Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Story One

Fiction - Thriller - General
442 Pages
Reviewed on 03/28/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jo Michaels is...

Hi, I'm Jo. Let's forget all the "Jo Michaels is blah, blah, blah" stuff and just go with it. I'm a voracious reader (often reading more than one book at a time), a writer, a book reviewer, a mom, a wife, and one of the EICs at INDIE Books Gone Wild. I have an almost photographic memory and tend to make people cringe at the number of details I can recall about them and/or their book(s). My imagination follows me around like a conjoined twin and causes me to space out pretty often or laugh out loud randomly in completely inappropriate situations.

I have a degree in graphic design, and my journey to the end was one few students who begin that program ever complete. However, this was one case where my memory and OCD tendencies helped me. Graduation was one of the most amazing days of my life. But, my most amazing day was when my now husband proposed. Every little girl dreams of being Cinderella someday, and he pulled off the proposal of fantasies.

At the risk of sounding cliché, I'm going to let it out there and say how much I absolutely adore the man I'm married to. Along with my children, he's my whole world.

I've lived in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia, but I've had my feet in almost every state. Traveling is something I adore, and have plans to someday see the Mongolia I've written about in Yassa.

One of my favorite things is hearing from fans! You can find me on social media most any day of the week. Connect! I'd love to hear from you.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite

After two well-deserved years on death row for the inexcusable murder of a family of four, Tobias Butler only scoffed at the Pen Pal mails that adorned his prison cell. The anger dripping from the ink of multiple avengers of the death penalty was quite amusing. And the holier-than-thou sentiments had become boring. Then a letter arrived that created an entirely new mind set for Tobias. Jessica Phang sounded like the real deal. Beautiful, intelligent, wealthy, and obviously captivated with his story, this pen pal could very well be his ticket back to the free world. All he had to do was turn on the charm and Attorney Jessica Phang would be his. As their relationship becomes too good to be true, Tobias swallows his revulsion and plays the game Jessica devises to make the perfect prison break, the perfect romance, and the perfect gift of new found freedom. As the convicted murderer becomes confident in this turn of fate, he somehow misses a few very important details in his legal defense.

Emancipation: Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Story One by Jo Michaels is a thrilling story of suspense and gripping sexual tension that grows more intriguing with each page turned. Just when I think I cannot be more surprised with Michaels’ grasp on a true crime story, she adds another twist to make this reader doubt the outcome. Emancipation is a fast-paced tale that will leave the reader slapping his/her head at the outcome. I really, really enjoyed Emancipation. I cannot wait for the second in the Pen Pal series!

Deborah Lloyd

Emancipation: Pen Pals and Serial Killers – Story One by Jo Michaels is an exhilarating, suspense-filled thriller. Tobias (Toby) Butler is a convicted killer, trying to stay alive in a prison with its own hierarchy of guards, thugs and gangs. Toby has a new pen pal - a young, beautiful and determined attorney, Jessica Phang. Jessica studied his case during law school and is committed to an appeal to overturn his conviction for the murder of a married couple and their two young children. Although Toby has doubts about this pen pal, he receives her photo and agrees to a meeting. The sparks fly and soon a loving relationship is formed. Although Toby is a master manipulator, solely focused on what atrocities he will commit if freed, Jessica does not see this part of his personality.

The lives of lifelong prisoners, as well as their thoughts and actions, are presented realistically in Jo Michaels’ novel, Emancipation: Pen Pals and Serial Killers – Story One. Be aware the book is gritty; it has strong profanity, sexual fantasies and horrific torturous acts. This novel is not for the faint-hearted reader. The intriguing plot, however, outweighs these aspects, and the reader is compelled to find out what will happen if Toby is freed, or if his conviction is upheld by the court. Ms. Michaels aptly portrays the sociopathic personality of Toby through his thought processes and the letters he writes to Jessica – as well as the letters he throws away. There are plenty of twists and turns, and surprises in store, creating a mesmerizing page-turner. It is a book you will not soon forget.

Lorena Sanqui

Tobias Butler had already served some of his sentence while sitting on death row when a novice lawyer, Jessica Phang, contacted him through his profile on a pen pal website, offering him a chance at freedom. It seems too good to be true, but the temptation of getting out has him starting a mail correspondence with the young lawyer. Soon, the two are meeting and going over the case to have Tobias proven innocent and freed. Tobias killed a family of four, landing him on death row, and he knows he did it - so how will Jessica prove Tobias’ innocence in Emancipation by Jo Michaels?

Emancipation by Jo Michaels is a thrilling read with a unique and stimulating plot. It was twisted and scary but very gripping, a true page turner. The only book I have read with an antagonist for a protagonist that looked like the character won’t turn by the end. The only book with the main character so hateful, but still I was curious to see how he would end up. The crime Tobias committed was so gruesome and horrible I wondered why anyone would want him out of prison. Jessica was hard to like, but her intelligence and cunning made her a credible character. She seemed obsessed with the case and proving him not guilty of the sins he'd committed. The lies were told convincingly and the scenes were written in excellent detail; it was like watching the story unfold. I loved how the plot developed and the unexpected twist in it; even the ending was suspenseful.