To what extent might this book make your heart swell to near-bursting? I judge this based on the number of times I swoon, the depth of my long sighs, and the length of time I press the book to my chest and close my eyes, soaking in the moment.

Disclaimer: I can find romance in a documentary about earthworms, so I will rarely rate this below 1.

Calculus Class                                                                       Canon in D



How much of an appearance does God make in this book? Is it an overt faith-awakening story? Or is the subtle theme of faith and trust in the Lord present but not front and center? Both can be good, but need to match the storyline.

Barely There                                                                God is Everywhere


To what extent might this book make your own heart race along with the character’s, bite your lip to keep from stupid-smiling, or make you want to kiss your own significant other (or pillow—I was single for a long time)?

Cool as Ice                                                               Is it Hot in Here


To what extent did this book make me uncomfortable? How many times did I need to mute the audiobook because my kids walked in, skipped past scenes, or set the book down to take a break? This isn’t always bad. Sometimes it is educational, or essential to the backstory (think Redeeming Love). Other times it is unnecessary.

Simply Clean                                                                          Sickening


To what extent might this book make you cry? Happy tears will be counted as romance. Sad tears will be rated here. I love a good tragic love story, as long as something can be redeemed in the end. I do not like feeling like I’ve been run over by a steamroller. Most of my favorite books and movies would rate a 5. I love a good cry.

Dry Eye                                                                            Marley & Me


How funny is the narrator? How witty is the dialogue?

Crickets                                                   Spit Out My Soda Funny


To what extent do I want to lecture the characters or email the author and demand they “make it right”? Some conflict is good, but making your readers throw the book across the room isn’t.

Calm and Collected                                       Book-shaped Hole in Drywall


How wide were my eyes? Was my jaw hanging open? How many times did I shush people around me who dared to interrupt my reading during intense scenes? Did the bathwater turn cold because I couldn’t put the book down? Did I keep reading well past a reasonable bedtime to find out a little bit more? This may be relational suspense, legal suspense, criminal suspense, etc.

Lulled to Sleep                                                              Too Wired to Sleep