I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
I noticed that a lot of people are posting their ratings systems and decided that this would probably be a good idea for me to do, since I've been away for a while and need a bit of a refresher on my system, myself! My ratings system can always be found here, but here it is again:
5 stars - I hardly ever give 5 stars, so if you're an author and you've received 5 stars from me, you should REALLY be proud of yourself, haha! Basically, I only give 5 stars to books that I consider to be a favorite of mine, so in order to receive five stars, a book must have the same effect on me as books such as Gone with the Wind and the Harry Potter series did - not an easy feat.
4.5 stars - I give 4.5 stars to books that I loved, but don't consider to be my all-time favorite. I would definitely re-read these books and I would probably recommend them to most people, but they aren't quite on "favorite" level, at least for me.
4 stars - I give 4 stars to books that I really liked. I would probably re-read these books. They maintain my attention while reading them and I would recommend them to fans of their genre. In order to receive 4 stars from me, books must be well-written.
3.5 stars - I give 3.5 stars to books that I liked, but probably would not re-read, at least for a while. These books may be part of a genre that I liked but perhaps did not reach my expectations, or they're not really my taste but are still well-written enough to get a good rating (I consider anything above 3 stars to be a good rating). I would probably recommend these books to people, but with reservations.
3 stars - I give 3 stars to books that are OK. Books that receive 3 stars probably have a good premise that was not executed as well as I would have liked it to be, or, again, they were well-written but not really my taste. I probably would not re-read these books and I recommend them with reservations.
2.5 stars - these are books that are OK, but not to my taste. I probably did not enjoy reading these books but recognize that they have redeeming qualities. My reviews of these books will probably be mostly negative, but may point out some good factors or areas that, if improved, could increase the book's rating (this specifically refers to ARCs that may not be in their final state).
2 stars - If I give a book two stars, I disliked it. It either was poorly written or not to my taste. If the book is not to my taste, I will specify that in the review and emphasize that other readers may have better luck than I did.
1.5 stars - I strongly dislike these books. They may contain material that I found to be offensive or are very poorly written. In my opinion, there are very few redeeming qualities and I would not recommend these books to anyone, unless I know for a fact that they read a very similar book and enjoyed it.
1 star - If I gave a book only 1 star, then it's safe to say that I hated it. More likely than not, I simply didn't like the storyline at ALL, or the book is just terribly written. An example of a book that I gave 1 star to was The Lord of the Flies - in that case, I do recognize that it's a classic, but I absolutely despised the story and thus could not in good conscience give it a good rating. As with 5 star reviews, 1 star reviews are extremely rare from me and I only give them to books that I found to be truly torturous to read.
As you can see, my ratings system is mainly based on my opinion/experience with the book at hand, rather than based on how I feel the target audience will react to the book. I feel that I can only speak with any real authority about how I feel about a book, not how others may or may not feel.