This is my own very personal Rating Scale and it should be taken as such…
IT WAS SPECTACULAR IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY ~ I reserve the Six Stars of Excellence rating for those few but very very special books or series that have blown my mind from the very first page with intriguing, unpredictable and extremely original plotlines, flawless writing styles, a high level of engagement on my part, and unforgettable characters. There is absolutely nothing I would change in those books and believe they should be on everyone’s reading lists.
ADORED IT ~ I adored the book, could not put it down and could think of little else while reading it. It stayed with me long after I finished it and I will definitely re-read it at some stage. The writing style of the book is often another reason I would give such a high rating – I love books that have unique, consistent and well-developed writing styles. These books often end up on My Favourite Books list.
LOVED IT ~ I loved the book and could not put it down but there was something about it that didn’t quite make it perfect for me, such as grammar/editing mistakes that were numerous and distracting, or characters I could not relate to personally.
REALLY LIKED IT ~ I really liked the book and had a hard time putting it down, but there was room for improvement, often in weak dialogues, need for tighter character development, particular writing style, or I could not connect with the characters at all times. I would, however, highly recommend such books to anyone as I believe that most readers would find them highly enjoyable.
LIKED IT A LOT ~ I enjoyed the book and had no problem finishing it, the writing style was good, but the plotline or character development could be improved somewhat in my opinion.
LIKED IT ~ I thought the book was good but it was either somewhat predictable plotline-wise, I did not connect enough with the characters, or something in the writing style bothered me. I did enjoy reading it though.
IT WAS OK ~ I had a hard time finishing the book and did not connect with the story or the characters for one reason or another. This rating is often used for well-written books that I believe have questionable or objectionable themes in them, or are aimed at the wrong readership. I am not afraid of pushing the boundaries in literature and every theme has its audience, but I strongly believe a level of responsibility needs to be preserved when writing books addressing taboo subjects and extra care needs to be paid to readership targeting. This rating is also used for books lacking balance in plotline development, where the shock effect dominates over a well balanced and justified storyline.
DID NOT LIKE IT ~ I will not generally review a book that I did not like at all. I will rarely even rate it as I don’t believe in criticizing someone’s work that way. However, if I had strong objections towards the themes in a book, then I might rate it as a “1” on Goodreads, but still not review it. However, as I will rarely finish a book that I have not connected with at all from the beginning, I seldom use this rating.
My Brand of Book Reviewing
You might notice that the vast majority of the books that I review are rated 4 stars or higher. I come from the school of thought that if you have nothing nice to say, you should say nothing at all, and I perceive book reviewing in a similar way. Whenever I find myself needing to re-evaluate the way I do things, I remind myself that just as I would not be personally interested in following a Fashion Blog that tells me what NOT to wear, I see Book Blogs no differently. I know that not many fellow bloggers or reviewers share this way of thinking with me and I respect that. That is, however, the way I choose to do things.
Having said that, not all the books I read are 4- or 5-star reads for me. I am extremely hard to please, and even though I have become better skilled at selecting books that I would most likely end up loving, 3 out of the 5 books I’d read on an average week still end up not being reviewed, or abandoned half way through for one reason or another. Now, this is not to say in any shape or form that those books are “bad” books or that other readers would not enjoy them. I am simply saying that this reader did not connect with them.
So, what happens to THOSE books, you might ask yourself. Why am I not reviewing all the books I end up finishing? Are they not worthy of a review? Well, apart from the fact that it can take me up to 3 hours to write a review start to finish and I would need a darn good reason to spend 3 hours telling other readers why I did not enjoy a book, I also see no point in doing so. In the grand scheme of things, I see my “role” as a positive one, rather than a negative one. I am here to tell you about the GREAT books I’ve read, about the way they’ve affected me, hoping that they’d do the same for you. There is no gospel according to Natasha, despite what I tell my family, and my reviews and other general opinions on books will forever remain the personal opinions of ONE woman, one very moody, demanding, finicky reader who is not easily pleased.
I have given lower ratings to books in the past and I am not saying it will not happen again in the future, but in each one of those instances, something in those books made me want to finish them even though I wasn’t enjoying them, and then left me with a lot to say afterwards. So much, that I needed to write that review. There’s never an agenda behind it, only a need to express (or expel) my thoughts on that book because something about that story left a significant mark on me. And I still insist that reviewing books is a subjective exercise and you will rarely find two people who will completely agree on a book, as daily interactions with fellow readers keep proving to me. Our ratings are arbitrary and should not be taken too seriously or personally. And they are all valid and should be respected as such. I also believe that all reviews are good reviews, as long as a story is engaging the reader and provoking emotions from them. If you get a reader to spend even half an hour writing about a book, engaging with the storyline and the characters, you’ve done your job as a writer.
Everything I do is entirely motivated by my LOVE of books, of reading and writing in general, and the more amazing books I read, the more my expectations change. That is why it is becoming increasingly difficult at times to find a book that ticks all the boxes for me. But I persevere, sometimes start 5-6 books before I find the one that “speaks to me”, and if I end up liking it, THAT is the book I will tell you about!! THAT is the book I will spend my time reviewing so that I can tell you all the ways in which that story touched me. And that is just the way I do things, never expecting others to follow suit.
Advance Reading Copies
I sometimes receive Advance Reading Copies (ARC) of books for review prior to the publication date, either from the publisher or from the author. I will always give my honest and fair thoughts on those books and my reviews will always remain genuine regardless of where the books were sourced from. I do not charge for reviews, nor do I receive discounts, gifts or favours in exchange for a review. All other books are acquired by personal purchase.