I try to grade books severely. I hate going to Amazon to read about a book and find that everything is rated 4 1/2 or 5 stars. When every book is "the best book I ever read", the Amazon ratings are meaningless. For example, Orson Scott Card's Xenocide, an exceptionally tedious book, currently sports 4 stars on Amazon, while Card's masterpiece, Ender's Game, rates just 4.5 stars, a mere half star separates the completely banal from the Hugo & Nebula award winning novel? How can you trust a rating system like that? I suspect that a lot of authors, and author's agents, and friends of authors, will write 5 star reviews in an attempt to dupe people into thinking their book is THE BEST BOOK I EVER READ. (Because most books on Amazon receive an inflated score, it makes me wonder just how incredibly awful Robert Jordan's 10th book in the Wheel of Time series (At Crossroads of Twilight) must be - it has 2140 reviews written and the average score is only 1 1/2 stars!)

Okay, I admit I once left a 5 star review on Amazon.com for Lin Carter's Invisible Death, which is so amazingly bad it is hilarious. It does rate 5 stars on the unintentional comedy scale! But the review seems to have disappeared. Does Amazon toss out old reviews to save server space? When a book comes out with a new printing or edition, do the old reviews get tossed aside?

I will not deceive you. I love books, I read about 50 a year, and I usually like the books I select to read (Who picks up a book anticipating it will be bad?) But I recognize that even if I enjoy a book, most of them are not marvelous, and very few indeed are classics. Thus, I won't judge on a curve.

One rule: I will only review a book if I have read it cover to cover. It isn't fair to review a book based upon only a portion of the book. Who know's, it may start out poorly and finish strongly. It is hard to think of an example of a book with a poor start but turns out to be wonderful, but I think Fellowship of the Ring falls into this category - yes, I love Lord of the Rings, my favorite books of all, but you gotta admit the first 40 or 50 pages are a slow start. I kept going because I had already enjoyed the Hobbit (which is also a slow start)

A five star book is a classic, it is highly recommended. A five star book is a terrific one that I enjoyed so much it would be worth reading again (though I rarely read books twice). If you are browsing their this site, hoping to find something good to read - start with the books with 5 stars! Five Star books are recommended without hesitation or reservation.

A four star book is recommended. A four star book is an exceptional book, just falling short of classic/masterpiece glory. If you have already read the five star books, well then try some of the four starred beauties.

A three star book is a good, enjoyable read. I like all the three star books. But for one reason or another, they didn't stand out in my mind as possessing any exceptional quality that elevates them above the many other good books out there. Three star does not indicate a mediocre book, rather three stars is a book worth reading.

A two star book is a disappointment. It fails due to poor story, lack of plausability, stereotype characters, or any of the other myriad flaws that can ruin a book. Two star books are not recommended, try something else instead. Life is too short to spend reading two star books.

Awful book. Run away screaming. Don't say I didn't warn you!