I realized I’d fallen into the habit of giving a 5 out of 5 sometimes simply because I couldn’t point to any specific negatives in a book. Unfortunately this meant that good-but-not-stunning books occupied the same rating as “it blew my socks off” books, and that seemed unfair to the latter. I’m not about to go back and try to re-assess the ratings of more than a thousand items. So instead, I have a slightly different set of standards for a 5 out of 5 going forward, and it boils down to this:
If your book is exciting and interesting enough, and draws me in enough, to leave me babbling to my book-loving husband about it, then it’ll almost certainly get a 5 out of 5 (maybe a 4.5 if I have one or two minor quibbles with the content).
If I can’t find anything in particular wrong with it but it doesn’t move me enough to want to share my excitement with the aforementioned husband, it’s likely to get a 4 out of 5 or, at most, maybe a 4.5. If I give your book a 4 out of 5, please do not take that as an insult. Not every good book can spin me up that much, if just because writing quality is subjective. A 4 means you’ve written a very good book indeed. But if you get a 5 from here on out, you can be sure that your book completely wowed me.