The simplest and perhaps most important part of book reviewing is rating. Every book reviewer rates differently for their own unique reasons. For example, some book reviewers only will give five stars to a favorite book. That’s not the case for me, though. My system for rating books is unique to my experience as a reader and my ethical duty as a librarian.

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How many stars?

When I review books at Bitch Bookshelf, I use a five star rating system. I do this because the same rating system is used on Goodreads and Amazon. As on these websites, I do not use half stars when I rate.

  • 5 stars – A book earns five stars if I enjoyed it and found no problems with it. These are books I loved, including my favorites. I adored it and think other readers of the same genre will adore it.
  • 4 stars – This book was great, but maybe I found some issues with it or it just didn’t completely do it for me. While it wasn’t perfect for me, I think it may be for other readers of the same genre.
  • 3 stars – This could mean a few things. Maybe I really liked it, but I found issues with it, like bad grammar or something problematic within the plot. Or maybe I didn’t really like it, but overall there was nothing wrong with it. It just didn’t work for me, but another reader might love it.
  • 2 stars – This is generally the lowest I’ll rate, because I only rate if I finish a book, and if a book stops me from DNF-ing, there must be something redeeming about it. I disliked the book, but I think it may have value for other readers.
  • 1 star – I DNF a book before I rate it one star, but it’s possible one day I’ll find a book I despise so much that I’ll keep reading it out of spite. If I ever were to rate a book as one star, it was truly awful and I don’t think it has any value to other readers – or perhaps it does have value, but I really don’t like the message of the book. These are just my theories as to why I would rate a book this way, as I have yet to.

What if I was given a free copy?

Often, I am able to score a free copy of a book (outside of borrowing from the library) from NetGalley, book tours, or when an author/rep/publisher reaches out to me. When I receive a book this way, I always give my honest review. However, whether the copy was free or not, my knowledge of the author, publisher, etc. may affect my review in some way. For example, if I were to read a book by a best-selling author that had a lot of problems (i.e. poor character development, crappy grammar) I’m going to hold it to a higher standard than I will an indie, self-published book.

Where do I rate?

  1. Goodreads. I post my first thoughts in a blurb there as soon as I finish a book.
  2. Bitch Bookshelf. I post a full review on my book blog.
  3. NetGalley. If I receive a book from NetGalley, I will submit my review when I write my blog post.
  4. Amazon. Upon request, I gladly will post a review here after it has gone live on my site.
  5. Other resources, like Barnes & Noble, on request.

Fellow book bloggers, do you rate similarly?