We have high standards. Most books don’t live up to them.

Word-Weary Reviews is a book review site for the jaded reader, mostly because it’s written by two jaded reviewers.

In a normal week, we post two reviews, one Monday and one Thursday. We read a variety of genres, including but not limited to contemporary, fantasy, historical, LGBTQ, mystery, romance, and science fiction. Our reviews are honest, personal, and often brutal.

Here’s an explanation of our rating system:

You know that old saying, “Close, but no cigar?” Well, that’s how we feel about most of the books we read. Cigars, however, are not only graphically uninteresting but also unfortunately phallic, so we’ve adopted a rating system involving pipes–classy, elegant, lung-polluting pipes befitting historophiles such as ourselves.

All the Pipes We love it. A book like this comes around less frequently than Halley’s Comet. Everything about the book is spot-on. The characters feel more real than your chain-smoking Uncle Bob. Whatever the genre, the world-building is so real it makes you question the reality of your own life. The storytelling will make you cry. Or laugh. Or, if you’re really lucky, both at the same time. A book like this will change your life. Really. We live for books like this. That’s why it’s so disappointing when we don’t find them–and all the more rewarding when we do.

Four Pipes We like it. The four-pipe book deserves to be published, read, and remembered. Technically, the book is solid. The author clearly knows how to weave a story. If we give a book four pipes, we know some part of it is going to stay with us, either because we care about the characters, are invested in the world, or have dreams about the luscious prose. The book won’t change your life, but it may change your month.

Three PipesIt’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with the book, but it isn’t particularly memorable either. Yes, the characters seem vaguely believable, and they do vaguely entertaining things. The author has a basic grasp of the English language. But are we going to be talking or thinking about this book a week after we’ve finished it? Probably not.

Two PipesWe dislike it. Something isn’t right. The two-pipe book isn’t a total trainwreck, but it has at least one major problem. This could be a plot hole the size of Alaska, a protagonist with as much personality as a thimble, or the grammar of a two-year-old. Or, the combination of minor problems–such as plot holes the size of your backyard, protagonists with as much personality as a teacup, AND the grammar of a fifth-grader–may result in this rating.


One Pipe We hate it. This book has problems. A lot of problems. Probably some combination of flat characters, shoddy plot, and lackluster prose; maybe all of the above. After all, we’re jaded. We’ve read a lot of less-than-stellar books. It takes a lot to make us really hate something.

No cigar! Don’t get us started. There’s a difference between hating a book and despising it. In order to earn this rating, a book must be absurdly (and probably comically) bad. It probably makes us want to laugh and cry at the same time. The author must do everything wrong. Such total incompetence is, thankfully, more rare than you’d think.


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