Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy book birthday Hunting in Bruges w giveaway!!

Today is the release of HUNTING IN BRUGES, the first novel in the Hunters' Guild urban fantasy series by E.J. Stevens.  To celebrate, we are having a book and swag giveaway!

Keep reading for a chance to win a Hunting in Bruges signed book, t-shirt, and more!

Hunting in Bruges (Hunters' Guild #1) by E.J. Stevens.

The only thing worse than being a Hunter in the fae-ridden city of Harborsmouth, is hunting vamps in Bruges.

Being shipped off to Belgium sucks. The medieval city of Bruges is quaint, but the local Hunters' Guild is understaffed, the canals are choked with dead bodies, and there's no shortage of supernatural predators as likely suspects.

On second thought, maybe Bruges isn't so bad after all.

With a desire to prove herself, protect the innocent, and advance within the ranks of the Hunters' Guild, Jenna Lehane hits the cobbled streets of Bruges with blades at the ready. Someone, or something, is murdering tourists and dumping their bodies in the city's scenic canals.  With the help of a mysterious stranger, Jenna begins to piece together clues that are dotted throughout the city like blood spatter.

Determined to stop the killings, Jenna delves into a bloody local history that only raises more questions--but some secrets are best left buried. Jenna must put her combat training to the test as she struggles to unearth the truth about an ancient enemy.

Hunting in Bruges is the first novel in the Hunters' Guild urban fantasy series set in the world of Ivy Granger.

Release Date:  November 11, 2014
Genre:  Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
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About the Hunters' Guild series
The Hunters' Guild series is an urban fantasy series written by E.J. Stevens and set in the world of Ivy Granger.  The series is told in the first-person point-of-view of Jenna Lehane, a Hunter with a troubled past, a proficiency with weapons, and an intolerance for monsters who target the innocent.

Hunting in Bruges: Medium Length Book Excerpt

A woman’s scream pierced the night and all thoughts of sleep fled as adrenaline pumped through my body.  I sprinted down the street in the direction of the woman’s cry, scanning the sidewalks and alleyways, and listening for any sign of trouble.
“Please, somebody help me!”
The voice was weaker now, but I nodded to myself, suddenly sure of where the attack was taking place.  I put on more speed, vaulted over a metal railing, and raced down the embankment toward the canal.  The woman’s scream had come from beneath the bridge—the same bridge that hid the mouth of the sewer tunnel with the bloody grate and magically warded door.
I palmed a silver combat knife and a wooden stake as I ran, a fierce snarl curling my lips.  I was not going to allow another vampire kill.  Not on my watch.
Heart pounding, I eyed the narrow ledge leading into the dancing shadows beneath the bridge.  There was no way I could make my way across that expanse of moss slick stone without discarding my weapons.
“Damn,” I muttered.
I shoved the wooden stake into a loop in my battle skirt and bit down on the silver knife, holding it between my teeth.  I’d need both hands free to make the climb to the bridge.  If I was dealing with vamps, I’d rather lead with the stake, but there was a chance that this was a mugging or rape.  Vampires weren’t the only monsters that preyed on the weak.
It would be foolish to bring a stake to a knife fight.  Everyone knows that.
Shoulders tight, I shimmied across the ledge.  I was exposed, vulnerable, but the whimpering sound ahead of me kept me going.  As my foot hit the wet platform with a splash, a clawed hand grabbed my leg in an iron grip.
My attacker wasn’t human.
I slashed out with the silver knife and the hand retreated, leaving behind a searing pain in my calf where the creature’s talons had punctured flesh.  Working fast, I retrieved the wooden stake and, with a flick of the wrist, turned on my flashlight and tossed it into the shadows.  The flashlight spun, illuminating a crumpled heap near the iron grate and three vampires: one to my left, one to my right, and one scuttling along the ceiling like a cockroach.
It was a goddamned ambush.
I didn’t know if the woman crumpled on the ground was still alive or not.  Her cries had ceased, but there was nothing I could do for her at the moment.  I was too busy trying to stay alive.
I spun to the left, slashing upward with the silver knife.  The vamp on the ceiling hissed and scuttled to the right, giving me some breathing room.  I shivered, my subconscious mind reeling in horror.  These vamps weren’t even bothering to maintain a glamour.  Instead of being drop dead gorgeous, these guys were just dead—as in mummified.
Skin the color and texture of dried parchment was stretched tightly over skeletal bodies that moved with an insectile, alien grace, but their grinning faces were the worst.  I’ve seen a lot of monsters during my time as a Hunter, but there’s something about the fanged, rictus grin of a vampire that gives a girl chills—and not the romantic kind.
As soon as a vampire dies its first death, their body begins to dehydrate.  It’s part of what makes them appear so monstrous in their true form.  There’s just something nauseating about seeing such a grotesque caricature of a human moving around animated with life.
These vamps with their empty eye sockets and gaping sinus cavities were a prime example.  As a vampire’s body deteriorates, the soft tissue is the first to go, which makes for some butt ugly vampires.  Drinking blood helps, but nothing can fully restore life, not even necromancy.  Vamps are nothing more than dried up, walking corpses.
Too bad their desiccated bodies don’t slow them down.
If I was going to survive this, I’d have to out think my opponents.  I feigned a minor stumble, and the vamp on my left didn’t hesitate.  The monster lunged in, fangs bared, the hollow pits of his eyes intent on my jugular.  One, two, three…
He closed the distance and I thrust the wooden stake up beneath his ribcage and into his chest cavity.  The vamp froze, completely paralyzed, and I knew I’d staked him through the heart.  It wouldn’t kill him, but it would keep him out of the fight until I had the time to finish him off—and add his fangs to my necklace.
I grinned, showing my own small, white teeth.
“Okay, boys,” I said.  “Who’s next?”
I drew my sword, now glad I’d worn my hunting gear to my visit with the rusalka.  I’d had a feeling I might need my favorite blade.  I guess I was right.
Lightning fast, the vamp struck.  One second he was circling to my right trying to flank me, and the next he was tearing away a chunk of my flesh.  The iron and silver coated steel boning of my corset deflected the worst of the attack, but one of his talons managed to slash through the space between.
I heard the sizzle of his claws, knowing the silver was eating away at the tips of the talons that scored across my abdomen and flank.  I let out a satisfied grunt, but the zing of pleasure was premature.
Hot blood leaked from my side and the two vampires shrieked in hunger.  Shit.  The blood was stirring them into a feeding frenzy.  I had to end this now, or I’d be the body they’d find in the canal tomorrow.
I drove my sword through the air, separating the vampire’s head from his body.  The creature continued to cling to the ceiling for a moment, but when the head hit the cement with a meaty thud, both pieces of the beast burst into ash.
The sound of the vamp’s falling head still echoed throughout the chamber beneath the bridge as ash fell like grisly snow.  The remaining vamp and I warily circled each other, searching for a weakness.  Vampires like to play with their food, but I didn’t kid myself.  Saliva was dripping from his elongated fangs and a leathery tongue darted out to lick dry, papery lips.
If I gave this one the opportunity, he’d go straight for the kill.
I struggled to keep my sword up and shifted my weight to allow for the wounds in my leg and side.  I swallowed hard and grit my teeth.  Every move tugged at the edges of the gash in my side, making it burn and bleed.
My knuckles whitened as I increased the grip on my sword, readying for the kill.
“Jenna!” a familiar voice cried out.  “Behind you!”
I dropped to the ground and rolled, never hesitating.  As I came to my feet, I faced not one vamp, but two.  A female, judging from the sagging breasts, had joined the party.  I flicked my eyes to the ground where the “victim” had been curled up just moments before.
The woman was gone.
“You smell delicious, ma chérie,” said the female vampire.

Oh yeah, this had been a trap from the very beginning.

Hunting in Bruges Playlist 
We asked author E.J. Stevens what songs best represent the characters and story of her new Urban Fantasy novel, Hunting in Bruges.  This is what she had to say.

Hey everyone!  I am so excited about the upcoming release of Hunting in Bruges, the first novel in the Hunters' Guild urban fantasy series.  This book is filled with quirky characters, bloodthirsty paranormal predators, and high octane fight scenes.  So, just a warning, some of this music is pretty intense.

Hunting in Bruges Playlist

The Razor's Edge by Digital Daggers
Trophy by Bat for Lashes
Heartbeats by The Knife
Vanished by Crystal Castles
Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
When Anger Shows by The Editors
Walking with a Ghost by Tegan and Sara
How by The Neighborhood
Bones by Ms Mr
The Dreaming Moon by The Magnetic Fields
Arsenal by Kidneythieves
Leaving Tonight by The Birthday Massacre
What Else Is There? by Royksopp
Scorch the Ground by Seabound
Approaching Light Speed by Wolfsheim
Dead Stars by Covenant
The Bomb by Neuroticfish
Let Me Be Your Armor by Assemblage 23
Bullet by Covenant
Ghost by VNV Nation
Wreath of Barbs by Wumpscut

What songs are on your Hunting in Bruges playlist?

Top 10 Spooky Places in Bruges 
Hunting in Bruges, the first novel in the Hunters' Guild series, is set in Bruges, Belgium and author E.J. Stevens is taking us on a spooky trip to Bruges' Top 10 Spooky Places.  Let's see what terrifying places E.J. has planned for our tour.

Top 10 Spooky Places in Bruges

The charming medieval city of Bruges, Belgium may seem like an unusual setting for an urban fantasy novel.  The city is known for its tranquil canals, historic buildings, and romantic vistas.  But the moment I saw a picture of Bruges, my mind began populating its cobblestone streets with bloodthirsty vampires, flesh eating ghouls, monstrous fae, and wailing ghosts.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there really was something sinister in the city's bloody history.  My research into Bruges began in earnest, and last year I completed my book research with a trip to Belgium.  The pictures included with this post are from that research trip.  These photos are taken during daylight hours, but I can assure you that the atmosphere becomes decidedly spooky when the sun goes down over West Flanders.  Do ghosts walk the streets of Bruges?  I will let you decide.

The Canals
The canals play an important part in my novel, Hunting in Bruges.  Jenna Lehane, a Hunter with a troubled past, arrives in Bruges to discover that something is killing humans and disposing of their bodies in the canals.  Not only are the canals filling with corpses, but there are supernatural horrors that call the canals their home.  While I was visiting Bruges, the canals were the watery grave for more than one unfortunate creature.  Did these ducks, pigeons, and small mammals die from natural causes, or is there something deadly lurking within these dark waters?

Jerusalem Church (Jeruzalemkerk)
I have to admit that I was completely unprepared for the experience I had within the stone walls of Jerusalem Church.  The macabre altarpiece and tomb were ghoulish, but the truly terrifying part of this church lay in a crawlspace in the vaulted chapel in the back.  A cloth wrapped body is on display, and though I've read that this is a replica of Christ's tomb, there is something chilling about that small chamber.  My travel companion bolted out the door...and I wasn't far behind.  (Note: No pictures came out of the rear tomb.  The photos were completely black.) 

Beguinage (Begijnhof)
Beguines were lay sisters who lived and dressed as nuns, but did not take vows.  The Beguinage continues to be a place of silence within the bustling city--a silence that can seem downright eerie.  During my trip, the courtyard was filled with a field of wilting daffodils.  Beauty with an edge of decay seemed to be the common theme of this place.  One house has been preserved in its original rustic state and visitors can wander the maze of tiny rooms filled with antique furniture and aging lace to see the way in which the Beguines lived.  I swear that someone, or something, was watching me during my entire visit.  With every creak of the old wooden floors, my unease grew and I made a hasty retreat to Minnewater Park.

Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig-Bloedbasiliek)
12th century basilica located on Burg square in the heart of Bruges.  The church houses the relic of the Holy Blood.  The Holy Blood is venerated daily, and is paraded through the streets of Bruges during the Procession of the Holy Blood on Ascension Day.

Saint John's Hospital (Sint-Janshospitaal)
This place is not for the faint of heart.  The 11th century hospital is one of the oldest in Europe and contains the often grotesque artwork of Hans Memling, as well as many antique surgical implements.  The artwork and objects of torture are absolutely horrifying and the depictions of nuns in their traditional garb had me jumping at my shadow. 

Another five notable places to add to any ghost tour of Bruges are the Spookhuis, Retsin's Lucifernum, Belfort, Blind Donkey Alley, and a viewing of Heironymous Bosch's haunting triptych The Last Judgement at the Groeningemuseum.

To learn more about E.J. Stevens and her books, connect through Goodreads, Twitter, and sign-up for her newsletter.  There is an interesting article about Hunting in Bruges in the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.  Hunting in Bruges releases November 11th and is available for pre-order on Amazon.  You can add the Hunters' Guild series here on Goodreads.

Readers, was this your first visit to Bruges, Belgium?  Have you experienced anything supernatural in and around Bruges?

What did you think of E.J. Stevens' picks for spooky places?

About the Author
E.J. Stevens is the author of the Spirit Guide young adult series, the bestselling Ivy Granger urban fantasy series, and the Hunters' Guild urban fantasy series.  When E.J. isn't at her writing desk she enjoys 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. Stevens

Hunting in Bruges Release Day Giveaway

We are giving away a HUGE Hunting in Bruges prize pack.  One winner will receive a Hunting in Bruges *signed* Trade Paperback, t-shirt, sticker, *signed* postcard, and poster!

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.  Winner will be randomly drawn by Rafflecopter.  Giveaway ends November 25, 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you for partying with us and good luck with the giveaway!

My Review

So, if you read the Ivy Granger series, which I fanatically love, you'll know who Jenna is, at least a little bit. And you'll know that in the last book, Jenna was missing from the action. Well, now we know where the hell she's been! I love that we have this spin off, because I love the world EJ created with Ivy's series, and now, we are just adding to the cool factors! So, Jenna is part of the Hunter's Guild. She hunts down the evil baddies of the world to keep the humans safe. She is also a serious vamper hunter, for her own personal reasons, but she deals with them all. She is full of brave, kick ass, heroine action that will keep you on your seat, and this is her first major story. 

So, Jenna is shipped to Bruges, because their guild is missing a lot of players, but there's a whole bunch of human murders happening and she needs to help them stop those murders. She's definitely confident in her skills, but she has some vulnerabilities and I love that. She knows they are there, and yet, she keeps going when she needs to. She is in a foreign place, with a stupid leader at this guild who I think should just die, but anyways, she is gunna help these humans, because no one should have to find out the hard way that supernaturals exist, like she did. So, she bends a few rules, relies on a few unsuspected people for help, and then find out that there's even more to this whole war thing than she knew! 

Here, she meets Alistair Ashford, aka Ash. He's pretty hot, but he's a little annoying, says Jenna. I like him :) I think she does too! He's funny, attractive, wears ridiculous clothes, but he sure knows his way around. And he's got lots of secrets. He's got ties to the guild, and his other secret, I guessed it, but I was still surprised when it turned into what it did. :) 

Simon Chadwick is in charge of the guild right now with the real leaders out of town. He's a total ass. I wanna beat him up really bad. Benjamin Martens, aka Doc Martens, lol is the medic on staff. Celeste is a witch who is also with the guild, she's growing on me :) And Aleksey Zharkov, well, he's something of a crazy hawt piece who likes to blow things up. LOL. And Darryl Lambert, a former guild fighter, who is blind, so he's now the librarian and archivist. Dude, these characters made this one so much fun. It definitely brought some bright lights to the back ground. And I like the little team they've made. And then we have the big bad guys, two majorly old Vampers, from like forever ago, who are now fighting with each other and killing people left and right, oh and just throwing the bodies all over. I mean really, you damn crazy vampers. We get some good fight scenes because of their stupidity. :) 

This one is fast paced, full of mystery, some chocking discoveries, and some very well written characters. All added into the fantastic world building from the Ivy series, but with more action and weaponry that Ivy usually does. And yet, I find Ivy and Jenna a whole lot alike, which I love. I am totally ready for the next book because I want more. It's gunna be a thrilled ride! 5 PAWS!! 

I wish you guys good luck on the giveaway and I hope you guys check this one out! It's so much fun! Happy reading and later gators!