AO3 ID: 5386433/FanFiction ID: 11644460
Status: Complete (7 Chapters)
My rating: 4.5 of 5
Talk about good luck! Marinette draws Adrien’s name for their class’s Secret Santa exchange, giving her the perfect opportunity to give him the handmade coat she’s been designing just for him–with no excuse to back out in stammering embarrassment. Little does she know that he’s drawn her name and is putting a lot of thought into getting the perfect, thoughtful gift for her too. Gifts exchanged lead to more conversation, plans to hang out, and Marinette’s realization that for all the glamour of Adrien’s rich-kid/model life, he’s actually pretty lonely, especially when his other friends leave town for the holidays. Marinette’s not about to have that, so she pushes her (huge) crush on him down and determines to give him the happy family holiday he’s never had.
I know, I know, this is totally out of season, but this adorable story was too utterly sweet to not post about, regardless of the season. TheLastPilot is probably one of my absolute favorite Miraculous Ladybug fanfic writers because the tone is spot on (pun only slightly intended), the plots are thoughtful and well-planned, and the characters are the best, most enjoyable versions of themselves. Secret Santa is a great example of just that. It’s mostly this sweet (like, watch out for cavities, seriously), adorable friendship-to-maybe-more fluffy story with a big emphasis on the friendship. Marinette and Adrien’s awkward but growing friendship is really fun to read, especially with the way they esteem each other’s alter-ego without knowing their true identity woven into their interactions. And yeah, we do get a great reveal eventually. But there’s a lot of these two just being teenagers, too–shopping, playing video games, hanging out with Marinette’s parents (who are also awesome)–and that is lots of fun. The sense of humor that pervades this story is just perfect, balanced with just enough angst (mostly stemming from the notorious Gabriel Agreste) to balance it out and make the happy parts all the sweeter. Secret Santa is definitely recommended, regardless of the season.
NOTE: You can find Secret Santa at https://archiveofourown.org/works/5386433/chapters/12440687 or at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11644460/1/Secret-Santa.
From Quirk Books, the publishers who brought us such awesome stories as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, comes a bundle filled with pop-culture fun. You’ve got quirky horror stories, a couple of volumes of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, whole volumes dedicated to pop icons, and a number of survival guides of various sorts. Frankly, this collection looks absolutely quirky and definitely fun. If you’re interested, you can check this bundle out here.
AO3 ID: 7770289
Status: Complete (7 Chapters)
My rating: 4.5 of 5
Much as she and Chat Noir were careful to keep their true identities secret from everyone–including each other–Ladybug was well aware that they would probably find out eventually. But she never expected her superhero partner to be her hopeless crush, the boy she sits behind in class. And neither Marinette nor Adrien expected to find out by running into each other in a back hall of the school in the midst of transforming back to their normal personas. Awkward. . . . The two struggle to combine their images of each other–Ladybug and Marinette seem pretty different to Adrien, and Marinette could say the same about Adrien and Chat Noir. And how do they even relate to each other now?! The challenges of teenage awkwardness facing these two could very well be enough to break the good thing these two superheroes have together . . . or maybe, just maybe, it could be the start of something even better.
Okay, this fandom is totally killing me with cuteness. I blame it entirely for my lack of posting much recently (okay, and I’ve been in a slump, but mostly I’ve been reading ML fanfic). I feel like That Awkward Moment When . . . does something special, even for this adorable fandom. Because it takes the reveal between these two and gives it to us in a lighthearted, humorous manner . . . but it also draws out a real, human side of this pair’s situation, a side that has relevance even to normal everyday relationships. It shows clearly how these two focused on each other in a surface-only manner and obsessed over someone who wasn’t even the real person at all. And it also shows a growth of real relationship that goes way beyond the surface level, becoming something meaningful and lasting and beautiful. You get a beautiful, real friendship that, yes, eventually grows into something more (but maintains a canon-typical rating, which is nice). I enjoyed the characterizations in this story, the way the people were written, as well as the writing style itself. That Awkward Moment When . . . managed to make me laugh (a lot), think, and even cry a bit at the end. Definitely recommended.
Note: You can find That Awkward Moment When . . . at https://archiveofourown.org/works/7770289/chapters/17722588.
AO3 ID: 6385852
Status: Complete (oneshot)
My rating: 4 of 5
Alya watches, baffled (and maybe just a bit scared) as her best friend Marinette’s relationship with her crush Adrien changes epically overnight. As in, one day Marinette struggles to piece together complete sentences around him. The next, she’s arguing the improbabilities of centaur anatomy with him. Scary weird. . . . And weirder still, some weeks later, as Paris’s superhero duo Ladybug and Chat Noir find themselves facing–oddly enough–a centaur-like akuma, the conversation Alya overhears between them seems oddly familiar.
These Things Don’t Just Happen Overnight manages to be a cute, slightly crackish, yet understated revealfic for an absolutely adorable show. I love the way the author shows us everything from Alya’s perspective–the friend’s insight, the journalist’s observation, but still the incomplete picture that comes from missing a huge chunk of the puzzle . . . although one gets the impression she’ll probably figure it out pretty soon. I loved how Marinette and Adrien go from this awkward friendship-in-the-works to an easy, established relationship overnight once their secret identities are revealed and they recognize each other as the partners they are (and yes, I’m aware of how awkwardly worded that sentence is, sorry). I’ve seen reveals between these two go the gamut from super-awkward afterwards to casually-comfortable, and the way this one goes is both cute and fitting for the flavor of the story here. I really love the humor that is liberally sprinkled throughout–again, it’s almost crackish, but it works. Also . . . totally random, but the centaur argument is scarily similar to one my Pathfinder group has had, and it made me laugh.
Note: You can find These Things Don’t Just Happen Overnight at https://archiveofourown.org/works/6385852.
AO3 ID: 120495
Status: Complete (oneshot)
My rating: 4.5 of 5
John Watson finds himself awakened in the middle of the night by the looming form of his flatmate Sherlock Holmes at his bedroom doorway . . . demanding John hand over his gun to him. Because apparently, there’s an owl in the flat, and Sherlock wants to shoot it. And oh, look, there’s a fancy envelope the looks an awful lot like a wedding invitation that definitely shows signs of being held in said owl’s beak (John’s been learning to pay more attention to the small details). Only, since when do owls deliver correspondence? And who on earth would be brave enough to invite Sherlock to their wedding?
Oh my, The Case of the Unwelcome Owl was a delightful find for me. Basically, Sherlock receives a wedding invitation from his cousin Luna Lovegood, and John finds out about the whole wizarding world and (yay!) gets to meet Luna. Bordering on crackish (okay, it may have tipped rather far past the border at some points), it manages to be a charming character study. Really, as John says once he figures out what’s going on (sort of), it explains so much! And while it is remarkably quirky, this story also manages to be true to the characters in the essence of who they are, even while bringing in some very unorthodox backstory. I actually quite loved the way the author brings out the characters’ personalities through all sorts of little details, as well as the way the plot unfolds gradually with Sherlock holding on to his secrets as much as he can. On a side note, crossing other fandoms over with Harry Potter is basically the most done thing in the world . . . but this managed to be something unique and special. I love Luna, and she really doesn’t get enough attention–she’s got so much potential as a fanfic character, too, as is clearly shown in this fic. Also, kudos to the author for bringing so much humor into this story; The Case of the Unwelcome Owl had me laughing at every turn. Definitely recommended.
Note: You can find The Case of the Unwelcome Owl at https://archiveofourown.org/works/120495.
Status: Complete (4 books)
My rating: 4 of 5
It’s the start of your freshman year at Hartfeld University, and the future is bright. You’ve got a suite full of fun, interesting people who seem to want to be friends . . . maybe even more than friends. Hey, maybe this will be the year you find love! Either way, there are great relationships to build. But not everything is perfect–you’ve got sorority drama, financial crises, a cranky mentor/boss who wants to use your personal drama for his own ends. In fact, things get pretty complicated pretty quickly.
The Freshman is a choose-your-own-adventure sort of visual novel available through Pixelberry’s Choices app. I have to say, I really enjoyed this game. It brings out both the drama and the excitement of college, the thrill of defining yourself, building friendships, and making choices that will determine your future. I feel like they did a good job of making the main character–the girl you play–both developed as a character and open to interpretation based on the choices you make. That’s a hard line to determine, but I think the way they did it works. I definitely enjoyed the other characters as well; you’ve got some strong personalities, but it makes for an enjoyable mix. Although yes, also waaaaay more drama then I ever had at college, thank you very much. The creators manage to keep it fun though, mixing in humor and sweet moments in the midst of the drama and angst. In addition to all the school activity and drama going on with your group of friends, this is also a romance story (some might say it’s primarily a romance story, although I think it’s possible to stay single throughout if you so choose) with three dating choices. Again, I felt like this was fairly well-balanced against the rest of the game. The art and music were well done, and the text/interface are easy to interact with. Honestly, my only complaints are the main complaints I have with the Choices app itself–primarily that certain choices cost diamonds, and it’s impossible to get enough diamonds to afford all the choices you want to make without spending actual money. But I found I was able to enjoy the game in spite of not having the diamonds to choose everything I wanted to, so it doesn’t negatively affect the story too much. I would recommend The Freshman to anyone who enjoys a slice-of-life sort of story and to those who like western (as opposed to Japanese) visual novels.
Author: Chauncey Rogers
My rating: 4.5 of 5
Laure hates Éclatant; she can’t wait to get away, just as soon as she can manage to come by (read “steal”) enough money to afford the journey. Seriously, the royalty here are either mad or idiots. Just look at this latest debacle–the prince dances with a girl at a masked party, falls madly in love, the girl disappears, and the prince can’t seem to remember her name or any defining features. But rather than do the reasonable thing and take the girl’s disappearance to mean that she’s just not that into the prince, the king issues a decree: the girl left behind a glass shoe, and whatever girl can be found to fit the shoe will be legally declared to be the girl the prince fell in love with at the party (whether she actually is or not) and will wed the prince. Pure absurdity! But . . . there may be a way Laure can use this to her advantage, if her newly-found concern for her mark-cum-traveling-companion Luc doesn’t get in the way.
What a delightful take on the classic Cinderella story this is! Rather than getting Cinderella’s view at all, we are presented with quite a different, er, well, heroine seems to be stretching it a bit, but she grows into the role rather. Laure is sassy, crabby–and open about it. She’s a girl who once knew a happy home but who lost it long ago, and it shows in the way she’s isolated herself from all close connections, living on her wits and making do as best she can. It’s actually quite vicariously liberating to read from the perspective of such an openly ornery character; she’s rather a delight. Moreover, it’s great to see the way that she grows and changes as a person through her time with Luc and the events that unfold; there’s some huge character development going on there. And the writing itself is just lovely–comfortable to read, humorous, vibrant, and rich. I was very impressed with the story, would certainly recommend it, and am looking forward to trying some of the author’s other books.
NOTE: I received a free review copy of Happily from the author in exchange for an unbiased review, which in no way affects the contents of this post.