THOSE ELUSIVE 5 STARS Guest Post and Giveaway by Tara Fox Hall

Thanks so much for having me here today at 2readornot2read!


What author doesn’t hope for a 5 star review? Darn few would be my answer. It’s what I hope for each time I see a new review posted. It’s normal to want the best score possible, even when the ranking is in skulls or drops of blood. Most of the time—especially if the reviewer is a professional who reviews dozens of books a year—those five stars will not be forthcoming. Here are four reasons why you as an author should resist the urge to gnash your teeth:

         Most people who read a lot will have high personal expectations. Many larger review sites do not give out a lot of five star reviews, because those are reserved for the best of the best. It is a fact that if you read many books, you will tend to be a little more reserved about how you rank what you read. Getting four or even three stars for a review doesn’t mean that your book isn’t any good, just that a reviewer is looking for a set of criteria that needs to be satisfied to issue a five star review. Sometimes that criteria can be very personal, i.e., specific historical background that the review has special knowledge of. For example, I have knowledge of single malts because of my family’s interest/taste for it. So if someone happens to mention in a book that a character is drinking a single malt of specific name, I tend to get miffed if they don’t represent it factually, i.e., indicate a certain bottling is stellar when I know it to be average. One friend I know gets miffed if historical facts in time travel books are not correct, and another irritated if the book has too much sex, or does not have a happy ending. Don’t feel bad if you don’t live up to one person’s expectations, because…

·         Most people don't think that every book they read is amazing. Granted, I myself tend to give most books I read four or five stars, because I love to read and I highly enjoy most of what I indulge in. I am also sensitive to what I review and what kind of reviews I post, because I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of a bad review. That said, I am perfectly okay giving out 3 star reviews if I liked the book but didn’t love it. That is why we have a review system, to give honest opinions. And…

·         Not all star ratings are equal. On Goodreads, five stars means the book was “amazing,” four is “really liked it,” three is “liked it,” two is “okay,” and 1 star is “not for me.” On Amazon, five stars is “loved it!,” four is “liked it,” three is “it was okay,” and two is “I didn’t like it,” and one star is “I hate it.” Now these are the two biggest sites and the rankings don’t mean the same things! Add into that mix review sites and personal blogs that only give four stars for a perfect score, or half stars, and then all the gradients of loving to liking to not liking a work, which sometimes can be hard to decipher. Which leads us to…

·         Stars mean different things to different people. Most of the time, a five star book for me means it’s perfect, that it touched on all the things I want in a “perfect” book. But I have ranked some books that were less than perfect with five stars. Why? Because there was something extra special about that book—a wonderful plot twist I didn’t see coming, a character I completely identified with, an idea I’d never seen before, a moving scene that etched itself into memory—that set it apart from others I’d read previously and sometimes for all time. An example of this would be the novel The Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. It was a normal horror story until the last pages, where it rocked my world, and set me on a buying spree to try to get my hands on everything these authors have written. It had its failings as a book, but that didn’t matter. To me, it had earned all five stars with its stellar ending.
In summary, don’t worry so much about perfect scores. Focus instead on trying to achieve the most people possible enjoying your books, which comes through steady solid rankings of many people not just loving your work, but liking it as well.

Blurb:  In a desperate effort to halt her transformation to vampire, and stop her longing for the sultry Devlin, Sarelle willingly takes a drug to kill her desire, even as Danial prepares for the introduction of their son Theoron at a Vampire Gathering on New Year’s Eve. Faced with Theo’s betrayal at the eleventh hour, Sarelle must either trust in Danial to save her, or join forces with Devlin, revealing her secret desire for him.

Excerpt: The clock chimed eleven. Worried, I glanced outside, wondering if Aran would call to cancel. He’d said he’d be going by on an errand for Cia, but the sky was dull white now. The impending storm forecasted for noon might begin at any moment.
            There was no sign of him.
            We were supposed to get a foot or more, something that irritated me. We’d gotten three feet so far this season. With no warm days to melt any of it, the drifts were huge, surrounding the plowed driveway like tall mountains.
            I let out a yawn, blinking my eyes. With the completion of the cookies, despite my eagerness earlier, my utmost desire was a long nap under a warm blanket. Grinning, I made a deal with myself that as soon as the snow flew, the couch was where I was headed. Until then, I needed to keep on track. I hurriedly did some light cleaning and laundry. I was just putting the vacuum cleaner away when the clock chimed twelve.
I cast a look outside. Snowflakes had begun to fall. Soon, they were falling fast and furiously, obscuring my view of the barn.
            “C’mon, Aran,” I said, scanning the drive. “You don’t get here shortly, I’m walking down those cookies to the mailbox and you can eat them frozen.”
            All of a sudden, the snow-dampened roar of a motorcycle was heard in the silence. Aran drove down the driveway, his lone headlight catching the snowflakes in its circular light as they fell. He was dressed in his usual black leather.
            “You’re crazy,” I muttered, throwing cookies into a plastic bag quickly. “Maybe werefoxes don’t get as cold as normal humans did, but you still have to be cold in that.” I closed the bag, then headed for the front door. “At least it’s something between you and the pavement.”
            Aran pulled up in front of the deck and parked the bike, but didn’t turn it off. He faced the house for a moment. As I opened the door, he gestured around him, then pointed to my house.
            I opened the door and yelled to him, “Sure, you can stay ‘til it stops. I’m glad of the company. Go to the bottom garage, I’ll let you in!”
            He nodded, the visor of his helmet and his shoulders already covered in snow. He drove on as I shut the front door and ran downstairs. Pressing the button, I raised the overhead door and he drove in.
            Shivering in the cold blast from the door, I quickly shut it as he parked his Harley and shut off the engine. He began brushing the snow off himself.
            “Why’d you bring the bike today of all days?” I said, giving him a sarcastic smile. “I told you it was going to storm. Now you’re stuck here. Cia’s not going to be happy.”
            Aran got off his bike and continued to brush him and it off, melting snow creating puddles on the concrete floor.
            “Why don’t you give me your coat, and I’ll put it near the fire. If you want, we can watch a movie or something. I was planning to head to the couch any—”
            Aran unbuckled his helmet and in one smooth motion pulled it off his head. Gold curls and waves fell almost to his shoulders.
            This was not Aran.
            This was Devlin.
            He stepped off the bike, and came toward me. I was lost from the moment I looked into his golden eyes.

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  1. A fantastic post. I do have to be touched in some way to give a book 5 stars. It is something intangible & I could not even begin to explain. I will give an amazing book 4 stars & books I enjoyed 3. Less than that I don't leave my thoughts. I'm not a professional reviewer. I'm a reader. Most times I forget to leave my thoughts - I should more.


    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Mary :) I feel the same way, really. I only began leaving reviews after I became an author, and was in such desperate review straits. Hope you are enjoying Spring!

  2. I enjoyed this post. Going on the Goodreads star system, I really have to LOVE a book to rate it 5 stars. Most books that I really like, I leave 4 stars. I sometimes leave less than 3 stars, but usually because I rated the story at 4+ stars, but the grammar and typos just overwhelmed me. And I'll say that in the review - loved the story, would have been higher rating, but for xxx. I hate picking apart someone's work because I know they put so much of themselves into it. I am not a professional reviewer, just an avid reader who had a really, really picky language teacher for 5 straight years in school.

  3. Very good post, Tara. I agree too much emphasis is put on stars. Maybe everyone can get back to the enjoyment of reading instead of rating the books with stars!


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