Reading Reviews From Member: magnolia_magic
  
230 Reviews Found

Review #1, by magnolia_magicJames Potter and the Empty House : Valerie

28th February 2014:
Hi! Maggie here with your review! Thank you so much for swapping with me, I really appreciate it :) And I'm so glad I got to read this! It's a really intriguing start to your story, and I've definitely never read anything like it before.

I'm really impressed with the thought you put into the traps and the detail you give about that aspect. It's such an unsettling thought, waking up suddenly in a house that's out to get you, and I thought you wrote that first escape scene very well. The pace is quick and urgent, which helped me really get into the action. And I liked the little mention of James's palms sweating because he was so nervous. I just thought that was a great touch; a good physical way of showing us what was going on in his head without spelling it out for us. Awesome job!

I also loved the comic relief you threw in here and there. You don't know how much I wish "My Patronus is You" was a real song! I laughed out loud when I read that! And the little bit of banter between James and Valerie was cute too. I have to agree with James; toilets are very important in my opinion as well :)

The one thing I wanted out of this chapter was more buildup at the beginning. I sort of felt like I was just dropped into the action without warning, and it was overwhelming at first. And hey, that may be the effect you're going for here. But personally, I like to have at least a little time to ease into things, to get comfortable with my narrator, and get my bearings. Having that connection with the main character helps me become more emotionally invested in things, and I didn't really connect with James right off the bat. By the end I really liked him, though, so I know you've created an enjoyable narrator. Why not bring some of James' personality in at the beginning? The mention of the party was a great start, and I wanted to see you build on it. Maybe go into more detail about his memories of the event; tell us what he said and did, who was most important to him, things like that. That would help give your readers an immediate connection to the story.

I really like Valerie a lot so far! She seems really down to earth and smart, and I love the vibe between her and James--even if he didn't remember her from school at all! Hate it when that happens :) But anyway, I think you have two solid, likable main characters, and that makes me want to read on. And not to mention the suspense factor! How did they get in that place and why are they there? You do a great job of keeping the mystery alive, which is something I'm really bad at. I love getting the chance to learn from authors who do suspense well :)

Great start! I'm so glad I got to read it. Thank you again for agreeing to swap with me! I've been looking to start getting back into the swing of reading and reviewing, and I really appreciate you being willing to help. This opening chapter was a really fun way to break my HPFF hiatus :D

--Maggie

Author's Response: Wow! Thank you for such a long and lovely review!

I'm going to try and keep that intensity up, although the pace will slow a tiny bit as they get more into the swing of things. The one thing I always have trouble with is showing rather than telling, so I'm really glad you liked that touch of the sweat!

I want this to be dramatic and intense, but humorous too. Partly because humor is how James tends to deal with stress I think.

I see your point. I do want it to feel like the reader is just dropped in on the action and the story takes off running, but it makes sense to give a little more connection to James. I'll see if maybe I can work in a little more without taking away from the pace of the chapter. Thanks!

Suspense is the greatest! Both to read and write! I'm glad you've got a lot of questions, because curiosity keeps people reading right? ;)

Again, thank you so much for this review! It is super helpful and I'm definitely going to be keeping it in mind when I edit. I'm glad that you're getting back into HPFF again! I'll see you around the forums :)

Sam


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Review #2, by magnolia_magicNaive: Chapter the Third

1st January 2014:
Hi Kayla, it's your not-so-secret Santa! And hey, you're my first review of the new year! I've really enjoyed starting this story and I'm glad I got to be your Secret Santa this year :)

And I loved this chapter so much! You're so great at banter and you got the exact right balance of it in every scene, I thought. I was always entertained. And Lily is growing more and more distinct as a character. She's got a great voice, and I can see how sensitive she is even with all the snark :) And I can relate to her struggle to find her place in the real world. It's very realistic to start this story off with a floundering, lost Lily; that's how a lot of new graduates feel, and Lily's experience will resonate. But I also love the moment in this chapter when everything starts looking up. Life tends to throw us a bone every now and then, and I was so happy to see it happen for Lily. Especially since I've come to like her so much!

What an awesome friend Glitter is for helping Lily pound the pavement :) She needed the push, even if it didn't work out. And I loved the scene with James in his apothecary! I never pictures James II in that line of work, so definite props for creativity! And he seems like the typical big brother, sweet despite his boy-ness :P I can't wait to meet Albus now!

And Lily has a job! I was so happy when I read that! Like they say, it's all about who you know :) I'm excited to see how it goes for her, so I'll definitely be reading on! Keep up the great work on this story, Kayla! I'm so glad I got to discover it :)

--Maggie

Author's Response: Hey, Maggie!

I'm glad that I'm your first review of the new year - it makes me feel special :p

Ooh, thank you so much! I'm also a graduate like Lily so I can relate a tiny bit as to how she feels except I knew what I wanted to do and the exact course and stuff, but so many of my friends had no clue so I just used some of their emotions, ahaha :p

It's ALWAYS who you know, I swear! I've had two jobs before and both times it was because I knew someone! It's crazy! :p

Thank you so much for the lovely review, Maggie! You're far too kind to me! ♥

- Kayla :)


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Review #3, by magnolia_magicEquilibrium: Prologue

30th December 2013:
Isobel, hi! I'm here for the TGS review exchange! I hope you get to feeling better soon, but hopefully this review will cheer you up in the meantime :)

At first I thought you were going to go entirely second person with this, and I was glad to discover that wasn't the case. Second person isn't my preferred style. But I think it's really creative of you to do it this way, having Eileen's narration directly address the biographer in the cafe. I've never seen that done before, and I thought you pulled it off beautifully.

I'm really impressed with your prose throughout the chapter. You've painted such a dignified picture of Eileen through your word choice and the flow of the narrative. The part at the beginning when she muses on how the dining experience has changed was one of my favorites, because it shows Eileen's proud, head-held-high air. And when we learn that her hair has fallen out from the cancer treatments, it adds so much depth and reinforcement to her character. Does that make sense? Despite her obvious illness, she still carries herself with pride. That's so telling about Eileen's character, and you conveyed all that with only a line or two. Fantastic characterization! I'm so impressed :)

Two nitpicky things. First, "madwoman" and "questionable sanity" say the same thing; it would be more concise to choose one in the first sentence of paragraph 2. Also, I never thought that cancer would be a disease exclusive to Muggles. I've seen authors take it both ways, so it's really just a personal preference thing. But I'm just not sure why it wouldn't affect wizards just as often as Muggles. But then again, I almost hate to suggest that you change it, because I love the line about Eileen sharing a star sign with her disease. I thought that was particularly clever and beautiful, and I wouldn't want to see it go.

That wasn't helpful at all, was it? Haha, sorry about my contradictory rambles. They happen sometimes :/

I am definitely excited to see you update this! Your summary pulled me right in, and you've done a wonderful job of creating suspense with this opening. I love the idea of Eileen going to a biographer with her husband's story; you've shown us a woman who values the truth highly, and doesn't want people to think badly of her boys without the truth being known. I'm super anxious to hear Tobias's story, and I can't wait till you update! So glad we got paired together for the exchange, Isobel! :)

--Maggie

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Review #4, by magnolia_magicThe Last Keepers Of The Light: Chapter One

27th December 2013:
Hi Bella! I'm here for our review swap! Thanks so much for taking me up on the offer, by the way :)

Intriguing opening! I've never read an OC story from this time period before, so I was glad for the chance to branch out a little. And I like your narrator so far. It's hard to get a sense of her character right away, since this chapter is so much about setting the scene of Malfoy Manor and dropping backstory hints. But I'm dying to find out more about her and about the Holy Grail! That's exactly what you want in an opening chapter, for your readers to be excited to read on. And I think you nailed it...there's a perfect amount of mystery and suspense!

Your descriptions of the Death Eaters are so sinister and spot-on. I'm pretty sure a shiver went down my spine when she walked into the dining room and saw all of them there. You did a really great job of setting up an ominous, suspenseful tone with this chapter, and the dining room scene was the strongest example of that.

Some minor CC: I think the description of the dungeon at the beginning could be cut a bit shorter. By the time we get to the dream sequence (which I loved, by the way), I sort of felt like the narrative was dragging a bit. That said, however, I think those descriptions are incredibly strong. I especially loved the sensory detail you included, like her hair being caught in the neck collar and itching. It's something I never would have thought about including, and it helps me get a great feel for the horror that the narrator is going through. So I'd suggest taking another look at that section: decide which statements are the most vibrant and contribute most to the tone you're setting, and just keep those :)

I'm really intrigued to find out more about your narrator, like I've said. Was she a Slytherin? A Mudblood? Possibly both? How did she know Crabbe and Malfoy? You did an awesome job of getting me on the hook, that's for sure! Thanks again for the swap, Bella! I really enjoyed this chapter a lot :)

--Maggie

Author's Response: Hi there!

I'm sorry for the late reply but I just havn't had much time (sigh)

Annyyywayy, I'm glad you liked the narration because I did find it slightly tedious, more so in coming chapters so it's always good to know that you thought otherwise!

Also, I did try to be as baleful as I could be with the characters but obviously I did not want to make them overly disturbing (even though some of them very well may be creepy sociopaths) So again, I'm glad that you liked the discription of them and oh my a shiver?! That's a compliment on my account I think haha :P

Also, I like the idea of cutting down on the quantity a bit, so maybe when I get around to editing all these chapters, I'll take that on board!

Thank for once again for such a lovely review!

Bella x


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Review #5, by magnolia_magicThe Art of Small Talk: Introductory Measures

26th December 2013:
Kiana! I've been meaning to come review this chapter forEVER, and I'm so sorry I'm just not getting around to it. But I think you've got a really fun start here, and I'm so excited to see what you do from this point :)

First off, thoughts on Audrey. She is just cute, that's my first thought :) I can so identify with her lack of skills in small talk (which have made themselves so evident in my dating life as well :P), so I'm finding Audrey to be very relatable. And she has an endearing narrative voice as well; I especially enjoyed her encounter with Draco at the beginning. Her second-guessing everything she said, and her grumbling thoughts about her boss--it all just made me smile. She almost seems like a Luna Lovegood type to me, except a little more down to earth :) Great job with her!

Verity seems a little abrasive. Haha I'm not sure I would mesh with her as a friend! I hope she gets more likeable as the story goes on. But I still have to like her for getting Audrey together with Percy for the first time :D

Which brings me to the man himself. I'm glad you left our first impression of Percy until the very end, because it allows us to get to know Audrey by herself a little better first. But I'm so excites to see how they progress I cam barely stand it! I love Percy to death even though he can come across as a little standoffish. I think you nailed how a first interaction with a stranger would be for him; he's an odd duck too in his own way, after all.

This is such a cute, engaging opening :) I can't wait to see how these two independent people grow together over the course of this story. I'll definitely be back for more!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Hi Maggie! It's fine, you're not late anyhow and it's just great to see you here!

I'm so glad that you liked Audrey, as she is a character very dear to me. I'm glad that you found her relatable too because a lot of her characteristics are based on me and what I do in awkward situations so yeah :P I never thought about her being like Luna but I can definitely see it now, but the down to earth side is definitely there because she isn't too into things like gurdyroots!

Yes she does come off very abrasive later on, but hopefully her softer side will come and show itself later on. I would probably have the same thoughts about being friends with her as you do!

Yes, that's what I intended to do instead of ramming Percy right in your face at the beginning. I love Percy too, but I wanted to show how awkward he can be too, he definitely will be nicer later on it's just how long it will take for Audrey to ignore her stubborn ways and see that :P

I'm so glad that you liked the opening and I can't wait to see what you make of the rest of it! Thanks for such a great review, Maggie!

-Kiana


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Review #6, by magnolia_magicThe Fall of the Town : The People of Hamlin

25th December 2013:
Jenna, I have to confess that I devoured this story in one sitting last week, but I didn't take the time to review. I'm such a bad reader, I know :( But I want to make up for it! Consider this my way of saying Merry Christmas :)

I think the main reason why I didn't review as I was reading was because I really didn't know how to express how much I love this. There is just so much to comment on that I don't know where to start! Your attention to detail is incredible. I love that you gave us some back story of how the town formed, because those are details that it would have been very easy to gloss over. By including them, you add so much great context to the events to come.

I was enchanted by Marigold, Trip, and Blind Johnny, but the character I connected with most in this chapter was definitely Stephane. You've set him up as a fascinating character, and knowing Salazar's history as we do, we as readers have to question his motives for suggesting Stephane for the task. But Stephane himself seems like an honorable young man, and I'm definitely rooting for him at this point :) Also, I love the way you portray the Slytherins' relationship with snakes. It's such a uniquely Slytherin thing, and you do it justice in this story. It's a fascinating read :)

I'll try to be back to review the other chapters soon! I love this story so much...you've done an incredible job with it!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Hi Maggie! :) Wow, this beautiful review and finding out that you liked the story are just two wonderful Christmas presents in one! Thank you so much!

It really means so much to me that you liked the story, especially since you're a Founders writer yourself. I'm really glad you liked the details since I was worried they would be a little much or overwhelming, I loved writing about the history of the town.

Ah, Stephane. He's one of my favourites and I'm glad you find him both a little suspicious but an intrinsically honest and honourable person. :) I'm really glad to hear you noticed all the snake references too, since it's not only Slytherin mascot but also part of Voldy's Slytherin inheritance I felt like they would use it as a tool and sometimes a weapon.

Thanks for the amazing review lovely! :) I really appreciate your feedback. ♥


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Review #7, by magnolia_magicPuncture: The Voices

20th December 2013:
Oh Nadia. I'm literally staring at my laptop with my hand over my mouth, just so you can have a mental picture of my reaction. I have a feeling I'll still be processing this one for a while.

What a haunting piece! I absolutely love your description of Mrs. Nott's descent. It's subtle at first, and then it just gets so horrifying. Which, from what I know of schizophrenia, makes perfect sense. I'm honestly struggling to find ways to praise you for your style here. I love that you used really sparse lines in most places, and made powerful statements in only a few words. Like this one:

"You released a bitter laugh. It was funny the way things worked."

^This is one of my favorite parts, because it just packs such an emotional punch. I tend to ramble, and so I always love to find authors who can get such power across with one simple line. Love it, love it!

Personally, I am not a fan of second person. I'm not even sure what it is that irks me about it, but it's definitely not my preferred style. But objectively, I think you did a really good job with the second person in this piece. And for people who really like that particular style (and there are a lot of those people), I think your use of it will be really impressive :)

Just curious: how did you decide to use Theodore as your narrator? He's such a minor character and I see a lot of authors fleshing him out a lot in their stories. What is it about him that made you want to write this? I'd love to know! I do think it was a good decision to use such a minor character, because it allowed us to dive into the story without any preconceived ideas about the narrator. And now that I think about it, I'm not sure I can think of a better minor character you could have chosen. I like the fact that it was a Slytherin character; the fact that this happened in a pureblood household adds an air of secrecy and eeriness to it that I loved.

Gahh, I'm still reeling! I wish I could come up with more words, but rest assured that I really loved reading this piece, and it's very impactful and powerful. You really did a wonderful job with it! So glad I got to tag you, Nadia, it was about time I checked out some of your amazing work :)

--Maggie

Author's Response: Hi Maggie! Sorry it's taken me a week to come over and respond to this magnificent review. I was really excited to see that you'd tagged me!

Wow, thank you so much. It was difficult to stop myself from going all out on Edith, but I wanted her descend into madness to be as realistic as possible. I had some help from Amanda and she really described it amazingly. Google helped tons too. ;)

Aw, you liked that? I really love when people point out lines they liked, because it makes me feel all mighty and clever. Sometimes I fear my writings too.. cliche or something, if that makes sense.

I've really admired second person, only because I feel like it's so much more thrilling to read. I'm glad you were flexible to this piece, and that you enjoyed it in this. That means a lot.

I always wanted to issue a challenge over at the forums, where you would take something that's been mentioned -- told to us -- and *show* it to us, if that makes sense. I was planning on issuing it, and Theo was a prompt for it, and then the Unexpected Voice challenge came out and I couldn't really do that any more :P I didn't make the deadline, but I did manage to finish. I really came to love him in this, because he seems like a great person in my eyes. I really hope I can write about him soon again. I'm so glad you liked him, because I like him too, a lot.

No , no, there is no need for more words! Let me assure you my face is positively burning! Thank you so much for all this praise, because it means so much. I'm so happy that you enjoyed this piece and that it managed to have such a great impact. Thank you, thank you! You are seriously much too kind.

Nadia ♥


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Review #8, by magnolia_magicA Selection of Yellow Things, Including Streelers and Mortimer's Socks: Loony

19th December 2013:
Hi Kristin! I'm here from Hufflepuff review tag!

Okay. I LOVED this. Like, really REALLY loved it! I can never pass up a Luna story, so I knew I had to give this one a try, and I'm so glad I did! I'm not at all surprised that you won your challenge with this piece...it's adorable and quirky, just like Luna, and you did an absolutely awesome job creating an OC that's just as weird (and sweet) as Luna is.

First, I have to commend the way you wrote Luna's dialogue and inner voice. Both of these elements were just perfectly done; you captured the essence of Luna so well. She's whimsical, sure, but you also brought out her thoughtfulness (when she takes the time to ask Mortimer about his life, and lends him her umbrella) and her perceptiveness. I just can't stop praising her! Wonderful job!

And Mortimer. Oh Mortimer. What an absolute sweetheart. He really is weird in his own way, isn't he? Even though he claims not to like strangeness, he just oozes strange from the moment we meet him. Mortimer is seriously one of my favorite OCs I've read in a really long time. I just want to hug him! And I have to say, I knew he was from the wizarding world the moment he appeared in the story, despite Luna saying that he must be a Muggle. He's just got that air about him.

The only CC I have is very minor. I was a tad confused at the beginning about the logistics of it all. Was Luna already at Diagon Alley when she met Mortimer? If so, why would she think he was a Muggle? That might just be me not being a very good reader, but I was distracted trying to figure that all out.

Wonderful job, Kristin! I'm so glad to have found such a great portrayal of Luna and such an adorable OC. Fantastic work! :)

--Maggie

Author's Response: Maggie!!! ♥

Aw, thank you - this review just put the biggest smile on my face :) I'm so glad you liked my portrayal of Luna. I was initially quite nervous to write her because I never thought I could capture the balance of weird and perceptive and caring that she has in the books. I try really hard to adhere to canon personalities so it's absolutely wonderful to get a compliment like this.

I'm so happy you liked Mortimer too - one of your favourite OC's? :O EEEP THANK YOU ♥ I'm so flattered! Haha, I'm not sure if he is the type to like getting hugs, I feel like he'd be all stiff and awkward about hugs. Kind of a hilarious mental image though :p Ha, you're absolutely right, people familiar with the magical world do seem to have "that" air.

I'm sorry that was confusing! She was on her way to the Leaky Cauldron through Muggle London (so not yet in Diagon Alley. Actually I'm not really sure why she was there in the first place, because now that I think about it, what would she be doing in Muggle London? Dur. Thanks for pointing that out haha.)

Thanks for such a wonderful review, Maggie - it absolutely brightened my day ♥


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Review #9, by magnolia_magicSanguini, the Vampire: The Vampire Monologues

10th December 2013:
So I saw that this story is featured this month in the CR. And I was like, "I HAVE to check this out. Because it's teh and of course I'm going to love it!" And this story did not disappoint, rest assured. I was mesmerized from start to finish.

The thing I love best about your work is how imaginative you are with word choice. You don't even have to deliberately set out to describe a scene or a mood; you just make it so vivid through the words you choose.

"I can smell you, the different layers of your body: the sweat beading on your skin, the oil glands leaking into your subcutaneous tissue, the salt in the capillaries irrigating the flesh."

^What an intense, rich way to describe life, especially from the point of view of someone who can't remember what it feel like to be human. This is my favorite passage in the entire piece, but there are so many others that I loved as well. I found myself going back and rereading some lines a couple more times, just to absorb the tidal wave of imagery. Fantastic job!

Sanguini (or David, as I should probably call him) surprised me. He seems so...mild-mannered. Not sinister or evil at all. Definitely not what I imagined from him. His sentimentality about names struck a chord with me, and made him a much more sympathetic character. Even though he would probably deny that he was sentimental. His voice says otherwise, though. He's detached, but not as detached as he seems outwardly.

But as soon as I started feeling sympathetic toward him, he kills Eldred. I guess it was inevitable and I was kidding myself to think he wouldn't do it eventually. I was surprised and not surprised when he did it, and I still don't know what to think about it. Haha, I'm sorting it out in my mind; it might take a while :)

I feel like you were hinting at a deeper sinister nature about Eldred, without really saying it. At one point Sanguini "really looked at him, and detested him." And Eldred would make these little comments here and there that just didn't sit well. AND he treated Sanguini like a character rather than an actual being, using him to feed his own ego. All this sort of prickled in my mind, and I never liked anything about Eldred as I read this piece. But you never came out and actually said, "Hey y'all, Eldred is kind of a sleaze." You let his actions and words speak for him, through Sanguini's mind. I admire this so, so much; you painted his character so strongly and never had to hold the reader's hand in guiding us to our realizations about him. I don't even know how to express my thoughts coherently right now on this subject, but just know that I'm in awe of your ability to "show and not tell." Absolutely in awe. It makes each tiny nuance of movement and speech so much more powerful.

There was only one line that didn't sit well with me. It's in the next-to-last section, when Sanguini says, "And I am fine with this." Is he really? Can he really be fine with the prospect of losing himself completely? Granted, it does seem like Sanguini doesn't have much of a sense of self anyway. But I just found it difficult to believe that he wouldn't dread the dead end his life is headed for, at least a little bit. He shows enough emotion throughout the piece, especially toward Eldred and the memory of his own name, that I can't see him being quite so apathetic about that dismal future. If it were me, I might just take that line out and leave the paragraph before as the closing statement of that section. I think that would add the perfect touch of wistful regret, while still retaining the shrugging, cest-la-vie Sanguini voice you've established throughout the piece.

Anyway. I LOVED this, and I'm so glad it was featured this month! Your talent is huge, teh. I love reading your work, and I'm so glad I was able to find some time to give you a nice long review :) Congrats and keep it up!

--Maggie

Author's Response: AHH MAGGIE! !!?! ♥

I've actually been responding to my reviews, and I finished the last one, went 'Muaha, I'm done!' and then refreshed the page, and there was your lovely review!! Thank you so, SO much for taking the time to drop by and read this fic...and it isn't a short fic either, so I'm honestly so flattered and humbled. ♥

Word choice is my life, haha. I had a lot of fun with imagery and diction in this fic; I pretty much didn't try to limit myself /too/ much. When I was writing this monologue-thing, I decided to simply have fun with it. Usually my other stories have far less, and the prose is a bit more tightly controlled.

Your compliments on the characterisation! ♥ I do, indeed, have a greater preference for 'showing' in my own writing; I like readers to think a bit, to dwell on what characters say and do, and imagine them in their own ways. And I'm glad this has come across to you, and that you are able to appreciate the nuances in characterisation a lot more.

Eldred is not the most noble of characters; he's certainly very flawed, but then again, so is Sanguini. They're both rather self-centred, and it was probably quite obvious that their relationship was not going to turn out well. I'm still pondering whether Eldred being dead (even if it was more of an impulse rather than a premeditated thing) is a good idea. Whether I should remove it and the drama that comes with it. Perhaps David should just walk away...but there's a differnet side of Eldred that surfaced when Sanguini tried to, the first time...hmmm. (sorry, going off on a tangent here...)

My intention with writing the 'and I am fine with this' was to show how resigned he is to his fate. Identity and the meaningfulness of his prolonged existence is something that has plagued him for years and years and years (I suppose this is quite a common theme for vampire texts), and I thought that he /had/ to have some sort of moment of acceptance, some sort of mild defeat where he realises that whatever is going to happen is inevitable, and that once he accepts the inevitable, he becomes a little bit more at peace with himself...it isn't going to be so simple all the time, however. My belief is that he will continue to struggle with this fate, but other times he will be resigned, possibly rather cynical. (And other times he'll be completely not-aware of anything... :( ). I will definitely look through that section again, to make these things clearer/ Thank you so much on the feedback for that bit, Maggie! ♥

And thanks again for this AMAZING detailed review, Maggie! ♥ Your compliments and feedback are just wonderful, and I loved hearing your thoughts about this!

-teh


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Review #10, by magnolia_magicNot Normal: {Chapter the First}

6th December 2013:
Hi, I'm here from review tag! I think you've got a great start here, and I hope to read on soon :)

I'm already loving your idea to have Ellie be a medium of sorts (is that the right term?) I can see her encounters with dead people as great ways to give her some depth beyond the typical OC, and also to help her grow as a character throughout the story. I'll be excited to see what you do with it! I loved the scene with her great-grandmother, and I'll definitely look forward to more of that.

I think the strongest parts of the chapter are the scenes with Ellie and her family. Ellie's voice seems much softer in those parts, but still doesn't lose her great sense of humor. Constant sarcasm isn't my preference for an MC's voice, so I loved seeing Ellie show a more serious side. You also do a great job of showing us what each member of her family is like and how important their bond is to Ellie. I especially love her dad! It might be weird to say that he's my favorite character so far, but he is. I think it's because you did such a great job of showing us his distinctive characteristics (the scattered brain and cute sense of humor), and that made him stand out.

As the chapter goes on, it starts to get more into typical nextgen territory. That's not usually my cup of tea, but that said, I think you're doing a good job of catering to your target audience. I do hope to see more to Albus than the annoying shirtless neighbor who teases Ellie all the time. But you've got time for that development in later chapters, and I'll be curious to see what you do with him as a character :)

Really good start! I don't usually read nextgen (which you probably gathered), but I'm so glad I gave this one a shot. I'm super intrigued, and I hope to make some time to read on! Thanks for sharing this with us :)

--Maggie

Author's Response: Oh, wow! Thank you so much for reading this, even though next gen isn't really your thing!

Yeah, I think medium is the right word! I hope that her "ability" makes her more than your average OC, rather than a Mary Sue, which can happen. I have to be very careful about the way that I write her in that respect.

Yes! You picked up on that! The first version that I had up here was her being sarcastic all the time, with little of that inner monologue which told you why she was acting the way she was. As the story progresses I want it to become more and more obvious that her sarcasm is part personality, part defence mechanism. With her father and brother, she feels comfortable enough to let her guard down and just be as sarcastic as her personality dictates, rather than to protect herself from some perceived threat.

Awks, but there's a shirtless scene in chapter three. I treat it with as much realism as my writing skills allow, but yes. As a next gen story, there are some tropes that I include, partly because I do enjoy reading them myself.

Thanks so much for this review! Even though you don't really enjoy next gen, I hope to hear from you again sometime, ESPECIALLY if you don't enjoy the rest of the story! I'd still like to hear your thoughts on it!


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Review #11, by magnolia_magicGravel on the Ground: From the Ashes: Chapter 1

20th August 2013:
Two words, Farmgirl: Ophelia. Oddsocks. She is now my favorite OC ever, and I'm not even just saying that. I absolutely love the way you've written her; she's really only been in one chapter, and I already feel this huge attachment to her. I know you've had other reviewers say this to you, but Ophelia seems like she could be a character straight out of the HP books, back when everything was more lighthearted and silly. She's just delightfully...odd. But in a sweet way; I can see how much she cares for Sadie. To an outsider she might seem abrasive, but I'd say that her brand of kindness is a little more aggressive than most people's. And you already know that I love her knitting needles :)

Minerva is wonderful, too. Her personality balances Ophelia's so well. I loved her scene with Sadie, and now of course I'm dying to know how Sadie's parents are connected with Minerva!

I'm a little sad to leave NYC, because I've really enjoyed reading the glimpse you give us of wizarding America. But I'm also excited to get to Hogwarts (and to see how our beloved Weasleys will play into all this.) You're doing a fantastic job! I'll definitely be watching for the next update!

--Maggie

Author's Response: WOW! Thank you so much for this! I'm so happy right now!

I had no idea how much people were going to like Mrs. Oddsocks! Now I'm feeling bad that her part in this story wasn't that big. *guilty look* She'll be back, but not until much later in one of the follow up novels. But, the fact you felt like she could have come from the books is the hugest compliment ever. (And I have to say - I know I'm writing an angst fest here, so it's kind of ironic, but don't you sometimes miss the innocence and lightheartedness of the earlier books? When the kids in them could just be kids?)

Love for the knitting needles is noted and logged. :D Thanks so much!

And then to have you turn around and like the way McGonagall turned out as well was wonderful. Her connections to Sadie will be revealed in time, I promise.

It is a little sad to leave NYC isn't it? It's a very important place for setting up Sadie to be who she is, but the actual location isn't in the story for very like, kinda like Mrs. Oddsocks.

Thanks so much for your wonderful review! I loved reading it so very much.


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Review #12, by magnolia_magicTruth Will Out: Breathe.

19th August 2013:
Hi! I'm here for our swap; thanks so much for taking me up on it! I actually saw this in the recently added list when you first posted it, and the summary really intrigued me. So I'm very glad I got the chance to read it!

I absolutely love your writing style here. The narrative feels almost disjointed and broken; enough to mirror Samantha's pain, but not so much that it detracts from flow. I thought it all flowed very well, even when you changed tenses and used flashbacks. I never had trouble following the story, and each transition was seamless. Great job there!

I have to admit that I find it hard to believe that the Potters wouldn't at least ask Samantha for her side of the story. They seem like they'd be fair people; especially Harry, who's been framed for so many things in his lifetime. Surely they would at least be interested in hearing what she had to say, even if she was too afraid to tell them? And Frank's cruelty absolutely shocked me; I'm dying to know how Neville's son turned into such a monster. Hopefully those questions will be answered in future chapters! (You are planning on continuing this, right? I'd love to read on!)

It's hard for me to choose a favorite scene, but the flashback to the party is a strong contender for sure. You described Samantha's fear in such a real, visceral way, and Frank was insanely creepy. I think I actually physically winced as I read his dialogue; the word "monster" is quite accurate for him, I think. That was just such a vivid scene, and I was impressed with the emotion you got across in relatively few words. So I think I'm going with that one as my favorite, although I loved the opening scene in the Potions classroom as well. I was completely engrossed in Samantha's world, and her everyday experience at Hogwarts.

One other thing I loved about this: you didn't give everything away right at the beginning. You let things unfold, gave us a look at Samantha's life and let us wonder what on earth she had done (and gave us some really well-crafted glimpses into her miserable emotional state). I like that you made it a journey for us to find the answer, and didn't just hand it to us.

You've got a fascinating start here! I'm so glad I read it. Thank you for swapping with me!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Thank you so much for a lovely review! Your wonderful compliments and comments really made my night :)

I think the Potters would have taken her silence as guilt. I do think Harry would have been the one to ask her and I'm sure he did. As a parent though, I'm not sure he would have probed much deeper if Samantha didn't deny it. He had absolutely no reason to doubt Neville's son whereas they probably just grouped Samantha with the other 'fan girls'.

I will definitely tell Frank's side of the story whether it's another chapter or another one shot. Haven't decided exactly what yet :)

I'm really glad you like the writing style! I wanted to try something new and was kind of nervous about how it would turn out.

So glad you the story. Thanks again for reviewing:)


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Review #13, by magnolia_magicMyrtle: Myrtle

18th August 2013:
Hi! magnolia_magic here with your requested review, finally!

Okay, truth time. Is this really your first time writing angst? Because if so, you're a natural at it. The emotional intensity of it really got across well, and even though Myrtle is portrayed as one of the sillier characters in the HP series, I found myself fully convinced by your more intense take on her. So in response to your concern about whether this is believable, I would have to say yes!

Let's start at the beginning. I really liked what you did with the italicized words when I first read this, because they really set up a dark feel that carried throughout the story. But they seem almost separate form the rest of the narrative. By the end of the story, I didn't understand how the beginning tied into Myrtle's experience, and I think that's an essential connection for readers to make. The four words that seem (to me, anyway) to relate most to Myrtle are "Broken," "Empty," "Sorrow," and "Lifeless." If it were me, I'd use those four words and take out the rest, just to streamline and clarify.

As for the narrative, I was completely pulled in by your writing! Like I said, I've never really thought of Myrtle as a serious character before, but you've done a great job of exploring the darker side of this "immortality" that she has.

"Come and take my empire of dust, and I'll take your breaking heart and your tears. I will take your pain and your misery, because it is all a part of life. But, I will also take your joys, your firsts and your lasts. I will take your life, if you would wish death over it."

^This paragraph is a killer. I think this is the point when I was totally convinced that yep, this is Myrtle speaking. She loves life; she craves it, even. And it must be torture for her to watch all the students grow and change and live, while she's forced to stay the same forever. You really did an incredible job of getting that across, and I was just so terribly sad for Myrtle. I mean, in the books she always did seem very lonely, but I never really thought about it until I read this. You've really made me think about Myrtle in a new way here, and I was very touched by her story.

One other thing I feel like I should mention: there are some instances when you start to use "you" in the narrative, as if Myrtle is addressing someone specific. In the paragraph above I understood that she was thinking of the girls in the bathroom, but the line that begins, "Alas, your cries won't pierce my ears..." isn't as clear. Who is the "you" in this instance? The writing is beautiful, but a little clarification there might not go amiss; it would make for a smoother read in that spot.

I always like to comment on endings, since that's what stays with me the longest. Yours is brilliant, I think :) Those three single lines are perfectly sparse, and they add to the loneliness and hopelessness that Myrtle feels. Wonderful job there!

I'm so glad I read this, and I can see why Dee chose you as one of her top 3 in this challenge! Awesome job!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Maggie! :) Your reviews do make me smile a LOT.

Thanks a lot :) I know how we all tend to look her over, but when I got the quote, this was all I could think of! It is my first time. I'm glad you liked it!

You have a great point there. I've been meaning to cut down the number of words and establish some sort of link, and you've pointed out exactly how I can go about this.

I'm glad my writing pulled you in. it makes me happy when i'm told that my writing is engaging. I'm glad I left you feeling touched and got you thinking about this!

Well, thanks again. To clarify, the you is said in a very general manner. To nobody in particular, but it could be used to address anybody, because it applies to most people :)

Wow. Thank you! I think endings have that impact. They are lasting and powerful. I'm glad you liked how I chose to end this.

Haha, well thanks :)
This is a lovely review.


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Review #14, by magnolia_magicAnd Love Prevails: And Love Prevails

15th August 2013:
SADFKJLKLFSDKFA!!!

DRUE.

THIS ENDING! :)

I just want to hug you! And this review is going to be completely incoherent and unproductive, as you probably gathered from the beginning ;) But I just had to stop by and tell you how much I loved this chapter. It was just a gorgeous, perfectly fitting way to end it all. (And I know there's an epilogue coming, so I can't wait to see what you have planned for that!)

For some reason, the very beginning really sticks out in my mind after reading this. There's just something about the image of Ignotius taking to the woods and starting a new life, and watching for Dominique all the while, that just grabbed me. It was a little wistful at first, seeing his incredible devotion--and he wasn't even sure he'd ever see her again! And then she came, and they ran to each other and everything was okay! I love endings where everything turns out okay :)

And the way you ended the chapter was just lovely. Harry gets his cloak back, and he knows that Dominique had a happy life in 1234 (and that she's somehow his ancestor? Haha, that's got to be a little strange.) You wrapped up the plot beautifully, and it's obvious that you put a lot of thought into the structure of this story and how you were going to tie up all the ends.

I loved it, Drue! Can't wait for the final chapter!

--Maggie

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Review #15, by magnolia_magicGravel on the Ground: From the Ashes: Prologue

15th August 2013:
Oh wow. I can tell I'll have to stalk you for updates on this one. This is such an intriguing start!

I love your description of this girl's experience in the streets. It's such a dreary picture, and I felt so terrible for her. But you did a wonderful job bringing it all to life, with the rain and the cold and her being shooed away from the deli without any food. And the part about her missing the cat just absolutely broke my heart. I had to imagine what it must be like to be utterly lonely, and it was devastating. I hope things look up for her soon! (It seems like this mysterious woman might be able to turn things around for her, and I'm excited to see it happen!)

So anyway. I know this review is just basically a sum-up of the plot, and I apologize for that. But I just wanted to stop by and say that I'm hooked! Great start, Farmgirl!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Oh, thank you! That's probably the best compliment ever! (And just so you know, I plan to try and update every two weeks or so. Slow by most standards I know, but for me it's positively warp speed!)

Thank you. I'm so glad the description worked. It was kind of a risk to start the story this way, jumping into the middle with no explanation, and not even properly introducing the character. But I'd hoped people would like it. And yes, it is a dreary picture, but hopefully by the end of the novel there will be much more hope in it.

Thanks for reading and a fun, fun review! Come back in a few weeks for more.


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Review #16, by magnolia_magicA Rodent Revealed: A Rodent Revealed

14th August 2013:
Hi Dee! I'm finally here with your requested review!

Wow. I have to say this is my favorite of your work I've read so far. You've done such an incredible job of crafting Peter's story. In this oneshot you help us understand him, but don't push us to like him, and I think that's the perfect approach.

I love the use of "tick tock" throughout the story; it adds a sense of urgency and really keeps the narrative pushing forward. And I also really enjoyed the use of present tense for that reason. You did an awesome job of keeping us in the moment. I was on the edge of my seat, really :D

My one suggestion would be a tiny nitpick about flow. I love your use of flashbacks, but sometimes I think you could do without the transition sentences into them. Let's take the first one as an example: I don't think you necessarily need to say, "It all came down to a choice I made a long time ago." You're using italics and switching to past tense for the flashback, and those techniques make it very clear what you're doing without using a transition sentence to set it up. As it is now, it sort of feels like a bumpy ride into the flashbacks instead of a smooth flow into them. But then again, that's just my opinion, and it's a very small thing :)

My favorite part of this is your choice of moments in Peter's life to go back to, and how they tied into the present. It broke my heart to see the memory of Remus encouraging Peter in his transformation into a rat, and then to see the way Peter treated Sirius after Lily and James' deaths.

"You betrayed them. It's your fault they're dead." Again, wow. What a line! That, I think is the emotional climax of this story, and it cuts like a knife. Any sympathy I had for Peter just went out the window with that one line. So powerful!

You did a great job with this, Dee! I'm so glad I read it! Thanks so much for requesting :)

--Maggie

Author's Response: Hi Maggie!

Wow-thank you so much! I have to admit this is probably the one-shot I'm most proud of so it's wonderful to know you liked it!

Peter is such a complex character and I've read a few fanfics where I almost feel sorry for him and I hate that, after all he is the reason James and Lily were killed. I wanted to give some substance to what we already knew-that he switched sides to save his own skin-but not in a way that would make readers feel sympathy for him so it's great to know that's how you felt!

The flashbacks are something that definitely need work, I knew I needed them in the story but I've had mixed feedback about them. I think your suggestion makes perfect sense so I'll make sure to remember it when I go back and edit-thank you! I'm thrilled you like the ones I chose though, I wanted to take the small canon details we were given by JKR and expand on them. The Remus one was my favourite.

I absolutely love when people quote my lines back to me in reviews, I'm currently grinning like an idiot haha! I'm glad that it made you lose all sympathy for Peter, he definitely doesn't deserve it!

Thank you so much for this wonderful review Maggie!


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Review #17, by magnolia_magicThe Seams: Free Until They Cut Me Down

10th August 2013:
Hi Shelby! I'm here with your requested review!

This jump to the distant past was such a wonderful surprise for me. If you've ever glanced at my author page you know that I love a good period piece, so I'm extra excited that this novel has these antiquated elements. The physical details you use to set the scene are spot on as usual, and I really liked getting this first glimpse into Penelope's world. I'm so interested to find out how she fell so far from this lavish lifestyle. The girl in chapter 1 is a very different person than this feisty, thriving Penelope.

Speaking of Penelope, I love the way you've set her apart from Eileen. Penelope seems much more flighty and temperamental, and she's obviously very young. Her sense of entitlement rubs me the wrong way just a little, but I still can't help but root for her. The beginning, when she exchanges letters with Alice, shows a more considerate side to Penelope, and I loved seeing that. I think you've done a wonderful job of making her a distinctive character, and not just a copy of Eileen.

The dialogue reads almost like a Jane Austen novel to me. I really hope that's the style you were going for, because if so, you hit the nail on the head perfectly :) And if that's not exactly the effect you wanted, feel free to PM me if you want to talk about it in more detail. In any case, it feels very antiquated, which is key in making period writing convincing.

Kynborow scares the absolute mess out of me, and I love it! I am DYING to find out where that scar came from. It does make me think that the family curse comes from Kynborow's bloodline and not Otwell's. It wasn't until we met her that I remembered Penelope's physical oddity--the color-changing eyes. I love the way you set us up for that connection. You didn't come out and explain, "Okay, so Penelope has this quirk, and Kynborow has something wierd about her too, and maybe that's connected to the curse! Get it?" Instead, you gave us the pieces and let us fill in the blanks between them however we wanted. That's part of the fun of reading for me, and I just love the way you did that :)

And as for reader interest, I cannot wait for another Penelope chapter! I feel like the drama of this story will come from Penelope first, while Eileen's story will be more of a slow burn. Having both story lines is a great way to add variety, and also to show how the curse has been affecting Eileen's ancestors throughout time. This was such a great chapter, Shelby! I loved it, as always!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Hello Maggie! As always, it's lovely to see you around, leaving your amazing reviews! ^_^

I'm really glad you enjoy the two different storylines. I was just going to write the first chapter and leave it hanging as a mystery until the very end, but my muse just told me that Penelope's story and Eileen's were meant to be intertwined. I'm such a HUGE fan of period pieces and know you are too! I could go major crazy on it and give it even more of an antiquated feel, but I believe that subtle was the best approach here. Perfect for us nerds, I think! :P Penelope's very different, isn't she? If I stay true to my outline, we're only going to get ten chapters out of Penelope & Reynold, so her story will progress quickly (or maybe I should just write 10,000 word chapters?! :D)

Ah, thank you! I just couldn't stand the thought of having the two of them be similar. I have to admit that in an earlier version, they were - my muse was not cooperating at that time! But I learned to distance myself after I cracked down and am very happy with the result.

That's such a compliment, thank you! I actually read JA for the first time in the spring and must say that she's great. To have this compared, even the tiniest bit to JA, makes me very happy! It's exactly the feel I was going for without being facetious, you know?

Haha, good! She's going to be a contrast, of sorts - understanding and gentle, yet cold, unyielding, and just plain nasty. Towards the end of this timeline, you guys are going to find out about that scar and I can't wait for it! It's going to be a shocker, I do believe! You'll find out reasons for it all! They may be subtle, but they'll be there.

That's actually a really interesting theory you've got going on, and of course I can't say yea or nay, but...haha, I can't! I want too, but I mustn't ruin it. I'm loving the theories and analyses you come up with! It makes my English major nerd heart very happy.

Yay! Penelope (and Reynold too!) will be seen again in chapter seven. Oh, it's going to be so fun. Reynold's characterization is more than likely going to drive you nuts just like Kynborow. There's going to be something about him...

Thank you so much for the wonderful review! I'm so happy that you're continuing to enjoy the story! I appreciate your feedback and opinions very much and value them highly. ♥

Shelby


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Review #18, by magnolia_magicThe Prankster and The Prefect: Will you marry me?

9th August 2013:
Hi! I'm here from review tag! I've never read any of your work before, and I'm glad I picked this story as my first :) I actually really like the idea of Hermione paired with one of the twins, because I think they could complement each other really well. Just out of curiosity, what made you decide to pair her with George rather than Fred? I'd love to know your thought process behind that :)

I love the way you've interwoven this story with canon events. That can be difficult to do, but you did a great job of telling your story along with adding the details we all know and love from the books. The little mentions of Molly's wrath and the trio planning to leave are great ways to keep this unconventional pairing grounded in canon. It made for a really interesting read :)

I liked reading from Hermione's point of view, and I think you did a good job of keeping the tone of her thoughts realistic with what we know of her practical, serious side. George seemed very intense and not as jokester-y as I'm used to reading him; but then again, this is an incredibly stressful time for him, and he has a lot to think about. And I did really enjoy the moments with the twins together; you did a great job keeping the two of them lighthearted. Also, you put so much detail into each of their thought processes as the events happened, and I was so impressed with that depth!

I really enjoyed your take on this pairing! Keep up the good work!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Hey there :)

Thank you for reviewing this as it is my baby at the moment. I love the pairing of Hermione and George and I wish it was written about more often! My thought process for pairing her with George rather than Fred was because Fred is the less sensible one of the two. George was opposed to threatening Ludo Bagman where as Fred was all for it so I wanted to pair her with George as whilst they are still complete opposites they still have some matching qualities.

Canon for me is very important and I don't like writing things too OOC. i like making them believable and fit with the canon.

I have tried writing it in George's point of view but I relate a lot more to Hermione. She is leaving the man she loves in a most difficult time and the idea of maybe not seeing him again is one which I am intrigued at.

I do try to make George more jokestery but what we have to remember is that now he has moved out, has his own business and he's not the jokey person that he would have been in Hogwarts. He now has responsibilities and with all the turmoil thats going on around him, losing his brother, the girl he loved and then not knowing which members of his family are going to be alive at the end of it I really sympathise with him and didn't want to distract away with that.

I love love love writing the twins together. This is a happy time for Hermione and George and of course George is much more impulsive than Hermione so want's to share the news with his family and his twin as soon as possible.

I'm a sucker for description too so I like to include rather a lot of description to make their thought processes believable and to show that it isn't just some relationship that's been mushed together and haven't thought about. This relationship could work in the right world and I'm trying to show everyone else this world that it could work.

Thank you!


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Review #19, by magnolia_magicDiamonds into Coal: Desire

7th August 2013:
Hi Amanda! I've been meaning to come review the conclusion to this story for so long, and I'm sorry it's taken me forever to get here. And before I start I'd like to congratulate you on finishing it! Diamonds into Coal is such a wonderful piece of work, and I hope you're really proud of it. I know there are a lot of people (including me, obviously) who have loved reading it!

I feel like a parrot every time I comment on your imagery and your beautiful style. At this point it would just be "blah blah blah" if I brought it up again :P But I can't help but talk about it just a little more! I think your subtle, lovely imagery is your biggest strength as a writer, hands down. The pictures you paint stay with me long after I've read a piece of yours.

Now, on to the plot! I LOVE the way this chapter brings the whole novel full-circle, right down to the chapter title (Erised=Desire). Now more than ever, I think starting with a flash-forward prologue was a good move. I still remember how beautiful and mysterious that chapter was, and with this ending you've shaken some cobwebs off of that vague beginning. We now know why the Bloody Baron and the Grey Lady live at Hogwarts. We know the full story behind the image in the mirror. And we know how Venn and Helena fell in love, and how their deaths eventually came about. You've made sure to answer those burning questions we had at the beginning, and you've shown that the prologue wasn't just for dramatic effect or to show off your skill at creating gorgeous imagery (which, as I've said so many times, are just astounding). There was a purpose behind everything in that chapter, and with this ending you've shed some light on it. Diamonds into Coal has been such an incredible journey, and it's hard to believe that we're right back where we started, at the Mirror of Erised.

Although I really, really love the ultimate conclusion to Venn and Helena's story, I have conflicting feelings about the murder scene itself. I mean, this is the climax. This is the event that will go down in history, and define these two people forever. And it all boils down to...a misunderstanding? An accident caused by starvation delirium? I was hoping to spend a lot of time exploring Venn's mindset as he committed this terrible act, but the killing feels like a minor detail compared to the other events of this chapter. And I had a hard time believing that he could have "accidentally" killed her.

But then I thought about it. And really, it makes sense that Venn wouldn't have intended to kill Helena. This story is full of rash decisions and big egos, but neither of them ever did anything with the intention of harming the other. If the killing had been any different, it would have been terribly out of character for Venn. So after reading this chapter a few times I sorted out my feelings: I think you did a wonderful job staying true to your characters during the murder, but the scene itself feels glossed over. I was really looking for more there.

And that's the most concrit I've felt inclined to offer you in a LONG time. Also, I think the rest of the chapter is absolutely incredible, so I intend to fangirl for the remainder of this review :D

The scene with Salazar was really brilliant. It answers a question I never even knew I had! Of course the Bloody Baron would know about the basilisk, and you've explained why he wouldn't have ever warned anyone about it. Venn isn't the slimy, awful person that Salazar is; surely he would have wanted to make sure the basilisk didn't harm any "innocent purebloods." But he is a bit selfish, as you've established, and he values being close to Helena above the well-being of students who don't have personal meaning to him. That part was wonderfully executed, and I just loved it :)

And that last encounter with Helena just broke my heart! Why are you so stubborn, Helena! Just forgive him! It's been years, possibly centuries! (I'm drawing a blank on when the mirror scenes are set...oops.) Ugh, she makes me mad sometimes! Haha, I know you expected that with both of your MCs, and can I just say again how great a job you did with them? You made them both so incredibly complex, and I was constantly re-evaluating my opinion of them. By the end of the story I swore I would figure out which of them was my least favorite. It's a really hard choice, but I think I'm going with Helena. I mean, I get that Venn isn't the easiest person to deal with, but she could have just called the wedding off if she had misgivings. Instead, she ran off into the forest like a child, baiting Venn and then behaving as though she'd done nothing wrong. Get your act together, Helena.

(Oh no. I'm speaking ill of the dead, aren't I? I just can't seem to help it, though. Haha, what must that say about me? :P)

But. Anyway. I'm at a loss for what else to say, Amanda. I think this was a wonderful end to a beautifully written story. And that last line is the perfect way to draw this to a close. It has this tiny ray of hope, because when you "live" forever, there's always time for things to change. But at the same time it carries the weight of years of guilt for Venn, and grudge-harboring for Helena. Will they ever come to any sort of truce? We might never know, and that's one unanswered question that just feels right. Amazing job, Amanda. I feel so privileged to have read this :)

--Maggie

Author's Response: Maggie, you're awesome, as you already know :) I am really proud of this story, and I continue to be surprised by how much everyone liked it. The support I've received means so much!

Anyway, I'm so happy that you liked the imagery. Sometimes I get so into it that I err on the side of purple prose, which then bogs down the plot. I always hope that I've achieved a good balance since nowadays I can go a good couple of paragraphs before I do anything besides work on setting the scene.

I think I always sort of knew we'd go back to the mirror for this last part, the final encounter between Venn and Helena after all that they've been through together. As I was writing this, I kept track of questions that people brought up in their reviews and tried to figure out the answers and weave them into the plot. A lot of it didn't come until the end here, as you observed. I think that's a major benefit of not pre-writing, which I normally prefer, and I think the success of this story is due in some part to the feedback of others.

This answer will probably be dissatisfying, I'm afraid, but the truth about the murder scene is that I was just really concerned about getting too sticky ToS-wise when writing it. It felt much safer to describe it more vaguely in a flashback than to actually do it in real time. I just kept thinking about how these two had a romantic relationship and it could run into a difficult area in terms of spousal-like abuse. I tried to allude to those strong emotions in the aftermath, but I definitely understand where you're coming from, so I appreciate the crit :)

I really hope Salazar emerged as a monster at the end of it all, despite the charming sort of beginning I gave him. It was so interesting to explore his deterioration as he became more and more obsessed with his vision and his beloved pet. While I don't blame him directly for Venn and Helena's demise, I'm sure the energy he emitted throughout the story was toxic, and it negatively impacted everyone.

You're right, we're talking about centuries later at this point. You have to wonder how many times Venn has sat in front of the mirror and dwelled on all of his past mistakes and the life he could have had with Helena. I kind of want to cry now because you're basically saying that I did exactly what I meant to do with my characterization and that's so wonderful because these two are so convoluted! Haha. I do think it's funny that you eventually sided against Helena, because in the beginning a lot of people (maybe you included, but I don't remember) were adamantly against Venn, because he was just kind of spoiled and immature and canon isn't exactly on his side. I think it's hard to choose; I feel sadness and anger for both of them.

Yeah, I definitely wanted to end on a hopeful note, because this story made me so emotional. I do think it's possible for Helena to forgive and for Venn to win his lady's heart again, but as you said, there's a lot of baggage from the past standing in the way. I figure you can write your own ending now.

Thanks so much for your fabulous review!

-Amanda


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Review #20, by magnolia_magicFraternization: Shine

2nd August 2013:
So your forums name is different than your archive name. Of course, you know this. But imagine my surprise when I clicked over to your author page and one of my favorite stories is there! I love the idea of this ship and I've actually been thinking about writing a Dudley fic myself, so I'm very interested in what you're doing with this story. I've been following it since you first posted, but I've never left a review! Yes, I'm one of those lurking readers :/ But I'm so glad you swapped with me...it gives me a chance to let you know how much I'm loving this!

I just really love your Dudley. He's clearly older and a bit wiser, which I would expect to happen after his dementor attack and subsequent encounters with magic. He couldn't stay ignorant forever, no matter how hard Uncle Vernon tries to make that happen. I'm so excited for him to go to university and start his own independent life (and possibly meet Cho? Hopefully?)

I am confused about what's going on with Petunia, though. Is she at St. Mungo's for some reason? What brought that on? Is she sick? Or am I just missing something? Haha, that's pretty likely :) That aside, though, I think it's so interesting that she and Vernon are splitting up. It sounds awful, but I see it as a new start for Petunia. She has suppressed part of herself for Vernon's sake for so many years; maybe now she can begin to let some of that out.

I loved the scene with Harry! It was a little awkward between them, and you made it clear that they aren't exactly BFFs. But they're building something, and I really loved seeing that glimpse into their new relationship. I loved that Harry was supportive of Dudley's decision to go to university; it seems like Dudley needs some support at the moment. Great job with them!

I'm enjoying this so much! I'm so glad you swapped with me; it gave me a chance to finally get my act together and review! You're doing a wonderful job, and I can't wait to see where this goes next :)

--Maggie

Author's Response: I'm not going to hide it - I absolutely love the fact that this is one of your favourite stories and I was so excited to see you adding it as a favourite, because Down Comes The Night is one of my favourite stories of which I lurk over, too! :P

I'm glad you love Dudley! This story has a very particular tone and very particular characters that I feel like need a special mindset in order to write them (hence lack of updates before but they're all coming now!). It was especially challenging to write the second chapter.

Yeah I was meant to mention Petunia and what was going on with her in this current chapter, but it all got replaced and Harry decided to make an entrance, which was...interesting. I had always planned for Harry to be around in this story, but not so early and writing him was really odd considering I'm not quite sure how to present him as of yet.

Not to worry though I do hope to finish chapter 4 very soon and have it up and there you will definitely get to see a lot more of what Petunia is going through as well as a dash of Aunt Muriel! I do genuinely think that Petunia and Vernon were an awful pair especially putting Lily into the mix. I think this will be her tribute, in a way, to try as hard as she can for Dudley and for Harry.

I've got a few things of what I want to happen and everything in between is completely and utterly spur of the moment so just like you I am very much interested to see how this turn out!

You've been lovely and I can't wait to see what you think of everything that is to come!

Hannah ♥


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Review #21, by magnolia_magicWith All Things: George, December 1999

1st August 2013:
I just have to tell you first of all that I'm one of those readers who stalks this story for updates, reads voraciously, fangirls and squeals all over it, and then doesn't leave a review. I've been doing that for the last several chapters, and I feel like it's time to break the silence! You are doing such an incredible job with this story, dear, and this chapter might be my favorite one yet :)

I love seeing George and Angelina so happy and comfortable. Not only does she fit perfectly into his family, as George notices, but she seems to be settling into the commitment thing. (Especially at the end of the chapter. But I'll get to that.) The decorating scene was the most precious thing ever, and I was more than ready for a fluff overload! It does sort of make me sad that Angelina's chapters are taking a darker turn now, but at the same time I have to really admire the poetry of your story structure. It cycles back on itself, almost; George goes from dark to light, while Angelina goes the opposite way. It makes me very anxious to see how they meet in the middle, and to find out what happened between them prior to the first chapter. I'm SO CURIOUS about that!

The proposal scene was just so perfect. That Angelina would be the one to pop the question! *squees* It was absolutely the perfect way for her to show George that she really is all in, that she's ready to commit to him without reservation. I'm so, so happy for them!

What else can I say! You've really brought each of your characters to life for me; I feel very attached to them now. And I'll continue to stalk you for updates (and hopefully I'll stop being a lazy reader and review every once in a while.) Awesome, awesome job!

--Maggie

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Review #22, by magnolia_magicPassing ships : Passing ships

1st August 2013:
Hi Dee! Thank you so much for the swap!

I've never been a Dramione shipper (like at ALL), but I really have a lot of appreciation for what you do with the ship. I've probably said this before, but I can tell that you put a lot of thought into making her split with Ron believable, however it happens. I was so sad to see that they had gotten divorced, but it's an unfortunate reality of life that I think you explored well. Hermione was a young woman in love with her job, and she tried to take on another true love too soon. She wasn't what Ron needed, and he wasn't right for her. It saddens me to think that they might have worked if the timing had been right :( I love the way you show her feelings about the breakup; she knows that they weren't working, and yet she is still heartbroken and doesn't know where to go from here. That was beautifully done.

Now, time to move on to Draco. His arrogance was kind of shocking to me; I guess I expected him to be knocked down a few pegs after all that's happened to him by this point in his life. But in a way it makes sense. Like Hermione says in her narration, he's always had that streak of cockiness. I do wish that I could have gotten to know him a little better before the kiss happened. It seemed that they didn't interact much before that point, and I was really wishing for some more Draco.

But what a kiss, though! Haha, it was a super intense and romantic moment. You really hit the mark with that scene! And I like that Hermione and Draco have a common link between them as they begin their relationship (or at least, I'm assuming a relationship will come out of this.) They have the shared experience of splitting with a significant other; this gives them a lot more in common than they had in the Hogwarts days. It's a game-changer, definitely, and I love that you provide such a solid foundation when you deviate from canon.

Great job with this! I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks again for the swap!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Hi Maggie! Sorry it's taken me so long to reply!

I do always try to make Ron and Hermione's splits amicable if I'm writing a Draco/Hermione story, I love Ron and hate to see him in a bad light. I'm really glad you thought it was believable, I know that any Dramione story has to have the characters as at least a little OOC as it would likely never happen in JKR's world but I do try to make it as plausible as I can.

I put Draco's arrogance in this down to the alcohol magnifying what was already there, I think he'd be a lot nicer sober ;) A couple of people have said that their transition is a little quick in this so I may well go back and do some editing to include some more Draco, thanks :)

The kiss was something I wrote and re-wrote countless times but was pleased with the end result so I'm really glad you liked it! And yes, I think a relationship would stem from this, I might even turn this into multi chapter one day :)

Thanks for the swap, Maggie, and the lovely review!


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Review #23, by magnolia_magicSoaring through the clouds: The honeymoon

1st August 2013:
Hi! I'm so happy I got a chance to come by and rake a look at this story :)

I'm very impressed with all the information you gave us about the carpets themselves. It's a subject not many Potterheads would know much about, so I found it really interesting to see how they work. Did you find the awesome carpet facts somewhere in canon, or did you make some of it up? (Just curious :) ) Either way, it was a very interesting read, and it gave an exotic feel to the story.

This seems to be more about the carpet tour itself than about the characters, but I thought you had sine great characterization moments here. The way Harry and Ginny each drove the carpet spoke volumes about their characters,I thought. Ginny was all speed and no fear, and that reminded me of her first personality and determination to be right at the forefront of things. The fact that she was so eager to volunteer first added to that as well. Harry, on the other hand, is more cautious and measured, and takes his time in order to get the hang of it. Those little things showed us a lot about who they are, and I think you did a great job with that aspect!

This is a very cute story! You did a great job, and I'm glad I got a chance to read and review!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Thanks!
To answer your question, most of this I made up. We had lee way :)

I did put the emphasis on the carpet tour, so I could fit the travel theme. I could easily picture Ginny being the fearless one and going full speed ahead and Harry being a bit more nervous! Glad you liked!

Thanks for the review


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Review #24, by magnolia_magicAll The Tombs of Egypt Are Empty: Long and blue and forever is the Nile

1st August 2013:
Hi teh! I've actually read this before, during the House Cup, but I didn't leave a review :| (Yes, I'm one of those readers who reads and then doesn't review. You may now commence with rolling your eyes.) But I loved it then and I love it even more now!

What a strange combination of characters you have here. I love that these three unlikely companions happened to meet in one place and time. I've been trying to decide which character is my favorite, and it's honestly difficult to choose. It's definitely not Mundungus, though, I can tell you that. What a hideous person he is. I never liked him in the books (if you can't tell), and I really admire the way you brought that slimy personality to life here.

I think I'll go with Filch as my favorite. I love what you did with him here, exploring his feelings if being outside, and how hard it is for him to see students taking their magic for granted when he'll never have it. And he's so sweet when he talks to Mrs. Norris :) I love that softening we see in Filch whenever they are interacting. And I love that she was the key to getting then out of the tomb in one piece! It just shows that Filch does have something to offer, even when no one expects that to be the case.

This is a great piece, and I love that you were able to bring such an eclectic cast together so seamlessly. Wonderful job!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Maggie ♥

Gah, thanks so much for this wonderful review! I'm incredibly surprised and flattered that you actually read this story earlier! Don't worry about the not reviewing - I'm guilty of this a lot, reading and not reviewing, that is. Eep.

Yeah, this is indeed a bizarre cast of characters. I honestly have no idea what was happening in my head when all this was being produced. :P Y'know, I'm surprised that Filch is your favourite here! He's actually my least favourite, baha! I did, however, try to portray him a shade mellower than how he appeared in the books (y'know, the fearsome caretaker with the whips and all those horrid dungeon threats yelling at small children and all...), but still, I can't quite reconcile myself with him. Though I did try to give him a chance in this fic. I do doubt that I'll ever be writing a serious(ish) Filch fic again, though.

Gah, I'm so glad you thought that the characters were brought together so seamlessly! That is honestly a fantastic compliment and I'm so, so pleased.

Thank you so much for this lovely review, Maggie! It's been so encouraging! ♥

teh ♥


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Review #25, by magnolia_magicDear Al: Park Swings and Chaste Kisses

1st August 2013:
Hi! Here from review tag!

This a very interesting way to tell Snape's story, I think. I really liked your first chapter, where you set up the diary and how fascinated Harry is with Snape's life. I just wonder how this will all connect to Albus (as I assume it will, since the story is called Dear Al.) I can't wait to find out!

I like your portrayal of Snape and Lily as children. You've done a good job with their interactions. Lily is clearly a happy person with a bright disposition, but she's sad about the growing rift between her and Petunia. That, in particular, came out really well in this chapter. And Snape is a little calculating and devious even now, as he plans his future with Lily. But his devotion to her is so sweet that I have to like him :) Good job with them!

I thought the flow of this was good overall. The switch from the summer before their first year to the beginning of their second did seem a little abrupt, though. Maybe a scene about their first year at Hogwarts would help bridge that gap. A Sorting scene, perhaps? I always love those, but you'd have so much room to be creative there :)

I enjoyed this! I think this story has great potential (and I always love a good Snily), so I do hope you update soon! Keep up the good work!

--Maggie

Author's Response: Hi there :)
Yes, you would be right. The story isn't called 'Deal Al' for nothing!
i'm glad you liked the portrayal. It was something I was worried about because I really wanted to make sure I got it right. I wanted to make sure it was believable. Having a sibling myself, I'm aware of how you end up being close to them and like sharing things with them. You may not have a deep relationship, but whatever you do share is usually special. So, I do believe that Petunia's disapproval would have broken Lily more than we can know.
I'm glad that it flows well. Thinking back, I guess it is sort of sudden. I'll make sure I add a scene or two in there. I too love sorting scenes!
Thanks for the review :)


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