Do people think I’m genuine in my reviews? // a discussion

There are MANY reasons I review books.

  • I want to remember what i think about a book because I’m so forgetful
  • like why did i hate or love that book?
  • RANT ABOUT FEELINGS
  • i have a lot of them
  • share with other people why they should/ should not read something

Mainly, I want people to TRUST me. I want people to read my reviews and think – “Yeah, that’s genuine. I believe her.” I don’t want their reaction to be – “Oh she doesn’t really mean that.” because I want to be trusted.

Earlier this year, I posted something about some books I had lied about loving. This weird sort of guilt of lying about books for the hype had gotten to me; I felt the need to come clean.

I don’t mean to sound dramatic – like I had committed a crime – but I wanted everything I wrote to be taken honestly. That’s really important to me; what I say online is truthful and is believed.

I have stopped reviewing books for the last few months for a few reasons:

  • I have felt demotivated about everything online.
  • I didn’t have time
  • I haven’t been reading much
  • It felt like no one was even reading my reviews, so what was the point?
  • I was reading “eh” books and didn’t have strong emotions about them
  • I felt like sometimes I made things up about my feelings towards the book to make the review seem cohesive and longer.

I actually do want to go back to reviewing books. It annoys me that I haven’t been recording my thoughts on what I’ve been reading. I am honestly feeling so motivated for the new year so I hope that I can start reviewing, blogging and writing a lot more.

But I don’t mean to sidetrack into wistful dreams of being productive (ha).

What makes you seem “less-genuine” as a reviewer?

#1 Rating most books 4 or 5 stars

I think this a genuine fear I have. What if I start reading LOADS of good books and then…people just think I’m going with what’s trendy and not having my own personal opinions. Sometimes I feel pressure to have unpopular opinions about hyped books to show that I am REAL and my opinions are not fake!

Whiiiiich is kind of stupid? I think you should be able to rate however you want and still seem like a good reviewer. However, I think it’s only logical that critical reviewers will have a lower average rating? Unless you’re amazing at picking out books you know you’ll enjoy?!

#2 Not justifying your points in reviews

It’s really, really easy to “follow the hype” by saying things like “THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING. I LOVED IT.” or “I hated this book so much. It was boring.” I find you are a lot more trusted if you give specific reasons about why you felt a certain way. For example: “this character was underdeveloped as he continuously was short-tempered throughout the book. he always throws tantrums”. I mean, that was a strange example, but I think you understand.

I think it’s much easier to justify your opinions when you have negative thoughts about a book. But when you love a book? Somehow words don’t even exist. I swear it’s so hard to pinpoint what was so good about a book if EVERYTHING is good.

#3 Always having the same opinions as everyone else

I think this definitely links in with previous points. If you nearly always have the same thoughts as what most people have, people might think you’re just…going along with the crowd. If everyone hates a certain book and you do to or vice versa, and this happens with nearly every book you read, your reviews seem less-genuine. Why read what you thought of a book when everyone else has said the same thing?!

I mean, you could just have the same opinions as everyone else, or you could be letting the hype influence what you think of a book? I don’t know.

Those, to me, are the three main points of why people could not really trust your reviews. I mean, they’re just thoughts! I’m not trying to scream at everyone to have unpopular opinions and write the most in-depth reviews! To me, it’s important that people take what I say as the truth and not just think of me as some random babbler online?

So, what do you think? Do you value what other people think of your reviews or are they just for yourself? Do you have unpopular opinions a lot or not? DOES THIS TOPIC WORRY YOU?! and how is everyone dealing with the new WordPress editor, please let me know!

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52 thoughts on “Do people think I’m genuine in my reviews? // a discussion”

  1. Very legit questions! As a starting blogger, I am also still trying to figure this out. I never rate the books I read though as I think there is so much more to books than just my personal experience.

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  2. A while ago I got rid of my rating system, and this was actually a big part of it. I ended up rating most books 4 or 5 stars but then I felt like there wasn’t enough differentiation between them–or at least that the differentiation that I talked about in my actual reviews wasn’t reflected in the rating itself. It’s definitely tricky!

    Thanks for such a thought-provoking post!

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    1. I think that’s a pretty cool thing – since so many bloggers rely on rating systems. I think i’d like to somehow have a bigger range for the star rating system provided on goodreads but i know more choices would also make me more indecisive. rating books is SO hard and i agree there’s no difference between my 5 star-i-love-this-book to 5 star – this is my favourite thing ever and my entire life. Thanks for your comment, Holly!

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  3. Good question. I never really thought about what other people thought about my reviews.
    For me it’s nice to come across reviews / reviewers who thought the same thing I did about a certain book. I can feel like we are “bonding” :D.

    As for rating stuff mostly 4 or 5… back in the day when i barely read 20 books a year, i thought they were all pretty awesome. But i also did research about those books before buying them, and usually read based on recommendations. This year i read lot more, so yes, some of them turned out to be not so great. Sometimes it’s a quantity thing i think.

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    1. Thank you so much, Norrie, for this comment! And oh yes definitely. Like, I didn’t like Illuminae, and I was struggling to find someone else who also disliked it and when I did, I felt like this strange connection with them? Is that weird? I was just so happy to find SOMEONE who understood me haha.

      And yeah, the more books you read, the more chance you’re not going to rate them highly! And I used to always rate books 4 or 5 stars, haha, but I’m a bit more critical now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. THIS IS SO TRUE!!!!!!!!! Yeah, people don’t really trust people if they always agree. It’s ok not to get in arguments, but we don’t need to, they’re just different points of view.
    I have felt demotivated sometimes and it is hard. Cause this summer I was going to do a review for The Incredibles 2, I liked the movie, but I just didn’t feel like reviewing it.
    Omg I have many opinions not a lot of people agree with *and by that I mean no one* but they’re not about books lol 😛 Does it happen to you too?
    And omg I’m refusing to use the new editor cause it’s really hard to use for me and I feel like it’s unnecessary. Like, why blocks? It looks exactly the same in the actual post and it just makes it harder. Arghhhh!! How are you dealing with it?

    Great post! 😀 ❤

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    1. Oh i get that! Sometimes i get excited about a post idea but then when I try and write it i don’t even want to anymore? IT SUCKS. Did you like the movie tho?

      Yeah unpopular opinions are great! But then like you might get hate for it. I KNOW THE EDITOR IS STRANGE. i switched back to classical editor OOPS.

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  5. i love this post! when i was first starting out on goodreads, i 1) wasn’t a critical reader and 2) wanted to be accepted in the community, which i thought meant having the same opinions as everybody else. i four-starred ACOTAR (which was more like a two star), i five-starred Isla and the Happily Ever After, etc etc. it made it so i literally have to say on my goodreads that all my pre-2016/2017 opinions aren’t trustworthy! but now my average rating is low, my reviews are (VERY) long and specific, and i think people trust me?? it’s an interesting thing :/ so glad you’ve started a discussion about it!! (and selfishly i hope you blog and review more in the new year b/c i CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF U)

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    1. dhgszfhdsf thank you so much?! and yes, i’ve talked about this so much. like the pressure i put on myself when i first started out to have popular opinions infuriates me now because?? there’s so many books from 2 years ago which are reviewed and rated so differently.and yes your reviews are long and AMAZING and i definitely trust your reviews a lot even though you roast some of my favourites *cries*

      also maybe. the only reason i’m posting and replying to comments is because…i have time off and i’m not really doing anything?? but when i go back to school, i know everything’s going to go back to stress + procastinating + loads of homework. So fuN! but also thank you ily

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  6. This is such a neat discussion! I’ve thought about these points before, and totally understand about almost wanting to have an unpopular opinion with hype books just cause you don’t want to be viewed as going with the flow! I personally am not a *super* critical reviewer, but I’ve definitely come to realize that it’s okay to have negative and unpopular reviews! 😊

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    1. Thank you kelly! I think when I first started out, I thought rating books high would be deemed more acceptable and I really wanted to intergate myself into the community. Now I’ve also come to terms with having unpopular opinions which I think is great. There shouldn’t be a pressure to like hyped books!

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  7. I stopped rating books, and it was one of the best things I ever did. As for reviews, I only really ever really posted them in my monthly wrap-ups and then I stopped doing that because of spoilers, and then I started posting links to my Goodreads reviews. I put a poll on Twitter asking if I should start posting one review a week on my blog and starting in the new year I’ll start posting one review a week on my blog. I think reviews are tough because sometimes people aren’t respectful of other people’s opinions.

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    1. A lot of bloggers commenting here have said they don’t rate books which I find really cool. I don’t know if I ever do that, but there are loads of struggles when it comes to rating because stars don’t really represent my true feelings on books. I don’t post much book reviews since I don’t find them the *most* interesting contest but one a week sounds great! Reviews, especially negative ones, ARE tough because there’s just people on the internet who don’t understand…that we’re all humans and think differently? not everyone’s going to love a book!

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  8. This is an interesting question! I generally write reviews for myself mostly, since they don’t get as much traffic as other posts anyway. But I usually only review books I really like, which I worry makes it seem that I’m lying or something! There are plenty of books I don’t like, but I prefer writing positive reviews. So yeah, this is something I think about a lot.

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment Margaret! That’s really interesting actually – I love to personally write reviews for books I don’t like because they’re easier. But there’s nothing wrong with sticking to positivity ❤

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  9. I don’t think rating most books highly is necessarily a sign of someone not being genuine; it could just mean that person is good at picking out books they enjoy. A lot of books I don’t enjoy are ones I was actually iffy about in the first place but decided to “give a chance.”

    I do think being genuine is really important though. I see pressure to rate books higher come from fans who jump on people who did not rate the book as highly as they wanted, and it’s concerning to me. If this happens to someone more than once (or maybe even just once) or if they see OTHER people getting attacked for giving books low ratings, it really can put pressure on bloggers to rate the book higher than they really want (say, bump it from 3 stars from 4) or to just avoid reviewing the book at all because it’s not worth the fight. Frankly, there are books I just haven’t even READ because I feel I can’t have a real opinion about them, that the the only option would be to praise the book or to keep my mouth shut. But if reviewers can’t be honest, I think there’s no purpose to reviewing. If we rate everything highly or just don’t post negative reviews, we risk becoming marketers rather than reviewers, people who hype books, all books, rather than offering actual opinions on them and…why would I want to read a blog like that?

    (And to be clear, I mean I am disappointed by people who attack others for having “wrong” opinions about books and limiting actual discourse about books. I completely understand anyone who avoids giving low ratings just so they don’t have to deal with being attacked over them. Blogging is a hobby and it ought to be fun.)

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    1. I agree! If you’re really good at picking out books of your taste, then you could just have a lot of highly-rated books!

      I definitely feel the pressure to rate books highly. often a time I have un unpopular opinion on a popular book or book with a storng fanbase and I do get people saying that my opinion is “wrong.” and point out why none of my points are valid? What really discoruages me from writing negative things about a review, is when I’ve written about why I didn’t feel the representation in a book was good and then people come in the comments telling me i’m wrong or whatever – because it takes so long to justify myself. I’m tired of ownvoices reviews not being taken seriously and always being picked on. And yes! I feel like it’s so important to give honest reviews…otherwise we’re just advertising the book?!

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  10. Thanks for your post, Ilsa, it made me think a lot!
    I’m only now hopping back to book blogging and I have yet to write my first review. Though I’ve come up with a lot of drafts, I feel like the main point of a review for me is making sure my personality is coming through as well. When we write discussions and tags, it’s easier to make funny comments and add other witty remarks, but when writing a review, I hardly ever find the space to do so. However, this is what, in my opinion, shapes a trustworthy review. When the person is only writing generic comments about “I liked the setting” or “The characters were well written”, it doesn’t give me much of a good impression. Obviously, this happens when a book is an average 3/4 stars, but for a super high or low rating, I expect a little bit more of depth, and again, personality. I think it’s very hard to write an unique review, but these are definitely my favorites to read.
    I don’t consider myself a critical reviewer, and I do admit I’m carried away by my emotions towards a book. I wouldn’t say the hype influences me that much, since I’m mostly a backlist reviewer and never keep up with new releases, but when I love a series or an author, it’s hard for me to let that go and review the book strictly for what it is.
    Anyway, your post turned out to be very useful. I’ll definitely keep this in mind when writing my future reviews.

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    1. You’re welcome for the food for thought! But also thank YOU for this sweet comment!
      That’s really interesting. I think showing your personality in any post, any reviews is very important. I get feeling there’s not enough space for that to come through – I feel like I’ve gotten very good at showing my personality through talking about books and reviewing them and I hope you can do that too!
      And I love unique reviews too – reading them and writing them. When I have a book I HATe, I normally have very long rants which I fall in love witoh writing.
      I’m carried away about my emotions towards a book TOO, and i’m kind of glad for it since…isn’t that what reading is about? Enjoying and FEELING things towards books.

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  11. I’m moving my blog to WordPress in 2019 so I only really have experience with the new editor haha but so far so good! And I definitely think reviews are important. Going on Goodreads/Amazon means I can be sucked into a rabbit hole of opinions that I may not like/will influence my review so I try to avoid that, but going on other people’s blogs is a reliable method for me. I will usually only read reviews of books I’ve read/have heard of and want to read, though. And it’s soooo easy to be influenced and swayed by other people’s opinions? Like please help my entire life is me formulating opinions on things I care about (but not a ton because then I have a cemented opinion) and then swinging back and forth as I see/read/hear of all these people I know and their opinions

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    1. WOOH GO WORDPRESS! And good luck with the editor, I hope it doesn’t scare and make you run away from WP forever. If you find it too tricky, you can switch to the “classical editor” but maybe you’ll like it? Who knows. ANd I always try to read reviews after i write mine, so i don’t get swayed into writing thoughts that weren’t originally my own. But after my review, I read other people’s opinions and I always feel like going back and changing MY review dhjfhdfj the struggles.

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  12. This is a very relatable thought, I end up thinking a lot of the same things. It feel good to know I am not alone in this :’)
    I think it goes with the territory of hoping other people do read and respond to what we write. The community is varied and seems to have differing opinions..I now feel less embarrassed about my own differing ratings of supposedly popular/unpopular books. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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  13. You bring up some good points! Sometimes I can’t even decide for myself if I liked the book or not — a lot of the time it’s the readers personal preference and not necessarily the quality of the book. Great post! Happy Holidays! 🥰✨🎄

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  14. I WORRY ABOUT THE SAME THINGS. I think this year I’ve been more… picky?… about my books and reviews because of the YEAR LONG SLUMP that I had, so I’ve actually tried to reflect more on the books? but!! same fears!! PLUS GETTING SWEPT UP IN THE HYPE IS A LEGITIMATE FEAR so I don’t even trust my own opinions????
    Recently I’ve not been reviewing either??? I just haven’t had the time, and I’ve been reading an average of like, a page a week or something. BUT ANYWAY. reviewing has gone from something that I love love loved to something that I stress about and makes me want to sob? but oh well, let’s have hope for 2019!
    I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate it and have a great new year, and get some time to read books soon!! and trust your opinions, you’re a queen!!

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    1. WELL, HELLO i AM GLAD PEOPLE ARE RELATING and i am not crazy. And yesssss! I feel like when I read a hyped book, I am like forcing myself to love it or something? BUT I WILL TRY AND Trust my opinions but also be critical of my thoughts – like did I REALLY like this or do i want to fit in. or Did I REALLY hate this or do i just want unpopular opinions? And sometimes Idek WHAT i think of a book? Like it’s so meh that I’m just like ??? what is this book. and I’ve been reading so little AS WELL but I’ve gotten back into eating books and I’m so glad!! AND I LOVE YOUR REVIEWS SO MUCH, pls don’t stress about them they’re so good. AND YOU HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR TOO AND READ SOME BOOKS *cough* legendary *cough*

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      1. T R U S T YOURSELF QUEEN 💗💗💗 these are all valid concerns to have, we all have them, but its YOUR opinion, YOUR thoughts, AND YOURE A QUEEN, you’ve got this!!!

        AWW THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Ur so sweet!! OMG yes ok I’ll buy it next!!

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  15. This is such an interesting post and… well, that makes me think a whole lot, just as well. I have to say that I never found myself too critical of a reader, even with years of blogging, since I’ve gotten to know my reading tastes quite well in years and years of reading, so… I feel like I’m rating my books pretty… nicely most of the time and now I wonder if people think I’m just too nice and not critical enough, while I’m just, lucky I guess, to pick up books I like most of the time?? I’m going to second guess everything right now haha. This is a great post, very interesting topic! ❤

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    1. I think not being a critical reader is great. Sometimes i’m super picky and sometimes i just get carried away with my emotions because I’m blinded by my love for a book. I actually like that I rate a lot of books highly and I really wish I could love every book. But I definitely trust you as a reviewer so DOn’t stress you’re amazing!!

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      1. Oh yes I get carried away by my emotions SO much sometimes and want to scream about a book over and over again, no matter what hahaha.
        Aww, thank you, that means a lot! ❤

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  16. ILSA THIS POST IS SO RELEVANT!!! ugh how are you so eloquent??
    i definitely feel the whole ‘if you rate lots of books 4 and 5 stars you become less trustworthy of a reviewer’ and i’ve seen a lot of people think that way towards bigger reviewers (whether their booktubers or just popular bloggers) but its so dumb like WHY DOES PEOPLE ENJOYING BOOKS = NOT BEING GENUINE

    for sure, i think when reviewers use more specific examples in their reviews, their personal opinions shows stronger. it’s definitely a topic of discussion but honestly i do love reading your reviews (especially those rants, sis the tea is always divine) and I HOPE YOU GET BACK TO REVIEWING AND READING MORE

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    1. ugh how you are so kind and amazing, the world shall never know.

      I knOW I struggle(d?) with this so much. like, if i was rating a popular book 4/5 stars I’d be like “am i even looking at this critically?” I always used to feel bad about high ratings even when I enjoyed a book. And like “I enjoyed this book but it had so many flaws….why am I rating it so high?” I struggle with what’s RIGHT to rate a book on; enjoyment or technicaly good book…does that make sense?

      AND honestly thank you thank youuuuu you’re the best I HOPE I GET BACK TO REVIEWING MORE TOO. and your reviews are always entertaining! x

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  17. I absolutely love this post so much, Ilsa! Like you, I want to be “taken seriously” and trusted as a book reviewer, and I toil over each of my reviews to make sure they are balanced with tangible examples as to why I loved/hated a book. I also worry that I will lose credibility if I rate everything super high, but I have to keep telling myself that is so ridiculous. I am getting better at choosing books that I will enjoy, and that doesn’t mean anything. If anything I worry that I am overly critical.

    I hope you get back into reading and reviewing in 2019 if that is what you want to be doing! I make a point to read reviews and comment if I have something genuine to say because I know those posts get the least engagement. They are my favorite to write, so I try to pay the engagement I hope for forward.

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    1. Thank you Kaleena! I’m always worried about rating books high – like will people think I’m not “cool” enough to have unpopular opinions? Sometimes I fear this is irrational, but I’ve also noticed people who hate popular books…get wayyy more fame than anyone else. But I don’t want to rate nearly all the books I read low just to be popular on goodreads. What If i’m just enjoying a lot of books?

      And ah that’s such a kind thing to do. Reviews take so much effort and get such little interaction, so that’s such a kind sentiment!

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  18. Ok first off I confess I spent 5 seconds on the new wordpress editor and then installed an widget that let me use the old one again. 😭😂 IT’S HORRIBLE IT MAKES NO SENSE!! GAH!

    Anyway! onto your post! I do think writing trustworthy and genuine reviews is super important…and fun! But I guess we have to be careful about judging people for being “un-genuine” too?? Like I’ve stopped writing negative reviews (author life 😭) but I don’t lie and flail about books I don’t like. I just, lol, ignore their existence. I hope people don’t see me as un-genuine for that!? But I definitely get wary when I only see a blogger loving everything and only reading hyped books…they MIGHT be genuine in everything they feel, but yeah, it feels a bit like just going along with the crowd and not really thinking too hard?! But I’m scared to misjudge.😂

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    1. I really did try with the editor, I was so excited WP was dojng something new but it’s just so conufusing and weird AND I’m back to the classical editor to!

      I definitely think you’re a genuine reviewer!! Even though you don’t write negative reviews anymore, you still talk about disappointing reads etc. on your blog so it’s fine!! And i HATE judging people for like what they’re rating and such but I still worry about my own ratings. Am I too critical? Am I too generous? Will people think I’M just following the hype. I DON’T KNOW. This reviewing business is very scary

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  19. THIS POST IS SO GOOD, ILSA. Ahh, you summed up all my scattered thoughts in just one post!

    Sometimes I worry that I am unconsciously enjoying hyped books more? I don’t know if that can happen, but I feel as if when you constantly hear all good things about a book, you want to like it so much that after you read it you think you like it…even if it really wasn’t the best book you’ve ever read. That’s kind of scary to think about?!

    Hopefully, even if I’m rating a lot of books highly, it still means I enjoyed them. I see myself as a pretty uncritical reader- most of the time, I find myself enjoying what I’m reading. (wait am I actually enjoying it or did I just brainwash myself??) Ahh, anyway, I kind of started rambling in this comment, but great post, it really made me think!

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    1. I WORRY ABOUT THAT TOO. like am i only noticing the good things in this book BECAUSE it’s hyped and i’ve read raving reviews? or am i only rating this high because i want to join the hype? I AM QUESTIONING MY OWN EXISTENCE AND THOUGHTS. help.

      and thank you olivia!! i feel like my discussions post suck but i’m glad it made you think a little haha. have a wonderful 2019 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I agree with the first point a lot. I was rereading a lot of old books I had enjoyed (during 2018(, and I had a lot of 4 and 5 stars. Like… guys. I’m not this lucky, I promise. This was after read all those other sucky books. I just happened to get on Goodreads just now to review all of these. 😂

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