Winner Takes It All Review

Title:  Winner Takes It All                                                     Author: Poohbear-29

Source: Magnificent Seven (TV)                                            Character(s): Chris Larabee

Rating:  T                                                                            Genre(s): Humor

Chapter(s): 1                                                                        Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: The boys have a bet as to who will get the lady on Valentine’s Day.


Welcome Readers, we’re drawing closer to the day of lovers and singles-awareness.  Who’s ready?  I know I’m not.  However, I am ready with another review for a Valentine’s Day fan fic.  I can at least check this item off. *Check*

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 took a chance on this story because I saw the source as “Magnificent Seven” and thought, “I saw the latest movie; I enjoyed the movie so this should be interesting.”  Well, it was interesting and made me aware that there was a “Magnificent Seven” TV show.

Before I begin explaining what the story is about and giving my review, I want to take the time to explain who the characters from the TV series are so that we are all on the same page.  Chris Larabee is the leader of the group.  Vin Tanner is an ex-bounty hunter in the series and in the story he’s one of the three guys trying to get the Lady.  J.D. Dunne is the youngest member and a young Eastern amateur (a true fish out of water in the west), and in this story he’s the group’s tech expert.  Then there’s the group’s resident womanizer, Buck Wilmington – he’s obviously the second guy who’s in on the bet.  Josiah Sanchez is the Preacher from the series and while he makes an appearance in the story, he’s not a major player.  Ezra Standish is the group’s con man and gambler, and the third person in the bet.  Finally, there’s Nathan Jackson who is the second in command and former slave – he’s just the second in command in this story.

Now that we’re all on the same page with the characters of this story, let’s proceed to my synopsis and review.

The author’s synopsis is accurate in that the story is about several of the guys placing a bet to make the new secretary their valentine on Valentine’s Day.  However, a few bits of context information is left out.  This is an AU (alternate universe / author’s universe) story that takes place in 2012.  The Magnificent Seven is a private law enforcement agency working outside the local PD who just got a new secretary (Miss Kate Donovan) who’s turning heads.  Three of the Magnificent Seven (Wilmington, Standish, and Tanner) decide to start a bet – winner takes all – over who will get Ms. Donovan as their Valentine’s Day date.  Meanwhile, their boss – Chris Larabee – has been receiving poetic messages from a secret admirer.

The build up to the secret admirer’s reveal is pretty good.  It’s obvious to the Reader who the secret admirer is (the story doesn’t try to hide it), but the other characters are kept in the dark until the end.  The poems are hooky and I don’t just mean “rose are red, violets are blue” but…here’s one of the poems:

Hair of gold,

Eyes so green,

The cutest tush,

I’ve ever seen.

Not written by a character with the skills of Shakespeare, but they certainly convey the writer’s interest in starting a relationship with Chris.  Like I said, it’s a good build up to the admirer’s reveal because the poems don’t give the writer’s identity away and they appear in spots where Chris will come across them.  It’s cute.

Then there’s the three men vying for Ms. Donovan’s presence on Valentine’s Day.  These men truly believe in the saying “All’s fair in love and war.”  The methods Wilmington, Standish, and Tanner use to try and woe Miss Donovan and sabotage each other range from the ridiculous to the “how did he manage that?”  One guy sends his rival’s edible arrangement and card to a widowed cleaning woman who is about 2 decades older.  Another recruits a married, pregnant woman from his apartment complex who shares the same last name as a rival to come in and pose as the rival’s wife.  It’s entertaining to see how these three men try to woe their prey, sabotage each other, and regain what ground they lose.

There’s nothing inherently bad with the story.  It’s entertaining, it keeps a focused plot, and wraps up everything at the end.  I think the only bad thing is that when I read the story I was not familiar with the characters, their names and histories.  I feel that if I had been a bit more familiar with the characters before reading the story, it would’ve made more sense and would’ve been more entertaining.  This is not a fault of the story, so I can’t really hold it against the story.  I am obviously not the target audience.

Now, comes the true question, would I recommend this story? I think it’s a fun Valentine’s Day story but I think fans of the Magnificent Seven TV show — people familiar with the characters and the fandom — would enjoy the story more.  It’s easy enough to understand for the uninitiated but there is a sense of “you should be a fan to fully enjoy.”  So, while I would recommend the story for anyone, I recommend it more if Readers are a fan of the Magnificent Seven TV series.


Stars: 7.5 / 10


The Calm after Chaotic Space Review

Title: The Calm after Chaotic Space                                                      Author:  mescarlett

Source: Star Trek: Voyager                                                                  Genre(s): Drama

Character(s): Chakotay, K. Janeway, H. Kim, & T. Paris                      Rating: T

Chapter(s): 1                                                                                       Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: After Chakotay helped release Voyager from the confines of Chaotic Space, various members of the crew reflect back upon their time spent there, and Captain Kathryn Janeway finds herself in the middle of a dilemma – the boxing ring!


Welcome Readers, Happy Rusev Day!  Er, Happy Friday.  With the weekend upon us and me getting restless in deciding what to read and review for the next few days, I decided to not bother with the laundry list of stories I have set aside as “Plan to Read” and instead went to FFN’s “New” list and picked a couple that were listed as “complete.”  Thus, I ended up reading a Star Trek Voyager story.

Small disclaimer before I dive into reviewing, I am not a Trekkie.  I have seen a few movies (besides the Abrams ones) and sporadic episodes, but I never felt the compulsion to stay on top of the various series, movies, or characters.  I wanted to make this disclaimer because it affects how I approach reviewing this story.  Now that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business!

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.  Today I’m looking at a one-shot that follows up the Star Trek: Voyager episode “The Fight” (Season 5, Episode 19); a sort of what happened as the crew decompresses from the events.  As I mentioned in my disclaimer, I won’t approach this review the same way I would if I knew the fandom.  Instead, I’m going to focus on the general story, what made it good, and where it might improve.

The story starts with the crew (Harry, Tom, and B’Elanna) discussing what happened on the bridge; Chakotay’s actions and Captain Janeway’s decision to let Chakotay take control despite being under the influence of aliens.  Eventually, their conversation leads to the topic of the potential romance between Chakotay and Janeway, and the crew’s betting pool that has been going on.  This sets up the real meat of the story, Chakotay and Janeway’s interaction in a boxing ring on the Holodeck.  I won’t say what all happens but the events from the episode lead them to the boxing ring and Chakotay taking a hit from Janeway.

The story is simple.  It’s less of an emotional piece of characters trying to get back to normalcy and more of a depiction of the characters actively doing things that are normal to them.  There is no romantic payoff – some flirting though – and no disaster that has the crew scrambling.  Instead, it’s the crew talking shop and the two leads feeding the gossip mill.  It’s a Slice of Life type story.

The lack of clear climax or resolution to the story doesn’t harm the narrative.  Sure there are more exciting stories out there in the internet, but I don’t think this story needed to be deeper, flasher, or anything else.  If anything, keeping the story this simple and focused on the characters and their interactions – not necessarily relationships – is a great gateway into the series.  I’m actually interested in watching Voyager because of this story – because I want to know how this story came to be and what happened on New Earth.

What does this story do well?  The opening is great.  The crew’s discussion about the events on the bridge help to shape what led up to this story.  It’s a great way to fill in the uninitiated to what has transpired and why the crew were a buzz with rumors and suspicions.  The crew is the Greek Choir in this story, providing the Reader with the context information needed to understand the story.  To me this was amazingly helpful.

This story also did a great job in character interactions.  Characters felt like people who were talking to other people, instead of people spouting exposition.  Chakotay and Janeway’s interactions blurred the line between two people who were close because of their command and close because of romantic feelings.  It was a nice touch.

Where could the story improve?  The beginning of the story uses a lot of the pronoun game (“he,” “she,” “you,” etc.) instead of names and it makes it a bit confusing to follow along until the story makes the Reader aware of who is being referenced and their genders.  This is the only time where I felt like being uninitiated held me back.  Once I figured out that Chakotay was a man and Janeway was a woman, the pronoun game began making a little more sense.  To me this is a bit of a nitpick and probably could’ve been overlooked if I was a fan.  Yet, even if I was a fan I would expect less of the pronoun game and more references to the person’s title (Commander, Captain, etc.).

Overall, the story is okay and a simple “after the events” story.  I don’t think it’s something I would recommend to everybody – Trekkie or not.  I think the only people who would really enjoy this story are those that wanted some sort of follow up to the episode “The Fight.”  I would also recommend it as a way to introduce someone to the series; get them piqued.  Other than that, I don’t think the story is a must read; it’s okay but it doesn’t really stand out from the fandom pack.


Stars: 6 / 10

Christmas Cargo Review

Title: Christmas Cargo                                                       Author: llembas

Source: Firefly                                                                  Character(s): Serenity’s Crew

Rating:  T                                                                          Genre(s): General

Chapter(s): 1                                                                     Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: Christmas on Serenity.



I bet some of you thought I wouldn’t post because it’s a holiday.  Well, I am posting.  I found this story while looking for holiday stories and I couldn’t pass it up.  It’s a Firefly fan fic and I’m a sucker for Firefly. Browncoat through and through.

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’m here with some good cheer and a great Christmas story to share.  Where do I start with this story?

Well, I suppose I can start by explaining what this story is about, other than “Christmas on Serenity.”  This is a one-shot that is written like an episode of Firefly; Christmas approaches and the crew gets a job to transport some illegally enhanced Christmas trees to Badger on Persphone.  Kaylee uses her own money to buy one of the trees to decorate Serenity.  Unfortunately, that tree brings as much trouble as cheer.

Just like an episode of Firefly, this story has all the twists and turns.  There are multiple subplots that intersect and brought together at the end.  Like the subplot of retrieving weapons from Shepherd Book’s old Abbey eventually intersects with Inara’s companion client and Kaylee’s tree.  Everything weaves together and in the end there are no loose threads.  It’s all tied into a beautiful holiday bow.

Now, I have a lot to praise about this story and very little to be critical.  So, most of this review is going to be me going through what makes this story great.  I’ll touch on a few things that could be seen as “flaws” but I will explain why I don’t see them as a flaw in the context of this story.

As I’ve mentioned, this story reads like an episode of Firefly.  The crew gets a job that isn’t entirely what it appears and some shenanigans occur to throw a wrench in completing the job.  It all wraps up with a minor showdown and a larger payout for the Serenity crew.  I wish this story was an actual episode, the characters are well-written, the plot is concise while being a bit goofy and emotional, and the pacing…  I wish Firefly would’ve gone beyond one season.

As I mentioned, the characters are well-written.  I loved the characters!  The interactions felt like they literally came from an episode – I know they didn’t because there was never a holiday episode and I have a very good memory for dialogue when it comes to this series.  Nobody felt shoehorned or dropped from the story.  Well, some could argue that Simon was dropped from the story as he appeared for a couple group scenes then disappeared.  However, I argue that given the events and where the ship was traveling to, it made sense that Simon would have a smaller role.  He’s the doctor and there wasn’t much need for him to take an active role in this story.

Also, continuing the comparison of this story to an episode, not all characters were given equal screen time in each episode.  Each episode had a focus and the characters significant to that focus were given the most screen time.  Same with this story.  This story focused on Kaylee, and a bit of Jayne.  Even Mal, Inara, Book, and Zoe were given supporting roles rather than leads.  So, I stand by my assessment that the characters behave just like they would in the series and nobody is out of place for the events; everyone is given the tasks that fit the character.

The ending is amazing.  I’m not going to spoil the ending; I will keep this vague while providing my view on it.  The ending reminded me how in the series the best things in the Verse could happen and Mal would still put a cynical spin on it.  His cynicism is well founded but makes others feel like he brings the joy down.  Mal’s words and perspective is in character, true, and heart-wrenching.

Then there’s the writing.  This story is obviously written by a true Browncoat; the characters are well written, the events all feel like an episode, and this story doesn’t bother with unnecessary writing.  What I mean is that often times stories – not AU (alternate universe) – will still feel this need to describe things that fans should already know; the layout of the ship, how the character looks, etc.  These unnecessary bits of writing are fillers when the story is taking a fandom with a foundation.  Any Browncoat will know what each of the characters look like, their mannerisms, the inside of Serenity, etc. so these things don’t require descriptions.  This story knows this and does not bother with those unnecessary fillers; instead it provides minimal input to help shape new settings and characters.

Now, where the writing uses description wisely is in the very beginning on the planet Angel.  Angel is where the crew picks up the trees and this part of the story gets the most amount of description.  The description is appropriate though because it’s a new location, never explored in the original series or by the characters.  So it should have description.  Other places though, Serenity’s cargo bay, engineering room, the Abbey, etc. they receive less descriptions because they’ve been visited before – except the Abbey but the description is based on Jayne’s perspective and he only cared about the lack of nuns.

This is a refreshing way of writing fan fiction.  It gives it more credence to the story being written like an episode.  Plus, it helped maintain the flow of the story.  In the beginning, when the crew starts off at Angel, the story can take its time and establish the job the crew was hired for and the goods.  However, as the story moves forward the pacing picks up – especially when it comes to light that Kaylee’s tree is holding some very illegal extras – and everything feels like it’s on a timer.  The lack of descriptions for the new locations help build that tension and sense of urgency.

That’s about it for me praising this story.  If continue I may as well just spoil the whole story but I don’t want that.  I want fans to go read this story.  Read this story.  It is truly the Christmas episode that never happened.  It is so worth the time to read its 20 pages.  Anyone who is not a Browncoat can read it too, sure it might lose some of its episodic feel but it is still an enjoyable sci-fi, Christmas story.

What are you doing still on my blog?  Click the link and read this story!

Oh, and Happy Holidays!  Whatever you celebrate this season, I wish you joy.


Stars: 10 / 10

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.


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

As Luck Would Have It Review

Title: As Luck Would Have It                                       Author: shukishi

Original Source: Gokusen (J-Drama)                           Character(s): Yankumi & Shin

Rating:  T                                                                  Genre(s): Romance / Humor

Chapter(s): 5                                                              Status: Hiatus / Discontinued

Author’s Synopsis: It’s been five years since Sawada Shin left for Africa and now he’s back with every intention to make Yamaguchi Kumiko his.  Shin feels the need to change his ex-student/teacher relationship…Wait a min-Shin!  Where are you putting your hands on Kumiko?!


Welcome Readers, we’ve made it through another week and to close out the week I decided to revisit a story for this review.  This is a fan fic for the J-Drama version of The Gokusen that I had read a while back.  I thought that maybe revisiting the story with fresh eyes I could find some redeeming qualities I missed the first time around.  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 am a huge fan of The Gokusen; I loved the manga (still one of my favorites), I enjoyed the anime for its wackiness (even the dub), and I love the J-Drama even though it’s following a completely different story.  One of the things that I love in all iterations is the romance between Shin and Yankumi because (especially in the manga) it never played out as a typical romance; Yankumi is always in denial and dense that the romance is an uphill battle for Shin. The J-Drama didn’t end where the manga had – Shin confessing and Yankumi punching him for such foolishness – but it at least had hinted that Shin was in the running for Yankumi’s heart until he disappeared to Africa.

I understand why the J-Drama took that route but at the same time, I want to see Shin return and pursue Yankumi again.  So fan fics that have that plot for its basis tend to draw me in.  Unfortunately, not all can be gems.

This particular story is about Shin returning from Africa and ready to win over Yankumi.  Unfortunately, the path to romance with Yankumi is blocked by a new rival and Yankumi’s own obliviousness.

It’s enough to bring fans like myself into the story but the execution can quickly turn fans away from the story.  The story is loaded with flaws and missed opportunities; tense and POV (point of view) changes, narrative/story-telling potholes, and out-of-character (OOC) issues.  Issues that make this story hard to read and enjoy.

I’ve harped on this type of issue in the past, the interchanging of tenses and POV in stories.  Just don’t do it.  Stick with one tense and one POV type.  This story can’t decide if it wants to be written in the past tense or in the present tense.  Rather than me just talking about the tense issues, I’ll just give Readers a taste of what the story offers.

“Who?” Was what Shin asks and even without being face to face, Kuma knows that Shine was not pleased and would be scowling.  Poor Yankumi, making a man like Shin loving her to such an extent in which he’ll be willing to do anything for her, except letting other men capture her attention.  She’ll never know what hit her; Kuma fully knows that Shin would do anything to make Yankumi fall for him.” (Chapter 1, Paragraph 5).

This is how the whole story is written.  Then to compound the issue is the POV shifts.  I’m not saying that it switches from 1st to 3rd and so on – Thankfully! – but it does switch between which character the POV follows.  Initially it starts with Shin but then the sentences switch to reflect Kuma’s feelings, actions, and understanding; this happens before Kuma actually appears in the story!  When the switch in POV happens, Kuma is a voice over the phone talking to Shin who has recently arrived in Japan.  Why is the story suddenly being told from this voice’s understanding?

Next, the storytelling is typical; short scenes that are normally straight to the point and then done.  In another context this would be fine but how this story handles those scenes leaves a lot to be desired.  For instance, there is a scene where Shin and Yankumi have dinner at his apartment – in the story that part didn’t make sense – and it abruptly ends with Shin saying that he has a crush on a girl in Japan.  Really?  Why end the scene there?  If the next scene picked up with Yankumi planning to help Shin out with wooing this mystery girl or planning to find out the girl through Shin’s friends, then that ending would’ve made sense.  However, the next scene is Shin waking up the next morning.

Which reminds me – this bothered me as I was reading, why doesn’t Shin have a job or try to obtain a job?  The only thing that he does in the story is meet up with Yankumi and go to the Kuroda residence.  The story seems to have forgotten that Shin did more than just crush after Yankumi and that apartments are not free.  When he was in high school, his parents paid for his flat but now that he’s an adult (23) and returning from Africa, he would be expected to seek employment.  Hell, Yankumi would expect him to seek employment; she didn’t teach slackers!

This ties in with my final compliant, the OOC-ness featured in this story.  Some of the characters are spot on or pretty close to their original carnations; Yankumi, Kyo, and Kuroda.  Then there’s Shin, our lead character, who acts nothing like his J-Drama or manga self.  Shin is always a bit of a smartass and likes to project the appearance of a slacker, but he’s not a slacker and he’s willing to stand up for what he believes is right.  The Shin in this story is more like a puppy-dog; he shows up where Yankumi is just to hang out, he tries to get in good with her family (although that seemed unnecessary), and he’s almost territorial against his rival.  It all feels unnatural.

I know this story is based on the J-Drama but this is one area where I wish the story would’ve taken a few cues from the manga specials for The Gokusen; in the specials, Shin is shown to have his own life with college, friends, and a part-time job, but he takes the time to set up “dates” with Yankumi (dates to him, not to her), takes candid – unattractive – photos of her, and openly tells her how he feels without mincing words.

This story could have infused some of those characteristics to its Shin and made him palatable.  He could’ve had a job or interview lined up, Kuma could’ve been getting his apartment ready when he landed, he could’ve bought tickets to a movie that only Yankumi would’ve wanted to see, etc.  Things like that would’ve developed him a lot more and made him less of a one-tracked stalker.

I’ve ripped on this story a lot, but I will give it the small credit I feel it deserves.  The silver lining of this story is in Chapter 5 when Shin and his rival, school doctor Natsume, finally meet and have an exchange of dialogue.  It’s the only realistic interaction between any two characters and it’s the only time when Shin is in character.  Chapter 5 is the best delivered chapters in the story despite the tense swapping.

Still, one chapter doesn’t make the case for the story as a whole.  Thus I recommend that Readers don’t bother with this story.  The concept is nice but the execution is not great.  Each chapter presents a challenge just to make it through the writing.  Plus, from the author’s notes it sounds like the story doesn’t get updated often (if at all) so there’s not much point in getting invested in a story that may never reach an ending.


Stars: 3/10