Bookish Giveaway & Review: Hound’s Bite by E. J. Stevens

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Narrators: Melanie A. Mason, Anthony A. Bowling

Publisher: Sacred Oaks Press (2017)

Length: 7 hours

Series: Book 5 Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 5 in the series, I feel that one could enjoy it as a stand alone.

Ivy Granger has returned from the Unseelie Faerie Court after learning some earth-shattering news about her parentage. But there’s no time to rest and deal with that because the Lord of the Hunt is about to hit Harborsmouth. She must call upon her allies, her latest training, and her friends to combat the Wild Hunt or suffer the loss of her beloved city.

This was a gripping read! I really enjoyed this installment in the series. First, there’s the great characters and they’re all written so well in this book, with great lines and actions that give them depth. Then there’s more than one crisis Ivy has to deal with, so it’s not just one long meandering battle with the Wild Hunt. Lastly, there are consequences and some of them are a bit rough. I like it when my urban fantasy drags talons across some of the major characters.

Jinx is still a big part of Ivy’s life and I’m very glad these two friends were able to deal with their recent falling out. And, yes, Jinx still has her crossbow. She and Forneus (who is a demon and a lawyer) are still together. Then there’s Torn, the cat sidhe, who flirts with both Ivy and Jinx, which really irritates both Forneus and Ceff (Ivy’s kelpie lord boyfriend). Then toss in Sparky, Ivy’s adopted demon child. Father Michael gets called in to babysit while the heroes work on a game plan to deal with Hearn, Lord of the Hunt.

Yet before they get too far along, Sparky goes missing. Now a powerful witch, Kaye, has a plan to save Harborsmouth from the Wild Hunt but things are going disastrously wrong there. Ivy and her friends will need the help of the mysterious Circle before they can regroup and get back to dealing with Hearn. I loved this part of the book. It was a bit of a detour from the big event but I really enjoyed how it added to several of the characters. Ariadne, a witchling who is in training to Kaye, really gets to be in the spotlight for part of it. Then there’s Ivy’s new Faerie and Wisp powers to put on display. Also the beetles! The next time I get something stuck in my throat, I will be looking for beetles.

So then we get past that and allies must be gathered for the big fight. Now the thing about the Wild Hunt is that if a hound of the Wild Hunt bites you, you turn into a hound yourself and you’re bound to serve the Lord of the Hunt. Armor! Bring me my armor! Obviously, things don’t go well for everyone involved and Ivy faces the very real danger of losing people she loves to the Wild Hunt.

I was very satisfied with the ending. Not everyone got everything they wanted but there’s still enough good stuff that people can pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. I especially like how far the Pooka came in this series, despite their choice of condom hats.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Once again, Melanie Mason narrates the bulk of this story, being the perfect voice for Ivy. I also love her Jinx voice. Anthony Bowling has all the male character lines and he does a great job with Torn (a flirtatious snot) and Father Michael (a sincere man). Most of the time, Bowling’s lines are inserted smoothly into the recording but other times it definitely felt like these two narrators weren’t in the same room during the recording. There were a few sound effects mixed in, and for the most part they worked. There were a few that I wasn’t sure what they were until the story told me what they were.

What I Liked: Great cover art; no rest for the wicked or the good; the segment dealing with Sparky’s abduction; the beetles!; the very real consequences of being bitten by a Hound; the Pookas; the way things ended.

What I Disliked: I would like the audio production to be a touch smoother, but this is a minor quibble and didn’t detour me from enjoying this book.

Synopsis of Hound’s Bite:

Ivy Granger thought she left the worst of Mab’s creations behind when she escaped Faerie. She thought wrong.

In a cruel twist of fate, Ivy has unleashed a powerful horde of Unseelie beasts upon her city, turning her homecoming into a potential slaughter of innocents. Now Ivy must gather her allies to fight a reputedly unstoppable force – The Wild Hunt.

Will the training Ivy received in her father’s court be enough to save her city, or will Harborsmouth be forced to kneel before the Lord of the Hunt? She is willing to risk her own life, but some sacrifices come at a cost worse than death. When an ally is bitten by one of The Wild Hunt’s hounds, Ivy must face the possibility that winning this battle may mean killing the one person she has come to love most.

Hound’s Bite is the fifth full-length novel in the award-winning, best-selling Ivy Granger urban fantasy series by E.J. Stevens. The world of Ivy Granger, including the Ivy Granger Psychic Detective series and Hunters’ Guild series, is filled with action, mystery, magic, dark humor, quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, flirtatious demons, sarcastic gargoyles, sexy shifters, temperamental witches, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines.

Audible ~ Amazon

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!!!

To celebrate the Hound’s Bite audiobook release and Audiobook Month, we are giving away a HUGE Ivy Granger Prize Pack, including an Ivy Granger button, pen, flashlight keychain, custom earbuds, a Hound’s Bite mini poster signed by the author, and a Passport to the World of Ivy Granger signed by the author and the audiobook narrators!  This giveaway is open to the US/UK/CA.  Giveaway begins June 1, 2017 and ends June 30, 2017.  Entry is by Rafflecopter form.

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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:

Gizmo’s Book Reviews

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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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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.

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