The eternal struggle of rating books

In March I’ll have been running this blog for 4 years. That’s so crazy to me! It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but I guess it has. I started this blog shortly after I graduated from college and before I was working full-time or had completed my Master’s. Apparently that was 4 years ago! Over that amount of time, I feel like my ratings have become more consistent. Early on, I definitely gave more five star ratings than I do currently. This is basically a short rundown of how I rate books these days.

discussion posts

Firstly, if it was just up to me, I would probably give half-star ratings (and I do occasionally). But since Goodreads doesn’t allow half-star ratings, I try not to do that unless I have to. I want my ratings on here to match the stars I give a book on Goodreads.

One Star

I rarely give out one star ratings. That’s just because if I dislike a book enough to give it one star, I’ve probably DNFed it and I don’t give ratings to books I DNF. Here’s a link to my post about why I DNF books.

Two Stars

I finished it, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t absolutely HATE it, but I wouldn’t generally recommend it.

Recent(ish) two stars: S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett, Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howard, Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

Three Stars

This book was okay. Pretty good even. I didn’t hate it, but there’s still room for improvement in my opinion. Maybe the writing wasn’t great, the characters were a little annoying, the world wasn’t convincing, or the plot was lacking. It’s not something that I would necessarily recommend, but it was fine.

Recent three stars: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, Love á la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Four Stars

I liked this book a lot and would highly recommend it! Maybe there were a couple little things that didn’t make sense or jive with me, but I’m willing to overlook them!

Recent four stars: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, Sadie by Courtney Summers, The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Five Stars

As I said earlier, I have definitely become more selective with my five star reviews. At this point, a five star comes when I absolutely LOVE a book. If I finish it, close the cover, and then hug the book (or my Kindle) to my chest (possibly holding back tears, but that’s optional), it’s a five star book.

Recent(ish) five stars: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

How do you rate books? Do you find you’re freer or more stingy when handing out five star ratings? Do you ever one star books or do you just DNF? Do you do partial star ratings?
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Food and drama and family, oh my | Love á la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm [ARC]

Love a la ModeRosie and Henry are both on their way to Paris to live at the Ecole. It’s a culinary high school for teens around the world who love to cook. Rosie is from a small town in Ohio and isn’t sure if she really belongs at the Ecole since her passion is baking, not cooking. Henry is from Chicago and just wishes that his mom would get off his back and let him do what he loves–cook. Both Henry and Rosie will need to prove to themselves that they really belong in Paris and along the way, they may find something else as well–it is the city of love after all.

TL;DR – Loved the food aspect, but everything else (characters, drama) felt exaggerated and shallow.

I really, REALLY liked the premise of this book. I’m not an awesome cook or anything, but I can appreciate good food and I love watching Food Network. Honestly, this book read like it was written by somebody who also just enjoys watching Food Network and doesn’t know much about the culture of cooking, etc. The main characters were in awe of a chef who won Chopped four times…I just have a hard time believing that’s actually what Michelin star winning chefs actually care about. I also questioned teenagers being sent to Paris for high school? But I guess people send their kids to boarding schools all the time, so maybe it’s not that weird.

The characters were okay for me. They seemed relatively immature and there was a bit of an instalove component between Henry and Rosie. I thought the friend group had the potential to have a great dynamic, but in the end it fell kind of flat for me. I felt like each secondary character was a stereotype or caricature of their culture…they all just felt so exaggerated.

Plotwise, again, the book was just okay. The drama between Henry, Rosie, and Bodie felt SUPER fabricated. Henry and Rosie are pretty much with each other 24/7 and they can’t find two seconds to talk and clear the air? I also didn’t appreciate how angry Henry would get at Rosie doing things with Bodie. Henry and Rosie weren’t actually dating and Rosie doesn’t owe him ANYTHING. I mean, she does end up liking Henry, but even if she did like Bodie, Henry has NO RIGHT to be upset about that.

The last criticism I have is how the author treated Henry’s “tiger mom”. Henry is Korean and his mom is super involved with his academics–even going as far as to email his teachers in Paris. To me, it feels like an Asian tiger mom can really be portrayed in a bad light and I feel like Henry’s mom was mostly portrayed negatively in this book. I feel like the tiger mom thing was used as a plot device to inject more drama into the story. Henry’s mom felt like just another character exaggeration and I didn’t really appreciate that coming from a white author.

Overall, this book was just okay. I liked the descriptions of food (hard to go wrong there), but the book itself didn’t really have any weight or depth. I’d probably advise a pass on this one.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.