September Wrap-Up: Reviews, Reading Challenges, etc.

September saw the end of a crazy reading slump and a renewed urge to gobble up every book in sight. Woohoo!


Books Read

  • Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo – 5/5 stars
  • Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) by Claudia Gray – 5/5 stars, REVIEW
  • Hunted by Meagan Spooner – 4/5 stars, REVIEW
  • American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse – 4/5 stars, REVIEW
  • Artemis Awakening (Artemis Awakening, #1) by Jane Lindskold – 3/5 stars, REVIEW

Total Books Read: 5

Overall in 2017: 59

Reading Challenge Updates

POPSUGAR

  • A Book with a Subtitle – American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
  • A Book with a Cat on the Cover – Artemis Awakening (Artemis Awakening, #1)

Beat The Backlist

  • Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)
  • Artemis Awakening (Artemis Awakening, #1)
  • Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Goodreads Challenge

  • Total: 59/100
  • Previous Total: 54/100

Blog Posts

WWW Wednesday

Discussions/Misc.


How many books did you read in September? Did you have a good reading month? How are you doing with all of your reading challenges? Which book was your favorite read?

Book Review – American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land

Why did I stop reading so much non-fiction? I’ll partially blame it on becoming a book blogger and finding so many great books from the community, rather than just browsing the stacks at my local bookstore. However, I will be changing that, because American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse, was such a wonderful read.

The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn’t stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate—there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen they were burning.

The culprit, and the path that led to these crimes, is a story of twenty-first century America. Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse first drove down to the reeling county to cover a hearing for Charlie Smith, a struggling mechanic who upon his capture had promptly pleaded guilty to sixty-seven counts of arson. But as Charlie’s confession unspooled, it got deeper and weirder. He wasn’t lighting fires alone; his crimes were galvanized by a surprising love story. Over a year of investigating, Hesse uncovered the motives of Charlie and his accomplice, girlfriend Tonya Bundick, a woman of steel-like strength and an inscrutable past. Theirs was a love built on impossibly tight budgets and simple pleasures. They were each other’s inspiration and escape…until they weren’t.

Though it’s hard to believe today, one hundred years ago Accomack was the richest rural county in the nation. Slowly it’s been drained of its industry—agriculture—as well as its wealth and population. In an already remote region, limited employment options offer little in the way of opportunity. A mesmerizing and crucial panorama with nationwide implications, American Fire asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. The result evokes the soul of rural America—a land half gutted before the fires even began.

It’s hard to really have a detailed review of a non-fiction novel, as there isn’t any characterization or plot to really dive into. With that being said, this review is going to be short and sweet.

The actual true crime story that this book follows is very engrossing. Hesse is able to write the events as a story that flows so well. Her writing is really what drives the book from start to finish. She completely transports you to Accomack County during those crazy 6 months of the arson attacks. It takes a really good writer to be able to present a non-fiction novel in an engaging way, turning it almost into a novel. Hesse shows you just how to do that with this book.

To talk about arson is to talk about buildings burning down. To talk about the term 'pyromania' is really to talk about the unfathomable mysteries of the human brain and the human heart- Why do we do things- Why do.png

Another fascinating part of this book, is the actual community of Accomack County. The cast of real-life characters that pop in and out throughout the story, are just plain amazing. Sometimes they had me laugh aloud, other times shake my head at their nonsense, and even occasionally internally enthusiastically cheer for them. If you’re from a small town like me, you’ll immediately recognize these people as someone in your own life.

I don’t want to go too deep into the details surrounding the actual arson crimes, as that’s what really drives the story and provides a little bit of suspense. I just highly suggest you pick up this book if you find yourself really curious as to what was happening, the reasoning behind it, etc. Because trust me, you’ll be hooked from the very first page!

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars


Have you read American Fire? If so, what did you think of it? Do you read non-fiction novels? What ones would you recommend?

WWW Wednesday – September 20th, 2017

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam!

The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo

That’s right, y’all! I have finally decided to be brave and pick this book back up. It’s the book that put me into a reading slump last month, but I think I’m finally in a place where I can try it again. I’m really in the mood to read right now, so I think it should be alright. I read a few chapters last night and I was actually interested in what was going on. YAY!!!

What did you recently finish reading?

  • American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse – 4 stars, review tomorrow
  • Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) by Claudia Gray – 5 stars, review to come

So I had a really good reading week, not going to lie one bit. My first dive back into non-fiction started off with a bang with American Fire. This story was so engrossing and written in such a way that you actually feel a part of the community. If you’re a fan of true crime or real stories set in rural America, I really recommend this one. I should have a full review up tomorrow, too!

By now, I should just realize that Claudia Gray is a science fiction goddess. She was made to write novels set in the Star Wars universe. Y’all, if you have never really been interested in reading Star Wars, weren’t sure where to start, or just plain love science fiction in general, READ THIS BOOK! It’s so well-written and is a great story built around two amazing characters. Just do it.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m actually not sure what I’ll be reading next. I think I’m going to be doing this really fun tag/post that I have done once before when I couldn’t choose what book to read next. It was such a great idea and really helped me from picking up something that I wasn’t really interested in. You can read about my first experience with The Try A Chapter Tag, HERE.


What are you currently reading? What books have you finished reading recently? How do you decide what book you’ll read next from your TBR? Leave a link to your WWW Wednesday post in the comments below!

WWW Wednesday – September 13th, 2017

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam!

The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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American Fire by Monica Hesse

I have finally dove back into the non-fiction genre with my July pick for Book of the Month Club. I wasn’t really sure if this book was going to really grab my attention after just having come out of a reading slump, but I was hooked from the very first page. Hesse does a wonderful job weaving the story with the rural Virginia county’s history and socioeconomic background.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Hunted by Meagan Spooner

This was such a wonderful retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I loved Spooner’s writing and her ability to blend this story with Russian folklore. I highly recommend it! You can find my full review HERE.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

I’ve had this book ever since it first came out and I want to kick myself for putting it off for so long. I’m also really in the mood for some science fiction. I mean, what says science fiction more than Star Wars?! There has also been lots of talk that this is one of the best Star Wars novels to date, and that is just freaking awesome. Why is Claudia Gray so freaking talented?!


What are you currently reading? What books have you finished lately? Which one do you think you’ll pick up next? Leave a link to your WWW Wednesday post in the comments below!

WWW Wednesday – September 6th, 2017

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam!

The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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Hunted by Meagan Spooner

So I’ve stopped reading multiple books at once and am just focusing on the one book. And I really love this one so far. It’s a little slow-moving but the way it’s written makes it so mysterious and you just can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Y’all, this book was just sooooo good. I should be having the review up tomorrow, as I try to break my blogging slump. So if y’all have been pissed at me because I haven’t been posting hardly any recently, I’M SORRY! I hope that’ll change this month. Fingers crossed, at least!

What do you think you’ll read next?

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American Fire by Monica Hesse

Thought I’d switch it up a bit next with some non-fiction. This one was one of my picks for Book of the Month Club a couple of months ago and has been begging for me to pick it up ever since. I used to read non-fiction at least a few times a year, but haven’t in a long time. Time to change that nonsense!

And afterwards? I have no idea, because I’ve been in such a reading slump that I haven’t really planned ahead for this month. I should probably do that though, huh?


What are you currently reading? Have you finished any good books lately? What books do you plan on reading this month?

WWW Wednesday – August 30th, 2017

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam!

The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • Parker by Jillian Quinn
  • Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) Leigh Bardugo

Still going through a bit of a reading slump, but I did read over 100 pages in Heartless last night and can’t wait for my lunch break to get back into it. I’ve kind of put aside Crooked Kingdom at the moment because I’m pretty sure it’s what put me into the slump in the first place. Uh oh, controversial opinion time!… It’s boring. Sorry to everyone who is just obsessed with this book but I’m not particularly enjoying it at the moment.

What did you recently finish reading?

Nothing….. yet again.

What do you think you’ll read next?

  • American Fire by Monica Hesse
  • Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Going to dive into some non-fiction with American Fire next. It’s been a while since I’ve read any and this book sounds so intriguing. I’ve been terrible about reading the books I’ve received from Book of the Month Club, so this will be my push to finally get into those. Due to my reading slump, I didn’t read either Hype or Like Friday August BOTM choices and so I’m going to finish the second one. Fingers crossed!


What are you currently reading? Have you finished any good books lately? How do you get out of reading slumps? Leave a link to your WWW Wednesday post in the comments below!

August TBR: Where I Try Way Too Hard

Well it’s that time of the month again… And by that, I mean that a new month is starting which means a whole new monthly TBR! Obviously. I’m a little late getting out my TBR this month but I’ve just been really busy between work and all that jazz to sit down and formulate what my reading plans were for August. I was also in a bit of a mini reading slump this past week which affected my blogging plans. But I’m finally here, right?! So let’s get to it!


August Tome Topple Readathon TBR & Announcement

Yes, I am participating again this round! I’m joining in a few days late because of my stinking reading slump which has pushed me back just a tad. However, I have full plans to catch back up and finally start on my two book picks for this round!

Tome Topple is a readathon hosted by Sam @ ThoughtsOnTomes. She’s one of my favorite booktubers, in case you don’t recognize the name. This readathon is all about reading those big books on your TBR that you’re usually too scared to grab. The only rules is that the books must be over 500 pages and cannot be an anthology of short stories. Sounds easy, right?! This readathon is running from August 4th – August 17th. You can visit the Goodreads Group to learn more about the readathon.

And the choices for my readathon TBR are….

  • Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo
  • Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

I’m aiming for only two books during this readathon, as I will be starting late due to the fact that I’m still reading Six of Crows at the moment. So the logical first book for the readathon should be its sequel, Crooked Kingdom. Then I want to finally pick up Lost Stars so I can check another Star Wars canon novel off of my list. I’ve also had both of these books since they were published, so you know, just a little behind on reading them. OOPS!

August TBR

  • Hunted by Meagan Spooner
  • Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo – currently reading
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
  • Fuse (Pure, #2) by Julianna Baggott
  • American Fire by Monica Hesse
  • The Child Thief by Brom
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #1) by Trenton Lee Stewart

I think I might be a little ambitious with my TBR for this month, especially after not really reading at all during the first week. However, if I can even get through half of these books then I will be satisfied. I think I have a really good mix of genres this month, which should help keep me from getting too bored. At least I hope so.


What books are on your TBR for this month? Are you participating in Tome Topple? If so, what books did you choose to pick up for it?