Best Book Series for Adults – 18 Reader Picks

When we decided to write a post about the best book series for adults, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to ask our voracious readers for help. And wow, did they come through!

How We Determined Which Book Series Made the List

We had almost 300 readers share their favorite adult book series and why they loved it.

We sorted through all the results and narrowed down the list based on the books that had multiple recommendations from different readers. You’ll see a mix of the most popular book series for adults and some lesser-known surprises!

As we researched good book series for adults, one common thread emerged regardless of the genre. The second book is usually rated higher than the first.

While several factors probably play into that phenomenon, keep it in mind if you’re debating whether to continue reading a series after book one. Because you and the author both already know the characters, the second might be a more enjoyable read.

The Best Book Series According to Our Readers

Three Louise Penny books

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: Still Life
Most Recent Book In the Series: The Grey Wolf, 2024

Our readers rated Chief Inspector Gamache as the overall best series!

If you love character-driven murder mystery books, this popular series is for you! Each book in the series takes place in the fictional village of Three Pines, Quebec, where the Chief Inspector investigates murders and uncovers long-buried secrets that lie below the seemingly idyllic surface of the town.

Sequential Series:
While these books could be read as stand-alone’s, many readers suggest reading them in order because the characters develop over time.

Quotes From Our Readers:
These are mysteries not of the cozy type. Louise Penny is considered a modern-day Agatha Christie. She is a master at creating characters you love not despite their flaws but because of them. Her use of humor also helps the reader connect with the characters. It’s one of those series where readers cannot wait for the next book because they have to get back to Three Pines and spend more time with its residents. -Kathy R.

I love the setting in a small town called Three Pines and the characters are wonderful. I love mystery books and Louise gives you a great mystery and makes you believe you know every character as a friend or foe! – Karen D.

I encourage people to continue the series even if they are not enamored with the first book, Still Life. I believe the author has improved the characters and storyline in subsequent books. – Anita F.

Louise Penny makes the town of Three Pines come alive and while you are reading, you feel as if you are there, as each of the townsfolk is a brilliantly developed character. Oh, and did I mention – the mysteries in each are so, so good. I read lots of mysteries and these are by far my favorite. Do I want to live in Three Pines? Heck, yes! Even if it is a little “murdery”. – Laura M.

All about the characters and how Ms. Penny reveals their backstories bit by bit….like peeling an onion. It keeps you interested in why they are as they are, how they came to live in this Heaven that is Three Pines and how each connects, like a jigsaw to each other. Now add in murder to each book and not your cookie-cutter version and you have a fantastic series that shows no signs of running out of steam anytime soon.

Books 1-7 in the series are currently included with Kindle Unlimited.

Three books in outlander series with outlander on top

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: Outlander

Most Recent Book In the Series: Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, 2021

The Outlander series follows Claire Randall, a nurse, in 1945—except she doesn’t stay in 1945. She accidentally time travels to the 1743 Scottish Highlands and finds herself in the middle of brutal fighting between the British Red Coats and a rebel group. Throughout the series, Claire is torn between her new life in the past and the world she came from, including some unexpected romance.

Sequential Series:
You’ll definitely want to read this New York Times best-selling series in order.

Quotes From Our Readers:
All of her characters are so well fleshed out. The dialogue is amazing. Every word moves something forward — the plot, setting, characters— without feeling labored. It is also genre-spanning. Mostly I would characterize it as historical fiction, but sometimes it is romance, thriller, mystery, science fiction, sometimes there are bits of non-fiction relationship and scientific moments. – Carrie D.

Diana Gabaldon transports readers back in time to Scotland and America of the 1700s through her very well-researched and detailed writing. She has created an extensive cast of unique characters who are heroic and flawed at the same time. The series begins as a romance but transforms into an epic about the love of family. Yes, these books are long, but each time I read one I feel like I’m catching up with old friends. – Christina M.

This series is truly genre-defying. There is so much research that goes into the writing of these books, and I appreciate the historical, geographical, and scientific detail the author provides. The characters are complex and flawed and start to feel like family. I recommend Outlander to so many friends! – Ashley M.

Thrilling and compelling with great adult scenes, and the folks are not all young. Tons of history, romance with a touch of fantasy. – Diane B.

3 books in Maisie Dobbs Series

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: Maisie Dobbs
Most Recent Book In the Series: The Comfort of Ghosts, 2024

In the first book, you’ll meet Maisie during her younger years, as she works as a maid and then trains as a nurse during WWI. The book then skips to 1929 when she becomes a rare female private investigator, which forms the basis for the rest of the series as she solves mysteries with her staff and grows as a person.

Sequential Series:
The books progress through time, including historically accurate events, so it makes sense to enjoy these great books in order.

Quotes From Our Readers:
Very well researched historical fiction with a mystery. Themes within the series are often based on what her parents went through during the war, both WW1 and WW2. I’ve been engrossed in this series since I read the first book in the series. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book, due out in March! – Wilma D.

Maisie is a young girl who, through her own intelligence and hard work, works as a private investigator in London after WW I. The series moves with the times and
Maise’s character develops as she and her staff solve mysteries. – Mary P

I love how Maisie has developed professionally and personally. I love that she is a strong intelligent woman. And I love books set in England in the 1900s. -Lorene J.

three Jan Karon book covers.

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: At Home in Mitford
Final Book In the Series: To Be Where You Are, 2017

Mitford is a charming village and the home of Father Tim, a bachelor rector. Although the town is lovely and full of interesting characters, Father Tim is lonely. Throughout the series, you’ll see his daily misadventures in life and, eventually, love.

This beautiful series is the perfect pick if you like clean fiction or are just in the mood for pleasant, heart-warming, great stories. The books have such a following that the author has opened The Mitford Museum in her hometown.

Sequential Series:
This one needs to be read in order as it follows Father Tim’s life.

Quotes From Our Readers:
This series is a clean, wholesome, funny series about a country rector, a precocious boy, and a dog named Barnabas. The town is full of quirky characters and Father Tim can’t help but get involved in all the town’s business. Warm, friendly, loveable, that’s how I’d describe this series. -Jane C.

Oh, how I love the characters and their humanness. Father Tim inspires me to embrace all people with kindness and understanding. -Gerri A.

Ordinary people, but extraordinarily portrayed, with warmth, humor, and pathos. Being in Mitford is like a vacation for your soul! – Gretchen S.

three kinsey milllhone book covers.

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: A is for Alibi
Final Book In the Series: Y is for Yesterday, 2017

Kinsey Millhone is a tough former cop turned private investigator living in a quiet area of California. While she’s been divorced twice and doesn’t have deep connections with others, she’s still drawn to underdogs. Throughout the series, her small agency solves a series of mysteries.

Sadly Sue Grafton passed away while writing the final installment, Z is for Zero, so this series concludes with book 25.

Sequential/Standalone Series:
Kinsey does grow throughout the series, so going in order is best. However, each book stands alone as its own mystery, so if you’re getting the books from the library as you can, it won’t be too confusing to go out of order.

Quotes From Our Readers:

The main character, Kinsey Millhone, is quirky, funny, and smart. The stories are very entertaining and escapist. – Betsy D.

Each story is great on its own, but you also get to grow and change with the main character, Kinsey, on a personal level. -Jodi S.

Kinsey Milhone always seems to get herself into some crazy predicaments. I am on my second time reading the series. A book series that I can never put down.

12 Books in the series are currently included with Kindle Unlimited

3 books in No 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Most Recent Book In the Series: From a Far and Lovely Country, 2023

In this charming series, we are introduced to Precious Ramotswe who uses her inheritance from her father to set up shop as Botswana’s No.1 (and only) lady detective. She has no professional training, so she relies on her well-worn copy of The Principles of Private Detection, as well as her common sense, curiosity, and gumption.

Unlike many other detective series with fast-paced, thrilling plots, the books in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series are slow and meandering, without ever being boring. These cozy crime stories are heavily character-driven, and in each book Precious solves a number of short cases, each of which provides insights and observations into daily life in Botswana.

Raised in what is now known as Zimbabwe, author Alexander McCall Smith was a law professor at the University of Botswana before becoming a prolific author who has written and contributed to more than 100 books.

Sequential Series – These books could easily be enjoyed as stand-alone reads, but are even more enjoyable when read in order because of the character development throughout the series.

Quotes from our Readers:

Lovely, authentic, slow-paced, and relaxing reads that are full of gentle humor, warmth, and insight into human behavior. With the added bonus of thoroughly immersing the reader into Botswana culture from an author who lived there for years and loves the country. -Stephanie M.

This is my “go to” series for comfy, cozy reading. You really get to know the characters, the scenery, and the customs of Botswana. It’s very well written and I’ll probably read more series by this author.

This is a series of very gentle mysteries that allow Precious Ramotswe (founder of the agency) and her co-worker, Grace Makutsi, to solve “crimes” with common sense and patience. Start with the first book in the series (to understand the back story) with a recommendation to listen to the audio; it puts the accent and pronunciation into one’s mind which can be heard while reading other books in the series. These are very soothing and quick reads if one needs a “brain break”. – Anita M.

3 Harry Potter Book Covers

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Final Book In the Series: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter was orphaned as a baby and sent to live with his abusive aunt and uncle. On his eleventh birthday, he receives an invitation to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and learns for the first time that he possesses magical powers and that his parents did not die in a car accident but were, in fact, powerful wizards who were murdered.

At Hogwarts, Harry befriends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Throughout each book, Harry and his best friends learn about their magic and overcome dangerous obstacles at every turn. The main story arc of the series involves Harry struggling to defeat Lord Voldemort – the powerful dark wizard who seeks to take over the wizarding world.

While these best sellers were originally written as middle-grade books, it’s important to keep in mind that the characters age 7 years over the course of the series. Kids who began reading the series when the first book was released were older teen readers by the time the final book was published. As a result, the series was written to grow with them – with later installments being young adult books rather than middle-grade.

These books make excellent family read-alouds, but we don’t recommend binge-reading the entire Harry Potter series one right after another with younger children. Each book has some elements that might be frightening to some children, depending on how sensitive they are, but the first three are generally enjoyable for most kids. The final four books, however, become darker and more complex. This is one of the reasons that teens and adults love them, but they might be a bit too intense for kids under age 10 or 11.

Sequential Series – These books must be read in order because the plot points build from one book to the next. Even if you’ve seen some of the movies, we still recommend reading the Harry Potter series from the beginning because many important characters and complex plots were cut out of the movies, which will leave you very confused if you haven’t read each of the books in sequence.

Quotes from our Readers:

The excitement these books create as the stories unfold is just inspiring. You feel like you want to live with these characters. You are happy with them, sad with them, scared with them, and angry with them.

The story is so captivating, I’ve always loved that the series grew up with the reader.

All seven books in the series are currently included with Kindle Unlimited.

In Death Book Series Covers

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: Naked in Death

Most Recent Book In the Series: Passions in Death, 2024

This female detective series is set in the future, in the year 2058, in New York City. Eve has been on the force for 10 years and has a talent for hunting down ruthless killers. In the first book, you’ll meet Rouke, a billionaire and suspect in one of Eve’s cases. Throughout the series, you’ll see his relationship with Eve evolve as she continues working on challenging cases. If you’re worried about the book hangover that can happen after a series, you can avoid it for a long time since In Death is the longest series on our list with 55 books!

Sequential/Standalone Series:
This is another hybrid series in which each book has a stand-alone case to solve, but the characters’ relationships outside the cases evolve throughout the books. Some recommend reading books 1-3 to get the full background and then jumping around as you can access the books if necessary.

Quotes From Our Readers:
The character development, the clever hunting for serial killers, the long-standing relationships, the humor, and the futuristic world. – Heather V.

This series is written by Nora Roberts under the pseudonym J. D. Robb. Her storytelling skills hold true regardless of the name she uses. The characters are so believable. You, the reader, become invested in their lives. The murders being investigated in each book are interesting and seldom cut and dry. There are running gags throughout the series. So far, there are 50+ books and still going strong. – Jane A.

3 books from Stephanie Plum Series

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: One for the Money
Most Recent Book In the Series: Now or Never: Thirty One on the Run

In a twist on the typical detective series, Stephanie Plum is an untrained bounty hunter in New Jersey who only took the job with her creepy cousin, Vinnie, because of a desperate need for some quick cash. The first book in the series introduces you to several zany and endearing s from Ranger, the hot and secretive former special forces bounty hunter, and Joe Morelli, a former vice cop charged with murder. However, it’s Grandma Mazur who really steals the show.

While they have a mystery component, these books are most known for their humor and escapism. You have to be willing to accept and laugh at ridiculous circumstances to enjoy them – think sitcom vs. drama. In the early days of these books, it was a favorite series for multiple generations of Melissa’s family.

Sequential Series:
Stephanie’s “career” as a bounty hunter and relationships with all the other characters evolve in a way that makes the most sense to read in order.

Quotes From Our Readers:
Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter, is a hot mess we can all relate to. The characters are wonderfully well-defined. It has murder, mystery, drama, comedy, and love. They’re a great “light” entertaining, easy read. – Penny P.

Enduring characters, laugh out loud funny. A bit quirky, but not the same story again and again. -Jodi S.

3 book covers from Longmire series.

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: The Cold Dish
Most Recent Book In the Series: First Frost 2024

Sheriff Walt Longmire thinks his 25-year tenure in Wyoming is winding down when a young man is found at the edge of the Cheyenne reservation. Was his death payback for the assault of a young Cheyenne girl two years earlier? Throughout the series, you’ll see Longmire’s investigations and relationships with lifelong friend Henry Standing Bear and Deputy Victoria Moretti. The books are modern westerns, with book 1 set around 2004 and each book continuing through the present day.

Sequential Series:
Each book builds on the others and fills in gaps, so it’s ideal to read this series in order. However, each book is also a standalone mystery, and the author provides enough character background to make every installment work as a standalone if necessary.

Quotes From Our Readers:
The way these books are written just draws you in. There is humor, suspense, sorrow. The characters feel so real.

A real cowboy sheriff and his friends in a small town in Wyoming. The characters are fleshed out in his writing with many surprising facets. Very human in their responses to difficult circumstances.

Great descriptions of the places and people. I listened to the audiobooks and the narrator enhances the story. – Tammy B.

3 books from Seven Sisters series.

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: The Seven Sisters
Final Book In the Series: Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt, 2023

This culture and character-rich series will take you around the world as a group of adopted sisters explore their origin story and how they came to be adopted as babies by their father. When he dies, they’re called together and receive clues to their true heritage. Each book follows a different sister as they explore their past, each in a different region of the globe.

Sequential Series:
While each installment focuses on a different character, the books are chronological and should be read in order as plot points are connected between books.

Quotes From Our Readers:
The rich characters, the entire storyline of each sister, the journeys you take to different countries and the love this family shares. Riley’s writing is beautiful and brilliant.

Each book is set in a different country with a common thread of mystery running through them all. The sister’s individual stories and their interactions as well as the possible answer to how they all came to be adopted by their father kept me reading. – Priya P.

three book covers from All Souls series.

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: A Discovery of Witches
Most Recent Book In the Series: The Black Bird Oracle, 2024

The All Souls fantasy series follows the story of Diana Bishop, a historian, and reluctant witch, as she solves the mystery of Ashmole 782, falls in love with a mysterious vampire named Matthew Clairmont, and learns how powerful it can be to accept who you are. Although it was originally known as the “All Souls Trilogy,” a fourth book – Time’s Convert – was published in 2018 and the fifth installment is being published in 2024.

Sequential Series:
It’s important to read the All Souls series in order. The first book in the series ends on a cliffhanger and the second book picks up from there.

Quotes From Our Readers:
It’s like Twilight for adults! -Katie H.

Amazing writing, intriguing storylines! Historical fantasy books with a witch and vampire that fall in love, time travel, and demons …it has it all. – Beverly S.

Anne of Green Gables book cover

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: Anne of Green Gables

Final Book In the Series: Rilla of Ingleside

This charming, classic series has remained popular with kids and adults alike for the last 100 years.

When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert reach out to an orphanage to give a home to a boy who could also help them out on their Prince Edward Island farm, a mix-up results in eleven-year-old Anne Shirley being dropped off to their care. Not only is Anne not the boy they expected, she’s also mischievous, talkative, and has a bad temper! However, they also see her remarkable imagination and creativity.

As the series progresses, we see Anne go from school girl to college student to teacher to mother. The classic Anne of Green Gables series includes six titles that follow Anne from childhood through adulthood. Montgomery went on to write two additional books about Anne’s children, which are now considered numbers 7 and 8 in the Anne of Green Gables series.

Sequential Series:
The books in this series are intended to be read in order as you follow Anne through each stage of her life.

Quotes From Our Readers:
Anne grows throughout the phases of her life, from school to romances, to teaching, to family and children (and then we get to know her children!), but her heart and humor and L.M. Montgomery’s beautiful and nature-filled writing are consistently excellent. I have read every book multiple times. The gossipy community news and a full and evolving cast of characters fill out Anne’s world.

Montgomery was ahead of her time. She created an entire world of complex characters with unique backstories. She follows Anne from girlhood to middle age, and the characters are so well-loved, you never tire of reading about more of their adventures. Anne is an early feminist icon as a girl who completed college and went on to have a career when this was not common for women. – Pandia G.

3 books from Bruno Chief of Police series

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: Bruno, Chief of Police
Most Recent Book In the Series: A Grave in the Woods

Bruno is a former soldier turned police officer who has happily embraced a slower way of life in the idyllic village of St. Denis in the South of France. But when a series of murders interrupt the peace and quiet of small-town life, Bruno must balance his beloved routines – living in his restored shepherd’s cottage, shopping at the local market, drinking wine – with his thrilling detective duties.

Sequential Series:

While the books in this series are murder mysteries, they are just as much stories about the people of St. Denis and life in the village, and as a result, it’s important to read them in order. Throughout each book, you see how their relationships evolve and get to know their slowly revealed pasts.

Quotes From Our Readers:

This is a fun murder mystery series set in the south of France. The food, people, and descriptions of the place give the reader the sense of actually being there! Great reads! -Abra S.

These are good mysteries set in France. Bruno loves wine and cooks like a chef. Every time I read a book from this series it takes me right back to France….the scenery, the food, the wine. -Beth W.

Commissario Brunetti book covers.

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: Death at La Fenice
Most Recent Book In the Series: A Refiner’s Fire, 2024

For the past 30 years, the Commisario Brunetti series has thrilled readers each March with new stories of Guido Brunetti, an Italian police captain who investigates crimes throughout Venice.

From mafia corruption to art collectors, and from military academies to opera houses, Brunetti’s cases transport readers to Italy. Through his eyes, you’ll see not only the famous canals and palazzi of Venice but also the darker corners of this ancient city. These wildly popular crime novels provide significant insights into Venitian society.

Standalone Series – Although Brunetti and the other main characters are the same throughout the series, each novel has an independent plot with a full conclusion. Although many people prefer to read this series in order, you don’t have to read the previous book in order to understand the next one.

Quotes From Our Readers:

Set in Venice, Italy, Commissario Brunetti does his job admirably with like-minded co-workers while avoiding the ramblings and (often unrelated) suggestions of his boss. Always with a thoughtful and kind approach to victims of a crime while searching out the perpetrators of the offense. Brunetti has a supportive wife and two children who ground him as to what is important in life. -Anita F.

The stories are unusual, the characters are multi-dimensional, and the combination of ordinary humanity + philosophy + literature is compelling.

Song of Ice and Fire book covers.

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: A Game of Thrones

Most Recent Book In the Series: A Dance with Dragons

This series of epic fantasy novels takes place on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos. Throughout the series, three main stories are woven together, including a dynastic war among several families who want to control Westeros, the rising threat of the supernatural Others in the northernmost region of Westeros, and the ambition of the deposed king’s exiled daughter to assume the Iron Throne.

Even if you’ve already watched the series on HBO, the series is well worth reading. The books include many characters, subplots, and other details that never made it to the screen. Additionally, the books are told from many different perspectives, with the point of view switching to a new character from chapter to chapter.

The author originally envisioned the series as a trilogy, but now plans to publish a total of seven volumes. The first five books were written over a period of 20 years. The most recent book was published in 2011, but the author has confirmed that he’s working on the sixth and seventh installments, which are expected to be titled The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. He has also confirmed that the ending in the books will be totally different from the controversial finale of the TV series.

Sequential Series – This series includes a long list of characters and complicated plotlines that continue from one to the next, so reading these books in order is a must.

Quotes from our Readers:

It has everything: characters you love or hate, witty dialogue, intrigue, quests, road trips, battles, romance, mystery, and … dragons. And it’s very long! -Weezie F.

With this series, I made a deep connection with each of the characters. The storyline was full of great battles, the intrigue of what goes on to gain the Iron Throne was at times intense, you soon had your favorite characters, mine will always be Tryion. -Dena S.

3 women's murder club book covers.

Book Summary

First Book in the Series: 1st to Die

Most Recent Book In the Series: The 24th Hour

In this thrilling series set in San Francisco, four crime-solving friends work together, each bringing unique expertise to their cases. Lindsay Boxer is a homicide inspector for the SFPD, Claire Washburn is a medical examiner, Jill Bernhardt is an assistant D.A., and Cindy Thomas works the crime desk of the SF Chronicle. When the usual procedures aren’t working, these women form the Women’s Murder Club and think outside of the box.

In addition to crime-solving, the series also follows the personal lives of these four women, as well as the professional challenges they face. Be aware that these books contain descriptions of grisly murders, and some mature sexual content.

Sequential Series:
These books are best read in order since they also follow the personal lives of women, allowing you to really get to know the characters. The books typically follow a specific case through to a conclusion, but at least one of the books ends with a cliffhanger that will have you rushing to read the next in the series.

Quotes from our Readers:

It has strong, successful female lead characters with interesting storylines. Murder, mystery, suspense, drama, and romance. Very easy to read, yet interesting. -Penny P.

I love how the characters have developed over time. There are currently 22 books in the series so I’ve been able to ‘grow’ with the characters. -Alison G.

Everyone on our email list had an opportunity to submit their favorite series for this post. If you’d like to share your favorite reads for future reader favorite posts, sign up for our newsletter below!

Large white diamond with black text reading 19 of the Best Book Series for Adults, over the top of 4 mostly hidden book covers


Comments on: Best Book Series for Adults - 18 Reader Picks

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  1. Carol Haworth says:

    My favorite series books are: 1) The Cemetery of Forgotten Book starting with The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron, 2) Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy and 3) Marilynne Robinson’s 4 part series starting with Gilead and ending with Jack.

  2. Karen Fontaine says:

    Have you considered the Brooch Series by Katherine Lowry Logan? It is one of my favorites. I have read most of the series mentioned in your article.

  3. Toni Hill says:

    I somehow missed the opportunity to contribute! I love the Lady Hardcastle (T E Kinsey) series; the Cat Who mysteries (Lillian Jackson Braun), the Aunt Dimity series (Nancy Atherton), Thrush Green series (Miss Read), and the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter (Susan Wittig Albert)!

    1. Melissa George says:

      Thanks for sharing them here! We’re planning on doing one questionnaire per month for readers to submit their favorite books for different themes so you’ll have plenty more opportunities this year! They’ll be linked in the emails, with the next one being next Friday.

  4. Jodi K. Paul says:

    Some great series’ here and I appreciate the suggestions for those I haven’t read! If I had to pick one series favorite among the ones I’ve read, it would be the Gabriel Allon series by Silva. He is funny, sarcastic, moody, humble, and so endearing. I cheer in my mind when certain recurring characters show up, especially the stubborn goat in Corsica! IYKYK!

    Thanks for putting in all the time to give us more suggestions! 💜

  5. Karla Kimball says:

    Thanks for this list And you did an excellent job in the summaries, upcoming books and details. You guys ROCK! Thank you.