New year, new review system.

Hello all and a very, very happy new year to you!

Before the post I just want to say a massive thankyou to everyone who’s read my blog over the last year or interacted on twitter – I’ve enjoyed talking to so many of you and at times having a real laugh. There was the SFF World Tour, The Big Dragons Post and of course Norsevember. Hopefully there is lots of book-related fun to be had this year – The SFF Badge Collection, Monster Week, The Witcher Read-along and more to come! I hope you all have an amazing 2021.

Blog Revamp

A new year brings a revamp to my blog, both in the way I review and a new highlights system I’m excited to roll out.

I don’t particularly like the 5 star review system as there isn’t enough range – I have read some books that were a 3.5, they weren’t quite a 4 but weren’t bad, and unfortunately many people see a 3 star as bad.

I’ll have to continue with the 5 star system on GR and Amazon as my own blog only has limited reach, but I wanted to make 3 star ratings a bit easier to give. I also wanted to show that not all 5 stars given are created equally, to highlight books that are almost a super 5 star. So, here’s what I’ve done to combat these annoyances:

Firstly, inspired by some of my fellow bloggers, I have made my own rating system, which is a bit less arbitrary than “it was ok, I liked it, I loved it” which recognises that books are subjective and that sees the good in most books, and to recommend it to the right readers whilst also highlighting books that I personally loved, too.

Secondly, I have designed my own highlights system to show what I felt a book’s strongest aspects were. There are a total of 15 different strengths, or qualities that I have came up with – ONE of these will be chosen to show which I felt the books main strength was, followed by the other two aspects I felt had the biggest impact on the overall book.

These are just what I feel in my opinion the three most prominent elements of the book are – the book could well incorporate almost all of the possible aspects to choose from. I will introduce all the new parts of the review process below:

The Overall Review

The following are the overall rating categories for my reviews.

Plain and simply; you’ll see this on any review that wasn’t up to standard or disappointed me in some way. These will be to a minimum as I tend to put down any book I’m not enjoying and therefore don’t review it. I’m not easily pleased but I simply don’t have time to persist with a book I don’t enjoy, so my finished reviews are usually 3 star plus.

From time to time there will be occasions in which I do continue with a book that isn’t great – if I persevere and still don’t find much to praise, it’s likely I’ll apply the disappointed rating.

Now this one isn’t necessarily a bad rating – I may love it myself, or at least find it pretty enjoyable.

However, some books are limited in the audience who will enjoy them. Some books are great, but only for the right audience.

Yes, all books are subjective, but some will only be truly enjoyed (to their full potential) by a reader with a specific mindset.

This rating will be applied to a book that I found to have some nice touches, not too taxing on my brain – a nice, easy read that had enjoyable moments and an overall level of satisfaction, perhaps without the depth of a more complex book. A read that most will probably enjoy in some capacity.

This could be a quick throwaway read or something that I loved and will read again and again.

Very similar to the easy read; this one will generally be along the same lines but with a little added depth or specific elements to the story I particularly enjoyed. Some readers might love this story, whereas some might be looking for just that little bit more. By and large though a great book that most readers will find something to enjoy within.

Would basically be a 7/10 if we were scoring it that way.

This is a book I’m very happy to recommend to anyone and wouldn’t rule out a re-read in future, aswell as reading its sequel. It kept me interested and there were likely large parts of the book I really liked, or even loved, that will be memorable for time to come.

Roughly equivalent to an 8 or 8.5 out of 10. Some of the better books I’ve read would definitely fall within this category.

Many traditional 5 star reads will hit this rating. An extremely good book that gripped me or I found something I really loved.

Any book given this rating is top class and one of the select few I consider as my favourites. A book in this category has to be brilliant and something I’d buy the physical copy of an ebook I’d read, for example, just to have a copy on the shelf.

It goes without saying that any book in this rating category would be an instant recommendation from me for most readers.

I don’t envision applying this rating to many books at all. Most of my favourite ever books wouldn’t even fall under this rating!

Something has to absolutely blow me away beyond a doubt to achieve this. I imagine I might only give one or two of these ratings out per year, or maybe not even that. Reserved for the books that are turned up to 11 on the amp. And then turned another notch again.

The Highlight Factors

These are the tools I’ll use to give readers a quick reference of the main aspects of the book.

This helps highlight whether it’s a book that focuses on the things you hold most important.

A fast paced or otherwise immersive book that you have to pick up at the earliest opportunity to find out what happens next or to spend more time in the world.

A book that provokes you to think about things more deeply, during or after reading.

A book with a well developed world that is interesting, in-depth or simply a place you need to spend more time in because it’s that well thought out.

A more wholesome read that’s unlikely to upset or offend – the type of book you curl up with on a cold winter night with a hot drink or snuggle up in bed to read another chapter of. Usually leaves you feeling good or just with that warm satisfied feeling.

A character driven story and/or one in which there is a strong focus on character development, or simply excellently written characters that you love. Or of course ones that you love to hate.

A book with darker aspects – this could apply for most Grimdark books, as well as a host of other types of books that often offer a more realistic and less hopeful vision or events happen that are more unsuitable for younger readers.

A book that raises some interesting ideas or some unique viewpoints that you might not have considered or encountered before, aswell as some unique plot elements.

This book has emotional moments that pull at your heart strings; not necessarily sad moments (although of course those books would probably get this highlight stamp) but books that pull your emotions all over the place.

The author of this book is an imaginative storyteller that you could easily listen to whilst sat around a camp fire for the evening. Their story is creative and well-told.

This is for books that allow you to sit back and enjoy the ride. They might often be joined by the action-packed, page turner or light hearted highlights, thought that isn’t always the case. Likely to keep your attention easily and be a fun ride.

This book will have themes such as women overcoming adversity, strong female identities and female characters to particularly admire.

This book will have a focus on, or plenty of instances of action sequences. Battles, fights, racing, violence, chases.

This book will probably not be for everyone, but could well be some readers’ absolute fave. Books with this highlight will be a bit weird or different and probably pretty unique!

Books with the light hearted highlight have aspects of humour or being easy-going in some respects. Of course this can still apply to serious books, and this highlight might be applied to books with memorable banter between characters, a humorous POV, or works of satire and parody, for example – as well as reads that are just a little more relaxed.

Books with the relationships highlight will have strong bonds between characters that form a central part of the plot. Books with a strong themes of romance would also have this highlight stamp applied. If a book has love as a prevalent aspect then this would apply.

That concludes the changes to the review format. Hopefully, along with the one sentence review at the beginning of each full review, and my new additions, you can have a better idea whether you want to read on or to try out the book. Let me know your thoughts; is this a good idea? Did I miss out something vital?

Thanks for reading!!


13 thoughts on “New year, new review system.

  1. Your new system looks amazing, and I love the designs especially for the highlight factors. I am coming to realise I have a very strange idea of comfort reads though!

    Happy New Year and I look forward to seeing what you do this year πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, at least we now know what you were doing over the holidays, this is an impressive list of badges, and I applaud you taking the time to define the best And yes, worst characteristic into a badge system. This is really a neat way to do it and tells a potential reader what to expect.

    Brava, Alex! Happy New Year and all the best for 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this rating system! Definitely makes me think about how I review books and what I might change in the future.

    Does this rating system make it easier or harder for you to write a review? I have a lot of trouble knowing what to say about a book and think a system like this might help, but at the same time might make it harder?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m hoping it will make things easier and that I won’t need to say quite as much! I’m not trying to be lazy but I have a feeling people are not feeling up to reading massive reviews especially at the minute and I’m trying to make things more concise πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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