Digital Reads Reviews

Why my reads are no longer 5 stars?

why my reads are no longer 5 stars
Digital Reads Reviews is a blog-haven for book posts and tech tips. This is a discussion post about why my reads no longer garner 5 stars. @Shalini_G26

My passion

In the recent times, I find myself no longer gushing about books. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading, and it is the one passion that has not allowed me to give in to depression. But in the recent times, I find myself being more critical about the books. Very rarely would I allow myself to let go of small errors. 

My rating has always been based on how the book made me feel. But nowadays I find myself not rating more than 3.5 or 4 stars. I am not sure if the writing quality has gone down, or am I reading too many of the same plot arcs? Or is it the overall global sadness that seems to have taken over some of us who have seen deep sorrows in the pandemic? 

What I want from my reads now

I never thought a world crisis would affect me to this extent. I wouldn’t qualify myself as an empath, but I think when humanity goes through the greatest number of strikes against it, something in me switches off. To distract me from my thoughts, I need the books to be powerful and sing pure in the genre it purports to be. 

If the author promises me a thriller, then they better give me those thrilling moments wherein my heart races and I feel alive. If it is supposed to be a romance, then it should make my heart go gooey. And so on and so forth. 

The beginning

When I started blogging, I used to be fiery, authentic in my reviews. What was good was really awesome, and what was bad was the pits. But then I started doing blog tours and met up with some authors, I realized the hardwork that went in writing a book. My book is still in the outline process, haven’t had the time to sit down and formulate the words. So I understand the dedication and time needed to write a book. 

But the basic point is reviews are for other readers. Not for the author, not for the publishing houses. But it is a sword that we keep hopping on. If the reviews are not written diplomatically, then we bloggers don’t get the books in the future. Same condition is held by the book tour organizers. All of them might have their own reasons. And so do I. 

To me, it feels the authors and publishers have forgotten to take the reviews as a learning lesson to know where they have gone wrong or right. Instead they use it as a tool to deny or accept readers. I have had to face many such problems in the past. 

The title of this book resonated with me, hence the pic. 

Until

The pandemic occurred, and such things no longer mattered. Humans did. Human lives did. 

Now I read books that I want to read. Most of them are either mine or via Kindle Unlimited or borrowed from a friend of mine. Those who know me on instagram, then these borrowed ones are usually stolen. But that is a story for another time. Keep this secret down and low, my friend still comes in search of me and her books. I do get books from NetGalley. But I don’t obsessively request them anymore.

I bought many books based on reviews written for book tours. And I was massively fooled. Money is scarce for some of us who have gone through the financial crisis brought on by the pandemic.

No more

So, I think I am going back to my roots of not being so diplomatic, even if it offends some. My reviews are going to be for readers who spend their hard earned money to buy the books. My stars will no longer shine in the level 5 stratosphere all the time, unless the book is fantabulous and invokes in me all my emotions, but stay in the normal 3 or 4 level. To authors who send me a request to read your books, do so only if you want to read the truth of how your writing made me feel. 

My motto

Carpe diem. Seize the day. Live the moment. Read books that make me feel good. Don’t waste time on books where the writing does not capture me from the first chapter. Life is too short. I lost too many in the two years. Too many repercussions of not being well. Now I need to read books that help me heal from the inside out and transport me to a new world for a few hours. 

I may appear to have rambled here, but brain synapses do occur so fast. Mine did, and I went with the flow. 

Has your reading changed like mine did? Do you DNF?

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22 Responses

      1. I feel cheated most of the times with ‘new’ authors. Goodreads recommendations I take with a large pinch of salt. Wondering whether I should start re – reading instead of picking up new books.

        1. I read the negative reviews as they are honest and then I take a call if a book is for me.
          recently read a book of an author I knew, everyone gushed but there were so many mistakes that it left me wondering what was good about that book. I had bought that book based on other praises showered on it but what a waste of my money. That one book could have bought a strip of blood pressure medicine for my mom. That led me to realize I don’t want to be diplomatic anymore.

    1. I too feel 3 or 4 is for a good book and 5 stars would be for the books that take me to a different high. I need to clear instead of being diplomatic.
      by the way did you get my comment on your recent post. my net got wiped out suddenly so could you check I am in spam.

  1. OMG Shalini! This post totally resonated with me. I’ve been feeling that way going on several years now. Very rarely do I find a book anymore that I deem worthy of five stars. It seems most of them only rank 3 or 4 stars with me, with an occasional/rare 5 stars. I’ve had more DNF books the past year or so than I’ve ever had before. Maybe it’s because the market is so oversaturated with books now that finding something fresh and original is becoming almost unheard of (even in my own works, I struggle to come up with something unique). Maybe it is the current times. Or maybe I’m just getting old and jaded. But I can totally relate to this post. It’s not just you, baby. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. OMG did it? I tell you Leslie, I wrote on the flow. No idea how my brain worked, but that emotional tiredness of gushing over every book has come over. None of my recent reads, even the bestsellers, have been fantastic. I don’t want to be diplomatic anymore. I recently bought a couple of books and they were not good at all, then realized that bloggers had wanted to support friends so it was not the true review of the book. Now I am stuck with duds and a big waste of money which could be spent elsewhere.
      hence I want to gush about books that make me really happy.

      1. Totally understandable, Shalini. It’s hard to tell anymore which reviews are legitimate and which are from friends of the author. I’ve read a couple of “bestsellers” that had raving reviews and I was like, “WTF? Where did all the 5-star reviews come from? I hated the book. It was terrible.” Sigh 🙂 Here’s hoping you find a 5-star read soon… 🙂 🙂

  2. Hi Shalini, hope you’re doing okay and sending you hugs for the past couple of difficult years and the awful losses you’ve experienced.

    It’s your blog and your reviews so it’s only right that you run it in the way that you feel represents your reading experience. The different ratings mean such different things to different readers/reviewers anyway. There are those who will never give a 5 because even a tiny niggle or a typo will effectively deduct a point or they will have one book that is there and that’s the benchmark for all others to aspire to but never reach. Others will give loads of books a 5 because they’ve loved reading them but the words in their written review would suggest there’s a scale within that 5 where some books are clearly a 5+++ for them but others are on the 4/5 border.

    My personal take (as a reader rather than an author) is that, when we read a book, so much else is going on that affects how we feel about it and whether it is worthy of that 4 or 5 star. You mention all the problems in the world at the moment and mental health, all of which are going to be weighing a reader/reviewer down even though books are for escapism. Sometimes a theme in a book will resonate with us but the way the author addresses it doesn’t work for us and leaves us with a disconnect purely because of our own circumstances and not necessarily because it’s badly written. Another book might come along which takes us somewhere else – perhaps through the thrill of a chase, allowing us to cry, making us laugh, wrapping us up in a warm hug – and the timing of that book/those characters/the key messages is so perfect for us that it blows us away. But if we’d read it at another time, we’d maybe enjoy it but not think ‘wow’.

    I say stay honest and stay you. Hope you find your way back to the books that heal your soul xx

    1. Hello Jessica, thank you for all the words of support you have showered upon me in the past two years. The world I knew it has changed completely. I love reading. I realized that I can read anything that interests me, doesn’t have to be pure fiction. I started reading about space when things happened on Earth. News about galaxies and planets and other things attract me more.

      During the pandemic, it so happened a casual comment on my friend’s blog caused a tour organizer whom you also know send me a catty email that instead of lamenting about not receiving an invitation to the tour, I should not look to tour organizers for free books and buy my own. This happened on the day I had lost my patient to COVid and so many deaths occurred.

      That removed the mask from my heart. All that I felt just crashed. I was supporting people who couldn’t show empathy based on one lone comment in some blog. In reply to the horrible person who sent me such a mail, I explained that she could show empathy especially when she too had undergone pain and seen the effects of COVID. In succession, without my say-so, other elite tour organizers removed me from their mail, then I left the others. I was just a way for them to get more business. That’s not reading. that’s not my passion. It was ironical that the same organizer after sending me a dirty email which didn’t even have a -how are you- invited me for another tour, after accusing me in not so many words of being a thief.

      And even though problems arise, we as readers now know how to choose books. I choose urban fantasy when I am going through a lot of problems. So my reviews are purely based on what the writing made me feel. I don’t claim to be an island, but I read children’s books when I know I want innocence.

      Also, Racism existed for me that day. I realized that I was being given the books not many bloggers were ready to read, all because I was from a particular country. If books didn’t give them the right outlook, I wouldn’t want to support such authors or organizers.

      We grow in life so our books too have their phases. I started my life with fairy tales, then Noddy, then Enid Blyton, famous five, and other mystery series. My mother put Alfred Hitchcock in my radar. My uncle put forth medical thrillers, my cousins put forth romantic books. So I moved to these genre. As I grew older, I started with historical fiction, used to own 100 of those books. Then came romance but the thrillers had its own place. I loved adventure thrillers along with legal ones. read them for a few years. Then I moved on to romantic suspense exclusively. with Amazon I discovered fantasy.

      my point is every few years, I keep moving to the genre that excites me most. I love murder mystery, but not a fan of police procedural any more. I love women’s fiction but don’t buy dark romance. I read them on KU. I like erotica too and have my phrases of reading them.

      My reviews are going to be mine for readers who spend hard earned money on them, like me because the cost of one book is equal to my parents’ blood pressure medicines for a month. In all my reviews even if I write 3 lines on Amazon. I tell what I liked and what I didn’t like and some books are just okay for no reason at all. My format too has changed so that I am clear what was the deal breaker. In saying that, readers would know if that particular point was a deal breaker for them or not.

      There were many things that went through in these two years. I saw people who stood by me. Then those who just moved on, when I was in pain. Then there were those who didn’t. I learned empathy. I have my bad days when I am mean, but my heart broke for humanity. I still cry at night. So reading is my passion, my hobby, my sole friend on some days and a soul friend on most. But based on people who offer me books to read, my reviews won’t change.

      I have rambled on quite a bit, I hardly spoke in these two years. I am slowly healing one day at a time, one moment at a time.

  3. wow, Shalini. i noticed a change in your reviews and danced with them–much closer to the way i felt on those we both read. i totally agree with your sentiments. i seem to be getting a great deal pickier myself, but having read so many books, and now taking the time to review them, honestly try to see them the way another reader would. if i find it chock full of edit misses, i’ll note that. i’m leaning more towards 3 these days and 4 means i really liked it. 5–yes, that would be a wow and i get as many of those anymore as you do. i’ve talked to the CE about his ratings as well–he tends to the generous side, but they can’t all be 4 and 5 star reads. also, a huge leap in the style and look of your extremely professional looking blog and instagrams. been wanting to commit, i love the look and not sure how you managed it, but so impressive. stay care, Shalini. I know you’ve been through the proverbial mill in your profession while i’ve been quietly existing in my little rabbit hole. but i couldn’t have done so without people like you.

  4. The only time I award 5 stars to a book is if I would read it again . . . Yes, I think that the current crisis has changed us all to some extent Shalini, and caused most of us to recalibrate our lives in some way. ❤📚

  5. The last few years have been hard for all of us, but for some more than others depending on circumstances. I think they have been especially hard for you, but you have hung in there and kept reading and reviewing. My fear is that 2022 is going to be hard also. My suggestion–read some books that exude positivity and fun. Maybe not all the time. I know you enjoy your thrillers and fantasy, but find another niche to add to those as a little relief in addition to the escapism most of us seek when we read.

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