How I review

Let’s get this straight: I despise spoilers. Nothing ruins a movie for me more than a trailer that is a summary of the plot. So there will be no plot summaries here. There will be a brief teaser at best–enough to give you an idea of the premise, but probably no more than the book blurb will give you. Any comments containing spoilers will be removed.

However, it’s very aggravating when you’ve completed a book and have no one to discuss it with. So there’s a Spoilers Forum here for each reviewed book where you can talk about anything. I will have a post in the Spoilers Forum that supplements the review with any spoiler-laden comments.

My biases (at least the ones I’m aware of) are that I prize characterization over almost anything and I like internal consistency. I don’t like being preached at, but I don’t mind a book that’s trying to make a point. I’m tolerant of a wide range of writing styles, literary or popular. I don’t subscribe to the notion that just because something’s popular means it can’t be art. However, I don’t care for self-consciously  artistic books that seem to elevate technique above story-telling. Techniques should always been in service of the story, not the other way around (I’m looking at you, James Joyce). 

​So here’s how my ratings work:

  • A five-star book is one where I long for and grieve for the ending at the same time, one that I can’t seem to shake, or one that affects my worldview in some way.
  • A four-star book is one that I could escape into with pleasure and will read again.
  • A three-star book is one I liked well enough, but wouldn’t read a second time.
  • A two-star book is one that I struggled to finish or just didn’t like.
  • A one-star book is one that I couldn’t make myself finish or hated.

You may agree; you may not. But any book here, one-star through five, will meet the minimum standards of being sufficiently well-produced and competently written so that our differences will be matters of taste rather than basic quality. Of course, we may disagree on what constitutes “competently written,” but where’s the fun in a review without the possibility of debate?

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