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.

What Others Think:

Gizmo’s Book Reviews

Rantings of a Reading Addict

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I Am, Indeed

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:

Gizmo’s Book Reviews

Earth’s Book Nook

Rabid Reads

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.

What Others Think:

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Rabid Reviews

Book Shelfery

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Shadow Sight by E. J. Stevens

StevensShadowSightWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Publisher: E. J. Stevens (2013)

Narrator: Traci Odom

Length: 7 hours 34 minutes

Series: Book 1 Ivy Granger

Author’s Page

Set in a northeastern port city, Harborsmouth, Ivy Granger, psychic detective, tackles the supernatural. Ivy has this little twitch – she can’t touch anything or anyone without having a vision, which entails reliving the strongest memories imprinted on that item or person. Along with her best friend Jinx, they set up a private eye business sometime ago. Now, the two are hired by a demon, Forneus, to solve the mystery of the many human livers found floating around the harbor.

This was a fast-paced and fun urban fantasy steeped in mythology. Ivy is in her mid-20s and has worked hard to do the best with what she has. She can see the fae in their numerous forms due to her fairy sight and she can use her psychometry to relive past events when she touches items or people (though she doesn’t really enjoy doing this). In fact, one of my few quibbles with the book is that it is beaten into the reader for perhaps half the book that Ivy does not like to touch people or things and we’re told why again and again. I was quite glad once the repetition on this point was over. Other than that, Ivy is a fun character to follow around on this adventure.

The plot itself involves tons of beings from myth, which is way cool. We have a Red Cap, a kitchen brownie, a witch or two, some trolls, vampires, several water folk (like the Kelpies), and plenty more. In this particular story, one set of baddies are the each uisge, which I had never heard of. So, there was entertainment and education going on, which is never a bad combination.

While Ivy and Jinx are figuring out the mystery, and then the solution to the mystery, Ivy keeps bumping into little hints about her past and her own nature. Now, here is my second tiny quibble – Ivy was so dense about these hints concerning herself that I kind of wanted to give her a little shake and spell it out on a big white board for her. While I can appreciate she was distracted with the big bad mystery, there were also decent periods of quiet and reflection and she didn’t connect the dots. I thought this was a little out of place for her personality, one that is skeptical and always questioning.

We have a lot of great characters populating the story. Marvin is a young troll that took a beating sometime in the past and Ivy makes sure he has a safe place to sleep. He also does some work for Kaye O’Shaye, a witch and Hunter that Ivy spends time with. I especially liked Hob, the witch’s kitchen brownie. He has a thing for shiny objects. Jinx, Ivy’s best friend and chief side kick, was OK. I think I need more time to bond with her. She is into shoes and hairstyles and flirting, which aren’t my things, but she makes an interesting counterpoint to Ivy.

The last hour of the book was pretty darn intense. The mystery started off with a missing Kelpie king (Ceffyr) and that comes full circle at the end. Ivy has to face some fears and do some trusting. Lots of different types of folks come together to face the main threat and many of them have different reasons to do so. It was a neatly woven web there at the end.

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 was a good voice for Ivy. She sounds like a woman who hides knives and fights for troll rights while staring down vampires. I like her girly voice for Jinx (I can picture the makeup and curls whenever she uses Jinx’s voice). She also has distinct and believable voices for all the male characters. I especially liked her supremely distressed voice for Ceffyr. She did mispronounce the word ‘chitin’ and its derivatives a handful of times, though I won’t hold this against her.

What I Liked:  Plenty of action; a worthy mystery; worthy foes; lots of mythological creatures; Ivy’s practicality; a very well written ending that had me on the edge of my seat. 

What I Disliked: Ivy’s dislike of touching things/people is bashed into the reader repeatedly; Ivy is dense when it comes to her own nature and all the hints the people around her are throwing at her.

What Others Think:

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Giveaway & Interview: Rebecca Chastain, Author of A Fistful of Fire

ChastainAFistfulOfEvilHeya folks! Please give a warm welcome to urban fantasy author Rebecca Chastain! We’re hear to chat about her latest book, A Fistful of Fire, which is a sequel to her book A Fistful of Evil. We also talk about temp jobs, Firefly, fantasy book clubs, and plenty more. There’s also a spiffy giveaway so scroll to the bottom of the post to check that out!

If you could be an extra on a period piece what would it be?

Does a futuristic show count? If so, I’d love to an extra on Star Trek: Voyager and get to work with Captain Janeway. I’m a big fan of the themes the Star Trek TV shows have covered. I’m a sucker for books and movies with themes revolving around a group of people working together to accomplish more than they could singularly, the strong bond of friendship making life better (even if it sometimes makes life harder, too), and a pursuit of knowledge without leaving behind humanity and ethics.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

The best things about book clubs are getting to discuss fun reads and socialize, so with those criteria in mind, I’d invite:

  • Phèdre nó Delaunay (from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series), for her insatiable quest for knowledge; I imagine she’d raise a lot of interesting points.
  • Rupert Giles (from the Buffy the Vampire TV series), who seems like he’d have insight and amusing anecdotes.
  • Temeraire (from Naomi Novik’s popular series), for his fresh perspective, and because any chance I can include a talking dragon in one of my clubs, I’m going to jump at the chance.

Our three books for discussion would be E-Squared by Pam Grout, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, and Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. The first to see what sort of wonderful things we as a group could manifest, the second because I imagine everyone would be fascinated and come to the science from very different perspectives, and the third because it’s a great novel that I think would appeal to everyone in the group—and getting a dragon’s take on a dragon-origin novel would be entertaining.

ChastainAFistfulOfFireIf you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Definitely a supernatural creature. In my scenario, I’m rescued from drowning by a friendly kelpie who I can converse with telepathically. She and I form a great friendship, and she introduces me to a whole wonderful supernatural world. Having always been horse crazy and also yearned to speak telepathic with animals, this fantasy satisfies the eight-year-old me and makes the current me want to write a novel…

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Firefly. For its very brief lifespan, the show packed in so much. I’ve rewatched the series many times now, but… The first time the reavers are seen on screen was one of the creepiest things I’ve watched in a long time (I’m not a horror fan, too, so it almost turned me off the show). Now, I’ve spun the story so many different directions in my head—where I’d take the characters, how I’d redo different character arcs, what I’d like to see in all-new episodes if I could write/watch them today—that it has lost the novelty I felt during the first viewing.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

For a few months after I graduated college, I worked temp jobs. The worst position was at a non-profit doing cold calls to businesses to try to get the managers and CEOs to participate in a fancy dinner, during which they would make cold calls to their business associates to get them to donate to the non-profit. The process combined several of my least favorite things: talking on the phone with strangers, asserting myself while asking for something, and extreme, endless monotony while simultaneously being mildly panicked by the whole experience.

In A Fistful of Evil, I gave the main character, Madison Fox, a temp worker background, though it’s only referenced and never seen on the page. It was a minor tribute to a hellacious time in my life, one which every day I’m enormously grateful is far in my past. The only comparison I can make between that job and writing is that they are the exact opposite. Now, I spend my days talking with a bunch of people I’m intimately familiar with because they exist and were created in my head, I get to decide when they say yes or no to my plans, and the days are never boring.

ChastainMagicOfTheGargoylesIf you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

  1. Brandon Sanderson: He creates great magic systems that are unique, and he might have something special up his sleeve to help our quest.
  2. Ilona Andrews: (is this cheating, since Ilona Andrews is two people?) For sheer bad-assery.
  3. Kim Harrison: The way she weaves big-picture and smaller plot points together makes me think she’d be great with any puzzles we encountered along the way.
  4. Robert Asprin: Because you always need a little humor in your quest.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I’ve known I was a writer for pretty much my whole life. I’ve always made up stories to entertain myself—during road trips, in class, at recess, while riding my horses, and especially while dressing up my cats. My kid-self was more intense than I am now: a lot shier and more serious. I’ve overcome some of my shyness, though I still need more solo/down time than my more outgoing friends. I know my kid-self would be in awe of the life I lead now and very impressed that I have three books out for sale. But she’d also be disappointed that it took me so long to get here. (She expected to be a New York Times bestselling author by the age of eighteen.)

Thanks for the great interview!

AuthorRebeccaChastainAuthor Bio:

Rebecca Chastain is the International Amazon Fantasy Bestselling author of A FISTFUL OF EVIL and MAGIC OF THE GARGOYLES. She has found seven four-leaf clovers to date, won a purebred Arabian horse in a drawing, and once tamed a blackbird for a day. Dreaming up the absurd and writing stories designed to amuse and entertain has been her passion since she was eleven years old. She lives in northern California with her wonderful husband and two bossy cats.

ChastainAFistfulOfFireBook Blurb for A Fistful of Fire:

Madison Fox survived her first week as California’s newest illuminant enforcer, defending her region against imps, vervet, hounds, and one lascivious demon. If her grumpy boss, Mr. Pitt, was impressed, he hasn’t told Madison. In fact, there’s a lot her boss has been closemouthed about, including the dark secret haunting his past.

But Madison’s problems are just igniting. Neighboring regions report an uncharacteristic flare-up of evil, fire-breathing salamanders blaze unchecked across the city, and Black Friday looms. Trapped doing cleanup amid mobs of holiday shoppers, Madison watches from the sidelines as dubious allies insinuate themselves in her region.

As suspicions kindle and the mysterious evil gains strength, Madison must determine who she can trust—and whose rules to follow—before her region and career go up in flames.

Sizzling with adventure and sparking with magic, A Fistful of Fire is fused with Madison Fox’s trademark blend of humor and ass-kicking action.

Places to Find Rebecca Chastain

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

As part of the book blog tour, Rebecca Chastain is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Just enter via the Rafflecopter link below. Hurry because this giveaway ends October 16, 2015 midnight EST. Good  luck!

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