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Friday, December 14, 2012
(Random thought: Isn't this banner gorgeous? I totally love it.)
Hi, darlings! Today I am a very lucky girl! It's my turn for a stop on the RELEASE blog tour, and I'm, like, super excited about it. I freaking LOVE this series. Like, seriously.

Okay, that was kind of awkward and borderline embarrassing. I totally try not to get overexcited on my blog cause you probably already know how weird I am. My goal is not to scare you away.

However, it may be too late for that. So basically, I may as well get on with this post and stop rambling about my weirdness.

First, I'll post my review. You know, because I can. Also, so you can see just how much I adored this book. There's a method to my madness, I swear. Even though it isn't always apparent.

Release (The Protector, #3)
M. R. Merrick
Publisher: M. R. Merrick
Release Date: December 10, 2012
Source: Author
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.

Release was, without a doubt, one of my most favorite recent reads. I adored it. There's such wonderful and thrilling development in this installment, and the action is enough to give any adrenaline junkie a high. Seriously. It has a little bit of everything. Some romance, major battles, and and some serious hurdles to overcome. Essentially, I want to crawl into this book and live there. Hypothetically, because although it is awesome to read about magic and monsters a life-running, it may not actually be as fun to experience. I advise precaution. Anyway, moving forward, before I go and travel off on a tangent again.

I adore Chase, and I love his character growth. In Exiled and Shift, he was more than a little arrogant. In Release, he hasn't lost all of that attitude but he's gotten a lot better. I definitely appreciated that and didn't get nearly as frustrated with him as I had before! He still doesn't always make the right decisions, but neither does anybody, so, you know. I love that he's passionate, too, and doesn't do things halfway. He's also much more vulnerable than he lets on, and when he makes mistakes he truly does regret his actions eventually.

Rayne doesn't let anyone walk all over her. She's powerful for certain, and though she's still learning to handle her newfound abilities she is determined to use them to help. She doesn't want to stand around while everyone else does all the work, and it's not about glory. Rayna sometimes tries to act like she doesn't care, but it's pretty clear that she does. Really, it's impossible not to love her. She's fabulous, to put in concisely, and is just such a unique character.

I was feeling too lazy to make individual headers yet again…ah, well. Maybe next time. Actually, I promise next time.
Marcus is one of my favorite characters. He's the best possible father figure to Chase, and clearly, he really cares for him. He shows that more than once in more than one way. He really puts himself put there for him and doesn't seem to be afraid to risk anything. How can you not admire that? Sometimes adult characters in YA are just nonexistent or horrible, and that's not realistic in the slightest and I hate that. Here, we see a strong, good leader with some serious shoes.
Riley is still out villain, still twisted by hate and dark powers. On some level, though, he fascinates me. He lusts after power. Wants to rule the world. Doesn't realize that it's something that can rule him. I certainly see that he wants power. Power corrupts, and it's addictive. Even so, there's something alluring in him. Stop looking at me like that.
Willy is another one of my most-loved characters. He's a shifting demon and it's clear that he and Chase share a deep bond. Though originally shy, he's become much bolder as he's found his place in the world. He still struggles but he's definitely improving. He is such a dynamic character, and I think a lot of people will find something to relate to in him. There's one more thing I really wish I could say about him, but it is major spoiler, so I'll not.
Tiki is such an odd and yet unique character. There's never been anyone quite like him in any book I've read. He is very central to this book. He's intensely loyal. Not just to Chase, but to anyone he feels deserves his help and protection. He doesn't try to hide what he thinks. He simply says things as they are, and I find that very refreshing. And when Chase gets worked up about something or other he is very often the voice of reason.
Vincent is the vampire who wasn't prominent in the second book, but definitely had a role to play here. And did I like his role? Yes! He definitely wasn't what I expected him to be, and though I already had an opinion of him from before it was really hard for me to stick to that opinion as I began to learn so much more about him. We get a lot of Vincent's tragic backstory, and it's hard to keep disliking someone like that when you see what they've had to suffer through.

Let me start this off with a story.

So, about a year ago, I was reading with my then-boyfriend, who picks up one of the worst books I've ever read. (I won't name names but coughIncarnatecough.) So anyway, he basically asks me why I keep reading if about one-quarter of the stuff I read is trash. I told him that not quite that much of it is trash, but essentially his point still held. I then told him that the thing is, a lot of books try to fit into this mold of what's proper and what people are going to like. But the best books are the ones that break out of that and become something entirely new. And that finding those gems are worth it. Basically, what I meant was that so many books try to be the next big thing by being like the last best thing, only different. (Brill choice of words, Annabelle. God, now I'm talking to myself in my reviews.) See, but the best books, Release among them, don't do that. They're not afraid to become something all their own.

Release was, to put the entire book into one word, incredible. That's why I loved it. It fascinated me and made me second-guess myself and just when I thought I had everything figured out, it'd throw something at me that seemed completely out of the blue but when I looked closer, the answer had been there all along. Sounds cliché, but it's true!

I love the pacing. It's not molasses slow, but it doesn't move so quickly that I'm just kind of sitting there frazzled and wondering what the hell is going on. It kept me fully engrossed and wishing I could read faster, because there was always, always some sort of unknown. Some lynchpin factor that made everything that much more dangerous, and every victory that much more satisfying.

I already made the whole point of how important originality is, and it really, really is evident here. Are there similarities to other books? Obviously. I'd be worried if there weren't. That would just be weird. It's a unique series and not quite like anything else I've ever read. There's magic in the form of elemental power, but there's also more than that. There're different Realms, which is so cool and blows my mind so much I don't even have words for it. Then there's…well, okay, I don't want to spoil things.

So, um, yeah. I don't gush this much about books that I wouldn't recommend to absolutely anyone, so I think it's pretty clear how much I loved this. The plot is gorgeous. Original. Sparkling. Who needs anything else?

Romance makes me happy. Anyone who is familiar with my reviews knows that. I am very into romance. Love the stuff. So I adore when a couple is perfectly matched, the way Chase and Rayna are. They argue, for sure, and definitely get at each other's throats. But that's because they care. They have some of the best chemistry I've ever read, quite honestly, but things aren't easy for them. And the things keeping them apart don't seem false or contrived; they seem real. I love that they want to do what's best, but you can't fight love, right? :)

There's really not much to say here, other than that this writing is gorgeous. Absolutely, glitteringly gorgeous. And since the first book, it's only gotten better. Chase really does develop a more unique voice with every page that passes, and his inner thoughts aren't annoying but insightful. I love the banter between the characters, and the way their language changes when they need to have a more serious conversation. Also, everything is described so sharply. The fantastical creatures, the other Realms…I can picture them clearly, thanks to Matt's vivid writing. It's almost like it's been captured in a photo and framed for memory. That clearly.

So, the first thing that happened when I read the ending involved me going back several pages in the book so I could read them again. Because I literally could not believe what happened. Or rather, I would not. I didn't want to! I mean, it was upsetting, really upsetting. And, uh, I definitely cried. Like, a lot. I most definitely did not see that coming. That's why I had to double check. But no, it really, actually happened. My poor heart cannot take this madness. I get why it had to happen. I really do. Totally doesn't mean I have to like it.

I would recommend this series to anyone. Everyone. Seriously. I practically guarantee that you will love it! I adore fantasy, and this is one spectacular one. Fantastic characters, real and actual development, and an original storyline to boot. If you guys don't know this already, I adore Matt and his books and will totally continue this series. Probably I will read all of his books forever and ever. So, really, you have my strongest recommendation. Go on! Pick up this series! I dare you.


*****FINAL RATING: 4.80 RED ROSES*****

Fabulous, yes? I think I just complimented myself without meaning to. Oh, well. That's totally 1000x better than accidentally insulting myself.

So, anyway, I think we should move on to the guest post. Matt has written an absolutely fabulous one, and I am super excited to finally get to share it with you. I asked him to write about a place he's been that has inspired the Protector series, but as he hasn't traveled, Matt took that prompt and wrote about a different kind of inspiration—his daughters! How sweet is that?

I’ve never traveled, so to come up with a single place that has influenced me wouldn’t be possible. To pick a single piece of inspiration in general is difficult, because I never intended to write a book. Becoming an author wasn’t a dream of mine until I started writing it, and even that happened by accident.

When I think about the things that have inspired me, it comes down to one thing: my imagination. My imagination has created everything in this book, and for me, everything in life inspires my imagination. The way a stranger walks down the street, something the antagonists didn’t do in a movie, or the way a person speaks, are all tools at my disposal, to warp and magnify as I see fit. When talking about the Protector series specifically though, it’s all thanks to my children.

For years I’d been living my “regular” life, working, paying bills, trying to advance from one job to the next, but no matter what I did, there was no job I found satisfying. Everything was always great at first, but after a few months thing became dull, or frustrating, and although at the time I blamed the job, it was mostly just me.

Through all the jobs I hated, one thing I always looked forward to doing each day was tucking my kids in at bedtime. It was true that I could work away from home and make three times the amount of money, but that financial stability wasn’t worth missing my children grow up. Tucking my daughters in every night is something I love to do. My oldest asks me to tell her stories and I make them up for her, taking the two of us into far off lands full of friendly monsters and creatures that have yet to be named. Together we named them, we designed them, and we experienced journey after journey. It was this daily routine that reminded me what it was like to dream like a child. Not of riches and fame, but of magical places and exaggerated adventures. And when my youngest daughter asks, I’ll be at the ready to create something new and take her on the voyage with us.

Once the creative juices started flowing, they didn’t stop. They burned inside me, dying to come out with any outlet they could find. Discovering a passion for telling my daughter stories showed me a new passion to write them. I could write the stories I wanted to read but had yet to find. I could create my versions of ancient creatures, and create new ones altogether. I could take myself anywhere, through the eyes of another.

When sit back and ask myself “Where did the inspiration come from?” the answer is simple: from the imagination of a child. Her imagination reminded me what it was like to forget boundaries and it showed me that I’d lost the ability to truly dream like we were meant to dream. When that gift was given back to me, the Protector series was born, and it’s only the first of what I can be sure will be many adventures. I have what I have because of the innocence and possibility of a youngster’s eyes.

I lost the gift to create and dream like a child once, and thanks to two wonderful little girls, I won’t ever let it go again.
I don't about you, roses, but personally, I adore hearing where writers' inspiration comes from. It's not even so much that I hope to write someday (after college…and opening an architecture firm…etc, etc…) but that it makes it more real somehow. Don't you think? Cause I do. Obviously. I just said that. Please ignore me.
Matt is actually offering you guys some pretty amazing giveaways. Like, seriously. I am totally impressed. They're really, really awesome. So, I should just shut up and tell them to you. God, I am chatty today. Too many upside-down caramel macchiatos, probably. I apologize.

Grand Prize Pack (3 Winners)
3x Signed paperbacks (Exiled, Shift, Release)
3x Signed 8x10 posters (Exiled, Shift, Release)
5x Bookmarks
1x Notebook (winner’s choice of cover)
1x Magnet

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)
1x Magnet

Secondary Prizes A (10 Winners)
Release eBook

Secondary Prize B (10 Winners)
1x bookmark (winner’s choice)
1x Magnet

I even have a slideshow of the prizes. Because I am HI-TECH like that. (If you can't tell, I am like super proud of the fact that I actually have a slideshow. Not gonna lie, I feel awesome right now.)

Winners will be chosen as follows: First 3 names drawn from Rafflecopter will get the grand prize. The following 5 names get the runner-up prize. The following 10 names win ebook copies of Release, and the final 10 names win the swag pack.

There will also be multiple opportunities to win signed paperbacks, signed posters, notebooks, swag packs, and bookmarks throughout the tour on both Twitter (@MRMerrick) and Matt's Facebook Fan Page.

*takes deep breaths* Okay, I think that's like pretty much it. So wow. That was a lot to take in, huh? Anyway, you should go read this series. Seriously. You will not regret it. It is like one of my favorites ever.

(Don't tell all the other series. They'll get jealous.)



  1. This was a good suggestion that you put up here...dude…..hope that it benefits all the ones who land up here.
    Electrical Wholesalers

  2. Dragons are my all time favourite mythological creatures. I always loved them. It's the whole fire breathing thing, oh, and the flying is not bad either. They are wise and practical creatures that inspire awe.

  3. My favorite shifter remains the wolf. I know its not original, but its me. :) Heather Heslip Alexander

  4. werewolves, because they are fast and strong and hot

  5. Pegasus, because I love both horses and birds:)

  6. I love them all but I guess I'd have to go with fae/fairies since they can be fierce, can perform magic and are less vulnerable than humans:)

  7. AHhhh I'm reading this book soon! Cant wait for my stop on the tour lol. Awesome review and love the guest post!

  8. I love vampires but werewolves are growing on me...


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