Adding nuance to my rating system

Happy new year everybody, thanks for hopping on the blog to share my first 2021 post with me. Stay tuned because later today I have a really exciting review coming up (hint, it’s a fantastic magical school MG debuting in 2021, can you guess which?).

I gotta admit I’m both anxious and excited to post said review not only because it’s such a great book but also because I’m trying out a new “rating system”, or rather, AN ACTUAL rating system. Personally, I was never comfortable with the 5 star rating system, and though I have to use it on sites like The Storygraph and Goodreads, I’ve never used it on the blog. I always want my review to speak for itself, and I thought if I can’t manage that, it’s a sign I need to work on my writing skills.

But I can see how such a system isn’t enough at times. There might be times a reader is mostly looking for particular aspects in a book. Or maybe it’s just that the ability to convince a reader to pick up a book in a couple words/creative rating is also a great feat I want to be able to achieve. I want new things to come to the blog in 2021, and this is one of them. I’ve got a lot of other features and ideas in the works so hopefully you’ll be looking forward to them as I am.

Partially because of this, and partially inspired by other amazing bloggers such as Rin @ The 13th Shelf, Kriti @ Armed with a Book, Dean @ Book Vagabond, Sam @ The Book in Hand (and probably many more I’m neglecting mentioning), I’ve decided to try out a new rating system on the blog. All of these bloggers have imaginative ways to call a reader’s attention, either by cool badges that set a book apart, by rating systems that focus on book editions, rating sliders for specific aspects, or neatly summarized pros and cons.

I knew I wanted that for my blog too, something that would call to a reader even before I started blabbering about how much I loved (or didn’t) the book. It’d never substitute the review itself, but it would hopefully help readers make a more informed decision.

My initial idea was book badges highlighting favorite tropes/aspects, something like Uber, BookSloth, etc. But I saw many of my favorite bloggers doing that already so I set that aside for now. Perhaps in the future I might introduce it on the blog but I didn’t want the bloggers to feel like I was riding on the great reception their systems got.

So it was a bit of a thought process to find a rating system that I felt represented my reading journey and what I most looked for in books but that would also resonate with others. After brainstorming for a while, I found one that I think would be fun to stick with for now. It speaks from the heart of what I love about reading, while also letting my readers know what to watch out for in a book.

I thought, what do we seek from stories if not emotion? Every book that you love, you love because it made you feel something. It could be frustration, hate, sadness, happiness, omfg I can’t fucking believe this happened-ness. Whatever emotions you seek for in books, it’s always the ones that bring out some kind of emotional response that stick with you.

Emotion buttons

With that in mind, I’m introducing “emotion buttons” to my reviews, to be featured before the review itself. These will be clearer pictures of books that hit all the right or wrong buttons (I couldn’t resist a pun) and will focus on 3-4 main reactions I had while reading the book. I’m hoping to have fun with them and that you’ll too. Here are the ones you might find in my future reviews:

I can't fucking look button
absorbed button
disheartened button

I can’t fucking look: Books that have these moments are just the best, no? I love those books that make me whisper “omfg…” and dreading to read the next paragraph. It’s a clear sign the story knew how to get me involved! Books like this are pumped with blood-curdling action, unpredictability, and overall dread towards the future of its characters. Stories that get these buttons are certified page-turners that I only put down because sometimes one just has to do things like pee, eat, and take showers.

Absorbed: Absorption is a huge part of reading and a special skill of the author that nails it. I’m all about books that get me so into them I forget about everything else going on around me. My pets aren’t as happy when I pick those up (it means less undivided attention thus impairing petting time!) but they know I love them anyway.

Disheartened: Not every book can be a fantastic read. Sometimes there’s even books you thought might be new favorites but end up not fully clicking. This button is for those I was really hyped about but figured were not a good fit for me after all. The whys will be clearer in the review itself!

entranced button
mental facepalm button
funny as fuck button

Entranced: On the topic of new favorites, this button sets them apart. If absorption is a fantastic magic trick to perform, then entrancement is its master. A book that holds my entire attention and gives me a feeling of wonder and delight will earn a button like this.

Mental facepalm: Plot holes, too much suspension of disbelief, incoherent characters, sometimes there are elements to a book that have you mentally facepalming while you read it. It might not necessarily mean they’re bad, but I personally tend to fixate on things like plot holes, etc, and reading too much of them can easily ruin a book for me. This might be one of the harsher buttons I decided on, and who knows, I might scrap it for another in the future. I hope I don’t have to use this one much, but hopefully my review will lessen its blow somehow.

Funny AF: I just love books that make me laugh. If I’m laughing at or alongside the characters, you bet your ass you managed to make me care for them. Humor is a big selling point for me because I think it adds personality to a story. What’s life without laughter?

had a good time button
oh shit what now button
stunned button

Had a good time: Whether a book is amazing, great, or good, one of the things that matters most to me is a story that amuses me. If a book takes my mind off things, shows me something new, or/and I just simply have a good time with it, then it’s a read worth having on my shelf for whenever I want to relive it. This button will pop up for those books that provide just what I needed to relax and enjoy the ride.

Oh shit what now?!: I just had to have a button like this because I feel this way too many times while reading lol. Since most of my reads end up being part of a series, I reserved a special button that marks a book in a series that leaves me eagerly anticipating the next installment.

Stunned: Books with a “stunned” button hit you in the face with a jumble of plot-twists and you never know what to expect from them. Love that character you’ve been doting on since the beginning of the book? They’re gone. Remember that guy mentioned very briefly on the first chapter as an insignificant piece of furniture? He’s actually the descendant of an ancient god and he just flipped your entire expectations. You get my point. Look out for this button as it’ll mark any book that nails a good plot twist.

troubled by content button
whelmed button
couldn't enjoy button

Troubled by content: If I find anything in a book I really don’t enjoy, I usually try to make it to the end or at least the 50% mark to see if it gets better. But I have to admit, sometimes one thing at the beginning of the book can make ruin the rest of my experience with it. When it comes to, f.e., themes like trauma and abuse, if they’re handled without any substance or respect whatsoever, then I fixate on that too much to enjoy the rest of the book, even if I manage to finish it. Because this has happened a couple times, and for readers like me, I’m including this button.

Whelmed: A great boy once asked “why isn’t anybody just ‘whelmed’?” and I felt that. Sometimes a book is great. Sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes it’s amazing. And other times, it just…Is. Not every story can resonate with every reader, and it doesn’t necessarily mean a book isn’t amazing or great or bad. If you see this button on any of my reviews, it just means the book wasn’t any of those things to me.

Couldn’t enjoy: On that note, we all have books that we just don’t like. This one is pretty self-explanatory: if I couldn’t enjoy a book, this button will pop up.

cried button
emotionally destroyed button

Cried: Personally, I think the best books are the ones that make me feel things. Especially crying. Idk why but if a book makes me cry at least once then I know I got very invested in the story. I care about the characters and what happens to them. Reviews that have this button are emotionally-impactful, character-driven stories that latch onto my tear ducts and squeeze them.

Emotionally destroyed: We all have these, right? Books that are so absolutely fucking good that they ruin your for every other story for the span of a week, a month, however long it takes you to recover from the emotional devastation of a fantastic read. This button will accompany any review of a book that leaves me sitting around the house like this.

And there they are! Hopefully these buttons will help make my reviews more interactive πŸ™‚ But wait! There’s more!

To pair with every set of buttons, I’ll also include “four words” that’ll give you an overall feel of the book, alongside a “match with readers who” section that’ll mention any trope or element that I’ll base on my own observations as well as on the responses I got in this twitter thread. SO thank you to everyone who answered, and whether you love “betrayal”, “dragons”, “sentient spaceships”, “mystery”, “crazy comps” or any other themes or tropes, I hope you find them all in my reviews to come.

Let’s connect!

What is your favorite type of rating system? What other rating system would you love to see in book reviews? What other system do you use on your own reviews? Which elements/tropes will make you pick up a book?

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