Giveaway & Review: Birthright by E. J. Stevens

StevensBirthrightWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Publisher: Sacred Oaks Press (2016)

Narrators: Melanie A. Mason, Anthony Bowling

Length: 7 hours 4 minutes

Series: Book 4 Ivy Granger

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 4 in the series, I think it works mostly OK as a stand alone.

Ivy Granger, paranormal PI for Harborsmouth, is in hiding. Supposedly she’s dead and she doesn’t want to let her enemies know otherwise. But she needs to work in order to buy groceries. A simple wispy job will lead Ivy on a quest through the Celtic underworld to the Wisp Kingdom in order to learn more about her father.

I’ve really been enjoying this series and Book 3, Burning Bright, has been my favorite so far. Parts of this book have that same quality as Book 3 but other parts felt like they were still in final draft mode and needed just another little push to tie everything together. It’s still a complete story and some significant things happen, so if you’re a fan of the series I still think it’s worth the time. I just think that Book 3 was more polished and that set the bar for this book.

Jinx and Ivy adopted Sparky, a baby fire demon, in the previous book. He’s still around and provides some comic relief. It’s also nice to see the domestic side to Ivy. Then we get to learn a little about Jinx’s family, which was cool. I love that Jinx still accessorizes with a crossbow.

Ivy has to leave on this quest to learn more about her father, taking Ceff (her kelpie prince boyfriend) and Torn (a flirtatious cat sidhe). There’s some pretty cool scenes as they make their way to the Celtic underworld. Very exciting! I love all the mythology built into the plot. Torn has some of the best lines, being a flirt and sometimes sarcastic.

Once we get to the land of the Wisps, big things happen to Ivy. She meets a relative, gets some life-changing news, and these events leave her changed. All of that, big picture-wise, is good. But the details felt penciled in. A certain character comes across as creepy and eventually evil long before the big reveal at the end and Ivy didn’t catch on. I want to believe she was glamoured but sometimes her own internal monologue seems to point out these things and then they’re dismissed in the next scene. I felt this was out of character for Ivy and found it hard to believe.

So we have this evil character and then Ivy’s friends are in peril. Significant time goes by in the second half of the book and I was left wondering why the evil character did not kill Ivy’s friends. It would have been simple, it would have solved problems. So that seemed like another break from logic.

Setting those criticisms aside, the big reveal at the end was great. I am very much interested to see where Ivy goes from here. Her life has been irrevocably changed by this installment in the series. I really like that Ivy is going to be forced to play in the big leagues by these changes.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review (thanks!).

Narration: Melanie Mason was once again a good voice for Ivy. She had to come up with some interesting sounds for Ivy when she was in the middle of fight or in pain. Anthony Bowling has replaced David Wilson Brown for all the male voices. Bowling did a fine job, but again, I had to adjust my inner expectations for inflections and such as I got used to Bowling. But once I did, all was well. I loved his voice for Torn, the cat sidhe. He makes a good flirt! I also liked his voice for baby Sparky the fire demon. I’m not too sure why the author keeps changing narrators with this series. I think if I sat down and tried to listen to them all back to back, it would be off-putting. They included a few sound effects, some of which worked well and others were slightly confusing until I was told what the sound, like the roar of the beast they meet on the way to the underworld. That didn’t sound like a roar at all. But other sound effects were spot on.

What I Liked:  Sparky the baby fire demon; learn more about Jinx’s family; traveling to the Celtic underworld; some big changes for Ivy; great cover art. 

What I Disliked: It wasn’t as polished as the previous book; yet another narrator change; a few little breaks in logic.

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Author Info

E.J. Stevens is the author of fourteen works of speculative fiction, including the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal romance series, the Hunters’ Guild urban fantasy series, and the award-winning Ivy Granger urban fantasy series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines.

When E.J. isn’t at her writing desk, she enjoys teaching writing workshops, dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Connect with E.J. on Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Pinterest, and on her Blog.

Giveaway Info

To celebrate the Birthright audiobook release and Audiobook Month, we are giving away a button, pen, custom earbuds, and a Birthright mini poster signed by the author to one lucky winner.  This giveaway is open Internationally.  Giveaway begins June 14, 2016 and ends June 29, 2016.

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Giveaway & Review: Burning Bright by E. J. Stevens

StevensBurningBrightWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Publisher: Sacred Oaks Press (2015)

Narrators: Melanie A. Mason, David Wilson Brown

Length: 7 hours 32 minutes

Series: Book 3 Ivy Granger

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, I think it works fine as a stand alone.

Ivy Granger returns for a third installment in the series. Her best friend Jinx is in dire straights – and Ivy is the only one who can save her, but at a cost. Someone may just have to die. Additionally, there’s a hoard of fire imps running lose, creating havoc in the city of Harborsmouth.

Previously, Ivy made a deal or two with the Green Lady (aka the glaistig) in a chaotic moment. Basically, Ivy owes her a favor, or two. And the Green Lady has called in her debt. It’s a doozy and Ivy is none too happy about it. But the fae have strict rules about deals and if Ivy doesn’t make good, then she may well become an assassin’s target. Yeah, this book was fun and I enjoyed it the most of the first three books in the series.

The plot has Ivy running all over the place trying to figure out how to get herself out of this jam while also saving her friend and not killing any other friends. It’s tough. Oh, and the vampires call in their mark, requiring Ivy to stop the fire imps. So, she’s got all sort s of pressures and she holds up well. The pacing and action are all great. There’s some small fight scenes but also several intense, dangerous situations that don’t necessarily end in violence. Some of these had me holding my breath as I didn’t know if Ivy would end up with some interesting scars or not.

Once again, this urban fantasy is steep in mythology, which I love. There’s various types of demons, water lords, a witch, and Ivy herself as a half-Wisp. Ivy has to use what she knows (or learns) about these folk to out wit them or to make reasonable bargains with them. Indeed, I think Ivy is coming into her own in this book. She’s not insecure or hesitant and instead acts with decision, which is needed in many of the cases. Frankly, she has become that bad ass we were all hoping for.

The side characters are all interesting in their own ways, but they are rather static. They have pretty much stayed the same since they stepped on the page. The one exception may be the demon Forneus, but we don’t get much of him overall. The characters do provide a good backdrop for Ivy to bounce off of and let her grow.

I quite enjoyed this installment in the series and I really look forward to seeing where the author takes the series next.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review (thanks!).

Narration: Melanie Mason was a good voice for Ivy. It did take me perhaps 30 minutes to get use to her voice for the story after recently listening to Book 1 & 2, which are narrated by Traci Odom. Nevertheless, she did a very nice job. of course, her inflections for Jinx and Kaye are different, but consistent throughout the book. David Wilson Brown stepped in and did all the male voices, which were each distinct. I especially liked his voice for Humphrey the gargoyle. They included a few sound effects, such as making a voice sound like it was on a phone and trying to do creepy  vampire laughter (which came off more amusing than creepy). Still, I appreciated these little touches and for the most part they worked.

What I Liked:  Great pacing with lots of action; Ivy grows as a character; Ivy is in a real pickle; plenty of interesting side characters; Ivy becomes the bad ass we have all wanted; nice ending. 

What I Disliked: The side characters are all pretty static.

What Others Think:

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Author Info

E.J. Stevens is the author of fourteen works of speculative fiction, including the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal romance series, the Hunters’ Guild urban fantasy series, and the award-winning Ivy Granger urban fantasy series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines.

When E.J. isn’t at her writing desk, she enjoys teaching writing workshops, dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Connect with E.J. on Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Pinterest, and on her Blog.

Giveaway Info

Winner will receive a signed BURNING BRIGHT postcard, BURNING BRIGHT audiobook download from Audible.com, and custom E.J. Stevens earbuds.  Giveaway begins November 10th and ends November 24th.  This giveaway is open to mailing addresses in US/CA/UK.  Giveaway winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter.  Giveaway ends November 24, 2015.

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Ghost Light by E. J. Stevens

StevensGhostLightWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Publisher: Sacred Oaks Press (20134)

Narrator: Traci Odom

Length: 8 hours 15 minutes

Series: Book 2 Ivy Granger

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, I think it works fine as a stand alone.

Ivy Granger, psychic detective, and her best friend Jinx must solve a most disturbing mystery: someone has snatched over 30 fae children and their parents are clamoring at Ivy’s door for assistance. As Ivy digs further into the mystery, she has a run in with Melasine, a deranged lamia and former wife to Ceffyr, Ivy’s current beau.

I  enjoyed this book a little more than Book 1, Shadow Sight, as the plot was tighter and we spent more time on it as the main characters are already established. Ivy continues to grow as a character through the search for knowledge of her father and her growing relationship with the kelpie king Ceffyr. The rest of the characters remain pretty static, if interesting, and allow Ivy to bounce off of them. The romance with Ceffyr is a nice touch as it is all new to Ivy. The author does a good job of showing how important the relationship is to Ivy without boring the reader with mushiness.

Jinx continues to be the opposite to Ivy with her love of fancy shoes and flirtatious behavior. However, she does get to use a crossbow (yay!) and that makes her cute and deadly. Torn, a cat sidhe, is added to the mix. He’s mysterious and not entirely trusted by Ivy and her friends, yet he has info. Ivy used her psychometric abilities to gain a few visions of the missing kids and now she has a puddle of questions. She thinks the Wisps may be involved but she doesn’t know how or why. Being half Wisp herself, she feels a deep need to figure this out.

Once again, Ivy pulls in assistance from an assortment of folks – the resident Harborsmouth vampires, the witch Kaye, Father Michael, the Green Lady (a glastic who runs a local carnival), and others. The end to the mystery was full of action and danger. And then we have roughly two hours left in the book.

Yeah. Two hours. That’s kind of a long wrap up. Now, important and even interesting stuff happened during these two hours. Ivy learns a bit more about her father, king of the Wisps, and potentially why he left her and her mother. She also spends some time recovering from the big fight and getting to know Ceffyr better. However, I found that this section dragged a little for me. We already had the big action scene, the answer to the big mystery, and the resolution with the big baddie. It was awesome. The story arc for this book was complete. I was ready for a short epilogue and perhaps the next book. So I think it would have been better to have all the interesting bits of the last two hours sprinkled throughout the book instead of all lumped together at the end. Other than that little complaint, this was a most entertaining book.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review (thanks!).

Narration: Traci Odom once again had an excellent voice for Ivy Granger. I like her no-nonsense, weapon carrying voice. She had distinct voices for all the other characters, along with believable male voices. I especially liked her rapid, well pronounced Latin bits during the big fight scene.

What I Liked:  Good pacing for the most part; lots of action; a disturbing mystery; plenty of mythological characters in play; the light romance doesn’t detract from the plot; the mystery over Ivy’s dad thickens. 

What I Disliked: We had the big fight scene and the wrap up to the mystery and then we still had another 2 hours left – such a change of pace made those last 2 hours drag a bit.

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