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

 

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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

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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

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Kyell Gold – Black Angel

Dungeon Grind – Kandrel & Rechan

Synopsis: Not every adventure goes according to plan, and not every monster deserves to be slain!

Here are the stories of the monsters with their favorite adventurers, uninhibited, unfettered, and unleashed!

Featuring stories by Kandrel, Rechan, Voice, Whyte Yoté and many more, inside are ten tales of medieval mayhem meant to be read by torch light.

For adults only!

Features the following stories:

Blackhorn by Tarl “Voice” Hoch
Fifty Scales of Grey by Sarina Dorie
Forbidden Gnolledge by Marderschaden
Eyes in the Black by Kandrel
Velvet by Rechan
Sighs for the Labyrinth by Slip-Wolf
The Oni and the Fisherman by George Squares
Peryton Mod by Ross Whitlock
The Desert Run by Tym Greene
Dragon Therapy by Whyte Yoté

Cover and interior art by Unciaa, Edited by Kandrel and Rechan.

Published by FurPlanet Productions

This is yet another anthology that I thoroughly enjoyed. Being somewhat of a tabletop roleplayer and an fan of the fantasy genre myself, this book was right up my alley. The stories were well-written, and definitely sent my imagination into overdrive from time to time, and left me wanting more.

The stories I enjoyed most, in no particular order, were Slip-Wolf’s Sighs for the Labyrinth, Ross Whitlock’s Peryton Mod, and Whyte Yoté’s Dragon Therapy. These stories managed to play to my imagination in a way that none of the other stories matched. Slip-Wolf’s story made me want to comfort the Minotaur, Whitlock’s made me want to see and touch the Peryton myself, and I really wanted to see the relationship between Yoté’s characters develop further. It just seemed like I got to see chapters from books, which leaves me hungry to learn more about all of these characters and the worlds they live in. A job well done.

The art by Unciaa gives the anthology a really nice touch. Several of the book’s characters can be found on the cover, while the interior art gives a small glimpse of the stories you will be reading soon. Especially the interior design is very stylishly done. I personally really enjoy books with pretty pictures in them, so I was very glad to see this.

I would really love to recommend this anthology to all lovers of fantasy and RPG’s, whether digital or not.

– Faolan

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Dungeon Grind – Kandrel & Rechan

Off the Beaten Path – Rukis

Synopsis:  Spending her life beneath the oppressive control of an abusive husband she’d had no choice in marrying was a hard life, but Shivah strove to endure it in order to protect her child.

When her child was slain, and Shivah herself viciously attacked and left for dead, she swore she’d make her husband pay dearly for his greatest mistake…leaving her alive.

She is joined in her hunt by the two men who pulled her from the jaws of death, and a group of lawmen hunting a dangerous band of raiders threatening the countryside. But there may be deeper, more widespread evils hidden in the shadows of the conflict she finds herself a part of.

I don’t even know where to begin with this book. I fear that whatever I write here won’t do the book any justice by a long shot, for Rukis has written this book so incredibly well that it is simply impossible not to read the other two parts as well.

Off the Beaten Path has a very solid story, which takes is on a journey viewed from the eyes of Shivah, a broken woman who evolves very nicely throughout the book, to become a very strong, and rational, protagonist. The story in itself is quite simple, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. It has enough interesting twists and turns that it’ll leave you hungry as a reader. I will not say too much about the story, as I would just spoil way too much.

The true strength of the book isn’t necessarily the storyline though. Personally, the fantastic characters are what make this book work. You cannot help but grow to love at least one, and hate at least one of the characters, which is a good sign. I personally really loved Puquanah and the interaction between Shivah and Grant, Grant definitely being my favourite character in this book. Another one that I liked was Magpie, for his good humour. The ones I wanted to punch in the face are Ransom, for obvious reasons, and, wait for it, Crow. Ransom just hurts the people around him way too much for me to like him. Yes, he’s broken inside, but that doesn’t excuse his behaviour in my eyes. I just hated Crow for breaking up the lovely interaction between Shivah and the marshal.

There is wonderful character development in this first part of the trilogy, and I wonder how the character will evolve in the next book.

The ending of this first installment is so incredibly good, that it’s hard to put into words what I thought about it, without spoiling too much. I just have one word for this: “WOW!”. It was just such a clustercuss of so many things happening at the same time, that it’s impossible not to want to read part two, which I will do quite happily.

BUY THIS BOOK! I’m not joking. I personally believe this is one of the strongest novels, especially in a trilogy, that I’ve read in a long time. Rukis, I want to thank you for the many hours of enjoyment and the silly grins you’ve conjured on my face while I was reading this fantastic story. You did it again. You are now officially on my list of favourite writers.
– Faolan

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Off the Beaten Path – Rukis

Transcending Hallowed Walls – Andres Cyanni Halden

Synopsis:  In order to stop High General Takashi Ironskin, the paladins of the Hopegiver must activate the Light of Creation, a warhammer so magically powerful it can kill a god. To do so, four paladins – the wolf Vorel, the fox Rasvim, the mouse Acton, and the Wolfen Mier – travel to the K’Mir Empire in hopes of finding the Font of Light. In order to survive the journey, they enlist Trent, a defector from the empire, to lead them through its toxic deserts.

As they travel through those dangerous lands, the snowcat paladin Torr heads north with a group of allies to try and rally old enemies of Takashi Ironskin to their cause. All of the paladins and their friends hold hopes that they can gather an army large enough to challenge General Ironskin’s terrifying undead soldiers.

The paladins of the Hopegiver know the risks they must take, and sacrifices that may have to face. Above all else, they must protect the innocent – no matter the cost.

After reading part two of this trilogy, I really hoped that Halden would redeem himself with this third and final installment of his Paladin Trilogy. This he did.

Transcending Hallowed Walls takes us to the K’Mir empire, the hostile homeland of the Chosen; Frontier, the country of the commonfolk; back to Oya, and back to Vasani, where the final stand to dethrone Takashi Ironskin and take back the city. In contrast to the second book, Halden actually takes the time to effectively describe these two new countries, which satisfied me as a reader. The story is fast-paced, but there’s still enough time to get to know these foreign contries.

The paladins are joined by new allies once again, who are all interesting in their own way. It seems Halden has a knack for coming up with enjoyable characters. As a reader I’ve come to love them, and it was great to see them develop throughout the entire trilogy. Some characters don’t change that much, but others undergo a complete metamorphosis. Excellent!

As we get towards the ending of the story, I came to realize that these three books hadn’t really played with my emotions all that much. Sure, there were some events that triggered a reaction, but it wasn’t really that evident. However, the epilogue hit me right in the feels. It also creates some room for a new story, by raising a few new questions. However, I personally really wish that Halden will stop writing about the paladins after this story. Any more would just feel like he’s milking it, even though there really isn’t that much left to give.

SPOILER ALERT!

I enjoyed this story. I really did. However, the final chapter, where the paladins fight to reclaim Eldere, kind of ticked me off. I felt that the fighting in the street was way too easy, and the paladins just wandered through the city, whistling, while crushing the undead under their feet. However, two of our beloved paladins, and one of my favourite characters, died unnecessarily. I’m talking about Acton here. I feel he could’ve easily taken on that darkmage, and that he didn’t need to die. This of course led to the death of Mier, who went on a rampage.

Torr died in a purposeful way, or at least that’s what it seemed like, because apparently it didn’t do the others much good. I feel it would’ve been best for him to assist the paladins in the actual battle before sacrificing himself. He could’ve done that later, right?

Vorel’s death also seemed kind of…stupid? Here’s the head paladin of the Hopegiver, respected all over the continent, with the strongest weapon in his paws, and he can’t get rid of one darkmage? Seems a little off to me.

It just seemed like Halden wanted to create a situation where the last paladin standing, Rasvim, felt completely isolated and alone, which led to the very sad epilogue, which was actually very good.

All of this leads me to wondering why the gods didn’t step in and help? Sure, it’s been explained that they cannot directly interfere with Takashi Ironskin, because he’s a darkmage, but what stopped them from giving our heroes amazing regenerative powers, endless energy, and a powerful strength and speed boost? It almost seemed like they didn’t care at all, which made the Hopegiver crying over Vorel’s dead body somewhat strange. The god saying that Vorel was doomed from the beginning, because he was the Hopegiver’s, and thus a god’s, child, does not justify that.

I also kept wondering when Mhegan would step up and actually blast someone with this supposed amazing power she has inside of her. I feel not enough has been done with this character, and she could have aided in this war, and could’ve prevented needless deaths. I do understand why she didn’t, or rather couldn’t, revive the slain paladins. Paladins of the Hopegiver can’t be revived. She revived Torr ones, right? That was because he wasn’t a paladin of the Hopegiver at that time, after his little oopsie with Rasvim. Only after he was revived, was he reinitiated as a paladin.

I don’t necessarily hate sad or bad endings, but I do not condone the needless killing of beloved main characters.

END OF SPOILERS!

All in all, I enjoyed this book, and it is a nice ending to the trilogy. However, I still feel it could’ve been better, especially if what I just wrote had not happened in this way.

– Faolan

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Transcending Hallowed Walls – Andres Cyanni Halden

Beyond Hallowed Walls – Andres Cyanni Halden

Synopsis:  Sometimes, holy warriors are called to do more than defend their churches or their homes.  Now, the Paladins of the Hopegiver have been called to save the country of Vasani.  High General Takashi Ironskin, an ex-knight of the country and brilliant darkmage, has invaded, threatening the lives of millions of innocent people.  With his powerful magic and undead army, no normal weapon can slay him, so the paladins have traveled in different directions to reassemble the Light of Creation, an ancient weapon originally crafted to kill a god.  It is up to Acton, Mier, Vorel and Rasvim to track down the three pieces of the weapon and bring them to Vasani in hopes that they can stop the darkmage before it is too late.  Torr, the snowcat paladin, must remain in Eldere as the acting Head Paladin of the Hopegiver, helping the poor and watching as General Ironskin’s armies advance.

Acton, a mouse, must go to the Dark Isles, his original homeland that he escaped so long ago.  Mier, a Wolfen and Acton’s lover, takes a journey back to the Wolfen Valley, even if his own people will not welcome him.  For the final piece, Vorel and Rasvim – a married wolf and fox – head East in hopes of finding safe travel to the otter nation of Shin-se.

Can their relationships survive distance, interference, and the fear of death?

In this sequel to Within Hallowed Walls, which I’ve reviewed before, Halden takes is on three different journeys in this book, in order for the paladins of the Hopegiver to retrieve the items needed to create a most powerful weapon in order to stop Takashi Ironskin from taking over their kingdom.

As I stated in earlier reviews, I’m quite a fan of “treasure hunt” stories. Which is why I was excited about this book before reading it. Halden takes us to new countries, each with their own culture and customs, which is something I consider a plus about this book. The world in which the paladins live became a little bigger.

We also meet very interesting new characters, such as Kit the a dragon darkmage, Trent the Chosen, Saso the fire mage, and Gyr with the Voice of Creation. All wonderful characters that really add something to the story, and who aid our characters in their quest.

However, personally, I didn’t exactly get the feeling that it was much of a quest. Everything seemed to go smoothly for everyone, especially for Mier. His part was a breeze. Acton had the most trouble in the entire book, and his part actually felt like a quest. Vorel and Rasvim were aided by magic so many times that it felt like they were playing the game on easy mode. The two lovers travelled through the most interesting countries, but almost nothing is done with these. The book feels as if it was hastily written, due to the superficial way Halden chose to deal with all of these different cultures and difficulties. Two out of three parts of the Light of Creation were ridiculously easy to get. Only Acton encountered situations that actually posed a challenge.

There are some things that don’t make sense in this story. In Acton’s part, they go to the Dark Isles, the home of the Nezumi. It’s a godforsaken place, literally, as the gods have no power there, and every race that was created by the gods has trouble being there. Races that were created by mages, such as the Domesticas Canis and the Felis, have no trouble being there. The same goes for the Nezumi, naturally. However, Sven, our beloved Felis darkmage, has the same problems other god-created races have, for no apparent reason. Him being a darkmage actually has nothing to do with it, as the gods cannot interfere with darkmages in any way.

Another thing that doesn’t make sense is similar to the giant eagles in Lord of the Rings. The gods cannot interfere with High General Takashi Ironskin directly, because of him being a darkmage. However, they can aid those who are trying to stop him. Both Acton’s party and Vorel and Rasvim’s party were sent back to their home temple by gods. What kept the gods from sending the paladins to their destinations directly? The only place they couldn’t be sent to was the Dark Isles, but they could’ve at least have been dropped off just off the shore, which Yataa actually did AFTER they had already travelled a long way. It definitely would’ve saved the paladins a whole lot of trouble and time, which they needed so desperately.

Another thing that really bothered me, is the sheer amount of spelling and grammar mistakes in this book. The same thing occurred in the first novel. I really feel that the person who was in charge of the editing of this story did a poor job. It’s not strange for a well-edited story to still have one or two mistakes somewhere, but this book had multiple mistakes in one page at times, which really turned me off.

The end shocked me though. I was not expecting this particular thing to happen, especially after what the Green Lady, another god, explained to Vorel and Rasvim. It got me excited for the final part of this trilogy, so I guess it served its purpose. Well done.

All in all, I think this book had a lot of potential, but that I, as a reader, was let down. The treasure hunt was way too easy, and the story too superficially written. I feel it could’ve been much better, if the author would’ve taken the time to throw more obstacles in their paths and to work with the different cultures a bit more. I got the feeling that reconstructing an all-powerful weapon that can even slay gods is something that should prove no real difficulties, as long as you have a decent party with you. I feel a quest such as this should’ve been a lot more difficult to complete.

I’d say this is a decent book. It’s definitely not bad, but it’s also definitely not as good as it could’ve been. I feel it was saved because of the nice characters and the new cultures you learn about, because, as a treasure hunt story, it was a letdown.

I can only hope Halden redeems himself by giving this trilogy the finale it deserves.

– Faolan

 

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Beyond Hallowed Walls – Andres Cyanni Halden

Windfall – Tempe O’kun

Synopsis: What do you do when the world gets bigger?

Minor celebrities Max and Kylie have always fit together perfectly, both on the screen and behind the cameras. But it’s not until their show is cancelled and they go their separate ways that they begin to wonder if they might have been more than just friends.

Now, Kylie struggles to adjust to life in Windfall, the little New England town whose weird local legends inspired the show. When Max comes to visit for the summer, she strives to let him know how she feels about him—without exposing him to the chilling secrets she’s begun to uncover in her new home.

Written by Tempe O’Kun, Illustrated by Slate

If you’re a lover of paranormal mystery stories AND steamy romantic ones, then Windfall is the book for you. Tempe O’kun (also known as Tempo), author of Sixes Wild, which I have reviewed earlier, takes it into a new setting with Windfall. A setting which I greatly enjoyed.

I’m a sucker for occult stories and treasure hunts, and these are beautifully combined in this novel. When Max and Kylie decide to uncover the reason behind the otter’s dark family history, the mystery only gets more complicated. At the same time, the emotions the two main characters deal with build up to reach a beautiful crescendo. Luckily, the two peaks don’t hit at the same time or right after another, giving the reader a break between peaks.

O’kun greatly weaves passion and mystery together in this novel, and his writing has definitely evolved over the years. The characters feel real and this makes them believable. Max and Kylie are just so incredibly cute and sexy at the same time, that it’s incredibly difficult not to love them.

Some authors choose not to spend much time on their side characters, but Tempo created some really awesome ones, which made it quite enjoyable whenever they showed up in the story. My favourite was definitely Karl, the adorable over-obsessed Strangeville fan. The rhino is just simply too adorable. He has a personality that is definitely not stereotypical for a guy of his species, which makes it even better.

The romantic scenes were so beautifully and believably written, that it certainly stirred a…fire…inside of me, which made reading those scenes a little awkward when sitting in the train or bus. The very cute, yet sexy illustrations by Slate definitely helped as well. I hated having to cover them up whenever someone decided to sit down next to me.

Tempo is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors within the furry fandom, and I can’t wait to see what he’ll come up with next. There’s no guessing what’ll come next, as Tempo is wonderfully unpredictable.

All in all, Windfall has a great story, awesome characters, a nice setting, and a good plot

– Faolan

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Windfall – Tempe O’kun

Huntress – Renee Carter Hall

Synopsis: All her life, the young lioness Leya has dreamed of becoming one of the karanja, the proud huntresses of her people. But there’s more to being karanja than just learning to throw a spear. Life among their tents means giving up family, safety—even love. How much is Leya willing to sacrifice for a place in the sisterhood? Does she truly have the heart of a huntress?

Author Renee Carter Hall takes readers into the veld for this coming-of-age anthropomorphic fantasy for teens and adults. This edition includes the novella “Huntress” (nominated in the 2014 Ursa Major Awards and Cóyotl Awards), as well as three brand-new short stories set in the same world.

After reading Hall’s story in Kyell Gold’s X, I knew I wanted to read more stories by her. As expected, this book did not disappoint.

Hall sketches a beautiful world, inspired by Africa, in a rather simple, yet effective way. Because it is quite clear in the stories what the surroundings are based on, there is no need to spend multiple pages describing how a single blade of grass dances on the rhythm of the wind. Therefore, Hall chose not to, for which I am very grateful. We know what it looks like, and we know what to expect from the surroundings. After all, we’ve all seen the Lion King, right? Right?

The main story revolves around Leya, a young lioness who has her mind made up about what she wants to be in life, and is willing to make sacrifices. Girl things had never interested her anyway, as she’d always played with the boys. Her mom doesn’t agree with her, and she’d rather have her daughter stay at the village, get married, and have children. Sounds familiar? The setup of this story line is not that different from any other random fantasy story about a strong-headed female lead leaving the nest. However, Leya’s story is not as simple as it may seem.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

After Leya became part of the Karanja, having left love and life to follow her dream, things definitely weren’t as beautiful as she’d hoped. As a reader, this was very refreshing, and it really made Leya seem more real. Every person has their ups and downs, and so does this lioness. The way she slowly built a life for herself was very inspiring, and it made me want to keep reading to find out what would happen next.

The most shocking part in this entire story, was that Leya eventually ended up leaving the life she’d dreamed of ever since early childhood. After her first unplanned return to her village, I wasn’t expecting to see her leave the Karanja again. With permission this time.

This leads the reader to new places and new characters, who’re featured in the other short stories in the book. She learns new things and takes control of her own life once again while staying with these other characters: Ndiri, Shani, and Mtoto. The last few pages of the story were a real surprise to me, but it is definitely the perfect ending to this story.

 

END OF SPOILERS!

 

The other stories in the book are about the lives of Mtoto and Ndiri, and they create a beautiful, complete story when combined with Leya’s. They definitely add to the book as a whole.

Mtoto’s story “The Shape of the Sky” deals with Mtoto’s life as an adult living on his own. Leya is gone and Ndiri and Shani are no longer in the picture, so the boy takes care of himself. One day, a leopard and her wounded antelope arrives at the baobab tree. Mtoto takes care of them and nurses the antelope back to life, among doing other things.

Ndiri’s story “Where the Rivers Meet” is about Ndiri as a young girl, before meeting Leya, growing up as something called the bone mother. When a girl is orphaned young, it is said she is chosen by the gods to be their instrument on earth. Unlike Leya, who got to decide her own path, Ndiri’s is set in stone, and she struggles to follow it. Of course, after reading Leya’s story, we all know what happens eventually. However, it was nice to find out what happened before that.

The power of Huntress lies in the surprising, yet believable story, and the wonderful unique characters you meet while reading the story. Every significant character in the book is truly and clearly unique, which makes me quite happy as a reader.

Combine the wonderful story inside with the amazing artwork by Sekhmet on the outside, and a book is created that I simply couldn’t leave alone.

-Faolan

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Huntress – Renee Carter Hall