So, how about that new episode?
...Actually, I haven't watched it yet. For no particularly good reason, I'm finding myself terribly free time-impaired lately. I've got to find a few more hours in the day, I think. Luckily, I've got a couple of stories read and awaiting comment; check them out below the break!
The Fundraiser, by Karrakaz
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Cadence and Shining Armour make a trip to Ponyville to support a fundraiser being put on by Princess Twilight. Cadence has been to a great many fundraisers, and she knows the drill well... but Twilight's managed to make this one different: Cadence doesn't wish she was anywhere else.
A few thoughts: The tags on this story are Romance, Comedy, and Slice of Life, but if I were to try to sum it up, the word I'd chose would be "meandering." The Fundraiser wanders from idea to idea without much direction, seeming to idly poke at one theme or another before drifting on to another. It's a reasonably well-written story on a technical level--okay, very well-written, but the sheer number of apostrophes in AJ's lines might have distracted me a bit ("Dash’s takin’ kids flyin’ in between organizin’ her own little sportin’ events"). It would be hard for me to say much more about it, however, than "it exists" and "it did nothing to make me dislike it." That latter part is dependent on ignoring the implication of the shipping tag, I should note; the ending can be interpreted both platonically or romantically (though the author clearly intended the latter), and I chose to go with the interpretation that felt most suitable to me.
Recommendation: This is for fans of true SoL fics; ones that touch on a number of messages or ideas, without definitely being about anything. Readers looking for more focus will find it disappointing; those who know and like what they're getting into (and are either open to princess shipping, or are willing to ignore authorial intent at the end) will be perfectly satisfied.
Pip, by Invictus
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Pipsqueak runs away from home, and meets a pair of friendly stallions when he stows away on the train out of town who give him something to think about--and a new outlook on life.
A few thoughts: This is a delicious couple of thousand words of character interplay, throwing Pip and the Flim-Flam Brothers together in a situation where none of the three of them are in quite the moods (and roles) we've seen them in on the show, but keeping them grounded enough to be easily identifiable while still redefining their characters. Everything about this story is sweet, with the Brothers showing an unexpected but believable streak of fraternity. The ending is a bit abrupt--it feels more like the author ran out of things to say and tacked a final paragraph on than anything else--but it's still a very enjoyable short story.
Recommendation: Fans of character expansions in general will probably enjoy the perspective this gives of the featured ponies, and readers looking for a short, sweet, and not too challenging bit of reading are likely to enjoy.