Reading Manual



This is a personal and non-commercial blog. The texts, videos and reviews published here are not sponsored. All opinions and ideas are my own. All books reviewed here were purchased by me or borrowed from the public library, unless otherwise noted.  In case I accept something for free in exchange for writing about it, I will disclose that in the post.

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. For each book you buy using my link, I earn a small commission, which I use to buy more books! I am also a member of KloutNetGalley, Edelweiss, Blogging for Books, and the Book Review Programme over at SocialBookCo – as with Book Depository, I earn a small amount for each book you buy using the link I post on my reviews.

You might sometimes see ads on this blog, because it is hosted on on their free plan. They run ads on free sites to help cover costs, and they say these ads are run sparingly in an attempt to interfere as little as possible with the experience of reading a site. You can read more about their policy here. I earn nothing with those ads.

I am responsible for customizing the blog’s template, as well as for editing the texts, videos and images published here. As to my personal standpoint and biases, I will try to declare them where I think it’s relevant. My views, as expressed on this blog, are not representative of any political party or religious organization. I am available on Twitter, Goodreads, and via blog comments for anyone who has questions or concerns about editorial policy or unstated biases.

My reading taste

Most of my reading comes from my local library, public domain eBooks or books I purchase. As you may expect, my blog reflects my reading tastes. I read both nonfiction (memoirs, biographies, personal essays) and fiction (classics, modern classics, contemporary books, historical and literary fiction, poetry, books in translation), as well as literary theory and criticism.

I enjoy reading as diversely as I can, in terms of the author’s gender and country of origin. I have a particular interest in reading female authors, poetry and LGBTQ fiction. Here you can find out more about my current reading projects. Here are some of my  favourite books (more favourites here). I am not a professional reviewer: I am a passionate reader. This blog is all about sharing this love.

My Review Policy

Reading is my hobby and I do not actively seek books for review. However, I am always happy to consider reading books written by debut female authors, as well as books published by small and independent publishing houses or by university press. Below you can find my guidelines and review policy, as well as information about my reading habits.


  • I do not review self-published work;
  • I do not review books I don’t like (books to which I give one star or less, according to my rating system). If you like, I may provide you with the reasons why I didn’t like a particular book, but I won’t write a full review about it. That’s something to keep in mind: I do not guarantee I will review your book;
  • I do not accept unsolicited books for review;
  • I do not accept a book for review unless it meets at least two of the conditions listed below:
    • it is published by a small, independent publishing house or by university press;
    • it belongs to a literary genre I enjoying reading, or deals with a topic that interests me;
    • it’s a book in translation;
    • it’s a fiction or non-fiction book that expresses under-reported perspectives;
    • the author is a person of colour;
    • the author is a woman;
    • the author is one of my favourites (more favourites here).
  • I reserve the right to express my opinions – good or bad – in my reviews. I  will not guarantee a positive review of your work just because you sent me a copy for review. However, I’ll try to give you constructive criticism;
  • I strive to be fair and honest in my reviews, regardless of how I overall felt about the book, and I try to identify both its strengths and weaknesses;
  • I prefer eBook review copies.

If you are a publisher, literary agent or author, please read my review policy before contacting me. After reading the guidelines above, if you feel that I might enjoy your book, please send me a press release.  I’ll take a look and let you know if I’m interested. Please bear in mind that I do not review self-published work, and I do not participate in blog tours.

Please note that I get an overwhelming amount of email and I will not respond messages that do not take my guidelines into account. If I receive a review request for a book that doesn’t match my guidelines, I will ignore it. If you don’t hear from me in 7 days, please assume that your message doesn’t match my guidelines, and that I’ve ignored it. If nonetheless you persist in sending me requests that don’t match my conditions, your messages will be labeled as SPAM, and they will be automatically deleted. If I don’t respond to your messages or emails, your email may have been labeled as SPAM and thus blacklisted. I adopt such a strict policy because I had too many problems with random people who know no boundaries when they are online (including one crazy guy who, not having received any response for his persistent emails, started to think  that I was sending him hidden messages through my book reviews. Creepy guy, to say the least).

I advocate for freedom in blogging: I blog however I like, read whatever I want, whenever I want. This blog is written by me and it is for me: there’s no worrying on my part about boring an audience, because the audience is me. And I subscribe to “The Reader’s Bill of Rights”:

“The Reader’s Bill of Rights
1. The right to not read
2. The right to skip pages
3. The right to not finish
4. The right to reread
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to escapism
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to browse
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to not defend your tastes”

— Daniel Pennac, Better Than Life


 If, after reading the above information and guidelines, you feel that I may enjoy your book, please contact me! 🙂

My rating system

Book ratings:

  • 1 star – weak (0 to 7 points) – I regret ever having read this book.
  • 2 stars – regular (8 to 12 points) – There were some major flaws in the book, as well as some good aspects.
  • 3 stars – good (13 to 18 points) – A good read, strong in some areas, average in others.
  • 4 stars – very good (19 to 26 points) – Strong book.
  • 5 stars – mindblowing (27 os more points) – A book that was transformative for me. I will reread this book!


  • Boldness – 0-3 points
  • Impact – 0-3 points
  • Innovation – 0-3 points
  • Pace – 0-3 points
  • Plot (when applicable) – 0-3 points
  • Characters (when applicable) – 0-3 points
  • Writing – 0-3 points
  • Insightfulness – 0-3 points
  • How much did the book affect me? – 0-10 points

My rating system is very personal: it is closely related to my particular experience of reading the book I am evaluating. I also take into consideration whether the book fulfilled or not what the author had initially proposed to. My ratings are given in relative terms: I only take into account the comparison between books within the same genre. I do not compare books that belong to different genres. My system is also subjected to my tastes: it’s more a rating of my experience as I was reading the book. The criteria may change over time, and ratings may change when I reread a book. My rating system changes as I change.

All images are credited. Just hover on the picture to see the name of the author. Images whose authorship I could not find out after research are tagged as “unknown Author”. If you by chance know the authorship of any of the images so tagged, please let me know. All artworks posted here are the property of their respective copyright owners. Any works posted against the wishes of the copyright owner will be removed asap upon request. You can contact me on Twitter, Goodreads and via comments on this blog.

The remaining images are my own. In this case, if the image contains pictures of people, you may not copy or reproduce them without my prior written permission. In the remaining cases (ie buttons for literary projects and challenges), the picture may be reproduced, provided that they are properly credited.

Unless otherwise attributed, all written material, home videos and personal photographs published on this website are © The Blank Garden by Juliana Brina. Unauthorized use of this material is strictly prohibited. This work may not be republished without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner. Excerpts and links may be reproduced only by authorization of the author and for non commercial use, provided that full and clear credit is given to Juliana Brina and The Blank Garden, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may only be available by contacting the author. To do so, please visit the contact page. Under no circumstances can permissions for commercial purposes be provided. This work may never be used or reproduced for commercial purposes or in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.

Please do not use my words, videos or personal photos without attribution. Thank you.

Comments and Readership Engagement

First and foremost, I would like to thank you all for taking the time to comment on my blog.

I do try to promote book discussions by replying to your comment here or by visiting your blog. Nonetheless, I do hold comments for moderation, in order to ensure an as orderly debate as possible. Everyone can express their opinion here, as long as they are polite with each other. I welcome your differences of opinion, and I do strive to keep this a civil and comfortable place for all of you. Feel free to explain why you disagree with me, but I do not allow personal attacks on myself or other commentators. I do not edit or delete comments unless they are abusive, hateful or clearly spam. Obscene language will be removed from your post. As moderator, I reserve the right to use my judgment when it comes to approving comments.

Smart, insightful comments are always welcome, as are critical ones expressed with intelligence, good manners and wit. Rude, abusive and disrespectful comments are not. Automated and anonymous messages will not be published, nor will messages promoting commercial services or products.

Privacy Policy

WordPress commenting system asks for your email address when you comment. This helps us to distinguish spambots from real people. Personal information such as email addresses, last names and mailing addresses collected for email subscriptions or comments are never sold or disseminated to a third party. This information will only be used for the purpose for which it was supplied.


If you enjoy my work, please consider supporting what I do!

If you’re interested in buying any of the books reviewed here, please consider clicking on my affiliate links. It would be much appreciated! For each book you buy using the following links (Book Depository & Amazon), I earn a small commission, which I use to buy more books! 🙂

You can also donate any amount of money to the blog. Any donations will mean a lot to me, but please do not feel obligated to do it!  Donate with PayPal

Thank you in advance for supporting my blog, whether it is through a donation or by reading, commenting and sharing what I write.  ❤

Thank you for dropping by my blank garden 🙂