Just a little soapbox moment for me. I've been a user on Fanfiction.net for over 10 years now. Yes, that probably dates me quite a bit. I've been reading fan fiction since I was in high school. Never did I anticipate there would come a day when "unleashing your imagination" would come with a caveat. The first rec in this entry (along with other stories) was forcibly removed from the site, despite being appropriately rated by the author herself. I'll spare you the tirade, but let me appeal to your continued support for all authors whose imaginations have been deemed too hot for FF.net to handle. "Fire is catching," and, well, you know the rest. /soapbox
Title: "Two Wrongs"
Summary: "Katniss, you're my best friend and I love you but seriously––marry you?"
Recommendation: The plot of this story stems from the "Katniss and Peeta in an arranged marriage" situation attempted by a handful of fanfic writers. What makes JLaLa's story so wonderful is how realistic the circumstances faced by the characters are. JLaLa recycles familiar characters in believable roles, and I've been pleasantly surprised to find them parallel to their canon counterparts. Far from regurgitating the same storyline as the books, "Two Wrongs" stands on its own right, a roller-coaster of emotions that is light-hearted then heart-wrenching at times. Reading "Two Wrongs" makes me long to go back to the bay area, at least for a visit. JLaLa takes great care in including landmarks in her story, even providing useful footnotes about spots (and other pop culture references) mentioned in each chapter.
Title: "The Beast and His Belle"
Summary: His whole life was a masquerade. It wasn't until he met the outspoken Katniss Everdeen that Peter "Peeta" Mellark really began living.
Recommendation: The fact that I enjoy this story probably means that I'm a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey who isn't reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Falafel mentions that "Beast" is "somewhat inspired" by the runaway bestseller, but with a Hunger Games twist. The story is mostly light and playful, the kind of guilty pleasure you'd want to read while eating a tub of ice cream. Expect to blush violently every time you read a chapter from this story. What strikes me most about Falafel's story is that her Katniss remains feisty, fierce, and headstrong. On the other hand, you will meet a new side to Peeta, who is at his most charming, multiplied by about a hundred, raised to the power of fame and fortune; this Peeta equals irresistible. I'm partial to stories with developed settings, and if my "I ♥ NY" mug is any indication, this New York-based story has all the elements of being a must-read.
Aaaand that's all, folks! See you next month.