Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Rating System

First things first. We review fiction and nonfiction books rated G to PG-13. We don’t have the time or interest in anything else. (Occasional exceptions may be made on the basis of artistic merit. But that is rare.)

Everyone Has an Opinion

We’ve read “bestsellers” we thought were atrocious. How’d this waste of ink ever break into print? We’ve also read books panned by The Critics – who are these people? – that we thought were marvelous and luminescent. Which is all to say: Book reviews are highly subjective.

Note: We reserve the right to accept or decline any request for a book review, for any reason, without explanation. Period.

That being said, here’s our Rating System.

Rating System

The Official Mom and Kimber Rating System is one to five stars. Like this:

  1. Poor. What a slog. A lousy book with crummy writing. Dull, dim-witted, and pointless. Don’t waste your time. (We’ve plastered this rating on some award winners. Just sayin’.)
  2. Fair. Okay-ish. But wouldn’t necessarily recommend unless you’re house-sitting the neighbor’s cat.
  3. Good. Proficient writing with an interesting, engaging plot. Fun. But nothing that’s going to set the literary world ablaze.
  4. Very Good. Books that garner this rating are a cut above, with rich, robust writing and a superlative story that sticks with you.
  5. Superb. Our highest rating. Better than bacon! A remarkable achievement. Must have a transcendent theme. Rings heart bells. May qualify as life-changing. Would read over and over and over.


  • We may issue “half point” ratings, as in 3.5 or 4.5, for books that are better than the lower number but don’t quite make it into the higher rating.
  • Ratings of 1 and 5 are rare. Although every now and then we hand out a “zero” to a real stinker. Because it earned it.
  • We don’t necessarily rate every book we read.

2 Easy Ways to Get On Our Losers List:

    1. Rely on the repeated use of gratuitous profanity. Don’t give me that “authenticity” nonsense. If repeated, gratuitous profanity is the best you can do as an author, you’re either lazy, have a limited vocabulary, or suffer from a deplorable lack of imagination. Additionally, we don’t care how rich or famous you are, author pal. If your characters can’t or won’t express themselves without stooping to four-letter words every time they open their mouths, you need to dig them up a mommy. Fast.
    2. Use fiction to deliver Pecksniffian political polemics or champion your pet social issue. No thank you.

Finally, books and mom have been fast friends for over fifty years. She typically reads 300+ books a year. She has a degree in Communications/Print Media. Has been writing professionally since the 1980s. Spends so much time in the library, they’re thinking of charging her rent (just kidding. Sort of.)

So she knows what she likes and why. Perhaps more importantly, she knows what she doesn’t like and why. You may disagree. That’s fine. But once our minds are made up on a book, they’re unlikely to change unless you’re ready to prove up your case with a really, really solid argument. Or bacon. Extra bacon works.

For more, kindly see Kimber’s 8 Book Review Rules.