Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shudder, by Jennie Hansen

by Stephanie Black

First order of business—it’s Julie’s birthday today! Party on the Frog Blog! Happy birthday to the lovely and talented Julie Bellon!

I was lucky enough to get my greedy little paws on a review copy of Jennie Hansen’s new suspense novel, Shudder. In fact, due to a glitch in the postal system, which delayed the arrival of the first book, Covenant sent me a second copy. After I finished reading the second copy, the first copy meandered its way into my mailbox. Since I don’t want to appear too greedy by hoarding both books, I’ll be giving one copy away, so stay tuned to find out how you can win Jennie’s latest bestseller.

Jennie Hansen is one of the most accomplished writers in the LDS market. Shudder is her 21st published novel. That’s seriously impressive. At the 2007 Whitney Awards gala, Jennie received a Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2008, her historical novel, The Ruby, was a Whitney Award finalist for Best Historical. As well as penning her own novels, Jennie reviews LDS fiction for Meridian Magazine.

Her newest novel, Shudder, contains lots of chills, along with some delightful characters—and some extremely creepy characters who need to look the word “conscience” up in the dictionary. “Shudder” is right—that’s what some of these characters will make you do.

The main character, Darcy is strong, smart, and determined to do what’s right, even when that brings her into conflict with her beloved friend and roommate, Claire. Claire’s boyfriend, Blaine, is a manipulative, abusive jerk. Darcy is appalled to see her friend falling further and further into a bad situation, but she’s helpless to wake Claire up to what a jerk Blaine is. When Blaine insists on moving into their apartment—over Darcy’s vehement protests—Darcy moves out.

I had trouble relating to Claire, which stems from the fact that I’ve never been close to anyone who was involved in an abusive relationship. Jennie, however, has known people in that situation, as she explains in the acknowledgments, and I have no doubt that Claire is accurately drawn. Claire is emotionally vulnerable and has issues stemming from her background; she convinces herself that Blaine represents something she desperately wants—a family of her own. I think it would have helped me relate to Claire if I could have seen a little more of the “good” parts of Blaine’s personality—the charm and tenderness that would allow Claire to think she loved him. I like the way Jennie introduces Blaine's family--it's not hard to see how Blaine turned out like he did, considering his background.

The characters on the good-guy team are thoroughly likable and down-to-earth. Darcy’s love interest, high school coach David Schoenfeld, is an awesomely nice guy, and I like the way Jennie develops their romance naturally, starting with a solid foundation of friendship and common interests. Romance in books is so much more romantic when it’s realistic and involves the brain as well as the hormones. Darcy and David are an appealing and believable couple.

After Darcy moves out of her apartment, David helps her find a new living situation with Karlene, a woman recovering from an automobile accident. Karlene swears the accident was no accident. Someone tried to kill her. It quickly becomes clear that Karlene is right—she’s the target of a killer who is going to try again and again until he succeeds. When he thinks Darcy is the key to finding Karlene, Darcy and David end up in mortal danger. The mystery of who is after Karlene and why forms another layer of suspense to the story, interweaving with the story of Claire and Blaine.

Head to Jennie's website for a peek at the first chapter of Shudder. And don’t you find it amazing how multitalented Jennie is in writing such a wide variety of books? Westerns, historicals, suspense—wow!

And now, for today’s contest. 2009 is drawing to a close, and only one and a half months remain in which to nominate your favorite novels by LDS authors for the 2009 Whitney Awards. Have you read any novels by LDS authors that you feel deserved a Whitney nomination? If so, have you nominated them? Post a comment in the comment trail telling me if you’ve nominated a book for a Whitney (you don’t have to name titles, unless you want to).

And if you tell me the name of your favorite Jennie Hansen book (or of a Jennie Hansen book you'd like to read), I’ll enter you in the drawing twice.

And if you add a birthday wish for Julie, I’ll enter you in the drawing three times. But it can’t just be “Happy birthday.” It needs to be a specific wish--for example: “Julie, I wish for you a chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce, whipped cream, and those little curls of chocolate on the top.”


At 11/18/2009 4:35 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

Yes, I've nominated a book for the Whitney awards. Sigh. I won't name any names.

And for Julie's bday, I wish her time. Time to do whatever she wants—write, read, sleep, go out to dinner with the husband.

That's what I ask for for Christmas every year. Nobody ever gives me any.

At 11/18/2009 4:46 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I have nominated books for the Whitney.

Happy Birthday Julie, hope you get a caramel apple from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

And one of my favorite Jennie Hansen's books is Macady.

At 11/18/2009 6:21 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I've nominated several books for the Whitney's. Great thing, that. Whitneys. =]

Happiest of Birthday's, Julie! What I wish for you this birthday is someone else to do the dishes, wash the laundry, and make you a fabulous birthday dinner!

At 11/19/2009 12:45 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Happy birthday, Julie, I'm glad you didn't give up writing :)

I read SHUDDER recently--it's very creepy!

I haven't nominated my Whitney choices yet--still working on my reading list :)

At 11/19/2009 7:31 PM, Blogger Stephanie Humphreys said...

Happy Birthday Julie! I wish for you a bag of Ketchup potato chips. :)

I haven't nominated any books for the Whitneys yet, but I will be soon.

I can't wait to read Shudder. I love a good creepy book. The Bracelet is also a favorite of mine.

At 11/19/2009 10:40 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Thanks Stephanie and all of the rest of you!

At 11/19/2009 11:49 PM, Blogger Ronda Hinrichsen said...

Thanks for the review. I've been wondering about this book. I haven't yet nominated one for a Whitney, but I'm thinking about my favorites and will do so. Best of all, Happy Birthday, Julie. I suppose I could do the Sandra Bullock thing and wish you world peace, but instead, I'll wish you a day filled with a peaceful heart and a happy fammily. :)


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