New review rating system and what constitutes a five star rating

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve recently changed my rating system and review format. I’ve abandoned the little kangaroos (sorry for those who liked them!) and have opted for a simple statement along with my original numerical rating system from 2-5.

Why? Well, formatting and writing up reviews are very time consuming. It’s not just about putting your thoughts into a post, but adding links, cover images, book details and then cross posting to Goodreads, sometimes Amazon as well as sending links through to the publishers. Lately I’ve been experiencing some time management issues. Okay, my issue is not so much management of time, but lack thereof. So I wanted to streamline my reviews by creating a much more user-friendly review template that I can simply input the information. Besides, my little kangaroos needed some serious revamping because I didn’t feel like the statements that accompanied them gave a good enough indication of my feelings towards a book.

Hence, my new reviews system:

2-2.5/5- “Wasn’t really for me”

3/5-”It was good”

3.5/5- “I really liked this”

4/5- “I loved this book!”

4.5/5- “Fantastic!”

5/5- “Highly Recommended!”

When I was putting this together, I started to think about what actually constitutes a five star review? ‘All of my reviews are subjective as they are simply my own opinion about a book. When I complete a book, I tend to reflect on the following:

–          The characters

–          The plot

–          The pacing/ suspense

–          My emotional response

–          Was I left wanting more?

Depending on the genre there are plenty more areas to explore, but that’s just a starting point. So, for me to give a book a five star rating it needs to have the WOW factor. The plot needs to be absorbing, the characters have to be enthralling and I usually close the book and actually say aloud ‘wow’ or I just sit there and stare at it, mesmerised. 

It doesn’t have to be a completely unique story and it doesn’t have to have characters that I adore (I realised this when I read/ reviewed The Red Chamber) but I do have to feel something strongly overall. In most of my reviews I harp on about whether I felt emotionally connected to the characters, either because I want to relate to them or because I want to feel empathy for them. If I don’t have either of those then I’m unlikely to feel passionate about the book.

These are the last couple of five star reviews I wrote:

The Red Chamber by Pauline Chen- I didn’t necessarily like all the characters but I did empathise with them

Silenced by Kristina Ohlsson- A meticulous plotline that kept me guessing and intriguing characters

Burning Lies by Helene Young- Well, what can I say? I love Young’s books. Romance, suspense, well-fleshed out characters and plenty of action.

I’ve started to give 4.5 star reviews now for those who haven’t quite got the big WOW factor but deserve more than a 4 star.

3.5 star books are those that I did enjoy, but there were some weak points. 3 star books were probably a bit of a struggle to get through at times but there were some elements I liked.

As you can see I don’t have anything under a 2, simply because if I didn’t like a book to that extent I probably wouldn’t have finished it and therefore wouldn’t have reviewed it.

Hopefully my new system works and I’m sorry about the roos!


  • Rating is such a subjective thing isn’t it! My number rating is really just an indication of my emotional reaction by the time I close the book! Good luck with the new system.

  • Ratings are so tricky, they never seem to mean the same thing to different people 🙂

      • I agree with both of you on this. I often get people who are surprised that I consider a 3* review a positive one–but really, on a scale of 0-5, that’s an above average rating!

        Star ratings are difficult in that they can so easily be taken as an empirical measurement of a book’s quality, but really, they’re just an iconic representation of a reader’s reaction at the time. I’ve been tempted to revise so many of my star ratings at a later point because my perception of a book has changed with time–sort of like a cup of tea percolating!

        (PS, if you need an easy way of doing star ratings on your posts, there’s a plugin called Star Ratings for Reviews. You just type in [rating:number/number], and it converts it to stars for you. 🙂 )

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: