Discussion Post: How do I figure out Ratings for Reviews? #Discussion @NicoleMHewitt @ShannonMiz

Posted November 13, 2022 by Anne - Books of My Heart in Discussion / 34 Comments


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So I’ve always wanted to do discussion posts and I’m giving it a try.  I’m definitely a dabbler since I’ll be lucky to manage one a month (or year) with all the books I want to read and review.

I think a lot about how to do helpful reviews and how to rate the books I review.  I’m going to try to explain how I rate for my review. I’m curious to know how you assign your ratings.


Initial Reaction:

I start with an initial reaction, which is subjective.  For me, the first scale is the meanings behind the Goodreads star ratings.  I use hearts instead of stars on my blog though.

⭐                            Did not like it

⭐⭐                        It was ok

⭐⭐⭐                   Liked it

⭐⭐⭐⭐               Really Liked it

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐          It was amazing


Objective Factors:

But there are quantifications in Ultimate Book Blogger, which can be customized,  that can also be used.  They consider the factors which are more objective.  These factors are the ones that are based on my mind.

  • Plot – This feels straightforward and more objective.  Is it believable?  But also is it very simple or are there complex layers that twist or turn or weave into a complete picture in the end?
  • Writing – There are multiple aspects of writing including word choices, spelling, grammar and more. Is this where I include world-building? I also think about flow and ease of reading and grasping ideas. How is the style? Is it formal? How dark or light is the expression; does it have a sense of humor?
  • Characters – This is where I include character development and growth.  So it’s not just do I love the characters but do they show any growth.  Sometimes great characters are very unlikable.  Are they believable?
  • Dialogue –  Is the speech helpful to the plot or character development? Is it fun, clever with humor?
  • Narration (if it is an audiobook)

They can each be given their own ratings which are then averaged to get an overall rating.

All of these factors are important but I don’t know if they are weighted equally.  Plots or characters which are unbelievable can cause me to have a negative reaction to a book.  But if I love the characters or it’s funny, I may suspend disbelief.  I do definitely notice things like spelling and grammar, but most books I read have had some editing or copy editing, although I do read some indie, or self-published which aren’t as well edited.

My evaluation of the objective aspects of the book can increase or decrease the initial score by half or a full heart.


Subjective Factors:

Here I look at how I feel about a book and how it makes me feel.  These factors are the ones which involve my heart.

If I love the characters, or the action of the plot or the layers of the plot, that’s exciting.

Am I left confused or with lots of questions, or is the ending satisfying?

Am I inspired, or do I learn things about the world or about myself?

How invested am I?  The more invested I am, the more I cared, the more I loved the book.

The depth of my feelings and the diversity of feelings increases my connection with a book.

My feelings about the book can increase or decrease the initial score by half or a full heart.


How do you decide on your rating for a book?


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Posted November 13, 2022 by Anne - Books of My Heart in Discussion / 34 Comments

34 responses to “Discussion Post: How do I figure out Ratings for Reviews?

  1. it is a great topic
    I only give ratings when it’s required ie if I’m being paid for a review and I have had to give a few 2s in my reviewing career, I always stress the good parts of the book and be very careful on the negatives. After all I am killing someone’s baby.
    On my blog I don’t give stars, people will know from my review how much I liked it.
    On places like GR, Amazon etc where I have to give stars I do, for personal reviewing if I don’t like a book in the first 100 pages I stop reading it. Life is too short.

  2. The first rating scale I encountered was the Amazon one and then the Good Reads one so I mentally adapted to those. I think I saw it differently at first than I do now. I took the approach of each book starting out as a five star and then either stayed that way or lost stars or half-stars as I went. Now, I think I mentally start with three-stars and go from there. I try to rate objectively, but I know that several of my five stars are not technically superior books and only fives because I subjectively loved them.

  3. So I didn’t know UBB had that! I’m going to have to check it out. Yeah, my ratings are similar, although I rarely give something a 1 or 2 star, those usually being ones I didn’t finish, so I just give them a DNF. Thanks for sharing all this info, I’ve got to check out that UBB aspect!

    • It’s the UBB Ratings Report. Since I use their hosting I get all the addons included if I want to use them. It is an add-on and I use it on all the audiobooks I rate where you see that ratings report. I don’t use it very often for ebooks. Anyway, it might be an extra add-on you don’t have. But you can specify the criteria you want in it. They are equal weight as far as I can tell.

      Anne - Books of My Heart recently posted: Discussion Post: How do I figure out Ratings for Reviews?
  4. I think I rate books mostly on whether I enjoyed the story, how it made me feel overall. An ending can make or break a story. I’ve enjoyed a story and had a really crappy ending and it ruined the book for me. I like your analytical approach. I should try and apply it more. Great discussion! Someday I’ll do one. 🙂

  5. I don’t use a lot of math or science in rating the books I read but do have some definite rules of thumb when it comes to 3 stars and below. If I DNF a book (one to date), that’s a 1 star. I might assign it to a book I finished but wished I hadn’t. 2 stars are reserved for books that had serious flaws in plot and reading experience. It’s where I’d freely tell friends to avoid. 3 stars are for books I like but didn’t love. Sometimes I’ll give it a 1/2 star if it was borderline. Most of the books I read fall into the 4 star range. I really enjoyed almost everything about the book but it isn’t one that will stay with me forever. I reserve 5 stars for those books moved me emotionally and very strongly…just seeing the title will bring those memories flooding back.

    Interesting discussion!

  6. Interesting! I don’t bother putting star ratings on my blog, but I use them on Goodreads because it makes it easier to sort my virtual shelves and find the books I loved the most. For me, 3 stars means average. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t stand out from all the other stuff I’ve read. I rarely give 5 stars. A book really has to do something unusual for that. I usually DNF books that are less than 3 stars. Then I don’t rate them.

  7. That is a very detailed description. I know how hard it is to put something like that into words. I’m usually careful to give 5 stars. That happens if a book grips me right from the start. It’s the kind of book where you get so immersed that you don’t even realize how much time has passed or it doesn’t feel as if you’re reading. And a lot of the time it’s because it evoked pretty strong emotions. Most of the books I really like get 4 stars. 3 stars will be a book that I liked, but it had some issues, like the writing doesn’t flow as well, or there are some plot holes, the characters lack something, etc. I rarely give 2 stars and I don’t think I’ve ever given 1. At that point, I probably won’t even finish the book.

    Rolé @ Hooked By That Book recently posted: Review: Garrett’s Destiny – by Rebecca Zanetti
  8. I use a letter grade system, but it’s similar to your stars. I usually go with my initial rating, which I give within a day of finishing a book (usually a couple hours). I mostly take into consideration how I felt about the story and how it made me feel. There are factors such as writing, narrative, etc. that play into the overall feeling, but I don’t separate them. For audiobooks, I give a separate rating for the narration, but I don’t do an “all over” grade.

  9. I have such a hard time with coming up with ratings. I finally started on mostly sticking with my opinion of it (liked it, really liked it, not for me, etc) and then explaining why. I love seeing your process! I need to start applying some of your guidelines.

    • Thank you Katherine. You need to do what works for you. I just need a process to help me understand why I sometimes enjoy different books than others, or dislike ones others do. Some of the objective criteria I learned when I hosted contests on fanfiction. Some of the hardest books to rate are ones that are well written but I just don’t like them. I know they are objectively good books but not for me. I have learned to enjoy more books that have unlikable or unreliable characters over time. I’m not good with ambiguous endings either.

  10. Wow, I need to pay more attention to the features of Ultimate Book Blogger. I had no idea you could do all of that to come up with a rating. I always struggle to rate books but tend to focus a mix of objective and subjective factors too.

  11. Here’s the thing: I think I completely wing it? I like your process, it seems so much more organized! I try to be at least somewhat objective (or if I loved it despite some glaring error, I will at least say so!) but when it comes down to it, I base it on feelings more than anything else. I think I used to do it more like you did, but like a thousand books later, yeah, I just basically wing it hahah!