Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cover Reveal: Out of Reach by Missy Johnson


Book: Out of Reach
Author: Missy Johnson
Event Organized by: Indie Sage, LLC

Synopsis: Andy and I had been best friends since we were eight-years old. Watching him slowly fade away, ever closer to his final breath, made me so incredibly angry. I knew there was nothing I could do to change it–I had given in to despair, but Andy had not. He had one last hand to play. He wasn’t going to simply sit back and wait for Death to claim him–not Andy. He was going to live life until he couldn’t hold his eyes open any longer. Andy didn’t want to die in some sterile hospital and asked me to take him and Emily to the beach. It would be our last road trip together. Emily. Emily was a problem for me. I harbored a secret that would have torn our friendship apart. I was in love with Andy’s girl, and had been since she’d walked into our sixth grade class, so many years ago. So what kind of person am I? My best friend is dying, and it’s awful–but my heart still aches for his girl. I hate myself for thinking beyond Andy’s death and whether there could ever be a future for Emily and I, but I can’t help it. I love her.  



About the Author

Missy lives in a small town in Central Victoria with her husband, and her confused pets (a dog who think she’s a cat, a cat who thinks he’s a dog…you get the picture). When she’s not writing, she can usually be found looking for something to read.
Website // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Book Blitz: Beyond the Reach of Judgement by Jo Bissell

Excerpt 1:

Alone in the stone cell, Julien paced the perimeter until finally sliding his body down the unforgiving wall opposite the cell door. With her final words still stuck in his head, he focused on the cracks in the stones and the number of blocks stacked to form his enclosure. He tried to memorize the angles and the dimensions of the space instead of allowing thoughts of her warm curves pressed against him to overcome his focus. When the vision of her bright blue eyes came into his head, he changed his attention to the ceiling, taking in the cobwebs in the corners, the dim bulb hanging above, and the smell of mildew hanging in the air. As his mind fell upon the memories of their final moments together, he ground his fingernails into the hard stone beneath him.
His concentration wavered as something slipped through the bars of the cell door. Even in the dim lighting, he immediately recognized the medical grade pint of packed red blood cells. Although freshly sated by the girl’s last remaining ounce of life, the blood still called to him. The more he tried to ignore its presence, the louder the call became. His eyes repeatedly drifted back toward the bag as his tongue ran over his teeth. He sniffed the air, relieved that the scent of the bag’s contents remained trapped by the sterile sealing process.
His jaw clenched, and his fists tightened as the pain built in the back of his throat. Picturing himself back in France in the Church of Saint-Pierre de Montemartre, he swallowed back the saliva that collected in his mouth as he closed his eyes and began to chant.
AVE MARIA, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.[1]
With his eyes closed, he chanted the words over and over, repeating them until they became senseless in his mind. Placing his head between his knees, he squeezed his eyes closed tighter. When he started to wonder what blood type was written across the bag in bold letters or about how fresh it might be, he changed prayers. When the memories of the sensation of his lips on warm flesh, the sound of a pulse echoing in his ears, or the taste of that first drop of blood on his tongue entered his mind, he changed prayers. When he remembered her scent in his nostrils and her flavor in his mouth, he changed prayers.
Recognizing her footsteps and her smell, Julien did not look up as Agent Wolf stood in the doorway. After a long silence, she finally spoke. “Mr. Durant, tell me, why should I spare you?”
“You should not,” he said.
“And why is that?”
“I am a monster. I deserve to be ended. I wish to be ended.”
“And why should I give you what you desire?” Her voice hinted at genuine curiosity.
“You should not.”
She said nothing else as her footsteps disappeared down the long corridor. Silence filled the cell once again. He was alone, alone with the blood.
Imagining himself back in the Spiritual Exercises, he started to chant again. He had conquered the evil and disorder within himself once so many years ago; it could be done again. Ruth taught him that. It took losing her to prove to him that he had the choice, and her loss gave him the strength to take it.
Even though he had witnessed her passing with his own eyes, her presence still haunted his every thought. He sensed her fear and despair as if she sat next to him now. But now she was dead, and he sat alone in the stone cell.

Excerpt 2:

He had waited too long. Intense hunger was all that drove him to fight the weakness that threatened to let him expire. Two days ago, his intentions were to let his end find him, but as usual, the extreme pain of his hunger became too much to fight any longer. His need pulled him like a magnet from his bed, down the elevator, and into the parking garage below the building. Crawling into the driver’s seat of his black two-seater, he brought the engine to life.
With a squeal of his tires, he pulled into the street toward Independence Avenue, his favorite hunting ground. His eyes found her standing stiffly on a corner with another female. As he slowed, her “friend” pushed her toward his vehicle and gave her a slap on the thigh. “Ooo, a Porsche. Lucky you. You can do this, girl,” she said with a drunken-sounding slur and a giggle. Once again, the streets of Kansas City had blessed him.
Rolling down the window, he forced his most charming smile. As their gaze met, he noticed the momentary flash of panic in her blue eyes. Had she noticed the lack of color in his sunken eyes? The fact that his once thick dark locks were greying and falling out? Or was it the pale skin, which now flaked away at his cheekbones, and the thinning of his eyebrows that caused her alarm?
Still, she leaned into the window, causing her long, dark hair to tumble over her shoulder. Her heat hit him like a wave, washing her intoxicating scent over him. Hearing her heart pounding in her chest, his eyes instinctively drifted down to the cleavage positioned so perfectly above the vital organ. She would be an excellent choice for his evening plans. He almost grabbed her then and there, but instead clenched the steering wheel tight in defense.
“This is a dangerous neighborhood, sweetheart.” Giving a slight smile, he shook his head with feigned empathy. “You really should not be out here so late... and all alone.” It was his usual line. “Allow me to take you somewhere a bit nicer, won’t you?” With a quick head motion to the passenger seat and a wink, he released the automatic locks.
“Aren’t you a gentleman?” A flush slipped across her cheeks as she smiled and laughed nervously. “A gentleman with cash, I assume.” she said in a sweet voice with a hint of southern cadence.
“Of course. Your company will be well compensated.”
As she walked around the car to the passenger door, he watched her movements like a cat watches a fish in a bowl. The shoes she wore were clearly too tight and too tall, based on her awkward gait, but the clingy green number she wore more than made up for it in the way it showed her soft curves. He wanted to take her right there, but he would have to be patient. How had he gotten so lucky tonight? This one would be worth the wait.
As she sat next to him, she reached a hand over to stroke his thigh with another nervous giggle. Instinctively, his body tensed, but she did not pull away. The warmth of her touch crept through his jeans and straight into his groin. He studied her from the corner of his eye. She was certainly younger than his usual selections, and more attractive. In fact, compared to most of his ladies, she seemed radiant. He almost felt guilty about taking her.

Excerpt 3:

“I have to know your story.” She leaned in to him again. “Please?”
He glanced around again and back down into his glass. “Are you quite sure? It is an ugly story, especially considering the occasion.” He looked up into her eyes, causing her breath to catch in her throat.
“Yes.” She held his gaze and gave a small nod. “Please?”
He took another slow drink of wine and refilled his glass. “I sailed from my home in France to Sainte-Marie-au-pays-des-Hurons, a Mission in New France, which is now Ontario, Canada. It was 1640. My mission was simple; build a relationship with the Natives and reveal God to them.”
He glanced at her and back to his wine. “It was all very exciting at first, especially after years in study and contemplation and then the monotonous and grueling journey to get there.”
He paused, and Ruth struggled to contain her urge to rush him on. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he was lost in memory.
“We were well received in the beginning. We tried to learn their ways, their words, and their myths. We lived in their lodges, shared their work, spoke their tongue, and ate their food. Once we could understand how they thought and behaved, we could use that knowledge to adapt the Gospel to something they could understand. At least that was the plan.
“The Hurons, among whom we lived, were a fascinating, if savage, people. And our mission seemed to be moving forward as predicted...” He looked away as his jaw tightened.
“Then what happened?” she urged.
“There was constant conflict between the Hurons and the Iroquois, a warring neighboring nation. Then there were diseases and crop failures. Eventually, the Huron started to blame our presence for their misfortunes. Other Jesuits had already fallen victim to unspeakable tragedies in the years before my arrival. I ….”
They were interrupted by the arrival of the waitress. “Have you two decided what you would like?”
Ruth glanced over at him, and he gave her a nod. “I think so. We’d like to start with your appetizer sampler. Then I would like tonight’s special, with the soup. Thank you.” Biting her lip, she hoped she not ordered too much. She did not want Julien to assume she was taking advantage of his generosity.
“And you, sir?”
“I will take the same.” He smiled politely.
“Of course. We will have those out as soon as possible. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.”
“Of course,” he said.
As soon as the waitress stepped out of earshot, Ruth leaned back over the table. “So the Hurons were blaming you for war and disease...”
“Yes. Which made our mission much more difficult. That and the fact that the Iroquois were seeking full control of the French fur trade. Then there were strange whispers about the arrival of the Devil in the woods. ”
“Okay, so then what happened?”
“One day like any other day, in 1642, while I was assisting in gathering materials for one of the shelters, I was taken captive by a group of Iroquois warriors.” Again, he paused, using his wine glass as an excuse to stop the story.
“And?” She knew her eyes were wide with anticipation.
“And...It is an experience I have tried for a long time to forget.” He trailed off.
“Oh, forgive me. I don’t mean to be insensitive.” Feeling her face start to flush, she took a drink of her wine and stared into the glass in silence.
Their waitress approached again, and placed the large plate of appetizers on the table. “Can I get you more wine?”
“Please,” Julien said.
“My pleasure.” She smiled and left.
Meanwhile, Ruth picked at the food as she sneaked a glance across the table.
“It was the first time in my life up until that point that I had ever questioned my faith...”
Looking up, she found him staring directly into her eyes, causing the breath to catch in her throat. “You don’t have to continue.”
“The tortures went on for hours. Beatings and whippings and burns... threats with arrows through my heart and scalping. When I asked why, they told me, ‘because the Devil made them do it!’” He laughed.
She cringed at the sound. “I don’t understand.”
“After they had pulled out my fingernails and driven stakes through my feet..”
“Oh how terrible!” she gasped. “I’m so sorry...I didn’t mean to...”
“They said, ‘We hope your God can save you from our Devil.’ Then suddenly, I was alone in the woods, staked to the ground by my feet.”
The waitress interrupted with another bottle of wine. “Thank you,” they replied in unison and she left the open bottle on the table after refilling both their glasses.
“Julien, please...”
“That’s when She found me.”
“Oh?” She couldn’t help but be curious at this point, despite the horridness of what she had heard.
Tawiskala. She was at once beautiful and frightening. I was not sure whether to scream or cry or beg for mercy.” He glanced around the room several times before he leaned in closer as his voice lowered.
“She spoke to me in the Native tongue. ‘Why are you here, Fair One?’
“‘To honor God,’ I replied.
“‘Tell me, Black Robe, do you fear death?’ she whispered in my ear, causing me to shiver.
“‘No. I have the promise of eternal life should I be deemed worthy,’ I remember saying.
“‘I too give eternal life, should I deem you worthy. Allow me to alleviate your suffering, Holy Man.’
“‘I suffer willingly.’
“‘But needlessly.’ She pulled the stakes from my feet, causing me to cry out.
“‘This is nothing more than a test. I will not give in to your temptation, She-Devil.’ She dug her claws into my wounds, causing me to struggle against her, but it was useless. Next, she licked away my tears as she laughed. The sound made me vomit.” He stared into his wine glass.
Holding her breath, Ruth waited for him to continue. She almost cried out in surprise when their waitress reappeared with their dinner plates.
“Can I get you anything else right now?”
“No, we’re fine,” Julien responded. His eyes followed the waitress as she left them. “Then her cold touch relieved my pain. Her kisses healed my wounds and...” His lips tightened into a frown.
Biting her knuckle, she felt her pulse quicken. “And?”
“And then..” He looked away from her as his fists clenched beside his glass. “...Eventually, she drank.” He reached up to his own neck as his eyes closed.
He looked at her again, his pale eyes still distant. “Until my body went numb and my vision went dark. I thought I was dead. I felt myself praying for forgiveness as I hoped it would end soon.” He took a large gulp from his glass.
“And then, a sweet taste passed my lips.” He took another drink and closed his eyes. “The numbness was overcome by an icy-hot fire as my entire being convulsed.”
Covering her mouth with her hand, Ruth’s eyes widened.
“When I opened my eyes the next evening, I could think of only one thing.” His eyes shot open, and he stared straight through her.
“What?” She swallowed hard.
Ruth shivered. “Oh.”
“Tawiskala was prepared. One of the Iroquois warriors lay bound nearby.” He frowned.
“It disgusted and thrilled me, how easily I was able to end that life. And once he had nothing left to give, I set off in search of more. Six people died by my hand that first night alone.” He emptied the bottle into his glass. “I can still remember it like it was last night. Each face. Each scream.” Lifting his glass, he took another deep sip.
She said nothing for a long time. She couldn’t find the right words as her mind tried to comprehend the violence he described. Finally, she mumbled, “I see.”
“But enough about that.” He finished his wine in one long gulp. “Let us enjoy this lovely meal. Shall we?” He smiled at her, although his eyes lacked the same enthusiasm.

Excerpt 4:

Agent Samantha Wolf reviewed the surveillance video for the fifth time that hour. Frustrated, she rewound the tape and played it a sixth time. Her sources had verified that the woman was indeed the one for which she searched, but her case ended there. The tape remained her only hard evidence. There must be something in it she had missed. She needed something new, anything new. Her only angle thus far had been the black Porsche. Only a few people in the entire state owned that exact make, model, and trim in that color, all of which she had questioned personally.
Sighing, she opened her notes and flipped through the pages. There was no body. She almost always had a body. If not a body, she had a victim with a story and a trail of clues leading straight to her undead perpetrator. She had no body, no victim, and only a dried up trail of black sports cars to work from. Why did she agree to a missing person’s case? There was absolutely zero evidence to support anything other than a human had taken the girl from that street corner. This case was not even in her jurisdiction.
Looking over at the photo of her husband in uniform sitting on the nightstand in her hotel room, she shook her head and pulled the frame closer. She was not doing this because it was her job, she was doing this because it was the right thing to do for her fellow officer, and a good friend of her husband. If it was her husband missing, she hoped a friend would do the same for her. In fact, Jonathan Ryan had done that for her. By sending her the letter cataloging her husband’s last moments, and the happier times prior to those moments, including photos and comments from his other friends, he had given her something she felt she needed to return. She was determined to find his missing wife. He deserved that, and she had the training and the resources to do it.
Reading over her notes, she tried desperately to connect the dots. She flipped through the profiles of the eight Porsche drivers she had questioned recently. Of the eight, two were women, and five had verified alibis. Mr. William Durand of Kansas City, MO remained the only man whom had yet to prove his whereabouts that evening. His address was mere blocks away from the location where Ms. Ryan had last been seen, but other than her gut feeling about him, she had no other real evidence against him. The car and the address hardly proved anything other than his wealth.
When she had visited Magdalen Durant, as she had called herself, Wolf had no idea at the time that the girl she was investigating for unrelated reasons, would become the same woman she so desperately wanted to find now. If only she had opened the email from Jonathan sooner, instead of allowing it to drift further down her inbox until she had all but forgotten about it. As soon as she read Jonathan’s desperate plea for help and opened the picture of the exact girl she had interviewed a few days prior, she regretted her decision. Had she had this information during the interview, she imagined it would have ended very differently.
Instead of just some random female who had flagged the alerts she had in place with the hospital as part of her ongoing investigation into mysterious deaths from extreme blood loss, she was Mary Ruth Jacobson-Ryan, wife of her dead husband’s best friend, and recent missing person case to which she had unofficially assigned herself. She assumed it to be coincidence. All of her other victims had been prostitutes. It seemed now to be one of her stranger cases, actually; dead, bloodless prostitutes found with slit wrists in motel rooms around the city every three to four weeks.
It took the local authorities years to see the pattern and wonder if they were connected. Everyone involved in the individual cases attributed the deaths to suicide and rightly so, based on the obvious evidence. But to her experienced eyes, it had to be vampiric in nature. Nothing else she had encountered could drain a human dry in such an exact way, not even suicide via wrist slitting in a bathtub.
Turning to her notes again, she read through the details regarding her interview with Ms. Durant/Mrs. Ryan. As she scanned them, her eyes stopped.
“Scarring to a wound consistent with previous suicide attempt by exsanguination via laceration of the radial artery at the wrist.”
While this detail had been important when Wolf had been focused on her bloodless prostitute case, somehow she had forgotten it when she realized she had missed her chance to confront Jonathan Ryan’s missing wife.
Looking over at her calendar, she noted, for the first time, that the highlighted days had come and gone with no dead girl found in a motel bathtub. Furthermore, the woman’s arrival at the hospital correlated with that timeline perfectly.
What if she wasn’t working two different cases? What if Mary Ruth Jacobson-Ryan was the latest victim of her prostitute-preying predator? She did disappear from a street corner well known for such activity. It could be possible that she had fallen victim in the same way the others had. 
Thinking back to her interview with Mrs. Ryan, she tried to understand if indeed she had experienced and survived an attack by a vampire, why she would not have said anything about the attack during their exchange. So many questions swirled through the agent’s mind - Did she not remember? Did she not care? Did she not think she would be believed? Was she being coerced into silence? If so, how and why? Why had she been allowed to live when so many others had died? How had she escaped?
Samantha’s thoughts drifted to the possibility that Mr. Durand could be one of the immortals she usually investigated. He definitely had a certain air about him - the difficult-to-place accent, the large amount of wealth for a man no one had seemed to have heard of, and a bit of arrogance when speaking with the law that she had encountered with her other vampires of significant age and experience. She remembered him being attractive and healthy in appearance at the time she had met him, meaning if he were indeed vampire, he had probably fed recently, but not too recently, judging by the whites of his eyes and the paleness of his skin.
Making a note to get more security footage from Mr. Durand’s building to determine if he ever left during daylight hours, she grabbed her folder that contained the details of the prostitute case. Pulling out the map showing the locations of the victims’ bodies and their last known locations prior to their deaths, she located the loft building in which Mr. Durand lived.
“Aha!” she exclaimed as she noticed the building’s location, centrally located among the mess of dots. Her suspicions increased, and now the evidence started to support them.

Excerpt 5:

Days passed as Julien sat motionless and alone in his small, dark motel room. He begged himself to be strong; not to return to her. Still, he could not free Ruth from his thoughts. Was she okay? Had she found his note? Did she understand? What was she doing now? Who was she with? Was she happy? Had she forgiven him? Would she ever forgive him?
Suddenly, as if driven by an exterior force, he stood as the empty bottles of cheap whiskey rattled around his feet. He needed to forget about her, to find a distraction; to feel something else - anything else.
He left the room with a flurry. Once outside, he just kept walking. He knew this part of town was perfect for his need because that was precisely why he had chosen it in the first place. In a few blocks, he happened onto a Gentlemen’s club, and immediately he knew without explanation that it was one of those types of places known to be “vampire friendly.”
As he stepped inside to the loud club music, a large doorman stared down at him from his perch on a stool. “A new guy, huh?”
Julien nodded.
“No worries. You’ll be a regular soon enough. You don’t have any weapons on you, do you?”
“None.” He raised his hands into the air.
“Then you won’t mind me patting you down.” He did not wait for a response as his hands ran over Julien’s body with efficiency and experience. “Okay. You may enter. Drinks in front. Ladies in back. Snacks all around.” The man laughed and revealed his needle-like fangs before stepping aside.
Julien snaked his way through the crowd toward the bar. After ordering himself a whiskey on the rocks, he moved to take a seat in front of the stage. While he had no interest in the strippers, he did have interest in what was happening around him. Vampires of all genders, shapes, sizes, and colors mingling with men and women who were as equally diverse. No reserve existed toward sinking fangs into flesh as humans moaned and whimpered and vampires laughed and purred.
He became so engrossed in gawking at the debauchery happening around him, he failed to notice a woman approach him until she spoke.
“Looks like you could use another,” she said as she sat down next to him and pushed him a second whiskey across the table.
He smiled politely. “I suppose I could.” He took a long sip and glanced at her. She was attractive; tall, and lanky with choppy blonde hair and dark eyes. He guessed her age to be mid-thirties, but he could not be sure.
Smiling, she tipped her own drink toward him. “You have not been here before.”
He shook his head.
“So what is it you are looking for, sir?” She leaned in closer.
“To forget,” he mumbled.
“Lucky for you, that is my specialty.” She slid closer to him.
As he felt the heat radiating from her, he noted her earthy scent as it entered his nostrils, and his throat tightened.
“Yes?” She cocked her head so he could see the previous fang marks over her pulsating carotid.
“Yes.” Leaning in toward her, he contemplated what she might taste like.
“Yes,” she hummed as she placed a hand on his knee.
He sniffed her again, feeling the saliva pooling around his tongue. Licking his lips, he stroked a hand down her face as he watched her chest rise and fall. How easy it would be just to sink his teeth into her soft flesh. How pleasurable it would be to feel her warmth flood his mouth. How nice it would be to taste something other than the sour taste of guilt he currently struggled to swallow down.
“You can do it,” she said.
As if she had slapped him across the face, his mind was jolted back to reality, and he looked up at the woman’s face. She had no way of knowing of what he was capable. Why was she so willing to risk life and limb to let him partake of her life force? What was in it for her?
Trying to see her as just another prostitute giving herself to him like all the others, he searched for the self-righteous attitude that had once allowed him to feel entitled to judge those as worthy and unworthy of continued existence. Despite his attempts to remind himself of his previous exploits, he could not find the mentality to justify his planned actions.
“I am not like these others, you know?” he whispered.
“What do you mean?” she said. Her eyes widened, and he could not be certain if it was from fear or curiosity.
“I have no self control.” He swallowed.
“Then just turn me if you fail,” she replied with a half smile.
Again, her actions hit him like a slap on the face. He would not be responsible for creating another monster, and he did not want the guilt of another death. “I should not be here,” he said. He stood and finished off his drink. “My apologies, miss, but you will have to find another accomplice tonight.” With a quick nod, he turned from her and walked away.


What inspired you to write this novel, Beyond the Reach of Judgement?
            To be honest. I read Twilight several years ago and found myself in love with the concept., many of the characters, and the genre, but overall disappointed in what I felt was a lack of “steaminess,” a weak central female character who drove me insane, and some questionable ideas about relationships and love. For years I thought about how things would have been different had I had control of the story. Then I read several more short stories, novellas, and novels with vampire/human relationships and found myself engrossed with shows like True Blood and Vampire Diaries. Finally, I decided I had to try it myself. Thanks for the 30K words I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2012, I had a good start. It took some time, many beta-readers, and a good editor do the appropriate research and to polish the story, but finally I felt I had something worth sharing.

What are some challenges you faced while writing Beyond the Reach of Judgement?
            I find it difficult to step out of the story and see it from a readers' perspective. Many of my beta-readers have opened my eyes to just how much I tend to assume readers know when I haven't yet told them. I also find it hard to capture some of the details I know about my characters that make them real to me but aren't necessarily crucial to the plot. Thankfully, the novel has come a long way since its first draft and the characters have found ways to distinguish themselves with each new draft.

What do you do when you are not writing?
            I spend the majority of my time working as a full-time physician caring for hospitalized adult patients. I love my job, but I find writing helps me unwind and explore emotions, problems, and themes that I can't allow myself to explore or simply don't have time to explore while at work.
            When I have long breaks, I like to travel. The places I've been often end up as settings for my writing. During my travels, I spend time experimenting with photography  and often do volunteer work. I enjoy snowboarding, archery, and hiking as well as watching movies. I occasionally post film reviews on my blog.

Do your experiences influence your writing?
            Most definitely, but probably not the way that many would think. I know I've been very fortunate in my life, having an excellent family, an excellent support system of friends, and some good luck. In my job, I see so many people that aren't so fortunate and often wonder how things would be different if I faced such adversity and challenges. Often, these thoughts become central themes in my writing and are my way dealing with these questions.

Why do you write paranormal romance and urban fantasy?
            Mostly I write these genres because I enjoy reading them. I think they have exciting and unique characters and allow just the right combination of escapism and guilty pleasure. I like the way using unreal creatures and settings with ties to reality allows me to work with complicated themes and ideas without having to weighed down the the “rules” of reality. I find that using non-human creatures actually accentuates and highlights what it means to be human and magical elements are often representation of real life problems but can be manipulated and viewed in ways that the “real world” just does not allow. Plus, who doesn't enjoy fantasizing a little?

What's next for you?
            I am currently working on an Urban Fantasy surrounding the mystery of The Black Angel grave marker in Iowa City, IA, which I am very excited about. After that, I hope to write a sequel and/or a spin-off of Beyond the Reach of Judgement. I also have outlines for a mermaid adventure/romance and a gargoyle paranormal romance I have yet to start writing.

[1]          Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Beyond the Reach of Judgement by Jo Bissell
Publication date: April 19th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal


“Did we leave any sin out?” She replied with a forced weak laugh.

“No. Between the two of us, I think we have managed to cover them all.” He mumbled as that uncomfortable lump in his gut returned.

Julien Rene Durant was once a good man. Born in France, he took the oath as a Jesuit Priest in the 1600s. He dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel. Now, he was a monster surviving off the blood of others; killing for survival even as he wished for nothing other than for his own extinction. After almost four centuries of guilt and hopelessness, he encounters someone who might just be able to rescue the good man trapped within the monster, but will his judgements deny him a second chance?

Mary Ruth Jacobson-Ryan is nothing special; a small town girl stuck in a rut. Married to the local Iraqi War Hero who turned out not to be the perfect guy she fell in love with before the war, she is desperate for a way out. When things turn from bad to worse, she runs with plans to never look back. She quickly finds, however, that her search for a better future may lead her down a path with no future at all.

About the Author

Jo Bissell started writing in middle school with fantasy stories inspired by books such as The Hobbit, and in fact once turned in a journal project written entirely in Dwarfish Ruins. She then explored fanfiction and short speculative fiction writing. Now, after many years of study, she spends most of her time working as a full time physician caring for hospitalized adults. When she is not writing or doctoring, she enjoys reading, watching movies, traveling, archery, thrift store shopping, and snowboarding. She currently resides in the Iowa City, IA area with her husband and two cats.

Beyond the Reach of Judgement is Jo Bissell’s first original novel which evolved out of a 2012 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project. She also has a short speculative fiction piece, His Eyes, available for Kindle. Future planned novels include a sequel to Beyond the Reach of Judgement, other works of urban fantasy and paranormal romances, and a science fiction novel. She continues to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Connect with me:

facebook: Jo Bissell
twitter: jobissell
Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: Misbehaving by Abbi Glines

An unexpected affair leads to mind-blowing harmony in this Sea Breeze novel from New York Times bestselling author Abbi Glines.

Jason is sick of living in his rock star brother’s shadow. So when he ships off to Sea Breeze, Alabama, he’s looking for a much deserved escape and a chance to blow off some envious steam. Falling for the local bad girl was definitely not the plan. But as the new duo enjoys some naughty fun in the Alabama sun, Jason learns that even though Jax is the musician in the family, he’s not the only brother who can rock someone’s world.
(From Edelweiss)

My Thoughts:

Abbi Glines is fast becoming one of my go-to authors and with books like this, is there any wonder why? Let's just say that I'm fast becoming a huge fan of the Sea Breeze series. Every book in the series I've read so far has been a homerun and this one doesn't disappoint. The author really knows how to build up characters, fill the pages with angst that really packs a punch, and totally play on the emotions of the reader. And I love it! These books are filled with an amazing group of characters and I'm really enjoying getting to know them all, one couple at a time. I don't want to get too deep into it because I'm afraid if I start, I might give away some interesting plot points with my gushing and I don't want to do that. This is one of those books that you should really discover it all on your own and not be spoiled by someone else's rantings. So, go - read this book!

In Short: Some Quick Reviews

Break You by Jennifer Snyder

Blaire Hayes enjoys a quiet life, spending her days as a CNA at the local nursing home and nights studying for exams. She prefers things to be as uncomplicated as possible — but when her friends drag her to a party and she bumps into her high school crush, the path of Blaire’s life veers in an entirely different direction than what she had planned for herself.
Jason Bryant created a nice life away from his hometown, putting distance between himself and the suffocating sadness of his father’s death. But when he finds out his grandfather’s health is deteriorating, he decides he must return home. Partying was not on his agenda while in town, but it’s how he bumps into Blaire Hayes—the girl he’d always thought of in high school as an unobtainable pass.
Together the two learn there are moments in life that hold within them all the power to break you…
(New Adult: Contains sexual situations, language, mature themes, and alcohol usage.)

My Thoughts:
I really liked the premise of this book. It seemed like it would be interesting, a little different, and I was all for that. But once I started reading, I realized there wasn't anything that set it apart from others in this genre. It started off slow and didn't really seem to be going anywhere, so my interest dipped pretty quickly. I tried several times to read this book - going back to it several times to give it a chance - but it still ended up being a dnf for me.

The Harder I Fall by Jessica Gibson
Becca Langer was not a normal girl, she didn't have normal girl problems. For most of her life, she’s had to take care of herself, her younger brother Chad, and her drunk mother. She’s lived under the shadow of what her father did when she was ten years old. Forever branded by his actions. 

College was her escape, she could get away and finally live. Her dream was to make it in the New York Ballet Company one day. That for her meant a long road full of hard work and dedication. She didn't have time for distractions, and Levi Klein was definitely a distraction. 

Will Levi be able to crack through her tough exterior and really see the wounded soul underneath? Becca needs to be loved, but the question is, will she let Levi love her? 

My Thoughts:
I felt the same way about this one as the previous one (see above). I liked the premise, went back to it several times to try to read it again, but failed. Another dnf for me.

Unbound by Georgia Bell
After her father dies, Rachel realizes she is scared and stuck. Scared of heights, of cars, of disasters harming the people she loves. Stuck in a life that is getting smaller by the minute. Stuck with a secret she has kept all her life: Someone has been watching over her since birth. Someone who tends to show up when she needs him the most. Someone she believes is her guardian angel.
Eaden is a 1,500-year-old immortal who wants to die. Drained by a life stretched too thin, he has requested his final reward – a mortal sacrifice bred specifically to bring him death. But something went wrong. Rachel’s ability to grant death has mutated in ways that threaten to upset the uneasy alliance between mortals and immortals. And utterly beguiled, Eaden discovers that although Rachel is the key to his death, because of her, he no longer wants to die. And he will do anything to protect her.
Swept into a world of legends, caught between the warring political factions of immortals, and carrying the future of mortal kind in her flesh and bone, Rachel must risk everything to save her world and the man she loves.

My Thoughts:
Yet another book that had a great premise, one that sounded really unique, but that, unfortunately, did not live up to the premise. Again, I tried to read this on several different occasions, but failed to get lost in the story. Another dnf for me.

Only In Dreams byWendy Owens
Paige Parker thinks she has everything figured out. Even though her heart is broken, she manages to find love again, and she's sure this time it's for keeps.

Between planning her wedding and working on garments for her upcoming debut fashion show, Paige is overwhelmed. When her fiancé, Henry, suggests a couple months away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple to focus, she is thrilled to use the opportunity to reconnect with her best friend, Emmie.

Paige heads to Texas, ready to spend some quality time with Emmie and her baby girl, Olivia. When she arrives, she is shocked to find herself face-to-face with Christian Bennett, the man who broke her heart.

She finds herself confused. Is she truly over her first love? Is she making a mistake marrying Henry? Paige follows her heart, but this may be the most painful decision she ever makes. It leaves her wondering if true love is possible ONLY IN DREAMS.

My Thoughts:
This is another one that I was excited to read and tried to get into on several occasions, but failed. Another dnf for me.
If Only We by Jessica Sankiewicz
They say all it takes is one wrong move and you lose the game. One false step and you’re trapped. One slip-up in your choice of words and you ruin a friendship forever. That is what they say. They say I lost. 

I do not believe them. 

At the end of the summer after graduation, Adrienne wonders what happened to cause her life to be in ruins. She isn’t getting along with her mom, her stepsister isn’t talking to her, and, to top it off, the boy she’s been in love with doesn’t want anything to do with her. She believes the turning point was a choice she made at graduation. When she wakes up the next day, she has been transported back three months to that moment, the one where everything started to fall apart. 

Adrienne realizes she has been given a second chance—and this time she doesn’t want to mess anything up. Reliving the entire summer, though, turns out to be a lot harder than she thought. As the same days and weeks go by, she starts to see how simple decisions can make a huge impact on the world around her. Despite knowing some of what lies ahead, there are some things she didn’t anticipate. She thought she knew what mistake led her to where she ended up the first time. She was wrong. 

And by the time summer is over, she discovers what was really at stake.

My Thoughts:
I seem to be plagued by a rash of books that look great in premise but let me down in actuality. This is another one that I tried on several occasions to read, but just couldn't lose myself in.
Everything You Know by Mary Beth Bass
Emma Mathews never believed she was like everyone else, but neither did she think herself crazy. Meeting Joe Castlellaw, Henry Dearborn High’s newest student, was like waking on a cold rock in a strange place, the world bathed in liquid moonlight. Everything is different now…and fraught. Visions of a dark forest, a screaming woman and blood haunt Emma’s dreams, and not only at night. But Joe’s lonely beauty makes her float on air, and she would follow him anywhere: out of high school and through the great tree, to a world of poetry and political savagery, of magic and murder, to a life that is entirely theirs and yet unlike anything they have ever known. 
My Thoughts:
And yet another. Good set up with the premise, but unable to deliver in actuality, at least for me. The way this story began was a total turn off for me, but I still tried to read it and couldn't.