I have finally come to realize that not all books deserve a five star review. The rating system on Goodreads is 1-5, with 1 being hated it, and 5 being loved it. A 3 review is just ok.
I used to rate the books as 5 if I liked them. Then, I read an ARC that wasn’t my typical genre and I wasn’t thrilled with it. The book was written well enough, but just wasn’t to my liking. I couldn’t give it a 5 star rating because I really didn’t love it. There was nothing really wrong with the book itself, but it just didn’t speak to me. In the ARC instructions, it is requested that we email the author before giving a poor rating. I realized that a 3 star review isn’t really a poor rating, and it was honest. I got a thank you message from the author for the review. I didn’t feel like I could be fair to the author, since it’s the genre and not the writing that I disliked. I decided that I would no longer read her ARCs, but I sent her a friend of mine who loves that genre and the friend will read the ARC in the future. Problem solved.
I am not feeling guilty about giving less than 5 stars. I do think a long time before giving a 1 or 2 star rating, though. What didn’t I love about the book? If the answer is, “it wasn’t my style,” I give it a higher rating. And, yes, I have given 1 & 2 star ratings, but they are well thought out and I always write about why I disliked it. I feel like I’m being fair to the author.