BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review of Evidence of Life and A Quick Q&A with Barbara Taylor Sissel

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Format Read: print ARC
Source: from PR firm Meryl L Moss in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Buying Links:  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  The Book Depository

Blurb from goodreads:
On the last ordinary day of her life, Abby Bennett feels like the luckiest woman alive. But everyone knows that luck doesn't last forever.… As her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lindsey, embark on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby looks forward to having some quiet time to herself. She braids Lindsey's hair, reminds Nick to drive safely and kisses them both goodbye. For a brief moment, Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace.
When Nick and Lindsey are presumed dead, lost in the raging waters, Abby refuses to give up hope. Consumed by grief and clinging to her belief that her family is still alive, she sets out to find them. But as disturbing clues begin to surface, Abby realizes that the truth may be far more sinister than she imagined. Soon she finds herself caught in a current of lies that threaten to unhinge her and challenge everything she once believed about her marriage and family.
With a voice that resonates with stunning clarity, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers a taut and chilling mystery about a mother's love, a wife's obsession and the invisible fractures that can shatter a family.


 Abby said, "Sometimes everything feels so ordinary, you know? As if they'll walk in the door and everything will be the way it always was when we came for a visit. Jake will be hunting through the pantry--"
 "Lindsey will have straw in her hair from playing with the cats in the barn."
 "That kid would live in the barn if we let her," Kate said.
 Abby pressed the backs of her wrists to her eyes, and Kate came and circled her shoulders. She bent her head until it touched Abby's.
 "Sometimes I let myself drift--" Abby resumed breaking the beans, stem end, blossom end"--way up. I go higher and higher until the earth is a tiny glowing speck, and it's as if it never happened."
Bea's Thoughts:

I can not imagine the horror of having a family member go missing. I've had family die but that's very different. When Nick and Lindsay go missing during a storm, Abby, Nick's wife and Lindsay's mother,  and their son Jake have different ways of coping. Jake and his grandmother, Louise, are quick to accept that Nick and Lindsey are dead while Abby holds onto the hope that they are still alive, somewhere. Jake and Louise move forward while Abby is stalled. Sissel clearly shows both Abby's shock and her determination to find out the truth. When Nick and Lindsay disappeared, Nick was under a shadow at work and some people think that he used the storm as cover to disappear.

Abby is flawed and there were times when I was irritated with her but that added to the characterization. When a novel engages my emotions and I'm talking to or yelling at the characters, the author has successfully engaged and involved me.

The story is a mystery and a journey. Abby is on several journeys - to find the truth, to move past her grief and her to learn to trust again after being betrayed. There's minimal detail; there's enough for me to picture what she's describing but she also leaves some to the imagination. It's a character focused story more than it is a mystery story but Sissel spins an interesting tale. After about thirty pages, I was hooked and stayed up late to finish it. Some things were predictable but there were some surprises along the way.
There were a few times when the pace slowed and I'd get impatient but overall the story held my interest and I enjoyed it.

I have a brief Q &A with the author. Enjoy!

Bea: If you could go back in time and give advice to your 12 year old self what would it be?
Barbara: To trust in myself and my intuition more.

Bea: What’s your favorite city and why?
Barbara: Of the ones I’ve visited, I love most, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, to visit, but I like the quiet and peace of the country.

Bea: Do you have any writing rituals?
Barbara: Not other than to show up every day at the same time and do the work.
Bea: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Barbara: I would offer my ritual as a guide. If you show up everyday, at the same time every day, even if you can only manage 15 minutes, and do the work, you’ll have something to show for it. More than if you didn’t. Then I would say don’t ever give up, but, of course, you won’t if you have a fire in your belly. It won’t let you quit. I almost did a number of times, but that desire wouldn’t let me.

Bea: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not writing?
Barbara: I love to read and to garden. I love to go antiquing and/or junking. I love to be outside on a gorgeous day and have nothing better to do than to listen to the wind. I also cross stitch. I do really involved patterns. Right now I’m stitching Austrian painter Joseph Nigg’s oil painting titled, Bowl of Flowers in a Landscape. It’s gorgeous or it will be if I ever finish!
Thank you Barbara for taking the time to answer some questions. Good luck with your book, and your cross stitching.


  1. Abby sounds like very well written character. I think having flaws helps with development and easy to connect to.
    I also can't imagine the horror of a missing family memeber
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

    1. Agreed, flawed characters are much more realistic and relatable.

  2. Hmm, new one to me. That cover looks like she's hidden. Thank you for sharing!

  3. This sounds like an awesome read, but I'd have a hard time getting past the pain of losing family. I have three kids, and the idea of losing one of them would rip my heart out.


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