Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Ninth Step by Barbara Taylor Sissel

The Ninth Step by Barbara Taylor Sissel
Published By: Amazon Digital Services
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Format: Kindle 449 KB
Genre: Women's Fiction

About The Author:

Barbara Taylor Sissel was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and grew up at various locations, mostly in the Midwest. She has always been a lover of stories, the ones her big sister told to her and her younger brother, and the wild tales she related herself that often left her mother perplexed. They were too crazy to be from true experience the way Barbara claimed and yet they were vivid enough that they weren't quite lies either.

Reading and admiring Wuthering Heights was the book that got her thinking about becoming an author and it was a dream that stayed with her through marriage, life as the wife of a prison warden in Kentucky and the births of two sons. It wasn't until the last child was off to school that she finally sat down to write and then what came was influenced by her experience living with her family on the grounds of a prison.

Justice is a central issue in her stories. Justice and forgiveness. How far is it too unforgivable? Is it ever too late? These are the themes that resonate. What happens when an ordinary family is impacted by a sudden, extraordinary calamity?

Along the way to publication, Barbara has placed twice in the William Faulkner / William Wisdom writing competition. She works with a group of successful, talented authors and in addition to writing fiction, she also works freelance as an editor and writer. Her articles and short stories have appeared in several venues. Barbara currently lives and writes in The Woodlands, Texas.


BUY THE BOOK: The Ninth Step

Disclaimer: At the request of the author, a Kindle edition of the book was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review and participation in the virtual book tour event.

Virtual Book Tour Event: On Tuesday, February 7, 2012, Barbara Taylor Sissel participated in a virtual book tour event with an Author Guest Post on Jersey Girl Book Reviews.

Book Description: 

A novel of timeless love, loss, and family and the steps we must take for forgiveness.

Livie Saunders is fluent in the language of flowers; she taught the meanings to her fiance, Cotton O'Dell, but then Cotton vanished without explanation on their wedding day forcing Livie to learn the language of desolation. Heartbroken, she buries her wedding gown beneath a garden pond and she resolves to move on, but there are nights when she slips into a sequined red dress and a pair of stiletto heels, a stranger's bed, a little anonymous oblivion that is not without consequence. Still, she recovers a semblance of ordinary life and imagines herself content. After all, Cotton told her to forget about him. Livie even maintains a friendship with Delia, Cotton's mother, whom he also abandoned without a word of explanation.

Then, six years later, an unsigned card and a bouquet of irises signal Cotton's presence, but his reunion with Livie isn't as joyous as he had hoped. While she struggles to forgive him, Livie can't hide her own past and how she has changed since Cotton left.

Meanwhile, Cotton is still haunted by the crime that caused him to flee ... a crime for which the legal clock is still ticking. For a moment, it seems like they can both forget the past and rebuild their lives together, but then Cotton goes missing again.

Time telescopes, avenues of escape close, and as lives hang in the balance, choice teeters between mercy and revenge. And a decision that will take only a moment will carry the consequences of a lifetime. The Ninth Step is a story of redemption, of being brought to your knees to face a monstrous error and somehow finding the strength to make it right. Even if that effort breaks your heart, endangers your freedom, and ultimately threatens your life.

My Book Review:

Can a person make amends and ask forgiveness for the secrets, lies and bad choices made in their life, even if the ramifications deeply affected others? Can forgiveness and love still be found within peoples' hearts, when the one that has caused so much pain comes back to make amends? What if you have your own secrets, lies and had made bad choices, can you make amends and forgive yourself? These are the questions and dilemmas that face Livie Saunders and Cotton O'Dell in The Ninth Step.

Livie Saunders was jilted at the altar six years ago by her fiance, Cotton O'Dell. Cotton's sudden disappearance leaves Livie wondering what she did wrong to cause him to just up and leave her on their wedding day. Six years pass and Livie has gotten on with her life, she owns a successful landscaping business, and has a beautiful house in the country ... but there is still something missing in her life ... her lost love for Cotton and the deep held secrets that haunt her very being. Cotton has his own demons, for six years he has been existing in a hell of his own, until he decides that he needs to go home and make amends for the crime he committed, and ask for forgiveness from those he hurt so deeply, especially Livie. Can Livie and Cotton release the secrets and demons that haunt their lives, can they make amends and seek forgiveness from others, but most importantly from themselves? Can they attain redemption, or is it too little too late?

The Ninth Step is a hauntingly beautiful story of love, loss, heartache, secrets, forgiveness and redemption. The storyline is well-written, realistic and intriguing, it pulls the reader in from the beginning, and takes them on a roller coaster ride of emotions as they follow Livie and Cotton's emotional journey. The characters are realistic, their personalities and interactions gave the story so much depth and made it very compelling. The author weaves a gripping story that contains the themes of inner demons, secrets, alcoholism, love lost, choices made and paying the price, making amends, seeking forgiveness and redemption. This is a story that will leave the reader pondering what they would do if they were in Livie and Cotton's shoes. The Ninth Step is an unforgettable and compelling story that will grab a hold of the reader and will keep them riveted to the very end.



  1. Kathleen, what a lovely review! I am thrilled that you enjoyed the story and took away with you the exact meaning I had in my mind as I wrote it. I appreciate very much that you have taken such time and care with my work and this opportunity you have given me to share it with others is much appreciated as well. Thank you for all that you do to bring attention to newer writers like myself. This is such a gift!


  2. Thank you Barbara for the opportunity to read and review The Ninth Step, I absolutely loved that hauntingly beautiful story. Thank you for the opportunity to host a virtual event for you on Jersey Girl Book Reviews. :)

  3. I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed the story as much as I did, Kathleen. I though Cotton and Livie were wonderful characters. They were so flawed but worthy of love.

  4. @Colleen - I agree, they were wonderful characters, flaws and all. Thank you for commenting on the blog! :)