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on 22 May 2009
I love Kelley Armstrong's books, Bitten, Stolen and Broken in particular, so it would be silly of me to not mention the similarities between Bitten and Stray. Both focus on strong females, rare in male dominant worlds, both away from their pack/pride and unwilling to return. Both have a man back at home who would do anything for them and both are called back to because of a crisis. For me, the similarities end there.

Faythe is 23, a college student, and determined not to be the baby making machine every other US Pride believes she should be. She's fighting for independence with no real understanding of just how much is at stake. Faythe is bratty, can be annoying at times, and she can be very naive as well. She tends to rush headlong in to things without thinking of the concequenses, but her heart is in the right place. She'd do anything for those she loves and shes willing to try.

The plot moves at a good pace, and flows really nicely. There is a lot of action and certain twists I really didn't see coming. I love Faythe's attitude because she also shows her ability to learn and grow, something you see much more clearly in the following books. The writing here is good and solid, and it's improved with every book so far. There are some really great one-liners that help keep the book from being too dark, but the dark stuff isn't shied away from. A really solid debut and it only gets better. 4.5 stars.
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on 24 July 2007
I'd been awaiting this novel for months. I had my local bookstore import it from the U.S., even though it cost me $20.50. ($1 Aussie is circa 80c American, and the U.S. RRP is $6.99 - you do the maths.) STRAY is 618 pages, so I definitely got a lot of bang for my buck. I'd read about shape-shifters before, but not werecats. This is a society where females are rare, and thus highly valued. But Faythe Sanders needed distance from her Pride, and so attended university for five years. But when she's attacked by a stray (a bitten werecat with no Pride), and her fellow tabbies around the country go missing, Faythe is dragged back to her Pride. Pissed off with her all-hours watch, she's overdue for some time to herself, but when she finally gets it, it's at a dangerous price. Without all her guards, it's up to Faythe to save herself and her fellow tabbies. The second half of the novel is worth the cover price alone. Greg Sanders is the most admirable character by far: parenthood and team-leading is difficult enough without all the werecats, ferocious tempers and territorial disputes he has to deal with. Add all that to keeping his own emotions at bay, and he's overqualified for the Father of the Year award. Who needs Hogwarts when you can have the Pride? The release of ROGUE (and any other works by this fabulous author) can't come soon enough.
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on 12 June 2007
I feel like I've been waiting forever to read this book. Since I stumbled across Rachel Vincent's blog last summer, I've been checking Amazon frantically for "Stray" to become available. It was well worth the wait. As a fan of all things shape-shifter and were-related, I found this an exciting and gripping read.

Faythe Sanders is trying hard to be a regular American grad-student. That's not easy to do when you're really one of the last eight breeding female werecats in the country. And when a stray werecat attacks her on campus, she's pulled back home by her overprotective family for her own safety. It seems that she's not the first to be attacked - two of her fellow tabbies have gone missing as well.

In the high-energy story that follows, Faythe is determined to prove herself capable of the independence she so desperately craves. Clashing with parents, her brothers and her ex-boyfriend Marc, she ultimately makes a fatal error in judgement that lands her in the hands of the stray. Can she escape, save her fellow tabbies and prove herself worth more than just marriage and kittens?

Rachel Vincent has a lush, evocative voice that perfectly captures Faythe's character and world. The atmosphere and mood throughout the book is richly described. I was swept along, unable to put the book down because I became so absorbed in Faythe's journey and experience. The family structure of her Pride is at once familiar and alien, and her relationships with her loved ones are well-portrayed and utterly believable.

Although Faythe does prove herself to be capable and kick-ass, she's far from a flawless character and this serves to make her seem very real. She does make mistakes, she can be unlikeable (though never unsympathetic) and I was left with the feeling that I'd like to be friends with her. She'd be a lot of fun to hang out with. I'm now frantically checking Amazon for "Rogue," the second book in this series.
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on 7 November 2011
I have to say although I found Faythe so unbelievably annoying during half of the book, boy can she fight! Up until about half way through I found the book readable but it wasn't gripping me until I hit 50% and like magic it turned into a really fast paced workout.

Faythe's character in particular seemed to really grow up and mature due to the situations she was put in and became a protector for Abby. It is clear as a reader that Faythe has a lot of growing up left to do which I am assured by a friend she does do in the next three books.

I particularly like the character Marc, he is very well developed and is far less annoying than Faythe herself I know I keep reiterating this but you'll understand if you read it) Although Jace is like the bad boy figure I have to say I am more drawn to Marc as Faythe's boyfriend than Jace, but where would we be without a love triangle.

Some of the book I found quite horrific for a young adult book, the details were very specific and I felt I could imagine most of it how Vincent described it. Faythe definitely is a good role model for teenagers as she never gives up her goal... and then goes back for a little revenge after which is always good fun in a novel.

The last three hundred pages are definitely worth the wait and I can't wait to read the second one!!! Although I have to say I hope she grows up a lot in the second book! I can see the love triangle lasting most of the six books as much as I want her to be with Marc, but we'll have to see what Jace has in store for us in the next book!
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on 19 August 2011
This was a fun read. The author really knows how to get the tension just right. Capture/escape sequences are common in this kind of book, and often it's a case of the main character getting themselves caught, only for the captor to almost immediately and conveniently make a stupid mistake, resulting to the escape a few pages later. In this book there were no ridiculously convenient slip-ups, and instead that part of the story was built on and developed fully before the escape.

I was shocked as to how many people have commented on Faythe's 'selfishness'. As if it's perfectly normal for a family to lock their child in a cage for months on end if they wish to leave home! I mean, come on! And I guess the people who find her selfish probably think it's acceptable for Marc to treat her as a possession rather than an independent person (he gets better later on, but then he's getting what he wants). Actually I quite like Marc, but I think Faythe's reaction to his flaws is more than understandable.

Yes, she can be pretty self-centered, and doesn't seem to have learnt to see other people's perspectives, but that's hardly surprising when she's not been allowed to go through the normal pulling away and development of independence that most people go through. If my parents locked me in a cage with no toilet/shower because I wanted to leave home I imagine I'd become a bit obsessed with my own rights too.

So I felt the character's flaws were explained well, and I liked her slightly self-mocking attitude on the occasions she became aware of them. She's 23 and was more self-aware than her father, who not once admitted to his own flaws.

If I had any disappointments it was the way she too easily acquiesced to her father and Marc at the end of the book. I would have liked it more if I'd seen her start dealing with her family's behavior in a more understanding and adult fashion but without letting them feel their behavior was acceptable.

I also felt Abby acted a little too 'okay' after the rescue for someone who'd been brutally raped.

Oh and hate the use of 'daddy', but that's just me!

All in all though, I enjoyed it and am about to check out the next one...
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Stray is a fantastic start to the Shifters series & I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the books. Faythe is one of only 8 unmarried female werecats in America which makes her a very important member of her Pride. Her family are very keen to see her settled & married so she can start producing the next generation of werecats but this is the last thing Faythe wants to do. She is very independent and determined to have a life of her own outside the Pride. For the last 5 years she has been at college but when she is attacked by a stray this gives her over-protective family the perfect excuse to bring her home.

Faythe is a brilliant character - she is smart & tough but she has plenty of flaws too. She can come across as selfish but it is easy to understand the motivation behind her actions. The fact that she isn't perfect makes her easier to relate to and made her feel more real to me. Back at home Faythe discovers she isn't the only one who has been attacked - 2 of her fellow tabbies are missing and she is determined to find out what has happened to them. Her family are equally determined to keep her safe and she is practically under house arrest, under 24 hour supervision from her brothers and her ex-boyfriend Marc. I absolutely loved Marc - he is madly in love with Faythe and wants her back. He has an incredible jealous streak but apart from that is he is pretty much my ideal man!

Feeling stifled by her family & Marc, Faythe tries to find room to breathe but ends up putting herself in danger. It is going to take all her strength and cunning if she is going to save herself and her fellow tabbies. Once the main action started I couldn't put this book down although there were times when I was almost frightened to read what was going to happen next - it was like watching a horror film where you can only watch by peeking over the top of a cushion! I think I went through every emotion possible when reading this - a sure sign of a good book. I'll definitely be going back for more of this series.
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on 16 February 2010
After having read every scrap I can find online or in print by Kelley Armstrong and impatient for the next release I ordered a load of 'recommendations' from Amazon to see if I could find something to keep me satisfied. Stray was one of my first new reads and I couldn't help noticing a few similarities between Kelley's Otherworld debut; werecats who 'shift', a lot like the warewolves who 'change'. Faythe determined to distance herself from the 'pride' a lot like Elena's early determination to distance herself from the 'pack'...the besotted love interest, brooding and posessive who will stop at nothing to win back the lady, (have to admit I prefer Clay to Marc anyday,) a plot about 'strays' who don't respect territorial boundaries like the 'mutts' in the Otherworld... oh and of course the whole 'only female warewolf therefore likely to be kindnapped etc' which didn't bother me at all with Elena (until Frostbitten which was mildly irritating and a bit 'yea we get it she's hot - everyone wants a bit of her', but that's a whole other story and I'm straying here..') it wasn't quite so obvious there being, what was it, eight females for the whole of North America? Hardly original. In summary despite the story being almost embarassingly like my much loved Elena books I resented the similarities as they reminded me that while filling a small hole, Faythe in not Elena and sadly I'll have to look elsewhere for my supernatural fix. Read this if you're NOT a Kelley Armstrong nut, avoid it if you don't like settling for secnd best.
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VINE VOICEon 21 October 2009
I bought this book after deliberating over it for about a year, a big mistake! An even bigger mistake is that I bought the next two in the series at the same time!!!
Rachel Vincent has taken the basic (no, actually the detailed) storyline of the brilliant 'Bitten' by Kelley Armstrong and totally runied it.
Not only that but the female lead of Faythe is one of the most irritating heroines that I have ever come across, realistically she should be aged about 14! Everything is supposed to show how hip and cool Faythe is and how hot she is, all the men want her - she is annoying, self-centred and seems to speak like she was a spoilt teenager not a woman in her twenties.
For me the worst part/most unrealistic of the story is when a character has been gang-raped and escapes and then within hours breezes to the shopping mall to buy clothes for Faythe????
****AN ADDITIONAL COMMENT AFTER READING MORE BOOKS IN THE SERIES - stick with it as the books do get better and Faythe does grow up. Would give the series as a whole 3.5 stars.
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on 2 November 2012
I am very surprised by some of the reviews that have said this was thrilling as I found the first 400 pages to be so boring that I had to give up reading this book for a while, until I had nothing to read.

The book starts well with a promising independent woman, who just happens to be a werecat, who knows how to handle herself when confronted but once she goes home she turns into a spoiled girl who wants everything her own way. She argues and disagrees for the sake of it and dwells on her past. This just sent me to sleep!

The writing style was actually quite good and I enjoyed the end of the story but it was very predictable. I kept hoping for a nice twist at the end and there really wasn't enough fighting for my liking. I think the author got lost in the middle and tried too hard to introduce the characters, sometimes actions speak louder than words! If this book had been cut down by 2-300 words it may have been much better.

I disliked Kelly Armstrong's Bitten and thought this was very similar but was just marginally better. Like other reviewers I didn't find any attraction for "handsome" Marc and really didn't develop an interest for any of the characters.

I would maybe read the next books to see if the story improved but only if the book was really cheap.
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on 11 December 2012
Someone recommended this book as appealing to a similar audience as Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld novels. As others have pointed out, the premise is extremely similar to Armstrong's "Bitten" - werewolf/werecat girl wants independence, has to leave her human boyfriend and return to her pack/pride due to mutts/strays on their turf, deals with a possessive ex who was accepted into the pack/pride at a young age under special circumstances, gets kidnapped by mutts/strays, etc.

Bitten wasn't my favourite book, but it was reasonably good. The protagonist was a bit whiny and overly rebellious, but she wasn't an idiot, and the other characters were fairly believable with understandable motives.

Stray, by comparison, is mediocre at best. The story itself isn't too badly written - I was at least able to finish it. The real problem is the protagonist. She whines, she cries, she rebels for the sake of rebelling, she hurts her friends and family, yet refuses to accept responsibility for her actions - instead she just sits around feeling sorry for herself. She's like a petulant, hormonal teenage princess, blundering into one disaster after another. I kept expecting her to get a horrible wake up call, and grow up, but it never happened.
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