For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid Hallmarkie Christmas tale, perhaps with a not-as-typical feature. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Wishing Bridge by Viola Shipman.
Here’s what I had to say on the review sites (Hardcover.app, TheStoryGraph, BookHype, Goodreads):
Solid Hallmarkie Christmas Movie. The main way you’re at least somewhat positive Viola Shipman wrote this particular one is that it is set in her (his) beloved Michigan. Beyond that, this is a fairly standard and typical Hallmarkie type Christmas tale of the young girl who loves the magic of Christmas growing up into a successful business tycoon before coming back to her small hometown for Christmas. Indeed, probably the one thing that makes this one at least a *touch* different is that our heroine is *also* (theoretically) the villain…
Filled with the wonders of Christmas as portrayed in the US 1970s ish, complete with department stores sending out toy catalogs at Christmas and the ubiquitous Boris Karloff How The Grinch Stole Christmas, this is yet another tale that so many fans of Hallmark Christmas movies will absolutely love – and those who despise those types of tales will most likely not like much at all. And yes, there is a loveable and old dog.
Overall a solid tale of its type, if not a particularly standout “Viola Shipman” novel. Still, very much recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book excerpt, book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Wishing Bridge by Viola Shipman”
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a tale that will make nearly anyone want to jump in their car and drive to Michigan. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Famous In A Small Town by Viola Shipman.
Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:
All Michigan Tourism Boards Should Hire “Ms. Shipman”. Seriously, this book in particular is basically one giant love letter to rural Michigan, in prose form for around 350 pages. The history – for better and worse. The current – for better and worse. The land. The culture. The lakes you can never get far from.
And the cherries. Always the cherries.
Oh yes, there are humans here too. And some mysticism/ “magical realism”. And their story is both linked and compelling, as they always are in a Viola Shipman book.
But really, you’re reading this book to feel like you’re travelling to Michigan – and that is not a bad thing at all. It really is described so beautifully that even this hardened Southerner who has been north of the Mason-Dixon just three times in his lifetime… want to consider going to Michigan at some point. Maybe.
Very much recommended.
After the jump, the “publisher details” – including an excerpt from the book, the book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Famous In A Small Town by Viola Shipman”
For this blog tour we’re looking at a phenomenal book that really draws the reader into its scenery. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Edge of Summer by Viola Shipman.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Solid Look At Family And Secrets. This is a book that instantly transports the reader into its setting, particularly once it gets to the small town Michigan shores of Lake Michigan. But here, things are not always exactly as they seem, and there is a dark family secret lying just beneath the surface. Shipman – a pseudonym using the actual person’s own grandmother’s name – does a phenomenal job here of showing how small town secrets can fester through generations, and that even when not actually knowing one’s own history… history has a way of coming back around. Truly an excellent work, and the only reason for the star deduction is that this book deals pretty heavily with COVID – the reason our main character even travels to the small town is directly due to the insanities of COVID and that idiotic and chaotic period of living in the 21st Century. And, well, I have a personal war going on against any book that mentions COVID because *I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID*. Period. My only weapon in that one man war is a star deduction in my review of the book, and so I deploy it automatically no matter how strong the book may otherwise be. Still, truly a great book that Shipman’s long time fans will enjoy and a great example of “her” (his) style of writing for anyone who may not be familiar with it. Very much recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Edge of Summer by Viola Shipman”
For this week’s Featured New Release, we’re looking at a solid examination of childlessness, divorce, and Alzheimer’s as experienced in the life of a woman in her thirties. This week, we’re looking at Everything Must Go by Camille Pagan.
Solid Examination Of Childlessness And Alzheimer’s. This book continues Pagan’s trend of writing books about real-world issues women in their 30s ish encounter and doing so in a thoughtful and poignant manner that allows people to more fully explore their own thoughts and feelings on the matters at hand even while telling its own unique story. In this particular book, Pagan brings out two issues that I’ve seen up close and personal in my own (late 30s male) life – childlessness and Alzheimer’s. While there are some (such as my wife and I) who start out childless (no kids, want them) and later become childfree (no kids, don’t want any) and there is considerable debate within the childless and childfree communities (yes, they are distinct), this tale accurately explores a woman realizing that becoming a mother is truly important to her and what she must do to ensure that. Its explorations of Alzheimer’s and the familial relationships it both strains and enhances also ring true to what I observed from my own mother – then in her late 30s/ early 40s – when she, along with her over half a dozen siblings, dealt with her own father developing the disease. I’ve even known friends and family to divorce as seemingly seamless as happens here, particularly before kids are involved. So ultimately, I see the plausibility in virtually everything Pagan did here, and the story thus became, for me, likely more of the thoughtful examination she meant for it to be rather than getting hung up on “I don’t think [this thing or that thing] is realistic enough” as so many of the other reviewers (on Goodreads as of December 29, nearly 4 months before publication) have done. While not quite as powerful or funny as Pagan’s previous books (which you should absolutely read as well), this one still does its thing quite well indeed, and is thus very much recommended.
This week we’re looking at a great novel of finding oneself even later in life that takes us from gut-busting laughter to massive tears, and everywhere in between. This week we’re looking at The Secret Of Snow by Viola Shipman.
The Ghosts Of Christmases Past. This is a story of how running away from your pain can be just as painful – even when buried – as staying and working through it. Here, we actually get to see a bit of both, along with a fair degree of real-world, perfectly-within-story-yet-real, commentary. Unlike the last book from Shipman I reviewed, where one character was seemingly designed as little more than a strawman pin cushion for the author to lob everything she (he) hated about that type of person into the book, the characters here all felt much more authentic and true to the situations they found themselves in. Even Sonny’s precipitous meltdown near the front of the book is wild, yet “realistic” – many of us would at minimum *consider* doing exactly what she did, and if we found ourselves in the exact situation she was at that moment… yeah, totally realistic. 😀 But just as realistic is the pain and the ghosts that Sonny has been running from for 30 years, and when she is forced to go home and ultimately confront the pain… also, so very realistic. Spoken as someone just slightly younger than Sonny (nearly 40) who very nearly lived her scenario. (In my own case, there was an accident where I was driving and both of my brothers were in the car, yards from my house – our mom heard the impact. Fortunately we all survived with little lasting damage, but because of that I could that much more easily empathize with Sonny – I could well see my life turning out very differently had that particular day become much, much darker.) While this is more drama than comedy, with a dash of romance thrown in (YMMV on that one, but I thought it was subtle enough that it added more than it detracted), there is certainly enough comedy here to keep the drama from being overwhelming, while allowing the parts that *need* to hit harder to do so. Truly an excellent book, and very much recommended.
For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid tale of four old friends coming back together in the face of a tragedy that is marred by its preachy real-world politics. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman.
First, here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:
Solid Story Brought Down By Emphasis On Real-World Politics. As a camp story and as a story of long ago friends coming back together after a tragedy and working through both the awesome times and the tragedies of both then and now, this story was really quite good. The way Shipman (a pen name for a dude, making this even more remarkable) is able to craft each of the characters and use the settings themselves as additional characters really shows just how strong of a storyteller she (he) is. Ultimately though the aftertaste of this book – if you even make it that far – will be flavored by your view of its politics and arguably more pointedly, how it portrays the side the author very clearly abhores. Me, I read to avoid the real world. Between the events of 20201 and my own real-world background as a political activist at various levels, I *really* don’t want politics in my books, and if it must be there, I want a balanced and non-preachy approach. Neither of which I got here, and thus the star deduction. Still, a worthy read and truly a good one, other than the preachy politics. Recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt from the opening of the book followed by the publisher details. 🙂
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman”