Is There An Easier Way To Review Books?

I´ll tell you what – I struggle sometimes with writing reviews. There are days when I can sit down and write a colorful 2K word review for a 300 page standalone. Then I go through phases of painful reviewer´s block. I can´t come up with the right words to express my thoughts or feelings regarding a book.

You´d think I´d have the hang of this review thingy by now. I mean- 10 years should have taught me a trick or two. Weeeeell, it seems like I´m still winging things as I go.

My biggest struggle is review size/length. For some reason, I have this notion that reviews have to be a certain size to be considered a true review. I know, total bullshit. But I can´t help it. It´s like this evil pattern embedded deep in the recesses of my brain. Am I bothered by this? To be honest- Sometimes I am. Writing reviews should be as easy as breathing in air. All you have to do is lay down your opinion and hit that publish button. * sigh *  If only that were true.
During my book blogger years I´ve asked myself the same questions over and over again:

  • Is there an easier way to review books?
  • Should my reviews be lengthy or short?
  • If short, how short? If long, how high should my word count be?

 

This isn´t a matter of being insecure. This is me battling my perfectionist side. Thankfully, I´ve learned that book review size doesn´t really matter.

 

Review length is a matter of personal preference. 

 

It´s a question of how much information a reviewer wants to include in their reviews. Personality, style, emotions, and knowledge. Add all or only add a few. Do whatever the hell you want, right? Right. But there was still one question left unanswered. One I consider a challenge.

Is there an easier way to review books?

Because let´s face it – No one is able to pull a review out of their ass thinking hat. It´s tedious sometimes. And us foot folk don´t get paid for our awesomeness. There has to be a way!

The other day I was making notes in my reading log for my next review when I noticed a little box on the lower left corner. A little feature I have been using all along but never gave much thought about.

smiley

 

A simple rating system. Rate the plot, the characters, and ease of reading. Then to sum everything up you give your overall opinion via smiley.  This doesn´t even take a minute out of our day ( if we allow ourselves to not overthink much and analyze everything ) to do and can also be easily used as book reviews. If you ask me, I think this is brilliant. I´ll tell you why:

  • Some people misunderstand reviews. I know- Unthinkable but true. Some reviews are very wordy and not everyone´s native speaking language is English. I can see why some would have questions.
  • They´re wordless. Sometimes words can hurt. Whether intentionally or unintentionally… there´s bound to be an author hanging on that one word a reviewer used to describe the book/their feelings.
  • Most of the world is familiar with a smiley rating scale– Everyone´s most likely been confronted with a 3 point or 5 point rating scale at a young age so there is a global understanding of what a sad face, a neutral face and a happy face means.
  • They´re quick. Some people take days to write a review. Imagine how much time could be saved by using this system. This would give reviews a whole new meaning and reviewers the chance not to dwell on sentence structure, repetitive words, etc. Plus, using smileys saves time. We live in a fast-moving environment where many of us don´t have enough hours in our day to get things done.
  • They´re spoiler – free. I know many people who don´t read reviews out of fear of bumping into a spoiler. You could avoid any minor or major spoiler by using the smiley rating system.

 

Sounds wonderful, doesn´t it?  For a book blogger, sure. Of course, there´s always a flip side to brilliant things. This system might work wonders but it´s entirely reviewer friendly. We save time. We hardly have work with a review. But what about the consumer? The people who depend or rely on reviews? Future book spoilers aren´t a problem with this system but what about the emotional aspect? That slight push that seals the book purchase deal? Smileys can´t give a reader authenticity. They symbolize emotions. They don´t glow with personality.

So, I guess the idea of using this quick book blogger friendly rating system as reviews is out of the question, huh? Still, wouldn´t it be nice? In an ideal world, we´d be able to use this system AND help the consumer. Sounds so good.

 

Since we don´t live in a perfect world I might as well change the question to:

Is there a more efficient way to write a review that still helps the consumer?

Hmm… Here´s to 10 more years of coming up with an answer!

OR (!!!) I might just test this all out and see how it´s received. Hmm….


 

Let´s chat: What are your thoughts on review size? Which do you prefer to read: long or short reviews? What´s your take on the smileys? I would love to read your thoughts!

 


 

As always, thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed.

 

XO´s

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The Problem With Honest Book Reviews From Book Bloggers

There´s a problem with honest book reviews from book bloggers. Did you know about that? Have you already figured out what the problem is? It´s tiny, almost miniscule microscopic, but it´s still there. I´m even positive this problem doesn´t even bother anyone, either.

Honesty. Probably one of the trickiest and most misunderstood word existing. We all want honesty but it´s often not accepted or appreciated, depending on the type of honesty that´s been given. Negative honesty is never welcomed. Positive honesty is always appreciated.

But what about the unnecessary type of honesty? Like- the mentioning of honesty in book reviews?

 

In the ever growing book industry, book bloggers / readers are confronted with writers from every bookish corner. We´ve got the indie writers, the self – published authors and the traditional published authors. And every single one of those writers, no matter the niche they occupy or the genre they write in,.. they all  need feedback ( as I´ve so cleverly mentioned in my post on 5 Reasons Why Book Reviews Are Important.) Feedback usually comes from readers. But that´s a whole other bedtime story for another night. ( and some day I will get to how opinions affect authors ) And they all want honest opinions. Okay, fair enough, right? Shouldn´t be that difficult to accomplish. In fact, this should be the easiest part of a book blogger´s job. Yet….. there´s a problem. A weird one.

 

Ever picked a review to read and noticed how those reviewers include a

“this is my honest opinion”

line? Whether that line is on the top of a review or skillfully weaved into a review… Reviewers often ( if not always ) add that line or use the words honest opinion.

Isn´t that just fabulous? Everyday, indecisive readers get to read an honest opinion on a book. If you take a few seconds to think about it… Mentioning  honesty isn´t really necessary because it should go without saying that the review on any book is honest. Why bother, otherwise, right?

But the word holds more power than one would think. Honesty. Because we get blindsided about the actual fact and meaning.

“Oh wow! We´re getting an honest opinion.”

When in reality, you´re getting one person´s point of view. It´s their honesty. No one elses. It´s not the honesty above all honesty.

It´s irrelivant to include “This is my honest opinion.” because I, myself, assume I´m getting an honest opinion anyway. That was my honest opinion right there.

But for a book blogger to include such info? Can someone see where I´m going with this? It´s confusing.

I have yet to come across a book blogger who went out of their way to lie in their reviews.

Okay – If we leave out the special people who review books they haven´t read ( yes, dear book – loving – Padawans. That´s a thing. And these people can be spotted easily ) then there´s no reason not to think a review isn´t always honest.

I agree with you all that this isn´t world shattering business but it´s still something to think about.

Dear book bloggers, why do you add that line? Is it because you want to prevent a war? Is it because maybe you feel better including the honesty disclaimer? Why do you do it, if you do it at all?

 

Maybe it´s because book bloggers have been asked by publishers or authors to include the honesty bit in reviews…. Which is fine. Doesn´t mean it makes more sense to me because ( see reasons above ) it still doesn´t make sense ( does this make sense?!).

So, there´s my answer to the problem. Including an honesty line doesn´t carry much meaning.

I would love to read your thoughts on the subject Honest Opinions In Reviews!<3

 

Thank you all for reading this blog post.

PS: In no way was I trying to be offensive to fellow book bloggers who include the honesty line in their reviews.

Much love,

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Why Star Ratings Are Frowned Upon

You´re probably thinking: “Wait. What? Star ratings for books are frowned upon?”

It´s true. The book universe has changed and with it the book ratings, as well.

Gone are the days where book bloggers express their powerful opinions in form of a skillful rant. Vanished are the times when people were brave enough to just say what they wanted, how they wanted ( in a respectful manner, of course ).

We´ve entered the age of warning labels and controlled speech. Because it´s not nice to say what´s really on your mind. Even if your opinion isn´t harmful… there´s always a little booger  someone who feels offended, mistreated or hurt.

These days, books have trigger warnings and reviews have no star ratings. Why? Well, I think it´s clear as to why certain books have warning labels. But why are reviewers ditching the star ratings? I´ve come up with a few ideas as to WHY.

  • They make no sense to the reviewer / they don´t believe in the system
  • They´re harmful and can influence a reader
  • They´re impolite

Yes. Book reviews with star ratings are frowned upon. But, says who? I could say say the people who´re over sensitive” but that would be hurtful of me. And I´m not out to point fingers at any particular group of emotionally charged people. Not today.

Some time a while back I´ve witnessed the slow death of the star ratings. Book bloggers started changing their review formats. Okay.

But what I also noticed was- Without the ratings I didn´t have a definite idea on what the reviewer was saying.

Because reviews have become modern riddles. “I loved everything about this book” and they go and leave a list of negatives “I didn´t really like this and that about this book.” All in one review without any type of rating or even a recommendation line.  And in the end, I´m sitting here wondering if the reviewer liked the book or not.

 

 

Aren´t reviews supposed to help a reader? Isn´t that why people search for book reviews ( or reviews for any product )? They want to read an opinion and see if that person would recommend a book or not. With an opinion consisting of 50% love gushing and 50% negative feedback… am I supposed to sniff out the 2, 3, or 4 stars on my own?

With that being said- Not all book reviews are confusing as hell. There are a few reviews without star ratings that give a clear idea on what the reviewer wants to say. Others, though? *  holding breath  *

So, why do reviewers frown upon star ratings?

I might lack the energy of doing a full blown research party on the topic but I don´t lack observation skills. And what I´ve observed is quite unsettling.

It´s not necessarily the reviewers fault that the star ratings have disappeared. It´s often times the combination of authors, trends and the reviewers.

In my almost 9 years of book blogging I´ve learned ( the hard way, mind you ) that many authors are slightly sensitive. One negative opinion could result in a public emotional outburst. Reviewers can be just as sensitive but on a different level ( that´s a new bedtime story I´ll tackle in the near future ).

This is something I´ve repeatedly seen in the almost 9 years of book blogging:

  • Author receives 1, 2, 3 star review
  • Author throws an online fit and even threatens to kick bloggers off their A – list / and will definitely avoid said bloggers and even warn others of a supposedly negative reviewer
  • Book blogger thinks of ways to express themselves and still stay in an author´s good graces
  • Book blogger decides to wash their opinions in unicorn glitter and ditch the star ratings
  • Author is confused about the positive & negative review ( because one little “I didn´t like..” will be seen as negative feedback ) but keeps book blogger on the A-list

 

Clever, right? * sigh * It´s not, really. It´s just a way to pacify a moody artist and still keep up a decent online reputation. This is a cycle among bloggers and authors ( not every blogger and author, mind you )

Star ratings only make sense when it´s a 3, 4 or 5 star rating. Anything below 3 stars is just not acceptable. Because why be THAT person and shit on something by giving it 1, 2 or possibly a negative 3 stars? Believe it or not… that´s how 1, 2 or even 3 star ratings are seen. As negative negativity no one wants. No one wants to be associated with negativity.

Living in the “Thou shalt not offend” era certainly makes reviews more interesting as well. Reviews have to be worded correctly, preferably without including a star rating or else….

It´s a trend. One that will hopefully pass soon because these neutral opinions aren´t really working. The reality is: We do not live in a world made of sugar. The key is to be respectful. If someone else can´t live with that then that´s for them to deal with.

I think what the real problem is ( and always will be )…

It´s about the product and not the person behind the product.

Authors fail to see that a reviewer´s opinion isn´t a personal attack just as reviewers fail to realize that they´re not going to hell if they just be more specific in their reviews.

And by specific I mean include either a definite opinion or re – include a star rating in their reviews.

So, like everything else in life, star rating – less reviews are a trend fired off by moody artists and careful book bloggers in a time of political correctness.

As for my own raw opinion on the subject: I like star ratings and like to include them in my reviews. I also highly appreciate reading reviews with star ratings because they help give that final conclusion on the reviewers thoughts. Stars ( doesn´t matter if 1 or 5 stars ) help me understand a reviewer. I also like to believe that my adding star ratings helps my followers.

NOTE: No trigger warning label needed for this post. This is an opinion friendly blog. All respectful opinions regarding the subject are welcomed and will be treated with the same respect in return. ❤ 


Do you agree? Or do you perhaps disagree? How about we agree to disagree? I would love to find out what you think about reviews without star ratings! Do they bother you not? Have you even noticed missing star ratings? Let´s chat. ❤  


Thank you so much for reading. ❤

Sending out much love and positive vibes,

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Do I Need A Domain For My Book Blog?

To have a domain, or not to have a domain…. A question quite a few book bloggers ask themselves either before or during their blog career. But the real question should be-

Do I Need A Domain For My Book Blog?

Is a domain necessary to maintain a book blog? Normally, my answer would be a shoulder shrug. Because I truly have no flippin´ clue if a book blogger actually needs a domain or not. But since I´m feeling like a wise and overly clever chica tonight ( I just finished a game of Trivia Pursuit. I´m feeling the genius vibes because I won!  ) I´m going to give a glowing breakdown on the issue Book Blog and Domain.

Let´s start with some basic info. Don´t worry. This won´t be a tech savvy´s dream come true. I´ll keep this as simple as possible for those who are a lot like me. I´m glad I can open my laptop up and starting it without crying.


What Is  A Domain? And What Does It Do?

There will never be an easier answer than this. See that part at the top of your browser window? The URL bar? Where it says http://&#8230;. The name after that is the domain name. If you´re still reading this and haven´t passed out from sheer boredom yet you´ll see morganasbookbox.wordpress.com.

Why is WordPress built in my blog URL? Because my blog is hosted by WordPress and I´m too cheap to get rid of it ( God, that felt so good to type out ).

As far as the functionality of a domain name goes – A domain name is your unique identity. It represents you / your business, your purpose on the internet. It gives you an overall cleaner and more professional appearance.

Makes sense, right? If you want to look professional with a unique name and not have a host name attached, then getting a domain is the way to go.

Oh, and the major bonus from a having a domain? By securing a domain, it´s yours to have and to hold ( unless you cancel it. Then you give others the opportunity to be the next chicichaca.com )

But the true question remains: Is it necessary for a book blog to have a domain? We´ll get to that in a bit. First let´s do a super quick recap on what a book blogger is ( I promise… this´ll be super bitch quick )


 

A Book Blogger´s Sole Purpose

We´ve chewed this topic through and through and still… it never hurts to remind people of the badass – ness minions who work the book mill ( SHOUT OUT TO ALL  BOOK BLOGGERS! You´re awesome. Love you ).

The short version: A book blogger reads, reviews and publishes those reviews online ( among many other things ). Either on a personal blog or a website or on any other already existing platform. It´s a hobby for most. And like most hobbies – you can´t live off of it. It´s time consuming and taxing.

Now for the long version: If you´re interested in finding out what a book blogger´s sole purpose in life is I advise you try reading What Does A Book Blogger Do? 

Let´s just say we deserve all the chocolate and flowers in the world. ( emphasis is on chocolate… Just saying. Hit me up on Twitter for further details. No Hershey´s, please )

Back to that question: Does a book blogger who hobby blogs need a domain? Not quite sure, yet.


 

Since we´ve got the basics down we might as well do a pros and cons list of what a book blogger is with a domain and what a book blogger is without one ( not including personal plans and offers from different platform hosts ). Is there a difference? Does a domain matter? Let´s compare…

Pros of having a domain as a book blogger

  • you get to have a unique web name without added mush in the address
  • your URL looks more professional / clean
  • you reserve that name for yourself / your brand / your business / your purpose
  • People will likely have less difficulty finding you

 

Cons of having a domain as a book blogger

  • a domain costs money

 

Pros of not having a domain as a book blogger

  • no domain – no costs

 

Cons of not having a domain as a book blogger

  • Your web address looks butchered and stitched up, leaving you with an impossible appearance
  • chances are slightly high that someone else with the same name idea will get a domain and snatch that domain from you, forcing you to get something you didn´t want. e.g.  What I wanted: http://www.morganasbookbox.com What I´ll be forced to use: http://www.morganasbutcheredbookbox.com
  • A unique name / address is easier to remember than having a big ass Tolstoy address.

 

All in all, having a domain does seem like the better option. But for a hobby? I´m not sure.


 

It´s best to say getting a domain depends on what a book blogger has in mind for their blog / their blog´s future.

  • What type of book blogger do I want to be? A just for fun type or go all pro?
  • Is my book blog for personal use only or am I creating a brand?
  • Do I want a domain or do I need one?
  • Is my blog name unique enough for me to go without a domain?

Because let´s face it… If you name your book blog Julia´s Book Blog.. chances are pretty high that another book blogger had the same genius idea. Maybe a few Julia´s had the same clever thought. How awkward.

Have fun trying to find the right Julia blog, then. In this case, I´d highly recommend a new blog name or a domain. Or both. Can´t have another Faleena Hopkins ( and her trademark escapade ) happening again.

 

Personally, I believe if a book blogger sees their blog – job as a hobby then there´s no need for a domain. But if a book blogger wants more out of their hobby and does take their internet doings a tad more serious,… then a domain wouldn´t hurt.

Of course, all this is a matter of personal preference. And yes, many more factors play a role in trying to figure out if or if not someone should secure a domain for their blog.

You might not be interested but I´m going to reveal my personal experiences with you anyways…

I used to have a domain and I still do have some ( don´t ask. It´s complicated ). For my Morgana´s Book Box blog I removed my domain because I think the name is unique enough and strong enough on it´s own. No one, not even a little hacker beast will ever think of reserving the domains I gave free. Because who wants to use Morgana? I guarantee you… no one does. Besides, this is a hobby and I don´t have enough energy or time to go pro again. I´m only in for the fun and letting off some steam. A domain would only look clean and I don´t even have the energy to care about that, either.

Should anyone ever snag the domain for Morgana´s Book Box then there are ways to alter the blog name. And I´m not opposed to changing the name, either. I see this whole thing pretty laid back.

 

Now, to the big question again… Is a domain necessary for a book blogger? Yes and no. It depends on you and your personal goals.


What are your thoughts on domains for book bloggers? Let´s chat. 

Thank you all for reading. Share the book love.

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Standalones, Duets, Trilogies, Oh My.

Standalones. Duets. Trilogies…. Terms that are common in the literature world. These words tell a reader exactly what they´re getting themselves into before they purchase their next read.

But before we start, why not give everyone a quick reminder of what the true definition these words carry.

Standalone – A standalone is either a single book or a book from a series written by an author that doesn´t require a reader to have read the rest of the series in order to understand the plot. The book can stand on it´s own.

Duet – A 2 book story. Duo = Duet.

Trilogy – 1 connected / ongoing story available in a set of 3 books

Tetralogy – 4 books

Pentalogy – A set of 5 books

Hexalogy – 6 books

Series – A sequence of books

Novella – A long short story ( either connected to a story or a standalone )

And the list goes on and on and on….

 

There´s a wonderful large pallet of book sets ready for a reader to enjoy. But… are duets, trilogies and tetralogies really all that enjoyable? Or are author´s pushing their luck with their 5+ book series?

Here´s a little fun fact: Most book people ( bloggers and readers alike ) don´t even use certain terms when referring to a set / sequence of books. Any author that has published a connected story with 4 + books is called a series. Just as 3 books are a trilogy. No one goes out of their way to say they´ve read an awesome pentalogy.

Our book lingo is more simple. It´s either a standalone, a duet, a trilogy or a series.

Although, I have to admit that it does excite and amuse me when I see someone use ancient greek terms.

 

 

Since I lack the time to go out on the streets to do a proper book survey on the topic I´m just going to go ahead and grace you with my own personal observations regarding books, book sets and authors who beat the living daylights out of a story by stretching them into a 10 book series ( Oops, apologies for the passion I unleashed in that last sentence ).

For a reader, books and their series sizes are clearly a matter of preference. Some readers love when a story, written by their favorite author, never seems to find an end and some readers are delighted when a story stops after 3 books. It´s a split audience where no one wins or loses. There is no better or worse, right? Hmm…maybe.

For me… I´m not a fan of anything that´s blown out of proportion. I´m the type that´s totally fine with a story that finds an ending… and it stays that way.

For example: When I see a book I like and also see that it´s a standalone… I´ll not hesitate and buy it. But when I see it´s a book #1 then I feel a wave of disappointment wash over me.

  1. because it´ll usually take a year´s wait until a book #2 releases ( unless we´re talking Game of Thrones. I´ve lost all hope for the next GoT to ever be published in this century )
  2. because I have to invest more time in a story than intended.

Don´t get me started when I see a book #5. That makes me wanna cry on the spot.

Mind you, duets and trilogies aren´t off putting for me… I actually love a good ongoing story- As long as it´s well balanced and doesn´t give me the feeling of wanting to curse it to hell for not being in a single book instead of 3.

What would you think if I told you that standalones and series only work for certain genres? Okay, not really shocking news but it´s true. I´m a contemp. romance reader. Standalones are more common in the romance genre. Once in a while a trilogy trend will fly through and then us romance readers will be presented with the good ´ol standalones again.  Fantasy / Paranormal stories work differently.

A fantasy author faces world and character creations on a deeper level. It would be nearly impossible to stuff a well crafted idea into one single book and call it a day.

This is when book trilogies are born. Fantasy stories need space. They need to unfold and help a reader understand certain events. Most fantasy novels have a minimum of 3 books.

If a contemporary romance author publishes a romance trilogy then it´s usually a story that can be edited into a standalone or a duet. Because there´s no world creation. There´s only repetitive events until a climax is reached and the story ends. A contemp. romance author has to come up with one hell of a brilliant story to make it into a trilogy or else it´s just a waste of paper. What many contemp. romance author´s love to do is attach novellas to their stories ( to a standalone or series ). Something like a book # 1.5 and # 3.5. These are usually additional story info that´s not mandatory for the story itself. May this be for the dedicated fans that have been asking for MORE or the author wasn´t able to let go and move on…. some authors feel their characters need a Christmas special, an Easter hunt edition, or whatever, when there´s actually no need to continue a well ended story.

I might be shot for using this example but I´m going to risk it anyways.

For instance  – The Twilight Saga by author Stephanie Meyer.

Fantasy/Paranormal / Romance. 4 main books. ( not including exclusive fan material )

For fans of the series the author has graciously published a hardcover novella, dedicated to one of the sub characters, called `The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner` book #3.5. Then, a little over a decade later the author presents the book world with `Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined` book # 1.75.

Were the added stories necessary? Probably not. For some die-hard Twilight fans, maybe. But to publish an almost identical story to the one that was published a decade earlier… That´s just kicking a dead horse. Looking for the payoff of a joke that´s long vanished around  the corner. Milking the cow  But hey…. as long as there´s a book # 1.75 and a book # 3.5 then all is good.

 

 

Then there are authors who don´t know when to call it quits with their stories. Let´s take a closer look at J. R. Ward´s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. A very popular 16 ( and growing ) book series that´s left it´s safe haven after book #10. Maybe even earlier.

Elite vampires fighting against evil, all while having beautiful raunchy sex in between shower and nap time breaks. I flipping loved those books until…. they went off course.

And here´s the problem: I ( incl. many other fans of the series ) love the original BDB. But with each new book more sub characters were introduced and the author felt those characters needed their own books as well. Before readers knew it, the story drifted away and focused on the new instead of sticking with the old.

For me- This is a clear sign for the author to move on. Create a new series. Say bye-bye to the BDB. But the author keeps going and going and going. The magic is gone and I´m not interested anymore. Especially not when a series has 16 + books.

And while we´re doing book mentions here… let´s throw Outlander in the mix, shall we?

A time – travel romance set in 1945 and 1743, by author Diana Gabaldon. This epic story will pull the socks right off of any readers feet with it´s historical accuracy and amazing characters. That is…. until the story becomes exhausting. That happens around book 5 or 6. Too many added characters, too much history, too much of everything and that makes this difficult to enjoy the books. A series with 8 books and I lost patience after book #5. Now I´m just waiting for the story to end.

 

Of course, I understand that authors have ideas and stories they need to tell. Some of those stories need lots of attention. Some of those ideas need to be put down on paper. I get that and would never prevent an author from doing their thing.

It´s just that often ( if not always ) overly large series are unnecessary. Trilogies are unnecessary. Book #2.5,  # 3.75, and even book # 0.75 is totally unnecessary.

(These are just my humble thoughts on the subject. I´d love to meet someone who thinks otherwise, just to show me the beauty of the flip side.)

Adding books to a perfectly completed standalone, duet, trilogy does not make a story greater than it already is. Unless you´re a die – hard fan and can´t get enough of said story…. then I´m more than happy you´re happy.

So, if anyone´s interested…. I´m this type of reader:

Love standalones. Enjoy duets. Like trilogies. Dislike anything that has more than 4+ book in a series. Hate added novellas.

 

 

What are your thoughts on Standalones, duets and Co.? Do you enjoy reading large series or do you ignore them? Let´s chat. ❤


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