Sherwood Smith's Reviews > Stray

Stray by Andrea K. Höst
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Aug 30, 2012

bookshelves: sf
Recommended to Sherwood by: Estara Swanberg
Read from August 30 to 31, 2012

This is the first book of the Touchstone Trilogy, a YA science fiction (or science fantasy, for hardliner SF purists who don't count psychic powers as part of sf) story that begins with Cassandra Devlin, an Australian high schooler, walking around a corner and shifting to another world.

I am normally not drawn to survival stories. I began reading late one night when it was too hot to sleep, hoping it would knock me out . . . several hours later, I was hooked.

The book is written in diary form. Cass is funny, smart, sensible, and thinks herself a perfectly ordinary person. When she meets the psychic ninjas of Tare, she tries to cope the way a smart, sensible, perfectly ordinary person would. As she learns the language she begins learning about the complexity of interconnected worlds, and to get to know the individuals among the Setari--the ninjas. I knew I loved this book when, on her birthday, she did something neither she nor the expected, which changes everything.

The voice is wonderful, the details from both worlds (Australia and the places beyond) fascinating, and the refreshing change of pace from what have become too-frequent patterns of best-seller YA made this a real page turner. I can hardly wait to start the second installment.
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Reading Progress

08/31 page 175
63.0% "Too hot to sleep last night, so I picked this up, and simply ZOOMED! How refreshing, a YA without an id vortext romance (much less a Love Triangle) in which the heroine makes sensible choices--and the sense of humor--and the world building! *flapping hands*"
02/08 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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Estara Wahoo! ^^


Estara 2nd reaction: Did you get my e-mail? Because I sent the whole trilogy, not just the first book ^^


Estara 3rd reaction: I didn't expect you to read it right away, just whenever you were in the mood. I hope you didn't feel obliged to read a bit right away, that would sort of defeat the purpose....

... I'm reacting all over the place again *sigh*


message 4: by Sherwood (new) - added it

Sherwood Smith No! I did not get the email--I went and bought the first one. Resend? I am three/fourths through the first one.


Estara Hmm, it's been sent to sartorias@livejournal.com. I have no idea if I can force Smashwords to resend one...


Estara Update: I got a copy of the gift e-mail which actually includes a link to the trilogy so I'm forwarding it to the e-mail you've contacted me under before - if I had a bit more of a braincell yesterday evening I'd have used that as the Smashwords e-mail to send to in the first place.

And if you like all of it as well as you seem to like the first book, don't forget there's a free 150 pages Gratuitous Epilogue for the series at Smashwords, which is well worth reading, too, I thought. Even if it's just detailed HEA ^^. Actually I'd have bought it. And I'd buy more if she'd revisit this world... then again I like all her available books so far.


message 7: by Sherwood (new) - added it

Sherwood Smith Got it. Thank YOU!

How could I not love characters from Australia? Psychic Ninjas???


Estara That was what I was hoping, AND diary format AND a bookish girl - just *squeeeeeeee* ^^


message 9: by Sherwood (new) - added it

Sherwood Smith :-)


Estara Three cheers for the review! ^^


message 11: by MJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

MJ That's an AWESOME series!!! I love it, the first 2 books are the best. The author is also super nice! You'd like her Medair series too; about a girl who is sent by her King for a magical artifact, which she finds... but she falls asleep in the Labyrinth for hundreds of years. When she wakes up she discovers the other side won the war.


message 12: by Sherwood (new) - added it

Sherwood Smith That sounds like fun!


message 13: by Estara (last edited Sep 01, 2012 04:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Estara I agree with Turtles with regard to Medair. But I've liked all her books in a variety of ways - Touchstone is the only sf series available so far, all the other books are fantasy. Champion of the Rose shows what can happen when a protective spell on a kingdom develops a mind of its own and manipulates its own champion and newly discovered king, and in Stained Glass Monsters (she bought some beautiful artwork from Julie Dillon for her covers) there's a family whose ancestor kicked off a huge spell which is coming home to roost hundreds of years later to fully activate and the descendants have been trying in all that time to find a way to stop that spell.

And all of these books have female heroines at the center, but the males are no afterthought either. In Champion of the Rose you even get court intrigue, Sartorias!

Basically I just wanted to entice you with my current favourite ^^.


message 14: by Anna (new)

Anna This sounds really fantastic and I just bought myself a copy. I love your reviews of Smashwords books Sherwood, I love their business model and I know there are a lot of great books there but its so hard to figure out which ones they are.


Estara Very true, Anna, I usually only buy when trusted sources recommend books to me. That's why I hoped Sartorias would enjoy this and more people would become aware of it ^^.


message 16: by Sherwood (new) - added it

Sherwood Smith Thanks, Anna. Smashwords is a mess for actually finding books--they are great once you have a link.


message 17: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Busick I'm curious: what do you consider the "too-familiar patterns of bestseller YA"?


message 18: by Katharine (new) - added it

Katharine Kimbriel Estara, I don't remember your telling me that this book has psychic ninjas! How can you not love psychic ninjas? I have it marked down for volume one (I thought I'd marked the trilogy before? And the HEA?) Life has been so crazed, I haven't gone looking for new books lately. But I still want to read this one!


message 19: by Sherwood (new) - added it

Sherwood Smith I've been on some juries during the past few years, so I've read A LOT of YA, and I've seen certain patterns appear over and over: generalizing greatly, not-so-good worldbuilding mostly consisting of weird governments that forbid arbitrary things (dystopias), love triangles (bad-bad boy, bad-good boy, angsty heroine whose emotional maturity seems pinned at sixteen no matter what her age.)


Estara Katharine wrote: "Estara, I don't remember your telling me that this book has psychic ninjas! How can you not love psychic ninjas? I have it marked down for volume one (I thought I'd marked the trilogy before? An..."

Well, I linked all my recommendees to my full spoilery review of the trilogy - and it says psychic space ninjas on the packaging at that ^^.

This is a great read for a pick me up, Katharine - you could read the huge excerpt on Smashwords and see if you want to invest in the story that way.


message 21: by Jennifer (last edited Sep 02, 2012 11:14AM) (new)

Jennifer Busick Sherwood wrote: "I've been on some juries during the past few years, so I've read A LOT of YA, and I've seen certain patterns appear over and over: generalizing greatly, not-so-good worldbuilding mostly consisting ..."

Thanks for the rundown. The "emotional maturity" thing looms large with me. By which I mean, it annoys me greatly. I like a book where the characters do grow a bit.


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