Books Between a 3 and a 4-Star Rating

Deciding on the rating of a book can sometimes be difficult. I usually struggle when my opinions and feelings about a book change throughout the reading experience. Some books have great beginnings, while others become outstanding closer to the end. I decided early on not to give half-stars, since that would make me overthink (even more) the rating. Why only give a book 3.5 stars when it could maybe be a 3.75? That decision left me with another problem, though – how to rate books that I enjoyed for the most part, but that I also had more qualms about than I typically do for a four-star read.

There are at least five books that I struggled to decide whether to rate with four or three stars.


Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

The second book in The Farseer Trilogy continues to tell the story of Fitz, who, being the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, is a member of the Farseer royal family. Court intrigue, battles and magic abound in this novel that I rated with four stars after some contemplation. For almost half of the book, the plot doesn’t seem to have a well-defined direction and the pacing is all over the place. However, the rest of the book is engaging and affecting. The characters gain a new life and shine as bright as in the first book in the trilogy, Assassin’s Apprentice.


The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier

In this novel about drug addiction and its possible consequences, Daphne du Maurier mixed two genres, sci-fi and historical fiction, by intertwining two strands via the main character. Richard Young tries a new drug that makes him mentally travel to the 14th century. While in the past, he witnesses various events connected with Isolda, whom he becomes smitten by. Unfortunately, the book is not gripping in its entirety. Very soon the part set in the past gets dull. When Richard has to deal with the results of his addiction, the story becomes engaging and compelling again, though, reason why I ended up rating it with four stars.


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A story about acts of kindness in a time full of hate, All the Light We Cannot See has as main characters Marie-Laure and Werner, who have their lives affected by the Second World War. Although the way in which the book is structured makes it too fragmented and disjointed, I appreciated the ending. There are also several emotive moments, which are beautifully penned. For that reason, I decided to award it four stars instead of three.


Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors

Through the story of a woman in her forties, Sonja, who is battling to learn how to drive, Dorthe Nors delved into loneliness and how families can grow apart. I was intrigued by the past of the main character and her relationship with her sister. The book came to an end too soon, though. I felt that there was far more to learn about the characters. Thus, I decided to rate it with three stars.


The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

This novel has a fascinating main character. Anne Jacob harbours a lot of resentment against her family. When she falls in love with the butcher’s boy, that bitterness only increases. Despite it featuring some funny moments, this is a dark and twisted story. The writing style is both engaging and off-putting in equal measure. But what mainly inclined me to rate it with three stars instead of four was the slightly disappointing ending.


Having just recalled my reading experience of these books, I’ve realised that, when in doubt, I tend to rate a book with four stars when I enjoyed the ending. On the other hand, when a book has an enthusing beginning but my enjoyment decreases as the story progresses or the ending falls short of my expectations, I’m more disposed to rate it with three stars.

Have you read any of these books? Are you sometimes conflicted about how to rate a book? Tell me in the comments!


2 thoughts on “Books Between a 3 and a 4-Star Rating

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    I think I’d agree with you, Susana, that some books start out well and I almost rate it immediately very high… only to feel let down either by the ending itself or the execution more generally.

    Liked by 1 person

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