Sybil Baker's Talisman

Last April I had the honor and the pleasure to be a blog stop on Sybil Baker’s The Life Plan tour. It was a book I enjoyed immensely and I was thrilled when I was invited to review her new book, Talismans.

What is a blog tour?

Well a blog tour is similar to an author’s book tour, but it’s hosted online, instead of at, say, a bookstore. The touring author visits a number of blogs (otherwise known as “blog stops”) over a set period–typically, a month. And today it’s me!

“Official” Summary: Elise understands her father—a Vietnam vet who abandoned her when she was an infant—about as much as she does her church organist mother and the rest of their suburban Virginian town. When even that thin thread of connection is suddenly severed, Elise is flung across the world, to Southeast Asia.

Tracing the steps her father took through the war, Elise searches for a connection —with his ghost, with other travelers, with the foreign culture and environment she experiences. In a series of linked short stories, Talismans follows Elise’s journey to learn what she must hold onto, and what she must leave behind.

About the author: Sybil Baker spent twelve years teaching in South Korea. During her extensive travels throughout Asia, she became increasingly interested in the allure and alienation of American travelers and expatriates, and this has heavily influenced her writing.  She returned with her South African husband to the States in 2007. She is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and she earned her MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

My review: I read Talismans in one afternoon, actually Christmas Eve as I sat at the airport waiting for my flight to see my parents for the holiday.  Despite the fact that I am not a fan of short-stories, I chose to read the book and be a part of the blog tour partially because of the Vietnam War aspect.  As the daughter of a father who fought in the Vietnam War but who never spoke about it, I am always curious to to read about this topic.

I had never heard of a linked short story and I find the concept fascinating.  There is a great post on the topic written by Sybil herself on the Colloquim blog.  I am not sure I am won over on the genre in general, but I did enjoy Talismans a lot.

I won’t call it a happy novel, but it certainly gave me perspective on how difficult life can be and how lucky I am in all aspects of my life.  Many people take for granted their parents and family, jobs and friends and don’t stop to think that there are many, many people, like Elise, who struggle to find understanding and peace in their lives which are often filled lots of struggle and angst.  The book is beautifully done, the explorations of the minute details and emotions that make up the patchwork quilt of Elise’s experiences are brilliantly executed.

I enjoy Sybil’s books because of how she weaves travel into them.  The travel is not the main activity but rather part of the setting, the scenery, another character which at times may add drama, at others times, emotional depth. It is not about the place for the place’s sake but the experiences that a place may evoke.

A talisman is an object that acts as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune. Many of the characters in the book have them, Elise has two – a photo of her father and a coat that belonged to her grandfather and also worn by her father.  They almost act as additional characters in the book and their journeys further tie the short stories together.

I liked the book and highly recommend that you pick up a copy today.  You can read more about Sybil on her website or blog. If you like what you see pick up her first book The Life Plan as well.

Win your own copy!
Sybil and WOW have graciously offered a copy of Talismans for one lucky reader.  To enter simply leave me a comment letting me know if you have or have ever had a talisman or lucky charm in your life and what it is/was?  If you don’t have one that’s okay, leave a comment telling me why you want to read Sybil’s book?  You have until Tuesday, January 11th midnight PST to enter.  I will select a winner using Random.org. Good luck!

Women on Writing
If you have a blog or website and would like to host an author, WOW-WomenOnWriting are accepting a few choice blogs to participate in their programs. Come and join the fun! Email WOW at blogtourATwow-womenonwritingDOTcom.

Photo credit: MyWarHistory.com

Comments

  1. Jane George says:

    For years I carried a small rheostat from an X ray machine in my pocket, I am an X ray technician and the machine was being repaired, the serviceman tossed it to me, it had a small clickable area, so I kept playing with it. Carried it for years every morning I would put it in the pocket of my uniform along with my right & left markers and head off to the hospital. Still have it, 50 years later, its in my jewelry box.

  2. Thanks Andi for hosting me again! Sybil

  3. I can’t say that I have a lucky charm or a talisman in my life, I just trust in God. I am interested in reading this book though. It will be something different.

  4. I haven’t really had a talisman, but “prayer” has always been my luck. God always listens and if it’s His will, then luck will hit me.

  5. Love the title of this book! I collect gold charms from around the world and I have them on a necklace I always wear when I travel. This is my talisman. :)

  6. I like to think that my wedding ring is the lucky charm in my life.

  7. I don’t have a luck charm per see, but I will say that my wedding ring serves as a reminder of commitment and love, and a reminder that God’s love is eternal even when my body will perish and possessions are temporary. I would like to ready this book because it would be very different than anything I have ever read before.

  8. I don’t have a really lucky charm…..but I have a lucky numer, the 46!! I would like to read this book to improve my english, reading something intresting…

  9. My mother gave me a ring when I was 7 and I wear that all the time. It has been my lucky charm ever since. =)

  10. I have been carrying mine in my wallet for years….3 Chinese gold coins tied together with a red ribbon!

  11. Reb kelly says:

    My talisman are the pennies I find from my dad who passed away.He always told me if there was any way to contact me he would and that I would just know.I realize everyone finds pennies but pennies were a special thing between he and I and the places and times I have found them leave me positive they are my talismans from my dad

  12. I would say my lucky talisman is a necklace that my bf gave to me as a present. And a bracelet my mom gave me. =)

    The reason why I would love to read Sybil Baker’s book is because your review of this sparked my interest. And, I am a fan of short stories. =)

    Thank you for having this Giveway!

    Happy New Year!

  13. My best luck is pray to God. I just believe that everything will go ok with His bless and permission :)

    Much Thankies for the chance dear
    Good luck for me and everyone :)

    liz_crowny(at)yahoo(dot)com

  14. I dont have a real talisman just the faith in God.. I’m interested to read this book.

    Tks.
    mihaela.mihordea(@) gmail(.) com

  15. Well, I have my kalcedon stone… but I don’t consider it a lucky charm in the literal sense of the word. I mean, I don’t feel unlucky and become lunatic if I don’t have it with myself at a really serious event in my life, I just like bringing it with myself, because of the color :).

    my info: badorka@vipmail.hu (hope the contest is international, because I’m from Hungary).

  16. It didn’t have a lucky charm, but I did have a lucky sock (just one sock). So whenever I felt like i needed more luck, i would just slip that sock on one foot.

  17. For years, I wore my mother’s senior class ring for Good Luck. Somehow, it always seemed to work! Thanks for the opportunity to win this book! It looks like a great read!

  18. Anne-Marie T says:

    I have a green rock that I consider to be lucky.
    Thanks for the chance to win this book !

  19. susanmeep says:

    I have a lucky tee shirt, and I would love to read this book! suelee1998 @ gmail.com