As I'm posting reviews here, it occurs to me that I ought to give a quick run-down of my ratings system -- how I decide the number of stars to give each book. 

I want to make it clear right now:
These ratings are only my opinion.
(I'd think this would be obvious, but recent debates about authors reviewing other authors have made me reconsider.)
These ratings (and, more accurately, the long-winded review that precedes them) are a reflection on my reading of the book -- what I do or don't find effective, whether something resonated particularly strongly with me, etc. If you disagree, that's cool! Leave me a comment explaining your perspective on it, and I'd be happy to have a dialogue with you. But the star system itself is mostly for use as a filing system. If it causes undue trouble, I'll just stop using them. Simple as that.

The ratings are far from an exact science, and ultimately I tend to go with my gut, but here's a couple lines on the reasoning behind each one:
5 stars:
No major complaints, and two of the following three:
  • Couldn’t put it down; read in one sitting, or comparable.
  • Felt like an emotional roller coaster; bonus points if it made me cry.
  • Taught me something substantive about writing craft and/or does something remarkable within its genre.
Will recommend this book to anyone who will listen.

4 stars:
Maybe one major complaint, vastly outweighed by positives; bonus points if any of the above.

Will recommend this book to anyone who reads its genre.

3 stars:
Slightly more positive than negative, but ultimately unremarkable 
the negative evenly balances the positive.

Will recommend to anyone who seems likely to enjoy the book more than I did.

2 stars:
Forgettable. Negative may overbalance the positive, but for whatever reason I don’t actively regret the reading.

Won’t recommend to anyone.

1 star:
I either stopped reading before the end or wish that I had. Negative significantly overbalances positive.

Will recommend to book-burners. (Sarcasm.) (But I’ll be slower to stop a book-burning if the pyre consists of these books.)

So, there you have it: the nefarious secrets behind why I rate things the way I do. Disagree with any of my points, or have a system you think is superior? Sound off in the comments!

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