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.
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