Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blog Tour: The Bitter Kingdom (Review)

The Bitter Kingdom  by Rae Carson
Release: August 27, 2013
Source: Blog Tour ARC 
Publisher: Greenwillow
Pages: 448 
Series: The Girl of Fire and Thorns #3

The epic conclusion to Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she's never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most.
Elisa is a Queen, her true love is being held captive, and she must now enter dangerous enemy territory to rescue him and save her country from civil war. It's the final showdown between Inviernos and Joyans. Elisa's journey leads her down a path of discovery and knowledge. She discovers her true purpose, the "act of service" meant for her when God put the stone in her navel. 

With that said, this epic conclusion to The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy doesn't disappoint. It is action-packed, and takes some twists and turns I was not expecting. Specifically, Elisa's "act of service". I admit, her act of service seemed almost ordinary. After giving it some thought, though, I know that it should have been her purpose all along.

Two things stand out in this series, making it one of my favorites series of all-time: character development and world building. 

I've said it before, but Elisa's character development is by-far the best Young Adult literature has to offer. She goes from being insecure and uncertain to a Queen that has taken control and seeks to save her country, no matter the cost. And Hector! He continues to be swoon worthy--my ultimate guy crush. The other cast of characters are equally as fascinating and complex.

And then the world, it's fantastic. It's rich with religious culture and traditions that make the existence of Godstones not only believable, but essential. From the desert landscape, all the way to the icy mountains that boarder Invierno land, this world is mind-blowing. I can only hope Rae revisits this world one day.

As for The Bitter Kingdom, it's the perfect conclusion to this trilogy. There is definite resolution, but not without some heartache and blood shed along the way. It isn't my favorite book in this series, but it more than met my expectations. If you haven't read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and you love fantasy action and adventure, this is the book for you. I don't think my love for this series will ever waver. 


Rae Carson is the award-winning author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy. She was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start author for Fall 2011 and was a finalist for the Morris, Cybils, and Andre Norton Awards. Her first novel was named to ALA's Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list.

Rae lives in Ohio with her husband, novelist C.C. Finlay, two stepsons, and two very naughty kitties. She is hard at work on her next trilogy.


8/19/2013- Ivy Book Bindings- Guest Post
8/20/2013- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Interview
8/21/2013- Refracted Light Reviews- Review
8/22/2013- A Backwards Story- Review
8/23/2013- The Starry-Eyed Revue- Interview

8/26/2013- Candace's Book Blog- Review
8/27/2013- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
8/28/2013- Citrus Reads- Review
8/29/2013- Hobbitsies- Interview
8/30/2013- Fiktshun- Guest Post


A signed set of the complete trilogy. US Only

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Shelf Tour: how do YOU organize your shelf?

So it's been a number of months since I did a bookshelf tour. Since my last tour, I've moved back to my old bedroom with the second bookshelf, and I've also acquired a ton of new books. The books I show are not all my books, but they are the majority of my YA books that I like to display. Maybe next time I'll do an extensive tour with my christian fiction, my adult books, and my other YA books that I couldn't put on these two shelves.

Here are my two main bookshelves:

As you can tell, both shelves are pretty full. I organize my books by "size"/"categories", and within those groups, by author last name. Sort of. You'll see some exceptions. 

The left shelf has all my non-signed books, and the right has all my signed books. Crazy, right? I can't believe I've already filled up a whole shelf of signed books, but I have to say that not all those books are technically signed. I'll be more specific in the pictures below. Also, some of the books on that signed shelf aren't signed "yet", but I plan on attending a book signing later

Chronicles of Narnia: I adored this series. It's the first series I ever finished, and the books are well worn and loved. My favorite is The Silver Chair.

Harry Potter: I received a gorgeous box set for Christmas. Now, confession--I haven't read the entire series. I got up to book 5 and was traumatized by Sirius' death (hey, I was a young reader!). Other things ended up getting in the way, and I left book six and seven unread. I plan on fixing this error by the end of 2013. I'm rereading all the books, and am currently on book 5. On top of the box set are my original HP copies of year 2, 3, and 4.

You'll also note I have J.K. Rowling's two adult books, both of which I have yet to read.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: I read the first two books, and loved them! I plan on reading the last three this year.

This is my classics shelf. I have all my Jane Austen books here (my favorite being Pride and Prejudice). I also have a copy of Gone With the Wind that is terribly beat up. I read it only once, in it's entirely, during the 7th grade. I loved it, and I should probably reread it soon. 

At the end of this shelf, I have Grimm's complete fairytales and the complete works of William Shakespeare. I adore the cover and leather binding. 

I dub this shelf my "non signed, regular sized hardbacks shelf". It has the Seven Kingdoms Trilogy (Fire is actually signed, but I put it on this shelf). It also has my Hunger Games Trilogy, with the movie companion resting on top.

I am also a huge Lauren Oliver fan, and the copy of Before I Fall is first printing, first edition (before she was ever a NYT bestseller!) I found it had a used bookstore, and had to snag it, even if I already had a paperback copy of the book.

This is my "non-signed paperback series/tall hardback series shelf". I have the Vampire Academy series, which I need to complete. I've only read the first book, which was good but not amazing. I've heard the series gets even better, though! I also have book 1 and book 2 of the Mortal Instruments series. My cousin currently has book 2. I've only read City of Bones, but I plan on reading the rest soon. 

You'll also see I have Clare's other series, The Infernal Devices. I got it as a box set. Soooo many people have raved about this trilogy, and have said it's better than The Mortal Instruments!  

And lastly, you'll see I have Melina Marchetta's fantasy series, The Lutamere Chronicles. I read Finnikin, which was amazing! Now I need to read Froi and Quintanna! 

This is the top of my second shelf, which has old classic books: two copies of Jane eyre, one of Pride and Prejudice, and one of Wuthering Heights. Below that, there's an annotated copy of the Grim's Fairytales, with historical notes an context.

I also have a tin can full of cards, ticket stubs, play bills, etc.

To the left is my "swag box".

This shelf is incomplete, because I plan for this to be my "favorite signed, completed trilogy shelf". By November, this shelf will be filled with six different trilogies, almost all of them my favorites (with the exception of Hourglass, because I haven't read it yet). 

Note: Divergent and Insurgent ARE signed, purchased and shipped from an event in Chicago. I thought about sending back the signed books, because they weren't personalized (like I had specified), but I'm glad I kept them! And a relative in Chicago is going to get me a signed copy of Allegiant. 

The same family friend in Chicago got Delirium and Requiem signed. Delirium is a first printing, first edition. Pandemonium isn't signed. One day I WILL meet Lauren Oliver and have the entire trilogy signed.

To the far right is my TBR jar (inspired by youtube book vlogers), followed by my three Neil Gaiman books. All signed.

This shelf is my "signed regular sized hardbacks" shelf. Some books (like my signed copy of Shadow and Bone and Cinder) are missing, because my friend borrowed them.

The Fault in Our Stars is a presigned copy (first printing, first edition). No, I have not had the pleasure of meeting John Green. I wish.

Wings and Spells by Aprilynne Pike are not signed, yet. She will be attending Southern Festival of Books in October.

I have, though, had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie Perkins. My copies of Anna and Lola are signed--both books are fantastic!

I call this shelf my "signed paperback series/signed tall hardback shelf". 

The Maze Runner Trilogy is not signed, YET, but James Dashner is coming to Nashville in October. 

Shades of Earth isn't signed, either. When I met Beth, the book hadn't come out yet.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not signed, but Days of Blood and Starlight is. I found a signed copy at my local Barnes and Noble one day, and squealed. See, I didn't like Daughter of Smoke and Bone,  but  I gave Days of Blood and Starlight a chance. I'm glad I did, because it's now one of my favorite books! It's gorgeous and brutal. 

Throne of Glass! My favorite book of 2012!  I got to meet the author at the Southern Festival of Books last year, which was amazing! I gave Sarah Maas a huge hug before her panel, and Sarah wrote the most amazing inscription in my book! Most authors just say "happy reading", or "to Cassie", but Sarah went above and beyond. She's an amazing author and person.

This is my "mismatched" shelf. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Brodi Ashton and Tahereh Mafi at the Pitch Dark Days tour in ATL. It was awesome! I also met Cynthia Hand and Veronica Rossi at the tour stop, which was super cool! Books by both those authors are in above pictures. 

Hex Hall and Demon Glass aren't signed, because when Rachel made a tour stop in Nashville, I didn't know about her or her books. I went to the signing on a whim (my first EVER book signing) and decided to just get her newest book. I regret it to this day, because the trilogy is fantastic.

And yes, that copy of The Host is SIGNED. I won it from Jenna @ Jenna Does Books. 

Those Sarah Dessen books aren't signed...yet. But Sarah is going to be at the Southern Festival of books, so they will be signed. 

These three books are books I couldn't fit on my shelf. I'm going to have to rearrange my shelf, eventually. In case you can't see, I have:

1. Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
2. Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Sibohan Vivian
3. 52 Reasons to Hate my Father by Jessica Brody


And that concludes my bookshelf tour! *wipes brow* Sorry for the length of this post! Hopefully you enjoyed it, and hopefully you spot some books on my shelf to add to your TBR pile.

And yes, I have a weird organization system, so I'm wondering: how do YOU organize your books? Do you have signed books? Do you separate them?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: All Our Yesterdays

All Our Yesterdays
Release: September 3, 2013
Source: eARC 

"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. 

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. 
When I first began reading this, I knew two things about All Our Yesterdays:

1. It was a Time Travel Book
2. A girl goes back in time, because she has to kill the man she loves to prevent the world from destruction/chaos.

I got a book that was MORE than just your average time travel book. Cristin Terrill has written a fantastic, and smart, novel that doesn't spoon feed its readers. I admit, I was confused in the beginning, but I was intrigued enough to keep on. And as I kept reading, the pieces began to fit.  Everything made sense. This book is brilliant, heart-pounding, and heart breaking. 

Marina is a girl from the past, very much in love with a guy friend, James. James is sophisticated, and far too smart for his own good, except when it comes to relationships. The same girl, Em, is from the future and has traveled back in time to save the world from the devastation that's come to her world, thanks to the time machine James invents. Each time, Em uses the time machine Cassandra to prevent the the time machine's development until only one option remains: she must kill James, the man Marina loves.

Character wise, I loved Em. She was flawed, but sympathetic. Her companion, Finn, was also sweet easy to root for. In fact, each of the characters were complicated and intriguing. But how, and why, everything plays out the way it does is something better left unsaid. But I can say that it's a time travel book I'll recommend for years to come. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

An apology, a confession, and a question (I'M BACK)

My name is Cassie and I've been a horrible blogger.

--but I swear, I have good excuses!

These past weeks (and months) have been consumed by work, summer class, and writing. I also took a trip to Maryland, NYC, and DC. Sadly, those did not involve any awesome book-related excisions (it just wasn't meant to happen), but I had a great time. Like I mentioned, I've also been focusing on my writing. I've never talked about 

I also recently participated in the first five pages workshop. Care to read what I'm writing? Click HERE. I hope to update you guys more about my writing, because it's a big part of me now. And this book has been on my heart and mind since March. It's a book that I need to write, even if it never sees the light of day. Of course, I would love to be published! I have a full time job, but that doesn't mean I don't dream of actually seeing my book on a shelf. 

My question to my followers (if I haven't lost any already): how do you manage to balance reading and writing? With such a massive TBR list, I've come to realize that I get TBR guilt every time I start writing. And when I write, I go through waves when I feel like I desperately need to write. I hope I'm not the only one. It's not likely that I'll give up either reading or writing (they're interconnected and such a huge part of my life). My issue is finding balance. How do you, bloggers out there, find time to write, read, and blog. 

SO. What does this mean for Citrus Reads? I'm officially back, but I don't plan to be posting like I did before. I'll be posting one book review each week, and a second post either writing or book related. We'll see how things go once I start classes again at the end of the month. Oh, and check out my latest review HERE. It's for Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. 

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas 
Release: August 27, 2013
Source: eARC from publisher

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. 

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas' debut novel, was EASILY my favorite book of 2012. So you can probably understand why I had such high expectations for the sequel, Crown of Midnight. Such expectations often leave one dissappointed, but that never happened with this book. Crown of Midnight is pure gold. I just cant express how much I love Sarah's stories. In Throne of Glass, we have Celaena, the infamous assassin, fighting for her freedom and the "privilege" of becoming the King's Champion. Having succeeded, her task is clear: eliminate any person the King sees as a threat to his empire.

While Throne of Glass was more about overcoming the odds, and recovery, Crown of Midnight is about trust and loyalty. Celanea knows she's far from loyal to the crown, but her very life depends on dispatching every single name put before her. She is also forced to keep her relationships in check--mainly her relationship with Chaol, Dorian, and Nehemia. As her closest companions, she knows what danger might befall them should she step out of line.

And yet, the risks Celanea takes shows us readers that she's NOT some cold hearted killer. She's an assassin, but she's also a human being. And a human being who feels greatly. Slowly, we see Celanea's wall of defense come tumbling down, and it's really a beautiful (and heartbreaking) thing.

For those readers who felt Celaena never showcased her assassin skills in Throne of Glass, know that Celaeena the assassin is in full form in Crown of Midnight. The book is, surprisingly, gruesome, from the opening scene to the last page. But it needed to be violent, and I'm glad that the editors didn't decide to "tone it down". I also believe Celaena's character is far more fleshed out and relatable. Same with Chaol. Dorian has changed too, but perhaps not for the better. He's less flirty, and I do miss the witty batters between him and Celaena. However, their distance is completely necessary and understandable. I don't fault the book for that. Especially when I'm actually *whispers* team Chaol.

This book is full of violence, swoon, and heartbreak. And believe me, this book will break your heart. t's such a well-paced, well-written novel--the perfect follow up to Throne of Glass. It's also made me that much more desperate to get my hands on the book three.

A side note to fictionpress readers: this plot line was never introduced in the original Queen of Glass tale. But having read it, I can't help but think how perfectly necessary it is for character development, plot development, and even world building. It's such a fantastic addition to this series. I honestly can't give this book enough praise. It's one of the best books I've read this year!