1 star: This book was terrible. It had barely any redeeming features and I didn’t enjoy it.
2 stars: This book was OK. There were a few things I enjoyed about it, but overall it wasn’t great.
3 stars: This book was good. It had a number of flaws but I still enjoyed it and the positives outweighed the negatives.
4 stars: This book was great. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a riveting read.
5 stars: This book was exquisite. It thrilled me to my core and you need to read it. All the elements of this book worked together seamlessly to create something wonderful. It may have had a few minor flaws, but they didn’t detract from my resounding enjoyment.
How I review
While I like to vary my reviews so they don’t all follow the same structure and remain fresh, there are a number of elements I try to assess to gauge how good the book was. These are:
Characters: What were their personalities like and how did their relationships with one another work?
Plot: was it exciting/confused/slow/dramatic/convoluted/unpredictable? Did it flow?
The world and world-building: Was the world unique and did the world-building give me a rich sense of the setting?
Written style and narrative: At its core, what was the style like? How did it make me feel?
Pacing: Did the book drag on or was it evenly-paced? Did I feel like events were moving too fast?
Other elements I look at: Tone, language use, genre conventions, comparison to other books in the series or other works by the author, magic systems, romance, cliches, figurative language and metaphors, endings.
Of course, I can’t include every one of these in my reviews, so I select the features that I found most striking and build my review out of those. Sometimes I write more formal reviews and sometimes I have fun with them, it usually depends on how I feel about the book.