For those of you with some marginal interest in hockey: yesterday was game 1 of a Washington Capitals/Pittsburgh Penguins series that pits perhaps the two most talented players since Gretzky (Washington's Alexander Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby) against one another. I can't tell you how the first game went, seeing as I'm typing this up before it happened, but it's likely to be the most exciting matchup of the playoffs, featuring the sport's biggest names. If you're looking for a good place to jump into the sport, this series is it!
Or, if you don't care about hockey at all, you could try my mini-reviews on for size. Get them below the break.
Snuggle Bug, by Overload
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Carrot Top accidentally releases a a horrifying virus upon Equestria, turning all who contract it into mindless, shambling... snugglers.
A few thoughts: Yes, I mostly read this because of Carrot Top. Interestingly, Overload uses her not as a straight mare (her most common fanfic role, in the all-too-few stories that feature her at all), but as a bumbling, comical, walking disaster. I'm pleased to report that this isn't "zombies, but with cuddles instead of brain-eating" played without variation for 7500 words; in fact, there's a whole lot going on here, from disaster-standbys to an ill-fated attempt to invade a weakened Equestria to (my personal favorite) Discord reveling in the chaos which can in no way be blamed on him. With that said, this is still a very ephemeral piece of writing. There's a lot going on, but it's all surface-level humor and jumps/reactions; even the rather unexpected ending doesn't add depth to this piece, so much as simply "an element of the unexpected."
Recommendation: If you're looking for some uncomplicated, breezy humor, this does a nice job of keeping its momentum while still having plenty of silly moments. If you're looking for anything more than "ephemeral," though, this probably isn't the piece for you.
Fallen Foes, by The Cyan Recluse
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Daring Do is finally dead... and Ahuizotl can only regret the loss of the one pony who could make his life interesting again.
A few thoughts: Sometimes, I talk about wanting to like a story more than I actually do end up liking it. This is a rare case of the (sorta-) opposite: if you'd asked me in a vacuum, I'd have said I didn't think the particular sympathetic twist given to Ahuizotl was interesting enough to carry a piece single-handed (and this story is just 1000 words of "you thought Ahuizotl was a villain, but here's what was really going on"). And yet, the particular presentation here was strong enough that I ended up enjoying it more than I might have thought I would, and the ending--although fairly stock, in terms of event--still gives a nice bit of open-ended "optimism" to the proceedings.
Recommendation: If you're at all amenable to sympathetic villain stories, this is a good one. Be warned, though, that almost the entire wordcount is devoted to Ahuizotl delivering backstory; readers who easily tire of such reminiscing might find this to be not to their tastes.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Midnight, by Jade Ring
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Sunset Shimmer is a responsible, well-respected student at Canterlot High. But after leaving the library for home well after dark, something happens on the walk home... and the girl who comes home is irreversibly changed.
A few thoughts: I'm having some difficulty deciding what to say about this story. On one hand I think it's completely character-breaking, in that I can't imagine Sunset Shimmer doing something like this (or her redemption going remotely the way it did, if she did). On the other, this is definitely a story that relies on its MLP/EqG grounding; you couldn't re-write it as original fiction without changing the story so much as to be unrecognizable. In other words, I didn't like it, but I don't really know how it could have been improved, beyond "write something else entirely," which doesn't seem like a terribly useful suggestion. Regardless, the atmosphere set by the writing was a pleasure to take in; that I found it completely unbelievable in the context of "Sunset Shimmer" may have detracted from my enjoyment of the story, but not of the writing itself.
Recommendation: This is an easy rec for fans of Dark fanfics, or those who have a high tolerance for bleaker takes on characters generally. It is an equally easy "not for you" for those who have little appetite for character destruction for the sake of the plot.