Discussion: How I Rate Books

As book bloggers, rating books is one of those things that we do. However, I’ve never really talked about what I’m thinking about when it comes time for me to rate a book. I find that interesting since I’m always curious to see how others rate books. So, here are some of the things I’m looking for when it’s rating time!

1. Characters!

This is a biggie for me. Being the type of reader that I am, the characters in a story are extremely important to me. I love character driven stories and characters that seem real. I want to be able to picture them and connect in someway. If an author writes that way – major points. It’s no fun to read a book in which the characters seem like paper cut-outs.

2. The Story!

You’re probably reading that and going, duh! But let’s get specific. What is the story about? Is it par for the course of the genre? Is there something new, exciting, or inventive happening? When I’m reading a series I’m also looking at the overall story arc. What is the big and small picture – what is happening in the book I’m reading and how does it effect the series as a whole? When books follow the stereotypical route, I tend to dock points. When an author throws me for a loop… all the points.

3. Editing – Specifically, spelling errors.

Okay, so this is something I am a stickler for. And something I can seem like a bitch about when review time comes around. But here’s the thing… I notice spelling errors. I know that no one is perfect and spell check cannot catch every single typo. I can accept that. Hell, I can accept that there is likely a typo in this post somewhere and I know that I am comma happy. That being said, when there are multiple typos per page or chapter it’s just too much. When there are typos that spell check WILL catch… that seriously bothers me. I don’t want to be mean about it, but I notice and it pulls me out of the story. That’s not what I want to have happen as a reader.

4. The small details!

That might seem like a random point for rating a book. But here’s what I mean. Different genres of books have different things that set great books apart from the good or bad books. In dystopian, it can be the mention of one of the new realities that we take for granted now. For instance in The Electric Church by Jeff Somers, he talks about the healthcare and how for most people its non-existent. And when Avery Cates, the MC talks about his tooth pain, I could feel it. Something that simple sets it apart.
Another example is in Tarnished by Rhiannon Held – an urban fantasy/paranormal series. Silver is injured and Dare, her mate tries to clean the blood off with his thumb and its not enough so he licks it clean. It might seem odd to us, but it’s adding that little detail to the book that makes the story come that much more alive for me. I look for those things that stand out in a book.

5. Enjoyment!

This is pretty straightforward (and probably super obvious), but if I enjoyed a book it will get a better rating. But! This also happens to be one of my quirks. If I’m reading a book that sucks me in, even if overall its really not the greatest book out there, I’ll still tend to rate it higher. What can I say, reading is a stress reliever for me. An author who can make me forget about paying my student loans for a couple of hours and indulge in another world – points.

Since I haven’t discussed it yet, this is how it all translates to star ratings.

5 stars: The book has everything, or just absolutely swept me away (aka, my quirk rating).
4 stars: This is probably my most popular rating. Books that I find simply enjoyable with great characters and a good storyline will tend to get 4 starts out of me.
3 stars: If the story is lacking something, or feels too much like other books of the genre but has interesting characters – or vice versa – I’ll give it 3 stars.
2 stars: Props for trying, but its just not working well. Also, not a great book, but I concede that it did something to get people interested in reading – there are always points for getting people to read.
1 star: Why did the universe let this happen? Boring or badly written books, books with no character development at all get this rating from me.

Those are a few of the things that I’m thinking about when I rate a book. Are any of these things you look for? What else do you rate books on? Please share!

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