Chat Between Chapters: 5-star reviews

May 11, 2014 Chat Between Chapters, Featured Posts 49


 How do you feel about 5-star reviews? How often do you give them? Do you trust other bloggers when they give a book 5 stars?

Julie Review Avatar Julie:

As you can see from my tweet, I’m very stingy when it comes to assigning a book 5 stars. I really have to be blown away for a book to rise above the 4 star (which is an excellent book in my opinion) rating. So if you see me giving a book 5 stars, you really know it affected me significantly.

As for reviewers assigning 5 stars to books – I think it depends on the reviewer. If they are like me and I know they rarely give a book 5 stars, then I’ll pay attention. But I swear there are so many review blogs out there where most of the books I see them review are rated 5 stars.That starts to lose meaning and I don’t trust the books to really deserve that kind of praise. 

Rose review avatar Rose:

The more I review, the more stingy I have become with giving out a 5 star review. I try to be objective, but it is very difficult. Sometimes a book’s beautiful prose will get 5 stars from me even if I do not like the ending or the character or what have you. Other times, I have fallen for a book boyfriend so hard, the book gets 5 stars, but the writing really wasn’t all up to par. Currently, I am re reading a book I loved when I first read it 10 years ago. My book club decided to read it and as I am re reading it now, I am noticing things about this book that I did not notice before. 10 years ago, this book riveted my attention. I was madly in love with the main character and even broke up with my boyfriend because of it! (Well, that and my ex at the time was not future boyfriend material, but the book helped me see that.) Now, I am reading it and I am still enjoying it, but I do not know if I 5 star enjoy it as I once did. I see some critical issues with the main characters and their love relationship and the writing is a little clunky, although its still unique enough for me to overlook the awkward phrasing and dialogue. I will perhaps review the book when I am done reading it, but I am not sure it was be 5 stars. I also have a tendency to give books 5 stars based on what they are. As in, if it is a continuation of a series I love and the book didn’t really suck, I tend to rate it higher because I love the series. I do not necessarily rate a book on its standalone merit. Some reviewers might fault me for this, but for me, I take a look at the book as a whole and then judge it for what it is. I can’t judge a book in a series on stand alone merit only because that is not what it is. Books in a series might not rate so high on their own, but they were not meant to stand alone. Make sense?I agree with Julie in that if a review is always gushing over 5 star books, then I do not tend to take their opinion as serious, unless they are gushing over books that I love, in which case, hey, I would probably love their next gush-fest.

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49 Responses to “Chat Between Chapters: 5-star reviews”

  1. Stefani

    I was thinking about this recently as well. I rarely give 5 stars. But when I do, it can be for various reasons as Rose mentioned. I always explain my rating in my review. I try to come up with some sort of standard earlier but it didn’t work. Harry Potter & Anna and the French Kiss can’t go on the same scale you know?
    Stefani recently posted…5 Fun Questions About Books & Reading

    • Julie

      It is hard to find a standard. A 5 star is really a feeling you get about a book. You’re right that some books just can’t be compared to each other, yet still earn the rating.

  2. Carrie

    I’m a chronic 5-star reviewer. I can’t help it! I love them ALLL! OK. Not really. But I do tend to “overrate” many books. I also recently went back and read a book I LOVED 10 years ago, and the second time around, I thought, “OK…this is a good book, but I can’t believe I loved it so much!”
    Carrie recently posted…Job Interview Tips and Why I Love Mom Corps YOU

    • Julie

      That’s why I’m usually afraid to re-read books. I don’t know if I’ll like them the same the second time. Sometimes, I know I won’t like them as much heh.
      Why do you think you tend to overrate books?

      • Rose

        How funny Julie, we both commented on this, but with the opposite ideas on rereads. lol

        • Rose

          Funny! I think if you did this, you would eventually be in need of a 7 star rating as well… haha

    • Rose

      Carrie, I have done that as well as had the opposite happen where I read a book I didn’t like that much the first time around, but LOVED the second time. Which is another reason why rereading is awesome!!!!

      • Carrie

        I almost never reread a book…but I started the Hobbit years ago and never finished it (and I ALWAYS. FINISH. BOOKS.). I picked it up again a couple of years ago and could not believe I hadn’t finished it the first time because it was so amazing!
        Carrie recently posted…Two! Where Have You Gone?

        • Rose

          That sorta happened to me with the Game Of Thrones books… Someone gifted me a copy of the first book in the series and I started it but was not that interested and then just recently I started reading it and now I am almost done with book 2!!! I’m really into them this time around and am flying through them.

  3. Annie Kate

    I’ve always hated giving stars for this reason, but now that I’m on Goodreads I need to make the star decision. A book has to have an enormous impact on me and be well-written to get 5 stars. Most great books get 4 stars.

    That being said, I just gave the Candle Bible Handbook 5 stars because it is so very, very well done and because it did something for me that no other book had ever done in this way: it tied the whole Bible together.

    I hate giving 3 stars, especially when I really like the author personally, and the 3 vs 4 star decision is tough. 1 star is always an easy decision. I never give 2 stars because I only review terrible books if they are really, really terrible. Someone else commented on that too! LOL
    Annie Kate recently posted…Review: Candle Bible Handbook

    • Rose

      yeah, I think everyone utilizes the star review system slightly differently. That is why Julie and I listed on our page a a rating system guide. I think goodreads should do this as well or at least or perhaps in your profile bio you can list how YOU rate books. Chapter Break’s Rating System

      • Tina at Mommynificent

        I find it really hard to know exactly what my own 5 star system means, never mind anybody else’s! In reading reviews, I don’t even look at the stars – I just look at what they say. I probably over-rate with stars myself but I’m very honest in my comments. I wish the stars were optional but they rarely are. Oh well. Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on!
        Tina at Mommynificent recently posted…Booknificent Thursday Link-Up Party #46

        • Rose

          I completely understand! Stars are really so arbitrary. It is what the reviewer actually says that interests me the most, too.

  4. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    LOL, Julie!! Best tweet ever! I’m actually pretty stingy about 5 star ratings too even though I’ve had several since I joined Rabid Reads. There’s a very simple explanation of that–REREADS. I’m totally OCD about things like reviewing book 3 of a series that I hadn’t posted a review for the previous 2 books. At least I was . . . I’ve started to get over it. Great post, ladies!
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Early Review: The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead

    • Rose

      haha, Jessica, I am OCD like that too… I feel like I must review all the books in a series, not just the latest one… but yeah, time just doesn’t always allow for that, so I, too am starting to get over it.

    • Julie

      *BOWS* Thank you, I was quite proud of that tweet lol 🙂 I always worry that I won’t like a book as much on a re-read as I did the first time I read it.

      • Rose

        I usually find that I like a book MORE on the reread. I guess because I pay more attention to the style of writing and less to the plot because I already KNOW what is going to happen.

  5. Vicki Lesage

    Eek! Now I feel guilty about all the 5 stars I give. I have no ulterior motive and I’m not a book reviewer, it’s just that I usually won’t take the time to leave a review unless I really liked it, so that means most of my reviews will be 5 stars. Then there are the select few horrible books that I’ve given 1 star to (I think just 2) because they were so bad I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. The rest of the time I figure it’s not really worth it to leave a review. Maybe the occasional 4 star for a book I liked but didn’t love. For sure I try to give concrete reasons for my opinion so that even a 5 star review is still interesting to read and isn’t just “OMG LOVE!”
    Vicki Lesage recently posted…Face Mask Fail

    • Rose

      Vicki, I think a lot of people tend to only review the books they really liked or the ones that they thought were so bad that they just couldn’t fathom keeping their mouth shut. That being sad, I have heard a lot of authors say that 3 star reviews are the ones the tend to look at and read the most because they are the most helpful. The three star review offers feedback on what is both good and lacking the novel. So, perhaps that will encourage you to write about books you didn’t absolutely love?

  6. Charleen

    For me, 5-star books are special to me in some way… “to me” being the key words. They aren’t necessarily books that I recommend all over the place; in fact, a lot of times I would recommend a 4-star book over a 5-star book, just because I can see those a bit more objectively, whereas my 5-star books I tend to view through rose-colored glasses… not that I can’t see the faults, but I forgive them easily, whereas another reader might not.

    And, like a couple of people have mentioned, I do have 4-star books that I consider favorites. It’s a very fine line between 4 stars and 5 stars, and most of the time I’m not even sure where that line is.
    Charleen recently posted…Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts – #20

    • Julie

      I like that Charleen! 5 star books are definitely those that affected you more than others, enough to earn that rating. Most of the time it might be just a general feeling that keeps a book at 4 stars, so yea that can’t mean it isn’t a favorite.

    • Rose

      I agree with what you said Charleen. Just because something is on my 5 star favorite shelf, does not mean that I will recommend those books to just anyone. I might still pick out a three or four star book to recommend to someone else, depending on what I know of that person. I, too, tend to be biased towards books that I love… I will often overlook not so stellar writing, if I love the book/series to begin with.

    • Julie

      That makes sense to me. If a book earns the rare 5 star trophy, it is definitely a fave.


    Great post again ladies. I totally get Rose’s point about rating a book in a series differently then rating a standalone. I do that quite often. I have been trying so hard to be more critical and reserve my 5 stars for stories that I am in love with but I review but doing a pros and cons analysis and most of the times the pros win resulting in a higher review. I definetly would hate for someone to feel my reviews aren’t genuine cause I rate 5 stars often (guilty as charged) but on the flip side I am still at the point in my blog where I am very selective and pick books that I’m almost certain I’ll enjoy also resulted on 3-5 star range. Thanks for making me think a bit more about my star rating perhaps I’ll add some intergers as well so it’s not so cut and dry and we often as bloggers forget that a 3 star rating isn’t really that bad. It’s ok. Unfortunately 3 star rating do not make me what to read the book unless it’s one I have heard of or been wanting. So funny how much power those little stars have huh?
    Brittany @ please feed the bookworm
    BRITTANY T recently posted…♡Life of a Blogger hosted by Novel Heartbeat♡

    • Rose

      Yes, Brittany. The stars seem to have the final word. Julie mentioned that she puts 4 star books on her all time favorites shelf. I never considered doing that simply because I only put 5 star books on that shelf… So sometimes a book would be my favorite, but really only merited a 4 star review, but I would bump it up to five in order to shelve it where I wanted. Silly stars.

  8. Braine Talk Supe

    Amen, ladies!

    Unicorns and rainbows are required for me to give 5-star reviews & like Rose, I give out that much coveted rating for specific elements and not the book as a whole.

    I feel like my standards have changed since blogging. Having read the amount of books that I’ve, trying different voices, I’ve become very particular and it’s now taking A LOT to astound me. Being an amateur critic doesn’t help either, I tend to nitpick because I know that I’ll be reviewing it so I’m already thinking of my feedback as I’m reading. I know that can be viewed as a no-no but to each his own right?

    Again, wonderful discussion ladies.
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Suped Up Feature: Juliana Stone on Boys Like You + Giveaway

    • Julie

      My standards have changed too. I used to rate all books I enjoyed 5 stars back when I was only reading about a book a month it seemed.

      • Rose

        Gasp! You used to rate all books 5 stars!??? I don’t believe it for one second!!!!

        • Julie

          Well, maybe not all, but since I was only reading a few. Like the time I read the Twilight books and the Dan Brown books up until the last one were all 5 stars. Though I didn’t rate very many books those years (looking at my GR shelves) so I guess that’s not too good of an indicator.

    • Rose

      LMAO at the unicorns and rainbows. I try very hard to not be thinking about what I want to say in my review as I am reading it because I find that that can prevent my enjoying the book. but yeah, it is almost impossible not to do at least a little bit.

  9. Karie {Girl Going Country}

    Ohhh this made me think! I actually have been questioning my book ratings a lot lately – even going back and readjusting previous reads. I want to be sure that 5-stars means it would go on my “best reads of all time” list and would be the ones I would recommend in a heart beat if someone asked me what I should read. I also think that a book’s true rating may come a little while after I read it, because it really is a comparison to all the other books I’ve read.

    For example: When I first started reading Jen Lancaster, I thought everything was fantastic and worthy of 5 stars. And for chick lit, she still is one of my favs. But when I compare her books to others, is she really on my “you have to read this before you die” recommendation list? Maybe not. (Still 4-4.5 star worthy though. 🙂 )

    On the flip side, I found myself over time remembering Night Circus and recommending it to anyone who who take the recommendation. It was methodical, beautiful, and has stuck with me as an all time favorite. I looked back and had only given it 4 stars at the time. What? Bumped that beautiful book up to 5 to put it in its rightful place.
    Karie {Girl Going Country} recently posted…Little Blue Bird

    • Julie

      Karie in the house! Yes, I definitely understand that “best reads of all time” list and that being your go-to recommendations list as well. I have a favorites GR shelf, and even though some books only got a 4 star rating, they’re still worthy of a favorites of all time list. Sometimes it is something small that keeps a book from feeling like perfection. Plus, the more I read, the harder I rate future books.

      • Rose

        hmmm, interesting. I never considered putting 4 star books on my all time fave fave fave shelf. Smart idea Julie.

      • Karie {Girl Going Country}

        So funny that you mentioned putting 4-star books on your favorites shelf – I JUST DID THAT TODAY! LOL I was reviewing ratings for my prior 5-star books, and even though I bumped some down to 4 stars, they are still among my favorites. So onto the favorites shelf they went! So pleased to know I’m not the only on.e 🙂
        Karie {Girl Going Country} recently posted…Little Blue Bird

        • Terri M. LeBlanc

          Wonderful article. I just finished reading the Ashfall series by Mike Mullin. I read the first book before I started blogging and when I went back to GR to read the brief review I wrote, I laughed. The stuff I didn’t like after reading book one totally flew out the window when I completed the series.

          I like the idea of adjusting reviews. They really aren’t static and can change over time based on life experiences and other books that you read over the course of your lifetime.
          Terri M. LeBlanc recently posted…Review: Ashfall Series by Mike Mullin

    • Rose

      Great comment, Karie! Well said. I am the same way. I have adjusted my ratings on books. Sometimes you really don’t know how much of an impact a book is going to have until you have stopped reading it and some time has passed. I haven’t read the Night Circus. It is on my TBR list, though.

        • Rose

          I agree. I do not think that whatever rating you give must stick forever. Books can be read and reread several times. (I love rereading my favorite books.) And who is to say that every reading, the book is going to impact you in the same exact way?

  10. Sofia Galvez

    I love this topic. I am really greedy with my 5 stars. I feel my 5 stars is telling my friends, “yeah, this book is perfect, you gotta read this one.” I don’t trust bloggers who constantly give 5 stars. I feel they are sucking up to authors (maybe in hopes they will buy ad space) and are not being honest.
    On the flip side, I don’t trust bloggers who constantly give 1 stars. They are just being mean and are doing it for attention. Stop reading if you hate every book.

    • Julie

      Ooh good point Sofia. Sometimes it does seem like bloggers giving 5 stars all the time is a way to suck up to authors. While I might feel bad about a 3 star or less review sometimes, I’m not going to bump it up just because. And OMG if people are constantly rating everything 1 star they have bigger problems.

    • Rose

      I do not like it when all anyone ever has to say about a book is something negative. I agree Sofia. If you hate reading it that much, perhaps you should start picking better books. Or quit reading. just stop.

    • Karie {Girl Going Country}

      YES! And this is why I’m ok with putting a book on my could-not-complete shelf instead of trudging along with something I’m not enjoying and rating in poorly. Plenty of other great books out there to read!
      Karie {Girl Going Country} recently posted…Little Blue Bird

      • Rose

        Karie, I just recently created a new shelf on my goodreads for two different categories: one is “no thanks” this is either a book I started and did not like, or a book I already made up my mind on that I do not wish to read for whatever reasons. The second new shelf is DNF meaning “did not finish” actually, I should mention I also have another shelf titled “finish later- restart” for those books that I just set down and really don’t want to give up one, but perhaps now is not the best time to be reading them… I will restart them again later.

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