mini reviews | lots of 5-star reads this fall

Today, I’m catching up on allll the reviews I’ve compiled since my last mini-review post in August.  I’ve had a really good reading record and have mostly 5 stars on this list!

Here are my 2020 fall mini reviews.

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
After reading Illuminae, I thought there was no way Kaufman and Kristoff could write a novel more engaging and adventurous.  Thankfully, I was so wrong; Gemina was absolutely riveting.  I love the design elements of this novel as well; it’s structured like a dossier of evidence against the malevolent company Beitech.  I also think this series is great for readers who don’t often pick up sci-fi novels; it’s pretty approachable and a great way to jump into the genre.  5/5 stars.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Glad to report that this book is worth every bit of hype it’s received!  I loved the back-and-forth perspective between aging movie star Evelyn Hugo and Monique, the plucky young reporter Evelyn hand-picks to pen her biography.  Reading about Evelyn’s life and love were so enchanting and had a beautifully heart-wrenching ending.  5/5 stars.

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The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
I have only good things to say about this series!  Rereading these books has been such a treat and I’m excited to continue with the Heroes of Olympus, which I haven’t read yet.  I love how the Percy Jackson books definitely have a middle-grade tone, but are still relevant for adults.  5/5 stars.

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I’ve been on a major Pride and Prejudice kick since watching the movie a few months ago and the book did not disappoint.  I think watching the movie before reading the book helped me enjoy the book more because I was able to have visuals of each character and scene.  Also, if anyone knows where I can find a man like Darcy, please let me know.  5/5 stars.

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Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
This book smacked of early 2010s paranormal romance and I wasn’t mad about it.  I’ve been enjoying this genre in particular because it’s easy to get lost in the tropes and just enjoy the story.  The main character is part-angel and finds herself wrapped up in a love triangle between the boy she’s supposed to save and the boy she can’t stay away from.  Parts of this book didn’t age well, but it was a quick, easy read.  3/5 stars.

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Excuse me for a moment while I rant about how much I freaking love this book.  Ava is born with wings and recounts the turbulent and whimsical history of her family tree and her childhood.  The story is just plain gorgeous.  Above all, this is a book about love and how it can take different shapes for different people.  I’m recording a whole podcast episode this week about Ava Lavender because I kind of want to be her best friend.  5/5 stars.

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With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo can do no wrong, y’all.  Her prose is so strong and poetic at the same time.  This beautiful and raw story of a teen mom who pursues her passion for cooking is simply gorgeous.  There’s something to love and hate about each character and I love that ambiguity.  5/5 stars.

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The Merciless by Danielle Vega
This is the first proper horror book I’ve read and it was way more approachable than I anticipated.  It’s your classic high school girls performing an exorcism and watching it go wrong in about a million different ways.  The story is pretty campy, but I think that makes it easier to read as a horror novice.  4/5 stars.

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Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Like Unearthly, this book falls into the 2010s paranormal romance category that we all know and love.  The story continues with Violet, who has the ability to sense the bodies of those who died before their time.  I definitely recommend this book if you want something quick and easy that’s a little bit spooky; I think I read it in less than 24 hours.  3/5 stars.

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What do you think of these mini reviews?  Have you read any of these books?

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6 forms of effective self-care for bookworms

Happy election day to all my US friends!  When I was planning out this post, I was trying to come up with a topic that combined books and politics to stay ~on-theme~ with election day.  But here’s the thing: I’m probably the last person you should look to for political information.

Instead, let’s talk about something we all desperately need this year: self-care.  Because I cast my vote with an absentee ballot a few weeks ago, I’m taking election day pretty easy.  At this point, what’s happening will happen and I’m going to rest.  That means logging off and doing things that make me feel content.

Here are a few forms of self-care for bookworms.

Reread a book you loved when you were younger.
Returning to a childhood narrative that you loved can be so comforting and engaging.  I think these books are the purest form of escapism; perfect for 2020, am I right?  You also know how the plot will unfold, so you can just enjoy the story.  My favorites are Heist Society by Ally Carter and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

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Watch a movie.
As a lover of stories, try changing up the format through which you receive your stories.  Watching a movie can be a great way to enjoy a narrative in a more relaxed form.  My comfort movies are Pride & Prejudice and the live-action Cinderella remake.

Reorganize your bookshelf.
In moments of stress, I’ve found that freshening up my space can be really helpful.  Try sorting your books by genre, color, or rating.

Go on a walk.
Walking around your neighborhood or exploring somewhere new can give you a fresh perspective.  It’ll also give you a little exercise, which will probably boost your mood.  I recommend picking out an audiobook on Libro.fm to keep you company.

Make a playlist for your favorite book.
If you need a break from reading but still want to get the experience of your favorite story, turn to music.  Sort through your Spotify and make a playlist inspired by your favorite book or character.

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Log off of your social media.
When I’m consistently on social media, I don’t spend a lot of time reading.  Try turning off your phone and taking a break from your devices.  If a total detox is too anxiety-inducing, try logging out of only one of your social media accounts.

What are your favorite forms of self-care for bookworms?

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Hermione’s Reading List | Annie Recommends

As I mentioned in my fall book recommendations post, I’ve been rereading (read: reliving every childhood memory and fantasy related to) the Harry Potter series this season.  All the time I’ve spent with the books this year has reminded me why I love one character in particular: Hermione Granger.

I think I can speak for most of us when I say that we all wanted to be Hermione growing up.  She is unafraid to be the smartest witch in the room and takes pride in herself and her abilities even when she is teased.  She also faces prejudice with grace and, as a role model, showed me that intelligence and bravery are strength.

So I’m combining two of my greatest loves, books and ranting about how fantastic Hermione is, into one.  Today I’m recommending books that I think Hermione would love.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie | What’s better than a classic Muggle mystery?  Hermione’s powers of logic and deduction, in addition to her penchant for overly passionate research, would make her the perfect reader for this chilling whodunnit.


A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab | There’s nothing Hermione loves more than a good magical study, and I think she would be intrigued by this fantasy novel.  I imagine she’d love studying the unique magic system in this book (and would certainly not be shy about any improbabilities).

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy | Speaking of magic systems for Hermione to critique, The Disappearances features a town where something seemingly intangible, like sense of smell or reflections, vanishes without explanation every seven years.  This charming young adult novel is perfect for a snuggly evening in the common room after a long visit to Hogsmeade.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee | Hermione may be a scholar, but she’s also a girl, and if we’ve learned anything from her spats with Ron, it’s that she appreciates a bit of romance.  That’s why this book is perfect for her: this slightly raunchy adventure is filled with Muggle history to investigate, academia to explore, and a gooey romance to enjoy.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | Hermione is also an activist, as we can see from her efforts with S.P.E.W. as she fought to equalize wages and treatment for house-elves.  That’s why I think Hermione would enjoy reading about and educating herself on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.

What books would you recommend to Hermione?  What other characters should I make reading lists for?

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