Judith D Collins
Christmas in Tinsel Tree Village
A Holiday Novella
By: Viola Shipman
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: 09/01/2021
My Rating: 5 Stars
2021 BEST CHRISTMAS BOOKS
Just in time for the holidays, a beautiful story about letting go of grief and discovering the healing power of love, from USA TODAY bestselling author Viola Shipman
Neve Ford, once the queen of Christmas, no longer loves the holidays. While she once reveled in the magic of the first snow of the season and her collection of heirloom decorations, they now serve as reminders of the husband she lost too soon. With so many painful memories haunting her small Michigan hometown, Neve moved away and never looked back.
Now working in Chicago, and a social media star thanks to her spectacular Christmas windows, Neve’s sole focus is creating crowd-drawing displays—and ignoring the pleading letters her grandmother continues to send from home. But then her job unexpectedly takes her back to Michigan to curate displays for a Christmas festival. An expert at avoiding her past, Neve plans to slip in and get gone…until word of her return leaks out. The walls Neve built around her heart may be strong, but with some unexpected help from the community, Neve will learn that she can’t outrun family bonds—or the promise of hope that only Christmas can give.
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Letter from the Author
Welcome! I'm SO glad you're here! I am the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of a dozen books that have been translated into 21 languages. I write fiction under the pen name, Viola Shipman, as a tribute to the working poor Ozarks woman whose heirlooms, sacrifices, love, life and lessons inspire my novels and inspired me to become a writer. My novels are a tribute to family and our elders and meant to inspire hope. My grandma used to say, "Life is as short as one blink of God's eye, but we too often forget what matters most in that blink." My novels are also meant to remind readers of what's most important in life: Each other.
My new book, The Secret of Snow, is much more than just my first “holiday novel.” It’s a deeply personal story about family, faith, forgiveness, overcoming grief and second chances.
Growing up, my family personified the holidays. My mother and father were a real-life Mr. and Mrs. Klaus, my grandma (Viola Shipman, my pen name), drenched her home in lights and filled her yard with dancing inflatables. She had the most beautiful heirloom Christmas ornaments and bought so many gifts for our family that she had to create a walkway through her living room.
But my brother, Todd, loved winter and the holidays most of all. Todd loved nothing more than cutting down a pine from our woods every year, dragging it into the house and drenching it in tinsel.
But when he died in a tragic accident when he was just 17, and I was 13, it crushed our family and our holidays. We were grief stricken, and the holidays only magnified our pain.
I expected future Christmases to come and go as quietly as a church mouse, but the following December I walked into the living room one evening to find my mother putting up a tree she had cut down herself. My mom, a hospice nurse, patted the carpet, and I took a seat.
"Think of how much your brother loved this holiday," she whispered to me, tears in her eyes. "Why are we all trying so hard to forget about him? We shouldn’t just cast our memories away. We should start treating Todd like he’s still here. Because he is. And always will be."
In the midst of all the holiday cheer, there rarely is room for grief. But these past two years have magnified the loneliness for too many Americans. We’ve lost over 600,000 parents, grandparents, siblings and friends to Covid, and we too often forget these are aren’t just numbers, they’re names, like Todd, and my father-in-law, George, who died of Covid. There will be too many empty chairs at the table, and too many empty holes under the tree and in our hearts. And those of us who are suffering too often try to hide from the holidays, praying they will pass as quickly as Santa’s sleigh.
The Secret of Snow is a beautiful reminder that, no matter if those we love are no longer with us, family still surrounds us. It is a gentle reminder to reach out to those who need a hug, to let them know you care and that the names of all we’ve lost and still love shimmer as brightly as tinsel, and that their memories will never fade away as long as we refuse to let them.
Publisher’s Weekly raved about The Secret of Snow, writing, “Shipman delivers a beautifully written story about second chances. After 50-year-old meteorologist Sonny Dunes is fired from her Palm Springs, Calif., TV station and replaced by an artificial intelligence system, she gets drunk with a former colleague, then heads back to the station to voice her opinions, live and uncensored. In the aftermath, she agrees to return to her northern Michigan hometown and serve as chief meteorologist for the local station. In addition to working for a college acquaintance, Sonny is immediately targeted by local mean girl Polly Sue Van Kampen, who makes it clear that she blames Sonny for taking the job she expected to get and does everything she can to sabotage her. Sonny also finds love with a local man, Mason Carrier, and when an unprecedented career opportunity arises, Sonny is confronted with the choice of whether to stay with Mason or take the job. The author adds emotional gravitas with a subplot about Sonny’s deceased younger sister, and perfectly sketches Sonny’s mother, while also sensitively handling the topic of mental health, with one character having obsessive-compulsive disorder and another having lost a loved one to suicide. Fans of women’s fiction won’t be able to put this down!”
The Secret of Snow is might be my favorite novel to date because it is so meaningful to me. I hope it speaks to your heart and that you consider buying a copy for yourself and gifting a copy to someone you love.
Wishing you the merriest of Christmases and happiest of holidays!
About the Author
WADE ROUSE is the internationally bestselling author of 11 books, including four memoirs and five novels, which have been translated into 20 languages and sold over a million copies worldwide.
Wade’s books have been selected multiple times as Must-Reads by NBC’s Today show, featured in USA Today, The Washington Post and Chelsea Lately and chosen three times as Indie Next Picks by the nation’s independent booksellers.
Wade is the noted humorist of four critically-acclaimed memoirs. He was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards in Humor (he lost to Tina Fey) and was named by Writer’s Digest as “The #2 Writer, Dead or Alive, We’d Like to Have Drinks With” (Wade was sandwiched between Ernest Hemingway and Hunter Thompson).
Wade’s novels, written under the pen name Viola Shipman, are beloved by readers across the world. Wade chose his grandmother’s name as a pen name to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his fiction.
Wade’s debut novel The Charm Bracelet was a 2017 Michigan Notable Book of the Year, and The Summer Cottage was the #1 Bestselling Novel in Michigan in 2019. Wade’s novels have hit the bestseller lists in Germany (where he was #1 on the Spiegel Bestseller List), Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic.
Library Journal writes, “Shipman’s charming stories of finding peace, listening to your heart, and remembering those who came before you are just what the world needs right now.”
NYT bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank says of Wade and his latest novel, The Heirloom Garden: “Every now and then a new voice in fiction arrives to completely charm, entertain and remind us what matters. Viola Shipman is that voice!”
Wade recently signed a four-book book deal with HarperCollins/Graydon House Books. His next novel, The Clover Girls, will publish May 18, followed by his first winter-themed novel, The Secret of Snow, on October 26, along with Christmas Angels, his first holiday novel, in the fall.
Wade’s writing has appeared in a diverse range of publications and media, including Coastal Living, Time, All Things Considered, People, Good Housekeeping, Salon, Forbes, Country Woman, Taste of Home, Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly.
Wade earned his B.A. from Drury University and his master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. He divides his time between Saugatuck, Michigan, and Palm Springs, California, and is also an acclaimed writing teacher who has mentored numerous students to become published authors.