Tuesday, July 26, 2011

TLS Fics of the Week - The Fab Four Reviews, this week

Animate Me by Abstract Way
Professional animator Edward worships cartoon exec Bella from afar by day and draws her in his comic book late at night. When this Daffy Duck-loving geek comes face to face with his dream girl, will his fantasy world come to life? Twilight - Rated: M
Review by: Nitareality

Animate Me is one of my favorite fics going right now. A work in progress, I run for updates and devour them quickly. On it's surface it's a romance with some great humor in it, and populated with unique characters. Look deeper and you'll see how Abstract Way immerses us in animation culture, giving us enough detail to make it authentic, without requiring us to google every five minutes to decipher terminology. Not an easy task.

Meet Edward, animator for a big time cartoon network, and independent comic book artist/author.

“There you go with the breasts too big again.

I rub my eraser over the sketchbook page and brush the crumbs away before reworking my lines over the ghosted image. With each stroke of the pencil my dream girl comes to life, her heart- shaped face graced with huge brown eyes and plump bow lips.

Oh, how I want to kiss those lips.

My pencil trails down to define her shapely thighs leading up to her her tiny waist, just below the finale of her perfect breasts. I erase the lighter rough sketch lines under the final tight pencil. Yes…there, she's just right. I may not know how to talk to girls, but I sure know how to draw them.”

Any guesses who he's inspired by? Come to find out, Bella is the object of his desire. A co-worker in a different department, she has no idea who Edward is until she stops in a shop he's helping out. He helps her figure out which “cord thingy” she might need for her computer, and while she's paying she spies the drawing he was working on. He hides it quickly, but her interest is piqued.

After he tells her that they work together, she seems even more interested in his work.

"Well, show me your work." She reaches for the sketchbook. "Are you good?"

I quickly step back, my sketchbook out of her reach. "I'm really good." I state confidently. After all, it's the one thing I know for sure. I have talent, all my CalArts teachers told me so, and I got a studio job right out of school. "I'd love to show you my work, but these are just scribblings. I want to show you the good stuff."

She puts her hand up. "Okay, when you're ready, I'd be happy to look at your work. You know where to find me."

The story unfolds with lots of flirtation, Bella leading in innuendo and Edward nervously following along. They bond over a coffee ritual, in one of the cutest wooing techniques any Edward has ever used, and Bella's desire to be a romantic tutor for Edward. As they get to know each other, they see how compatible they are, and their friendship develops quickly.

There are a lot of different characters at play, and several obstacles to be overcome. What could look like ridiculous hijinks in the hands of someone less capable, are more realistic, yet still funny, hurdles that everyone is going to need to jump to get to their happy place. Though Abstract Way could always surprise us, this is looking like we'll be seeing canon couples by the end.

The characterizations here really shine for me. Aro, Bella's rumored boyfriend and bigwig at Animation Nation, is weirdly amusing. Rosalie is a tattooed comic store owner who is not only likeable, but a good friend to Edward. Alice hasn't given a single makeover yet, and while she's definitely a girl, she's one of the guys at work.

The best character by far, besides sexyshy Edward, is Carlisle. This Carlisle might be the best one I've read. He steals the chapter he's in with his unique way of looking at the world. When Edward brings Bella to his family home, he starts to panic and entertains the idea of leaving, Carlisle's response is nothing short of classic.

"Don't leave, Edward," my Dad insists, trying to be the voice of reason. "Consider the ramifications, son. Leaving under the effects of provocation is only going to make things worse. How will you explain the deviation to Bella? It defies logic which is intrinsically unsettling."

"Huh?" Asks Rose. I can't blame her. You have to hang with Carlisle awhile to get his particular form of geek speak.

I intentionally didn't reveal a lot of the plot here. Like I said, it's a romance, boy meets girl, etc. It's funny. I really want you to read it and watch the plot unfold naturally, not get an accelerated version here. Animated Way gives us great characters, a rich world to visualize them in, and some great humor to boot.

I also didn't focus on the lemony nature of this story, but let me say that it's a very sexy fic. Bella and Edward have great, really hot, chemistry. I have one other thing to say about that topic: Self Help Masturbation. Loved it.

So go now, read it. I bet you'll be running for updates just like I do.

Cracks In The Pavement by VampiresHaveLaws
Life is never perfect, the cracks always appear. "My Polaroid would show the face of a girl who has forgotten how to truly smile." Even the strongest of dreams can fail to become enough.
Twilight - Rated: M
Review by: Udo Blick / mephis1

I first encountered VampiresHaveLaws when I stumbled across her WIP, Evading Edward. In Evading Edward, an E&B story, Edward and Bella are in High School navigating the tumultuous ups and downs of their mutual attraction while simultaneously dealing with their other entanglements that inevitably arise when you’re teenagers in High School.
In Cracks in the Pavement, we have another E&B story. But this story is very unlike Evading Edward. If you’ve read E&B fanfics where Edward and Bella fall in love in High School, marry and live happily ever after, have you ever wondered about that other ‘what if’? I have. What if Edward and Bella fall in love in High School and marry only to encounter difficulties in their marriage? How would they respond to those hurdles that arise in any marriage? Well, Cracks in the Pavement, VampiresHaveLaws’ latest story, tackles that ‘what if’.
The story starts with Bella at a party, surrounded by people who would be considered her friends and family. Yet, instead of warmth of affection, she feels the cold of the loveless: My Polaroid would show the face of a girl who has forgotten how to truly smile.
Her gaze falls upon the man she loves, the man who, she believes, is no longer in love with her. This is the man she feels she has known her entire life, the man she fell in love with, the man she married at the age of nineteen with her heart full of love, adoration and hope. But here at this party, after six years of marriage, she finds herself wondering what happened to him, to her, to them.

In Cracks in the Pavement, Edward and Bella meet in High School, fall in love and eventually marry without their parents’ knowledge. Now, after six years of marriage, it becomes increasingly clear that they are obviously not happily married. Were they once happy in their marriage? They must have been but what has happened to them in the intervening years that their marriage and love is now in decline? How and why did this distance between them occur, settling into a gulf that appears to grow greater by the day? Cracks in the Pavement explores these questions, amongst others.

Cracks in the Pavement crackles with well-written sentences that convey the multi-textured landscape of a woman’s internal life. It takes the reader through the past and present of a once great love affair, of what was, what is and leaves the reader wondering about the possibilities of what might be.

The emotional tone of VampiresHaveLaws’ writing conveys what it feels like to fall breathlessly in love, to love hard, to marry fast and the heartbreak that slowly emerges when one wakes up to a new reality. In a series of vignettes, we see Bella realising that the adoration and starry-eyed love of their youth has slipped away to settle into an emotionally arid relationship. Instead of providing comfort and affection to each other, they gradually disengage from each other, becoming seemingly indifferent to each other:

He is no longer the boy who tries to make me laugh when he thinks I’m upset or out of sorts. Instead, I’m given long stares or ignored completely. And in return, I don’t take his hand and lead him to our bed to share lips and hands and skin.

Into this emotionally charged set-up, we are introduced to two characters, Jasper and Kate. They are the foils to Edward’s and Bella’s rapidly declining relationship, providing external clues as to how far Edward and Bella have drifted apart. As Bella, already consigned to the sidelines, observes – Kate is the one who makes Edward laughs, she is the woman who seemingly captivates Edward, who makes him smile:

I go to say no, honestly, I’m fine thanks, when Edward smiles widely at the girl opposite him, something I haven’t seen him do in months. The sight is both glorious and agonizing, and I know I can’t stay to watch the fireworks, because despite the thorns, nothing will be as beautiful as that. Everything will pale in comparison.


And I hate her, and want to thank her for making the most important person in my world smile when I can’t. Which only makes me think I hate her more.

Observing this happy, smiling, relaxed Edward, Bella is painfully awakened to the fact that she is more familiar with the other Edward. This smiling Edward is in stark contrast to the emotionally distant Edward she has come to come to know. The Edward she knows now is no longer the Edward she loved and married:

Edward takes the bag of gifts from my hand as we reach the porch, his fingers careful not to touch mine. He doesn't look at me, and without a word, he follows his mother inside, leaving me to follow after him.

There was a time that he'd let me go first... but not anymore. It's almost as if he's trying to run... block me out. […] But, of course, Edward had already promised his parents... without asking me first. We are no longer a couple, making decisions together—we're separate people living under the same roof—a pairing that used to be so much more.

Cracks in the Pavement is a story about a marriage in crisis – a portrait of a once beautiful love that held such wonderful promise but is now rapidly heading towards the rocks.
VampiresHaveLaws’ handling of the emotional tone in this story is exemplary. In several pivotal scenes, she shows how an emotional distance has seeped into Edward’s and Bella’s marriage. For example, she details the slow death of their love in sentences which, on the surface read innocuously enough but on closer inspection intimate deeper wounds. For instance, at the Christmas party held at the Cullens’ house, Bella cuts her finger on a piece of paper. Bella refuses Edward’s help which he subsequently ignores as it is obvious that he would prefer to dress her wound rather than afford Jasper that chance. In tending to her finger, this brief but illuminating conversation emerges:

"Does it hurt?" he asks.

I suck in my cheeks, gazing up at him. "It's tiny. It's nothing."

He concentrates on peeling the wrapping from the Band-Aid. "The smallest cuts can sometimes be the most painful."

He says it quietly, almost as if I'm not meant to actually hear the words.
Is Cracks in the Pavement heart-wrenching? Why yes, it is indeed. The woman knows how to write emotionally intense scenes which are by turns moving, heartbreaking and tender. In a series of revealing scenes, we see how these two characters grapple with a marriage that is disintegrating before their very eyes. Somehow, somewhere, their love and adoration for each other lost its way in the stresses and strains of everyday life. Somehow, somewhere in their marriage, they meandered into a place where they go through the motions of their marriage on autopilot. Apparently, they no longer love each other. But is this truly the case? Can they find their way back to each other?

Cracks in the Pavement, at the moment of reading and writing this review, is narrated through BPOV. We see the entire relationship – their youthful love and subsequent marriage and its decline – through Bella’s eyes.

However, in Chapter 5, in a painful conversation between Edward and Bella, we begin to question if the failure of their marriage is entirely Edward’s fault. Or is this Edward’s response an attempt at rationalising the death of their love?

"I don't know you," I say, looking up into unyielding green. It's honest, and real, and I can't stop the words from escaping my trembling lips.

The smallest flicker of lashes, long and dark. Shock. "You choose not to. You gave up trying to a long time ago." And I guess he's being just as honest now too, voicing what he feels is sincere, only without the quivering mouth.

Should the blame be placed entirely on Edward’s shoulders? Or have they both contributed to
the demise of their once wonderful love? Will their relationship survive? Are they willing and strong enough to fight for its survival? These are the questions that I, as a reader, am left with after reading Chapter 5. This is the kind of story-telling that intrigues me, leaves me wanting to know more about the characters. This is the kind of story that prompts me to read on. If you’re looking for a story which contains an emotional resonance that reverberates long after you stop reading, if you’re looking for a story with a narrative arc which shows the evolution of romance through love, marriage and the subsequent struggles of a couple who are anguished with what they have become, then I urge you to read Cracks in the Pavement.
Meanwhile, I leave you with these lines which Chapter 5 ended on:

This isn't Edward... my Edward. Or maybe it is. Maybe this is all he now has left to give, which makes my chest constrict in the worst of ways. I thought I'd be relieved at the smallest bit of contact, but not this... not this. He's doing this because he thinks it's what I want; he's trying to prove something to me, but that's not what any of this is about.

I want him to kiss me because he truly wants to, because he needs to, because he loves me... loves us, and feels that draw that made us the happiest of couples—that made us the best versions of ourselves.

My hands are shaking as I bring them up to cover his. "Not like this. It's cruel. You're being

His expression shifts again, his look shattering. The slightest of pressure against my mouth, and then: "I don't know you anymore either."

He walks away, and this time I know I've lost him. I just don't know for how long. Forever is unthinkable.

We used to smile more. We used to laugh. We used to be one.

Now... now we're struggling to find our way, lost in overcrowded forests, no visible gaps between the trees.

We've become trapped in our very own forgotten garden.

Trash & Darlin's by CaraNo
Bella is new in Texas but her welcoming is warm to say the least. One hot night leads to so much more. More than they bargained for, but… well, it's all in the name of love. Hot trailer lovin' in EPOV and BPOV. And bring on the little runts! No angst. Twilight - Rated: M
Review by: One Brave Lamb Fanfic

You know how when you start a story and Bella first sees Edward, there’s usually a lot of blushing, stumbling over words and general embarrassment?

Yeah, that’s not this story. We first hear of Edward from Bella, who’s just a little bit frustrated. Sexually frustrated, that is. But I have to give our girl some credit – I’m pretty sure I’d be a tad hot and bothered by a shirtless, sweaty and tatted up Edward, too. Anyway, Bella’s been practicing some self-love with her trusty rabbit when the batteries just…die.

I feel for the girl. Truly, I do.

But this is where you’d expect the bumbling, sexually frustrated Bella to come into play and would settle in for several chapters of painful UST.

God bless her heart, Cara No doesn’t do that to us. Oh, no. She gives us Trashward and Tiny, the King and Queen of the trailer park, ya’ll.

"I pounded on his door again.

"Fuckin' hell, it's 5 in mornin'!" I heard him shout from inside.
His voice was muffled and gruff.

Again, I pounded on the door. I wasn't giving up. No way.

"There better be a goddamn fire, I swear!"

Oh, yes, there's fire, alright.

The door flew open then, and… God, there he is.

His batshit crazy hair. His body-, oh lord, he's not wearing anything but boxers. Black ones. Tight.


My eyes widened, and I'm pretty sure I salivated.

"S'called mornin' wood, darlin'. And you better be closin' that trap of yours unless it's an invitation," he drawled, rubbing his chest lazily. "Now, are ya gonna tell my why the fuck you're knockin' on my door at this ungodly hour, Tiny?"

Fuck, he's big. Huge. And so hard.

My pussy wept.

All these weeks of settling in.

I need that release. Badly. And why use a rabbit when you have the source of your out-of-this-world fantasy standing right in front of you?

"Need some help with that?" I asked, finally meeting his eyes as I pointed at his huge cock."

Oh yes, m’dears. They. Get. It. On. And Trashward? Well, he does Tiny real good and proper. Hold on to your Stetson and Cowgirl Up. It’s gonna be a wild, wild ride filled with boot knockin’, trailer park brawls and maybe a young’un or two or five.

And of course, if the trailer’s a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’.

With the Lights Out by Cherry.blossomz

What if the choice you made is wrong? Isabella falls into a charmed life as the new bride of Carlisle Cullen. When she meets his unpredictable heir and nephew, Edward, she is forced to question who she is, what she wants, and the life she has chosen. AHAU Twilight - Rated: M
Review by ellegreene10

First off, I have to reiterate that this story starts out as a Bella/Carlisle story but I implore you: Please, do not be put off by this! You need only read as far as the prologue to know that Bella will end up in love with Edward, having sex with him on her husband’s office desk... If that doesn’t grab your attention, I doubt anything will.

What really stuck with me, more than the sex (which since it’s written by cherry.blossomz, you know is going to be HOT) in the prologue, was Isabella’s closing thoughts:

There is no choice but to face him. A man that I both love and fear.
My husband.

The story, told completely from Isabella’s POV, is that of a young girl on the adventure of a lifetime in Italy who falls in love and marries an older man, Carlisle.

He is...hot. So hot that I feel shocked by it. Like it should be illegal. This is not a frat boy. This is not a pervy old professor. This is a man. A gorgeous man. He is easily twice my age, but elegantly rugged, brutally beautiful.

Bella is very naive, and has experienced very little of the world outside of the safety bubble of her parent’s home. We experience a myriad of emotions with Bella, from her guilt about leaving her mother in poor health, to her intense attraction for Carlisle and her confusion and uncertainty about her new surroundings, and new acquaintances.

The beginning of the story sets up Bella and Carlisle’s relationship, she adores him, and he in turn treats her with nothing but absolute kindness. As the initial chapters progress, we, through Bella’s eyes, are learning more and more about Carlisle, whilst feeling we actually know less and less about who he actually is. In short, Carlisle is a very complex, and I feel, dangerous man. Bella, who is perhaps initially blinded by love and innocence starts to see glimpses of what Carlisle is capable of.

Only years later will I realize how thick and overgrown my denial is at this moment.

Their relationship is, on the surface fairly strong, despite the fact that Bella really knows very little about the man she is married to, but if you read closely you’ll start to get the picture that things are not a rosy as they ought to be:

I want to talk to Carlisle about it, but heis in his father's office. His short break from working non-stop is obviously over.

And, of course, the true nature of Carlisle’s work is still a mystery.

It is a family emergency of Carlisle’s which results in the married couple returning to the US. This brings Bella, and indeed the readers to Edward. Edward is Carlisle’s nephew who lives in the US, on Ravine Creek with his cousin Alicia and her husband Jasper, niece Eliza, aunt Esme and helps look after Carlisle’s frail mother, Estelle.

Bella’s first real thoughts about Edward compare him to her husband:

Edward smiles at me and shakes my hand. He looks familiar to me, and then I realize it is because he has shadows of sameness to my husband. They could almost be brothers. Eddie is a bit taller and is much younger. He looks to be about my age.

But there is something about his eyes, something inside them that reminds me of Carlisle. Some kind of kindness layered with secrecy. I could never put my finger on a way to describe it. Until now.

So far, we know very little of Edward but this much I know - I’m already really liking him. He is kind, generous and loves his family. He forms an instant connection with our Isabella, sharing some deep, heart breaking family secrets with her, only days after meeting. Secrets which Carlisle hasn’t been able to tell her after more than a year of marriage. At this moment, Edward is still as much of a mystery as Carlisle, but I wait with bated breath to see how the dynamic between them shifts and their relationship grows. One thing is for certain, this Bella would not take cheating on her husband lightly at all, yet another intriguing piece of this ever expanding puzzle.

The main plot point of the story is strong enough to carry it effortlessly, but with cherry.blossomz you get so much more. The secondary characters have their own secrets and lives. In Italy, Rosalina, Felix and Emmetto have their own subplots, their own very real issues. In the US we have barely scratched the surface with Carlisle’s family.

The subplots add an extra dimension to the story and, for me, enhance the reading experience. You’ll grow to sympathise with Rosalina, laugh with Emmetto and want to string Felix up by the balls. In Rosalina, Bella finds a woman, who is on the surface very loyal to Carlisle, but we will later find out she knows far more of Carlisle than she is letting on.

Each time I look at my husband, I have to think about what Rosalina said.

 As Bella discovers more about Carlisle’s family, we will too.

With the Lights Out is one of those amazing stories that leave you with more questions than answers after every chapter. It’s very well written and paced, often providing you with just enough information to keep you wanting more.

I can say, with complete honesty, that I am just as interested in unravelling the complexities of Carlisle Cullen as I am in observing how the relationship between Edward and Bella comes to fruition, and I can pay no greater compliment than that.

WTLO will leave you looking for little clues which might shed some light on the mysteries and puzzles cherry.blossomz has expertly crafted.

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