Fantasy is More Fun

Fantasy is More Fun is a book blog started July 9, 2013 all about the joy of escaping reality through reading, because fantasy worlds are more fun! I wish I were an adventurous reader, but in truth I have a few favorite genres and I really like to stick to them. You can expect book reviews in the following genres: fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, dystopian/utopian, mythology, young adult, new adult, sci-fi, romance, and erotica. From time to time a book outside my preferred genres will sound so good that I have to give it a try and, if I like it, I’ll feature it here.

Reading progress update: I've listened 390 out of 601 minutes.

Sealed with a Curse - Cecy Robson

Reading progress update: I've listened 470 out of 778 minutes.

Chasing Magic - Stacia Kane

Oh god! Chess! Why?!?!

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

Deadly Curiosities - Gail Z. Martin

So the creepy elements are SO working for me! I keep getting seriously creeped out reading this at night. The detective elements aren't quite my cup of tea, but they're still solid. Hoping to finish up tomorrow night at latest :)

Not Quite As Good As The First

The Scorch Trials - James Dashner

My Initial Reaction... 
The Scorch Trials was not quite as good as The Maze Runner, but I still liked it and am very curious to see what's coming next.

Note:There are some series spoilers in this review.

The Characters... 
I mentioned in my review of The Maze Runner that I felt like it was the story that made it strong, not the characters. I continue to feel that way with The Scorch Trials, but I think that was more of a problem this time around. The mystery has been lifted a bit, so while there are still mysterious elements, you know the bigger picture. And that means that caring about the characters is SO much more important... and that's probably why I didn't like The Scorch Trials as much. 

The main character is still Thomas and it's definitely still good that the story is told exclusively from his point of view. But whereThe Maze Runner had almost no romance, in The Scorch Trialsromance is a dominant theme - and, for me at least, it didn't work. Thomas cares deeply for Teresa, but she's disappeared. Meanwhile this other girl - Brenda - shows up and he starts having confusing feelings for her. It seems like maybe she likes him romantically, but he can't see her as anything more than a friend because he still holds out hope for Teresa. I think maybe I'm supposed to see the telepathy that he has with Teresa as something that fostered a really close bond, but I couldn't see that because they hadn't spent that much time together. 

The other characters fade in and out so much that I really can't say much about them - this is really Thomas and Teresa's story. And we've seen SO LITTLE of Teresa in the two books combined, that I don't know her at all (neither does Thomas IMHO, which is the problem). So anyway - yeah - the characters were a bit of weak point for me in The Scorch Trials

The Story... 
The story for the The Scorch Trials was still very good - James Dashner manages to pile on layer after layer of mystery. After the Gladers escaped from the Maze at the end of The Maze Runner they believe they've been brought to safety, but after one night they wake up to find out that they are in the middle of another test. And Teresa has vanished - replaced by a boy who just escaped from his own version of the maze. A maze populated by all girls and one boy. A Maze trial that was almost exactly like the one that the boys escaped. This is probably the strongest mystery in the series for me - why the two separate groups? What are they hoping to discover?

The Gladers end up in another test - transported to a land so hot they can't walk under the sun without protection. And they have to walk 100 miles north through a city populated by Cranks (people infected with the Flare) and that brings trials and challenges of it's own, especially when the two groups - the boys and the girls from the mazes - cross each other's path. I enjoyed seeing the two groups come into contact and I'm really curious to see what the story has in store for them after this. Another really interesting element are the memory flashbacks/dreams that Thomas has throughout The Scorch Trials. I'm fascinated by the hints we get about life before the maze and it definitely added to the mystery.

Concluding Sentiments... 
I wish that The Scorch Trials held as much mystery as The Maze Runner or that the characters had been a bit stronger. But the story is still compelling and I look forward to seeing the final resolution. 

Source: http://fantasyismorefun.com/2014/06/scorch-trials-james-dashner-book-review.html

New Setting with Lots of Fun

[ SECRETS THAT KILL: A SHELBY NICHOLS ADVENTURE ] By Helme, Colleen ( Author) 2013 [ Paperback ] - Colleen Helme

My Initial Reaction... 
I was really stuck between a 3.5 and a 4.5 when I first finishedSecrets That Kill. It's a BIG range, but there was one element that was fairly dominant in this story that I didn't like. At the same time, I LOVED the action and setting. In the end I landed on the middle with 4 stars. 

The Narration... 
Wendy Tremont King continues to be a pretty good narrator withSecrets That Kill. A few Hispanic accents popped up again and she really doesn't know what to do with them. I find it funny, though, and it doesn't actually hurt the reading for me. Otherwise, she's a solid voice for Shelby the MC. 

The Characters... 
I really love Shelby's personality and it continued strong inSecrets That Kill. As always it's her obsessive need to help everyone that gets her into trouble - she's just TOO good for her own good sometimes. The one thing that really bothered me inSecrets That Kill was the way she entertained thoughts about Ramos. It felt really out of character for Shelby - even though she always pushed those feelings away because she knew that she loved Chris, it just didn't jive with the Shelby I know. I know that it's perfectly natural to admire someone attractive and when they get thrown together as much as Shelby and Ramos did in Secrets That Kill it's probably bound to come up a bit more. But it went a bit further than felt right to me for Shelby. 

I think I also really missed the family element in Secrets That Kill. You get some phone conversations with Chris, but none with the kids. I guess after seeing Chris come so far in the last book, I wanted more of that -- Chris and Shelby together and against it all -- but got Shelby flying more solo than ever before. 

I did really enjoy that we got to know Ramos so much better inSecrets That Kill -- I've always liked him as a character and it was really great to get his back story. And even though it threw me for a loop, I have to admit that if it weren't something that felt out of character for Shelby - I DID like the little bit of awkwardness and tension between her and Carlos (which is why I'm still giving this 4 stars, rather than knocking it all the way down to 3.5). 

The Story... 
The story for Secrets That Kill was particularly strong. It kicks off with Shelby getting ready to head home from the family's vacation in Florida - but first she has to make a delivery for Uncle Joey. And in a spectacularly Shelby fashion it get WAY out of control. Before you know it, her life's in danger and she's playing high stakes poker (and with a mind reading ability, that's super cool!). The element of being on vacation - but without her bags - really gave this a fresh feel for the series, nothing felt too familiar - which could easily happen at this point in the series. I did miss some of the mystery elements - this didn't really seem to have one honestly - but the adventure was tons of fun and Shelby continues to keep everyone - including me - on their toes. 

Concluding Sentiments... 
I've come to love this series and I'm eagerly anticipating the release of the next book to audio later this month. 

I received this book for free from Audiobook Jukebox in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://fantasyismorefun.com/2014/06/secrets-kill-colleen-helme-audio-review.html

Good HR with Spunky Characters

Fool Me Twice - Meredith Duran

My Initial Reaction... 
I really enjoyed Fool Me Twice - it had a few twists that I wasn't expecting. And it fulfilled my craving for a good historical romance!

The Narration... 
Alison Larkin was the narrator for Fool Me Twice and she was a good fit. I don't know if she normally reads with a British accent or if it's her native accent, but it never felt like work. The accent - which she used in varying ways for men and women - was pretty necessary since Fool Me Twice takes place in England, and she successfully transported me there. As is normal for many female narrators, some of her male voices sounded a little off, but for the most part even they sounded great. I quickly got lost in the story and forgot I was being read to. 

The Characters... 
I was worried when I started Fool Me Twice that I might feel disconnected from the characters, since it's the second book in the series and I never read the first. However, I never felt any disconnect and the only character (I suspect) that really overlaps between the two books is Olivia, the main character. 

Overall I liked Olivia. It takes a lot of spunk to decide your going to pose as a housekeeper and steal the Lord of the house's private documents to blackmail a member of the government. And as you get to know Olivia's past, it's not surprising that she has this kind of backbone. She has not had an easy life and is stronger for it. The only thing that really bothered me was that Olivia has so many contradictions. As the housekeeper she constantly makes a big deal about propriety and how the staff are behaving - even though she doesn't actually care about the household. She just feels it's so wrong. But then she makes these statements (which she follows through on) that she isn't a woman who believes only in relations after marriage. The contradiction really bothered me, but other than that, I liked her. 

Fool Me Twice includes the point of view of Alastair (The Duke of Marwick, who she works for) and I think this was essential to my liking him from the get-go. Seen only from Olivia's point of view, I might not have liked him because he was so mean to her! But he really is a man dealing with incredible anger after the death of his wife, who he learned had been betraying him their entire marriage. This knowledge made his angry moments rather hot, actually. He was just a very Alpha male - which I love. And the connection between him and Olivia was particularly great. Some of their banter was great for fans of sexual tension and when it escalated it delights those who want a bit more ;)

The Story... 
The story for Fool Me Twice was a solid one, with several twists that I did not expect. I figured them out literally AS they were being revealed. I love a story like that and I only wonder if reading book one might have made me have better guesses. I'm definitely planning to go back and read it to find out. But I never felt like I was missing any important information, so it does work on its own. 

The premise is that Olivia's been chased, since her mother's death, by the henchmen of Lord Burtrum (I'm unsure of the spelling - audiobook problems lol). But she's learned that Alastair has some documents that could blackmail him - so she goes to work for Alastair to steal the documents. This becomes a greater challenge than she anticipated because Alastair refuses to leave his rooms (where the documents seem most likely to be). So Olivia has to work on "fixing him" to get him out of his rooms - thus creating fun moments where they get to know each other and antagonize each other. 

One other element I really loved about Fool Me Twice was the passing between realms of the house. Olivia is staff, Alastair is the Duke. It had this Downton Abbey feel that I absolutely loved - and Meredith Duran did an excellent job capturing the historical world she wrote her characters into. 

Concluding Sentiments... 
A fun mystery with a sexy romance, Fool Me Twice was a thoroughly enjoyable historical and I plan to read more from this series. 

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

Reading progress update: I've listened 211 out of 778 minutes.

Chasing Magic - Stacia Kane

I can't express how awesome it is to read about two men getting married and no one questioning it or even remarking on it. Its 100% natural and normal to absolutely everyone. I like this dystopia!

Reading progress update: I've listened 131 out of 778 minutes.

Chasing Magic - Stacia Kane

I wish Terrible thought more of himself - I'm glad Chess isn't letting him back down!

Reading progress update: I've read 72 out of 368 pages.

Death's Redemption - Marie Hall

Loving this! I'm really curious about what kind of sup she is now!   

Best one yet!

Cress - Marissa Meyer

My Initial Reaction... 
OMG Why isn't Winter out already?!? Cress was incredible and I'm dying for the next book!

The Narration... 
Rebecca Soler is a narrator I wouldn't think twice about listening to again. She's done a fantastic job with this series and Cress is no different. The characters are really growing - and that means more accents and personalities. Rebecca doesn't miss a beat! Each character's voice comes across with a unique personality. I listened to Cress at 3x speed and it still sounded great. 

Note:Expect some series spoilers. 

The Characters... 
Before reading Cress I had been warned that I may not like her for the first half or so of the book. Personally, though, I LOVED Cress from the get go. She's wacky - but in a way that's makes perfect sense. The girls been locked up in a SATELLITE for 7 years! If she weren't a little nutty, I think I wouldn't have believed it. She's created this computer friend - little Cress (because it has her younger voice) - and they play games together. She works out and watches the human news reports. And she's obsessed with Captain Thorne. Let's just say, in this fairy tale re-do she is Rapunzel and Captain Thorne is her Prince. 

I loved Captain Thorne in Cress. He's so cocky, but rather than being annoying, it's hilarious. And then he's also a messed up kind of chivalrous. In that he's a disaster - but he's got great intentions. The other characters continued to develop - though we really saw very little of Scarlet and Wolf to my dismay. Iko developed so much in Cress and I loved every minute with her. She's got such a great personality, I really have a hard time remembering that she's not actually human. She's increasingly more integral to the team and is doing things I wouldn't have dreamed she'd do way back in Cinder

We also finally met Winter in Cress. I'm so excited to get to know her better in Winter because she is UNIQUE. If you think Cress sounds weird, just wait. Winter is off her rocker! But the reason - no I'm not going to tell you why. Read it! - tells you so much about her. She's a GOOD person. She's got a good heart and I can't wait to see what she does in her book. 

The Story... 
Like the other books, Cress is loosely connected to a fairy tale - this time Rapunzel. Marissa Meyer amazes me with the way she's able to take a few pivotal details from a fairy tale and reshape it to a whole new story. Especially connecting so many disparate fairy tales into one much larger story. And this master story is GOOD! Cinder's crew decided to contact Cress right at the start of the book and when they find out she's being held prisoner, they decide to go rescue her. You can just imagine all the ways that could and did go wrong. 

And then there's also Cinder's plans to take care of Queen Levana - especially since Kai announced his engagement to Levana in Scarlet. Those plans get exciting and action ensues. It was so exciting to see the plans come together, along with all the unexpected twists and turns Marissa Meyer threw in. 

Concluding Sentiments... 
Cress was a great combination of humor, twists and turns, not to mention action packed. I can't wait for the conclusion to this great series. 

Source: http://fantasyismorefun.com/2014/06/cress-marissa-meyer-audio-review.html

Shelby's becoming a detective :)

Lie or Die - Colleen Helme

I received this book for free from Audiobook Jukebox in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Initial Reaction... 
I continue to enjoy Shelby's adventures! Lie or Die was a bit more active detective work on Shelby's part than the others and I loved seeing her solve her cases!

The Narration... 
Wendy Tremont King IS Shelby for me at this point. Her voice just matches the personality perfectly. Otherwise, she's an okay narrator. I'm not blown away by her male voices - they lack a bit of masculinity as female narrators often do, but they are not bad at all. There we no accents to trip her up like in the last book, so this was a more solid read for me. 

The Characters... 
Shelby is THE reason to read this series. In Lie or Die I got more of the spunky, honest-to-a-fault, suburban housewife turned detective. I particularly love Shelby's inner dialogue when she's thinking about what she'd LIKE to do to someone and the ways she talked herself out or into doing those things. She's up against a PI in Lie or Die and he keeps following her around - making himself a nuisance - and I laughed my ass off seeing Shelby interact with him and deal with him. She's got quite the personality. 

My favorite thing about the characters in Lie or Die was the personal development on the part of Chris - Shelby's husband - and, as a consequence, their marriage. He's been struggling, as I imagine any husband would, with Shelby's ability to read his mind. But what has bothered me in the previous books were the things Shelby would hear... Chris didn't see her as the strong woman she is. But in Lie or Die I think he's finally getting it. Sure, he's still super protective of her, but he's also letting her be super protective of him. They're much more of a team, even if Shelby still has to hide things from him (I LOVE the way she rationalizes when to lie to him BTW. It felt very familiar). The result is my loving their relationship that much more! 

The Story... 
So with Lie or Die Shelby's finally opened her own private consulting business! We've seen this coming since book 1 and I felt really giddy when I realized it was finally happening. Shelby's case is to find the missing money from the bank robbery we learned about in Fast Money and Lie or Die took on a stronger detective feel than the previous books for this reason. Shelby's having to actively find and put together clues - and she's good at it! I have to say, I worried that this would make me like the series less since I am NOT your procedural girl. But Lie or Die never felt procedural - probably because of Shelby's personality and the mix of family life. 

Of course, there's always more going on in Shelby's world than just one case. As usual, she's also working with the police. This time Dimples has called her in to help with an FBI (or was it CIA? IDK, all the same to me...) case and it definitely upped the stakes. I love seeing Shelby working with the police, since this is where we get to see some truly great moments where her abilities do good for people, rather than corporations or the mob.

Speaking of Uncle Joey - he's landed in it again too - and what do you know, this time the problem's are pulling in Chris! The case he's working on involves Uncle Joey and as a result, he's facing threats and real danger. I loved this twist because now more than ever Chris is learning to work with Shelby, rather than fighting her powers. 

Concluding Sentiments... 
All-in-all Lie or Die was another great installment in the Shelby Nichols Adventures and I can't wait to see what messes Shelby lands in next time!

Source: http://fantasyismorefun.com/2014/06/lie-die-colleen-helme-audio-review.html

Better than I expected!

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

My Initial Reaction... 
The Maze Runner was much better than I expected. Not something I typically would have picked up, but was on the list for book club. Now I now need to track down the rest of the books! 

The Characters... 
The main character in The Maze Runner is a young boy of about 16 named Thomas. When the book begins he's waking up in a metal box in the ground, no clue where he is, why he's there, orwho he is. Thomas knows his name, but that's it. His memory has been wiped. I really loved that The Maze Runner was told ONLY from his point of view, because it makes figuring out what's going on that much more complicated. Thomas has all these instinctive abilities and desires - and even those instincts are to be questioned. He's a smart boy and I loved watching him figure out the mystery - because I couldn't do it. 

We get to know quite a few other characters in the Maze. They were well written and I could visualize each boy so clearly - they all have such strong personalities and sometimes that brings them into conflict. I will say, though, that this definitely isn't a character driven novel. You get to know the characters, but they don't drive it forward. It's the story - particularly the mystery - that kept me turning the pages. 

The Story... 
The Maze Runner is a brilliant concept. These boys have all been put in the Glade - an area at the center of a Maze - over a period of about two years without their memories. They don't know why they are there but they are trying to get out. So a group of boys, called Runners because they have to run to get through the maze, go out every day to try and find the way. After two years they haven't found a way because 1 - the walls move every night and 2 - it's dangerous out there. Weird creatures are in the maze and they are hunting the boys, trying to kill them. 

When Thomas arrives at the maze, things start going differently and the boys are convinced his arrival has something to do with it. Thomas knows they are probably right, though he has no idea why. The mystery of how they ended up there, why, and how they're going to get out kept me turning the pages. By the end, I still hadn't guessed. Best part, though, was that once I found out, I could look back and see where I SHOULD have figured it out! 

Concluding Sentiments... 
The Maze Runner ends with an epilogue that let's you know that the mystery isn't quite as solved as you thought. There's more to come and I can't wait to read the rest. Thank goodness the entire trilogy is already out or I'd be so frustrated. It's not a cliffhanger per say, but it's enough to make the next book a must! 

Source: http://fantasyismorefun.com/2014/06/maze-runner-james-dashner-book-review.html

Reading progress update: I've read 62 out of 360 pages.

The Scorch Trials - James Dashner

Reading progress update: I've read 28 out of 313 pages.

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

Reading progress update: I've read 240 out of 374 pages.

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

Reading progress update: I've listend 389 out of 706 minutes.

Fool Me Twice - Meredith Duran

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