• Member Since 16th May, 2013
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Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords, and reviews both independently and for Seattle's Angels. New reviews posted every Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

More Blog Posts406

  • 1 week
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXVIII

    As I write this, I have been awake for 25 straight hours. The last few days have been a little hectic as I run around Hell’s half-acre trying to find the right car to replace the one I’ve lost. I finally found one at a good enough deal to warrant purchase yesterday. But after that and going out to eat with my dad (who was my chauffeur the whole time), I don’t make it back to my apartment until

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    11 comments · 300 views
  • 2 weeks
    Preview of Coming Attractions

    Although it has been grindingly slow, I am indeed making progress on Book 2 of Bulletproof Heart. Of course, when I say “slow”, I mean in the last 15 months I have produced ~175,000 words for the story. So yeah, if you count 11k-12k words a month slow, then I’m going slow. I do, but I’m the writer. I’m allowed to give myself tough standards.

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    16 comments · 273 views
  • 2 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXVII

    Well, quite the day of mixed results. On the downside, I was on my way to work at 5:30 this morning when my car… dropped something. I don’t know what, I just know that it made a loud bang, I ran over it with my rear tires, and my engine died instantly. I was able to get it to the shoulder of the (very busy) highway before the power steering died, at least. Whatever I lost, it also caused all the

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    21 comments · 322 views
  • 3 weeks
    Concepts and Creations — One, Mother of Ponies

    This image doesn’t exactly fit, but it was the best I could find.

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    2 comments · 193 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXVI

    Review time! And for once, I have nothing to talk about. No big reveals, no curious discussions of life’s secrets, no big news in relation to what I’m writing and when it’s coming out. Been a pretty dry week overall. Well, in terms of events. Weather’s been a whole different matter. And we’re not here to discuss the weather.

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    19 comments · 340 views

Paul's Thursday Reviews XCIX · 3:32pm Dec 28th, 2017

We almost didn't get a review set this week, folks. It seems GDocs is having a falling out with my parents' internet today (after having been fine with it for over a week!) and is denying me access to my review backlog. But mercy has been had (I guess the internet bought GDocs some really nice chocolates?) and I was able to get access for just long enough to get the reviews on here. Whew!

I'm holding off on doing my typical year-in-review for 2017. This is mostly because I'll have to do some GDocs number crunching and, as stated above, the system's not exactly in the holiday spirit. But one will definitely be coming, and I can finally see just how good/bad my year's been on the writing front.

In the meantime, I'm bringing back an old friend: the 'coming stories' section of these reviews. I've found that I'm currently over a month ahead of schedule, and the lead is only growing now that I'm being more careful about when and how I handle the 100k+ word stories. As such, there's no reason not to bring back the section revealing what stories are next to be reviewed. Heck, if this keeps up I might just start scheduling more reading breaks.

Well, in the midst of all the food-eating – seriously, I haven't been hungry since Christmas Eve – and family gatherings and errands to run, I've been struggling to get much writing done this week. I've got nothing planned for today or tomorrow, and so I intend to utilize them to catch back up. My apologies to Pascoite; I've actually finished the rough draft of Songbird but, due to the issues mentioned above, have been unable to get it loaded to GDocs for editing. Assuming the issues resume, it'll have to wait until I get back to my apartment next week.

Last but not least, a hearty Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to everyone! Especially those who tried to contact me on Skype earlier this week. I didn't even find out about those until this morning since I almost never look at Skype anymore. That being said, if anyone out there wants to add me on Discord, send me a PM and I'll reply with my contact info.

Alright, enough blah-blah-blah and yakity-smackity. Reviews!

P.S. – Does anyone else not like how blog previews are now showing up in popup windows that keep us from making edits while seeing them?

Stories for This Week:

Floral Embrace by Masterweaver
The Regular by Ruirik
The Mare of the Equestrian Eighth by The 24th Pegasus
Home Grown by AbsoluteAnonymous
Into a Goodbye Sky by Avox
The Gift of Gab by kudzuhaiku
Total Word Count: 24,377

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 4
Worth It: 1
Needs Work: 0
None: 0

Alright everyone, a-one, and a-two, and a-three… D’aaaw.

In Floral Embrace, we are given an interpretation of Tree Hugger’s cutie mark story. I had no idea what to expect. In Masterweaver’s envisioning, Tree Hugger’s talk of seeing ‘aura’s’ isn’t just a bunch of hippy talk. She literally sees everything in bright colors, and those colors change based on the flow of magic/life essence within them. The life flow of plants is red, bees are glittery yellow, and so on. Ponies and animals change colors based on their moods. Through all this colorful prism, Tree Hugger is able to understand the things happening around her at a level nopony else can.

It’s a fascinating interpretation of the character that does so much more than the blatant hippy druggy image that the show makes her look like, and for that I am thrilled. It’s nice to see an author find ways to move away from stereotypical tropes and make something new out of what everyone sees.

This was a lovely story, and I am glad to have given it a chance. I sincerely hope I won’t be the only one.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

The Regular

3,436 Words
By Ruirik

In this quiet little story, we watch Doughnut Joe as he starts his own little business in Canterlot and, within short order, get his first regular customer. It’s a curious tale, and hard to pin down exactly what it’s about. Friendships, or the lack thereof? Life? Or perhaps just the charm of having something that exists in your everyday life, something you get used to and rather fond of, even if that something is a quiet pony who sits at the same place every day and orders the same doughnut and coffee for six straight years. Or perhaps it’s about learning to move on when that regularity is interrupted.

Whatever it’s really about, it’s a pleasant story starring a pony who so rarely gets his own spotlight. It’s well paced, with an eye for setting and atmosphere that I can appreciate. Some might call it a little slow to start, but in this case I think it is applied well to the overarching theme of regularity.

Contemplative, a little sad, but also with a bit of optimism, I found this a charming little piece. Read it for a nice look at a pony who so rarely gets any attention, and a view of the pleasure of a regular.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Brought to us by the great mind behind the Price of Loyalty Universe, The Mare of the Equestrian Eighth is told entirely in poetry form. It tells the tale of Rainbow Dash, from her voluntary entry into the Equestrian Armed Forces to the end of the war against King Sombra and beyond. Naturally, this is set in the Crystal War timeline established in the Season 5 finale.

I don’t consider myself a good judge of poetry, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one from beginning to end. Easy to read and follow, never faltering in style, it is largely about the effects of war and the sacrifice of heroes. It’s by no means a positive tale, victory or no. As things gradually go from bad to worse, one can’t help but feel for the poor, forgotten war veteran.

I haven’t much to say. The story, while traditional, is well represented in its chosen format. I can’t point out flaws and negatives, because my specialty is prose and I simply don’t know what to look for in a poetic style that might count as a downside. While I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I’m holding off on giving it my highest marks on account of this lack of experience on my part; you might try other reviews by other reviewers to get a better picture.

For my part? Definitely one of the better poetry-form stories I’ve read.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Sweet Apple Acres depends on Applejack. Without her, the farm has no future. She is very aware of this, and she’s determined to take care of it. And when she grows old, her kids will take care of it. It’s just how things need to be. Sweet Apple Acres survives on families, which means that someday AJ needs to make a family of her own. There’s only one thing standing in the way of that dream: AJ isn’t into stallions.

As much as one might expect it, this isn’t a story about one fillyfooler trying to survive the cruelty of a homophobic society. Which is good, because those stories are a dime a dozen. No, this is about Applejack’s perceived views of her own value and future and how being a fillyfooler directly interferes with both. It’s a fresh and interesting turn on an old issue, and I wholeheartedly approve.

Along the way we get some great pacing, solid characterization, and a steady stream of romantic longing. The shippers will love the constant RariJack at play, and I for one was highly satisfied with an ending that refuses to meet their expectations even as it maintains the sense of progress and optimism. The plot enthusiasts will delight in a well-rounded story that does a solid job of demonstrating the problem without bothering with extrapolations and tangents, instead focusing on an overarching metaphor to hammer the point home.

All in all, this is one of the better stories I’ve read by this author. It avoids so many of the tired tropes of homosexuality-focused stories, coming out fresh and endearing from beginning to end.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Scootaloo’s all set to go to summer flight camp, but she’s not exactly thrilled. She’ll have to leave her friends behind, spend time with total strangers, and face the hurdles of learning to fly on wings still considered unusually weak. But maybe a little pep talk from Rainbow is just what the doctor ordered.

This didn’t go how I expected it to, and that's a good thing. Your typical story involving Scootaloo and Rainbow would likely involve Scootaloo being miserable and Rainbow learning to be a better surrogate sibling. Instead, Scootaloo’s fears are more… I don’t want to say childish, but definitely designed to fit her age better. I suppose ‘normal’ would be an apt term. This is a story about facing change and leaving your comfort zone, and as such it ends up deeper and more interesting than the usual fare.

I was especially pleased with Rainbow’s role. Instead of being some lengthy back and forth of drama and tears and woes, it’s just Rainbow taking a few minutes to be a cool older sister. In true Rainbow fashion, she doesn’t linger to let the mushiness get the better of them, but simply says what she came to say and flies off. Throw in some encouragement from Scoots’ fellow crusaders and the presence of a loving single father and we have a rare look at the kind of life people have an unfortunate habit of denying her.

This story earns my favor by defiantly ignoring the common extremes typically present in Scootaloo fics. It earns even more of my favor with a good life lesson, strong characterizations and some solid pacing. It’s a low-key but satisfying experience, and I am suddenly much more interested in this author. Looking forward to more.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Clearly a bridge between the prior story and the Winter Break one (which may not be completed for a while yet), this story once more brings our attention to Sumac Apple, adopted son of Trixie and student at Twilight’s school. Sumac is still recovering from the severe injuries he received in the final chapters of the last story, his body in such a bad state that he can’t even use the bathroom without someone there to hold him steady. In the midst of this, he goes to have his regular magic lesson with his Master, Vinyl Scratch.

This story doesn’t do too much. It updates us to the current state of affairs a few weeks after the last story and talks about Sumac’s relationship with his new mentor and friends. The one aspect of the story that is truly interesting is the idea of Vinyl seeking a magical remedy to her muteness. I would love to see this idea expanded into a series all on its own, even (or perhaps especially) outside this AU. We get a short opportunity to explore the concept, but that’s as far as it goes.

I think that this would have been better served as a scene within the sequel story, as opposed to its own piece. It’s not amazing in any one way, but it’s not bad, either. At best, it feels like a bit of story thrown out there just to appease those waiting for the next epic.

I suppose I’m okay with that. It’s certainly a better bridge story than Enter the Dragon was.

Now time to wait however many years it’ll take to see the Winter Break story finished.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Stories for Next Week:

Twilight Sparkle Plays With Dolls by Cyanide
Rebellion: Of Goddesses and Gallows by ScriptScrolls
Sweet Little Lovely: A Gothic Romance by Mr V
Bats in the Old Apple Barn by adcoon
Green by Steel Resolve

Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews XCIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews XCV
Paul's Thursday Reviews XCVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews XCVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews XCVIII
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Paul's Thursday Reviews CI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CIV

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Comments ( 5 )

 Does anyone else not like how blog previews are now showing up in popup windows that keep us from making edits while seeing them?

This is the worst thing in the universe.
Anyway, we aren't due this weekend, I think it will be a backup. So not urgent in any way... but this is me, poking you nonetheless, cause I don't want You-know-who breathing down my neck.

I'm gonna be curious to see what you thought of Sweet Little Lovely. (It'll be queued up for an RCL feature once the author gets back to us on the interview.)

Aye, I was told it would be used for a backup. I do need to get on that though. Just trying to keep my written word count up amidst the copious holiday distractions. I expect to be able to get to it soon-ish.

An RCL feature? Really? Huh. This surprises me a great deal. I suppose I'll just wait and see what the curators have to say.

Author Interviewer

I love that window, if only because the button is now down in a logical place instead of back up at the top of the page where I can't fucking see it D:

Wow, I've read 3 of these, and none of them were ones you read on my recommendation.

"Floral Embrace"
Man, as much as I like Masterweaver's writing, this story just couldn't be further from having a point. She gets her cutie mark, but more as a matter of circumstance; she wasn't anticipating it. She identifies some small tension regarding her father, but none of the characters care about it. It just seemed like an inconsequential scene to me.

"The Mare of the Equestrian Eighth"
On the poetry side, this had pretty uneven rhythm and really stretched for some rhymes. On the story side, it's a realistic situation where Dash just finds she can't fit in when she returns home, but suicide stories take a lot of legwork to make it feel justified, and while we do get a nice depiction about how war has changed Dash, there's never that downward spiral into despair depicted, so when she finally does kill herself, it came as a surprise to me, not that she actually did it, but that she'd even considered doing so. It's kind of like a romance expecting you to believe a couple is in love instead of getting me to. It was a nice story, but it felt like it skipped a step.

"Into a Goodbye Sky"
This was on the verge of working quite well. Maybe the author's revised it since I read it, but my issue was how the story used a limited narration in Scootaloo's perspective, yet it took a very mature voice for her. I spent the early part of the story thinking it was a teenage Scootaloo, only later to find out she was still a blank flank. The narration just doesn't sound like the word choice and phrasing that someone Scootaloo's age would use. I would have liked to have a deeper look at Cotton Cloudy's character. She seemed kind of generic.

I didn't care for "Floral Embrace," but fair rating on the other two.

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