Holly’s Grading System

Posted June 1, 2007 by Holly in Discussions | 8 Comments

Dance Chica put a post up yesterday about various grading systems, what they mean and how often we as readers pay attention to them.

Whether she was talking about my grades specifically or just grades in general, it reminded me that I’ve never explained how I grade my reviews. I use a numerical system, though many others (including my two blogging sisters here) use an alphabetic. I’m not sure why I do it that way. I guess I just feel better with numbers (maybe because my grades always scared me in HS?? lol).

Anyway, for those of you who are more comfortable with alphabetic grades, I’ll break down my grading system for you:

5 would be the equivalent of an A+
4.5 an A
4.0 an A-

and on down the line. DC’s post yesterday started out asking the difference between a 4.5 and a 4.75. I gave Muse a 4.75 yesterday. IMO, a 5/5 is a perfect grade. That means that any shortcomings in the story were completely washed out by the story/characters/etc.

For example: Typos bug the crap out of me. Y’all know this, right? But lets say I’m reading a story and the author has me so wrapped up in her world I don’t notice the typos, other than in passing. Meaning, they didn’t bother me. For me, that’s a huge thing (this is just an example, remember). So although the story wasn’t PERFECT (there were typos after all) I still might give it a 5/5, because the story made up for whatever errors were there. Understand?

But back to my review of Muse. There were some things about the story that bothered me. The ending, for one. I’m still on the fence about it. Plus, there were a few questions left unanswered. And a few typos. But overall, the story was amazing. It drew me in and made me love it. But I still walked away thinking about the ending, the typos, the questions, etc. So, I couldn’t give it a perfect review. And yet, two days later, I’m still thinking about it. So it was better than a 4.5. Hence, my 4.75. It wasn’t quite perfect, but it was darn close.

DC also asked if it’s hard for you as a reviewer to grade a book. For me, it’s not. I’d say an average book for me is about a 3.5. This means I enjoyed the story, but it won’t stand out for me in the long run. I think anything under a 3.0 is a fairly bad book. Either there were a few good parts that were overshadowed by the bad, or it was just forgettable. But a bad review, to me, is something in the 1’s or 2’s. If I truly hated a book, it’s going to fall in one of those categories (in the D or F range).

Let me break it down for you:

  • 5/5 – This book was so good I practically orgasmed over it. Get to the store and buy it NOW, or you’ll be sorry
  • 4.5/5 – This book was great, but there were a few things I couldn’t let go. Get to the store and buy it, you probably won’t be sorry
  • 4/5 – This book was great, but I couldn’t get past some stuff. Go buy it, you’ll probably enjoy it
  • 3.5/5 – This book was pretty good, but not amazing. You might want to buy it, but don’t hurt yourself getting to the store
  • 3/5 – This book was alright. If you’re in the mood for something mindless, pick it up.
  • 2.5/5 – This book wasn’t very good, but it had a few redeeming qualities. Buy it or not, I don’t care.
  • 2/5 – This book sucked, but I found one or two things to like about it. I won’t be reading it again, and I don’t suggest you buy it.
  • 1.5/5 – This book sucked. The writing/characters/plot were crap, but there was probably one thing I liked about it (maybe the sex was hot, or the hero was good). Don’t buy it. If you see it in the store, back away. Back away slowly.
  • 1/5 – This book sucked big donkey balls. I couldn’t find one thing about it that I liked. Not one. Do yourselves a favor and stay far, far away from this one. If you see it in the store, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

So, there you have it. Ocassionally you’ll see a negative grade from me. This is usually followed by some major rant about at Too Stupid To Live heroine that drove me crazy. I wouldn’t pay attention to those grades if I were you. That’s mostly me being pissy (I say this because I generally grade the story one way and the heroine another. I haven’t ever come across a book I’d grade in the negative as a whole. Thank Goodness. If you do see a review of that sort from me, though, I’d suggest scratching your eyes out before purchasing it. But that’s just me) and you should just take it with a grain of salt.

I am curious about the rest of you, though. So I’m going to include DC’s questions here. Answer in the comments or on your own blog, but leave me a link if you do it on your site, eh? Or just stop by DC’s and answer there.

  • How important are grades to you in reviews? How much do you rely on them?
  • How much do you pay attention to ratings as opposed to the review?
  • When you write reviews, do you find it hard to come up with grades? Or do they come relatively easy to you?
  • Finally, do you think grades are an important companion to reviews?

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8 responses to “Holly’s Grading System

  1. I have been talking over at DC’s so there is that. So now my question to you is, can you have a KEEPER (something you will love and hold and call George) even though it might fall more into your 3.5 grade. I just blew your mind right? 😉

    For example, I’m an Anne Stuart fangirl and I’m pleased as punch about any of her books. That said, I know that Moonrise is an A while The Widow is more of a C but at the same time I don’t care because I know at some point I will want to re-read The Widow because it’s a Stuart and there is something there that pulls at me.

    So I’m thinking I may have to be more careful about posting keepers if people are thinking it’s gotta be an A. One of Kresley Cole’s book was a Keeper (in that it ain’t ever leaving the house) but it was probably a B- if I’m thinking about recommending something to someone.

    I have become more aware of grading because I don’t want people thinking I have a stash of stuff over here that makes me ever so happy. I don’t. No really. So grading has become a touch more difficult for me but it’s always a work in progress.


  2. I like it when a review has a grade – it’s that overall wrap-up. When you point out the stuff you like and that which you don’t, a grade gives me your overall take on the book. I always look for the grade prior to reading the review. For me, a grade is easy to come up with – I like concise tags on things. (Hope I don’t size up people like this!) I think a review loses something when there’s not a grade – like the cherry on a milkshake!

  3. Cindy,
    That’s kind of a tricky question for me to answer, because I keep all my books. Even the ones I loathed. And at some point, whether the book was amazing or shit, I’ll re-read it. And I won’t get rid of it.

    For example: I’d grade Jude Deveraux’s books (with the exception of A Knight In Shining Armor) in the 2’s and 3’s. There were a few things I enjoyed about them, but over all the stories weren’t good and the characters drove me insane. And yet, I’ve kept them. I have every book she’s written and once in awhile I’ll pick one up and read it.

    So for me, that’s not an easy question to answer. Although I will say, there are some books I’d grade at around a 3.5 and after re-reading I would bump that up. I guess maybe I pay more attention the second time around.

    Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a perfect example of this. The first time I read it, I wasn’t very impressed. But I read it a second time and then a third. By the fourth re-read I was in love with it. It’s still one of my favorites. I pick it up often to read my favorite parts, or skim it as a whole.

    I guess I’m strange like that.

    I feel the same way, for the most part. I like to know what the reviewer liked and disliked, and then his/her overall opinion with the grade.


  4. Chantal

    I was just thinking about this the other day. It’s nice knowing your break down on how you grade a book.

    How important are grades to you in reviews? How much do you rely on them?I like seeing a grade. They are like a final wrap up with a review.
    How much do you pay attention to ratings as opposed to the review? I pay more attention. Sure, I read the review, but often time I can’t figure out if the reader liked it or not based just on the review.

    When you write reviews, do you find it hard to come up with grades? Or do they come relatively easy to you? When I start a book it’s in my head that this is an A+ book. As I read on it either stays that way, or it gets marked down.

    IFinally, do you think grades are an important companion to reviews? YES! Just to expand on question #2, I wish more readers added a final letter or number. I find myself asking them questions about the book because I can’t tell if they liked it or not.

  5. Lori

    I never used a grading system until this year. I’ve found that I really hated it, and have stopped using it. I’d much rather say what I like and don’t like about a book and let people take from that what they will. That’s what I do when I read a review. I pay very little attention to grades.

  6. This is an interesting topic. I’ll have to hop on over to DC’s next. I look at the grade if it’s immediately noticeable, but I won’t scroll down to find it. A low grade might pique my interest as much as a good one, but it’s ultimately what the reviewer says that sways me. I do give grades and I don’t find it hard to give them, but I stick them at the end becase I want folks to read the whole long-ass post.
    The toughest to review are the whole average/ok/eh range of books. It’s just like, “meh, whatever, not bad I guess.

  7. Sigh. It looks like I’m going to have to come up with my own rating/grading system since it seems to be the consensus that they’re useful. I just finished Ain’t She Sweet, I really liked it…the first time around too!

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