Lately, I've had a streak of not so great books. That can be so disappointing for a reader, I know it is for me. In the mist of this, I had the great opportunity to read a few chapters of what M.R. Merrick is currently writing. He was looking for an opinion and I was happy to give one. What I found was something that surprised me.
I was totally drawn into this story and very unhappy when I had finished what he'd sent me. As I sat there staring at the not there next chapter, I found myself trying to figure out what it was about this story or Matt's stories in general that was so much better than what I had been reading recently. This post was born of that experience.
The things I love about Matt's stories
Vivid pictures - I can SEE the story in my head. There is a balancing act that authors need to have as they try to describe the story without going overboard. I've read both extremes and one thing I really love about Matt's writing is how well he paints those pictures in my mind. When you consider that he is often describing things that have never been seen, I am always amazed by his skill.
Snarky characters - I may be a little too sarcastic for my own good but I so enjoy the snarky characters. Or really what I really want is to laugh some. Especially when things are serious, it's nice to lighten things up from time to time. Matt does a great job with that.
Characters - The most important aspect of a book, for me, are the characters. If I don't like them, I have a hard time liking the book. What Matt does a great job of is creating characters that invoke feelings in me. This is the hardest part for me to describe but he puts his characters in situations where things aren't fair. It draws me to them. I want them to overcome whatever it is that's happened to them. He makes them not perfect. They make mistakes and they need to figure out how to overcome those imperfections. He makes them real. This aspect of his writing is what so captivated me with his new book. I was immediately drawn to his characters; I was totally on their side and wanting them to succeed. Love that.
World building - As a fantasy author, this is so very important. What Matt does such a good job of is to build his worlds around the real one. A few tweaks and his world could be real. I'm not confused by his worlds or stopping to ask questions. I'm just content in his worlds.
When you put all of these things together, you get a great story. When one part is missing or weak, the story just doesn't work. It was such a breath of fresh air to read something that, I felt, had all of these things in place. Now if I could just get Matt to write faster, I would be a happy reader.
In honor of Matt's birthday, I'm spotlighting his series and giving away some of his books.
Exiled (The Protector, #1)
Chase Williams is a demon hunter in the Circle, or at least he was supposed to be. On his fifteenth birthday, Chase stepped up to the altar to claim his elemental power, but it never came. Elemental magic is passed down to a hunter through the bloodline, but on Chase's birthday, the bloodline stopped.
Exiled without the Circle's protection, Chase has spent two years trying to survive a world riddled with half-demons and magic. When he has a run in with a frightened and seemingly innocent demon, he learns the Circle's agenda has changed: the Circle plans to unlock a portal and unleash pure-blood demons into the world. Vowing to stop them, and knowing he can't do it alone, Chase forms a reluctant alliance with Rayna — a sexy witch with an attitude and a secret.
In their attempt to stop them, Chase and Rayna find themselves in the middle of the Circle's plan, leaving one of them to decide what their friendship is worth, and the other's life depending on it.
Shift (The Protector, #2)
Devastated by a terrible loss, Chase is trying to balance the life he’s been left with, a family he’s still getting to know, and power he never thought he’d have. He doesn’t understand why the Goddess has named him the Protector and granted him two gifts: the Mark, a tattoo that now covers his back, and the ring. But between getting interrogated by the Circle and psychic attacks from Riley, the Mark is the least of his concern. There’s a demon inside Rayna that’s fighting to be released, and it’s not her inner witch. It’s something else—a monster threatening to tear her apart.
As Chase struggles to control his magic, his enemies are closing in. Everyone has staked a claim on his ring, and destroying it may be his only chance to stop Riley. But Chase must decide if stopping him is worth risking the lives of everyone he cares about, or if protecting the ring will be enough to save his world.
Release (The Protector, #3)
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.
Endure (The Protector, #4)
Wrapped in darkness and woven with defeat, every action Chase has taken since being exiled from the Circle has been met with a devastating response. Now he's been burdened with a quest that seems impossible, and he needs to evolve into something more, something greater than he ever thought he could be.
Armed with magic, friendship, and an unbreakable will, Chase must build an army and find a weapon capable of defeating the ultimate evil. But he knows that nothing great comes without sacrifice. Blessed by the very gods who have abandoned him and carrying the fate of all the worlds on his shoulders, Chase Williams is about find out just how much one man can endure.
I'm giving away 4 books.
2 - winner's choice of paperback copy of any book in The Protector series (US)
2 - winner's choice of eBook copy of any book in The Protector series (INT)