There are books that are good in every other way but I don’t end up enjoying as much as I think I should. In most cases it’s just because I’m not feeling the characters.
      Haha yes! I know that you’re a big fan of non-platonic relationships! I find that they add more dimension to a character πŸ™‚
      You’re right that world building is super important especially in fantasy novels. We want to feel like we’re right there with the characters, and it’s definitely more convincing when the world is built well.
      That’s an interesting thing about plot. I think a lot of people who don’t read or write a lot might think plot is the most important part of a story, but in fact it is just one piece of the puzzle πŸ™‚
      Thank you Beth!! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I mean all aspects of a book are important but I feel like sometimes character edge a lot of other things to one side almost.
        Yep, you need something other than romance in books, if not the relationship can seem kind of unhealthy if the two people are just focused solely on each other.
        World building is hard but it definitely needs to be done right, and yes completely. You can have the best plot in the world but if you don’t have good characters to go with it you don’t really have a book.
        That’s all right. πŸ™‚ ❀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved reading about your review process! Characters are also key for me – if I don’t like or connect with the characters, there’s much less of a chance that I’ll like the book. And in the end it usually does just come down to a gut feeling! I’ve definitely rated books that I know are objectively good lower than books that just made me feel a certain way, ya know? 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, characters can make or break a story! And I’m glad that you also feel like there is a “gut feeling” component haha. I can’t always explain whether I am in love with a book, or whether it is just all right lol. There have definitely been books that I didn’t like as much as I feel I should have πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. I look for plot more than the character. Fast-paced plot is the one I like best, too. Fillers are a waste of time.

    However, villains, when well crafted can elevate the big a lot.

    Your rating system makes sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Sophie! I like how you have all the aspects of reviewing books down. I feel like I still fluctuate a look in terms of how I approach reviewing books, and I think it’s because I worry I’ll get bored if I stick with the same formatting each time I write a book chat. But I would love to sit down and think about what it is about stories that I like & dislike, so I might do that soon 😊 Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Zoie!!
      I think that’s all right to change up how you do reviews. It makes sense to try different things and see what works for you, or to write reviews the way you feel like at the moment. I used to aim for a certain length when I review a book, but now I just see how many words come to me haha, and not force myself to write a lot about a book that I don’t have much to say about πŸ™‚ So all in all, I don’t think there is a right way to review books, just go with what feels right for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved seeing how your review/rate books— I have only really started reviewing books this year so I am trying to figure out how to do it best. I think I have done something different every review haha!! But I definitely agree with a lot of what you said here— I look for great characters, fast plot and every point you made really haha!! I definitely like to talk about what made the character likable and interesting. I also like to put a quote from the book in my reviews!!
    I do use half-star ratings, I even use 0.25 and 0.75 ratings which may be a bit picky but it helps me as in the 2-4 stars I find it hard to pick a specific rating at times!!
    Great post πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello πŸ™‚
      That’s great that you’ve been starting to review books! Sounds like you’re trying out a few different methods which sounds like a good idea to find out what works for you. There really is no “right” way for writing reviews I think πŸ™‚
      Yes I have seen 0.25 and 0.75 ratings out there! Sometimes I am tempted to use them as well haha πŸ™‚
      Thank you ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My rating system is quite similar to yours πŸ™‚
    Characters are important and i need them to be properly developed. Even if they are bad guys, or psychopaths, i don’t mind, as long as they are authentic.
    Sometimes, very rarely, if the plot is really, really good, i can overlook characters that are not so properly done. But even so, if it’s too unbelievable, or i have to suspend disbelief, i will not like it very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! I think there is a lot of talk about protagonists, but villains need to be well-developed too. I love books where we can sympathize with the villains or they’re just so brilliant and intelligent that they got to have our respect haha πŸ™‚
      Yeah. I think I agree with you there- I’ve come across a handful of books where the characters were so-so but the plot was just so fast-paced and awesome that it ended up being a good read.
      I’m with you when it comes to having to suspend disbelief haha. Once or twice I might forgive, but several more times and I’m out haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I definitely agree, I look for characters I can relate to and which feel real to me – and I like the relationships between the characters to be meaningful. I have noo time for overblown drama and Instalove! I think my rating system is pretty similar to yours, to be honest!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Characters are certainly important but what gets my interest is the plot. It has to be original even if the characters are ”Monsieur et Madame Tout-le-Monde”. The quality of the writing is relevant to me as well, especially the dialogues. If everyone express themselves the same way I don’t feel it is realistic. Love fast-paced books, too. What can I say? I’m not a very patient person. Lol. I also like when the villain is smart and beautiful. Makes him or her even more dangerous. Thanks Sophie for sharing your review process. Interesting to discover the way you work. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am definitely a fan of fast-paced plot as well haha, and I agree with you about dialogues! When dialogues aren’t realistic, I find it hard to relate to the characters and get into the story πŸ™‚ I love villains who are brilliant and dangerous as well. Thank you Dominique!! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

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