I have a really hard time figuring out why I like a book. If I hated a book, I have no problem at all in telling you why. Repeatedly. And at great length. But when it comes time to saying why I actually liked a book…
Yeah, that's where my careful cynicism takes a backseat and I seem to loose all semblance of rational thought.
As I'm typing this, the last book I finished was a five star read. I wanted to write a review for it but didn't know what to say. (It being the second in the series didn't help matters.) So, I have probably the most disjointed review ever that desperately needs to be rewritten.
How I Review/Rate
It's always difficult for me to break a book down and say why I liked something. I just did, that's all. However, when I write less-than-glowing reviews, I try to give as much information as possible - indicating why the book wasn't for me, but if you like this, then YOU might like the book. It's for this same reason that I prefer to read less than positive reviews. They are more useful and generally tell me more about the book than the flailing of the fans. (Not that those aren't entertaining to read, but useful isn't how I'd describe them.)
When I rate books, I'm not objective at all. I can't compare this YA fantasy only to other YA fantasy - because I tend to not rate books in a way that makes sense. Even to myself sometimes. My rating isn't based on what readers of this genre might think - it's based on what I personally think at the moment I write it. (Which has been known to change five minutes later.)
My Ratings Breakdown
For me, five star books are the ones that did something to me. The ones that caught my attention and made me feel something - uh, something good. (Not hate, that's another rating entirely.)
Four star books are the ones that are ever so slightly flawed. Maybe if this one little thing had been different, it would have gotten five stars from me. Three star is my catch-all rating. A book with several flaws, but still mostly enjoyable. Though I don't know that I'd waste my time reading any more in the series/by the author.
Two stars are the books that made me mad. I came really close to hating the book, but there was something (maybe even something minor) that kept me from completely ignoring the book. One star books…well, I hated it/didn't finish it. I don't often review books I didn't finish. Usually if I do, I just note my thoughts on Goodreads. One star books had no saving grace and I merely kept reading through a strange perversion. (Or stubbornness. Or a want to say 'how could you like this?' Sometimes I even want an answer and to be convinced that, maybe, it wasn't as bad as I thought.)
How about you? Does a lot of thought go into your ratings? Or not much? Do you use half stars? (I don't. I have enough problems keeping five rankings straight much less ten.)