TOP 5 TUESDAY: Reasons I Rate a Book Five Stars

I’ve started rating books using the five-star system.

I don’t want to get too much into it.

If you want to know what goes into selecting my favorite books, these are the things that garner a five-star rating.

Happy Top 5 Tuesday.


The book defied my expectations

(Spoilers for Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern)

As you may know, I tend to set my expectations for books unreasonably high.

Other times, I set them very, very low so as not to be disappointed.

When a book surpasses my expectations, I give it five stars out of a sense of relief.

Say What You Will

Say What You Will shocked me. I’d prepped for a standard YA contemporary; I wasn’t ready for a thoughtful novel about disability, mental illness, and teen pregnancy. WILD!

As an additional example, please consider my new favorite book, Black Moon Rising.

Black Moon Rising

I expected bottom-of-the-barrel writing and laughable plot developments.

I found instead decent writing and competent sex scenes.

The book was just ridiculous enough to be fun; I had a blast with it.



The book made me laugh

If a book makes me laugh out loud more than once, that bumps up my rating quite a lot.

I’ve read a lot of objectively bad books in my time (most of them romance novels) that made me cackle with mirth.

I love each and every one of those books for showing me a good time.

They might not deserve the five stars I gave them, but refuse to change my rating.

I’m also impressed when a book can cover serious topics and still exhibit a sense of humor.

Kind of like Marvel movies, but more competent.

Merciful Crow

The Merciful Crow does a good job of this. In the novel, prejudice destroys lives and power corrupts…and the cat’s name is Barf. I’m fine with this.


The book made me cry

You’re packing some strong emotions if your story makes me tear up.

I can still remember when and where I cried over the following books:

  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: on the bed in my room at my first Ellensburg apartment, fall 2012
  • You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour: on the Seattle-Bremerton ferry, summer 2016
  • Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake: in the bathtub at my old apartment, January 2018

This is not a drill. Make me cry and embed your book in my memory forever.


The book pandered to my squishy, romance-loving heart

I will overlook a lot if a book has a good romance.

Take Carry On, for example.

Carry On

I GENUINELY didn’t notice how much of a mess this book’s plot was because I was so caught up in the Simon/Baz romance.

As for my beloved Black Moon Rising, I excused the bonkers nature of the plot because of my investment in Jass and Reza’s sex life relationship.

Black Moon Rising

Give me a couple to root for and I’ll love you forever.

(Note: it has to be a compelling romance. You can’t just write a cardboard rude boi and a typical ingenue and expect me to be on board, Cassandra Clare.)


The book has deft social commentary

If a book explains something I’ve struggled to verbalize or blows my mind with a new perspective, I slap that sucker with a five stars unless something awful happens to ruin it.

Say, for instance, if a book hits me with two bummer climate change essays or recounts the murder of a cat by two dogs.

Something like that.

My favorite book of this type is The Handmaid’s Tale.

Handmaid's Tale

I think the social commentary is woven in so brilliantly.

The graphic novel is equally excellent.


Does this help you understand why I love The Scorpio Races?


Oh well. I tried my best.

1 thought on “TOP 5 TUESDAY: Reasons I Rate a Book Five Stars”

  1. Pingback: January Wrap-Up

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