All Alone in the Night – M. Andrew Rudder

Cooper Barnes M.D. reached the pinnacle of an obsolete field. A pathologist in a future where all of Earth’s infectious diseases have been catalogued, sequenced, and cured, he has been left with no challenges. Until, that is, he is presented with new horizons in the stars as Chief Medical Officer aboard the Frontier, a new breed of faster than light ship set to explore deep space.

Along with his partner, the alien Sykk, he heads into the unknown. He was prepared to fight disease, but more insidious is the emptiness of space and the political machinations of the new species they meet. Embroiled in battles he wanted no part of, despite the presence of his partner he can’t help but feel all alone in the night.

Written by M. Andrew Rudder

Cover art by Soro

Published by Argyll Productions

This book was gifted to me by a friend who was wondering if I would like it, and I must say that I’m quite grateful. All Alone in the Night is a story that I found far less depressing than the title might suggest. Cooper is a wonderfully cynic and sarcastic character that really managed to keep me entertained together with his partner, Sykk, who has a great love for old films. Together with Angie, the three solve various medical problems, saving the lives of many.

The story in this book is original enough to keep me interested, is filled with interesting species and characters, and is generally well-written with a satisfying ending to boot. I would love for there to be a sequel, but it seems there have been no such plans as of yet.

If you love sci-fi, then there’s absolutely no reason for you to not pick up this book!

All Alone in the Night

All Alone in the Night – M. Andrew Rudder

Gathering Storms – Stephan Coghlan

I’m writing this letter to you because I want to tell you how my family, the Genmos, became recognized as living beings. You might have heard of us in the news recently, but if you haven’t, let me quickly fill you in.

It all started years ago, when my dad used a government contract to create super-soldiers for his own needs. After almost a decade of providing limited success, the project was canceled and we were ordered destroyed. Unwilling to kill his children, dad hid us throughout the country, splitting us up from each other.

Just after my eighth birthday, my oldest sister got into some hot water. Her guardian had died and she was forced to live on the streets. When several witnesses reported seeing her, it sparked a race to recover her, and my other siblings, between my father and the agency that had ordered us destroyed. That night began my people’s fight for our rights, our freedom and our very lives.

I’ve collected writings from my siblings and have tried to put them into an order that I hope makes sense for you. This is our story.

Yours sincerely,

Anna Keper

The last original Genetically Modified Species.

Written by Stephan Coghlan

Cover art by Joseph Chou

Published by Thurston Howl Publications

The blurb on the back of the book go me interested enough that I added this book to my collection. Something about anthropomorphic animals being the result of genetically modifying humans with animal DNA strikes my fancy.

Gathering Storms is book one of the GENMOS: The Genitically Modified Species series, which becomes quite clear after reading the story. The scattered genmos are gathered, accompanied by a story belonging to one or multiple of the characters when you first encounter them. This way, Gathering Storms reads more as a collection of short stories than a complete novel, even though all these stories are set in the same world and are interlinked. They have to keep fleeing or fighting the enemy, but the struggle is not resolved in the end, leaving room for a second novel.The story isn’t very original, but the execution is. I was also quite surprised to find out who the real antagonist in the story was.

A big plus of this book would be the plethora of interesting characters the reader gets to meet. However, a downside would be that it was really difficult to keep track of all the different names and species of this many characters, especially once they all meet up, leaving me horribly confused at times and having to look back to check if I got the right characters matched to the names. I personally hope that the group will split up again in group two, to make the story easier to follow.

Gathering Storms doesn’t leave me warm nor cold, so I guess I would give it a 6/10, based on the fact that I am curious to see what happens next.

Gathering Storms

 

Gathering Storms – Stephan Coghlan

Summerhill – Kevin Frane

Synopsis:  Summerhill is a dog with a problem: he isn’t exactly sure who he is. Living alone in a desolate world as its only inhabitant, he has no memories of his previous life—only the tantalizing clue that the answers he seeks may lie with a mysterious woman named Katherine, the hostess on a cruise ship that sails between dimensions.

But Katherine has problems of her own, and if Summerhill wants her help in unlocking the secrets of his past, he’ll have to help Katherine deal with hers.

Together, the two will travel to different worlds, different times, and different universes in a journey where the possible and impossible can be tough to separate, and where the rules of reality can change as easily as weather.

Published by Argyll Productions

This has to be one of the most confusing books I’ve ever read. Here we have a character with no background trapped in an empty world all by himself, trying to somehow find out who he is, with the power to make plants grow and travel time and space. In these other worlds, Summerhill encounters characters far more interesting than himself, that he keeps causing trouble for, which he eventually tries to solve again.

Because of his lack of background or clear personality, Summerhill is a character I found impossible to identify with. The fact that he kept making, in my eyes, wrong decisions time and again, only pushed me further away from him, turning me into a spectator watching a catastrophe unfold. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

I had certain expectations after reading Frane’s the Seventh Chakra, but Summerhill turned out to be an extremely annoying read, and I was glad it was over.

I cannot recommend this book, sorry.

Summerhill

 

Summerhill – Kevin Frane

Taboo – Rechan

Synopsis:

Teacher and Student
Commander and Private
Rich and Poor
Soldier and Prisoner
Fantasy and Reality
Client and Professional
Life and Death

Every society has taboos, from sacred vows which must never be broken to the limitations of sexual expression.
These and more make up thirteen scandalous stories answering the question, “Which line would you cross?”

Taboo is an anthology for an adult audience only and includes the following stories:

“That Red Panda Girl” by Tarl “Voice” Hoch
Tour of Duty by Huskyteer
The Rising of the Moon Over the Atlantic by NightEyes DaySpring
Aid and Comfort by StormKitty
Exit Stage Left by Robert Baird
Odd Man Out by Whyte Yoté
The Joys of Parenting by Roland Jovaik
Promises by Yannarra Cheena
The Dog Star Miracle by Kandrel
Dates by Tony Greyfox
Binding the Heart by Rechan
Complete by H. A. Kirsch
Lessons by Ianus J. Wolf
Scent of Heaven by Tarl “Voice” Hoch

Cover art by Kadath

Published by FurPlanet Productions

I knew exactly what I was getting into when I picked up this book, and I loved every second of it. While some of the taboos were not necessarily my thing, the stories were well-written and intruiging. I would have loved seeing more artwork in the interior of the book though. The book felt like a dirty little secret while it sat inside of my bag during the day.

The story that impressed me most was Odd Man Out by Whyte Yoté. Yoté managed to sketch a world with a modern-day setting that is unlike any other story I have ever read before. In a time where it’s very hard to write a completely original story at times, Yoté definitely managed to do just that. The stereotypes in the story were ones we often joke about in the furry fandom, but to actually see it “realized” in a story like this was absolutely great. Definitely a story to remember.

I would love to recommend this anthology to all you pervs out there looking for a good time and perhaps some inspiration.

– Faolan

Taboo

 

Taboo – Rechan

The Ursa Major Awards Anthology – Fred Patten

Synopsis:

A Tenth Anniversary Celebration

Since 2001, the Ursa Major Awards have been awarded every year to the best writers, artists, and creators of anthropomorphic media. Voted on by the community at large, they honor the best in every field of artistic endeavor. This anthology is a celebration of the first ten years of anthropomorphic short fiction, collecting both winners and nominees from across the years to provide readers with a sample of the best authors the furry community has to offer.

So read, enjoy, and then help decide the next winners of this fine award by voting for the next ten years of Ursa Major Awards.

http://www.ursamajorawards.org/

Features the following stories:

Beneath the Crystal Sea by Brock Hoagland
Familiars by Michael H. Payne
In the Line of Duty by M.C.A. Hogarth
Felicia and the Tailcutter’s Curse by Charles P. A. Melville
In His Own Country by Kristin Fontaine
Jacks to Open by Kyell Gold
Don’t Blink by Kyell Gold
Six by Samuel C. Conway
Drifting by Kyell Gold
Ailoura by Paul Di Filippo
St. Ailbe’s Hall by Naomi Kritzer

Published by: FurPlanet Productions

You can hardly go wrong with an anthology comprised entirely of winners of and those nominated for an Ursa Major Award. Combining the crème de la crème of ten years of furry fiction has ensured that this anthology is one of the strongest I have read thus far. Lacking a certain theme, the book takes you from one world to the next, making you experience a plethora of different emotions. Absolutely wonderful.

I felt that some stories were overly long when compared to others in the novel. However, I don’t know the reasoning for this, so it might as well be because the authors sent in shorter stories than others. It just felt a bit off-balance at times.

The story that impressed me most was Six by Samuel C. Conway. His story got me hooked right from the start, as it played with fantasies and dreams I’ve had numerous times. If one were to find an anthropomorphic animal, what would one do? Conway made sure that the emotions felt by the story’s main character were delivered quite aptly, and the ending was absolutely perfect. It’s definitely a story I’ll never forget.

I’d love to recommend this anthology to all lovers of well-written anthropomorphic fiction.

– Faolan

 

the-ursa-major-awards-anthology

 

 

The Ursa Major Awards Anthology – Fred Patten

Gods With Fur – Fred Patten

Synopsis: From the very beginning, mankind has found the divine in the shape of animals from across the world. Deities such as Ganesha, Coyote, Anubis, and The Monkey King—even Zeus took to the wing from time to time. In ancient Egyptian deserts, misty Central American rainforests, and across wind swept tundra, man has forever told stories of gods with fur, feathers, scales, or tusks.

Gods With Fur features twenty-three new stories of divine animals working their will upon the land. You may recognize gods such as Bastet, while other stories see authors working in their familiar worlds, such as M. R. Anglin’s Silver Foxes books or Kyell Gold’s Forester University books. Others are set in new worlds where the anthropomorphic gods have tales to tell us. We are proud to present this new furry view of divinity.

400 Rabbits by Alice “Huskyteer” Dryden
Contract Negotiations by Field T. Mouse
On the Run from Isofell by M. R. Anglin
To the Reader… by Alan Loewen
First Chosen by BanWynn Oakshadow
All Of You Are In Me by Kyell Gold
Yesterday’s Trickster by NightEyes DaySpring
The Gods of Necessity by Jefferson Swycaffer
The Precession of the Equinoxes by Michael H. Payne
Deity Theory by James L. Steele
Questor’s Gambit by Mary E. Lowd
Fenrir’s Saga by Televassi
The Three Days of the Jackal by Samuel C. Conway
A Melody in Seduction’s Arsenal by Slip-Wolf
Adversary’s Fall by MikasiWolf
As Below, So Above by Mut
Wings of Faith by Kris Schnee
The Going Forth of Uadjet by Frances Pauli
That Exclusive Zodiac Club by Fred Patten
Three Minutes To Midnight by Killick
A Day With No Tide by Watts Martin
Repast (A Story of Aligare) by Heidi C. Vlach
Origins by Michael D. Winkle

Published by FurPlanet Productions

The first thing that drew me to this book was the amazing artwork by Taegan Gavet, otherwise known as Blackteagan. The colour scheme and the stunning blue eyes of the deer on the cover simply begged me to get this anthology. Yes, I am terribly guilty of judging a book by its cover. It didn’t hurt that the contents appealed to me greatly.

This is definitely one of the best anthologies I have ever read, and it took me a long time to get through all the different stories. They were all so incredibly different, and I’ve discovered quite a few talented writers by reading this work. Almost every story was enjoyable in its own right, but some definitely appealed to me more than others. To give you my three best stories:

Deity Theory by James L. Steele
A Day With No Tide by Watts Martin
First Chosen by Ban Wynn Oakshadow

Deity Theory had an excellent setting and interesting story, A Day With No Tide had wonderful characters and a setting I always enjoy, and First Chosen simply amazed me by the sheer amount of research that must’ve been done prior to writing the story, even going as far as quoting from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. I can honestly say I enjoyed these three stories the most, which says something, because basically all the other stories were great in their own way.

I would love to recommend this anthology to all readers who enjoy mythology.

– Faolan

gods-with-fur

Gods With Fur – Fred Patten

Kyell Gold – Black Angel

Meg‘s always thought that love and ghosts are fantasies for gullible people, but her skepticism is about to be tested. As her roommates Sol and Alexei move on with her lives, the otter remains stuck in her rut, unsure what to do about her future or about her best friend Athos. He wants more than friendship from her, but she isn’t sure whether she’s straight or gay, let alone in love with him. Not helping are the strange trances that show her the lives of two other young girls, one who wants to be a voodoo priestess and the other who wants to escape a Christian cult. Athos sticks by her as the trances take over her life, and Meg will have to figure out her true feelings or lose him along with everything else.

Black Angel is Kyell Gold’s third and final novel in the Dangerous Spirits series which began with Green Fairy and continued in Red Devil. The books contain characters that are involved in a variety of relationships and deal heavily with sexuality, but there are no explicit depictions of sexual acts.

Cover and interior illustrations by Rukis.

Published by Sofawolf Press

Black Angel is a wonderful final installment in the Dangerous Spirits series, that I absolutely loved reading. This review will contain quite some spoilers, so if you prefer to read the book without knowing anything beforehand, you should probably stop reading now.

What made this book so enjoyable to me, was that it followed my favourite character in the series, Meg, and we find her life getting awfully complicated when two other stories are forced into her head. One being of a spirit that lived a hundred years ago, and one that consists of dreams about an otter somewhere in the future. This gives Meg’s story a very refreshing twist, instead of following a similar path as the previous two novels.

What I loved about this particular thing, was that Gold plays around with time, showing us that it is all interwoven and the past can influence the future, as well as the other way around. Marie-Belle influences Meg’s life up to the point where she pretty much screws everything up, making her life a lot harder, while she is also trying to deal with own strange love life and the fact that she is no longer taking antidepressants. While dealing with this, Meg struggles with dreams of Hannah, an otter in the future. She quickly finds out that Hannah has dreams about her as well, strongly linking the two together. Meg even influences Hannah’s life directly at one point, making Meg Hannah’s “spirit”, just as Marie-Belle is Meg’s. This was a very interesting turn of events, which amused me greatly. It was even better because of Meg being a very skeptical person, who keeps trying to explain things rationally.

Aside from all the spiritual things going on, Meg is struggling with her sexuality, making enough money to pay rent, Athos, and her parents, throwing her into a maelstrom of emotions and drama that was very interesting to read about. I personally believe that Meg is the deepest and most well-rounded character in the series, and I am glad she got her own novel to star in.

The revelation at the end was mind-blowing, as it links the previous two books with this one even stronger. Suddenly, everything made sense, giving the book a very nice ending, instead of leaving the reader with a lot of questions. Sure, her life isn’t over at the end of the book, but at least we know why certain things happened.

It is very difficult to try to talk about this book without revealing a lot, and it is not really a book to be reviewed like this, and I don’t think I did a good job at it. In order to fully grasp how amazing this story is, it should be discussed in a group. So grab some friends, get them to read the novels, and discuss the series!

Gold did an amazing job on this final installment, and very competently laid these spirits to rest. I would recommend the series to anyone looking for a thrilling storyline and at least a hint of interest in the paranormal.

-Faolan

black-angel

 

Kyell Gold – Black Angel

Fragments of Life’s Heart: Vol. 1 – Laura “Munchkin” Lewis and Stefano “Mando” Zocchi

They say Love is the oldest story on Earth, but we don’t have to tell it the same way every time. How many ways are there to explore our feelings that we may have never even considered? Countless fragments of different worlds, all held together by the greatest force of all.

Join us as we explore the many different forms of love—family love, forbidden love, love that embraces what society always taught was wrong. Seasoned veterans and brand new talents bring you seventeen anthropomorphic stories with all different forms of sexuality and relationships, in a journey across genres, worlds, and time.

Love can bloom, thrive, and end. Love can heal, mesh, and blend. We’re all Fragments trying to stick together.

Tending the Fires – Jess E Owen

Transitions – Mog Moogle

The Mistress of Tidwell Manor – Renee Carter Hall

Yet Time and Distance – Kris Carver

Polynomials – Fever Low

Raise Your Voice – Stefano “Mando” Zocchi

Going Out – T C Powell

Harvest Home – Altivo Overo

The Foreigner – Dwale

Trade All the Stars – Watts Martin

Draw to the Heart – Ocean Tigrox

Paint the Square-Cut Sky – Slip-Wolf

Hearth Soup – Laura “Munchkin” Lewis

Brass Candy Girl – M C A Hogarth

Footsteps – Televassi

Rain Check – Field T Mouse

The Soul of Wit – Daniel Lowd

Edited by Laura “Munchkin” Lewis and Stefano “Mando” Zocchi

Cover art by Darkomi

Published by Weasel Press

I was really looking forward to reading this book, mostly because I tried getting a story in as well, but unfortunately didn’t make the cut. After reading this anthology, I can easily tell why. However, it’s not about me at this moment, so allow me to stop right there.

When we hear the word “love” we all know what to expect in stories, but Fragments takes it to a way deeper level by showing us different kinds of love, most of which are by no means cliché in any way, when it comes to books. It sheds new light on the old concept, by showing facets that by no means get the attention they deserve.

My favourite stories in this anthology have to be Tending the Fires by Jess E. Owen (author of the Summer King Chronicles), Raise Your Voice by Stefano “Mando” Zocchi, Draw to the Heart by Ocean Tigrox, and Paint the Square Cut Sky by Slip-Wolf. These stories all touched my heart in different ways. Slip-Wolf actually managed to catch me off guard with his story. What these four stories have in common, is that they all managed to rope me in with their enjoyable characters and wonderful narrative. I wanted to fight with Nara’s mother, take Treyo home with me, throw Chad down a long flight of stairs, and run away with Leida.

Fragments is a pretty good anthology all-in-all. I was actually quite surprised by the big number stories featuring humans as the norm, and having anthropomorphic animals either as an alien species or a human creation. It definitely added a little extra to a few of the stories, where it did nothing for other stories that had this concept as well.

I would like to suggest that the stories get to be a little longer in the next volume. A lot of the stories were simply too short to actually grab me, or ended way too quickly and left me dissatisfied and wanting more. I also regret saying that there were two stories that left me quite cold. They just didn’t manage to grab me at all.

I will definitely buy the next volume when it comes out, which the words “volume 1” kind of promise, as I have enjoyed reading most of this anthology. Thank you for shedding much-needed light on the different aspects of love.

Also, to Daniel Lowd:

Well played, good sir. Well played.

– Faolan

fragments

Fragments of Life’s Heart: Vol. 1 – Laura “Munchkin” Lewis and Stefano “Mando” Zocchi

The Seventh Chakra – Kevin Frane

Arkady Ryswife is a devout member of the Iolite League, a religious society dedicated to building the better world of the future. Behind the scenes, however, he is an elite soldier, a member of a covert wing of the League that ensures its ends are met where peaceful means do not suffice.

These operatives have a mission to recover crucial fragments of the world’s lost, fractured history. Arkady’s team is not the only one willing to kill for these relics   just the best. At least, until a fatal mistake leaves the team in shambles on the eve of what may be the most important mission of their lives.

Forced back into the field without delay, Arkady and his companions must recover a piece of data that the League has been seeking for years. Still reeling from their loss, they must go behind enemy lines, outsiders in a notoriously xenophobic nation. Isolated and suspicious of betrayal at every turn, they plunge into the web of one of the world’s most astonishing mysteries, a journey from which none of them will return unscathed.

Cover illustrations by Kamui.

Published by Sofawolf.

It took me a while to actually decide to buy this book. The reason for this was the blurb on the back of the book. I just wasn’t quite sure if I would enjoy it. However, because I am a horrible person and judge books by their covers, I decided to take a leap of faith and bought the book, due to the fantastic cover art. Great job there, Kamui!

This is the second book by Kevin Frane in the same setting, but I actually didn’t know that. If I’d known, I’d probably gone for his other book Thousand Leaves first. However, the two stories are independent enough of each other, that they can be read in any order.

It certainly didn’t feel like that when I started on the first chapter though. As a reader, you’re thrown into the story and into a situation where all kinds of things are happening, but you know absolutely nothing. I tend to get quite confused when characters know more than I do. It doesn’t take long until you catch up on things though. Not that you won’t get confused as a reader after that though, as this book has its fill of confusing events and characters.

Talking about characters, I have to say that I think most characters in this book are actually quite likable and interesting, including the antagonists. Arkady is a very likeable person, and Ming-Jun was also someone I enjoyed reading about. Everybody seems to have their reasons for doing things the way they do, and once I got the whole picture, I really couldn’t view the antagonists as antagonists anymore. However, there was one character that really drove me insane. SPOILER ALERT!

The one person in the whole book that I absolutely couldn’t stand was Il-Hyeong. This was mainly because I had absolutely no idea why that character did what he did. Usually, it’s quite easy for me to understand why certain characters do certain things, but this fox is an enigma. There were many moments in this book where I would’ve loved to personally shoot him in the face. It’s too bad that Arkady had too big a heart to do so, which was another point of frustration. This one character killed off some of the characters I liked most, and his paranoia level was over 9000, which made him a real pain in the ass. I’d say I was relieved whenever he was out of the picture for a while.

I think Frane meant for him to be a mystery and a point of frustration though, because when a character is this messed up, it has to be intentional. Good job at playing with my emotions, Frane!

END OF SPOILER ALERT!

The world in which all of these events take place is wonderfully designed by Frane, and he seems to have thought of everything while designing it. The thing I loved most about it, is that it takes place in the far far future, but it doesn’t feel too sci-fi for me. The history of the world, the different religious and cultural groups, and the way that Frane portrayed the world in the book just made it feel complete. Even though I didn’t know anything of this setting, the book gave me a very subtle guided tour while I was following the story.

I cannot say for sure, but it seems to me that the story took place in a world inspired by Asia, perhaps due to Frane having lived in Japan for a while? I base this on the character’s names, which definitely sound Chinese and Korean to me, and on the implementation of Zhōngwén, which is basically a form of Chinese. I’d suspected this as soon as the language was used in the book, but didn’t know for sure until the very end.

Due to me actually being unable to really point out the true antagonists in this book, I had trouble putting my finger on the actual plot. We were following Arkady on his mission, of course, but there were so many questions I had while reading, that I sometimes got a little confused. The characters themselves also had no idea what was going on most of the time. That one character being such an asshole really didn’t help either. Frane truly plunged us into a giant web of deceit, lies, betrayal, and secrets.

However, most of the questions actually get answered by the time you get to the end, and I must say that I’m quite pleased with the path Arkady chose for himself.

After reading this book, I can honestly say that I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to reading Thousand Leaves as well, when that time comes.

-Faolan

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The Seventh Chakra – Kevin Frane