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Toru: Wayfarer Returns (Sakura Steam Series Book 1) by [Sorensen, Stephanie R.]
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Toru: Wayfarer Returns (Sakura Steam Series Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Length: 276 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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RECOGNITION AND AWARDS FINALIST, Fantasy 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards BRONZE MEDAL, Multicultural Fiction 2016 eLIT Book Awards SHORTLIST (Winners TBD) Science Fiction, 2016 Cygnus Book Awards APPROVED, Five Stars, Awesome Indies MEDALLION HONOREE, IndieB.R.A.G. Award "The paths of sword and steam cross brilliantly....Approachable and satisfying." -- Awesome Indies, Approved, 5 Stars "First-time author Sorensen launches her Sakura Steam series with a well-told what-if story that brings a steampunk aesthetic to real-life 1800s Japan... Sorenson cunningly blends far-out fiction with actual historical personages....Young adults as well as older readers can partake of the delicious genre-blending bento. Cool alternative-history yarn of yester-century Nippon, a promising steampunk-energized start." -- Kirkus Reviews "Sorensen immerses readers in a compelling and provocative story....an absorbing read." - BlueInk Review "Toru is an enjoyable and believable work of alternative historical fiction." - Foreword/Clarion Reviews 5 Stars "TORU: WAYFARER RETURNS is a fast-paced historical adventure steeped in Japanese culture." -- IndieReader "A terrifically vivid historical novel set in an 1852 Japan re-imagined along Steampunk lines...Anyone reading it will eagerly look forward to the next volume." -- Historical Novel Society "I loved this book and I definitely recommend it for anyone who is looking for Steampunk that pushes the boundaries of the genre. Airships and samurai swords collide in this thoughtful and compelling alternative history about a culture every bit as rich and nuanced as those usually featured in Steampunk literature, but far less familiar." -- Phoebe Darqueeling of For Whom the Gear Turns "Rather than just a simple steampunk setting, Sorensen steeps her world in history, and finds a fascinating theme to play with: the conflict between tradition and the future, to say nothing of Japan's complex relationship with the outside world." -- Josh Mauthe of Umney's Alley "Outrageous book with strong characters and compelling story" -- Fred Fanning on Amazon "Steampunk adventure sharing a tale of patriotism, honor and love" -- MarthasBookshelf "Good book. Good idea....Anyone interested in Japan, in samurai, in traditional cultures, or in the clash between tradition and modernity -- you should read this book. And the sequels, when they arrive. And anyone who likes a well-written story of one man struggling both for and against society, anyone who is interested in the struggle to break out of a rigid class system and become more than the role created by one's birth, you should read the book, too." -- Theoden Humphrey, VINE VOICE Amazon reviewer "Toru is a vast thought experiment, at times touching and engaging, it is also optimistic. There is the sense that we, in our time, with increasing levels of injustice in our society, could learn from a bunch of open-minded dreamers on the edge of revolution. And who wouldn't want dragon airships after all!" -- BlackRainbowBlade blog "There will probably be some debate as to exactly what genre this book belongs. Is it Alternate Historical Fiction? Is it Steampunk? Is it somehow both? Or neither? My answer to those questions is that it is all of the above. With the addition of dirigibles, it clearly enters the realm of Steampunk, but since it is set in an actual period of our world's history, this takes it away from the Steampunk genre and instead into the realm of alternate historical fiction. All in all, the genre does not really matter. It is the story that matters and the story is superb." --AmiesBookBlog "If you're into the Steampunk genre or even if you're not, it's a beautiful read." - T.S. O'Neill. "If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, something that is gripping, intelligent, and utterly unique, read 'Toru: The Wayfarer Returns.'" - J.M. Lipp.

About the Author

Stephanie R. Sorensen is a writer based in the Victorian mining town of Leadville, Colorado, where she lives at 10,251 feet with her husband, five chickens, two bantam English game hens and one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. After a former life in big cities-New York City, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Boston, Mexico City, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Santa Fe-she now enjoys the birdsong and quiet writing time she finds in Leadville. As a Leadville local, she likes her Victorian attire spiced with a little neo-Victorian futurism and the biggest bustle possible. Recognition for Stephanie's debut novel "Toru: Wayfarer Returns" -- Finalist, Fantasy category, 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards -- Bronze Medal Award, Multicultural Fiction category, 2016 eLit Book Awards -- Awesome Indies Approved -- IndieB.R.A.G Medallion Award -- Shortlisted (winners TBD), Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction, 2016 Cygnus TORU: WAYFARER RETURNS draws on her experience living and working in Japan; her next historical novel is set in Mexico where she also lived for several years.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 826 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Palantir Press; 1 edition (16 Feb. 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #206,164 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed the style of writing and the weave of the tale. Characters were real and the storyline provided many sub-plots raising interesting issues and challenges to consider, or it can be taken at face value and enjoyed as a good read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Struggling to get into this. Haven't quite given up, but set aside for now. Interesting idea, but not encountered any steam or punk thus far and characters seem wooden and stereotypical.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an interesting read with a fun ending. If you enjoy steam age alternate history and Japanese culture/history you'll love this.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I was totally let down by this one. Even when I tried to give it leeway as a YA book, I was disappointed. I honestly don't know what all the rave reviews and awards are based on.

That cover is awesome and I love both steampunk and stories of feudal Japan. Unfortunately, this book failed on both fronts. It's not really steampunk, despite a couple dirigibles and it's only Japanese in title.

While it's set in Japan and uses Japanese words and talks about Japanese society, all of the characters are essentially westernized. For example, Toru talks about being uncomfortable with the loud brash American women. However, the only prominent female character we're given is...you guessed it, loud and brash. She troops around in men's clothing, often found signing bawdy drinking songs with the blacksmith and fighting with a <i>naginata</i>. Hardly the paragon of demureness we're told to expect. People talk outside their station, are more direct than should be, etc. We're told about Japan, but not provided a Japanese story.

Further, the books presents as if in praise Japanese culture, but the whole plot hinges on the westernization of the country and destruction of their age-old way of life. Everything from the environment, to the social hierarchy, to women's place in society is challenged and discarded in exchange for a western style. They even chose western uniform styles for their military. This basically subtly shows the old to be it to be less ideal than what it is becoming, therefore the East is shown to pale in comparison to the West, which I believe goes against everything the book claims to be trying to do.

Outside of the heavy ethnocentrism of it, the plot simply stretches believability and credulity too far.
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Format: Paperback
Subarashii monogatari desu! This story was superb, and I am so very glad I read it. Toru, a young man, is dropped off by his American friends on the shores of Japan, his homeland, only to turn around to face several armed Samurai. And from there, the action doesn’t let up. Having lived in Japan before, (Sapporo and Asahikawa on Hokkaido) I especially appreciated this story. I am also a fan of steampunk, so that was an extra plus for me. I loved the airships added to the story! I also thought the little romance was sweet, and I appreciated the addition of Masuyo. I always admire authors who create female characters that are strong and independent, and don’t need a man to complete them or give them purpose and worth. Masuyo and Toru are a good team. They are equals and complement each other. And I like that.
I cannot recommend this story enough. The plot and pacing were awesome, the writing was fantastic, and the story itself was something that just— surrounded me. Stephanie R. Sorensen is a great author, and I look forward to what she will put out in the future! I was given a copy of this most excellent story in exchange for an honest review.
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Format: Hardcover
Set in Japan in the 1850's and announcing the opening of the country to the world, this is a novel with a “futuristic” edge, that is a steampunk novel. For the ones not familiar with the genre, steampunk is a branch of sci-fi, a historical cyberpunk. Technology is important, but in its 19th century context. Hence the “steam” prefix, which evokes the machinery of the Victorian era. If inventions get slightly anachronistic here, it’s not in their historical context but in their geographical context. While the U.S. and Europe are going full bloom in their industrial revolution, Japan is still set in its medieval ways.

With her steampunk approach, Sorensen will remedy to that and change the course of history. At least in this book.

Just as in a cyberpunk novel, machinery, far for being left in the background, is quite the character. Consisting mostly of trains and dirigibles (“dirijibis”) here, it could have taken over the entire novel. But Sorensen shows her ability and sense of balance by placing vibrant and youthful characters to enliven this epopee of the machine.

Tōru, a young man of mysterious origin for everyone in the novel—but not for the reader, is responsible for this modernization. Rescued from waters by Americans, he spends several years in their country and learns their way. Like Moses, he returns to the promised land, Japan, only to meet adversity when he proposes changes through technological progress.

But changes are inevitable. This clash between modernity and tradition, between the machine and the samouraï, comes here in a clear, charming prose, and not without humor.
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