Thursday, July 25, 2019

A Great New Pioneer Story

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Thursday, January 24, 2019

My most recent Meridian column. Take a look at four contemporary Westerns.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Eight years ago I posted a review of Jerry Borrowman's One Last Chance on Meridian Magazine. He has updated the book and republished it as Just One Last Chance.

    JUST ONE LAST CHANCE by Jerry Borrowman

Jerry Borrowman takes a departure from his much loved war era stories to write a different kind of story set in the depression era beginning in 1932. Just One Last Chance is set in Boise, Idaho, at a time when the city was young, few streets were paved, not everyone owned an automobile, unemployment was high, and there were few resources other than churches to offer assistance to the sick or poor. He tells the story of a teenage boy who struggles to grow up without family guidance until he discovers a new kind of family and gains insight into the character traits essential to becoming the kind of man he dreams of becoming.

Artie Call has a knack for getting in trouble. He is a kid who has seen more than his fair share of hurt and loss in his young life. His mother died when he was too young to even remember her clearly. His father turned to the bottle until he was killed in an automobile accident. Then Artie lived with his grandparents, but his grandmother passed away and his grandfather is now suffering from dementia. So Artie takes care of him. Being too young to work, the boy steals enough food to keep them both alive. A prank he and a friend pull on a cranky old man backfires and the boys wind up in court.

Artie's grandfather is sent to a mental institution and Artie winds up living in the home of the man he detests most. Life is hard and his guardian constantly finds excuses to punish him. Two rough boys who helped him steal food earlier show up and insist he assist them in stealing gold coins from a wealthy widow. The robbery goes wrong and the woman is seriously injured. When the other boys flee, Artie refuses to leave the woman. He stays to offer aid and call for help which lands him back in the same judge's court. From here Artie's life takes a different twist.

There are a number of characters in this novel that will touch the hearts of readers, not just Artie, but his two closest friends, as well as Mary and Ray who play strong roles in shaping the kind of man Artie will become. The negative characters are portrayed well also. Even the "bit" characters who play minor roles are distinct individuals and are realistic.

Vintage cars are an important element of the story. Details of the classic Dusseldorf, Cadillac, and Studebaker enhance the background and add authenticity to the time. It was interesting to learn that the Dusseldorf, which was the top luxury car in the thirties cost between $22,000.00 and $29,000.00 which in our time would be over three million dollars. At that time it also cost thirty-five cents for a five course dinner on a cross country train.

In addition to an enjoyable story, Just One Last Chance was a fascinating look at an earlier time. History buffs will love it. My only criticism is that point of view switches are slightly confusing. Nonetheless, I thoroughly recommend this book for book clubs or just to savor alone.

Jerry Borrowman is the author of numerous historical novels and is best known for Three Against Hitler for which he was awarded the National Freedom Foundation At Valley Forge Award. He and his wife live in Utah.

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JUST ONE LAST CHANCE by Jerry Borrowman, Published by Black Canyon Press, 254 pages. Soft cover $975. Also available for eReaders.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


I review LDS fiction on a regular basis for Meridian Magazine. I haven't been blogging much lately, but I will start posting  links to my reviews.  Here's a link to my latest review column on Meridian Magazine:

Thursday, May 19, 2016


A few days ago I was shopping in a nearby super store that has junior size shopping carts for children to use They're perfect for those little helpers who accompany mommy or daddy shopping, but who are a little too big to be satisfied sitting in the regular carts' toddler seats. (My five-year-old granddaughter loves having her own cart to push.) I stopped behind a little girl who was helping her mom choose produce. The mother was being patient, allowing the child to select which veggies she preferred and explaining how to choose the best ones. When she realized they were blocking the aisle the mother immediately apologized and the little girl echoed the apology as they both moved out of the way. I assured them I didn't mind, finished my shopping, and took my groceries to my car. As I transferred grocery bags from my cart to my car, I observed a woman doing the same thing across from me. A small child was crying loudly inside her vehicle. The woman screamed at him to "shut-up" a couple of times, then she said, "Get out of the car. You can find your own way home. I don't want you anymore anyway." I watched to see if she really did abandon the child in a large, busy parking lot. Thankfully she didn't, but I couldn't help contrasting the two parents' I'd observed. I suspect one will grow up strong and confident with a good sense of self worth. The other will struggle with self-esteem, may bully others, and likely will never quite feel wanted.

I don't know either woman and there's nothing like a woman who has already raised her children to know what a young mother should or shouldn't do, you know those things we wish we'd known when we were raising our own children, but learned too late. The first parent-child pair left me feeling good and pleased that the little girl was learning skills that will help her all of her life. The kind, gentle relationship between the two left me with positive feelings. The other mother may have had a bad day, but even a bad day does not justify threats of abandonment. I know as well as anyone how difficult a four or five year old can be, but even a difficult child who is misbehaving should be threatened with abandonment and told he isn't wanted.

My point in relating this experience? It's two-fold. First, to other writers. This is how to make stories real. Observe and store  up incidents large and small you encounter. This is how you create realistic characters. To readers and random people everywhere, this is where writers get started with character development. Most writers could easily turn one or both of these mothers into a character in one of his/her books. Small incidents tell a great deal about a person and if you don't want to wind up the villain in someone's story try speaking and behaving like a hero or heroine. You'll be happier and so will your children.

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As a side note, I've been spending as much time as possible working in my garden to make up for the neglect it received while I spent so much time in hospitals and recuperating the past few years. If you can stand more of my garden pictures, here goes:


Saturday, April 16, 2016

It's Spring Again

Yikes! It's cold outside. A year ago today I posted a spring series of pictures with all of my early flowers covered in snow. I thought I'd try for better pictures this year, but most of my flowers and blossoms look a bit bedraggled from the storms we've had the past few days. I should have taken pictures early in the week. But here goes:

The bleeding hearts are just beginning to bloom.

The phlox are doing great. 


The birdhouse has no occupants, but my granddaughter keeps checking.


More phlox and a few tulips. 

My gardens have acquired a few new creatures this year. The horse was a Christmas present from my youngest granddaughter. My son gave me the rattlesnake for my birthday. And my husband picked out the owl with a little help from another granddaughter in hopes it might scare away some of the huge flock of pesky doves that hang around our neighborhood, cooing and pooping on the swing.


Ah-h spring. I love flowers and can hardly wait for warmer days so I can dig out the grass and weeds that have crept in and plant summer flowers. I didn't take any pictures of my husband's garden. Not much is showing there yet since he plants vegetables, but how I love new potatoes and veggies straight from the garden. Can you tell I've had enough winter for this year?

Saturday, February 27, 2016


I'm not sure how February passed so quickly. I composed dozens of blogs in my head during the past month, but none of them made their way to my computer. Perhaps because they were mostly on my discouragement over the sorry cast of candidates vying for President of this country. Let's see, what I've learned from those deplorable televised debates. We have for candidates a notorious liar, a socialist, a couple with god complexes, a Bolshevik Revolutionary wannabe, a few johnny one-notes, a horde of two-year-olds, a few hypocrites, a couple who suffer from stage fright and moderators who know even less about debating than the candidates, or else they're playing the drama card. Since when is the winner of a debate the one who shouts the loudest? Since when do we choose a president by who is the most dramatic debater? Some real background, policy, views, and plans for the future would be nice. It would also be nice if we could wipe the slate clean and just start over.

Okay, onto another annoyance. I just read (well, I haven't finished it and I'm not sure if I will) a book riddled with misused words. The writer uses "souls" when referring to the bottoms of his shoes, then waste for waist, convenient for convenience, passed for past, and do for due. I just hope the book is one of those review copies sent out to reviewers ahead of the final edit. Some publishers make clear whether a copy sent to a reviewer is an advance copy or the final product; others don't. The author of this book also uses so much jargon/foreign language, it's difficult to make sense of what is happening. 

Then there's taxes. It has taken me all month to get my taxes ready to turn over to my accountant. I keep good records which may be my problem. I keep everything! Wading through it and eliminating duplicate documentation is time consuming.
There have been some fun highlights too, which consumed time (and sometimes money), but were more enjoyable than politics, taxes, or poorly written books. Our microwave oven died and since our other appliances were twenty years old, we decided to replace them all so they would match. Two weeks were occupied in shopping and installation, but it's fun to have new appliances. Our five-year-old granddaughter thinks the best part is playing with the box the new dishwasher came in.

We attended a family wedding---another positive. The bride and groom looked happy and the wedding and reception were lovely, but the bride's young nephew and niece almost stole the show.


Ah-h a box of books just arrived in today's mail! As you know, I read a lot since I review LDS fiction for Meridian Magazine (My latest review column) This past week I also read my daughter Janice Sperry's middle grade reader manuscript which she will soon submit to a publisher and which I loved. I also agreed to two book signings- Celebrating Sisterhood- Seagull Book and Ladies' Night-Deseret Book. Details later. I'll be signing By the River and Three Little Words. Of course if anyone wants me to, I'll sign any of my other books as well whether you buy them that day or bring them from home.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Wow! I can't believe it has been so long since I last blogged. December got a little crazy. There were a lot of Christmas books to read for my Meridian column, my brother and his daughter came to visit for a few days, a couple of doctor appointments (my ulcer decided to act up), grandchildren's programs and recitals to attend, shopping, a couple of book signings, a few dinners and parties, four family birthdays and our wedding anniversary, picking up a grandchild from pre-school, cards to address, a Relief Society lesson to prepare, days serving at the temple, a baptism, etc. etc. Somehow blogging got pushed to the bottom of my "to do" list.

I'll admit I wrote a few blogs in my head, but they're mostly about politics and unprintable. How both major parties could come up with such losers for frontrunners is beyond me--but I promised myself I wouldn't go into that.

The Christmas bustle that swamped December was worth it. I heard from friends from long ago, family I rarely see or hear from, and had a warm and wonderful Christmas Eve with all of my children, their spouses, and the grandchildren present. Our oldest grandson married a lovely young woman a few years ago from another country. Her mother and little brother spent Christmas Eve with us also and have become part of our family since they have no other family in America. Of course there was plenty of good food and presents galore. There was plenty of noise and confusion too, but it was wonderful to all gather together. I also received a sweet note from a young woman who used to spend Christmas Eve with us when she was a little girl.

When the grandchildren were small we started a tradition of taking a picture on the staircase of them all in their new Christmas pajamas. They all still love having the picture taken, but most no longer change to pajamas nor do they smile for the camera.  Instead I think they try to outdo each other to see who can be the silliest. My pictures didn't turn out great this year, but I'll attach a few anyway.

I'll also close this blog with a wish for a healthy, happy, safe New Year for all of you.

  Before the unwrapping began.

 The nativity cast assembles.

  A whole lot of silliness.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Julie Bellon reviewed my new book By The  River for Meridian Magazine today.  I thought I would share it with all of you:
Jennie Hansen fans have been anxiously awaiting her new release and By the River does not disappoint. Kira Paxton is a woman small of stature, but big in heart. She wants to fall in love, be independent from her smothering family, and live a full life. All of those dreams are set on a collision course, however, after she makes the grisly discovery of a young woman’s body near her running trail. 
Her screams bring Ford Kettering to the scene of the crime and from that moment on he tries to help Kira heal from her horrifying experience. She could fall in love with him, but when the young victim’s identity is released, Ford is listed as a person of interest because he was her high school teacher.  The budding relationship between Ford and Kira is a strong pull throughout the story, and readers will enjoy experiencing it with them through all the ups and downs.  Readers will also relate to Kira’s family problems as she tries to transition from the role of sheltered daughter to independent woman and the difficulties that come along with that.  When Kira’s condo is vandalized and an attempt is made on her life, she clings to independence, but also allows those around her to help keep her safe. From all appearances, Kira has become a loose end to the killer and, despite everyone’s best efforts, he is drawing closer. She will have to use all her wits to stay alive through this story that has more twists than a switchback road with hairpin turns at every corner.
By the River has all the shivers and thrills you’d expect from a Jennie Hansen suspense novel.  The reader is kept guessing until the very end who the killer is and if Kira will survive not only physically, but emotionally. Ford is a relatable character, fighting for his own innocence and for what he might have with Kira. He definitely lives up to the slogan, “Ford Tough.” The other “character” that is a standout is Jasper the dog. Jasper is a scene-stealer who will win your heart with his fondness for shoes, canals, and mischief of any kind, but who also proves dogs can be a man–or woman’s–best friend. This is a quick read because readers will not be able to put it down–and you’ll never look at running trails quite the same way again.
Jennie is an accomplished writer with over two dozen published novels to her name.  She writes in several different genres including romantic suspense, mystery, historical, and western and most of her titles can be found in LDS bookstores or on Kindle. 
By the River by Jennie Hansen published by Covenant Communications, softcover, $14.99, available on Kindle $10.49
Julie Coulter Bellon is the author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels. Julie offers writing and publishing tips as well as her take on life on her blog You can also find out about all her upcoming projects at her website