Reading Reviews for The Art of Surviving
  
4 Reviews Found

Review #1, by victoria_anne The Ripple Effect

5th May 2016:
Hey Isobel! ♥

(I'm reviewing as I read! Prepare for me throwing random thoughts at you!)

That opening scene is amazing! Very eerie, and kind of reminiscent of poor Frank Bryce at the Riddle House - I loved it! (In a sad way) Your descriptions are so incredible.

And oh, that plan Megan's family had to put into place. It's very real and very scary. I can already tell that Megan is a strong, brave person (duh, she's a Puff), I love how she can think quickly and logically under pressure.

Even on the French border! Man, she handled that well, but how confusing and unnerving that must have been!

We never really heard too many details about the Muggle-borns persecuted in the books (not in the detail you've described, at any rate) so I never really thought about the idea of refugees, but it's painfully realistic. The thought you've put into this is outstanding.

Oh no! They don't believe the Ministry has fallen! What does this mean for Megan and her family?! Argh!

I really do hope you update this soon! It's such an amazing collection (and I'd be saying that even if I wasn't in Hufflepuff!) and I'm enjoying it immensely. Can't wait to read Sally-Ann's story!

Keep up the amazing work ♥

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Review #2, by Dirigible_Plums Fool for Love

29th March 2016:
WHAT.

NO.

(Hi, it's Plums with your requested review! I could've sworn I had already left this, but apparently not. Anyway, let's go back to my reaction.)

I repeat: WHAT. NO. WHAT.

I can honestly say I did not know what to expect when I began reading this, but it was not this. I don't know how you managed to get me rooting for Stephen/Sophie from the moment he follows after her in first year, but you did. So that ending truly broke me, it did. I think what surprised me is how I didn't dislike anyone in the love triangle - not Justin, not Stephen or Sophie - which is unusual because love triangles tend to make you root for one person and hate the other. It's even more unusual when you consider that Stephen kissed Sophie when she was in a relationship (which is not okay despite how well they worked) and that Sophie responded with a Hate Potion! When I saw that, I actually had to sit back in shock. It was such a drastic measure! :O

Your characterisation here is amazing and the rate at which you develop your characters is even more so, especially since you encompass so many years within the one shot. Nothing felt unbelievable or rushed in any aspect - not the development of his relationships with either Sally-Anne or Sophie or the rate at which the years flew by.

Really, I don't think there's any negative to the story. I'm in awe of how you managed to write the characters we know so well (Ernie shines in my mind) and the ones that we don't (such as Stephen himself) seem so...normal. It's as if there is no other way to write him, that this is how he is in canon. That's how good it is.

I particularly like the little things you mention. For example, at the beginning when the Prefects mention that Hufflepuff like to have the new first years get to know each other properly in meetings like this is such a brilliant idea (and very Hufflepuff too!). And how Megan is disdainful of the fact that Wayne speaks English primarily. Little things like that really add to the realism of this piece.

Despite its length, I don't think this was hard to read at all. I never felt like I was being overwhelmed and you had me hooked until the very end. This was brilliant.

Plums xo

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Review #3, by victoria_anne Fool for Love

23rd March 2016:
Isobel! *hug*

I'm here for the review exchange! But, if I'm being honest, I had actually meant to check this out before. *shuffles feet* I'll admit the word count is what put me off. Of course, the number of words is daunting at a glance. So I made me a game plan. Bianca, I said to myself, You've got plenty of time to read this, why not break it up over a number of days?

But guess what?

I read it in one sitting.

Once I started, I could. Not. Stop. I think I only got up to grab a cup of tea and some chocolate (both were delicious, by the way). I didn't even take notes like I usually do as I read! I mean, I started, then got completely sucked into your writing and the story and the characters and and and *takes deep breath*

Okay, we're calm.

Where do I even start on the beauty that is this story? Okay I think the main thing for me is the POV (and I'll just sneak in here I love the present tense too - I hardly ever read that) and I don't just mean Stephen (though of course he's amazing too!).

It's the fact that this runs parallel with Harry's story and it's so incredibly refreshing to have such a familiar world with (hardly) any mention of him. It was realistic, a reminder of how three dimensional the people are and how life goes on when Harry's not centre stage. Especially during Snape's time as headmaster - that broke my heart. All of Sophie's pain...

*sniff* It's just something in my eye, I'm not crying YOU'RE CRYING

Speaking of Sophie... God she's amazing. I absolutely love the detail of her trying to solve all of her problems with potions (rather reminiscent of Hermione and her books). She's fleshed out, she's real, she's relatable, she's vulnerable. I found myself falling in love with her as Stephen did!

And Stephen! What a wonderfully interesting character, considering his family. I'm a sucker for family drama and blood status stories. Yeah, I'm weird like that. But...but... That can't be it for them... can it? ISOBEL DON'T YOU DARE BREAK MY HEART.

So now...

Am I going to read Vanishing Acts? Yes.
Will I continue to read this collection? Yes.
Do I love you and your writing? Yes.
Am I done with this review yet? Eh, not quite. Soz.

PUFF PRIDE!

Just going to throw that in there for the obvious reasons. I love how you had the backstories for each of the Hufflepuffs, and I especially love Justin's story! The whole chapter was just focused on what went on in the (den? burrow? lair? Have we decided yet?) and I love it because we never got that from the books.

Also, TAROT CARDS! I read them and love them so much, especially when they crop up in stories! I love how you have taken a card and been inspired to come up with this chapter, the Two of Cups is perfect for Stephen and Sophie's relationship.

Wherever you're going with this, I'm intrigued. I honestly cannot wait to read more from you and this universe.

Also I'm really hoping I didn't forget anything in this review. Just know that I absolutely adore this story so far. *snuggle*

Love Bianca

P.S. Whew! Longest review ever, much? I think I rivalled your chapter here!

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Review #4, by Jayna Fool for Love

4th March 2016:
Hey there Isobel, here for your requested review! First of all, I'll admit that a 13,000 word chapter is a bit intimidating. Just had to get that out there. Aside from that, I also have to mention that I ADORE your summary. It's just beyond intriguing, flows fantastically, and just AH! So yeah, great job on your summary. In addition, I can't remember where I say you talk a little about this story (maybe it was the summary help thread or the title help thread or something), but let me just say that this sounds like an amazing idea. As a (Slyther)Puff myself, I remember reading that and being excited to read this, and now I'm getting a chance to!

You've got a ton of interesting things going on and you do a great job of describing what's going on enough for the reader to picture and understand it, but not too much that it slows the story down. This read almost like a short story, or a mini-short story, so sometimes it becomes a little difficult to keep focusing on it, but the pace of the chapter is wonderful. I mean, there's quite a bit going on, and while that keeps things interesting, it also makes a little difficult to keep track of all the stuff going on in this one chapter. I love how this piece follows Stephen through his entire 6 years at Hogwarts, it gives a lot of time for his character to really develop and grow.

I think you did a FANTASTIC job with Stephen (and this whole chapter in general). His subconscious love for Sophie is the stuff of YA novels, but it's incredibly relatable and the way you portray it definitely makes it feel realistic. I mean, you don't start out with any sort of romantic tension, and it seems that they became friends first before Stephen realized how much he cared about her. I think that's why it feels so realistic, because you've got Stephen over here doing anything and everything for his best friend, so to be honest, if a best friend does that much, and cares that much, I'd almost be surprised if there weren't some romantic feelings.

The actual story line with Sally-Anne seems realistic, but to me at least, I never really connected with Sally-Anne in this story, if that makes sense. She just felt more like a prop than a character. I think that might've been because it felt like she broke up with Stephen because it advanced the story-line. Perhaps show some hint of her noticing that Stephen loves Sophie before having her break up with him? I don't know, that's just my opinion.

One other thing, I believe you meant caught on to the fact, not cottoned on to the fact in this sentence. :p

Snape has cottoned on to the fact Sophie does more of the actual brewing when she and Stephen work together, and has split them up: she's with three Ravenclaws and theirs is indisputably the best group in the class, while Stephenís partners are Ernie, Hannah and Sally-Anne.

So, to recap, love you summary, Stephen's characterization, and Sophie's. It feels like their motives make sense and they are acting like real people, not puppets of the author. Flow is fantastic, but this is quite a long chapter. However, you're right and there's just no way to shorten it without removing some of the substance that makes it so wonderful. Anyway, if this is Stephen's chapter, I can't wait to find out what's up with Slughorn and the dungeons and all those other things and here it from Sophie's point of view! Great job on this!

-Jayna

Author's Response: Jayna! ♥

First of all, thank you /so much/ for reading this one-shot (which is nearer 14k tbh) and I did consider carefully whether I should split it in half. However, TAoS is a collection of one-shots, and I felt having Stephen's chapter split up would negatively affect the collection by not having each chapter/one-shot as a standalone piece. And thank you -- I'm so pleased you liked the summary! Yes, I did post it in the Summary Help thread, and yay for Slytherpuffs! *high fives*

I actually intended for this one-shot to be quite brief, say ~3k and being 5k at the max, but once I stopped writing I found that I couldn't stop. There was just so much that needed to be told about Stephen and Sophie. It was meant to be /short/ snapshots but just spiralled completely out of my control. Oops. I'm pleased that you felt it was interesting and well-paced, and I'll look again at the chapter to see if there's any way I can reduce the overwhelming amount of information being flung at the reader.

THANK YOU!! I was so worried about the believability of Stephen's love for Sophie, so it's wonderful to hear that you think they're portrayed realistically and that you as a reader can relate to him. ♥ Having Stephen and Sophie as friends was definitely necessary, since I didn't want him to love her romantically from day one at age 11, and from the moment I thought of the plot, they've always been a duo (up until Stephen's mistake, of course) and therefore it was necessary for them to have some sort of history before the love developed. (I kind of silently compared Stephen a little with Ron in this chapter; they're similar in some ways, but Stephen possesses more self-awareness than Ron to understand his feelings for Sophie which is why they don't bicker much until fifth year.)

Poor Sally-Anne indeed! I was concerned about Stephen coming across as some sort of obsessed schoolboy, so I felt he needed a girlfriend at some point hence his relationships with Sally-Anne and Mandy. I did consider adding interactions in between Stephen and Sally-Anne to show the reader the cracks in their relationship prior to the break up, but that would have extended the word count even further, so... :P Sally-Anne's letter is intended to be a surprise to Stephen, because he's so oblivious to anything and anyone that isn't Sophie that he doesn't notice the cracks developing beforehand. Silly boy.

I actually /did/ mean cottoned on to the fact -- it's an idiom that I say often! :P Perhaps it's indigenous to the UK?

Thank you so much for such a lovely, lengthy review, Jayna. ♥ If you're interested in reading from Sophie's perspective, her initial one-shot for this story morphed into a 32k+ novella during NaNo so she now has her own story, Vanishing Acts, which is up on my AP and the second chapter is in the queue as I type this. ;) My second attempt at her one-shot is fortunately not so long, but it features more Justin and is the penultimate chapter of TAoS -- sorry!

Once again, thank you!

-Isobel


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