Hey guys! I'm so psyched to be a part of the Release Blog Tour hosted by the very awesome Valerie at Stuck In Books.
After uniting the shifters and calling in reinforcements, Chase has to face his toughest challenge yet: learning to control his emotions. But as tensions rise and his powers grow, controlling his emotions becomes the least of his problems.
Terrorized by a multi-shifter who is hell-bent on turning him, Chase questions just how far he’s willing to go to stop his father. Meanwhile, Tiki’s virtuous nature has placed him in the middle of Vincent’s past, leaving Chase to oppose a senate of vampires and defend a demon he hates.
Trying to balance his friends, his enemies, and his inner demons, Chase is left searching for answers about the Mark, his destiny, and where he can find the next soul piece. Stopping Riley is his top priority, but as more obstacles arise, he finds himself doubting all the decisions he’s made - especially regarding Rayna.
One thing is for certain: Chase has finally realized that he doesn’t know anything. The light doesn’t always quell the darkness, the monsters don’t always stay in the shadows, and the past doesn’t always stay in the past - sometimes, the demons inside are the hardest to fight.
I absolutely loved Release - it was spellbinding, intense and thrilling. This is the third book in The Protector series by M.R. Merrick - one of my favourite series of 2012. The stakes are higher than ever in this captivating installment, and I read the entire book with my heart in my mouth and my eyes glued to the screen.
Chase has grown so much over the course of this series. He learns a lot about himself, and he's a lot stronger too - physically as well as mentally. His loyalty to his friends is unfailing, and he would do anything to save them.
Riley could kill me, but Rayna, Willy, Tiki, and Marcus would all walk away from this. I would die before I let anything happen to them. They were all I had left; they were my family.Even though he's stronger now, Chase encounters some major glitches with his magic. His revelations shocked me, and I'm desperately hoping that they get resolved in Endure, the fourth and final book in the series.
Rayna is as badass as ever in Release, and I loved that. She's also more open, and starts to let Chase in a bit more. I loved their romance in this book, and I can't wait to see more of it in the next one! Rayna is so supportive of Chase, so understanding. She can motivate him like no one else.
“I saw who you were and I see who you’ve become, and I know in the depths of my heart that you’re going to make it through all this. And I know more than anything that you’ll never stop fighting.”
Rayna grabbed both sides of my face, and locked her gaze with mine. “Listen, you are not allowed to leave me. I need you here, fighting with me.” I smiled, and this time it was as true as any I’d ever had. “Until the end.”Rayna shows a more compassionate side of herself in this book, but she hasn't lost any of her spunk. She grows a lot too, just like Chase does. She learns to accept who she is, and comes to terms with her newfound powers. She's a witch, but a very rare and different kind. We get to see Rayna doing some cool magic in Release!
Willy is...well, Willy. He's as adorable as ever, and I like that he stands up for himself a lot more in this book. Also, we get to learn more about his past, and one particular event almost had me in tears! I was heartbroken for him. And I still am. Willy is still struggling a lot with his past, and I found myself sympathizing with him at every turn. There is a huge plot twist involving Willy, but I can't say any more. You'll have to read the book to find out!
Vincent is probably the most ambiguous character in this series. I've had mixed feelings about him previously, but now, on the whole, I think he's a good guy. I think he's taken a turn for the better, and he has a lot of potential. Of course, he's still extremely annoying, and pisses Chase off a lot. But I found their banter hilarious!
“When this is all over, I think I’ll have a statue made,” Vincent said.
“Why bother? Nobody worships you,” I said.This one had me laughing out loud. Now that they're not at each others throats all the time (okay, most of the time), they seem comfortable with exchanging casual insults, and this added a lot of humour to an otherwise intense book. I was actually really surprised with most of Vincent's thoughts and actions in this book, because I never pegged him as a guy who could actually care about people. But he really does. He cares for his adopted vampire family, and he does whatever he can to protect them. I found that really sweet. I really hope Vincent comes all the way to the good side in Endure, because he really is one of my favourite characters.
Tiki. Oh my god I love him. He's so quirky, so unique, and he surprised me multiple times in Release. I love how loyal he is to Chase even though they barely know each other. Tiki is gentle and calm most of the time, and I think he's the most reasonable person in their little group. More so than Marcus, even. He's adamant to see the good in everyone, even Vincent, and manages to convince Chase to help Vincent out. He's completely honest with everyone, and of course, he's also a very powerful demon. It astonishes me when his demon comes out, because I can't imagine gentle Tiki being so ferocious. Tiki plays a much bigger part in Release, so if you love him as much as I do, you'll love this book!
There are so many twists and turns in this novel, it's actually quite hard to keep up. The plot is fast-paced and filled with action, just the way I like it. Release was incredible! Though Shift remains my favourite in the series so far, this one is a close second. M.R. Merrick's writing is, of course, as amazing as ever, and the beautiful imagery made it so easy for me to visualize exactly what was going on.
And now the ending. I really don't want to say anything, but I can't help myself. It was heartbreaking. I couldn't believe what I read, and I really really hope it didn't actually happen. That's all I'm going to say about it, even though I have this huge rant in my mind!
Overall, I found this book mind-blowing, and I absolutely cannot wait for the next one, even though I don't want this series to end. I can't wait to see more of Chase and Rayna kicking ass together, and more of Tiki and Vincent too! M.R. Merrick has truly created a beautiful world in this series, and that cliffhanger ending has me begging for more.
And now, help me welcome author M.R. Merrick for an interview!
Interview with M.R. Merrick
Me: What inspired you to start writing Exiled, and how did you get the idea of creating such an amazing fictional world?
Matt: It was actually kind of a random thing. I’ve always enjoyed writing but had never tried my hand at fiction. After a particularly rough week, I decided I want to escape. There was no book, or movie, that could give me the escape I wanted, so I just sat down and started writing. I had no intention of writing a book, I certainly had no intention of letting anybody read it, but after about five or six hours of intense word-smithing, I sat back in my chair and realized I had something here. I hadn’t just discovered a story, I had discovered a passion for creating that which did not yet exist. I’d found a love for putting on paper things that have always danced around in my imagination.
I’ve always been pretty imaginative. I invent stories sometimes for my daughter at bedtime and I’ve always been a fairly unrealistic dreamer, but Exiled was something I never knew I had in me. I’ve had a long-running obsession with the idea of controlling the elements, and once I started to tell Chase’s story, I realized this was the place where I could bring that magic to life.
The first scene I wrote was a fight scene between Chase and my version of the vampire. I was writing this scene and all these questions started popping into my head: Who is this guy? Why is he alone? Why is this demon after him? And as the answers came, more specific questions came to mind: Why did he get exiled from the Circle? Why doesn’t he have any powers? And within a few hours, the plot began to unfold in front of me and I had this idea for a mash-up between Urban and Epic Fantasy, and it all existed through the eyes of Chase.
Me: Can you name some of the songs you listened to while writing the Protector books?
Matt: The list is long, but a big portion of the music playing in the background when I write is Paramore. Their music and her voice represent a tone that fits Chase and the world around him. When I’m watching the scenes in my mind, that music works seamlessly with everything I see.
Eminem and Rise Against were runner’s up in the music category. They each have their place for certain scenes and I use different songs to help bring out specific emotions. Music is a huge part of my life and it’s carried me through some difficult periods, so using some of that magic I was able to infuse things into the story I might not have been able to achieve without.
Me: I love Paramore and Eminem! I will definitely listen to them while reading this series now! Random question - Coffee or tea?
Matt: Lots of Coffee.
Me: If you could be any paranormal creature from your books, which one would you pick?
Matt: The type of creature I’d pick you haven’t seen in my story yet. They aren’t making an appearance until the fourth and final book in the series. If I had to pick from the first few installments, I’d probably pick a vampire. I love the foundation and history behind my version of the vampire, I love how they operate, and they represent a lot of different aspects to me.
Me: Can't wait to find out what this new creature is! If you were in Chase's place, would you make the same decisions he did, or go down a slightly different path?
Matt: Chase and I, once upon a time, were very much alike, and I understand him and his decision to such depth, that it’s hard for me to think of any other path for him to take. That being said, we do differ in some key areas and I believe that had I been in his shoes, I would have handled certain situations differently. The outcome might have been the same, but my approach would have been a little softer in some aspects, and much harder in others.
Me: Any idea how many books there are going to be in the Protector series?
Matt: There are going to be four books in the heart of the series. Exiled, Shift, Release, and the fourth book whose title I will be revealing soon and should be out late spring 2013. I have some ideas for other things that I might incorporate into the series, or branch off of from the series, but they’d be complete extras and not at all necessary to the main story arc.
Me: I'm always looking forward to new books from you! Lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Matt: There’s so many things I’d like to say, but in the same of time, I’ll just be brief and list a few.
1. Don’t ever give up. No matter what anyone tells you, no matter how much you don’t fit into the world. Don’t ever stop chasing your dream. You’ll get knocked down, you might hang out down there for a while, but always be sure to get up and keep on pushing.
2. Just because “a real author should do this, or read this, or have read this many books,” doesn’t mean you have to. Will it help? Well it certainly won’t hurt, but it’s not a requirement. You have one requirement to become a writer: write. Every word you write hones your ability, and every story you tell will be better crafted than the last.
3. And lastly, don’t ever forget to remember. Remember your inner child, remember the fictional dragons you battled, the raging seas you explored, and the treasure you discovered. Remember your struggles, in both imagination and real life and infuse them into your stories. Remember that the only thing that can truly stop you, is you. And remember to always believe. Believe in magic, believe in failure, believe in success, and believe in you.
Thank you so much to Matthew Merrick for taking time out to answer my questions! I love the detail in your answers, Matt :)
M.R. Merrick is a Canadian writer and author of The Protector Series, a Young Adult mash-up between Urban and Epic Fantasy. Having never traveled, he adventures to far off lands through his imagination and in between cups of coffee. As a music lover and proud breakfast enthusiast, he’s usually found at the computer between a pair of headphones and in front of a large bowl of cereal.
Find M.R. Merrick on:
Grande Prize Pack (3 Winners)
3x Signed paperbacks (Exiled, Shift, Release)
3x Signed 8x10 posters (Exiled, Shift, Release)
1x Notebook (Winner’s choice of cover)
Runner-up Prize Pack (5 Winners)
1x Signed paperback (Winner’s choice of Exiled, Shift, or Release) with signed poster
1x bookmark (Winner’s choice)
Secondary Prizes A (10 Winners)
Secondary Prize B (10 Winners)
1x bookmark (winner’s choice)
1x The Protector magnet
Winners will be chosen as follows: First 3 names drawn from Rafflecopter will get the grand prize. The following 5 names get therunner-up prize. The following 10 names win ebook copies of Release, and the final 10 names win the swag pack.