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(Pen Pals and Serial Killers #1)

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  96 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Tobias Butler has been sitting on death row since being sentenced for a gruesome murder in 2007. Bored out of his mind, he decided to apply to the online penpal program in 2012. It's a pleasant distraction—nothing more, nothing less—for three years, until he's contacted by a beautiful, smart young lawyer named Jess. She's convinced he's innocent and wants to see him freed. ...more
Kindle Edition, 442 pages
Published March 19th 2016
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Jo Michaels
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Average rating 4.34  · 
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Lyn❤Loves❤Listening #AUDIOBOOKADDICT
Audio - 4.25 stars
Story - 4 stars

The story was pretty predictable but nonetheless disturbing. I really enjoyed it!
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Tobias Butler is a serial killer, he's been sitting on death row after being sentenced for a gruesome murder in years before. Now Tobias has gotten involved in the prison's pen pal program and has received a letter from a young lawyer named Jess.

Jess is determined that Tobias is innocent and she wants to reopen his case stating that she has found new facts after studying the evidence. With Tobias actually being guilty he is curious what the lawyer thinks she's found and whether she could really
Angela DeSilva
This is a fantastic psychological thriller. Boy, did I love this book. I have always been fascinated by serial killers but never stupid enough to write to one in prison or on death row or fall in love with one. Jess has a hidden agenda just like Tobias. Oh Tobias, she got one over on you, you're not as smart as you thought you were. I was like yelling at the kindle saying, what a stupid woman Jess was. Tobias is deliciously evil, my kind of killer. 5 stars for this book. I wonder what else Jo Mi ...more
J. Kahele
Tobias Butler is one sick f***! A convicted serial killer, he's living his life on death row after being found guilty for a murder years earlier. He signs up for the prison pen pal program and is contacted by a lawyer named Jess.
Jess think she can get Tobias off, emancipated of all charges, however being as Tobias is guilty he is curious to find out how she could that.
This is probably one of the most graphic and darkest reads I have read in a while, but I loved it because it’s what you want, so
Linda Strong
I am going to start out by saying there should be a warning that comes with this book ... a sign stating: Contains adult language, violence and sex. Not recommended for children under 18.

Tobias is in prison for killing a family of 4, including 2 young children. This was after he had tortured and raped the wife while forcing her husband to watch. These were not the first people who had ever died by his hands.

Jessica is a young, beautiful lawyer. Finding his posting on a penpal website created for
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The tale is told from the perspective of Tobias Butler; a serial killer who is sitting on death row for the gruesome murder of an entire family in 2007. Make no mistake Tobias did it, spend a little time in his head and that becomes perfectly clear. But he’s bored and joins a pen pal exchange. Here he meets a young, beautiful lawyer named Jess who believes him innocent.

The tale that unfolds is twisted as Tobias plays this young woman. I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for the outcome. Brillia
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, dark
Emancipation is the story of Tobias and Jessica. Tobias is a serial killer who has been on death row for 8 years. Jess is a 24-year-old criminal defense attorney. They get to know each other via a pen pal program. Jess wants to get Tobias's conviction overturned.
You may think Emancipation will turn into a lovey-dovey romance, far from it.
It's a dark psychological thriller containing extremely graphic material.
I was in two minds about this all the way through.
The positives:
Jo Michaels' portrayal
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emancipation is a deliciously creepy thrill ride. I have never hated a main character so much in my life. I think that is one of the things that makes this book so different from what I usually read. In most books you love the leading guy, he meets the girl, they fall in love and then they live HEA. Not in this book. LOL There are no warm and fuzzies here, but if you want an intense, mind blowing story then this is your book.

Tobias is pure evil and to say I wanted him dead is an understatement.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 Thrilling Stars
I was given this book for a review free of persuasion from the author or anyone else affiliated with the book

*This book contains graphic material and is not suited for people under the ages of anyone who can not handle very graphic material.

WOW. By far one of the most edgy books I have ever read. Emancipation blew me out of the water. Jo Michaels hit the nail on the head with combining the perfect plot of a serial killer locked in prison and the perfect innocent lawyer.

Tobias i
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary, audio
3 stars narrative and 3 stars story. Predictable "twist". And the dialogue seemed kinda amateurish.
C.M. McCoy
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This looks pretty good, and I can't believe somebody rated it with 1 star before it's even released, so I'm rating it 5 stars, because that's how excited I am to read it.

This story is wrong, wrong, wrong. But in all the right ways.

Now that I've had the pleasure of reading this book, I can tell you a couple things:

1. It's hard to put down
2. The writing is great
3. The story is dark. Very dark.
4. There is no hero here. The characters are despicable. Every single one of them. I loved how much I hate
Jade Simcox (3 Degrees Of Fiction)
Received an ARC for honest review!
Is there a option to give a book more then 5 stars because this book definitely deserves it.
I think maybe this is one of the most f*cked up books I have ever read. It was a basic plot, with so much more added on to turn it into something else. As I was reading I was thinking I had the ending figured out, it was going to be predictable, but I just didn't see that ending coming at all.
This was a story very well manipulated by the author, she had you thinking one
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Was given ARC for honest review. WOW. Just wow. I devoured this book could not put it down. Half way through I was pretty sure how the plot was unfolding and I couldn't wait to see if I was right. However never expected the intensity of the outcome. This is a must read, I needed something different than the usual HEA and this totally delivered!!
Nicole B
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great audio. I never saw the ending coming and I’m telling you it was the perfect ending. This is the story of a man sitting on death row for the hideous crimes he has committed against women. He is guilty as sin and knows there’s no way he’s getting out of prison until one day he is contacted by a very attractive attorney who writes all the right things and he decide to play puppet master. His ultimate plan is to get out of jail and get all her money. How it turns out, you’ll have to ...more
S.J. Pierce
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Emancipation was easily one of my top reads for 2016. I would even go so far as to say it was my FAVORITE read of 2016. Why? Because I rate a book based on how much it pulls me in and makes me forget it's fiction, and Ms. Jo Michael's succeeded by leaps and bounds. Not once was I jarred out of the story because of typos, inconsistencies, sloppy prose, or unrealistic writing. I BELIEVED I was in Tobias' mind. For the duration of the book, I was in the mind of a serial killer. Now that's not to sa ...more
Carissa Lynch
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! How to review a book that literally leaves you speechless?!
Emancipation is a psychological thriller at its best. It's dark and gritty, and Michaels spares no detail as she describes the life of a man on death row. Tobias fits the profile of a sociopath, and as I learned more about his life prior to prison, I couldn't help feeling sorry for the guy. But that didn't last long because as he describes his crimes and hatred for women - all people, really - his true character is revealed.
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am lucky enough to have been selected to be an ARC reader for Emancipation. Maybe I am a bit bias since I love everything Jo Michaels has written, that I have read so far, so I went into this book already infatuated with the idea of another great story. Realizing that I am not a big fan of serial killer thriller books, I became skeptical and began loathing Tobias. His actions, sick and twisted mind had me want to throw my Kindle across the room and just read another book.

In the back of my mind
A Book Lover's Emporium Book Blog
My review for Emancipation by Jo Michaels.

I have had this on my kindle to read and kept putting it off. You know that saying never judge a book by its cover? Well don't! I sort of did with this one, to me it is a little creepy so I felt I really had to be in the mood to read it. Now I have read it I feel the cover is perfect! I certainly wasn't creeped out, I was glued to it!
I don't really know what to say without giving anything away so here goes...
Tobias is on Death row for killing a whole fa
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-stars
I don't like repeating the description of a book in my review. Emancipation is a very, very graphic novel. Those who cannot handle - or will not handle - this, please don't read it. To be honest, I felt sorry for both the main characters, Toby and Jessica. Nobody chooses voluntarily to go through what they had to go through. Sometimes I had the feeling I was living inside the head of Tobias, and it was not a very pretty place. Jessica is all Tobias can wish for, but she is so much more than he t ...more
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Total page turner! I love psychological thrillers so I was very intrigued when I read the description for this book. I liked how the author actually put the reader in the mind of this psycho. I would get so engrossed when reading this book that I would have to stop and make sure I was really in a safe place and no where near this maniac. This story kept me guessing the ending almost up to the last chapter. I had an idea how this might conclude but the author surpassed any of my expectations for ...more
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A harrowing story, that makes me want to be sick. Tobias is one sick individual. The psychology in the book had me in awe. It's well thought out, and seems realistic, like reading a biography. Thankfully it is fiction otherwise I don't think I could have had the heart to read it.

A gripping read. 5 stars.

I was given this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review.
Winter Sophia Rose
Creepy, Dark, Disturbing, Intriguing & Shocking! An Awesome Read! I Loved It! ...more
Olivia Rofrits
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book was amazing.
Tobias what a character. He had the whole serial killer down tell me tell you and how he's mind worked crazy!! He joined penpal program then him and Jessica started writing back and forth. She was young lawyer believes Tobias is innocent never killed that whole family. She helping him get it overturned and out of prison.
Can Jessica get Tobias out? Warning this end shock you to the core what happens!?!? I'm still trying wrap my mind over everything.

I received copy to re
Wendy Rinebold
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Emancipation (Pen Pals and Serial Killers #1) by Jo Micheals is an extremely dark thriller.

Tobias Butler was sentenced to death row for the murders of a family. He is serving his time doing his best to manipulate everyone around him. He signs up for the Pen Pals Program and begins to regret the decision as he only receives mail from religious zealots or hate mail. For a change, he gets a letter that he wants to reply to. Its from a lawyer named Jessica Phang who believes she can free him. There
Ronald Keeler
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Emancipation by Jo Michaels is Story One in a Pen Pals and Serial Killers series by Jo Michaels. I previously reviewed Book Five, a short story, in the same series. Impressed by the writing style, I rated Book Five at four Amazon stars. This novel, Story One, is a five Amazon star read. There are surprises throughout which reveal many opportunities for spoilers. I will be careful not to do so.
The primary setting of Emancipation is a prison giving readers a realistic and possibly entertaining por
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Holy Hell y’all

This is a seriously intense story. I mean I was captured first by the intricately woven personality of Tobias. When he was acting like an innocent man, I found myself thinking that yeah, maybe he was falsely convicted. But then his truth is shown and I can’t believe I ever had any sympathy for him. There’s language and violence that cement the fact he is evil. His intelligence and cunning are scary attributes when I understand that most notorious serial killers are just like that.
Amanda Rambusch
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Total Stunner.

I was completely astounding by the roller coaster of emotions as I read this book. It was very methodic In the research that went into this book you can tell by every single detail.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have to say that I was so excited to get this in the mail!! A super surprise treat! Unfortunately, I had too many obligations to dive in on March 16 when it arrived, but I dove right into it yesterday and found every available free moment I had between then and today to continuing reading.

I do feel that I have to mention that this book contains very graphic, sexual, violent thriller content. I agree that children under 18, should not read this book. My teen daughter wondered why she didn't get
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Wow is the first word that comes to mind when I read this book. It started out as a criminal and lawyer book with the young lawyer finding some new evidence and the death row inmate that wanted out . This is the story of Tobias and Jesse . Tobias is on death row for murdering a family , and he is bored and wants out . Enter Jesse a young lawyer who wants to help him out . They meet via the pen pal program . They work tirelessly to get him out , but oh there is so much more to this story then hi
So when I saw this book come across and I read the blurb I was rather excited to read it. I thought it sounded like one of those books where I could easily get sucked in. Unfortunately that is not what happened. This book is in the POV of Tobias. We know right from the beginning that he is guilty, so most of the book takes place while he is in prison.

Then he gets a letter from Jess. Jess is an attorney who believes he is innocent and that she can get him out of prison. Tobias decides to let thi
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Jo Michaels loves writing novels that make readers gasp in horror, surprise, and disbelief. While her browser search history has probably landed her on a list somewhere, she still dives into every plot with gusto, hoping "the man" will realize she's a writer and not a psychopath about to go on a rampage. Her favorite pastimes are reading, watching Investigation Discovery, and helping other authors ...more

Other books in the series

Pen Pals and Serial Killers (6 books)
  • Provocation (Pen Pals and Serial Killers #2)
  • Intensification (Pen Pals and Serial Killers, #3)
  • The House (Pen Pals and Serial Killers, #4)
  • Innocent (Pen Pals and Serial Killers #5)
  • Manipulation (Pen Pals and Serial Killers, #6)

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