• Member Since 16th May, 2013
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PaulAsaran


Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords and reviews. New reviews posted every Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

More Blog Posts535

  • Thursday
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXIX

    A couple busy weeks are on the way. Volunteer work with the inventory audit team at the office, spending a week house-sitting at my parents’ place while they go on vacation, plus a Halloween get-together with my cousins. And right at a point when my reading schedule is supposed to be getting busier than the norm.

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    19 comments · 334 views
  • 2 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXVIII

    No reviews next week, folks. Break time!

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    31 comments · 634 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXVII

    Last week I mentioned how I’ll be starting Starlight Over Detrot in December while also trying to keep releasing reviews of Big Stories™ once a week. And yeah, that’s going to be problematic for a while.

    Yet it may be that there’s already a solution.

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    5 comments · 402 views
  • 4 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXVI

    The coming months look to be busy. There’s the holidays coming up, of course, but more besides that. My aunt booked a beach house for a little over a week and has extended an invitation for everyone in the family to come by and visit, and since I live only two hours away from there I’d feel like a Bad Nephew™ if I didn’t go. Plus this is the same beach/beach house that at least partially inspired

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    12 comments · 467 views
  • 5 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXV

    Shrink Laureate’s got a brand new Gen 5 Bingo Contest started! To help stink up the pot (to use a little cajun parlance), PresentPerfect and I have offered our services to review the top five stories. Shrink Laureate is also calling for judges to help out, so head on over there for rules if you’re interested.

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    14 comments · 470 views
Jun
30th
2015

Paul's Monday Reviews XVIII · 12:18am Jun 30th, 2015

Here's my opportunity to give a shout out to the Houston PD! So me and my boss are doing field training this past Friday, right? We've been having a bad time for my first day out, as all we've had are no-shows and not a single sale. Rick (my boss/trainer) decides to stop by a McDonalds to get some food on the way. We lock the car, go inside, order our meal and are out in under five minutes.

And the car's been ransacked. Someone jimmied the lock on the front door and went through everything. Fortunately I had nothing of value in the car, but Rick lost his laptop, the bag for his laptop and his special hearing aid (that the crooks couldn't possibly use). After some griping and frustration, Rick goes inside and talks to the manager. Get this: not only do we know how they got away (we found all the worthless stuff dumped in a corner), we got the entire robbery on video and the restaurant manager said she knew exactly who the two thieves were. So we call the cops.

And wait. And wait. And wait. Four cop cars passed the restaurant. One actually drove into the restaurant with lights flashing, only to pull into the drive-thru ahead of everyone, order a meal then drive off – with us standing right there. We called the police four times before finally, after three hours of waiting, a cop finally showed up to talk to us.

Now, I've got nothing bad to say about the officer who helped us. She was polite, friendly and extremely helpful with our situation. She even told us exactly what Rick would need to do if he wanted to get his stuff back, which she said was a near-certainty. What I want to know is why five other cops ignored us. So thanks, Houston PD, for really putting forth some effort. You know what they say: we live in a world where the pizza gets to your door before the cops do.

Oh well, enough griping. Let's do some reviews, shall we? To deaden the pain, I note that we've got some real good ones this time. On a side note, I have no idea how I managed to get two of Violet CLM's stories in one week. Guess I was feeling generous that week.

Stories for This Week:

The Years of Ar and S by Violet CLM
Death and the Dazzlings by Violet CLM
Frequency: An Epilogue by Grand_Moff_Pony
So Long, And Thanks for All The Fish by Blueshift
Princess Twilight Sparkle's Frustrations by Alex Warlorn

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 3
Pretty Good: 0
Worth It: 1
Not Bad: 1
None: 0


This started off shaky but proved itself by the end. In The Years of Ar and S, Violet CLM offers a universe in which the Dazzlings have attempted to rule the world hundreds of times over the centuries. Every time they fail, every time they go into the cocoons that brought them to the human world, and ten years later they re-emerge with only one of them remembering their past efforts. After the events of Rainbow Rocks, it’s Sonata’s turn to recall their long, troubled, and usually inharmonious past.

There were some things I really enjoyed, such as the worldbuilding that Violet CLM offered. There was some trouble there in that none of the histories the Dazzlings recalled seem to have any connection to one another save for their combined presence, but it was still interesting to see how the human world of EqG changed over the millennia.

I was worried at first, specifically because Violet CLM went through the trouble of describing each of the Dazzlings in the very beginning of the story, right down to the buckles on their boots. This waved all sorts of red flags about the potential writing quality, and also bothered me because the descriptions were wholly needless; this is a story about the Dazzlings, and the readers are almost guaranteed to know what they look like.

Yet as I read on, I discovered that the author had a reason behind the descriptions. With every new flashback to some past life, the Dazzlings sport entirely different appearances, names and associations. This leads to the author giving us extra descriptions just to keep the characters somewhat recognizable. The initial descriptions offer a precedent, and those afterwards string things along.

Now, I don’t think this was the best course of action. Far from it; it meant that a solid third of the story had to be devoted just to describing the Sirens every time they show up in a flashback. Talk about a lot of wasted space. Still, for Violet CLM’s overall decisions for the plot, I can see why this route was taken.

I also took issue with Aria and Adagio, whose personalities were so closely related at times that it got confusing who was in what position at what time in certain flashbacks. Luckily, Sonata was distinct enough in her appearances that she always stood out.

In the end, I’d say this story was so-so. It won big points for its attempts at worldbuilding and a decidedly interesting interpretation of the Dazzlings’ past, but I feel Violet CLM could have made some better decisions on how to present the idea.

Bookshelf: Worth It


This story is a significant shift in tone and presentation compared to Violet CLM’s The Years of Ar and S, to which it is not related. Death and the Dazzlings is darker and focuses a lot more on the relationship the Dazzlings share. As a direct result, it is far more immersive.

Like The Years of Ar and S, this story begins right after the events of Rainbow Rocks with Adagio, Sonata and Aria fleeing the scene in a stolen vehicle. Adagio, feeling not-so-confident of her own leadership, lets Aria take the reins for a little while. While driving on a mountain road, Sonata snaps at something Aria says and attacks, leading to a crash.

Then things get interesting.

Aria is dead, and the spirit of death has come to get his due. Yet there is a catch, one Death cannot ignore: because Aria was an immortal and Sonata killed her – no matter how unintentionally – Sonata gets a one-time-only opportunity to “change her mind” and bring Aria back. But, considering how Aria’s been treating her over the past few centuries, Sonata’s not in a generous mood. Now Adagio has to find a way to convince Sonata to save their fellow Siren, and bring back the friendship the trio once shared.

A game of wits with death is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting when handled well. Violet CLM handled this one very well. Death always has an extra card up his sleeve, and Adagio’s struggle to make the best decision under the circumstances is surprisingly intense. We get to see that Adagio isn’t all villain and that her relationship with her fellow Sirens is far more to her than just a pact of circumstance. Questions of morality and trust run thick as her choices – and their potential consequences – are gradually unraveled.

There were a few things that I called into question in the story, but they were mostly nitpicks; a word choice here, a bit too much information there, maybe a paragraph or two that seemed to stretch things in terms of length. About the only thing that really bothered me was that I think certain parts could have had a stronger emotional impact (although I won’t say which specific part I’m thinking of, as that would be spoiling). At any rate, it wasn’t enough to hinder my enjoyment of the story. Well-conceived, well-executed, competently written. And of course, the highest of all my criteria: no apparent mistakes in plot logic or continuity.

Violet CLM, welcome to my Favorites pile.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?


I have said it before, but never has it been more accurate than now: fanfiction of a fanfiction is the highest form of flattery next to outright plagiarism. It can be argued that this review is a bit of self-advertisement, and I shall make no attempt to debate the suggestion.

A short time after I completed my highly controversial Frequency, Grand_Moff_Pony contacted me and requested permission to write an epilogue for it. Obviously, I wasn’t about to say ‘no’ to such a flattering request, and I even provided some pre-reading assistance. I also promised to do an official review of the epilogue and treat said review as a ‘request’ to hurry it through my schedule and perhaps give the story a bit more attention. I do not regret this, nor do I apologize for it; when someone pays you such a huge compliment as this, it’s only fitting to do a little something in return.

It goes without saying that if you haven’t read Frequency then you’ll be lost as to the content of this story, so the audience is limited, and if you’re one of those who believed the story was – let’s say “in bad taste” to avoid spoilers – then this probably won’t improve things any for you. For those of you who have read and enjoyed the story, prepare for a severe hit to the feels, albeit in a good way. I won’t lie, I shed some liquid pride every time I read the latter half of the story.

The story starts off slow, and some have criticized the opening scene as being less-than-great. That may be my fault, as I did make some recommendations to GMP which were conditional to canonicity, and he obliged. Once the story gets to the second half, however, things get interesting fairly quickly. I do take issue with some of GMP’s word and phrase choices, but they’re just nitpicks of style, and I try not to hold certain ‘writer’s voice’ stylistic choices against writers.

In the end, this story was quiet, calm and emotionally evocative… at least for me. I do have a personal connection to the characters and story, so I’m sure you can imagine my view is a touch biased. Regardless, I think Grand_Moff_Pony did a wonderful job with my characters (even before my suggestions), so much so that I have officially named this story canon to my Frequency universe and have linked to it in the last chapter of my story.

If you liked Frequency, definitely give this a go. If you didn’t, maybe you should give it a go anyway. You never know, it may alleviate your overall view just a little.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?


When I read commentary from others, I was given the impression that this was going to be comedy. I didn’t get that, although So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish most certainly contains a lot of humorous elements. In the story, we find an extremely immature and lazy Lyra, who lives with her far more work-oriented friend Bon Bon. Bon Bon is constantly struggling to put up with her lazy, sloppy, childlike housemate – who also happens to own the house via inheritance. While cleaning out their fridge, Bon Bon discovers Flipper, a pet fish that died when Lyra was a foal.

For the ever-childish Lyra, the rediscovery of Flipper, frozen in a bowl for a decade, is a godsend. We then get to watch as Lyra attempts to relive the days of her foalhood, taking the ever-frozen Flipper everywhere she used to take him, from walking by the river to sharing ice cream at Sugarcube Corner. Is it silly? Absolutely.

But in time I came to realize that it’s also incredibly sad.

Lyra is a pony who never grew up. When her pet fish – ostensibly the only friend she ever had – died, it took a huge toll on her, and she’s been stuck in a mental hole ever since, perpetually a filly with no concept of responsibility or the realities of life. She ‘wasn’t ready’ to face the loss of something so important to her, so she simply chose not to. As long as Flipper is frozen, she’s convinced herself that he isn’t dead and nothing ever changed. It’s nothing short of a severe and publicly unrecognized mental disorder.

That’s what made this story so interesting to me. When Lyra makes a dumb mistake – courtesy of her foalish mind – she wakes up and is forced to come to terms with the fact that Flipper died a decade ago. The sudden crash and her scramble to keep from having to face the reality is a tragic thing to witness.

As a direct result of Blueshift’s approach to this story, I found it intensely appealing. There’s so much more than what it appears to be on the surface, and that is a wonderful thing. While whimsical in appearance, there’s enough underlying the amusing scenes to make me stop and think. A story that can do that is a story I can appreciate.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?


I hate to have to say it, but this story really did nothing for me.

Princess Twilight Sparkle’s Frustration has Twilight address her friends asking to know what’s wrong with their world, going through concept after concept after concept ranging from the Fall of Equestria to Asylum. The first half of the story is nothing but Twilight listing these concepts – nearly all taken from specific well-known FIMFiction stories – and that grows very old very quickly. It’s almost like Alex Warlorn is trying to show off his reading resume, and it was far from amusing or interesting.

Once Twilight finally finishes her breakdown, she explains that she used the magic mirror to see alternate MLP universes, so many that she ended up losing her sense of reality and not knowing for sure which was her own, hence her long tirade of queries. The Mane 6 then proceed to comfort her.

As I said, the story just didn’t work to me. The emotion felt forced, I was tempted to skim the first half of the story entirely, and the conclusion came in a rush of dialogue that did nothing to endear the story to me.

Bookshelf: Not Bad


Stories for Next Week:

An Affliction of the Heart by Anonymous Pegasus
Button Gnash by Aquaman
Harmony's End by JawJoe (Request)
What Changes May Come by Bluegrass Brooke
Dibs by ROBCakeran53


Liked these reviews? Check out some others:

Paul's Monday Reviews IX
Paul's Monday Reviews X
Paul's Monday Reviews XI
Paul's Monday Reviews XII
Paul's Monday Reviews XIII
Paul's Tuesday Reviews I – "I'm Not Dead" Edition
Paul's Monday Reviews XIV
Paul's Monday Reviews XV
Paul's Monday Reviews XVI
Paul's Monday Reviews XVII

Comments ( 9 )

Interesting coincidence: one of my coworkers had her car broken into this past weekend. Sucky luck that.

You're a very generous reviewer.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

I told you about Fish, bro!

Also, aww yiss, Button Gnash!

You know what they say: we live in a world where the pizza gets to your door before the cops do.

They also say "When seconds matter, the police are minutes away."

Then how could it be improved?

3193437
Fewer examples for Twilight to list about would be a start. That may not be the best thing for you, though, as I'm aware you were probably going for a certain kind of humor that I don't care for. If others (and you) like it, keep it.

The dialogue at the end is the bigger deal to me. It felt very unrealistic, like they were reading from a script instead of having an actual conversation. Lots of "she said, then she said, then she said, then she said..." There's a severe lack of narrative throughout the dialogue, and as such there's very little sense of timing or tonality. Without these things, it's hard to grasp that there's any real conviction in the words being spoken. It's not enough to know what they are saying, the reader also needs to see how the characters are reacting to one another's words.

At least, that's how I see it.

I didn't realize you were a fellow Texan! I'd always assumed you lived somewhere in the Northeast like a lot of others in the fandom.

I'll definitely add the first two to my read later list, even if its getting huge. :rainbowdetermined2:

3195709
Honestly, I consider myself a Louisianian, as I was born and raised there and only moved to Texas in the last couple years. But, since I grew up on the Sabine River, it can be argued that I'm actually a native of both states.

I was going to go to Fiesta Equestria this year, but when I lost my job I figured it would be far safer to stay home and not risk the potential hit to my dwindling funds from the merchandise. It was really disappointing. :fluttercry:

3195717

Works for me! I've lived in Denton my whole life. I would have gone to ComicCon but I didn't know until it was too late.

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