Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I poop stars: An IMO guide to book reviews

Stars. You see them, you use them, but what do they mean?...Not a damn thing! WHAT!? Let me back up. To an author, stars are very important. Important because that's how society seems to judge a book, but is that judgement supported? How can I interpret someone else's review? Some use five-stars, some ten. Some use cupcakes, lips, even lacy thongs! Well I don't care if you use little pink penises to rate your books, it's how that rating is supported that really counts!

Rating books is totally subjective and there are important things you must consider when interpreting someone else's review. As a reviewer, I rate a book on individual merit, but it's also a subconscious (sometimes conscious) comparison to every other book I've ever read. Yeah that book was good, but is it really as good as my other four or five star books? If the answer is no, then I find it hard to rate it the same. The more books you read the more your scale changes; it's an evolution. An evolution that skews the accuracy of the rating system.

So what do you do?...YOU READ THE REVIEW!!! Why did that person rate the book as they did? Was it bad writing? Was it lacking romance? Did you throw your kindle when you were done? Hopefully a good review will explain this. I recently rated a book three-stars mostly because of the insta-love. I personally don't care for love-at-first-site romance, but that is my personal taste. It doesn't make it yours. I don't like love triangles, but you may love them. Different strokes for different folks! Some readers are editing Nazis. They rate the book low just because of some typos or grammatical errors. For me, if it doesn't distract me from the story I could care less. However, if I didn't read their review I would have let their stars chase me away. I would have missed out on something awesome just because of a few comma splices.  So next time you see a three-star book, don't run away screaming like a big boobed, half naked blond from a really bad horror movie! Stop and read the review. Another man's trash may be another man's treasure. 

Today one of my friends on GR asked me a really good question, "I saw this book was on your favorites list, but why didn't you give it five-stars?" Excellent question. To be a favorite, you don't have to earn five-stars. But to earn five-stars, there can't be any "excepts". I loved this book except for the first two chapters. I loved this book except it kind of dragged in the middle. I loved this book except...you get the point. A really great book can make up for the "excepts" with strong characters, a great plot, a killer ending, but it disqualifies them from that fifth star. Five is perfection!

Now I want to take just a minute to speak directly to the reviewers. Stars are not weapons. If you don't like a book, tell me why then get off the pot! These hurtful, Jack the ripper reviews are revolting and heart-breaking. It's okay to not like a book, it's okay to give it only one star, it's okay to let people know why. But what's not okay are these personal attacks against authors. Not only attacks, but campaigns against them. You drive your small minded bandwagon through blog central and try to pull people on board. Why? I mean I get it, you didn't like the book...make you a t-shirt then move on. Don't try to convince people not to like it just because you didn't. Why do you care if I like something that you found so horrible? Get over it. Your review can be anything you want it to be, express yourself, but be respectful! If you can't write a respectful review, then please don't write one at all. 

I'm not saying your review can't be negative, but be constructive with your words. You're tearing apart someone's hard work, someone's time away from their family, someone's sleepless night, someone's passion. Opening yourself up to public criticism takes courage. More courage than most of us have, so please choose your words carefully. These authors deserve our respect.

I'm going to repel down off of my soap-box to end with this. We are all very different and unique, some of us more unique than others, all with different tastes. Thankfully there are millions of books out there to satisfy every single one of them. Don't just look at the ratings to judge a book, but actual read what people have to say about it first. You may just find that diamond in the rough. Me personally...I'm going to continue to rate books despite what I've said because it's what is best for the authors; they depend on those stars. 

I know my style isn't for everyone. My reviews are honest, unique, and often filled with humor and innuendos. I'm not here to write you a book report. If I love a book, my purpose in the review is to get you excited about that book, not give you a summary. I try to express my passion and feelings in an unique and entertaining way. If I don't get you excited, then I didn't do my job. Remember...just because someone has an opinion, it doesn't mean you have to share it. Form your own then tell the world about it. READ ON!!


  1. Excellent post Mollie - you make a lot of sense and your reasoning is clear. That's why you're one of my favorite book review bloggers! Keep on reading and please keep on reviewing! :)

  2. You've made some really good points. I often find myself rating a book with a certain amount of stars, then changing my mind once I really think about it. And that is why I actually read reviews, they're all subjective!

    And AMEN to respecting people's work! There have been some books that I don't like, but I don't have to bash the author to get my point across. It's just a lame way to get attention, IMO.

    I love your reviews, they get me all excited. [No innuendo, I swear!]


  3. Clearly great minds think alike! Well said Mollie! :)

  4. I'm with you Mollie! I read the good and the not so good reviews put forward on a book. If someone rates it 1 or 2 stars without an explanation I will always ask them to explain why they rated it that way...and yes, 9 times out of 10 it will be because of grammatical/typo's which, like you, I can get past and it wouldn't affect my enjoyment of a book.
    I always delve into the review and never ever take the stars at face value. At the end of the day I will always decide for myself if I want to read a book or not because let's face it, not everyone has the same taste.

    What you've said makes absolute sense and I know that you and and I are the same in that we review from the heart - it's about how a book made us feel. Like you I can't do the whole book overview thing either...I'm crap at that.

    Thanks for posting this - great post as always! You're a gem and I love ya! Jen xxx

  5. Well said, Mollie! I really appreciated your candor. :)

    P.S. "I Poop Stars" is quite possibly the best post title ever.

  6. This was an awesome post. It's disheartening to see people tear up an author's hard work. What baffles me is when I see authors with one star reviews that have no explanation whatsoever, and I'm left wondering if they've even read the book at all. And, as you said, not every book is for everybody, but at least treat others with respect.


  7. Saw this post on a friend's wall and was intrigued by the title. Thank you for exposing the star system as potential artillery. It's really quite awful as an author to recover (average star-wise) from an angry reviewer with a thorn in her side (or a branch up her nether regions). Looking to the words of the review is usually slightly more instructive (i.e.- where you might get a hint for the reason for the ire). I'm about to try Kirkus. It's scary as heck, but I know it will be more objective. Your piece here was highly entertaining, and I hope those who need to hear the message might just pay attention. Alas, how often does THAT ever happen? Nope, just as poor courageous passion-filled authors! Thank you!
    ~Bornonhalloween (aka Kaye P. Hallows)

  8. Thank you everybody for all the amazing comments!! Y'all are awesome :-)

  9. Well said Mollie, I agree with all that you have said. I read the reviews and not just judge on the star rating and when I am writing a review I try to be honest but respectful of the author.
    To see the reviews that attack the author is just awful, and to give it 1 or 2 stars just because there are a few typos or grammatical errors, bah humbug, that's just sour grapes. I honestly don't see those if it is a good story that grabs me. After all it is the story that I want, not the perfect spelling or grammar. It has to flow and we don't always speak perfectly do we?
    I rely on honest, heartfelt reviews like yours to help me decide whether to put the book on my tbr list, so keep doing what you are doing Mollie. I love your reviews:)

  10. Awesome post!

    I have given my favorite author 1 star as well as 5 and I have given books I don't like 4 stars. I rate on what I think about the story. It really drives me crazy that peeps go star crazy on almost every book. Every book is NOT 4 or 5 stars.

  11. Awesome, Awesome post! It upsets me when I see reviews that rip apart an author just because the reviewer didn't like the book. I try to choose my words carefully because I always ask myself, would I be able to write that book any better? Maybe so, but then again probably not! Just putting words to paper & opening one's self to criticism is admirable enough! No need to be cut-throat & hurtful even if you don't like the book. Way to go! Love your honesty!