Writing Reviews: My Rating System (caitsbooks.com)

Writing Reviews – My Rating System

The longer I’ve been writing book reviews, the more confused I get with my own rating system.

Rating are hard. I really struggle with them. Since I use Goodreads a lot (shameless plug- add me as a friend), I wanted to keep things consistent and rate every book out of 5 stars. However, with so many people rating books from 1-5 stars, everyone now has their own meaning behind what a 5 star/3 star/1 star book is. Even my own meaning has changed.

So, for the sake of clarification, I want to explain what my ratings mean, and give some examples for each!

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Caitsbooks Reviews Graceling by Kristen Cashore - 3.75 Stars

Graceling by Kristen Cashore – Is It As Good As People Say? (Review)

Overall: 3.75/5 Stars
Characters: 4/5
Setting: 3.5/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Plot and Themes: 4/5
Awesomeness Factor: 3.75/5
Review in a Nutshell: I went into this book with crazy high expectations, and while it didn’t quite meet all of them, it was still a great read.

“Mercy was more frightening than murder, because it was harder.”

[ Related: August Favorites & My September TBR ]

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// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Torture, Animal Death, Murder, Incest (hinted at), Pedophelia (hinted at), sexual assault (hinted at), Human Trafficking (Mention) //

“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?”

Release Date: 10/01/2008
Publisher: Harcort
Page Count: 471
Premise:
Katsa is a Graceling. She was born with an innate gift. Except, while some people were Graced with fighting, telepathy, or music, Katsa was Graced with killing. Used as the king’s pawn, Katsa is sent across the kingdom threatening and torturing whoever the king tells her to, but what he doesn’t know is that she has her own missions, helping those who need it. On one of those missions, she meets Po, the youngest prince of a faraway kingdom. The two of them must work together to solve a mystery that threatens his family, but they didn’t expect to fall in love, or uncover a secret that threatens everything they know.

Read more for all of my thoughts on Graceling!

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Caitsbooks Reviews: Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco - 5 Stars

Capturing The Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco – I Can’t Believe It’s Over

Overall: 5/5 Stars
Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Plot and Themes: 5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 5/5
Review in a Nutshell: Capturing The Devil is an amazing end to a series that has captured the hearts of so many fans. While I’m sad it’s over, I couldn’t imagine a better finale.

“Perhaps some monsters were immortal after all.”

[ Related: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco – Review ]

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// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Assault, Torture (Mention), Mature Content, Rape (Mention), Drugged, Animal Death, Murder, Mental Illness, PTSD, Homophobia, Kidnapping/Abduction //

“I had been stalked and hunted and had escaped thus far.
I’d now be the one setting a trap for this monster.”

Release Date: 9/10/2019
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Page Count: 448
Premise:
Capturing the Devil is the final book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. Audrey Rose and Thomas now found themselves in America, where a series of disappearances has them on the hunt for an elusive murderer. The two of them must try to catch the killer, while also trying to hold onto their future together.

“Love is immortal. Death can neither touch nor steal it. Especially when it’s true.”

Writing & Setting

If you’ve read the first three Stalking Jack the Ripper books (which I really hope you have because this isn’t a series you can just pick and choose which ones you want to read), then you already have an idea of how Kerri Maniscalco writes, and the atmospheric settings she depicts. Her writing has only gotten better in each book. There are so many powerful lines and impactful quotes from this book. The setting itself is also really well done. With each book, Kerri Maniscalco manages to create a completely new setting but still maintains that overall creepy and unsettling toneCapturing the Devil may have one of the scariest places in this series, which is saying something.

“The devil was here.
He’d finally stepped out from my nightmares and had come to claim me.”

Plot

This book has some twists. I know, you’re probably thinking: “Of course it does! Every book in this series has some sort of twist at the end!” You’re right, but usually, I can predict where the book is going. Even if I can’t guess the twist exactly, I have an idea of what’s coming. Yeah, that didn’t happen in this one. I knew what to expect with some things (I was already familiar with the case this book is about before going into it– speaking of which, don’t expect completely historical accuracy here), but there were a couple of other things that surprised me. Because this book actually managed to blindside me with some of it’s twists, it was completely impossible to put down. I had some trouble with other books in the series being a little slow, but this one did not have that problem AT ALL. I was addicted from the start, and until the very last page.

“I was the queen of death. A princess of corpses. Everything I touch decayed”
and she calls Thomas dramatic

Characters

Listen, Escaping From Houdini definitely hurt Audrey Rose’s standing in my ever-growing list of great protagonists. The decisions she made in that book weren’t great. However, Capturing the Devil seems to recognize that and was able to fix some of that damage. This book showcases all of the amazing character development she went through in this series, and by the end, I forgave her for how much she hurt Thomas in the previous book. Speaking of Thomas– he is just so perfect. He really is the perfect feminist love interest, even his flaws are compelling. I feel like in each book, we slowly see more and more of him, and every new thing makes me love him even more.

“Beyond life, beyond death. My love for thee is eternal.”

[ Related: Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) by Kerri Maniscalco – ARC Review ]

Conclusion

Pros- The twists really got me, the setting is amazing, and oh my god I would die for Thomas Cresswell
Cons- Why does this series have to end? I’m not ready
Overall- 5/5 stars.
Capturing The Devil was a roller coaster. Full of twists and turns, this book is an epic conclusion to a series that has fully encased itself in my heart.

“If there’s one thing man cherishes above greed, it’s hope. Without it, people would cease to dream. Without dreamers, civilizations crash.”

If You Liked Capturing The Devil, I’d Recommend:

Bonus! More Quotes I Love:

“When I was adventuring between the pages of books, I wasn’t sad over things I was missing outside.”

“We didn’t need to complete each other; we complemented each other.”

“Death will come for us all one day. Worrying about tomorrow only accomplishes ruining today.”

“The present is more glorious than the future and all of it’s unknowns.”

“My love for you will be a constant in a sea on unknown variables.”

“The only thing that terrifies me is the possibility of living with regret.”

“Do not relinquish your grasp on hope. It’s one of the best weapons anyone possesses.”

“I long to live in a world where equal treatment is not something in need of commending.”

“Don’t condemn yourself for moving on, or for living.”

“The devil stood waiting for me. Silent and watchful as always, as he welcomed me back to his dominion of darkness.”

“To stop the devil, I had to be more wicked than he.”

“Now I’d seen enough of the world to know sometimes in order to fight the darkness, you had to become a blade forged of heavenly fire. The devil was a monster, but I would become his nightmare.”

“There was no greater force on earth, nothing quite as powerful as love. Neither hatred nor fear could ever hope to possess the same amount of strength.”

“I was capable of so much more than I’d ever imagined.”

“I would not go quietly into the darkness.”

“Beware of trusting beautiful creatures. They hide the most wicked surprises.”

“The world needed to be better. And if it wasn’t possible for it to be better, we, its inhabitants, needed to do better.”

Are you excited for Capturing the Devil? Have you finished it yet? If you have, what did you think?

Also, a kinda morbid question, but what do you think is the weirdest or most terrifying unsolved case?

- Cait






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Caitsbooks Reviews Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith: 2.5 Stars

Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf #1) by Crystal Smith – A Quick Read, But Is It Good?

Overall: 2.5/5 Stars
Characters: 2.5/5
Setting: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Plot and Themes: 2/5
Awesomeness Factor: 2/5
Review in a Nutshell: Bloodleaf is an okay read, but overwhelmingly so. Nothing about it is unique or amazing enough to make it stand out from the YA fantasies it finds itself similar to.

“The wolves howl, Aurelia, and there may come a time when I will no longer be able to hold them back.”

[ Related: Disney-A-Thon Wrap Up! ]

// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Assault, Torture, Suicide Mention, Self Harm (for magic), Rape Mention, Animal Death, War Themes, Murder //

“I’m just as lost and confused and lonely as anyone else.”

Release Date: 3/12/2019
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Page Count: 384
Premise:
Bloodleaf is a loose retelling of The Goose Girl. It follows Princess Aurelia, a blood-magic wielder in a kingdom where witches are the enemy. With her people eager to see her burn, Aurelia is sent to the neighboring kingdom for her safety, and to meet the prince she has been betrothed to since childhood. But when she is betrayed, Aurelia is forced to disguise herself as a commoner as she uncovers a plot that could destroy everything.

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Caitsbooks Reviews: Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin (5 Stars)

Serpent and Dove (Serpent and Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin – My New Obsession (ARC Review)

Quick Stats:

Overall: 5/5 Stars
Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Plot and Themes: 5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 5/5
Review in a Nutshell: Serpent and Dove felt like it was made for me. From the characters to the setting, everything was well crafted and absolutely addictive. 

“A witch and a witch hunter bound in holy matrimony. There was only one way such a story could end–a stake and a match.”

[ Related: 15 September 2019 Book Releases ]

// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Assault, Mature Content, Suicide Mention, Self Harm (for magic), Rape Mention, Murder, Illness //

“They might’ve all been hypocrites, but I was the biggest of all.”

Release Date: 9/3/2019
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Page Count: 528
Premise:

Serpent and Dove follows Louise la Blanc, a witch who fled her coven, and Reid Diggory, a witch hunter. After a chaotic second meeting, Lou and Reid must marry to save his reputation, and Lou would rather face the pyre than the enemies chasing her. However, when feelings grow, what was first a simple arrangement becomes infinitely more complicated.

Read more to see why I adore Serpent and Dove!

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Caitsbooks Reviews: Well Met by Jen DeLuca - 5 Stars

Well Met by Jen DeLuca – Not Your Typical Fairytale Romance (ARC Review)

*Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own. Quotes are from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.*

Overall: 5/5 Stars
Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Plot and Themes: 5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 5/5
Review in a Nutshell: Well Met is just pure fun. This book is adorable, entertaining, and full of heart. 

“I didn’t choose the wench life. The wench life chose me.”

[ Related: 12 Summer Romances (6 YA + 6 Adult) ]

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// Content Warning: Insecurities around not being enough, depression//

“Birthday wishes were allowed to be lofty. I blew out the candles and let those wishes fly away with the wisps of smoke. The ones that were meant to be would come back.” 

Release Date: 9/3/2019
Publisher: Berkley
Page Count: 336
Premise:

When Emily’s sister got in an accident, she dropped everything to help her and her niece. So when said niece needs an adult to volunteer with her at the Renaissance Faire, she agrees. However, what she didn’t expect was to make an enemy of the man running it, Simon, so quick. He has no patience for Emily and is quick with a critique, but once they get on Faire grounds, he changes completely. He turns into a suave pirate and flirts constantly with Emily’s character, but is it real, or is it just the characters they have to play?

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Caitsbooks Reviews: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson - 5 Stars

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – Did It Survive the Hype? (Review)

Overall: 5/5 Stars
Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Plot and Themes: 5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 5/5
Review in a Nutshell: Sorcery of Thorns reminded me why I love standalone fantasies. With a unique world and magic system, great characters, and a fun plot, you won’t want to put this book down.

“It was always wise to be polite to books, whether or not they could hear you.”

[ Related: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (Review) ]

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// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Panic Attacks, Imprisonment, Murder, Sexual Assault (Mention), Mental Illness, Forced Hospitalization, PTSD, Misogyny //

“She wasn’t a wielder of chains; she was a breaker of them. She was the library’s will made flesh.”

Release Date: 6/4/2019
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)
Page Count: 456 
Premise:

Elizabeth is a child of the library. Growing up in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, she has always dreamed of becoming a Warden, guarding the living grimoires that line the shelves and protecting the kingdom from Maleficts- monsters that arise from damaged grimoires. She has also been raised to hate the Sorcerers that use the grimoires. But when the library is sabotaged and Elizabeth tries to save the kingdom from a Malefict, she is accused of being the saboteur. She is sent with Nathaniel Thorn, a sorcerer, and his companion, Silas, to face justice, but instead, she uncovers a conspiracy that only the three of them together can stop.

Read more to see why I gave Sorcery of Thorns 5 Stars!

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Caitsbooks Reviews: Rage ARC by Cora Carmack (3 Stars)

Rage (Stormheart #2) by Cora Carmack – The Sequel Slump (ARC Review)

*Quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication*

Overall: 3/5 Stars
Characters: 3/5
Setting: 4/5
Writing: 2.5/5
Plot and Themes: 3/5
Awesomeness Factor: 3/5
Review in a Nutshell: Rage was a good read, but it may not be worthwhile if you didn’t really love Roar.

“I wanted to choose my own life, rather than having it chosen for me.”

[ Related: Roar by Cora Carmack – Fun, but Nothing Special (Review) ]

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// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Assault, War Themes, Murder, Kidnapping/Abduction //

“Life happens how it happens, and you can either move with the maelstrom or die wallowing about the change in the winds.”

Release Date: 8/27/2019
Publisher: Tor Teen
Page Count: 460
Premise:

Rage takes place shortly after the ending of Roar. There isn’t really much I can say without spoiling the plot of the first book, but this one deals more with the politics of the world, including a rebellion that has risen up.

Read more for all of my thoughts on Rage!

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Caitsbooks Reviews: Roar Cora Carmack (3.5 Stars)

Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack – Fun, but Nothing Special

Overall: 3.5/5 Stars
Characters: 4/5
Setting: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Plot and Themes: 3/5
Awesomeness Factor: 3/5
Review in a Nutshell: Roar is a fun fantasy, with plenty of romance and a unique world. However, if you’re only a mild fantasy fan with a big TBR, I would understand skipping this one in favor of others.

“Perhaps death is all that waits for me across the great waters, but better to know death than to choose fear of the unknown.” 

[ Related: July Favorites, The Reading Rush Wrap-Up, and My August TBR ]

// Content Warning: Violence, Sexual Assault (Attempt), Anxiety, Murder, Illness, Imprisonment //

“If there’s one thing I know it’s that freedom shouldn’t feel like a noose around your neck.”

Release Date: 6/13/2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Page Count: 380
Premise:
Roar follows Princess Aurora, who comes from a long line of powerful Stormlings, but holds no Stormling power herself. Desperate to protect her kingdom and her secret, Aurora agrees to her mother’s plan of marrying her off to a Stormling prince from another kingdom, but the more she learns about him, the more her future terrifies her. Disguising herself, Aurora flees the palace and joins group of storm hunters who promise her a way to gain storm magic for herself.

Read more for all of my thoughts on Roar!

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We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal. Caitsbooks Review: 5 Stars

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal – I’ll Never Recover (Review)

[ We Hunt the Flame cover (girl with arrows standing on a cliff overlooking a desert ]

Overall: 5/5 Stars
Characters: 5/5
Setting: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Plot and Themes: 4.5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 5/5
Review in a Nutshell: We Hunt the Flame is a stunning debut. This book is absolutely gorgeous, inside and out. You do not want to miss out on this one of a kind read.

“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

(I know this is the quote everyone is using in their reviews but HOW COULD YOU NOT?? It’s so perfect)

[ Related: Currently Reading – We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Thoughts & Predictions) ]

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// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Assault, Torture, Suicide Mention, Child Abuse, Animal Death, War Themes, Murder, Misogyny //

“A life without purpose may be no life, but a life without love is nothing but an existence.”

Release Date: 5/14/2019
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Page Count: 472
Premise:
We Hunt the Flame takes place in Arawiya, a kingdom divided into five caliphates, inspired by ancient Arabia. Zafira is one of the only people able to venture into the Arz, a magical forest, and come back unaffected. Disguised as The Hunter, she uses this ability to feed her village. But when she is told of a way she might be able to get rid of the Arz forever, she travels to the mysterious island of Sharr. Nasir is an assassin, son of the Sultan and Prince of Death. When his father sends him after The Hunter with orders to find what The Hunter is after then kill him, Nasir does not hesitate. But Sharr is full of ancient magic and forgotten powers, and with old threats rising, their quests, and their lives, are in jeopardy.

Read more for all of my thoughts on this amazing book!!

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