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Books for Thought is where I post a discussion topic related to books, reading, writing, or something related to one of the three. I hope you’ll join in, and discuss today’s topic of

my five star ratings

Since my venture into the world of reviews, I have only ever given out seven five star ratings – and two of which were my favourite books that I had read before blogging. Which kind of reduces my number of five star reviews/ratings to five.


Yeah. Who’s a harsh mistress? That would be me.

Which is why I decided to write this post. Because I wanted to explain the prestigious and utterly magical thing that is my five star rating.

Looking back on my seven reviews, there is one thing that is abundantly clear: love.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: “From the first sentence, this book just drew me completely into its world, and into the mind of the main character, Alina. I simply could not put it down, and I finished it within the day.”

Ignite by Erica Crouch: “You know when you pick up a book, and from the first letter of the first word, of the first sentence, of the first paragraph, of the first page, you are completely sucked into the world the author has created? I, for one, love those books, and I am happy to say that Ignite fits the description perfectly.”

Entice by Erica Crouch: “I devoured this book in one sitting. I simply could not tear myself away from the world that Erica has created.”

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin: “And then, out of nowhere, I was absorbed into the story, the characters, the world, everything. I couldn’t put this book down.”

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty: “I have mentioned before how a book must be pretty spectacular to make me cry. Well, the same goes for making me laugh. Not just any old book will do it. But Sloppy Firsts does.”

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier: “I love everything about this book, which is why I say that it is my absolute favourite.”

The Falconer by Elizabeth May: “There have been few times when I finish a book, close it, and stare at the cover in awe of what I have just finished reading. After I finished The Falconer was one of those few times. I closed it, stared at its cover in awe, and then proceeded to make a high pitched wailing noise because I couldn’t immediately pick up the sequel and enter the world again.”

Which is pretty much my point, right there in those quotes. For a book to receive the almighty five star rating, it has to blow my socks off.


Basically: a book has to make me REALLY REALLY invested in it to be given five stars. I have to love all the characters (even the ones we’re not supposed to love), the writing style, the world, the plot, the relationships, the character arcs, the scene setting, the ending, the middle, the beginning, the EVERY SINGLE THING. I’m not saying that a book has to be perfect. I think every person has a different definition of perfect, and I don’t think any single thing in this world even is perfect. But the book just has to wrap its claws around my heart. I have to be able to remember everything with clarity. I have to be able to think back on my experience with the book, and remember times full of love and obsession. I just have to be completely and utterly in love with the book.


Hiddles – slaying my heart one smile at a time.


What about you – does a book have to be the most spectacular thing in the world to get your five stars? or does any really good book get one? Let me know in the comment section below!


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Posted on: March 20, 2014 • By: Chiara

37 Responses to Shine Bright Like A Five Star

  1. Charleen says:

    I just posted about this on Tuesday! I’m extremely stingy with my 5-star ratings as well… I have 23 5-star books and only one of those is within the year since I started blogging. For me, 4-star books are still very, very good books… but they’re just missing that extra something that grabs at my heart.

    • Chiara says:

      Yes, it’s definitely that extra ‘something’ that brings a 4 or even 4.5 star book up to a 5 star. And I can’t exactly pinpoint it, but it kind of makes my heart ache.

  2. For me, it depends. I’ve given five stars to books that I thought were just about perfect for the reasons that you mentioned (loved the characters, setting, etc etc), and to books that I felt maybe had some downsides. For the latter, it has to be a subject that I REALLY love, and has been executed really well. Maybe I don’t totally love the characters, but when a book is able to make me feel strong emotions, I lean towards giving it five-stars.

    • Chiara says:

      I can definitely be annoyed by some things in a five star book, but in a good way – if that makes sense! And I agree that it is the strong emotions that leads to a five star :D

  3. Lindsey says:

    Okay first off, AHHHHHHHHHH TOM HIDDLESTON!!!! This post automatically gets five stars for including him!!!!!

    Okay now, I completely agree with you Chiara. I’m coming up on my one year of blogging in May and out of all that time I’ve given five stars to four books. I look at three elements when rating books: characters, story and writing. I have to be completely blown away by all three to give a perfect score. If even the slightest thing is off then I can’t give a perfect score, I just can’t. I doesn’t mean the book wasn’t good, but it means that for me, there was something missing.

    Interesting post Chiara, I’m glad you wrote this because I was beginning to feel like I was too critical of books so it’s nice to know I’m not alone. :)

    • Chiara says:

      ISN’T HE JUST A DARLING? Seriously, I am in love with him.
      Yes, exactly! A five star needs to be a blow you away type novel, as well as a captivating and rip at your heart novel, haha. Sometimes, the missing thing may not be identifiable for me, and I think that’s when it gets really hard. I may love every single thing, but I just can’t bring myself to give it that five star rating.
      You’re never alone in the blogging community, Lindsey! :D

  4. I can understand that. ;) Although I’m a bit more relaxed about passing out the 5-stars. I mean, I do reserve it for books that blow my mind, but I guess my mind is blown more often?! ;) Books typically seem to be 4 stars or 2 stars…hehe, where is my in between?!! I do love that first gif, though…eeep. Sammy. XD

    • Chiara says:

      There’s nothing wrong with getting your mind blown often! I kind of wish it was easier for me to find books that leave me blown away!
      I think most of my books are between 3 and 4 stars. I’m glad there’s not too many under that because then it would mean I am reading books I don’t like so much!
      Ohmygosh isn’t Sammy just perfect? *squeals*

  5. Shannelle C. says:

    Mine is given purely based on the feels, haha. I seriously end up handing out far more five stars than many others do, but my friend is able to buy a lot of those books that the blogosphere raves over.

    And aaah, you read The Falconer! Feel my jealousy!

    • Chiara says:

      My five stars also rely heavily on the feels. The characters or the story or the writing style just overwhelm me emotionally and I just throw five stars at it, haha. I generally don’t tend to love the hyped book as much as the rest of the blogosphere. They usually end up with the four star rating – which is also awesome.
      IT WAS SO GOOD. I hope you get to read it soon! :D

  6. Don’t worry about being harsh–I’ve only reviewed TWO five star books on my blog. xD I’ve reviewed a fair number of 4 and 4.5 star ones, but it’s hard to find a book that’ll really WOW me, right? Like you said, these are books that usually drew me in from the beginning to the end. And they have to be memorable. And I have to fall in love with even the villain. Come to think about it, I still haven’t given any book 5 stars this year. TT___TT This is starting to worry me, haha! Anyway, lovely post, Chaira. ^_^

    • Chiara says:

      You’re even harsher than me, haha :P
      Yes, a five star has to be one of those ridiculously special books that just nestles into a space in your heart.
      Champion is the only five star book that I have read this year, and it was at the end of January so it’s been a while, haha. Hopefully you get to read an amazing book soon, Aimee! :D
      And thank you ^.^

  7. Completely understand! Last year I was pretty lenient with my 5 stars but now I’ve only given two so far. It really needs to blow my socks away for me to give it full five stars, I need feels too! This is kinda the reason why I have a whole bunch of 4 star ratings instead haha.

    • Chiara says:

      Fours and four point fives are still really good books! But they just don’t have that x factor’ that a five star book would have.
      And yes the feels – they are definitely a requirement for a five star!

  8. Annie says:

    I pretty much only give 5 star ratings after rereading a book. If I really love it then I’ll give it 4 stars and buy it. But I don’t trust myself after a first read (mostly) because I get caught up in the emotion and love everything about a book. And then I go back and I see it with perspective and it’s good. But the books I’ve given 5 stars to are like you – my absolute favorites where everything works for me wonderfully. So I have to give myself time to decide if it’s *that* good or not.

    • Chiara says:

      That’s such an interesting story! I think sometimes a book might not be as good the second time around… but for two of my five stars, I have re-read them many times and still loved them. So I know I did the right thing by giving them the five star!

  9. Jen says:

    I give away five stars like candy. 32 books have gotten them, so that’s why I installed the shiny, sparkly gold stars. I love shiny and sparkly. Basically, the book has to really dazzle me to get one, and so far only six have done that.

    • Chiara says:

      Oh, wow! At least you’re reading heaps of books. :D
      Yeah, I’ve seen a few people use special stars, or six stars to show that a book is REALLY amazing.

  10. I’m a bit more free with my five star ratings, because I actually have my hidden “six star” rating – and that one I save for the books that completely blow me away and become new favorites of mine. Because to me there’s five stars in that it’s well written and I really enjoyed it, and then there’s the five stars that’s like the world has stopped.

    • Chiara says:

      Haha, ” five stars that’s like the world has stopped” – that’s pretty much my five stars :D They just have to be amazing.
      I can understand why you have an extra star for complete favourites, but I like to keep things easy for myself and have the five star being my hidden special rating :D

  11. Kelly says:

    I used to be a lot looser in my ratings. If I enjoyed a book while reading, it almost always got 4 or 5 stars. Now, there’s a clear distinction between a book I really enjoyed and one that will stay with me, even after I’ve read other books. Only those that I can see staying with me are given 5 stars.

    I’ve actually considered re-reading some of my older 4/5 star reviews to see if they would still hold up, or if I was a bit too free.

    It doesn’t help that with each new five star read, I’m looking at previous 5 star reads and thinking, “do you really belong on the same pedestal as ____?” Makes me question my self!

    • Chiara says:

      Yes! The books that you will think back on remember with love are definitely the ones deserving of a five star. It’s just that extra mile that they have over the four star reads.
      I think re-reading could be fun but also time consuming. And I kind of live by the rule that a book deserves the rating you originally gave it, because that’s what you felt it deserved at that time, you know?
      UGH YES. I always do this. I finish a book I really liked, and then i compare it to my shining five stars. It’s not often that they compare well, I am afraid, haha.

  12. I’m really weird when it comes to find star books. I think it’s because I love most if the books I read. I’m really picky when it comes to choosing a book to read, because I try to make sure I will like it.I also rate a lot depending on feeling, more than technicality.But, to each his own. Great post :)

    • Chiara says:

      I am quite picky when it comes to books I read, which is why most of them receive between 3 and 4.5 stars – which are all really good ratings. But a book just has to have that special something for the five star for me.
      My feelings are pretty much the number one determinant of whether a book is a five star or not. I definitely need a deep emotional connection to a book for it to get a five star rating.
      Thanks, Marianne! :D

  13. Nara says:

    I’m actually fairly free with my 5 star ratings, but that’s only because I have a really different rating system to most people. My rating system overall can sort of be thought of as a rating out of 7 because I have two extra ratings for those super awesome books- “incredible” (which is like a 6/7) and “favourite” (which is a 7/7). So if you go by the number of books that I give a 7/7, it’s quite a small number- 67. Which by itself seems like a large number, but it’s actually 67 out of 1470. Plus a lot of them are in the same series- e.g. all 9 books so far in the PJO/HoO series. So yeah, overall, I definitely don’t give too many of your equivalent of 5 star ratings :)

    • Chiara says:

      It seems like a few people have a special rating system to say: this is a favourite! I’m surprised whole series have been given your ‘favourite’ star! Is it because you love each book, or because you love the series as a whole?
      Five stars (or their equivalent) are just really special ratings to me :D

  14. Lately I’ve been awarding many books this year with 5 star ratings, simply because I have encountered some amazing reads this year! When I think about it, all the books I have given 5 star or 4.5 ratings I have loved, and if I think about it later and think “Well that wasn’t that amazing” I usually decrease my rating. Heck, even books that I rate 4 star attain that status, but I didn’t fully ship it as much as others. Great post Chiara! (now following via Bloglovin)

    • Chiara says:

      Yay for amazing reads! I wish this would happen to me more often. I have read some REALLY good books, but they just haven’t quite made it to my favourites/five star shelf yet.
      I have very rarely ever decreased my rating, because I feel like I’m being unfair to the book. I usually decide on a rating as soon as I finish a read, so I like to see my ratings as a representation of my immediate reaction to a book and I don’t like changing that. But I can see why you would want to. So far, I’ve never felt an overwhelming need to change a rating, so I guess that’s a good thing! :D
      I’m glad you liked it, Jeann! And thanks for the follow ^.^

  15. Brea Johnson says:

    I think I’m a little more free with my five star ratings – I mean, in my case, I still have to absolutely LOVE a book to give a five star, but then there are some stories that rise about and beyond that? I think those are the ones you rate a five, whereas I just let my review (if there is one) tell the difference.
    I do this because the “above and beyond” thing is so completely personal. Just as everyone hates and loves different things, everyone gets those feeling from different places and stories. Why should I only give a great, amazing book I can hardly fault only a four, because I didn’t get the extreme, sensational emotional outburst? I just don’t feel fair doing that!
    If it was so good that I loved it and cannot think of anything negative, then I give it a five. If it completely blew my mind away then I’m going to give it the best damn review it ever had!

    • Chiara says:

      I like your distinction!
      To be fair, though, my 4.5 star ratings are for books that are flawless but just didn’t give me the response of a five star. It might be because they didn’t grab me emotionally, or because something really irked me plot wise, or something else that just prevented me from giving that extra half star.

  16. Last year it probably seemed I gave 5 star ratings easily, but really, it’s because I came across amazing reads. I only give 5 stars to those who truly deserve it — for example Shadow & Bone, Me Before You, The Hunger Games. Like you, the book has to keep me invested from start to finish and blow my mind. If it makes me bawl: bonus, haha.

    • Chiara says:

      Yay for reading heaps of amazing books! I wish that would happen more often, to be honest.
      Yes to Shadow & Bone + THG. They were both five star reads for me, too. :D
      I think a five star reads definitely has to be an investment, and have the ability to blow your mind. I don’t cry often in books, but the most recent one that made me cry also happened to be a five star!

  17. I am very generous with my 5 stars. Or I’m so easily impressed by books. I fall in love too easily. Sometimes I wonder what people think when they see so many 5 stars or favorites on my blog, but I just can’t help it! :P

    • Chiara says:

      Don’t worry about having lots of five stars on your blog! It just means you’re lucky enough to be reading a lot of books that you really love! :D

  18. My rating system after blogging is much harsher than before. I have a lot of three books. Three is a book I’d read once, enjoy, probably recommend borrowing from the library. Four is a book I loved, would pay money for, and would recommend to my friends. Five is HOLY SHIT YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK OR YOU ARE MISSING OUT ON LIFE.

    Holding out for greatness is definitely worth it. Great post and great thoughts!

    • Chiara says:

      Your ratings are very similar to mine! Although there are frequent 3.5 stars in my reviews, haha.

      I feel like they’re all the more special because I don’t give them out often! Thank you, Jess ^.^

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