Thursday, April 30, 2009


Amy Btw M is the winner of the last part of April contest. Amy please contact me with your mailing address and to let me know which book you have selected.

Today is the beginning of a new month and the start of a new contest. I have twelve books most of which I have offered on previous contests. These are titles that so far have not been claimed but are available as prizes for this contest. Simply pick which book you would like to win and tell me why it appeals to you more than the others. As a bonus, tell me which LDS novel not on this list, is at the top of your wish list. If you win and I have the bonus book, I'll send you that one too. If I don't have it, I'll send a surprise bonus book to you. Detailed rules are on the sidebar to the right. The contest which will run from May 1 to May 15 is now open and here's my list to choose from:

At the Water's Edge by Annette Lyon
Eyes of a Stranger by Rachel Nunes
Livin' in High Cotton by Youngblood & Poole
Promise of Spring byKristen McKendry
Something Familiar by Pamela Carrington Reid
The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull
The Icing on the Cake by Eloida Strain
Chocolate Therapy by Dianne Crabtree
Rolling With The Tide by Jeff Call
Promises to Keep By Dean Hughes
Finding Faith by Terri Farran
Love Beyond Time by Nancy Campbell Allen

Good luck and I'm looking forward to reading your comment/entries.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I've had a couple of request for more pictures from the Gala. I got shots of all of the winners except Aubrey Mace. The shot I took is completely blacked out. I took the wrong camera and my shots aren't great, but for what they're worth, here goes.

Stephanie Black

Sandra Grey

Rob Wells, the man in charge

Kerry Blair accepts Lifetime Achievement Award

James Dashner

Stephanie again.

H.B. (Heather) Moore

Angela Hallstrom

Brandon Sanderson

Annette Haws
See what I mean? They're pretty awful pictures.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


This is my favorite picture from the Whitney Gala held last Saturday night. The atmosphere was great, the food delicious, and the company fantastic. Standing left to right are Nancy Campbell Allen, Marsha Ward, Gale Sears, Michele Bell, Stephanie Black, and Kerry Blair. Front (l to r)Sharon Robinson, Me (Jennie Hansen), Janice Sperry, and Geri Gilchrist. In case you haven't heard, Kerry was awarded a lifetime achievement award and Stephanie was honored for best mystery. Rob Wells and all of the Whitney committee deserve kudos for a superb event.

A second lifetime Achievement award went to Orson Scott Card, but he wasn't there to accept it. Rob Wells accepted for him and read an acceptance speech Card had written.

Book people, that is writers, readers, editors, sellers, reviewers, bloggers, etc. have been speculating for several months on who the winners would be . Here's the rundown of winners:
Best Romance . . . Spare Change by Aubrey Mace
Best Mystery . . . Fool Me Twice by Stephanie Black
Best Speculative Fiction . . . The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Best Youth Fiction . . . The 13th Reality by James Dashner
Best Historical . . . Abinadi by H.B. Moore
Best General Novel . . . Waiting for the Light to Change by Annette Haws
Best New Author . . . Bound on Earth by Angela Hallstrom
Best Novel of the Year . . . Traitor by Sandra Grey

I'm pretty satisfied with the results, but I suspect almost everyone would make a few changes if they could, including me. Abinadi by Moore was excellent and deserves an award, but I would have given it best romance. I would have stood and cheered for any of the Mystery finalists; they all deserve an award. My feelings were pretty much the same for Historical and I was more than satisfied to just be among such illustrious company. I was really torn between James Dashner and Jessica Day George for Best Youth Fiction. Both of their novels were outstanding. Best General Novel was another category I struggled with; I wavered back and forth between Waiting for the Light to Change and Fields of Home. Angela Hallstrom's writing impressed me a great deal and I don't regret that her book was named Best New Author but its entry in the novel competition surprised me because the book is more a series of short stories than a novel. Sandra Grey, in my opinion, absolutely deserved Novel of the Year. The only category I was a little disappointed in was Speculative, which isn't my favorite category anyway, but I was pulling for Chris Stewart or Orson Scott Card. As I've explained before, I don't like fiction that glorifies violence or drugs and the winning nominee in this category is gory and brutal and though the author calls the massive amounts of drugs consumed "metals", they're still drugs. I also found it excessively long, tedious, and repetitious. Still I wasn't surprised that Sanderson won; he has a strong following among avid sci-fi/fantasy fans.

Many of you, I'm sure, would have selected different winners than the judges did in some categories. I'll be surprised if you agree with me on all of my views either. So tell me what you think of the Whitney results, what you would change, and why. Every comment counts as another entry in the current win-a-book contest.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Tuesday members of my family gathered in Twin Falls for a family sealing at the new temple there. It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying our time together, then a few of us decided we needed a few pictures to commemorate the day, so out came the cameras even though we're not the most photogenic bunch. My little great niece, Sadie, was cute as can be and pictures of her turned out fine, but you know how it is at these amateur photo shoots. Someone has to take the picture and someone has to be in it. That's when half a dozen different cameras are passed to one unfortunate soul who becomes the designated photographer. My niece's new husband somehow got elected. He thought he was taking a still shot, but somehow turned on the video function.

Everyone has a family photo disaster story. Tell me yours. Each one will count as an entry for the Second half of April contest.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


It's time to begin another contest. This one will focus on becoming stronger, better individuals because of, or perhaps in spite of, difficult challenges. With each contest so far, I've been touched and impressed by the thought put into the various comments. Many of your comments have become a permanent part of my personal journal.

The strongest people I know are the same people who have dealt with or are now dealing with what in Church circles is often referred to as adversity. There's something about seeing people take hard knocks and instead of crawling off in a corner to cry, they get up and keep fighting. My dad used to say "when the going gets tough, the tough get going," and my mother used to add "nobody gets out of this life alive."

In my lifetime I've become convinced that no one gets an easy ride. We all face our moments, days, or even years of adversity. Whether we face the loss of a loved one either physically or spiritually, face devestating illnesses, send a son off to war, lose our homes to flood or fire, become unemployed, are victims of violence, or are subjected to any of a million different hurts or trials, it's how we deal with those adversities that establishes our character and defines who we are. What separates the winners from the losers in the game of life is not speed, money, the most toys, or even crossing life's finishing lines ahead of all the others. The winners are those who face challenges, losses, disappointments, and all life can throw at them and continue to have faith in God, show their fellow travelers respect and consideration, continue to love their families, and get up each morning to do what needs to be done. The losers whine, blame their woes on others, and expect someone else to solve their problems.

The three books I chose to highlight for this contest are Promise of Spring by Kristen McKendry, Saboteur by Dean Hughes, and Livin' in High Cotton by Jennifer Leigh Youngblood and Sandra Poole. The one key element these three books share is that of a character finding her/himself in an unfamiliar devastating situation that appears hopeless, yet becomes the catalyst to exemplary personal growth. One of these books (or any of the previously highlighted books that hasn't yet been claimed) will be the prize for whoever is chosen from those who place a well thought-out comment in the comment trail of this post. The contest begins now.

Promise of Spring is the story of Melinda Keith who was never a "farm person." She grew up in Albuquerque with electric lights, gas heating, and two cars in the driveway. But after a painful divorce, she decides that life on an isolated farm in the Texas Panhandle is what she needs. Fiercely independent, Melinda is determined to live completely off the land and keep other people at a distance. But that was before a widower with a two-year-old son moves in next door and she becomes the victim of a series of sinister acts of vandalism.

The year is 1943 and Andy Gledhill trains to become a paratrooper. But he soon discovers his government has other plans for him. Because of his language skills, having a French mother, he is to be dropped into France behind enemy lines to serve as a Saboteur and spy. Andy's new life of deception and sabotage is worlds away from his smalltown upbringing and raises serious questions of conscience. Yet back home his small town is changing too with the addition of a nearby Japanese relocation camp, his sister's rejection of religious values, and the changing nature of his relationship with his longtime girlfriend. The things he sees and the things he has to do create core changes in him that will change his life, values, and relationships forever.

"Cultured, graceful, feisty Shelby Collins is the epitome of a southern lady. She tries to prove her competence by looking after her siblings while her mother is away caring for an ailing relative. Shelby's secure world is turned upside down when her father, in a drunken rage, attacks her. Fearing others will learn of his treachery, he kidnaps her, takes her to a reform school, and abandons her. In utter despair, Shelby is sure that her life is over---but sometimes life's blessings come in the most unexpected ways." Set in the South during the late 1920s and early 1930s, this is a story of love, betrayal, and the indomitable human spirit.


Randy and Lisa are the winners of the April 1-15 contest. Please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com to give me your mailing address and to tell me which book you would like. Congratulations!

I'm in a rush to get to the temple this morning so I'll wait until this evening to post the new contest for the second half of April. In the meantime go to Meridian Magazine ( and read my review of four great new books.

Monday, April 13, 2009


President Hinckley compared life to a journey on an old time railroad car. He suggested we were going to be disappointed if we expected the whole trip to be composed of wonderful experiences and lovely scenery. He spoke of the bumps, the jarring starts and stops, cinders and soot with only an occasional breath-taking vista. He concluded with “the trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” Easter weekend turned out for me to be one of those “grand vistas,” an occasion to thank the Lord for allowing me the ride.

To begin with my younger brother and his wife came down from Idaho to spend the weekend with us. They arrived Friday and we had a good time just talking and going out to dinner together. Saturday became more involved with shopping and visiting places they wanted to see. Since it was close to one of the places we intended to go, we stopped at the IFA store and saw all the baby chicks, goslings, ducklings, turkeys, bunnies, and two kids (baby goats). I’m opposed to giving kids live animals as Easter gifts, but IFA is a farm store and most of their baby animals are headed for rural homes where they belong. Since all four of us were raised on farms, it was a fun reminder of our childhood springs.

After purchasing items at various far flung stores, we headed back to my home where two of my daughters and their small children met us for Easter egg coloring. The three-year-old is a little accident prone, so his mom took precautions to make certain which dyes and colors he used. Of course, he was the only one that didn’t spill anything. Three spills in a row had blue and green dye sinking into my chairs, splattering the walls, and spreading across my floor. The grandson with the yellow dye managed to contain his spill to the tray holding the various brush-on paints and glitter. My nine-year-old granddaughter who is so careful and very artistic was in tears and her white shirt splotched in blue, the egg she was holding splashed in multiple unintended colors. While I cleaned up my granddaughter and found her something dry to wear, my daughters tackled cleaning up my kitchen. They did a good job, but I suspect I’ll be finding remnants of blue paint in unexpected places for some time. By the time the eggs were finished and the mess cleaned up, it was too late for anything but hotdogs for dinner. The spilled coloring dye might be related to cinders and soot, but there was something lovely, one of those scenic vistas, in seeing seeing the competent, non-judgmental way my daughters dealt with their children’s disasters and their concern for making certain I wasn’t the one left to shampoo my chairs or mop the floor.

Being avid Jazz fans we were looking forward to the game, but it was another disaster. It was after the game that we were treated to one of those vista moments. The lights came on at the nearly completed Oquirrh Mountain Temple and from our upstairs rooms we were able to show my brother and sister-in-law the sparkling city lights high lighted by the sight of three temples framed in one bedroom window.

One of my sons-in-law makes wonderful omelets. He volunteered to come over Sunday morning to make omelets and I prepared a German coffee cake, starting off Easter morning on a pleasant note. Sacrament meeting was one of those Easter services filled with music and messages that was so perfect it brought tears to our eyes. Even the noisiest children (and we have lots of those in our ward) were reverent and the choir was at its best which says a lot for a choir that I’m sure already ranks as one of the best in the Church, and a pair of talented thirteen-year-olds sang a beautiful duet.

On returning home all five of our children, their spouses, and our ten grandchildren arrived for dinner and an egg hunt. Being all together, sharing too much food, lots of laughter and stories, watching the older children hide the eggs, then the younger ones hunt for them put a satisfying cap on the day.

After all of our children and their families left, the four of us who remained experienced one of those tired, but peaceful times of reflection. Together over the past few years we’ve faced some of life’s painful tragedies, deaths of loved ones, serious illnesses, worries, and difficulties, but the fun moments, the nostalgic moments, the small disasters, the loving gestures, and the intense spiritual warmth of this weekend filled us with assurance that the Lord loves us and He gives us just enough experiences like this weekend to keep us searching for just such “grand vistas” and to remind us to thank Him for letting us have this ride we call life.

The current contest ends in two days. For an additional entry or a new one. Tell me about a time when you've seen beyond the bumps and cinders to a beautiful vista.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring? Or just another maybe?

The past two days have been a taste of spring and left me with little time for blogging. There were flower beds to trim and rake, hyacinths to smile over, daffodils to count (I planted new bulbs last year), lilac bushes to check for buds, and flowers-turned -weeds to thin. There was also a five-year-old grandson who needed someone to play trucks in the dirt with him. I'm sure you can see why I haven't been blogging.

A call from a son-in-law who is longhaul trucking was a reminder that Spring isn't fully here just yet. He's been driving through a snowstorm all day. I hope the past few days of beautiful weather here in Utah will move east and give him sunny skies to return by.

Spring doesn't really begin, I'm persuaded, until after conference. We got at least four inches of snow Saturday morning, which made it nice to snuggle down in my recliner to watch and listen to the speakers. This conference touched me deeply. President Uchtdorf always impresses me. I love listening to President Monson and Elder Holland's message touched me particularly. I found the admonitions to help each other through trying times, the imprortance of being prepared, not becoming discouraged because times may be hard, keeping our faith strong, and the counsel to attend the temple timely and important messages.

So many times when I've listened to conference and have mentioned some message I received and found important, the person I'm talking with has looked a little blank and gone on to remark on something else entirely he or she gained from listening to the same speakers. So as a follow-up contest question, I'm asking, What message did you get from conference or what impressed you most? (Remember you can enter more than one comment and you can comment whether you wish to win a book or not.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Crystal is the winner of the contest just finished! Crystal please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com to let me know which book you choose and your mailing address.

It’s a frequently heard complaint that writers outside of Utah are short changed when it comes to publicity for their books. Another complaint is that too many LDS novels are set along the Wasatch Front. Companion to these complaints is that people who want to read LDS fiction can’t find them if they don’t live in the Mountain West. I wonder how valid these complaints really are.

Betsy Brannon Green, Stephanie Black, Sandra Grey, Jason Wright, and Orson Scott Card are just a few well known LDS writers who live in states other than Utah and they seem to do just fine. Pamela Carrington Reed and Anna Jones Buttimore come to mind as LDS writers I enjoy who live in New Zealand and England respectively. There are a few Canadians among our ranks as well.

Can’t find LDS books? The number of bookstores providing online access is growing rapidly. Both Deseret Book and Seagull Book accept online orders. Amazon carries most LDS books. Then too there are bookstores such as LDS Bookcorner which are online only. Almost any bookstore in the United States will order a book for a patron if the patron knows the title, author, publisher, and ISBN number. In many cases they’ll help look up the needed information. Another source is through various authors’ blogs or web pages. Then too, there’s the library. Some libraries may not stock LDS fiction, but almost all libraries in the United States, Canada, and in parts of Europe will do an Interlibrary Loan for one of their patrons. Just look up the information on the title you wish to read and fill out a form at your local library. Some libraries require the patron to pay the postage, but most provide this service free. When the book arrives at your local library, you can check it out on your library card. If you don’t use these services because you don’t know what books are available. Sites such as LDSPublisher keep an up-to-date list of current releases including the backliner blurb. You can also read my review column on Meridian Magazine which is published the third Thursday each month.

And what about novels set beyond the Mountain West? As the LDS book market grows we are seeing an increasing number of writers and settings far from the Church’s heartland. Julie Bellon, a transplanted Canadian sets her books in exotic locals. Betsy Brannon Green’s books are primarily set in the South. Card’s books take in outer space. For this month’s first contest I want to introduce you to three writers who live and set their books in far flung places. First there’s Pamela Carrington Reid’s Something Familiar set in New Zealand. Set on a secluded sheep ranch in the ruggedly beautiful high country of that country, Reid’s book is a “romantic and expressive novel about the destiny between two people, the complicated choices that must be made, the influence of the gospel, and the powerful effects of true love.”

Next we have The White Bedouin by George Potter, a tale as rich and mysterious as Saudi Arabia, the land where Potter has lived and worked for sixteen years as a consultant. “In the first book of its kind, biblical scholar George Potter mixes firsthand knowledge of the Middle Eastern culture and scripture with a carefully woven story of breathtaking beauty and epic proportions. Cross the threshold between reality and legend . . .”

Grave Secrets by Marlene Austin is not so far from Utah as the other two selections, but not many LDS novels are set in New England, especially as far north as Maine. This novel is both a genealogy mystery and a chilling adventure. The heroine learns that discovering the secrets of the past may be the key to saving her life.

Here’s the question to start off our discussion and to add your name to a drawing for any of these three books. The rules of the game are on the sidebar. The contest begins today and runs until April 15. How important is a book’s setting to you and do you prefer settings familiar to you or do you like to discover unfamiliar lands?