Happy Hannukah Swan Review

Title: Happy Hanukkah Swan                                    Author:  imhookedonaswan

Source: Once Upon a Time                                        Character(s): Emma S. & Killian Jones

Rating:  K                                                                Genre(s): Humor / Romance

Chapter(s): 1                                                             Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: The Charmings discover that Killian is Jewish and decide to surprise him with a Hanukkah dinner.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10884944/1/Happy-Hanukkah-Swan

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  Here’s my second Hanukkah story review for today.  I seem to have saved the better one for last.

The synopsis is spot on, the story is about the Charmings finding out that Killian is actually Jewish and decide to surprise him with a Hanukkah dinner for the first night of Hanukkah.  It’s actually a sweet story because it’s not just Emma and Killian celebrating, but the Charming family, Killian, and Belle.  This is obviously not meant to be a romantic evening but one that celebrates family and acceptance.

See, it starts with Henry asking if there were any holiday traditions in the Enchanted Forest.  David and Snow give the standard answer of Winter Solstice but Killian mentions the Light Festival.  After further explanation, it is revealed that the Light Festival that Killian celebrated is Hanukkah.  Snow and David have never interacted with someone who’s Jewish, so they are unfamiliar with the holiday traditions.  In an effort to show Killian he’s a member of the family and to expose themselves to new traditions, Snow offers to make a Hanukkah dinner for Killian.

I actually think this is a better Hanukkah story than the Danny Phantom one because it’s not just a group of people gathering for the first night of Hanukkah.  Instead, there are two characters (David and Snow) actively learning the traditions of an unfamiliar holiday and just diving in with guidance from Emma and Henry.  Killian going through the process of lighting the candles (shamus and first candle), the songs, and prayers is touching.  Sure the story doesn’t include the actual prayers or song lyrics, but the writing makes it just as effective.

The best part about this story is that it builds on from the series.  When Killian is explaining how Jewish traditions ended up across the realms, it’s something that fits the world of Once Upon a Time.  It matches the history of Judaism in that 10 tribes were expelled from the Holy Land but adds in the fantastical element of the tribes being given a portal to another world where they could practice in peace.  It’s a concise explanation that doesn’t require further explanation.

In the end, if anyone is looking for a Hanukkah fan fic for this holiday season, I would recommend Happy Hanukkah Swan.  I would definitely recommend it more than the Danny Phantom story because this one tries to build up a story of understanding and family around Hanukkah; instead of going through the motions.

 

Stars: 8 / 10

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A Hanukkah Special Review

Title: A Hanukkah Special                                                Author:  Technogirl4304

Source: Danny Phantom                                                  Character(s): Sam M.

Rating:  K                                                                        Genre(s): Spiritual / Friendship

Chapter(s): 1                                                                    Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: Have a Happy Hanukkah with Sam and the gang.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5590962/1/A-Hanukkah-Special

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  I know I’m a day late in posting this but I wanted to review a Hanukkah story and today is the first night of Hanukkah; I wanted the two to coincide.  There is a decent selection of Hanukkah stories on FFN and I hope I found a couple good ones to review this year.  This is actually 1 of 2 reviews today because this story is really short.  The next one will be posted shortly after this review.

Let’s start with a Danny Phantom story.  Growing up I actually didn’t watch Danny Phantom, I know the premise and some of the characters, but the finer points allude me.  Thankfully, I didn’t need to know much about the show to read this short story about Sam’s family celebrating the first night of Hanukkah and her friends dropping by to join in.

There really isn’t much to the story.  Sam feels a bit out of character given that she is meant to be the “goth” of the group but it’s not too bad; even Carrie calls her out on the uncharacteristic happiness during the holidays.  The Jewish prayers are a nice touch.  I also like that the non-Jewish characters participated in a game of Dreidel.

I think the only part about the story that confused me was how off-putting Sam’s parents seemed by her friends coming over to celebrate.  Since I didn’t watch the show I don’t know if it’s because Sam’s parents don’t approve of her friends and boyfriend, or if they’re traditionalists who don’t want non-Jews to participate.  Either way, the tension and almost rude behavior is never addressed and Sam’s grandma saves everyone by welcoming Sam’s friends to join.

Overall, the story is nothing special.  I don’t think it was meant to be; looks like it was just meant to be a Hanukkah story.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it does leave a lack luster story.  I would have preferred having that awkward attitude Sam’s parents had toward her friends addressed and resolved (partially or fully).  However, that’s me.

In the end, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as a story to read.  However, if anyone is looking for a Danny Phantom Hanukkah story, here’s one.

 

Stars: 6/10

Christmas Review

Title:  Christmas                                                          Author: gypsywriter135

Source: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles                         Genre(s): Family / Friendship

Rating:  K                                                    Character(s): Leo, Raph, Don, Mikey, & Splinter

Chapter(s): 3                                                               Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis:  Christmas is a time for togetherness.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4732845/1/Christmas

 

Welcome Readers, I’m continuing my trend of reading holiday fiction with a TMNT Christmas story.  Not “Christmas story” like the movie but a story that features Christmas.  It called to me because it’s TMNT – I feel the nostalgia – and I wanted to read a story that was not based on anime fandom; I read a lot of those and wanted to change it up a bit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  This time I am reviewing this heartwarming story about Christmas with the Turtles.  It is a small offering but definitely encapsulates the Turtles’ personalities and the sense of family during the holidays.  Without further ado, let’s dive into Christmas.

The synopsis is rather on point after reading the story but to entice readers it’s a bit weak.  Here’s my synopsis of the story.  It’s the first Christmas since Leo came back from the jungle.  Now the Turtles can finally celebrate like a family.

My synopsis isn’t really catchy but that is the essence of the story.  It is the first Christmas since Leo returned home and all members of the mutant family are excited to celebrate as a family again.

The story has simple offerings but it does so well in capturing the heartwarming experience of celebrating Christmas with family.  Chapter one is about Christmas Eve and the brothers trying to sleep but Mikey’s excitement won’t let them sleep.  Chapter two is about Christmas Day and the family opening thoughtful gifts from each other, exchanging words of appreciation, etc.  The last chapter features the Christmas party with friends and closing out Christmas with some family time.  Everything that happens in this story is so cheery and warm.  It made me go “Awww.”

I know it sounds a bit dull as though the story just describes the turtles’ Christmas but it’s not dull.  In fact, it’s engaging.  I found that it was fun reading about Mikey creeping out of his room to sneak a peek at the presents only to be caught by Leo over and over again.  Reading the different perspectives of Christmas Eve and the holiday season was interesting; Donnie enjoyed it for family, Raph liked it because it was the one time of year where he and Leo got along, Mikey enjoyed it for the presents and general cheer, Leo enjoyed being back with his family and the familiarity of the holidays, and Splinter – like the proud papa he is – enjoyed having all his children home.

Even Chapter 2 when everyone is opening presents isn’t boring like it should be.  Instead, it feels like you’re watching a tender family moment as each member takes a turn opening gifts and there’s a reason behind each gift.  Plus, Raph and Leo’s gifts are great; predictable but still great.

Every part of this story just screamed “Family” and rather than it being annoying, it was rather endearing.  Kind of “Bad Mom’s Christmas.”  I know that plug came out of nowhere but it’s true; what should be annoying actually turns out to be heartfelt.

I don’t think there’s anything really missing from this story.  It’s not trying to be a lengthy tale that just happens to take place around Christmas, but a story about how these mutants celebrate a holiday.  It doesn’t need an enemy attack or a squabble between brothers; it has everything it needed to foster the feeling of family.

Would I recommend this story?  As a short, stirring holiday story about family; yes.  If anyone is looking for some with more meat to it, then this is not the story to read.  It’s a good story that stays true to the characters and focuses on the characters individually and as a family unit.  There’s plenty of joy and goodwill to gladden the heart and get Readers pumped for the holiday season.

 

Stars: 8.5 / 10

Portal: First Christmas Review

Title:  Portal: First Christmas                                                 Author: Indiana

Source: Portal & Portal 2                                                        Character(s): GLaDOS & Chell

Rating:  K                                                                             Genre(s):  Parody / Humor

Chapter(s):  4                                                                       Status:  Complete

Author’s Synopsis: Christmas is coming! Oh noes!

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10858466/1/Portal-First-Christmas

 

Ladies and Gentleman – or in this case, test subjects – I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  It’s December!  That means there’s a lot of holiday (mostly Christmas) fan fiction out there for me to feast upon.  Not all of them will be good; some will be rotten but I’m sure to find a couple of delicacies this year.  I have several holiday fan fics lined up to review.  We’re starting with a bit of dark humor with a Portal fan fic.

The author’s synopsis does nothing to describe the story, so I’ll provide my own summary.  Christmas is approaching and Chell is having difficulties finding the perfect gift for GLaDOS.  What do you get a supercomputer?

Now that we’re all the same page, the story builds after the events of Portal 2 but instead of Chell leaving the lab for the great unknown, she camps outside the lab until GLaDOS offers her shelter.  GLaDOS becomes Chell’s companion, janitor, chef, and sex slave now that she has – I’m quoting the story here – “super realer-than-realistic hyper hyper realistic android” body.  Some of the elements of this post-Portal 2 world make sense – why wouldn’t GLaDOS have an android body that she could move herself into? – but there are other elements that make absolutely no sense.  For instance, why does GLaDOS know how to cook?  Where does that food come from?  Why is Chell okay with all of this?

The story brushes a lot of explanation aside with things of “plot convenience,” “science,” and how Chell has forgiven GLaDOS’ homicidal tendencies because GLaDOS saved her life and thus couldn’t be “bad.” On the one hand, those explanations are within the Portal humor but on the other hand it feels so out of place.  It’s been a while since I last played Portal but I remember GLaDOS rubbing things into Chell’s face and tossing insults – non-affectionate ones – at the test subject.  These “explanations” just feel a bit out of place and not nearly as funny as the game’s content.

The biggest grievance I have with the story is Chell’s characterization.  I have zero qualms about how much sex Chell and GLaDOS are implied to have, but I take issue with how dependent Chell is on GLaDOS.  GLaDOS does all the cleaning, cooking, and general providing while Chell gets to act like a petulant child.  There are instances in the story where Chell purposely throws a fit so that GLaDOS will comfort her.  Then there are the times where Chell purposely cries and withholds information – like her frustration in being unable to find a present for GLaDOS – just so GLaDOS will spend time with her and assure her that Chell is perfect as she and GLaDOS will always love her.  This clingy, overly dependent version of Chell is so unlike the character from the games and comics that it’s hard to reconcile the two.

Personally, I think the story could’ve still had Chell be dependent on GLaDOS for everything but instead of it being because Chell doesn’t want to be independent have it be that GLaDOS (subtly) refuses to let Chell become independent.  Having this forced dependency would make this already abusive relationship darker without totally demolishing Chell’s character.

Alright, so the shining light of this story is the end.  Thank God, the story played out as I hoped because if that twist never happened then I would write this story off as a complete waste of digital space.  However, the twist at the end kind of makes the crappy lead up worth it.  I won’t say what happens, but it is by far the most Portal-like thing to occur.

In the end, would I recommend the story?  Not really.  Not as a Portal fan fic or a Christmas story.  It doesn’t truly provide much story, depth, or new insight to the Portal world.  It is just an excuse to give GLaDOS a humanoid form and for Chell and GLaDOS to have sex.  *Shrug* Nothing much.  I’m sure there is a niche for this story but I’m definitely not in that group.

 

Stars: 3/10

Brouillard Review

Title: Brouillard                                                                       Author: BandGeek58407

Source: A Knight’s Tale                                                           Character(s): Geoff & Wat

Rating:  T                                                                               Genre(s): Romance & Angst

Chapter(s): 1                                                                           Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: In which Chaucer’s emotions and society’s norms clash and a confession must be made. Slash. Oneshot.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4855992/1/Brouillard

 

Welcome Readers, it’s been a while since I visited a slash/yaoi(ish) story so I thought to dust off the catalog and take a look.  I certainly did not find the cream of the crop but at least I didn’t find trash.  I found this one that’s just mediocre.  The story tries to get great, it does, but I think it tried a bit too hard and as such it didn’t pan out.  I’ll explain what I mean in a bit, but needless to say, that this story is not quite as impressive as the potential.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  Brouillard is about Geoff running off into the streets of Paris on a rainy night only to be accosted by gamblers. Underneath the basic plot the story tries to offer a glimpse into how homosexuality might be approached in the 1370s using the characters Geoff and Wat.  It’s…it’s an okay short story; it’s a good one for Readers looking for some lean storytelling.

Where shall we begin with this story?  I guess the writing style.  Brouillard is written from Geoff’s point of view and it shows through the theatrical and sometimes illusive descriptions.  The Reader is never just told what is happening but is carried on this journey with Geoff as he tries to escape in the rainy Parisian night.  It’s a style that suits the character and is reminiscent of his Sir Ulrich’s introduction.  However, the tone this style adopts does not seem to match the character.

The story’s tone is very depressing.  Depressing to the point where Geoff begins to contemplate death (via suicide or murder).  It’s not that I don’t think Geoff can be depressed, I just never got the sense from the movie that Geoff was someone who would allow his grief to consume him to the point of contemplating death.  If anything, he’d be likely to be depress while trying to make the best out of the situation.  I mean, when the group found him, he was walking butt naked despite having lost everything to gambling.  Then when he lost everything again after joining the group, he didn’t wallow in his shame but rallied to make Sir Ulrich appealing to the crowd.  That’s why – to me – the tone doesn’t quite match up with the character.

As a commentary of societal norms in the 1370s towards homosexuality, I don’t think this story goes as far as it should.  There is some mention of societal expectations but they seem less grounded in historical fact and grounded in perceived facts.  A lot of the expectations and anti-gay sentiments feel less like they come from the society of 1370 Europe, and more of what modern society assumes that society believes.  Plus, it all comes from Geoff and his own imagined “betrayal” of the group.  As far as the story indicates, nothing actually happened to oust Geoff and there isn’t mention of others (debtors, gamblers, etc.) knowing his preference; yet, Geoff seems to have this paranoid assumption that everyone knows or will know soon.  Why?

This story would have done better to show Geoff somehow interacting or witnessing someone else engage in homosexual tendencies and be ousted.  I actually think having Geoff witness someone else be punished for a perceived homoerotic exchange would be enough fuel to put Geoff on edge and give him the motivation to leave the group.

That leads into my number one grievance with this story!  There is zero groundwork that leads up to the story.  Why is Geoff suddenly so eager to be away from the rest of the group and even contemplating suicide?  If it was because of his sexuality, then why join the group at all?  If it’s due to the gambling problem, then why is there so little focus on the problems Geoff’s gambling habits cause the group?  The only hints I can glean are: Geoff’s sexuality and a fear that discovery of his sexuality will make people question William’s noble claims.  This all leads back to the first question though, why would he bother to join the group if this is a concern?  If this question had been answered in the story, then I let it slide but as the question is left unanswered.

Other than that, the story is short and an easy read.  I think it could be better, but conversely it could be a lot worse.  I like the writing style and how it reflects Geoff’s speaking style.  The depressing tone is not a deal breaker but it feels out of character given what is shown of Geoff in the movie.  However, the lack of set up – a motive as to why Geoff is running away – weakens the story.

Ultimately, it’s an all right story and if Readers are looking for a time filler without having to delve deep into a story then Brouillard is a good choice.  Would I recommend the story?  Sure, it’s a decent story and is worth a read through.  Definitely not a top recommendation, but it’s not a bad time filler.

 

Stars: 6.5/10