Overrated Ratings

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We’re readers, we love books, we live books. Stories, chapters, pages are our obsession. Books compel us to explore the world around us and the people who live between the lines move our hearts. The best stories ignite our emotions or teach us something new or inspire us to act.

We aren't here to pick your books for you (you are smart and savvy readers) but we would love to make a few recommendations and share our observations. Even if we all read the same book, each reader has the privilege of a completely unique story experience. It’s one of the most beautiful aspects of books! Our perspectives, experiences, and even our moods change the way we feel about or are entertained by each story (or not). The same book read year after year can evoke different thoughts and emotions for the same reader. 

When we leave a review as an individual on Goodreads or a retail site, readers know we are only speaking of our own personal experience, but a professional review needs to be more, to step back and look at the big picture, consider the audience for the story. We are committed to being as objective and professional as possible but at the end of the day, a review is one person's opinion of the merits and shortfalls of the overall appeal of a story.

When readers look at reviews on a retail site, they don't take one reviewer's word for it, they step back and look at the big picture. As a professional review source, we strive to take that step back as part of our review process. Does that mean we as individual reviewers with our own tastes and preferences will occasionally give a good review for a book that wasn't our cup of tea? Yes, if we believe the book's intended audience would be pleased with the result.

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Our team recognizes that ours are not the only opinions. When you read a review at Hope by the Book, it is written from the perspective of that book’s intended audience as much as possible. Our reviewers do their best to select books which meet their own personal preferences. Rather than criticize books which don’t meet our personal expectations, we prefer to gather the best of the best for you to read. We are also growing, the magazine and our team of reviewers will continue to expand into a wider variety of genres, yet we are committed to a clean, wholesome standard.

Like many other professional review sources (Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal), we have chosen to let our words speak for themselves instead of using a rating system, with two exceptions. Gold Star Reviews are given rarely and with the approval of the editorial team, to books that are truly in a class by themselves. Bookmarked Reviews are the must-reads for the keeper shelf and are also given sparingly. All other reviews are books we feel comfortable recommending to their intended audience, even if it’s not the reviewer’s personal cup of tea.