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Review: 'Wereworld: Rage of Lions' and 'Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk', by Curtis Jobling

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (6 votes)
U.S. cover: 'Wereworld: Rage of Lions' 
U.S. cover: 'Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk'

These are Books 2 and 3 in Jobling’s Wereworld saga. Book 1, Rise of the Wolf, was reviewed here last May. Viking has ignored my request for review copies, so I had to wait for the Glendale Public Library to get them. Sorry for the delay.

The Wereworld Young Adult series is set on the island-continent of Lyssia on a fantasy world, in which each of the kingdoms is ruled by a Werelord who can transform into an animal, including birds and fish. School Library Journal has called the series “Game of Thrones for the tween set”. In Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf, teen farmboy Drew Ferran learns that he is adopted and is really the werewolf son of the murdered Wolf King Wergar of Westland, Lyssia’s most powerful nation, which has been usurped by Lion King Leopold who has replaced the old wolf aristocracy with his own lion nobility.

Thrown into the Seven Realms’ therianthropic politics whether he wants to be or not, Drew finds friends and allies such as Princess Gretchen, a fox shapeshifter, and Hector the young Boarlord; enemies such as King Leopold and his sadistic son Prince Lucas, and the Ratlord Vankaskan; and those who may be friends or enemies like the dynamically charismatic but utterly untrustworthy Count Vega, the Sharklord.

“Wereworld: Rage of Lions”, by Curtis Jobling. Map by the author. NYC, The Penguin Group/Viking, June 2012, hardcover $16.99 ([5] + 407 + [2] + [7] pages), Kindle $10.99.

“Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk”, by Curtis Jobling. Map by the author. NYC, The Penguin Group/Viking, October 2012, hardcover $16.99 ([6] + 475 + [8] pages), Kindle $10.99.

Review: The 'Kitty Norville' series, by Carrie Vaughn

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Kitty Norville and the Midnight HourThe paranormal romance genre has exploded since 2005. During the past three years practically every mass-market publisher has started one or more annual series with titles like Undead and Unwed; Tall, Dark & Dead; Bitten & Smitten; Love Bites; Sex and the Single Vampire; and How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire.

However, as you may guess from these titles, 90% of the paranormal romance series feature sexy vampire chicks. Others are about young witches or hunters of (handsome) demons. One of the few about werewolves and other shapeshifters is Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series. This is also one of the earliest, going back to Vaughn’s first short story, “Dr. Kitty Solves All Your Love Problems”, in Weird Tales #324, Summer 2001 (integrated into Chapter 5 of Kitty and The Midnight Hour).

Kitty Norville starts out as a mid-twenties, blonde late-night DJ at radio station KNOB in Denver. (Vaughn lives in Boulder.) One night she starts chatting about a tabloid’s improbable stories about Bat Boy, and invites her listeners to call in if they have ever seen him. For the next few hours she gets callers who talk about vampires and werewolves; enough callers that the station manager reassigns her as a talk show hostess of a new weekly program, “The Midnight Hour”, offering frank advice to those who have problems because of their hidden vampire or werewolf lifestyles.

“Kitty and The Midnight Hour”, November 2005, paperback $7.99 (ix + 272 pages); Kindle $7.99.
“Kitty Goes to Washington”, July 2006, paperback $6.99 (x + 342 pages); Kindle $6.99.
“Kitty Takes a Holiday”, April 2007, paperback $6.99 (318 pages); Kindle $6.99.
“Kitty and the Silver Bullet”, January 2008, paperback $6.99 (approx. 352 pages); Kindle $6.99.
All by Carrie Vaughn, published by Warner Books of NYC.

Review: The 'Shapeshifter' series, by Ali Sparkes

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

The Shapeshifter: Finding the FoxHow wonderful this modern world is! Up to ten years ago, British books were generally unobtainable by North American readers. Thanks to Amazon.com’s startup of Amazon.co.uk in late 1998, British books are now available by just a click of the computer mouse.

The five volumes of The Shapeshifter series are a smooth blend of Harry Potter, X-Men, and Animorphs themes. Eleven-year-old Dax (Daxesh Robert) Jones is a schoolboy in Dorset, near the New Forest in Southern England. His father works on an oil rig in the North Sea and is gone for months at a time. His stepmother hates him, ignoring Dax except to make him do hard chores. One hot summer weekend Dax is ordered to weed the garden while she is shopping. Dax becomes accidentally locked inside the small, airless garden shed, and when a strong solvent spills he is in danger of being asphyxiated.

“The Shapeshifter: Finding the Fox” – May 2006, paperback £5.99 (328 [+ 1] pages).
“The Shapeshifter: Running the Risk” – January 2007, paperback £5.99 (363 [+ 1] pages).
“The Shapeshifter: Going to Ground” – May 2007, paperback £5.99 (346 [+ 1] pages).
“The Shapeshifter: Dowsing the Dead” – August 2007, paperback £5.99 (355 [+ 1] pages).
“The Shapeshifter: Stirring the Storm” – January 2008, paperback £5.99 (401 [+ 1] pages).
Published by Oxford University Press.

Review: 'The Species of Blessing Avenue', by Graveyard Greg

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

The Species of Blessing AvenueThe Species of Blessing Avenue consists of three short stories: “The Species of Alone” and “The Species of Rivals”, published by Smashwords in June and October 2010, and “The Species of Triumph”, published here for the first time. All three feature Israel Kevinson, a hunky and gay teenager who lives on Blessing Avenue.

From the start, you couldn’t tell that this was anthro fiction. And it isn’t, exactly.

Sometimes I get philosophical when I’m dealing with the jocks, especially when I’m holding one of them by the ankles, suspending them over the toilet. This is what my dad calls a ‘swirly’, but seeing as how he’s old I can’t hold it against him for knowing such a corny name. Anyway, the reason for my getting all Socrates-like is this: a bully is someone who preys on those who are weaker, right? Well seeing as how I’m preying on the bullies who think they can pick on my friends, does that make me a bully? I don’t think so, and neither do my friends. Maybe I’ll take a class on it when I go to college because questions like that make me think. (p. 3)

There are references to Izzy’s mothers blonde hair, and to bodybuilding and martial-arts videos with Arnold and Jet Li. It’s not until p. 17 that Izzy turns into a lion – he’s a werelion!

Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, May 2012, trade paperback $9.95 (78 [+ 1] pages)

'Ame and Yuki, the Wolf Children' opens in Japan as the #2 grosser

Your rating: None Average: 4.1 (9 votes)

Wolf Children Ame and YukiJapanese animated feature Ame and Yuki, The Wolf Children (Ookami kodomo no Ame to Yuki), produced by Madhouse and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, was released in Japan on July 21, the same weekend as the Japanese release of Pixar’s Brave. Box office results show that The Wolf Children ranked second, earning $4,592,490 (¥360,372,690), while Brave was in fifth place with $1,858,971 (¥145,873,454). 1st and 4th places were held by live-action features, while #3 went to this year’s annual Pokémon feature, Pocket Monsters: Best Wishes 2012.

From an ANN summary derived from the movie’s website:

The theme of the film is the love between parents and children. The story covers 13 years and begins with a 19-year-old college student named Hana who encounters and falls in "fairy tale-like" love with a "wolf man." After marrying the wolf man [named Ookami, Wolf], Hana gives birth and raises two wolf children — an older sister named Yuki [Snow] who was born on a snowy day, and a younger brother named Ame [Rain] who was born on a rainy day. The four quietly lived in a corner of a city to conceal the existence of the "wolf children," but when the wolf man suddenly dies, Hana decides to move to a rural town far removed from the city.

Read on for trailers and a more comprehensive plot summary . . .

Review: 'Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf', by Curtis Jobling

Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (9 votes)

I can’t believe that nobody on Flayrah has mentioned Curtis Jobling’s Wereworld Young Adult books yet. Although only the first has been published in America in hardcover so far, they are up to Book 3 in Britain in Puffin UK paperbacks, with Book 4 due in June, and the next two announced for January and June 2013. The British edition of Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf was published in January 2011.

Werewolf novels have a spotty acceptance in Furry fandom, but the Wereworld series seems designed for us. Its shapeshifters are intelligent, not feral beasts, and live in the Seven Realms of Lyssia, each of which is ruled by a different Werelord: the Werefoxes, Wererats, and so on. The protagonist, sixteen-year-old Drew Ferran, is the last of the Werewolf dynasty of Lyssia, which has recently been “ethnically cleansed” of wolves by the Werelions led by tyrannical King Leopold.

This is a well-told but stereotypical “teenage farmboy in a mythical kingdom learns that he is really a disguised prince and raises a revolution to regain his throne from the cruel usurper who murdered his parents” adventure, with plenty of shapeshifting. Two of Drew’s first allies are the Wereboar Lord Hector and the Werefox Princess Gretchen.

NYC, The Penguin Group/Viking, September 2011, hardcover $16.99 ([ix +] 412 [+ 7] pages), Kindle $10.99. Map by the author.