Jo Benally Series Volume 1

Fiction - Fantasy - General
390 Pages
Reviewed on 03/30/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

November Ellison holds an undergraduate degree in French and a graduate degree in sociology. She has a successful career in digital marketing and analytics, two teenage children, and five cats.

Ellison's work-related articles have been published in magazines and on various websites. Her last work of fiction, a play published in 1994, is still being performed at several colleges and universities.

Additionally, Ellison is a loyal NanoWriMo participant, a ball gown collector, and a corporate executive by day who escapes from the 9 to 5 drudge of corporate life and motherhood by exploring alternative realities, such as time travel, conspiracy theories, vampires, and the after life. As a result, Ellison has completed a handful of science-fiction/romance novels that she hopes to one day publish.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tracy Slowiak for Readers' Favorite

In an excellent new work by debut author, November Ellison, Beacon: Book One of the Jo Benally Series is a story that will grab readers from the very beginning and keep them reading obsessively all the way through to the very end! Following the story of Pastor Joanna Benally, a woman with a very complicated double life, readers will be taken on an adventure that they wouldn't have been able to imagine on their own! Jo's public life is that of a woman working to turn around troubled churches. But while on a work assignment in Newark, Ohio, she meets Cain, and her whole life changes. Cain is a man who claims to be both a vampire and history's oldest murderer. And when Jo has to kill in self-defense, her life changes even more when she discovers that she is a "beacon," a being that harnesses the power that allows vampires to feed from humans. Jo's life will never be the same, and the choices she makes now will affect both her and possibly all of humankind. What will she do? You'll need to read the book to find out.

I loved Beacon. Loved. It. How's that for a review? Author November Ellison has done an absolutely fantastic job in creating characters that her readers will be able to connect with, relate to, and will truly care about. If that isn't a hallmark of an excellent author, I'm not sure what is. Her scene setting ability is simply second to none, and her ability to create fantastic scenarios in realistic settings is excellent. This story line was quite unique, and was able to mix elements of fantasy, realism and religious thought together quite successfully. I highly recommend Beacon to any reader looking for a great new series, and I sincerely hope that the very talented new author, November Ellison, is already hard at work on the second installment. I, for one, will be waiting anxiously for its arrival!

Lisa McCombs

Pastor Jo is living proof of second chances. With a secret and morally questionable past, she now spreads the gospel and the gift of goodness and mercy to impoverished and often crime-ridden regions of the country. Never married and childless, she is free to tackle an assortment of church assignments and is wildly passionate about her calling. When Jo is “deployed” to Licking Valley Nazarene Church in rural Ohio, she is at first nonplussed with the congregational attitude of objection to change that greets her. It was common for her flock to feel intimidated by the force with which she addressed the necessary changes to be made. It was not common to be stalked by an intriguing stranger who is convinced that he is the biblical Cain. All of her pure intentions are put to a dangerous test when the darkness of his existence envelops her with feelings of lust and raw evil.

Rarely is this reviewer surprised by plot twists and theme content. Wow! Beacon by November Ellison has managed to do just that. This is a sincere testament to good versus evil. Ellison creates an unbelievably believable vampire tale like no other. As dialogue and setting shift blatantly in mood and attitude, November Ellison’s novel keeps the reader firmly committed to this page-turning phenomenon. Consistently accurate biblical references prove the authenticity of the author’s religious knowledge, while also serving to shock with vivid scenes of violence and R-rated imagery. This is definitely a new “take” on paranormal fiction.

Ica Iova

Joanna Benally is a pastor. A little over 13 years ago she had completely surrendered her life to God, dedicating it to helping troubled Nazarene churches. Her Master’s Degree in Sociology makes her a perfect delegate, and she doesn’t mind the various employments, usually in rough urban communities. When she is in public, Joanna seems strong and dedicated to her work. Behind closed doors she is a totally different person — lonely, keeping her distance, and dissatisfied with her life. There is a reason she keeps everyone at arm’s length. She has secrets — shameful secrets. However, everything she thought she knew is tested when she meets a handsome man who claims to be Cain — the oldest vampire — who uses his telepathic abilities to punish and kill sinners. But that’s not all. She finds herself slowly falling in love with Cain as she discovers that she is a genetic portal for vampires to feed on humans.

Beacon by November Ellison is an interesting blend of several genres and is a new concept of the vampire genre. It is really unlike any book I’ve ever read. It takes the reader on an interesting ride as it crosses several genres, from religion and spirituality, to romance, to vampires, to sci-fi. It is what makes the premise unique. I loved the romantic factor woven into the story. Packed with interesting characters, twists and turns, and awash in romance, Beacon is a perfect afternoon read; I will call this a page turner. I would definitely recommend it to readers who like fantasy.

Carol Coetzee

Beacon by November Ellison is a chilling and interesting read! This novel mix of Christianity, science fiction, and vampire genres will leave you wanting more. Pastor Joanna Benally is a problem solver for the Nazarene Church, which has her traveling from one troubled church to another to fix problems. Her latest journey takes her to the small community of Licking Valley, Ohio, where her ideas and beliefs will be tested to the limit. The church leaders are unwelcoming, to say the least, and she has a strange meeting with a handsome man named Cain. Cain is a vampire who makes his way through life punishing evil doers. Many interesting twists and turns, multiple plot threads, and good writing will keep you reading this one. Jo is about to be broken down and remade! I can't wait to read more in what promises to be an amazing series!

If you are looking for an interesting and fascinating blend of genres, from religion to science fiction, mixed with romance, action, and suspense, then Beacon is the book for you. The characters are wonderfully portrayed, coming alive on the pages and grabbing your attention. They are complex and multi-faceted, trying to find their way in this strange world. This book will keep you guessing as it jumps from plot twist to twist, neatly weaving a complicated tale of love and redemption, love and betrayal, and a quest for a deeper understanding. You are left wanting to know what is going to happen, and hoping November Ellison is almost done with the next book in this series, which is going to keep your brain occupied for quite some time after you turn the last page. A delightfully crafted tale!

Samantha Dewitt (Rivera)

Jo is all set to continue her mission and do what she does best; take a small, failing church and make it thrive again. But there’s no way that it’s going to be quite that easy if she’s not careful about it. She’s been successful all this time, but it looks like something different is going on this time. This time she’s found someone that she never could have believed existed before: Cain. He claims to be something she’s sure he couldn’t possibly be, but then … what if he is? And what about the feelings she’s starting to develop for him, despite the truth he’s told her about himself and his purpose in life. It’s going to mean a lot of changes, for both of them in Beacon by November Ellison.

This book was all about romance and love and the unexpected places where you can find that love. I really liked the way that these characters seemed to grow together and evolve, and it was really great how they were each able to find their purpose in a way that worked together. Jo was able to loosen up a little and become a more real person while Cain was able to learn even more about his good side and everything he could accomplish if he wants to. Not to mention the rest of the characters from Ethan to Chloe who are also going through a journey. However, it’s only Jo and Cain who are able to change things, which really makes for some adventure in Beacon by November Ellison.