Tag: Touchstone

Review: Stray by Andrea K. Höst

Posted May 2, 2023 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Stray by Andrea K. HöstReviewer: Holly
Stray by Andrea K. Höst
Narrator: Stephanie Macfie
Series: Touchstone #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 20, 2011
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 273
Length: 9 hours and 50 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

On her last day of high school, Cassandra Devlin walked out of exams and into a forest. Surrounded by the wrong sort of trees, and animals never featured in any nature documentary, Cass is only sure of one thing; alone, she will be lucky to survive.
The sprawl of abandoned blockish buildings Cass discovers offers her only more puzzles. Where are the people? What is the intoxicating mist which drifts off the buildings in the moonlight? And why does she feel like she's being watched?
Increasingly unnerved, Cass is overjoyed at the arrival of the formidable Setari. Whisked to a world as technologically advanced as the first was primitive, where nanotech computers are grown inside people's skulls, and few have any interest in venturing outside the enormous whitestone cities, Cass finds herself processed as a 'stray', a refugee displaced by the gates torn between worlds. Struggling with an unfamiliar language and culture, she must adapt to virtual classrooms, friends who can teleport, and the ingrained attitude that strays are backward and slow.
Can Cass ever find her way home? And after the people of her new world discover her unexpected value, will they be willing to let her leave?

Stray (Touchstone #1) by Andrea K. Höst was recommended by reader Kareni. At the time of this writing it is free for Kindle. I tried reading it several times, but never fell into the story and always ended up setting it aside. The first 1/4 or so of the book is fairly slow. It’s told in the form of diary entries, and the early portions were slow, with no dialogue to break up the monotony. I’m glad I pushed through, however, since I really ended up enjoying the story.

Cassandra Devlin is walking home from her last day of high school in Australia when she is suddenly….somewhere else. A strange land not-unlike Earth, but perhaps also not Earth. After weeks of surviving on her own on this abandoned planet, she is rescued and taken to a new, technologically advanced planet, Tare, where she’s treated as a stray – a displaced refugee. She’s implanted with an interface that helps her translate their language, but leaves her without privacy. She also starts developing strange and wonderous gifts, which she’s told isn’t uncommon in strays, though never to this degree. Paired with the Setari, psychically advances special ops soldiers, because of her emerging abilities as an enhancer (touching her gives the Setari a power boost), Cassandra learns there is a shadow-type land that separates our world from all others. Tears have started to happen between worlds, which allow Ionnoth, deadly shadow monsters capable of destroying entries worlds through. The Setari fight these monsters to keep the Tareans and all others safe. When the Tareans realize Cassandra may hold the key to unlocking their home world (the planet she spent weeks surviving alone), she’s watched even more closely. She’ll have to decide

The difficulties Cassandra deals with as a stray, and as a person who has developing abilities the Tareans haven’t dealt with before, were interesting to read about. There are so many different threads – Cassandra’s lack of privacy and the way she feels she’s “punished” and put in a box when she’s sent to medical, the tears between worlds and the battles they face, the quest the Tareans are on to reclaim their home world with the help of Cassandra, etc. This is a complex plot in a multifaceted world. Frankly, I still don’t have all the terms and names straight and at times I find it to be slow moving, but I am invested in Cassandra and her journey. I can’t wait for the next book.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5



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Guest Review: As You Wish by Cary Elwes

Posted October 8, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: As You Wish by Cary ElwesReviewer: Jen
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
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From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

Jen’s review of As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

If you are not a Princess Bride fan or if you haven’t seen it (horror-filled gasp!), move right along. For fans of the movie, though, this book is a fun, sweet diversion.

I would not call myself a massive fan. I don’t know every single line, just the biggies. My viewings probably number under a dozen, not multiple dozen as die-hard fans can brag. But it’s my favorite fairy tale movie, and I still enjoy it every time I see it. I love the sweet, adorable love story between Westley and Buttercup and the way it gently but lovingly satirizes the genre. It shows respect but also a sly sense of humor. This book captures all of that positive vibe and gives a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie.

I actually listened to the audiobook version, which I highly recommend because it’s narrated by the author, Cary Elwes. Even better, it includes passages read by other cast members and those involved in making the film. It is really fun to hear their reminiscences in their own voices. And anyone who has ever heard Cary Elwes’ voice knows it is just plain lovely. I didn’t mind spending time with him in my car, I can tell you! Obviously you can never really know celebrities, but he came off in this book as immensely kind, classy, hard working, and just plain adorable. I think what makes the book work is Elwes’ incredible humility. He is justifiably proud of his accomplishments, but he is open and honest about the insecurities he had and the mistakes he made. He is a trustworthy and likeable narrator, and I can’t see any of the other actors from the film pulling off this memoir quite so pleasantly.

Elwes is so charming, though, that the book lacks some tension, especially in the first half. There are a few sections where there is a little conflict or some “can we overcome this challenge” concerns, but overall Elwes is relentlessly positive and has such faith in his colleagues that we never doubt the outcome. He has nothing but glowing things to say about his co-stars (and they about him, for that matter). He doesn’t gossip or engage in finger pointing. Mostly he just praises everyone involved in the film in a way that appears, at least, very genuine. He reserves his criticisms for himself, especially when relating the story of how he foolishly injured himself off set and jeopardized the movie. Again, he isn’t afraid to admit his stupidity, which is refreshingly forthright for a Hollywood star. Of course, just as in a romance, we all know this story has a happy ending, so the tension never goes very far. 

If you’re looking for a gossipy, tell-all book about the movie, this won’t be it, but I enjoyed hearing more about one of my favorite films. It seems like these people really had a magical time making the movie, and for me it’s only made watching the Princess Bride even more enjoyable.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Touchstone. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. 


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