Stars and Signs

How do I pick the books to review?

The books can be anything from an entry to a reading challenge, a personal favorite, or something that I was curious about. I mainly use Goodreads to trawl for more books, but I've also gotten good recommendations for obscure (at least to me) books from Youtube channels that do read aloud content.

I almost exclusively read fiction. I particularly like crime/mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror/thriller genres.

Where do I buy the books from?

I get my books either from Amazon, or a local online bookseller, or a secondhand bookshop as I prefer physical copies over digital. But I'm running out of space to store my books, so I've been trying Google Books lately.

I prefer e-books over audiobooks because I can concentrate easier if I read the words myself. I haven't tried Kindle yet though.

What do I include in my reviews?

Most of my reviews are split roughly into 3 parts.

First will be some general feedback or background on the book, the author, the challenge I'm doing etc.

The next will be some interesting book covers that I found and liked. This is the part I like best, to be honest.

The last will be the actual "review", what I thought of the characters and plots and so on.

What plugin do I use to write the reviews?

I use the Recencio Book Reviews plugin. It's the only plugin that I've seen so far that is dedicated to book reviews and it has many cool features that help to organize my virtual bookshelf.

It also comes with shortcodes and widgets to display, categorize, and filter the books that I've read. And the best thing is that it's free.

What do you base reviews on?

The plugin that I'm using gives me an option to either rate using a 5-Star System or by using a customizable Review Criteria. I use the Review Criteria as basis in my reviews.

The rating for each criteria goes by increments of 0.1, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.

Ratings:
<3 - I hated it 3 - 4 - It wasn't bad, but it wasn't spectacular >4 - 4.5 - It was

I then convert the score from the Review Criteria to the number of stars, so you'll see both indicators in the review page.

Scoring System

  • Less than 3 (Chuck it in the bin; joke, donate it)

It was atrocious and/or I hated it. Usually the story didn’t make sense or the situations or characters didn’t help the plot in anyway.

  • 3.1 to 4.0 (Possibly worth a reread in the future) 

It wasn’t bad in some parts but the rest were meh and didn’t stand out particularly.

  • 4.1 to 4.5 (In my TBRR – To Be Reread pile)

It was overall good and well-written. There were some less than spectacular parts but the story generally gives a satisfying and enjoyable feeling.  

  • 4.5 to 5.0 (Stays on my bedside table or fast-tracked to the top of the TBRR list) 

Consistently very good or close to perfection. It’s the kind of book that you read everywhere. It makes me want to read it as soon as I finish it, or hunt the next installment in the series. 

The Review Criteria

So what are the criteria that a book is being reviewed on?

Plot

Did the story make any sense? Were there dull points throughout the book? Did the plot twist surprise me (in a good way)? Did the ending make me want to read it again and/or look forward to more? 

Characters

Were the characters likeable and/or relatable? Were they annoying? Did they pull their weight in terms of helping the story move forward?

Setting/Atmosphere

Was it a unique environment? Can you picture the mood during the scenes? Can you imagine yourself in the story?

Writing Style

Did the writer bore you with stale dialogues and passages or left you scratching your head in the end? Was there a reliance on deus ex machina to tie up the story? Did the novelist write so beautifully that you are transported inside the story?

Enjoyment Factor

Is the book so riveting that you can’t put it away until you’ve finished reading it? Will you want to reread it in the future? Was the story gratifying in the end?

Before you head off to find books that you might enjoy...

Caveat Lector! Reader Beware!

I have neither the skill nor the training to be a book critic, and as such, you’d find the reviews focusing on how much enjoyment was derived from reading the book. I read as a pastime and my choice of books is limited to the topics I’m interested in.  

While that may be helpful to a casual reader, I’m compelled to yell “Look out!”, and encourage you to mosey if you’re looking for a scholarly treatise on the technicalities of the storytelling.

Want to go to my bookshelf and select which ones you can add to your To Be Read list?

My Bookshelf Index has a list of books that I’ve read and reviewed. You can search for your next book by title, author, genre, series, rating, and even publisher!

It also lists the different challenges that I’m doing and how the progress is for each of them. 

You’ll also see the book that I’m currently reading!

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