Welp, I don't know what it's like where you all live, but we've skipped straight past autumn and on to winter over here. I'm getting out the electric blanket tonight, and I wish I'd thought to yesterday.
But you didn't come here to listen to me complain about how cold it is (too), right? No, you came here for fanfic reviews. Get several short ones, after the break.
1) Pinnacle, by CoolStoryBrony
What it is: Rainbow Dash quits the Wonderbolts, after realizing her joy was in pursuing the dream, not obtaining it.
A few thoughts: I've got to admit, the ending completely ruined the fic for me--mostly because it was a well-known joke, only the author omitted the punchline and tried to use it as a straight moral. Only, nobody in the (admittedly short) comments section mentions the joke at all, which is kind of weird. Maybe the joke isn't really that well known, and people still do that "is the jar full now?" thing unironically?
Anyway, that might be a just-me problem, but I wasn't terribly impressed with the story beyond that anyway. There are some nice bits of dialogue in the fic, but the story never really does much to get from "Dash is feeling directionless" to "Dash is going to give up everything she's spent the last five years building towards and go hang out with AJ." Plus, the non-joke bit doesn't mesh all that neatly with Rainbow's plight--indeed, it would seem to suggest that she's going to feel empty if she takes away everything but friends and family, which is exactly what this story is about her doing.
Recommendation: Here's the joke, by the way. A whole bunch of variations on it came up when I googled the punchline, so maybe it's not-not really well known; I don't know anymore. Anyway, this story is mostly that with a little scene-setting in front--decide your interest level accordingly.
2) 99 Problems, but a Bit Ain't One, by Akumokagetsu
What it is: Princess Celestia is completely unable to beat Granny Smith at cards, and won't stop gambling until she figures out why.
A few thoughts: This is a silly, inoffensive sort of story--you know, the kind that have a few clever jokes, a few more real dogs, and which you're already forgetting about as soon as you read them. And hey, I like reading those from time to time. I was very disappointed, though, that we never find out how Granny Smith actually won. Look, I'm going to spoil the ending here, since the ending doesn't reveal anything anyway: Granny tells Celestia at the end that she cheated, but that just raises more questions than it answers! How was she cheating? Was she dealing off the bottom? Cards up the sleeve? What's her trick, that she can do it so well as to thwart the full attention of a suspicious Princess? That's the reveal I was waiting for, and... there's no reveal.
Recommendation: Other than the ending, this is an above-average example of the "silly, inoffensive sort of story," and I recommend it to anyone looking for such, who doesn't mind that the conclusion skips town before answering the fic's central question.
3) The Unsuitable, by Gabriel LaVedier
What it is: Luna grudgingly agrees to hear the courtship propositions of the Canterlot nobility, but expresses her ire through a morass of archaic allusion/insults.
A few thoughts: This fic makes very liberal use of footnotes to explain Luna's insults, and this is at once its greatest draw and greatest weakness. There's an educational fun to be had, as Mr. LaVedier's insults all are historically viable (and at least mostly historically attributable), and the need for translation/explanation does wonderful things for establishing Luna's character. But for the more obvious wordplays (using "dumb" to suggest both silence and idiocy, say) which a reader could easily figure out without help, the notations can feel a little insulting. And, with references to Agamemnon or what have you, the intrusion of human history into that of the ponies is brought under a glaringly unwelcome light.
Also, terrible rhyming in this fic. "So I brought her here; love is such as thus. / Princess tell me, what need have you of us?" is a sorry excuse for iambic pentameter indeed.
Recommendation: If I seem at all harsh on this fic, it's because I love what it could have been and so the missteps hurt that much more. Still, I do love the idea, and if the execution has a few flaws, that's a far cry from saying it failed. Anyone who likes to mix a bit of history with their fiction should check this out.
4) Looking Lively, by SleeplessBrony
What it is: Twilight shoves a ginger root up Rarity's butt.
A few thoughts: Yeah, that's a real thing that people do to horses in the real world, to make the animals look more animated. So, this is a story about Rarity getting Twilight to shove a ginger root up her butt to fit in with the upper crust ponies who are, apparently, all doing it. I was kind of hoping this would be twistedly funny and ridiculously over-the-top... but no, it's pretty much Twilight shoving a ginger root up Rarity's butt, which as you probably can guess, is incredibly uncomfortable, and then the immediate aftermath.
Recommendation: Do you want to read about Twilight shoving a ginger root up Rarity's butt? If so, this is the fic for you. If not... there's not much else here.
5) A Sun Without a Moon, by Mourning Zephyr
What it is: Snooping around in her sister's room, Luna finds Celestia's journal.
A few thoughts: This is one of many diary fics which suffer from "over-interruption syndrome," a term I just made up and will never use again which refers to the excessive frequency with which a character reading a journal or diary will interrupt the narrative to comment on what s/he's reading. Luna can't go a hundred words without breaking up the flow of entries, usually for no good reason (no good narrative reason, that is: at least half her interruptions are just to repeat or reinforce what an earlier interruption had already made explicit, or point out what was obvious from the story's context). Because these interruptions, well, interrupt the buildup of the entries, the climactic bits feel abrupt and poorly set up, where a smoother transition towards them might have alleviated the problem without necessitating any more entries.
Recommendation: As far as story concept goes, this one is rather sweet, if also rather ham-handed. I'd recommend this to readers looking for sister-bonding gooberyness (an occasional weakness of mine, it must be said), and who doesn't mind if Luna keeps jumping in to remind you how she's feeling.