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Rise Up, Defenders

Later on at Golden State Fur Con we met R. A. Meenan, author of the Zyearth Chronicles series of books. Which go like this, according to the web site: “A magepunk world with magic gems, dragon A.I.s, anthropomorphic characters, supernatural summons, magic mobs, time travel, war, deep platonic friendship, hints of romance, characters all over the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and creative swearing!” Which sounds like a great place to start! Shadow Cast is the first book in the series, and details for all four can be found at the web site.


image c. 2024 zyearth.com

Shape-SHIFT!

More we discovered at WonderCon: Author Lauren Jankowski and her Shapeshifter Chronicles series of urban dark fantasy books. Here’s the description of Sere From The Green, the first book in the series: “There is a race that lives among humans, unbeknownst to them, called shape shifters, those that can shift from human to animal at will. Many protect the innocent on Earth and act as the eyes and ears of the guardians, divine beings similar to gods in ancient myths. Isis is a woman who lives a normal life until the day she photographs a murder scene for her job. When the body disappears from her photographs, Isis is determined to solve the mystery. Her investigation uncovers answers about her own past and sets her on a journey that will change her life forever.” Visit the series web site to find out more.


image c. 2024 Crimson Fox Publishing

Two for Survival

Fresh back from WonderCon in Anaheim, and there was so much interesting stuff to see there! Like… Chuck Grieb is an art instructor at Azusa Pacific University, but he worked for years in animation production as well. Now he’s expanded his resume to include “author” with his illustrated fantasy novel The Goblin Twins — the first book in his Garden Clan series. It features more than 100 black & white and full-color illustrations. “Running for their lives from an evil shaman, The Goblin Twins Bela and Vuto flee to the far side of the enchanted Thicket. But the shaman has not given up, and the Goblin Twins’ escape to the Faerie Garden Clans sparks a confrontation which could lead to a Goblin-Faerie war.” Check out the official web site to find out more, including the author’s other projects.


image c. 2024 C and W Creative, Inc.

You’ve Got A Friend

A deceptively simple concept lies behind this new black & white illustrated book. “Always there to comfort and listen, stuffed animals provide a reassuring presence in many a childhood. With Toys Talking, acclaimed illustrator and author Leanne Shapton explores their inner lives, to reveal that their thoughts and feelings are just as complicated as our own. The concerns of these bunnies, bears, and ducks range from the mundane to the existential, and with each new pairing of character and text, we see a deeper portrait of their pensive, quiet world. Shapton holds a mirror to our own lives, to our insecurities and concerns, by revealing that the objects who comfort us have worries of their own.” See what we mean over at Drawn & Quarterly. Then go digging in your attic.


image c. 2024 Drawn & Quarterly

The Mouse That Whirrrrred

Multiple Ursa Major Award winner Rick Griffin recently self-published the novel Ani-Droids, a radical re-imagining of his popular science fiction novel Argo from 2011. “In violation of the will of the Collective, Mira McAllister set out to create a new breed of ani-droids that can think for themselves. But when she discovers a mouse-droid with unusual quirks to her programming — and darker secrets besides — she may have set in motion an accidental rebellion… The Collective must not find out. But the Collective is every other ani-droid on Earth.” Ani-Droids is available now in e-book, paperback, and Kindle editions.


image c. 2023 by Rick Griffin

Darkness in the City of Fur… and Scales

At Midwest FurFest we met Stacy Bender. She’s a science fiction and fantasy author based in Cincinnati, Ohio. As you can see from her Amazon page, many of her works have a degree of anthropomorphism to them… But what she’s especially known for is the Poached Parody series of furry noir novels (written under the name P.C. Hatter), featuring hard-boiled detectives Lucius Anoraq (wolf), Kaiser Wrench (tiger), and Lizard Fifth (guess!). Most of her works are available in paperback, kindle, and even audio book form, from Byrnas Books.


image c. 2022 Byrnas Books

Little Mouse, Big Heart

Disney is always doing so much; it probably makes sense that some of it would slip by us. Include in that category Delphine and the Silver Needle, a fantasy novel for young readers written by Alyssa Moon. It came out last year in hardcover. “When Delphine, a young orphaned dressmaker mouse living in the walls of Cinderella’s château, stumbles upon an enormous secret, it upends everything she thought she knew: The magical tailor mice of legend really existed. Racing to stay ahead of King Midnight, the fearsome leader of the rats who is bent on harnessing age-old magic, Delphine embarks on an epic quest to uncover the truth about the past. Joined by Alexander, the most pompous noblemouse in the royal court, she travels a perilous route, encountering strange enemies and unlikely allies along the way.” Silver Needle is available now, and the sequel book Delphine and the Dark Thread comes our way this August.


image c. 2022 Disney Press

The Wonderful Critters of Oz

More interesting discoveries for young readers. Kirkus Reviews described The Hedgehog of Oz by Cory Leonardo as “The Wizard of Oz meets The Wind in the Willows“. The publisher describes it like this: “Marcel the hedgehog used to live with his beloved owner Dorothy, but since getting hopelessly lost, he’s tried to forget the happy home he left behind. Now, Marcel lives a quiet life in the abandoned balcony of The Emerald City Theater where he subsists on dropped popcorn and the Saturday showings of The Wizard of Oz. But when he’s discovered, Marcel is taken far away from everything he knows and ends up lost once more. His quest to return to The Emerald City Theater leads him to Mousekinland, where he meets Scamp, a tiny mouse armed with enormous spirit (and a trusty sling-shooter). Before long, they’re joined by an old gray squirrel, Ingot, who suffers from bad memories and a broken heart, and Tuffy, a baby raccoon lost and afraid in the forest. And the travelers attract the attention of an owl named Wickedwing, who stalks them as they search for the old theater. From field to forest, glittering theater to the gutter, the animals’ road home is a dark and winding journey. But sometimes you need to get a little lost before you can be found.” The book is available now in hardcover from Simon & Schuster.

Many Girls Like Ponies, But…

More interesting reads we came across at this year’s L.A. Time Festival of Books. The Glitter Dragons — Dragon Girls is a new fantasy series for young readers, written by Maddy Mara. The first book is Azima the Gold Glitter Dragon.  “Azmina, Willa, and Naomi are thrilled to learn they’re Glitter Dragon Girls. Summoned to the Magic Forest by its magnificent ruler, the Tree Queen, the girls quickly find out their dragon-selves have unbelievable abilities. They can soar above the treetops, breathe glitter-y bursts of fire, and roar loud enough to shake the ground.With this newfound magic comes a big responsibility, however. As Dragon Girls, they are sworn protectors of the forest and must help keep it safe from the troublesome Shadow Sprites, who are determined to take the forest’s magic for their own.” All this and more are available now in trade paperback from Scholastic. Roar!


image c. 2022 Scholastic

Book reviews: 'Mistmantle Chronicles' and 'Mouseheart'

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (6 votes)

Mistmantle Chronicles With temperatures down, and entertainment options becoming more and more—homegrown, let's say—it's a good time to catch up on that new-to-you material that aligns with your interests. Here are two of those lesser-known but deserving properties, marketed toward youth. For those of you who were sold on The Secret of NIMH, Redwall, and everything in between, at first view.

Mistmantle Chronicles

The Mistmantle Chronicles by M.I. McAllister has jacket flaps that compare it to The Wind In The Willows and Watership Down, although as you can see from the first installment's cover, there's much more of a Redwall yen in this series. As they say, though, DON'T judge a book by its cover, as the experiences of brave squirrel Urchin on the titular island carry their own identity. This flies in the face of origins that speak to many favorite role-playing games, as he evolves from his discovery on an empty beach to his eventual destiny in foiling a royal coup.

Camaraderie and species characteristics also run heavy in this, as in Redwall, however there is a noticeable amount of personification of reactive emotion and atmosphere as well, where dread and evil are given concrete outlines. Given my frequent mention of the property in the paragraph, you can gather the audience to which Mistmantle speaks. Dig on into this if you're part of that audience, since Miramax has purchased movie rights [albeit in 2004], and some sort of photo-play is probably not far off.

Wish We Had Summer Camp Like That!

Another book series we came across: Dragon Mountain by Katie Tsang and Kevin Tsang. “When 12-year-old Billy Chan finds out his parents are sending him to a summer camp in middle-of-nowhere China, he doesn’t know what to expect. There he meets fellow campers Dylan, Charlotte, and Ling-Fei, and together they stumble upon an age-old secret: Four powerful warrior dragons, hidden deep within the mountain behind the camp. They have been trapped since an epic battle with the Dragon of Death and need the children’s help to set them free before terrible evil is unleashed on the earth. Billy and his friends must set off on a dangerous adventure that will take them to the heart of the Dragon Realm. But can they save the dragon and human worlds from destruction?” Several titles in the series are out now, available in hardcover and paperback.


image c. 2022 Simon & Schuster

A new sort of animal: 'Lady into Fox', by David Garnett

Your rating: None Average: 3.1 (19 votes)

I don't feel the need to justify bringing up David "Bunny" Garnett's 1922 short novel Lady into Fox in a furry context. As the title suggests, the story involves a lady who turns into a fox. Technically, it is not a story about an anthropomorphic animal, and is in fact about the direct opposite of that, a zoomorphic human. Of course, this is a nitpick. I doubt anyone cares.

Sylvia Tebrick as a fox merrily chasing ducks in a cute little dress, from Lady into Fox

On the point of genre, however, there is one area where I would like to make a rather more controversial "take" on the subject matter. Though the novel was a bit unclassifiable when it was first introduced, with H.G. Wells (an author known for his use of anthropomorphic animals) praising it as "a new creation, a new sort of animal, let us say, suddenly running about in the world," a phrase that I imagine had him enthusiastically punching the air at his own cleverness.

More modern takes tend to classify it as a "contemporary fantasy". However, I find it to be entirely different: it seems nothing more (or less) than a tale of the supernatural; a ghost story whose 'ghost' merely requires a few scare quotes - or, put another way, a horror story.

2020 Leo Awards winners announced

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Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

The 2020 Leo Awards winners have been announced by Furry Book Review! (Their URL recently changed from furrybookreview.wixsite.com/blog to leoliteraryawards.wixsite.com/blog . This link, and many of the ones below, contain mature content.)

These literary awards are determined by a group of judges who can vote for multiple titles in each category, so it's possible for several works in each category to win.

The winner(s) and nominees are...

2020 Cóyotl Awards winners announced

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (6 votes)

The Coyotl Awards logo.The Cóyotl Awards are awarded annually by the Furry Writers' Guild to recognize excellence in anthropomorphic literature. This year there's a new award category! "Other Work", for things that exemplify the best in furry writing in a way that doesn't fit into the other categories.

The winners and nominees for 2020, who were announced on May 8 on Twitch, are...

'Redwall' adaptations coming to Netflix

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (20 votes)

Rights to Brian Jacques' Redwall series of novels have been purchased for adaptation by Netflix; there are plans to create a feature movie from the first, Redwall, as well as an "event series" based on the character of Martin the Warrior. The movie is being written by Patrick McHale.

Redwall Size Chart 2018, by mongoosefangs

The series spans 22 books (with a few picture books thrown in for the Dibbuns); if the first movie and/or series works out, Netflix has plenty of material to use. Redwall is popular among furry fans, as its entire world is filled with dressed, talking animals. The stories usually center around the titular Redwall Abbey and the adventures of its (mostly) rodent inhabitants, though the world is not limited to this one setting.