CFBA Tour – Over the Edge

Glad to finally beat Blogger at its own game and get back into my own blog (being locked out for a day stinks).
Ahem.

I’m helping out with the CFBA Tour this week, and we’re featuring Brandilyn Collins and her latest suspense, Over The Edge.

Brandilyn Collins is a prolific writer (working on her 20th book) who has created a strong following of her Seatbelt Suspense (meaning: you’d better strap yourselves in). She’s a great fiction mentor as well, and her blog Forensics and Faith is a great resource for fiction writers.
 

Over The Edge follows Janessa McNeil, the wife of a prominent doctor and medical researcher at Stanford. She stays at home, taking care of their 9 year old daughter Lauren.

After fighting flu-like symptoms for several weeks, she wakes up one day with baffling symptoms: confusion, fatigue, weakness in her legs. She falls in the kitchen and can barely pull herself upright. Her joints ache and she gets episodes where she feels she’s suffocating.

Getting sick is bad enough, but she receives a mysterious phone call.

Someone claims to have infected her with Lyme disease.

Dr. McNeil is a leading researcher in the field of Lyme disease, and he’s published official reports denying the existence of chronic Lyme disease. Most experts believe Lyme disease can be cured with a month’s worth of antibiotics, but a group of patients and doctors contend there is a deeper possible infection. Janessa’s stalker wants her to convince her husband to change his mind, or he’ll continue infecting victims – starting with their daughter.
Janessa is faced with a huge challenge to overcome the marital issues they already battle, along with her worsening symptoms and the fear that a small tick could strike her daughter at any time. Her will is strong, but can her weakened body hold out?
 
Brandilyn is a master of suspense. She has proved it in many prior novels. She also has experience with this subject, because she has battled Lyme infection in the past. You can go to her website and read her testimony of being healed from it.
The reader is sucked in from the first chapter, as we follow the stalker on his first contact with Janessa (or Jannie). She uses language strategically, and she certainly paints a picture of someone who is very sick. As a reader, you feel what Jannie is going through.
Unfortunately, the length of the book and the slow pace of actual action drag it down. Jannie is a sympathetic character, but it gets hard in the middle to constantly live in her viewpoint of confusion and sickness. She can’t do much, and it bogs things down. There is the occasional point of view of inspector Jud Maxwell, but these are too few to provide enough counter to the battle of her illness. Her husband is a very unsympathetic character, and his extreme callous behavior is a turn-off as well.
 
The last few chapters pick up the pace and bring the book home to a mostly satisfying conclusion. Her suspense skills are allowed to shine once there is mortal danger.
The book is a good read. Brandilyn is a skilled writer, and there are many positives. I have a few issues with this book though:
  • She’s done better. This just isn’t her best work.
  • She wants to educate people about the possibility of chronic Lyme disease. The agenda weighs the story down, especially during a few pages of explanation that become didactic over entertaining.
  • Jannie’s viewpoint when battling sickness is potent initially, but has a hard time carrying the middle of the book.
As a disclaimer, I should say that I am a physician assistant. I see the research that doesn’t support chronic Lyme. However, in hearing Brandilyn’s story and meeting a couple of patients who claim to have it, I don’t have a hard and fast opinion. I know medicine is growing in knowledge, and I’m not ready to discount it. Still, I understand the arguments of Dr. McNeil in a different light than the average reader. I’ve thought carefully about this review though, and I think my issues are not from the controversial subject itself.
Overall, fans of Brandilyn’s prior suspense will find a familiar read with episodes of her trademark roller coster rides. There is interesting information about an evolving field. As a health care provider, I am reminded to show empathy even if I don’t fully understand what the patient is dealing with. If you’re looking for a Brandilyn Collins book to start with, I would recommend Violet Dawn or Exposure as better examples of her skill and talent.
Legal mumbo jumbo: I received this book free from the publisher for review purposes, without obligation regarding my opinion. There you go lawyers.

CFBA Tour – Over the Edge

Glad to finally beat Blogger at its own game and get back into my own blog (being locked out for a day stinks).
Ahem.

I’m helping out with the CFBA Tour this week, and we’re featuring Brandilyn Collins and her latest suspense, Over The Edge.

Brandilyn Collins is a prolific writer (working on her 20th book) who has created a strong following of her Seatbelt Suspense (meaning: you’d better strap yourselves in). She’s a great fiction mentor as well, and her blog Forensics and Faith is a great resource for fiction writers.
 

Over The Edge follows Janessa McNeil, the wife of a prominent doctor and medical researcher at Stanford. She stays at home, taking care of their 9 year old daughter Lauren.

After fighting flu-like symptoms for several weeks, she wakes up one day with baffling symptoms: confusion, fatigue, weakness in her legs. She falls in the kitchen and can barely pull herself upright. Her joints ache and she gets episodes where she feels she’s suffocating.

Getting sick is bad enough, but she receives a mysterious phone call.

Someone claims to have infected her with Lyme disease.

Dr. McNeil is a leading researcher in the field of Lyme disease, and he’s published official reports denying the existence of chronic Lyme disease. Most experts believe Lyme disease can be cured with a month’s worth of antibiotics, but a group of patients and doctors contend there is a deeper possible infection. Janessa’s stalker wants her to convince her husband to change his mind, or he’ll continue infecting victims – starting with their daughter.
Janessa is faced with a huge challenge to overcome the marital issues they already battle, along with her worsening symptoms and the fear that a small tick could strike her daughter at any time. Her will is strong, but can her weakened body hold out?
 
Brandilyn is a master of suspense. She has proved it in many prior novels. She also has experience with this subject, because she has battled Lyme infection in the past. You can go to her website and read her testimony of being healed from it.
The reader is sucked in from the first chapter, as we follow the stalker on his first contact with Janessa (or Jannie). She uses language strategically, and she certainly paints a picture of someone who is very sick. As a reader, you feel what Jannie is going through.
Unfortunately, the length of the book and the slow pace of actual action drag it down. Jannie is a sympathetic character, but it gets hard in the middle to constantly live in her viewpoint of confusion and sickness. She can’t do much, and it bogs things down. There is the occasional point of view of inspector Jud Maxwell, but these are too few to provide enough counter to the battle of her illness. Her husband is a very unsympathetic character, and his extreme callous behavior is a turn-off as well.
 
The last few chapters pick up the pace and bring the book home to a mostly satisfying conclusion. Her suspense skills are allowed to shine once there is mortal danger.
The book is a good read. Brandilyn is a skilled writer, and there are many positives. I have a few issues with this book though:
  • She’s done better. This just isn’t her best work.
  • She wants to educate people about the possibility of chronic Lyme disease. The agenda weighs the story down, especially during a few pages of explanation that become didactic over entertaining.
  • Jannie’s viewpoint when battling sickness is potent initially, but has a hard time carrying the middle of the book.
As a disclaimer, I should say that I am a physician assistant. I see the research that doesn’t support chronic Lyme. However, in hearing Brandilyn’s story and meeting a couple of patients who claim to have it, I don’t have a hard and fast opinion. I know medicine is growing in knowledge, and I’m not ready to discount it. Still, I understand the arguments of Dr. McNeil in a different light than the average reader. I’ve thought carefully about this review though, and I think my issues are not from the controversial subject itself.
Overall, fans of Brandilyn’s prior suspense will find a familiar read with episodes of her trademark roller coster rides. There is interesting information about an evolving field. As a health care provider, I am reminded to show empathy even if I don’t fully understand what the patient is dealing with. If you’re looking for a Brandilyn Collins book to start with, I would recommend Violet Dawn or Exposure as better examples of her skill and talent.
Legal mumbo jumbo: I received this book free from the publisher for review purposes, without obligation regarding my opinion. There you go lawyers.

CFBA Tour – Deceit

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Deceit

Zondervan (June 18, 2010)

by

Brandilyn Collins

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e…”® Brandilyn’s first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.

In addition, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Final Touch, third in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Skip Tracer Joanne Weeks knows Baxter Jackson killed his second wife—and Joanne’s best friend—seven years ago. But Jackson, a church elder and beloved member of the town, walks the streets a free man.

The police tell Joanne to leave well enough alone, but Joanne is determined to bring Jackson down. Using her skip tracing skills, she sets out to locate Melissa Harkoff, now twenty-two, who lived in the Jackson home at the time of Linda Jackson’s disappearance.

As Joanne drives home on a rainy winter night, a hooded figure darts in front of her car. In her headlight beams she glimpses the half-concealed face of a man, a rivulet of blood jagging down his cheek. She squeals to a stop but clips him with her right fender. Shaking, she gets out of her car in the pouring rain. The man will not let her see his face. Before he limps off into the night he warns her not to talk to police.

As Joanne tries to find Melissa, someone seems to be after her. Who was the man she hit on the road. Is Baxter Jackson out to silence her? Or is some other skip she’s traced in the past now out for revenge?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Deceit, go HERE
—-

CFBA Tour – Deceit

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Deceit

Zondervan (June 18, 2010)

by

Brandilyn Collins

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e…”® Brandilyn’s first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.

In addition, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Final Touch, third in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Skip Tracer Joanne Weeks knows Baxter Jackson killed his second wife—and Joanne’s best friend—seven years ago. But Jackson, a church elder and beloved member of the town, walks the streets a free man.

The police tell Joanne to leave well enough alone, but Joanne is determined to bring Jackson down. Using her skip tracing skills, she sets out to locate Melissa Harkoff, now twenty-two, who lived in the Jackson home at the time of Linda Jackson’s disappearance.

As Joanne drives home on a rainy winter night, a hooded figure darts in front of her car. In her headlight beams she glimpses the half-concealed face of a man, a rivulet of blood jagging down his cheek. She squeals to a stop but clips him with her right fender. Shaking, she gets out of her car in the pouring rain. The man will not let her see his face. Before he limps off into the night he warns her not to talk to police.

As Joanne tries to find Melissa, someone seems to be after her. Who was the man she hit on the road. Is Baxter Jackson out to silence her? Or is some other skip she’s traced in the past now out for revenge?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Deceit, go HERE
—-

Book Review – Exposure

Oh no, she didn’t!

Brandilyn Collins did it again. Her trademark is “Seatbelt Suspense” because she takes the reader for a ride, and that’s not a lie with her latest book, Exposure.

In small town Wilmore, Kentucky, Kaycee Raye is known as the town paranoid. She plies her fears into a successful syndicated column, but she still battles demons at home. Is she being watched, or is it just her imagination. The local police force may think she plays it for her writing.

But what about the photo of a dead man on her camera?

When the bloody image appears on her computer and TV, she knows someone is really stalking her. However, the images vanish, leaving her no evidence to take to the police. When a tragedy strikes, she doesn’t want to distract the police from her concerns, even though frightening events keep happening. Is she succumbing to her fears, or is there a real danger lurking?

I’ve been reading Brandilyn’s books for a few years now, and I can expect some things: she has a unique vocabulary, she’s going to put you in the protagonist’s point of view so strongly you’ll start to sweat, and she’s going for the unexpected. When you’re prepared for the unexpected, you won’t be surprised, right?

She got me good this time.

I was actually getting a little frustrated with the book as it seemed to be moving along a few seemingly unconnected lines. The payoff was well worth it though, and I really enjoyed the “Aha” moment. I don’t want to give away too much, because you have to read it for yourself.

Her strengths in characterization and keeping the suspense building are front and center as usual. I’ve noticed she has a few odd words she likes for certain situations, words I’m affectionately calling “Brandilynisms,” and I guess they’re losing a little of their uniqueness when I see them a few times a book. That is probably nit-picking, but that’s the only thing I can really think of as a negative. The confusion of the plot lines early on was my negative point, but by the end I saw why it was done that way, and all my frustration melted when I got to the reveal.

She didn’t really sucker me that much, did she?

Yes, she did.

Recommended highly for fans of suspense. There’s a little blood and guts and a lot of peril for the faint at heart, but it serves the story and isn’t there to shock. This book ought to win her new fans, and reward her stalwart ones.

Just watch behind you…

Book Review – Exposure

Oh no, she didn’t!

Brandilyn Collins did it again. Her trademark is “Seatbelt Suspense” because she takes the reader for a ride, and that’s not a lie with her latest book, Exposure.

In small town Wilmore, Kentucky, Kaycee Raye is known as the town paranoid. She plies her fears into a successful syndicated column, but she still battles demons at home. Is she being watched, or is it just her imagination. The local police force may think she plays it for her writing.

But what about the photo of a dead man on her camera?

When the bloody image appears on her computer and TV, she knows someone is really stalking her. However, the images vanish, leaving her no evidence to take to the police. When a tragedy strikes, she doesn’t want to distract the police from her concerns, even though frightening events keep happening. Is she succumbing to her fears, or is there a real danger lurking?

I’ve been reading Brandilyn’s books for a few years now, and I can expect some things: she has a unique vocabulary, she’s going to put you in the protagonist’s point of view so strongly you’ll start to sweat, and she’s going for the unexpected. When you’re prepared for the unexpected, you won’t be surprised, right?

She got me good this time.

I was actually getting a little frustrated with the book as it seemed to be moving along a few seemingly unconnected lines. The payoff was well worth it though, and I really enjoyed the “Aha” moment. I don’t want to give away too much, because you have to read it for yourself.

Her strengths in characterization and keeping the suspense building are front and center as usual. I’ve noticed she has a few odd words she likes for certain situations, words I’m affectionately calling “Brandilynisms,” and I guess they’re losing a little of their uniqueness when I see them a few times a book. That is probably nit-picking, but that’s the only thing I can really think of as a negative. The confusion of the plot lines early on was my negative point, but by the end I saw why it was done that way, and all my frustration melted when I got to the reveal.

She didn’t really sucker me that much, did she?

Yes, she did.

Recommended highly for fans of suspense. There’s a little blood and guts and a lot of peril for the faint at heart, but it serves the story and isn’t there to shock. This book ought to win her new fans, and reward her stalwart ones.

Just watch behind you…