Heartsick (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell, #1) Heartsick discussion


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How to Judge GoodReads Stars

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message 1: by Chuckell (new) - added it

Chuckell I was looking through reviews of this book--which I thought was utterly silly, stilted, and improbable--and saw that almost every GoodReads review gave it three or four stars. Now, really, I ask you: How can that be? Even if this were one of the best thrillers of the year, would anyone really say that reading it was an experience about 80 percent as meaningful as reading Moby Dick? Could this book honestly be three-fifths as great as Lolita? Some people gave it five stars--yes, apparently to them, HeartSick is the Great Expectations of our era, another Huck Finn that will be taught to generations of the future.

I mean, come on.

How do you use your five-star rating scale? Do you give most books no stars, on the theory that the average piece of trash that shows up on the bestseller lists doesn't deserve to be compared to the true greats of literature? Or are the stars just a guideline, as in this case, where HeartSick was really great, but only as compared to whatever James Patterson most recently stuck his name on?


message 2: by Lara (new)

Lara No stars would not include it as a rating...

Personally, I use my own favorites as a guide...I compare everything I read to my five-star books (which there are relatively few of). If I think it deserves four stars I look at other books I've given four stars and think "was it as good as these?"




message 3: by Samantha (last edited Mar 07, 2008 05:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Samantha I base my star ratings on the feeling I have the second after I read the last word of a book. I don't have a benchmark that I compare it to, like Gone with the Wind or anything. If I hated it, I give it one star, if I adored it, then I give it five stars. Other books fall in between, of course.

Let me just say, however, that just because a book is a "classic" doesn't mean that it's good. Personally, I found Huck Finn intolerable and I couldn't get through the first two chapters of Moby Dick. But I loved The Scarlet Letter and Sounder. Call me a Philistine, but books don't have to mean something all the time. Sometimes, they're just fun, an escape from the drudgery of everyday life.

There are lots of different kinds of people out there and lots of different kinds of books. To rail against the seeming disparities between the quality of the classics and that of today's literature is to say that people aren't entitled to their own opinions.

*end of soapbox tirade*


Samantha I base my star rating on whether or not I liked the book and would recommend it. I don't just give 5 stars to classics. Plus what I consider a classic...you may not. I think the Harry Potter series is a classic series but some of the books are 3s because they weren't written well or I didn't like how the plot flowed. Other books I just love the character interaction. I don't know. It's based on a feeling I have. I know it's not great but it's how I do it.


message 5: by Pandora (last edited Sep 02, 2008 04:29PM) (new)

Pandora I just reviewed my bookshelf. At frist when I started posting books on my shelf I tended to give many a five star rating. Later I realized that this was probably not too helpful and changed my ratings. I reserve five stars for books that blow me away after I read them. What I mean by that is I the book had me see things in a new way or develop a new style of writing or was just so enjoyable that I knew I would be reading it again and again

I do rate the books for what they are. That is I compare the book to similar books. YA books aganist other YA titles. Picture books aganist other picture books. A non-ficton aganist other non-fiction. I tend towards fiction. So, I do perfer East of Eden over Seabiscuit. Still, Seabiscuit was one of the best non-fiction I ever read so it got five stars.

Saying only classic deserve five stars I don't think would be right. Because there are books that are the best in their field and deserve recongination. People also don't always agree on the merits of classic. I didn't get through Moby Dick but, I loved Huckberry Finn.

I do try to always make a comment on my books so people know what the rating means.




Jennifer A.M. I also reviewed my bookshelf and I give a lot of 4 and 5 star ratings. I guess I am rating them more on enjoyability than as excellent works of literature. I give books 5 stars if I sit back and think, wow, I enjoyed that, I feel refreshed by taking time to read that, even if the writing was not spectacular and the plot may be a little predictable. If I finish a book - it gets at least 1 or 2 stars, because 0 stars means it wasn't good enough for me to finish nor rate.


Kelsey Haha three-fifths as great as Lolita. That's an interesting way to put it. I didn't like Heartsick at all. It's hard for me to use a five-star rating system, because there are so many levels of greatness/crappiness. I would much rather prefer a 10 point scale. It used to be really difficult for me to give a book 5 stars, because to me, 5 stars meant "the greatest book I've ever read". I gave that up, and now I give 5 stars to books that I really enjoy, not necessarily "the best book ever". I guess I just go by what the stars say when you scroll over them ("it was amazing", "really liked it", "liked it", "it was ok", "didn't like it").


message 8: by Tyler (new)

Tyler I go by my subjective opinion according the the scale, so five stars has to mean "it was amazing," and that the book was somehow better than "really liked it." Like Sam, I think about how I felt right after I finished the last page.

I sometimes notice books I rated poorly have a blizzard of five-star rating from other readers. When I've looked at their reviews, I've found that they may be in a different age bracket from me or have a different education. But sometimes, what's clear is that they have brought some emotional prejudice into the reading of a book. That's to say, they're determined they're going to like the book no matter how bad it actually is.


Susan S wrote: "I base my star ratings on the feeling I have the second after I read the last word of a book. I don't have a benchmark that I compare it to, like
Gone with the Wind
or anything. If I hated it..."

Well Said!


Rhamel I read this book after my husband woke me up at night by saying, oh my gosh....holy crap....how could she??? He had never met a character like Gretchen. I think I also gave it high stars because I liked it. Does a five star thriller compare to a five star romance? Probably not, they are two different types of books. I agree with other posters about the so called "classics". I didn't like them when they were forced down my throat in school and I don't like them now when my kids are forced to read them. I think if we want our younger tech savvy children to learn to love to read in a time where they would rather play video games that we need to require more "current" readings in our schools. Afterall, the point is to get them to read right? I say we rate how we like the books....not how it relates to a "classic". Some of my favorite writers are Diane Chamberlain and Kristan Hannah...I won't feel guilty giving them a 4 or 5. In high school I had a choice of reading a classic or a book called Lisa Bright and Dark. 20 something years later I still remember that book and I can't recall anything from the others. I rate what moves me and pass them along to friends. I would rather have hundreds of 4s and 5s on my list then just a couple of classics. By the way, thanks to all the 4s and 5s. I am a ratings stalker and look at other lists to get ideas.


Michele Harrod Chuckell wrote: "I was looking through reviews of this book--which I thought was utterly silly, stilted, and improbable--and saw that almost every GoodReads review gave it three or four stars. Now, really, I ask yo..." Good Lord!! My stars are about rating the ride I went on when I read the book, so yes, a thriller that has me turnig the pages with my heart rate up around my ears, gets 5. As does a well written romance that keeps me guessing, or something deep and meaningful that challenges how I see the world. Heck, if one tried to compare great current fiction, teen novels, kids books and modern literature, with someone's (I'm assuming you'd like it to be yours??) idea of what was 'great classical literature' - there would be no point in this website. This to me is about what 'LIKE-MINDED' readers feel about books I am interested in. I get a feel who likes similar sorts of books by the comments they write. The stars tell me how much it affected them, moved them, wound them up - i.e. basically made them feel great that they dedicated several hours of their life to it. If I had someone comparing Heartsick to Dickens, I would think they were utterly pretentious, and really very silly to read thrillers, if they feel it really would only ever be appropriate to give 5 stars to a great literary novel. You are basically getting pithy at people for not comparing apples with elephants!!! This site celebrates that everyone has different tastes. Just think of it as an ecological population. Find your niche and enjoy it, and stop worring about what everyone else is loving, if you think their genre of choice is beneath you. Befriend those who have 5 starred the books you love, and base your decisions on their opinions - not us philistines, who obviously have a far greater breadth of potential passions!!!!


Barbara Elsborg I think the person who started this has long gone but it is an interesting point. At least with GR you have guidance on the meaning of the stars unlike Amazon. I'm stingy with 5* reviews. I think I need to be really blown away by a book to give it a 5 but I probably should have been kinder since I've been on here. Since I'm an author, I know what the 1 and 2 star reviews feel like! But everyone has different reading tastes and expectations and we are certainly all entitled to our opinion. I read some reviews and wonder if we actually read the same book, others I agree with wholeheartedly. I see people who hate books I love and they also love books I love - what does that tell me? That we're all different.


Andrew I usually rate books according to the comments that appear as you roll over them. eg. liked it, really liked it, amazing etc. I don't try to place the book into the grand scheme of all English Literature, as it appears Chuckell is trying to do. I take different things from different books. Incidentally I found Moby Dick the most tedious read EVER! Why I ever pushed myself to finish it I'll never know. I enjoy reading best selling fiction. That's not to say that I haven't read the classics too. I have a degree in Eng Lit and it's a bit difficult to graduate without reading one or two of them.


message 14: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim To each his own. I rate books high if I enjoy them.
Opinions are like butts...everybody has one.


message 15: by Rick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rick Soper Pretty simple If I really enjoyed it I give it five stars, if it was pretty good, or I had some problems with it it's four stars, if it's readable, but not really great or exciting it's three stars, if it's not good, poorly written or filled with holes, then it's two stars, and if it's just plain horrible it's one star, and it only gets that one star because there isn't a way of rating and giving it a negative stars rating.

Please note that no where in here did I mention the literary quality of a particular book, just weather or not I enjoyed it, so with that in mind, you'll find fives stars next to Chelsea Cain, the same way you would next to George Orwell, not because of their literary qualities, or long standing impact on the world, but because i enjoyed both immensely.

Chelsea Cain Deserves every one of the five stars I've given most of her books, because she'd created interesting characters, thrilling stories, and writes with an unbridled joy as she depicts the most horrific crimes. I read a lot of books, and I re-read very few, but I've re-read every one of Chelsea Cain's books, purely for the fact that I had such fun reading them, and that in my mind makes her deserve the stars.


message 16: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark I like reading but when I come across a book that I do not enjoy or dislike enough to quit reading I find it hard to judge the whole product and I tend to not rate it at all since I have no clear idea about the whole book only an idea.
There are so many books out there to be read that I tend to not waste too much time on books that I find not enjoyable to read.
So indeed my rating is usually 3 stars and upwards.


Albert Riehle First of all, I think that MANY of the "classics" are blatantly overrated. People are afraid to say so because you can't have that opinion without others being able to knock their intelligence. Moby Dick is crap. If I was reviewing Moby Dick as a new book...I probably wouldn't even get through it. The assertion that a person can't get as much from reading Heartsick, or any other contemporary novel, even a thriller, as they can from Moby Dick is a an opinion that smacks of pretentiousness. Reading a book is a personal experience and every person can and should experience any book they read on their own terms, not based on what others might think.

If you only want the opinion of literary scholars, then you shouldn't only read the opinions of literary scholars. The Goodreads star system isn't weighted by advanced degrees. It allows for books, from genres that scholars might look down upon, to stand equal to books that scholars drool over. And most importantly, it addresses something most academics fail to understand. PART of a novel's greatness is it's accessibility. An author who can't enrich his/her reader's life while simultaneously telling a good story isn't much of a writer. So, if one person can give Moby Dick 5 stars for it's depth, symbolism and meaning, another can give Heartsick 5 stars for being a really interesting, compelling and gripping story.

The idea that everyone should have the same opinion is silly though. The idea that only books approved by professors are any good is ridiculous. Many of "the classics" are overrated, pretentious crap perpetuated by scholarly types who are more worried about being impressive than having an original thought. To each their own--it's the reason why we all get a say here.


message 18: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim I agree with you Albert. Well said!


Albert Riehle Kim wrote: "I agree with you Albert. Well said!"

Thanks, Kim!


message 20: by Paula (last edited Apr 03, 2014 06:56PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paula stars come with instructions.
Roll your mouse over them-
1- didn't like it
2- it was okay
3- liked it
4- really liked it
5- Loved it.

It is a pet peeve of mine that people will give a book 3 or 4 stars and then in their review say "it was just Ok"- I guess people don't want to seem "mean"

I have one friend I just ignore, because every book on her shelf is 5,4,3- even the ones she doesn't like! I get not being mean, but isn't the saying If you have nothing nice to say then don't say anything at all. I get it that you don't want other people to accuse you of not being intellectual but then just don't offer your opinion at all. Why "fake" an opinion to the masses?


message 21: by Fin (last edited Apr 04, 2014 06:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Fin Chuckell wrote: "I was looking through reviews of this book--which I thought was utterly silly, stilted, and improbable--and saw that almost every GoodReads review gave it three or four stars. Now, really, I ask yo..."

It's interesting that you seem so confused by a simple star system that, if you were to simply hover over it, would explain what each star means.

When you rate a book on Goodreads, you are not comparing it to other books from a merit standpoint, it is a rating based upon personal enjoyment of the book.

So if I rate Heartsick 4 stars it is, as the definition states, because I "really liked it."


Tolstoynian Hello; I gave it two stars and the sequels were worse. I found it had nothing new to add to what had already been done in The Silence of the Lambs etc.
I think the stars attribution is used very personally by different people because what does "it was okay" really mean?;
"How was that for you baby?"
"It was okay"
I think there'd be two very different interpretations over the word 'okay' even with those two people!


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