Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Exposure by Brandilyn Collins

Fasten your seatbelt and don't forget to breathe! Two cautions always connected with the writing of Suspense Novelist Brandilyn Collins. And they are cautions well taken when reading her newest novel, Exposure.

A few days ago, I strapped myself in and took a deep breath as I began to read page one. Did I breathe before I read the last page? It didn't feel like it, but I must have because it took me two days to read the story. If hadn't had to stop to sleep (and yes, I was able to sleep LOL), eat and other necessities of life, I would have read straight through to the end. A definite page-turner.

Kaycee Raye is sure someone is watching her, but she's already been to the police countless times before with the same complaint. She's certain when they see her coming they roll their eyes thinking here comes that goofy woman again. But she can't blame them because if she were them, she'd wonder too. Who would believe anyone who had no proof that she was being watched except for the creepy feeling in her gut? Then when she suddenly does have proof, by the time the cop shows up, the proof has vanished.

All this when she'd thought she'd finally overcome her fear of being watched, so much so that she'd actually made a career out of writing a column about living with fear and overcoming it.

That's all I'm going to tell you about the story because if I reveal anymore, I'd have to write "SPOILER" at the top of this review. And I'm not going to do that.

Brandilyn Collins fans know what to expect when they pick up one of her books. In fact, some people don't pick up her books and have united to actually form a Big Honkin' Chicken's Club. They even have T-shirts and stuff like that. If that don't beat all! Maybe they should read Exposure and overcome their fears like Kaycee is trying to do. You can read about the club and other juicy tidbits at Brandilyn's Blog.

If you want a fast-pasted, filled-to-the brim-with-suspense story that will have you thinking twice before you pick up your digital camera again, this book is for you!

To read the first chapter, go HERE.

“More twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster! Highly recommended.” ~CBA Retailers

“Mesmerizing mystery…authentic characters…a fast-paced, twisting tale of desperate choices.” ~TitleTrakk

“Brandilyn Collins is a master of suspense, and Exposure is her best book yet!” ~Dianne Burnett, Christianbook.com
You can pick up the book at your local bookstore or from Amazon.


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 to Exposure, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Always Watching, first 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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Debut Novel: Love's Rescue by Tammy Barley

This past week I had the pleasure of reading my friend Tammy Barley's debut novel Love's Rescue, published this July by Whitaker House Publishers.

Folks, this book is outstanding.

During 1863 as the Civil War is raging in the East, in Carson City, Nevada, Jessica Hale is embroiled in her own version of the War when Northern empathizers overhear her sending a telegram regarding the whereabouts of her Confederate soldier brother, Ambrose. Later that same day she loses her entire family in a fire, and cattleman, Jake Bennett, comes to her rescue. He takes her to his remote ranch in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. From there the reader is taken into the world of the old West where life is at times almost idyllic, and at other times as raw as the land.

As I walked alongside Jess's soul-journey from despair and hopelessness to abiding joy and hope restored through her relationship with God and with Jake, I found I didn't want to put the book down. Tammy's beautiful way of bringing out setting and making it come alive caused me to feel like I was right there with the cattlemen as they wrangled calves, cut the herds and chased down stampeding Mustangs. I was also there as Jess found herself restored through her coming to peace with what had happened to her and her family.

Jake also has a backstory of difficulties, and as he works to help Jess heal, he finds himself able to finally heal as well, and to love again.

The only quibble I have with the story is that I felt that the prologue could have been either cut or woven into the story altogether. I am not a great lover of prologues and find the use of any over the length of a page or so a great bother. Even so, I did read it, and it did provide background information necessary to understanding Jessica's point of view at the beginning of the story.

After that, it was a long, delightful and most enjoyable read. All told at a calming pace that made me feel each time I picked the book up like I was sitting on Tammy's front porch with a frosty glass of sweet tea and being told the most wonderful of stories.

To help whet your appitite, check out this trailer, then head on over to Amazon or CBD and lasso yourself a copy:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Metephor for Life

The Chicago area has had a very cool spring and start to summer. As a result the usual thunderstorms and tornado warningss have been all but nonexistent. We've had plenty of rain. Just no bad storms. As much as I've joined the chorus of asking "Where's summer?" I must admit the absence of thunderstorms has been delightful for me.

For as long as I can remember I've hated storms. As much as some people love to stand at the window and watch angry black clouds full of lightning coming toward them, I would rather be anyplace else. Years ago I went to Canada with my cousins and aunt. At a hotel in Quebec we had a lovely room facing a large lake. The afternoon we arrived, huge menacing clouds started gathering across the lake. Everyone became excited, exclaiming what a wonderful view we'd have for watching the storm as it approached. Everyone but me.

When the thing finally hit, the winds tore at the roof overhead. Outside, unseen things crashed about while rain pounded the window. I took to the floor and tried to crawl under the bed, but the box spring was too low. So I just huddled there, eyes squeezed shut. When everything calmed down, I opened my eyes to see my 11-year-old cousin crouched next to me. I figured it must have been bad if she was there too.

When we ventured outside, we found trees down everywhere and breathed sighs of relief that our camper was intact. And I felt vindicated for my fear. It was truly a dangerous storm. Later, my cousins teased me for trying to crawl under the bed. I defended saying, "But Terri was there too." Then the truth came out. "But, Pam, I was only doing that so you would be comforted. I wasn't scared."

It was a good laugh and we all still laugh about it today. Terri is still the same sweet caring person she was back then. But, I learned last night that I'm different.

Yesterday we had a number of really bad storms plow through our area, starting at 3 a.m. True to form, I did check the radar to see what we were in for, but my heart didn't race, and I didn't start praying a loop of prayers, saying "Please God help us." I prayed for protection then calmly waited until the storm passed by. Last night another line of storms roared through. Ordinarily I would be checking the radar, praying like crazy, and deciding if I should sit in the bathroom until it was over. But I didn't. I spent the time messing with my new breadmaker, trying to get the right combo of ingredients. I figured if we lost power so what. When the thing finally passed by, I sat here amazed at my calmness. Then I realized the day had been a metaphor of my life in recent months.

After a rather peaceful time of little stress, 2009 started out pretty stormy. I'd begun the year on my knees, turning every part of my life over to God. It wasn't but a short time later that every part that I'd turned over to Him began going through turmoil. I can't go into all the storms I've weathered since then, but some have been pretty difficult. Through each one God has proven Himself true. He is always with me, sustaining, nurturing, and sometimes carrying me. When Jesus came walking across the water toward his disciples in the boat, they became fearful. Scared out of their wits. Jesus said to them "Take courage. It is I. Don't be afraid." That's been a phrase I've hung on to through each storm in my life. Even the physical storms like yesterday's.

Jesus came to give peace. Not always peace without, but peace within.

He is so good.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Book Review: A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman

One of this past year's debut authors who has become an auto-buy for me is Julie Lessman. Julie's Daughters of Boston series is absolutely a must read for anyone who likes historical fiction and enjoys a good romance that delivers a good dose of high-stakes emotion and passion (within the boundaries of God's standards). Along with that, Julie's stories always include a strong spiritual arc that never fails to gives me a lesson from God without hitting me over the head.

A Passion Denied is the third and last book in the series and focuses on the third O'Connor daughter, Lizzie (called Beth in the other two books). The story opens by introducing the reader to a more grown up Beth than we last knew in Charity's story, A Passion Redeemed. She's changed her name to Lizzie to sound more sophisticated for the 1920s, has bobbed her hair and is almost eighteen years old. What hasn't changed is her strong feelings for John Brady, business partner and war buddy of Collin, Lizzie's brother-in-law. John, who goes by Brady, is in Lizzie's eyes the "perfect" man for her. A man of God, dependable, considerate, hard-working, and gorgeous. The only problem is that Brady insists on calling her the sister he never had and treats her as such except on rare occasions when his mask slips a little and his true passion for Lizzie bursts through just enough to encourage her to keep hope alive.

John has worked very hard to hide his past, and the only way he sees to succeed with this is to swear off women and devote his time to Bible study and running the print shop with his partner, Collin.

The story takes the reader through the twists and turns of Lizzie and Bray's relationship in surprising and entertaining ways. And not to be left out, subplots involving the entire O'Connor family, especially Faith, Charity and parents, Patrick and Marcy make the story complete.

I highly recommend this book. If you've already read the first two in the series, you're going to love finding out what has been happening with the O'Connor girls. If you've not read the other books, you can easily pick this one up and not feel left out. But I do recommend reading them in order if you can.

I was ecstatic to see that the fourth O'Connor daughter's story is scheduled to hit the shelves in 2010. Don't yet know the title of the series or the first book, but the beginning pages are printed at the back of A Passion Denied.

Don't overlook picking up this book at your favorite Christian book store or at Amazon or Christianbook.com.