As I was finishing a mystery last night I found myself wrestling with how to rate it. I wasn't really enjoying it but I didn't hate it so 2 stars? But it was surprisingly readable and there were aspects of the book I did like so 3 stars? But was it as good as other books I've rated 3 stars in the past? Should it keep company with books that were flawed but that I ultimately enjoyed? That's when I realized that I never really spelled out my reasoning for awarding stars. So to lay the ground rules for the whole star system I decided to really spell it out so there would be no more debating and figuring:
1 Star: There probably won't be very many of these. Books that I hate won't generally make it past the 50 page mark so they're won't be a review it all. However, there is the occasional book that I finish that I can't say anything positive about but I keep reading with the hope that they will improve. This is generally due to an author who is supposed to be very popular or a classic. Examples of 1 star books are The Rubber Band by Rex Stout and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James
2 Stars: A book where the flaws overwhelm the positive but there are still some positives about it. It's a book that I didn't hate but spent a lot of time being annoyed with it. A 2 star rating doesn't mean I won't read another book by that author but the author is probably only getting 1 more chance from me. Examples of 2 star books are Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers - one of the few books where I felt that the movie was way better than the book but was still somewhat entertaining - and How to Moon a Cat by Rebecca M. Hale - which is a series that intrigues me but ended up being a messy over-complicated overpopulated book.
3 Stars: This is a book that I enjoyed but didn't really stand out making for a pretty forgettable book. Or a book that I really enjoyed but had a handful of annoyances or pet peeves that spoiled parts of the book. An example of the forgettable book would be Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates. This was a fun book that I enjoyed reading but I only have a vague memory of the plot. An example of the pet peeve book would be Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts. There was a lot about the book I really loved but Ben was such a jerk it dropped this down to 3 stars.
4 Stars: This is a little harder to explain and is another category with 2 reasons for getting there. The first is a book that I really really enjoyed but just doesn't call out to be reread or is a little light weight or fluffy feeling. Pretty much any of Jennie Bentley, Sheila Connolly or Nora Roberts books fall into this category. I always wait anxiously for a new one and thoroughly enjoy them while reading them but am never motivated to keep them. The second reason is a book I would really consider a perfect book except for 1 aspect that either spoils it a little or doesn't fit. Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas and When Beauty Tamed the Beast were books I absolutely loved but had endings that ended up letting me go a little cold on them.
5 Stars: This one's pretty easy. This is a book I absolutely love and could either reread on a regular basis or are books that are deeply moving. Most of L.M. Montgomery, Kathryn Tucker Windham and Elizabeth Enright books fall into this category for me as does The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. There are a handful of "Keeper Shelf" romances on this list like Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, Three Fates by Nora Roberts and The Secret Diary of Miss Miranda Cheever. There are also a few Agatha Christies and the occasional food based book. There are also books that I don't necessarily want to reread but could discuss enthusiastically at any given moment like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.