It’s awards season. The Grammy are tonight, the Oscars a few weeks from now, and at my house, everyone’s getting ready for a couple months of eating Mac and Cheese from a box while Mom reads for the Whitneys. The Whitneys are an annual set of awards for novels by LDS authors, and the finalists were announced last week. There are 35 finalists in seven categories, and here at Segullah, we’re busy reading. Segullah is grateful to have had a vote in the Whitney Academy for several years, and we love both the opportunity to read great fiction and the chance to honor some of our culture’s best writers. We’ve assembled a cracking team of Melonie Cannon (reading Mysteries), Rosalyn Eves (reading Speculative, Youth Speculative, and Young Adult), Angela Hallstrom (reading General fiction), and Emily Milner (reading Romances and Historical Fiction). Jessie Christensen will probably also pop in from time to time with her opinions on the books she’s read. I’m trying to read all 35 books, and I’m already behind if I want to finish by the April 23rd deadline. I’m very excited about our team– Emily has been reading and judging Whitney books for at least four years, Rosalyn has a great love of all things speculative (for which I’m glad, because it’s my weakest area), Melonie’s eager to delve into the mysteries, and Angela, well Angela is a Whitney Awards winner herself!

You can see a list of the finalists here.

I can’t speak for anyone else on Team Segullah, but I’m really excited for so many of the books. As always, the YA and Youth Speculative categories look really strong; I believe that almost all of the books in both categories are nationally published. I’m particularly excited for Carol Lynch Williams’s Miles from Ordinary and Jenni James’s Pride and Popularity, which my fifth grader says is a super-hot item at her school library (and nearly impossible to reserve from the public library here). I’m also eager to read Jessica Day George’s Tuesdays at the Castle in the Youth Speculative Category. Another book I’m really looking forward to is Marilyn Brown’s Fires of Jerusalem. I interviewed Brown for the Segullah journal several years ago and she talked about the book she was working on at the time, and I strongly suspect that this is that book. I see lots of familiar names in the mystery category, and I’ve come to regard these authors as old friends. But I’ll be eager for Josi Kilpack’s time as Whitney president to end. I say this selfishly because she’s doing a great job, but I also think her mysteries are really fun and I miss seeing them selected as finalists.

When I started reading for the Whitneys, I was a Romance novel virgin with a giant chip on her shoulder. But over the years, I’ve really started to love that category, and have been very impressed with the quality of the work being written in LDS Romances. I’m eager to read Michelle Paige Holmes’s new novel, and I just finished Carla Kelly’s Borrowed Light and really, really enjoyed it.

In the fiction category, there are some Whitney familiars (Richard Paul Evans, Jason F. Wright and Rachel Ann Nunes) and some newcomers to the awards (Karey White and Kieth Merrill). I’ll admit being disappointed about not seeing David Clark’s Death of a Disco Dancer or Steven L. Peck’s Scholar of Moab selected as finalists, but I am eager to have the chance to read five books I haven’t read before.

Over the next couple of months, Team Segullah will pop in from time to time to give updates on our reading. We’re hoping to be delighted by what we find out there– I know I always am. I also plan to blog reviews of all 35 books on my personal blog, Shelah Books It.

 What about youРhave you read any of the finalists? What do you think of them? What are you eager to read? Which books are you happy to see on the list and what are some notable oversights?


  1. Rosalyn

    February 12, 2012

    Shelah, I really loved Jessica Day George’s Tuesdays at the Castle (personally, I think it’s her best book yet). I’m also excited about the line-up–and I’m glad you’re the one taking on the challenge!

    Just a funny side-note about Carla Kelly: she wrote mainstream Regency romances for years and was one of my mom’s favorite authors (she’s a sucker for Regencies). My mom was thrilled (and surprised–we had no idea she was LDS) a few years back to discover that she was also writing for the LDS market.

  2. annegb

    February 12, 2012

    Who chooses the finalists?

  3. Melanie Jacobson

    February 13, 2012

    The finalists are chosen by a panel of five judges who read all the nominated books in a given category. The judges are published authors, book bloggers, editors, or other people familiar with the genre. The judges are then given a choice between ranking them from favorite to least favorite or comparing each title against every other title in its category in a power match. The votes are then tallied and the Whitney committee announces the top five books for each category. After that, voting opens up to the entire Whitney academy.

  4. annegb

    February 17, 2012

    Hmmm….so of the fiction, which two would you recommend, assuming I can’t afford all of them? (I enjoy young adult fiction as well)

  5. Abigail

    February 26, 2012

    How do you read a ‘romance novel’and begin to keep the law of chastity? It’s female porn. Gosh people? Huh?

  6. Emily M.

    February 27, 2012

    Whoa there, Abigail, two problems. One, do a little research into the Whitneys and you will see that this is Mormon romance, and just good clean fun. Escapist fun, but nowhere near porn. We’re not talking about cheap bodice-rippers here.

    Two, we’d love it at Segullah if you read our commenting guidelines and refrained from attacking people. In this case that means dramatically rephrasing your thought, along the lines of, ” Romance novels in general concern me. They feel too much like female porn.” That rephrasing expresses the same idea without attacking that who feel differently than you about what is appropriate reading material. Which includes me.

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