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!!