A Guide To My Ratings

I use a five star system to quickly summarise and organise my feelings on a theatre production or book. These reviews are entirely my own subjective opinion. If I have chosen to read a book or see a show, even if I have been invited to do so, it means I have found something such as the genre which I am very likely to enjoy, meaning the majority of my reviews will be positive and some lower ratings may be connected to a disappointment of living up to expectations or the crafted marketing towards a certain genre. 

I am always open to discussing each person’s view calmly and sensibly in the comments. Not every book or production is going to be a favourite, but if you love those that I give a lower rating to that’s great I’m glad they’ve found their audience and that you’ve found enjoyment in them.

All views are entirely my own. Any views expressed on this blog are not the views of my employer or any other affiliated companies.

I will always outline if a book or theatre trip was gifted in exchange for an honest review or if I bought my copy/tickets. None of the links outlining where books and tickets can be purchased are affiliate links and I do not gain anything from purchases made via these links.

Star Ratings

I have often found it easier to connect each star rating to the lasting impression I have on finishing a book or walking out of a show:

  • 5 Stars: Loved it! A new favourite, and I need to rave about it.
  • 4 Stars: I really liked it. I would see it again or re-read it, and it may be a favourite.
  • 3 Stars: I liked it or it was okay, but I am happy having seen/read it once.
  • 2 Stars: It was okay, but some significant areas did not work for me.
  • 1 Star: I did not like it.

As this is a discussion which crops up every so often on Twitter, I want to clarify that 3 star reviews are not bad ratings. I actually find it a very helpful rating for those books and productions which do fall into liked or okay, but still my overall feelings are more positive than not. I am sensitive that this may not be obvious from seeing the rating in the title, so I will not often tag authors or publishers when publicising 3 star reviews.

Previously, I included my ratings in the blog title. I am now only including them in my summarising thoughts so that my reviews can be accessed by all who are considering reading that book or visiting that show. I will still indicate five-star reviews in the blog title to ensure maximum visibility. 

I’ve ensured to describe the above ratings in a neutral way so they can be applied across both theatre and literature, but there are some intricacies for each form that needs to be outlined:

Theatre

Theatre shows are forever evolving. A show can go through a number of changes even during a single run, let alone the evolution seen as shows are revived or created afresh. Firstly, the date of my visit to a show will always be visible either as the date the blog was posted or, if I have not been able to post the review until a later date, I will outline it in the text. 

Secondly, my review of the performances, staging, and narrative will be based solely on the two to three hours I have personally witnessed. If changes have been made before my visit, or a show has experienced a tumultuous creative process, I will outline this for context but it will not impact my review. Similarly, if changes are made after my visit I may add in a paragraph retrospectively, highlighted as such, or write a new review. If I’m not able to do either of these I trust that the date of the blog being posted will indicate this.

Also, I may make anecdotal references to previous viewings or productions of a show, but again this will not impact my review of the current show running. If I am reviewing a long-running show, such as Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Wicked, I will outline that I am primarily reviewing the new cast and their fresh interpretations.

I will also clarify that I am not talented to perform in theatre. I am simply an observer who is consistently in awe of the talented performers, creatives, and crew members who create the theatre I love. All reviews are intended as a method of sharing an opinion and should not be taken as a slight on an individual’s work other than constructive critiques.

I will clarify I am nowhere near talented enough to partake in theatre as in singing, dancing, or acting but as many shows draw inspiration from literary stories and they all make up a narrative through storytelling I decided to share my perspective on their execution.

Books

Books have a different kind of permanence than musical theatre, in the sense that we can still buy classic books published hundreds of years ago. Even with contemporary books this does allow me to discover books, but my review may be separated from the context in which the book was created and published. If I feel this context is vital to the text itself I will outline this in the opening of my review. Also, if subsequent or different editions have been published where the text may vary I will outline the edition I have read.

Similarly, I will often post discussions of classic books. These will not necessarily be straight reviews in that they are often more disconnected from the market performance of a book, but they will still include my thoughts on the content and a star rating summarising my feelings. 

Should I come across topics in books I wish I had been aware of before reading I will endeavour to highlight these at the start of my blog. Where these content warnings relate to the text’s treatment of race and/or the LGBT+ community I will share own voice reviews and will endeavour to do this for both classic and contemporary titles.

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