I don't have any interest in talking politics on this blog... but political logos, that's another matter. I've gotta say, after looking through the various campaign logos the presidential hopefuls are using, that I'm a big fan of Rand Paul's (logo). Perry's, on the other hand, is barely readable to me (I couldn't even tell that was supposed to be a "P" in the middle at first glance). It's kind of amazing to me that someone (someagency) got paid to come up with that.
I'd say "let's leave the trappings of politics behind," but if you'll click below the break, you'll see that that's not gonna happen. Still, mini-reviews (with political symbolism), below the break!
Dixie, by heptaPon
Zero-ish spoiler summary: While exploring in the Apple family's attic, the CMC find some relics from a dark time in the Apples'--and Equestria's--history.
A few thoughts: In case there's any question what kind of fic this is, the cover art--a Confederate flag with apples instead of stars--ought to clear up any confusion. Now, I'll give the author full credit for respectful treatment of the subject, which I honestly was not expecting after seeing the coverart; Dixie doesn't make light of its premise, doesn't try to be a one-for-one matchup with the US Civil War, and generally isn't offensive in its execution. Beyond "surprisingly respectful," however, there's not a lot to recommend this; given that the moral of the story is simplified to "slavery is bad," it's hard to see what the explicit Confederate tie-in gains the story, the writing is stolid and relatively invariable, which doesn't mesh well with a story full of mood changes and high emotion, and there's a pretty significant disconnect between the breathless shame which everypony treats the central revaluation with, and the revelation itself--that ponies in the Apple family owned slaves at a time when that was considered socially acceptable. I mean, yes, that's not something to be proud of, but the way that the situation's treated, you'd think this happened fifty years ago, not 150.
Recommendation: If you want a surprisingly serious and conscientious look at how to remember the past without venerating it, this would be a decent choice. If you're looking for exceptional writing or nuance, though, you won't find it here. And regardless, I advise against venturing into the comments section; I've seen plenty worse, but let's face it, "Confederate flag" and "intelligent comments" don't usually go together on the internet.
The Fallacy of Epiphany, by RazgrizS57
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Celestia offers Twilight a chance to read a very powerful book, hoping that Twilight will learn a valuable lesson.
A few thoughts: This is a lovely open lesson, a flexible moral in short-story form. I also appreciated that it was straightforward slice-of-life; given the premise and the emphasis on the lesson to be learned (and discovering what that lesson is), avoiding going dark or turning it into a comedy (or making it a dark comedy!) feels like the right decision. Where it's somewhat let down is the writing; although reasonably well-edited, the story uses a strange mix of purple prose, character vocabulary, and occasional odd phrasings. This isn't the quality of writing I associate with the author... but considering the story's about two years old now, I suppose some development of writing skill is to be expected. Or at least, hoped for; the alternative always feels kind of depressing to me.
Recommendation: If you like stories in the "Celestia creates a learning situation" mold, this is a good, thoughtful example of the type.
Starshine Lilies, by Starlight Shadow
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Rose shows her daughter a very special patch of flowers--one that few other ponies know about.
A few thoughts: This is more scene than story, and frankly, it does almost nothing with what seems to be a very promising premise: a family tradition of caring for some strangely-ruled magical flowers. There's also a tendency to try to amp up the cutesiness of Rose and May(her daughter)'s interactions, which comes across as slightly artificial. Thankfully, this isn't taken to extremes--May isn't given a lisp or a dead dad or anything--but it is noticeable.
Recommendation: The author describes this in a note as something pumped out in half an hour. In that context, it's not bad, but as a story, it's inoffensive but unmemorable.