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[Discussion] Review Rating Rounding & the scarcity of five star reviews

As you all know, I switched to self-hosted recently, and I also installed Ashley’s Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin, which gives me the option to review books with half stars.  I don’t think I’ll be using the half-stars, because my ratings line up with goodreads, and if I start using half stars on the blog then every time I cross post a review to Amazon/Goodreads/NetGalley I’d have to round the rating.

But I have written a few reviews recently when I’ve had a hard time choosing between two ratings (The Girl With All the Gifts, 3 or 4 stars, and Fool’s Assassin, 4 or 5 stars), and it got me wondering – how do you round your reviews? Even if you have a half star system in place on your blog, when it comes to goodreads you’d have to round your rating – so do you lean towards up, or down?

Obviously my rating is determined by my gut instinct on the book, but on occasions when I’m torn between two, I think I generally err on the side of rounding down.  For a book to be 5 stars (It was amazing!), for me, there needs to be absolutely no doubt it was amazing. If I’m thinking, ‘Was it amazing or did I just really really like it?’ – it’s a four star read.

I guess it’s a bit like buying a wedding dress or a house (something expensive and important to you, and I have to admit to having never bought either of these!). You aren’t looking for ‘really nice’ or ‘could be perfect but…’ you’re looking for The One, and if it isn’t The One, you don’t buy it.  A five star read, for me, is like that. It’s a book that I love wholeheartedly, that I want to recommend to everyone, that I can’t stop talking about.  The kind of book that makes me rush out and find the author’s other books because I’m not ready for it to be over.

If I’m umming and ahhing about whether to give a book five stars, generally it’s not a five star read for me, which is why my five star reviews are so scarce.  It’s not a perfect system, and it does mean I have some variation amongst my four star reviews, but it works better for me than inflating a review and having five star reviews for a book that’s anything less than amazing!

5 star reviews from me: Crewel, Fangirl, Prisoner of Night and Fog
Books I loved but that didn’t quite make 5 stars: Prince of Fools, Red Rising, Fool’s Assassin

My exception to my rounding down rule is at the bottom end of the rating scale.  One star on goodreads means ‘didn’t like it’, with two stars being ‘it was okay’ and three being ‘I liked it’.  2 stars is comfortably in the middle of like and dislike and I do give these to some books – maybe the series has potential but the opening book left me ambivalent – anything that leaves you with that gut feeling of (you guessed it!): it was okay.

One star reviews are generally reserved for books I truly disliked, and I haven’t (thankfully) given too many of those out yet.  If I’m not sure whether to give a book one or two stars, this is the one occasion I might round up – generally a book has to make me actively dislike it for it to get one star, otherwise it’s just okay and accordingly it gets 2 stars.

So perhaps, looking at it, it’s safe to say that I err on the side of moderation when in doubt of how to review a book – if I’m not 100% sure that a book deserves 1 star or 5 stars, I’m more likely to give it a more moderate review than an extreme one. I’m really curious though, how do you round your reviews?

2 thoughts on “[Discussion] Review Rating Rounding & the scarcity of five star reviews

  1. I love half stars, because it gives me more freedom to pick a rating that truly fits with how I felt about the book. So, it really depends on that feeling if I round it up or down. Let’s say I have a 3.5 stars, I go and look at my definition of a 3 and 4 star book and see what feels better.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Monthly recap. September.My Profile

    1. Oooh see that’s what appeals to me about half stars, I’m just not sure how I’d feel about having a different rating on NetGalley/Goodreads to on the blog. I might have to look into it though, because I end up with a fair amount of variation within a star rating.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, definitely gives me lots to think about!

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