I so enjoyed Caroline’s thoughtful and in-depth post about how she grades books here at AAR. Like many readers, I came to AAR because of our Power Search system and its unparalleled ability to sort, in many ways, the proverbial wheat from the chaff.
When I began seeking out good romance novels, I relied on AAR’s grades. Back then, historical romance was my genre of choice. I began with all our DIK reviews of European Historical Romances that had at least a warm rating. I bought pretty much everything we’d raved about by Lisa Kleypas, Jo Goodman, Stephanie Laurens, Liz Carlyle, Elizabeth Hoyt, and others.
I literally first bought all the books we’d given As to, then the A-s, and then, somewhat reluctantly, began to work my way through the B+s.
In 2002, when I began reviewing here, I chose lots of HRs and gave hardly any DIK grades. Things I’d not cared about as a reader, caught up as I was in the joy of reading, as a reviewer, I gave weight to. To this day, I’ve never given any romance an A+ and I’ve only given out 18 straight As.
I adore our Power Search and continue to rely on it–and the grades AAR reviewers give–a great deal of credence. However, as sites like Goodreads and Amazon have given readers the ability to rate books, I now look at those too. One reason is that I don’t always care–see every discussion here about historical accuracy–about the same things other reviewers do. I also love and loathe different things than other reviewers do.
Furthermore, a review is not a factual accounting–it’s one person’s informed opinion. And as such, everyone has the right to accept or reject it.
Don’t worry–grades aren’t going anywhere at AAR. I’m just curious how you use them.