Discussion: Harsh Review or Rose Colored Glasses?

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It’s no secret that I’m pretty stingy with my ratings. Since I started blogging almost 2 years ago, I haven’t given any books 5 stars. I’ve become a little more generous with my 4 star reads, but probably the majority of my reviews are 3 – 3.5 stars. I’ve realized that some of the books and series I routinely call my Favorites are books I only gave 3 stars to. Did I review the book too harshly when I initially read it? Or am I looking back on it as better than it is – through rose colored glasses, if you will?


Book Examples

Kristan Higgins novels

In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4)

I often share my love of her novels, but I’ve given every book 3 stars. Is it because I can’t bring myself to rate a straight up romance highly? Despite the fact it can be silly and predictable, the character development, writing style, and humor are all pretty clever. I think some of these probably deserve higher ratings.

Verdict: Too Harsh


Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins 

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)

I gave every book 3 stars, despite really enjoying the first two (I tolerated the last book – and still gave it 3 stars). The Paris setting was fun, the romance was cute. However, the cheating aspect really turned me off. Also, I found that Anna was a little too melodramatic at times and don’t even get me started on Lola. So yeah, I like these books, but they’re really not the best contemporaries I’ve read.

Verdict: Rose Colored Glasses


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)

I adore this series and the cast of characters, but I only gave the fist two books 3 stars. Obviously now I think this series deserves All The Stars, but my original complaint was that it was awesome characters, but a weirdo story. It’s still a weirdo story, but I think that I love the characters so much that I don’t care about the rest.

Verdict: Too Harsh (with maybe just a tiny tint of rose)


Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer

Storm (Elemental, #1)

I claim this as one of my favorite YA series, but all except for the fist book I’ve given 3 stars (and a couple of the novellas 2 stars). Sure I had some issues with each of these books, I didn’t always love the side characters or love interests, and I really did not like how it ended, but I adore the Merrick brothers and there was a good mix of family, friends, love, humor, and supernatural.

Verdict: Too Harsh


In light of this, should I go back and re-rate some of these? Do you ever have this problem? Do you ever change your book ratings on Good Reads or blog reviews?

34 thoughts on “Discussion: Harsh Review or Rose Colored Glasses?

  1. I’m not sure – I generally think that ratings are for your gut instinct while reviews are the discussion (and, you know, probably more gut feeling). My point is: that’s what you were feeling at the time, so go for it. If you ever re-read those books then you can choose to adjust your ratings of you deem fit.

  2. I’m curious now if you have ANY book you’ve ever rated 5 stars? This is really interesting! I will be honest and tell you that, if a book is rated lower than 4 stars on Goodreads, I probably won’t even try it. For me, it’s just ‘okay’ and not really worth my time when there are so many better books waiting to read. I am always looking for something epic and 5-star worthy. So, it may hurt the author’s chances of me even picking up one of their books if the ratings are anything less than 4 stars.

    On the other hand, I have several friends on GR that rate EVERYTHING 5 stars, and it drives me batty. How can every single book you read be perfect?! I don’t buy it. Yes, I will be drawn to a book that’s so highly rated, so if that’s the intent, kudos for suckering me in. But I just can’t believe every book someone reads can be that fantastic. There are a few people who’s reviews I won’t even read anymore because I don’t trust their judgement like I used to. My tastes have changed so much and I don’t buy into everything being 5 stars.

    That being said, I’ve only ever gone back and increased my ratings on a few books now and then. I will initially rate it lower than I should, but if a book has been on my mind for a long time, it deserves a higher rating because the author clearly did a great job of leaving an impression on me. I will rate books high for many reasons, and if I love a book that much, I want others to give the author a try. So, I hope my high rating will make them take that chance.

    • I looked on Good Reads and I have a grand total of 8 books rated as 5 stars – and at least 2 of those I think I would now give lower ratings to (A couple of the 5 stars are Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, The Hunger Games, and a couple of Jane Austen novels). It drives me crazy, too, when people rate EVERYTHING 5 stars. I think when I started blogging I wanted to be really objective and just because I really enjoy a book doesn’t mean that the story isn’t clichéd or the prose read childish or something like that. I’ve started using the enjoyment factor to boost up some ratings since I’ve first started, though I still feel like a book needs to be PERFECTION to give it 5 stars and while I’ve had a few 4+ ratings, I still haven’t found that next Hunger Games.

      • I loved Attachments. So cute. I read Hunger Games at a bad time, and was one of the few who didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t even continue after the first book. I know…I’m the minority on that series! 🙂

      • I know, I’m like the only person on the planet. In my defense, I was pregnant when I read it. And the whole kids killing kids did not sit well with me and my emotions. I could barely get through the first book, started the second and gave up really quickly. It was bad timing for me, and I may have enjoyed it any other time in my life. I have seen the first movie and thought it was really good. I’m over it all now and just have no desire to revisit the books. Just proved to me that timing is everything and I definitely picked a REALLY bad time to read that one. lol!

      • Yes, me too!!! Well, I read the first two books years ago and remember nothing now. I have no desire anymore to finish the series at all.

  3. I’ve found that, since starting my blog, I’ve been giving lower ratings as well, and that I want to go through my goodreads and either remove ratings or decrease them by a star or two (the one I’ve been thinking about the most is A game of Thrones, to be honest).

  4. The more books I’m exposed to, the more I reconsider some of the ratings I’ve given. For the most part, I still agree with past ratings but there are still a few books when I look back, I don’t believe they would impress me quite as much now. I have this general rule that I’m only allowed to change a rating if I reread a book because then I’m relying on my memory and not an experience.

  5. I find it very difficult rating books on Goodreads (where I rate books immediately after finishing them) because I want a .5 star ability. I feel like a lot of my ratings, like yours hover between 3-4 with a majority sitting at 3.5. I have altered my ratings later in a day but I rarely go back to alter something.

    I think my ratings really depend on moods more than anything. If I don’t have the patience for a book and I feel like I forced myself to read, I am rather harsh in my review. I’ve given out a lot of 5s this year (more so than normal) because I read some not so great books before them. So books I would have given a 4 or 4.5 get bumped to a 5 because I was easily impressed.

    And lastly, I don’t think you were too harsh on the Elemental Series. That one was a favourite of mine but the last book was a huge disappointment 😦

    • I’ve definitely done some mood rating where I bumped up the final rating of one book because another book I started around the same time really annoyed me. I definitely wish that Good Reads had half ratings, too. I mention the .5 in my review, but when I look at ratings at a glance you can’t tell. I read once that Brigid Kemmerer will probably write more books in the Elemental series (or at least in the same world). While I generally don’t like the idea of this happening, I would really like some more closure than what we got!

      • Exactly with the half-star ratings. I do a lot of double checking with my blog posts to confirm what I actually rated something.
        I definitely need more closure with those characters. I felt so let down by Sacrifice…I just hope they follow the same tone as the first few books in the series and not the latter half.

  6. Ratings are a tough thing to pin down. I gave an author 3 stars and she came back and asked for 5 stars if she changed some things. I don’t read books twice, so I won’t change my rating at someone’s request. However, if I feel I made a mistake I would definitely change it.

  7. I like this post a lot. I know when I think back to some old ratings I’m like “Maybe I was too hard on it/I think I feel differently now”, but I leave my ratings as they are since that’s what I meant when I first read it. I agree with your Anna and The French Kiss, that only got three stars from me and the cheating aspect (and the drama) was the entire reason why. I couldn’t take it. I think the three star rated books make the majority of my reviews. And it’s not that they’re awful books, generally, they’re not. They just don’t click with me, I don’t like the characters or the characters do something really annoying or promotes something I don’t like (in Anna, cheating). I don’t think I’m overall hard to please, just connect with me, don’t annoy me, somehow have me like your character (I can like the unlikeable characters), give me a great plot and I’ll probably rate it four stars right off the bat.

    • Thanks! I’m glad I’m not alone with my Anna and the French Kissed rating. I seem to see everybody giving it 5 stars or 1 star. I might adjust some ratings after re-reads, but I think the majority of my ratings will stay as they are.

  8. I used to be way harsh, giving my favorite books 2 star ratings. But now I think I’m too nice, giving out 5 stars like candy. However, if I love it I love it. It’s not like there’s a limit to how many 5 star books are out there.

  9. I never put star ratings for books I review, mostly because it’s too hard to differentiate between a 3-star, 4-star or 5-star because there will be some parts I adore and some parts I absolutely hate. My gut reaction for Goodreads though is if I liked it then it’s usually a 4 star. If it was a ‘meh’ book, then 3 star.

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