Caraval: Stephanie Garber


Book Information:

Published: January 31, 2017 by Flatiron Books

Author: Stephanie Garber

Page Count: 407

Amazon: Hardcover – $10.63 / Paperback – $8.79

Barnes and Noble: Hardcover – $13.10 / Paperback – $8.97

Description via Goodreads: 

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

What an exciting ride this book was! I would like to start this review off with saying I enjoyed this book immensely. I was swept off my feet and thrust into Caraval and the world that both Scarlett and Tella were in. It was a fun, light, and mysterious read. I have a thing for books that have a “carnival” type of feel. This book definitely didn’t disappoint with its mystical vibe and stunning imagery.

The story starts off with a series of letters written by the main character Scarlett asking for Master Legend to come to the Island of Trisda to host their fabulous Caraval game. After years of unanswered letters finally a response makes it way into Scarlett’s hands and that is where the fun truly begins.

The characters in the novel had their faults and I did find myself annoyed at various times with each of them. For Scarlett, my main gripe is that she dwelled on her upcoming nuptials too much and put that first before her sister at times. Tella, was not my favorite at all. I don’t like her or her attitude or actions, but I am hoping that my mind/feelings will change in book two Legendary. Julian however was my absolute love! He was dark, mysterious, and a sailor… can I get a collective swoon? The whole rugged bad boy thing really worked for him and his character pulled it off very nicely.

There is a blossoming romance in this story and it is very easy to pick up on. I knew right away the outcome of things so that is another one of my dislikes. I usually like more of a drawn out type of romance (give me the angst!!) but this was sweet and I did enjoy it as I reflect back on it.

The best aspect of this whole novel is the setting. Readers find themselves inside the game where people are mysterious, the air is a bit sweeter, and the heart craves answers. I fell in love with this story not because of the plot or the characters, but rather for the idea of this magical place.

I definitely feel that the plot could have been stronger since there were a few confusing holes throughout the story, but overall it was a fun and different read. I am hoping to get to see more of the minor characters such as Aiko and Dante in the second book since they too had interesting back stories but not too much was said about them. I also hope to learn more about Nana Anna and her backstory since I found that things weren’t adding up fully about her in book one.

I would recommend this book and I hope that you too get swept away in Caraval!

Favorite Quote:

“She imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”

This book was given 4.5/5 star rating on Goodreads.



A Darker Shade of Magic: V.E. Schwab


Book Information:

Published: February 24, 2015 by Tor Books

Author: V.E. Schwab

Page Count: 384

Amazon: Hardcover – $17.59  / Paperback – 10.87

Barnes and Noble: Hardcover – $19.49 / Paperback – $11.63


Description via Goodreads: 

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Oh my gosh, where to begin?! I have fallen head over heels in love with this novel and it has wormed its way into my top 5 favorite books of all time, and it quickly rose to my top 10 favorite series of all time. Get ready to journey alongside Kell and Lila as they discover what dark magic lurks in the background.

This was the first ever V.E. Schwab book I ever read and now I understand the hype that surrounds her name. She is absolutely a wizard with words and can build a world like no other. I quickly found myself immersed in her versions of London and with her magic system. It is unlike anything I had ever read about and it sucked me in rapidly.

The first novel A Darker Shade of Magic follows Antari Kell. He is able to travel between the four London’s and he is one of the only Antari’s left. It isn’t until Kell finds himself with a rare piece of a forbidden world when everything falls apart. He finds himself thrust into a dangerous situation with a new figure by his side.

I loved everything about this book. I loved the characters, the emotions it sparked deep inside me, and how different the worlds were. The magic system was easy to pick up and it was unique. The characters however were beyond my expectations. They were relatable at times, angering at times, and lovable all the time. They are what truly made this book for me and they were the main reason why I continued on. They, much like the magic, draw you closer and keep you tangled in their web.

The plot was very fascinating. Usually the main characters of books can be without flaws but Kell’s main flaw is what sweeps him off his feet and gets him caught up in a storm of danger. It was fast paced and it holds your attention quickly, mainly with the help of the characters. Especially with such an interesting setting of four different Londons and the element of magic laced within, the plot flows evenly and it seems real at times, as if this was happening worlds away.

This is a fun fantasy read that you will fly through and crave more more more! Dive into the worlds of London and lose yourself in the magic that will surround you. Be prepared to binge read the next two books in a heartbeat!

Favorite Quote:

“For the ones who dream of stranger worlds.”

This book was given 5/5 star rating on Goodreads.


Book Birthday: A Reaper At The Gates (6/12/18)


We have a book birthday today everyone! Ahhh today is the day where A Reaper at the Gates is out for purchase!! A Reaper at the Gates is the third book in author Sabaa Tahir’s Ember quartet. I don’t want to include any spoilers since this is the third book, but it is an amazing series! The first novel A Ember in the Ashes, follows two vastly different characters Laia and Elias as they navigate through their conflicting situations.

Description of An Ember in the Ashes via Goodreads: 

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

I highly recommend picking up this quartet and diving into the fascinating story that Tahir takes on. It will have you on an emotional rollercoaster and keep you on the edge of your seat! I promise the second you pick these books up, you won’t be able to put them down.

Image result for sabaa tahir an ember in the ashes

An Ember in the Ashes (Ember Quartet #1)   

Amazon (Paperback): $10.79

Barnes and Noble (Paperback): $11.01

Image result for sabaa tahir a torch against the night

A Torch Against the Night (Ember Quartet #2)

Amazon (Paperback): $9.59

Barnes and Noble (Paperback): $10.26

Image result for sabaa tahir a reaper at the gates

A Reaper at the Gates (Ember Quartet #3)

Amazon (Hardcover): $13.65

Barnes and Noble (Hardcover): $13.96


A Study in Charlotte: Brittany Cavallaro

23272028 Book Information: 

Published: March 1st 2016

Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Page Count: 321

Amazon: $8.04

Barnes and Noble: $8.04

Description via Goodreads:

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

WOW WOW WOW!! Let me preface this review by saying I don’t read many mystery’s and that I picked this book up on a whim but my goodness I am soooooooo glad that I did. It was funny, truthful, suspenseful, and all around a terrific read. This was my first time reading a Brittany Cavallaro book and I was quite pleased by the end of it.

Now many people going into this read may be apprehensive because we have another Holmes and Watson stepping up to bat but to be frank I liked the younger counterparts of the famous detective and doctor much better. It was such a fun and exciting read that had me guessing around each and every corner.

Jamie Watson just wants to fit in and find some familiarity in his new school, not to mention strike up a friendship with Charlotte who is mysterious and very sharp. They are opposites and I think that is why their friendship works out so nicely.

The mystery was interesting and I was engaged in the characters throughout the entire novel. I have a thing for good guys being framed and seeing how they work out everything. I was not at all disappointed with how Charlotte and Jaime worked together to clear their names. It is usually hard for me to enjoy a character pairing right off the bat but I was surprised by how I wanted more scenes of Charlotte and Jaime together. It was very refreshing for this new type of take on the classic Holmes and Watson. I loved how Jaime was different then his namesake and how Charlotte was very much hers.

Overall I would recommend this book highly. It was a fast paced, quick read that was very refreshing! I cannot wait to marathon the last two books!

Favorite Quote:

“I began wondering if there was some kind of Watsonian guide for the care and keeping of Holmeses.”

This book was given 5/5 star rating on Goodreads.


Halfway Through 2018!

Hello fellow readers!

I have not dropped off the face of the earth, I promise! It has been a crazy year and half for me, and I felt it crucial that I take a break from my blog to focus on my schooling. I am halfway through my college journey and it has taken a toll. The only thing that I haven’t taken a break from is reading!

I am so far 53/100 books for my Goodreads reading goal for 2018 and I am powering through! I cannot wait to share my thoughts and opinions with all of you about some fabulous books (and some un-fabulous books of course). I have many book reviews planned, more Top 5 Wednesday’s, and of course many more bookish posts/tags. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments below!

I would also like to say welcome to all of my new followers and thank you to all of my past followers. You all have stuck with me through my absence and I am very thankful for the support! I wish you all a Happy New Year (even if we are in June…) and happy reading!

Best regards! 🙂 – Samantha

Reflection: Reaching 100 Books/Thank You

Hello fellow readers!  Today I am coming at you with a post that I didn’t think I was going to make but here we are. It is currently raining where I reside and I thought it no better a time than to reflect upon reaching my 100 book goal on Goodreads.

This evening I updated my list and my total books read this year (so far) is 101! If you have been following the blog for the past couple of months than you will recall the dreaded reading slump that I found myself in. I have hopefully (fingers crossed) pushed past the slump and back on track.

I have had the goal of one hundred books for a couple of years now and always strive to hit my mark. This year it has become a struggle to find reading time due to work and college ruling my life. In 2016 I embarked on crazy book journeys that I never thought I would find myself on. This year I discovered my new favorite book of all time (The Bronze Horseman – I swear I can hear the groans. I’ve talked about this book to death; if you haven’t read it yet please do!!!) and I’ve discovered what I really cherish in books.

You will be seeing lots more reviews for series and books coming to my page soon as my head is bursting with thoughts and remarks that would like to be shared!

Hitting my goal has lit a fire in my reader heart and I do not think it will be extinguished soon. The love for reading books has found its way back into my life and I will forever be thankful that my dreaded slump has passed.

I have very high hopes for 2017 and I cannot wait to share the reading experiences with you all. Thank you for making 2016 quite possibly one of the best years to date. When I started Surrounded by Books I thought I was just starting something that I could post my reviews on and get some more writing practice in. This blog has become an emotional outlet (I have to get all these book feels out somewhere) and I am so glad to have gotten to know some of the fellow book bloggers here. You all have a very special place in my heart and I am forever grateful for your support. I wish you all safe and happy holidays, and here is to ending 2016 with books who love us all deeply.

With all the book love in my heart,

Samantha 🙂