I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall

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I am thrilled to be sharing Kate Alice Marshall’s new release I Am Still Alive today. This is a heartwrenching tale of strength, survival and one young girl’s determination to overcome the odds stacked against her, and it captivated me from the very first page.

The Book

I am still Alive coverI Am Still Alive
By Kate Alice Marshall
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780425290989
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

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Cheryl Strayed’s Wild meets The Revenant in this heart-pounding story of survival and revenge in the unforgiving wilderness.

Jess is stranded in the woods. She has few supplies and only her dog for company. Her survival skills are limited, and she has disabilities that make physical labor a challenge. And winter is on its way. How did she get here?

Alternating between the past and the present, this tightly-paced novel tells the story of a girl who survived a car crash that killed her mother, then was pulled from foster care and sent to live with her estranged survivalist father in the remote Canadian wilderness. Jess was just beginning to get to know her dad when a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving their cabin burned to the ground and Jess’s father dead. Now, Jess must fight with everything she has to forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. But she will survive. She has to survive. Because she wants revenge.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository


My Thoughts

Every now in then, I love to deviate from my normal reading habits and explore something different. I knew immediately upon reading the synopsis for I Am Still Alive that this was the perfect opportunity to do exactly that. And it proved to be a solid reminder of why it pays to explore books!

I A Still Alive_Aesthetic.pngPhotos above are not owned by me and were obtained via Pinterest.

This is Jess’s story. She has had her life turned upside down and finds herself dealing with the loss of her mother and an injury that has left her with very limited use of one leg and disfigured after a terrible car accident. When she is sent to live with her off the grid and estranged father in a remote part of the Canadian wilderness, her life spirals further out of control as men from his shady past come to collect a debt he cannot pay. As Jess remains hidden in the nearby woods, he is shot and killed while her only remaining home is burned to the ground. Now, alone and stranded with no means to seek help, she must fight for her very existence. But Jess wants more than survival, she wants revenge.

Kate Alice Marshall’s delivers an outstanding tale in the form of a brilliant protagonist. Jess presents as very pragmatic and relatable, establishing an effortless connection with the reader that only strengthens as the story unfolds. Each decision, response, setback, and accomplishment feel viable, convincingly exposing the reader to Jess’s solitary trials. I never found myself doubting or questioning her feelings or actions, I simply felt for her and with her.

The plot unfolds at a consistent pace that makes for a fast read. We are shown what is happening instead of being spoonfed unnecessary details and the result is an immersive experience that draws the reader in and feels complete. If I were to mention any possible issues with I Am Still Alive, it would be that I had anticipated more of a revenge-oriented tale based on the blurb. However, I was not disappointed as Jess proved to be an unexpected heroine who evolved beautifully. I was with her each step of the way. And therein lies the true reward of this survival tale.

I Am Still Alive manages to deliver on multiple fronts with an unlikely protagonist and a successful survival story. Offering a unique before and after narrative and quick pace, it proves that strength truly comes from within and is not to be limited to physical abilities.

TW: Grief, loss, disabilities, violence and some graphic scenes with animals.

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This is another book I paired with an earthier blend. I enjoyed it with a Pu-erh tea that had a hint of cocoa.


KateMarshallPhoto About The Author

Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. She works in the gaming industry as a writer and designer, most recently focusing on educational games for kids of all ages. She spends her winters cheerfully avoiding the rain, and during the summer ventures out to kayak and camp along Puget Sound. As Kate Marshall, her short fiction has appeared in venues such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Crossed Genres.


I would like to thank Penguin and Viking Books for my copy and allowing me to participate in the tour today. The above review is my own honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy Reading,

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Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

nyxia unleashedNyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2)
By Scott Reintgen
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780399556838
Pages: 400
Genre: YA Science Fiction

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Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all. Discover book two in the trilogy Marie Lu called, “a high-octance thriller.”

Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.

Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.

But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?


My Thoughts

I am a huge fan of The Nyxia Triad. I was instantly drawn into the first book in the series Nyxia (review here) and hooked with the incredible cast and turn of events that Scott Reintgen has set in motion. I went into Nyxia Unleashed with some very high demands. Fortunately, it met each of them with incredible ease.

The skinny..

The second book takes us to the planet “Eden” following the harrowing events surrounding Emmett and the Genesis survivors. Here the crew must come together and learn to thrive in this new and dangerous environment. Their job is to mine Nyxia for Babel, maintain peace with the “Adamites”, get paid and return home. But with Babel having proven they are not to be trusted and clearly having ulterior motives, it soon becomes obvious that the stakes are much higher. Babel and the “Adamites” are headed on a deadly path of collision. Now the Genesis survivors will need to stay together if they hope to ever make it home.

“I thought you were just another broken boy we needed to look after. But you’re not. You’re a weapon. Babel put you through the fire and you survived.”

What I appreciated..

  • Scott Reintgen takes the incredible world he has constructed and expands it to impressive heights, offering an in-depth exploration of a new planet and alien life.
  • Character development is a rewarding process that feels further enhanced by the extreme circumstances we find the cast facing. They are diverse, beautiful and viable. From dialog to actions, reactions and emotions, Emmett and the Genesis survivors feel authentic and well researched. And the relationships evolve appropriately and accordingly. The characters are my favorite aspect of The Nyxia Triad.
  • The already fast-paced storyline kicks up another notch with a set of unpredictable events that turn each page with a welcomed ease that I am beginning to expect from Reintgen and his writing. This book felt like it read itself.
  • For all of the sci-fi action and adventure to be found within, we still discover powerful themes that tackle socioeconomic diversity and discrimination, the importance of love and loyalty and facing adversity head-on.

“There’s a difference between pretending to be tough and ignoring the truth, though. Pops has always told me ignorance is the most dangerous thing in the world. Fools, he used to say, will ignore whispers until they become shouts.”

Challenges some may encounter..

  • The Adamites feel almost too human at times and leave some elements feeling slightly less credible.
  • Themes of loss and grief, with violence and death are present but never gratuitous. Please feel free to message me if you are planning to read the book but have concerns.

Nyxia Unleashed accomplished what few successors do and improved on an already fantastic story, adding new depth and complexity. It delivers a surprising amount of heart at its core and explores some incredibly powerful themes. Reintgen is becoming a household name here and for good reason.

*I received an advanced copy from the author as part of a giveaway. The quotes included above are from the advanced copy and subject to change. This review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

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Pairs well with your favorite black tea and a splash of lemon for a twist!

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

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My Reread & Buddy Read of Caraval

caraval

Caraval
By Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
ISBN: 9781250095251
Pages: 407
Genre: YA Fantasy

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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.


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This read of Caraval was double the fun for me! It was a reread (you can read my original review here) and also a buddy read with Debby at Always Booking (read her thoughts here). I am sticking with the normal 5 question format and then wrapping up with my final thoughts and a quick comparison of my past and current experience.

My Questions for Debby:

What did you appreciate the most about Caraval?

The world of Caraval itself, I loved the idea of it and how it was thought out. I never knew what I was going to find on the next page. There was always a new wonder to explore, something to keep me on the edge of my seat.

Keeping in suit with question number one, what would be your biggest complaint about the book if you have one?

Lack of connection with the characters… I really had no connection. I wanted one ever so badly because I loved the world building of this story. The plot was really well thought out but the characters were really off-putting to me.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Hehehe then you have this question and I had no connection and you want me to pick one. Ugh… Julian :/ why?? I’m going to say he was the most evolved?? I’m not going to say how he evolved just that he did.

If you had to sum up this story in one sentence, what would you say?

Expect the unexpected…

Do you plan to read Legendary or any other books by Stephanie Garber after having read Caraval?

I have to say I kind of do want to read Legendary, but it’s not super high on my priority list. Unless my buddy reading partner says do it now!!!

*Bonus Question – Who is the best reading buddy ever? 😉

Hmmmm let me think about this………………..hehehe you!!!

Debby’s Question’s For Me:

Cover love or not so cover love?

Oh, this is definitely a case of total cover lover if ever there was one! And for once, I favor the US cover (which rarely happens).

As far as uniqueness for this book, how unique do you think it is?

If you had asked me this my first read through, I think my answer would have been slightly different. But I found it to be really enjoyable as a reread. I took my time and read this over the course of a few days. My first reading was crammed into one single night. This time I found that I appreciated the “game” and the storyline Garber has crafted in Caraval. I admit there are few familiar tropes and cliché moments, but overall the concept is quite unique. And so are some of the characters inserted throughout. I still greatly disagree with the Night Circus comparisons, but that does not mean it is not a rewarding story, just different.

Also since it was a reread for you, did your feelings towards the characters actions change since reading it the first time?

Yes and no. I still found myself grasping for patience with Scarlett, but there was also more empathy and acceptance on my part in terms of the abuse and sheltered life she has known. I think I benefited from reading her story twice. I feel like I picked up on certain details this time that made her more credible, although still frustrating at times. My feelings for many of the supporting characters did not change much for the better or worse.

Was the pacing of the book to fast? To slow?

Caraval is pretty fast-paced, which is one of its redeeming qualities and what carried me through it so effortlessly during my first read even though I had failed to really connect with it. That fact is also the reason I chose to start with it for the books I am giving a second chance. I knew it would be an easy read. The succinct pacing and writing play very well into the storyline though. I hope Legendary follows suit.

I’m stealing one of your questions… Who was your favorite character??? And why????

It is Scarlett. In spite of all her flaws, I felt for her and with her. I do grasp the fact that she comes from extremely difficult circumstances and carries the weight of not only her world but Tella’s on her shoulders. So while her actions and hesitations often frustrated me, I was also able to relate to certain aspects of her. And ultimately she pushes past her fears and perseveres with a big heart. I won’t label her my ideal protagonist, but in this book, she is my favorite.


My Final Thoughts & Comparison

Initial rating on Goodreads: 3 â­�

Updated Rating: 3.5 â­� (close 4)

I want to start by addressing one initial hang up I originally had with Caraval that was not an issue during this read; the frequent use of color to describe just about everything ranging from feelings to taste. Garber is utilizing what I can imagine must be synesthesia as a basis for this and admittedly I struggled with it originally. Now jumping forward nearly 2 years as I battle an onslaught of neurological conditions, I get it and can appreciate it. However, it still feels slightly overdone. But I accept this aspect of her writing now and feel this greatly impacted my experience with the book second time through for the better.

While I still found myself failing to fully connect with many of the secondary characters, I did make additional allowances for Scarlett (as mentioned above) that I feel were only possible due to a second read. And in short, I simply enjoyed Caraval this time. It felt more enchanting and entertaining. I was more immersed. I attribute this to several factors: my own changing tastes appreciated the descriptive writing more, I allowed the book more time, and it was a buddy read which means discussion surely enhanced the experience. The final verdict is that I am glad I gave Caraval a second read!

TW: Abuse (psychological and physical) with mention of suicide and brief scene of attempted sexual assault.

I have not decided whether I should redo ratings or reviews on Goodreads for the titles I am retackling. What are your thoughts? If you have any suggestions on how to handle this, I am very open to ideas.

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Enjoyed over a spiced pumpkin chai (yes I know it is not quite Fall, but it matched the atmosphere so well).

Happy Reading,

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