I’m a fan of organization, so I wanted to post something on its own to explain how this site will work. It should mostly be self-explanatory, but I hope this provides clarity for those wanting to understand my ratings and how I come to decisions.
Here’s how reviewing works. I read a book. I form an opinion. I share that opinion. Sounds simple, right? Well, here are more details on the specifics.
Rating: Like on Amazon, I’ll give a rating out of five stars. How I come to that number will depend on a number of factors, listed below.
- Interest. Does the book interest me? Or is it a pain to read? Was I eager to read more, or was it a chore? Does it stick around for a few days after, or is it easily forgettable?
- Originality. I can’t stand the over-produced, canned, I-can-guess-the-ending-after-the-first-page kinds of books. I’m sorry to say, it’s painstakingly common in Christian fiction. Honestly, it’s the reason I won’t even touch anything Amish. Surprise me, please. Don’t be predictable.
- Editing. I’m a stickler for grammar and spelling. Slight editing mistakes I can handle. Homophones and autocorrects are understandable; constant errors and total disregard for basic rules of grammar I consider grievous sins. I may not even finish the book if it’s too poorly edited.
- Realism. I don’t expect all books to fall under the “Yes, this is completely accurate and it literally happened” category. If I only wanted that, I’d read biographies (I typically don’t). What I mean is, within the story–whether it’s fantasy, sci-fi, modern, historical–would the characters do what they did? Is it consistent? And for historical, while I don’t expect perfection, obvious anachronisms make me cringe.
- Quality. This category can encompass many things, but my main focus is whether it comes together in a way that shows the time, effort, and skill that went into the book. The other four categories do influence this one, but this also includes the question of whether I’d recommend this book, or whether it’s–as Charlotte Mason would say–“twaddle”. Is it of substance, or is it trash? I’m certainly not afraid of more mature themes, but I’m not looking for trashy bodice-rippers either. Is there depth and meaning in the story? Or on the other end, is it so “safe” that it becomes useless fluff with nothing to challenge or persuade? That is what I mean by “quality”.
After I give my rating, I’ll move on to a brief synopsis. It will be akin to (but not copying) the “back cover”. A simple introduction to the plot, without any spoilers. This summary will be followed by my reflection on the book. This is where I basically just give my general thoughts on the author’s style, the overall plotline, reasons for giving the rating, and my opinions on who should read the book.
To end my review, I’ll make a few final notes on things that some readers may be concerned about: language (is there cursing?), sensuality, violence, and age-appropriateness. For the Christian readers, I’ll also include notes about theology, if applicable. Not every book will include theology, or may be set in fantasy where there is a different reality (and fictional religion), so I’ll state whether it’s secular, or if it’s irrelevant. But if any theology is presented, I’ll comment on what to expect. In this final section, I’ll also share how I found the book and where you can find it.
So that is my plan.