Friday, April 10, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 77

Writing posts for Fridays is kind of a draining experience.  Usually I end up writing them midweek, and then when I finish the post I have a brief moment of "Hallelujah, no more responsibilities until Monday!" followed immediately by the crushing realization that, wait, today's Wednesday, the weekend's still two full days away.  Maybe I should try to get exactly one week ahead, so that my post-writing days and post-posting days line up.  Or maybe I should just do everything at the very last second; that seems like a perfect way to eliminate any stress, doesn't it?

So, yeah.  Mini-reviews!  Click below the break to see what I thought of some stories I read recently.

Method Acting, by Pascoite

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A phoenix, nesting down in a new location, shows an affinity for some of the local ponies.  And it turns out that there are some ponies who are interested in her, too.

A few thoughts:  Pasco's really good at writing stories that are difficult to discuss without spoiling them.  This is one of those stories.

...Okay, okay.  Let's try this: Method Acting was originally an under-750-word minific, which the author expanded into its present form.  I enjoyed the minific version, but felt like there wasn't enough setup for the eventual reveal.  This expansion addresses that very well, giving you a sense from the early going that there's something out of the ordinary about the situation, without being too obvious or easy to predict.  I also liked that this version showed us a bit more of the ponies (while still holding firmly to the phoenix's PoV); I found that that added a little extra emotional punch to the whole thing.

Recommendation:  Fans of plot twists in general should absolutely check this out, as it's a very well-put-together example of one.  But even without that specific element, I'd recommend this to readers looking for an interesting take on phoenixes and how they see the world.

Cheese 'n Crackers, by Shotoman

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  While traveling, Cheese Sandwich's Cheesy Sense starts tingling, and it leads him to a depressed Trixie, contemplating how she can get back into entertainment.

A few thoughts:  There's some nice light humor here, especially coming from Trixie's observations of Cheese's cartoony-ness ("'Ah!' he exclaimed, his expression brightening suddenly (Did Trixie hear a 'ding' when he did so? She was pretty sure she heard a 'ding[...]')") (I make no apologies for the punctuation wall you just witnessed).  However, the story relies heavily on awkward bouts of internal exposition to move it forward, and when the plot is as slice-of-life as this one, it really feels out of place.  The entire story is "Cheese cheers up Trixie," which is fine... but it means that a lot of the build-up and character (recent) backstory weighed down a fic which didn't have a lot of forward momentum to begin with.

Recommendation:  There's a hint of shipping at the end, so maybe those of you eagerly seeking some Treesy (Chixie?  Trixwich?  Cheesamoon?) would be interested.  But if you're put off by gross violations of the "show vs. tell" truism, this is probably not for you.

...And Borrowing Dulls The Edge Of Husbandry, by Softy8088

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Applejack needs to borrow some money.  Twilight has lots of money, and wants to help.  Somehow, this leads not to a solution, but to further problems, which it's up to Pinkie to solve.

A few thoughts:  The writing on this bothered me a bit; not because it was poorly edited, but because it's full of questionable saidisms (words used as dialogue tags, e.g. "...she said,"  "...he replied").  I'm not the fussiest person out there about these things, but even I raised an eyebrow at "...Pinkie Pie muffled."  Beyond that, though, I really enjoyed this story.  Twilight's and Applejack's attitudes are both a bit inflexible for the sake of drama, but are in keeping with their characters, and although Pinkie's solution wasn't exactly shocking, I still found the specific execution entertaining.  And beyond that, this story is cute.  Not in a trying-to-hard cutesy way, but simply in that it's about friends working around one anothers' beliefs, wrapped in a bit of basic investment theory.  That's two important life lessons for the price of one!

Recommendation:  Readers put off by slightly exaggerated characters (or saidisms, I suppose) might not enjoy this, but most readers looking for something funny and friendship-oriented will probably like this quite a bit.

...Aw man, it's not actually Friday yet.


  1. " [...] because it's full of questionable saidisms."

    I almost shed a tear :P

  2. Interesting. I might have to read that last one. The dynamic of Twilight lending money to a too-proud Applejack is one I really enjoyed writing in an as yet unpublished story.

    You're right, I do like writing stories that are hard to discuss without spoiling. Unfortunately, that also makes it hard to write very compelling synopses for them. I suspect half the problem is this going up just the day after new season hype exploded, but it's barely getting any views.

    1. If I knew how to capture the zeitgeists of the fandom, I would. Or at least, I'd gussy up the stories I wanted to tell in zeitgeistery as much as possible.

  3. I felt near enough the same about Cheese 'n Crackers. Good story as a story, but the overly expository prose bothered me. I said as much in an earlier comment on it.

    ...Anyone else remember when I was the "Well I liked it!" guy?

    1. It means you're growing up, Danny. Soon, you'll be waving your cane from your front porch at those damn kids and their half-arsed Pokemon crossovers.

    2. Once again, I find myself wishing there was some means of rating comments

  4. AAAAH! ...And Borrowing Dulls The Edge Of Husbandry! That was it! I was looking for that fic but couldn't remember the name. And now I have found it. Yaaay!

    Ya know, I feel that I need to read more of softly8088's stories. He just tends to paint such entertaining pictures in my head. here's a fabulous example from Husbandry:

    "Oh, but before we start, do you mind if we do my mostest favouritest thing of all to do on Sweet Apple Acres on a summer evening?”
    Though her eyes rolled once more, Applejack smiled. “Sure thing, Pinkie. Long as it’s quick. Whaddaya have in mind?”
    The beam on Pinkie Pie’s face outshone all else as she practically
    vibrated in anticipation. “I’m going to save your farm!
    “Uh... come again?”
    “I’m going to
    save your farm!” Pinkie echoed perfectly, as if playing back a recording.

    Yeah, that was great. In fact, I think I'm gonna add this to my list of things to do readings of.

    Word of the Day: Zeitgeists.