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Thread: Life Harsh and Life Hard by Soulburnt starting now - or whenever you are ready!

  1. #21
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    Priceless
    I don't know whether to read Life Hard, I'm worried it will take a turn and I won't be happy
    Yes it does take a huge turn at one point. People have been ranting about it in the commentaries on EF. But hey, this is a looooong story. We`re bound to expect a lot of heartbreaking things to happen.

    flow

    ETA: Okay, here are my thoughts on

    Life Harsh, chapter 1

    There is a lot to process in the first chapter of this story. At first we are in the 1920ies with Halfrek and Sarah, who is an angel but used to be Emma a human girl, who knew William. Then we get to NFA with Angel and Spike both getting dusted. This seems to happen in a different universe. I have to admit, that I did not really understand all of it, especially of Sally`s converstaion with Ibrahim.

    Life Harsh chapter 2

    But in the next chapter we are back to NFA with Spike, Angel and Gunn and they are surviving the battle this time. The writer says, that this is happening in "the most likely reality", which I understood as being a different dimension than the one in which Angel and Spike both died. But I am not sure about this.

    They seek shelter from the Senior Partners and meet Sally. I have to admit it took me a loooong time to figure out that Sally is Sarah, who once was Emma. But then I am a slow thinker. What I did not really get, was, why Spike did not recognize her, because he used to know her in his human days (as Emma). What I also haven`t figured out, is, if Sally knows that she is Sarah or if she only remembers herself as Sally the devoted wife of Henry who was turned by a Turok-Han and is now a souled vampire.

    I admit, that I very often just went with the flow in those first chapters. I was completely sucked in by the brilliant writing and sometimes shrugged off the things I did not or not at first understand.

    Life Harsh chapter 3

    Off we go to Cleveland, where we meet the ensemble and some original Slayers. My favorite one was - of course - Ute, the German Slayer. Go Ute!

    We also meet Buffy here and she is - as I said earlier to Priceless - hardened. She is a true General now and there is one point, when she admits that she knew that Spike was gonna die in the Hellmouth, where I was almost shocked. I`ll come back to that point later.

    I absolutely bought her conversation with Xander. That was so amazing. I have always said that Buffy and Xander are an impossible ship but the way they talked about seeking solace with each other was so convincingly written, that I am completely on board with it.
    There was another very important scene, where Buffy takes Spike to her bedroom and tells him she wants him and then she is having a flashback and everything falls apart. I have very recently read season 10 of the comics where at one point Buffy has a flashback, while she is in the shower and then kicks Spike. I was very happy, that they mentioned the AR at all in the comics and I was okay with how they did it. But I found the dealing with the AR in this fic so much better. Although it is the final blow for Spuffy, because Spike more or less runs away.

    Before the three souled vampires finally take off, they have a nice fight scene. I just want to mention that one, because I laughed out loud, when Buffy tells the Slayeres off: "Vampires: nine. Slayers: zero.

    That`s it, we leave Cleveland and head to

    Life Harsh chapter 4 and 5

    Those chapters are the heart and soul of this story. I have to admit I have never ever read anything remotley like this. Angel and Spike take some time off and settle into a quiet rural life on Sally`s farm in North Carolina. Here we get a call back to Buffy admitting that she foresaw Spike`s death in her prophetic Slayer dreams. Spike tells, how she was sobbing in her dreams and how he had to hold her in his arms. It broke my heart and it vindicated Buffy (a bit).

    But now Spike and Angel are on vacation in the South and they visit a honkey tonk bar, they watch fire works, they go square dancing, they make "moonshine", they fix an old motorbike, they watch tv, they go nightswimming, they talk. Then they talk some more. They get drunk. They fight. They talk some more. This is such an insight into both Spike`s and Angels`character. It is really beautifully done. All the while we feel a sexual tension building up between Spike and Sally. Finally in

    Life Harsh, chapter 6

    it all comes to an end. Angel goes off to meet Buffy and they end up in bed together. At the same time Spike and Sally also end up in each others arms. But it turns out that Sally has fallen in love with Spike and he can`t (yet?) return her feelings. At this point I even wished for him to be with Sally. Angel can have Buffy! Just let Spike have Sally! It won`t happen though.

    Spike learns, that Buffy chose him (over Angel) when she took him to her bedroom. An opportunity lost, because now she is with Angel. But there is (imho) no happy Bangel ending either, because when they all come together again because of another apocalypse, Buffy is already mad at Angel and Angel gets to see Spike and Buffy fighting together. That scene is beautiful by the way. Then Sally falls into a kind of a demon trap during the fight and can`t go back to our current dimension. We leave Buffy, Angel and Spike in the middle of an apocalypse and we never knwo, what happened to them. Or did I miss something here? Sally gets to make a wish before she has to move on - to where? Does she go back to being an Avenging Angel? Anyway, she makes a wish, that only changes one minor detail and that wish takes us back to Sunnydale post The Gift. And that`s where this story ends.

    I am not sure, if Life Hard takes place in the dimension of Life Harsh only back in time or if we are in another dimension (the third one?) altogether. I`d like to hear, what you more clever people think about that.

    flow
    Last edited by flow; 04-11-18 at 08:23 PM.
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  3. #22
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    I'm power reading my way through Life Hard. Sally takes an action in the past that changes the future. Confused? Don't be. I love the writing. Soulburnt is a world class writer. The story still isn't remotely like anything that I imagined and Buffy is still very different than how I view her BUT the story is spuffy now which just goes to prove I'll read anything well written with a spuffy storyline. I think soulburnt is doing a fairly common thing that I see in fanfics, spike is almost too good. Too smart, to honest, to perfect, to everything. I totally get that from the sense that it's SPIKE. I love that character. To me though Spike, and well all my favorite Buffyverse characters really including Buffy, are special because I love them despite how flawed they are. So although I don't mind that Spike is all seeing, all knowing, all special, all wonderful it's not really my Spike. I have grown to love a well written Dawn & Spike friendship so that is enjoyable. In fact I'd have to say this story has the most positive scooby + spike relationships of any story I've ever read. So long story short, I'm flying through the chapters because the writing is so easy to follow, I like the story even though I can't say I find it believable and I'm terrified that something is going to end the spuffy story and bring back the bangel plot. My guess is the thing that will end spuffy is spangel and I guess I can handle that!


    I like who I am when Im with him. I like who we are together.

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    Have you reached the huge plot wtist yet? Don`t tell me, what it is, because I want to read it for myself. Just want to know, whether you made it beyond it or not?

    flow
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    not yet. I'm on chapter 33 so I must be close, right? Do you know when it happens?


    I like who I am when Im with him. I like who we are together.

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    Oh I'm torn, I don't know whether to read it or not. I'm not a fan of perfect-Spike or it's-all-her-fault-Buffy, but I did enjoy Soulburnt's writing . . .

    I think I shall wait for the final reviews to come in, when you've all read it, and see how I feel about the twist.

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    I'm not enjoying the twist.


    I like who I am when Im with him. I like who we are together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoSpuffy View Post
    I'm not enjoying the twist.
    Could you tell me what the twist is? Can you put it in a pm or under Spoilers?

  12. #28
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    Go on. I‘ve read the comments on EF and they all said, it‘ a worth it.

    flow
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    what I can say, without spoilers, is I would not be surprised if soulburnt is a professional, published author. The story itself is complex and skillfully written. The original characters are vibrant and feel full formed and thought out. The regular characters are for the most part very well written. Giles is Giles, Xander is Xander etc. I guess where I'm lost is this is one of those "Buffy is completely changed by heaven and becomes a different person" story. Lots of times people write her as more severely depressed than was shown on screen and I can mostly go along with that because it is just perspective. However as a solid spuffy fan I hate to see Buffy make choices that make me mad and I hate to see Spike suffer and be unhappy. I totally view Spike as "love's bitch" but at the same time I think he has more pride and more stones than we're seeing. I'm still reading because of the strength of the story telling. I'm trying to enjoy it for what it is and not what I want my vision of a spuffy romance to be. There is a lot of vampire story extension (family bed, touching foreheads etc) added to the story and I'm okay with all that. I think that despite being a great story it makes me feel so bad for Buffy and Spike I can't quite say I'm enjoying it. I keep hoping for a spuffy ending but this has been a rollercoaster ride. A great story should sweep you up and make you feel things, even things you don't like, and this story certainly does that.


    I like who I am when Im with him. I like who we are together.

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    Has anyone actually finished Life Hard yet?

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    No but I'm still valiantly reading. It has completely consumed my spare time. I'm getting near the end. I think it would be called an "alt universe" story. It really isn't a story I would write because I see it differently but I have to stay this is probably the most epic spuffy story I've ever read. I recommend it for you Priceless. I have another long story Save the Last Dance for Me by Passion4Spike on my bookshelf. It may have to wait until I've recovered from Life Hard.


    I like who I am when Im with him. I like who we are together.

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    Now that I know more, I will go back to it. I drifted into the fanfic wormhole.
    Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments...The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are.

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    If you recommend it GoSpuffy, I will give it a go. But I'm bracing myself

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    It's a rollercoaster but it really is a fanfic like no other. Just be prepared to commit some serious time to reading it.

    - - - Updated - - -

    One thing that has occurred to me while reading Life Hard is I think the author, Soulburnt, truly loves every single Buffy and Angel character. So often someone becomes the "bad guy" in fanfics but Soulburnt makes the bad guys be bad guys and really cares for all the main cast characters.


    I like who I am when Im with him. I like who we are together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoSpuffy View Post
    One thing that has occurred to me while reading Life Hard is I think the author, Soulburnt, truly loves every single Buffy and Angel character. So often someone becomes the "bad guy" in fanfics but Soulburnt makes the bad guys be bad guys and really cares for all the main cast characters.
    So do each of the characters become 'the bad guy' at one time or another, or are the bad guys characters we've not met before? Is Buffy the bad guy quite often?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post
    So do each of the characters become 'the bad guy' at one time or another, or are the bad guys characters we've not met before? Is Buffy the bad guy quite often?
    huh? I think you misunderstand. In lots of other fics a character becomes the bad guy, usually Willow, Xander or Giles. In this story the author either uses bad guys from the show or creates her own bad guys. She treats all the main characters with love and respect


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    Quote Originally Posted by GoSpuffy View Post
    huh? I think you misunderstand. In lots of other fics a character becomes the bad guy, usually Willow, Xander or Giles. In this story the author either uses bad guys from the show or creates her own bad guys. She treats all the main characters with love and respect
    Ahhh, sorry, yes I was reading it completely wrongly. I thought you meant that all the characters could be seen as the bad guy at some point through the fic. That makes me feel better though, because in the first fic an actual angel tells Buffy she's a terrible person and that's where I stopped reading. I much prefer it if all the main characters are their usual flawed-but -basically-good selves, and there is no bashing.

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    Ive done it. I've read life harsh and life hard. It feels like a huge accomplishment to me. I invested so many hours to this AU story. I can't even fathom how the author must have felt after dedicating so much time to telling this epic story. When I first started reading I didn't love it because it was so "alternate" and not all that spuffy. The quality of the writing, the attention to detail, the original characters and the incredible detail that went into the text made it so I couldn't put it down. In the end it had the spuffiest of all endings and I'm glad that I persevered for that reason alone. I'm kind of blown away by the story. It's so long and so detailed with so many twists and turns it is almost impossible to say more than "wow". So Wow. Thank you for the journey soulburndt


    I like who I am when Im with him. I like who we are together.

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    Ah, thanks for letting us know, GoSpuffy. I am glad you enjoyed it. I still haven`t dared to start with Life Hard, just because of the length of this story.

    Soulburnt made a joke in the EF shoutbox yesterday referring to Tolstoi`s War and Peace, but I checked and found out, that Life Hard has twice the word count of War and Peace. Twice. Can you believe this?

    I thinking about retiring, just to find the time to read it....

    flow
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    I really tried. I got to chapter 15 and I couldn't go on. Spike seemed far too white-washed and Buffy just felt like she was being blamed for everything and nothing she did/said was right. I felt so sorry for her, and I couldn't continue reading.

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