2017 INSPY Award Winners

2017 INSPY Award Winners

Following careful consideration, our incredible judging panels (who we extend many thanks to) chose the 2017 INSPYs award winners in our seven respective categories. Following months of reading (by the Advisory Board and later, our judging panels), planning, author interviews and emails in excess, the INSPY Advisory Board is pleased to announce the 2017 INSPY Award Winners.

Below are the seven winning novels in their respective categories and a statement from our judges on the reason why they felt it was worth the award…


CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE / ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

It is with great pleasure that we announce the decision for the contemporary romance award. Just a Kiss, by Denise Hunter holds the elements any reader would enjoy. The judging panel was blown away by the depth of this novel.

Just a Kiss focuses not only on romance but also on very modern issues. The military PTSD is a focus point that drove the characters at times. It wasn’t presented in a way that glorified it, but showed that it was acceptable, and that one could get help.

The romance element is tender and true. It is the type of romance one would hope to be able to form in real life. The moments are sweet, soft, and filled with faith not only in God but also in the characters’ ability to follow Christ and their love.

Though it is the conclusion in a series, this didn’t hold any of us back from enjoying it. It reads well as a stand alone or in order of the series. Denise Hunter created the perfect romance novel with Just a Kiss.

DEBUT FICTION

Striking a perfect harmony between humor and theme, Kara Isaac’s Close to You may seem like a light and frothy romcom until one actually delves inside. It’s an intelligent story, never apologizing for its unique setting, quirky tale, and delightful romance which all sit alongside the characters’ arcs beautifully! The characterization is a standout, with serious growth as the story progresses. The faith elements are interwoven seamlessly, quietly growing stronger, and feel like a natural progression. The writing truly shines as Ms. Isaac takes themes from Tolkien’s works, expands on them, and creates her own particular adventure. The novel does not read like a debut, but more as a seasoned writer’s exploration of reconciling with your past, surrendering to the point of being vulnerable, and the lessons we learn from these emotions.

Author Interview with Kara Isaac

GENERAL FICTION

There was something about Tessa Afshar’s Land of Silence that captivated us all unanimously. For starters, it is a beautifully written story. With vivid descriptions and relatable characters, this is an emotional read that will touch readers long after the last page. Afshar utilizes touches of humor as well as romance to complement the bittersweet and, building off one word in the Gospel account, she graces readers with a story that lingers soul-deep. Elianna could be any woman, today or in times past, and this is what makes her such a compelling heroine. Her encounter with Jesus leaves us loving Him all the more, and this is why we feel Land of Silence merits this year’s INSPY Award for General Fiction.

Author Interview with Tessa Afshar

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

The Lady and the Lionheart is a story of character growth, painful pasts, and the wonder and joy as well as the ups and downs of a faith filled life.  Charming characters, a touch of suspense mixed with highly emotional stakes and an intriguing historical setting along with the author’s smooth, engaging prose made this novel one that all our judges enjoyed. A strong, spiritual message and a romance that builds slowly from friendship combine to make a well woven story that is appealing from beginning to end.

Author Interview with Joanne Bischof

LITERATURE FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Unblemished is a beautifully woven story. The blending of contemporary and fantasy is well imagined, and intricately described, immersing the reader in this storybook world.

The story is full of danger, deception, adventure, romance, and an overarching message of hope. Along with these things, there are so many allegorical references to God’s love, and plan for us, and themes of love and beauty. It’s a story many can relate to in one way or another. The themes the prose presents bring focus to our human blemishes. Imperfections we carry until forgiveness and Christ’s love washes them away. The world that’s created and the depth of character development bring this story to life. Unblemished is a #BookHangover at its finest!

Author Interview with Sara Ella

MYSTERY / THRILLER

Terri Blackstock pens a gripping novel chock-full of suspense and perils as Casey and the reader alike go on the run for their lives. All proving she’s a masterful story teller. Riveting storytelling and intriguing characters make If I Run a fast-paced tale we couldn’t put down! There’s a perfect balance in the POV between Casey and Dylan, each chapter making you more emotionally connected to the characters. The plot keeps us guessing, and the characters felt rich and complex.  And besides being a gripping thriller, this book shows how the quiet witnessing of a Christian’s everyday life can make an impact on the people around you. The simple and unobtrusive thread of faith woven throughout the story serves as a reminder that oftentimes the loudest message comes through the gentle whispers of living faithfully each day.

SPECULATIVE FICTION

The Shattered Vigil by Patrick Carr is a sequel that dares to change the script rather than repeat its predecessor’s formula, shining the lens deeper on the characters already established while introducing new ones who quickly became old friends. Carr returns to a world at once different, yet like our own. His command of multiple characters and settings brought together the genres of fantasy and mystery in a satisfying journey. But it is the spiritual journies of the characters that continue to shine: a hero who doesn’t like to go to war and instead seeks peace, enjoying a rich relationship with God that brings him into conflict with his own destiny.

Author Interview with Patrick W. Carr


We’d like to thank our judges for their hard work and careful consideration of each title.

Congratulations to the winners and all the nominated authors! 

Download the press release here

2017 Shortlists Announced

The day has arrived. We are ready to announce our 2017 INSPYs shortlists. 

We thank you so much for your continued support, especially in light of the 2017 changes as we strive to create a program that is considerate of the many wonderful novels written in this genre. 

Following multiple book deliveries plus multiple time zones, and juggling our respective schedules, the Inspy Awards Advisory Board is thrilled to (finally) announce the 2017 shortlist contenders. As each year does, another daunting task was placed before us to pick just 5 books in each category from a long list nominated by readers and bloggers around the world. After careful consideration and deliberation, the INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce that the following books have been shortlisted in the 6th annual INSPY Awards. 

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE/ROMANTIC SUSPENSE 

Can’t Help Falling (Howard) by Kara Isaac
Her One and Only (Bethany House) by Becky Wade
Just a Kiss (Thomas Nelson) by Denise Hunter
A Twist of Faith (Southern Firefly Fiction) by Pepper Basham
You’re the One that I Want (Tyndale) by Susan May Warren

 DEBUT FICTION

Close to You (Howard Books) by Kara Isaac
Counted with the Stars (Bethany House) by Connilyn Cossette
Leaving Independence (Waterfall Press) by Leanne W. Smith
The Secret to Hummingbird Cake (Thomas Nelson) by Celeste Fletcher McHale
The Undoing of Saint Silvanus (Tyndale) by Beth Moore

GENERAL FICTION 

The Alliance (Tyndale) by Jolina Petersheim
The Feathered Bone (Thomas Nelson) by Julie Cantrell
Land of Silence (Tyndale) by Tessa Afshar
Long Way Gone (Thomas Nelson) by Charles Martin
A Portrait of Emily Price (Thomas Nelson) by Katherine Reay

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

A Flight of Arrows (Waterbrook) by Lori Benton
The Lady and the Lionheart (Mason Jar Books) by Joanne Bischof
A Heart Most Certain (Bethany House) by Melissa Jaegers
The Captive Heart (Shiloh Run Press) by Michelle Griep
The Ringmaster’s Wife (Thomas Nelson) by Kristy Cambron

MYSTERY/THRILLER

Conspiracy of Silence (Bethany House) by Ronie Kendig
Cold Shot (Bethany House) by Dani Pettrey
Dressed for Death (Bethany House) by Julianna Deering
If I Run (Zondervan) by Terri Blackstock
When Death Draws Near (Thomas Nelson) by Carrie Stuart Parks

LITERATURE FOR YOUNG ADULTS 

A Daring Sacrifice (Zondervan) by Jody Hedlund
Gilt Hollow (Blink) by Lorie Langdon
I’ll Be Yours (Sweet Pea Productions) by Jenny B. Jones
Siren’s Song (Thomas Nelson) by Mary Weber
Unblemished (Thomas Nelson) by Sara Ella

SPECULATIVE FICTION

Accelerant (Enclave) by Ronie Kendig
The Calling (Tyndale) by Rachelle Dekker
The Long Journey to Jake Palmer (Thomas Nelson) by James L. Rubart
Seasons of Glory (Blink) by Lisa T. Bergren
The Shattered Vigil (Bethany House) by Patrick W. Carr


Congratulations to all of the nominated authors and shortlist contenders! We now turn the job over to our 2017 judges to select a winner in each category. Winners will be announced June 28th.

Download Press Release here.

Welcoming the 2017 INSPYs Judges

Now that the advisory board is (nearly) done with the task of shortlisting the books nominated in the 2016 INSPY Awards, the advisory board is pleased to introduce you to our 2017 panels of judges. We now hand the job of choosing the winning novel over to them. The INSPY Advisory Board thanks each and every applicant for their enthusiasm and is thrilled to announce the judges for 2017. The shortlists  are coming your way. They will be announced on April 30! Once our judges receive their respective books, they then have the task of narrowing the list from five novels to the one worthy of the 2017 INSPY in each category.

We enthusiastically welcome these judges and thank them for their time and service.

Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense Judges

Becky Ritta is a thirty-something single girl from small town Nebraska. She’s been a voracious reader ever since the moment she realized c-a-t spelled “cat.” By day, she teaches journalism and manages the website and social media accounts for a Christian high school. By night, she reads, blogs, experiments with gluten free baking, and binge watches ’90s TV shows. Becky began blogging on MySpace back in 2006; in 2008 she moved over to Christian Chick’s Thoughts  and posted her first book review. She loves interacting with authors and other book lovers, and her favorite part of reviewing is discovering great new (or new-to-her) authors.

___________

Karen Weido, Ting’s Mom Books, fantasizes about a place where her task list only includes sitting in the sunshine and reading books. But since that is not a reality, she spends her days juggling wife and mom duties while squeezing in books any chance she can. Karen has been writing Christian fiction reviews since early 2014, and loves discovering new authors and characters. Outside of her blog, you can find Karen on her other addiction – Instagram. There she shares her adventures with her husband, two children, one dog, and lots of books. Karen and her family live in South Arkansas.

___________

Bree Herron is the blogger of Bibliophile Reviews. A mom to a young daughter and a student working on her second Bachelors, Bree finds reading to be her relaxation. Books are a source of inspiration and happiness, giving her mind a break from the studying, and every day life. A passion for reading is one that Bree intends to hand down to her daughter, books are the future of our present.


 Historical Romance Judges

Annie LOVES books – the look, the feel, the smell and the words. She’s an avid reader turned blogger reviewer. She dabbled at sharing her thoughts on her blog, Just Commonly for years (very sporadically), and only since 2015 have she focused on reviewing what she loves best, BOOKS! A widely known book nerd, once you get her started on a book, she might talk your ear off until you just had to get your own copy. She’s a big fan of all Christian fiction, as well as books in the Young Adult, Middle Grade and even Kids Fiction genre. She’ll test out recipes from cookbooks and share thoughts from biographies to books on nutrition, spiritual help or just any book that struck her fancy. Being a speed reader, she’s happy to be able to immerse herself in more books than normal. Next to reading, her other interests includes spending time with friends and family, eating and somehow challenge her non-existent athletic abilities to improve (tremendously) her tennis and golf game.

Annie is proud to be one of the founding stewards of the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat. Christian Fiction Readers Retreat (CFRR) is a one day event gathering of Christian Fiction readers and authors, 2016 being its inaugural year. The event’s theme is “Honoring God through Christian Fiction” and will feature speaker sessions, author panels, breakout sessions, prayer & worship and author signings.

___________

Maggie Boyd has been an avid reader since the second grade when she discovered the riveting Billy and Blaze books. She found out about Inspirational romance in seventh grade and has been hooked ever since. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two sons and when she isn’t reading she is often writing about reading at either Heroes and Heartbreakers or All About Romance.  The things she looks for in a novel are originality, whimsy and a soul deep connection between the hero and heroine.

Maggie is an active member of her church Care Ministry team as well as being part of the meals ministry. The book she has read cover to cover most often is the Bible and she collects prayer journals and bible studies at an alarming rate.

___________

Beth Erin is a Christian fiction enthusiast, book reviewer, and blogger. She strives to edify and connect with readers and authors through her blog and on social media. Beth is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories.

Beth lives with her husband and their four children in a close-knit rural southern Illinois farming community. They love their laid back lifestyle and small country church family. When she isn’t reading, Beth enjoys indulging in a favorite show or movie with her family, completing DIY projects with her husband, and seeing the country on long family road trips. She blogs at Faithfully Bookish.


General Fiction Judges

Kristi Morgan works in retail management but my passion is reading. I have been reading since before I started kindergarten and always have a book with me. I love to blog about the books I’ve read and will talk books with anyone who will listen. I live in Indiana with my husband of 23 years and our spoiled rotten Sheltie and two equally spoiled cats.
___________
Carrie Schmidt is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Carrie lives in Kentucky with her husband Eric and their quirky dog Zuzu and is a co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat. She blogs at Reading is my Superpower.
 ___________
Alyssa Washburn is born and raised in the West, but Southern at heart. Alyssa currently lives in the mountains of Northern California amidst Gold Rush country and former Maidu and Miwok territory. She began her reading journey with Nancy Drew and the Lord of the Rings at an early age, and never turned back. Alyssa also loves to write, classic films, music and all things vintage. She’s also very involved in her church as a Sunday School Teacher. She has a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Pro-Life Movement, Politics, Personal Freedom, and an advocate against Human Sex Trafficking. Alyssa is also an amateur Genealogist and has found her ancestry to have everything and the kitchen sink. Her stories are a mixture of truth and happily ever afters because this world could use more happily ever afters.

Literature for Young People Judges

Katie is an avid book lover who can never seem to have enough books. The stacks around the house prove it. Along with reading, Katie has been blogging for 5 years about Christian Fiction at Too2017 Judge Katie Read or Not Too Read and can’t wait for another 5 years. Reading hasn’t always been easy, having been diagnosed with dyslexia, but with a determined teacher-mother and 8 years of homeschooling, Katie was able to graduate high school with a college reading level. Now in her early 30’s, she has a preteen daughter to share the love of reading with. Along with blogging, Katie is a library assistant. Books are in every aspect of life!

___________

2017 INSPYs Judge RachelRachel is a stay at home mom who LOVES to read. She enjoys good (clean) books of all kinds. However, she has a soft spot for historical fiction. There is something magical that can only be found between the covers a book. Her desire is to share that piece of magic with you.

Rachel has been reviewing books since 2014 and simply adores being immersed in the bookish world. Her husband and 2 beautiful children are her life and joy. Among the 500 things she does a day, she somehow still finds time to read. She blogs at Bookworm Mama.

___________

Tressa has been an avid reader her whole life. She grew up listening to her parents read the classics, which started her love for story-book worlds, especially the various challenges of characters and their happily-ever-after endings. She blogs about her love of books at Wishful Endings and is a tour co-host at Prism Book Tours. Outside of blogging, she’s active in her church, a total Marvel geek, Austen lover, has way too many hobbies, and enjoys hanging with the family (husband, four kiddos, and pup).


Mystery / Thriller Judges

Elizabeth Olmedo loves all things books. Whether reading or writing, she spends most of her waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours lost deep in the world of fiction, especially if they belong to the mystery, suspense, and/or romance genres. To feed her addiction, Elizabeth reviews books for Fiction Addict and Radiant Lit, as well as on her personal blog.

Elizabeth lives in Spain with her dog, Ari, and works as a freelance writer, editor, and social media specialist. When she isn’t reading, Elizabeth also enjoys writing, watching movies, and cooking (often while listening to an audiobook).

You can connect with Elizabeth on Facebook and Twitter, or find her on Eli’s Novel Reviews.

___________Jessica Baker

Jessica Baker is an avid reader from Cooperstown, NY. When she’s not busy working as a mortgage lender, wife and mother, she runs A Baker’s Perspective blog. It is here that she shares her love of books with others. Jessica is the leader of the young youth group at church and enjoys spending time with her church family.

___________

Born only a few miles from where Jesse James robbed his first train, Rachel Kovaciny has loved the Old West all her life. She now lives in Virginia with her husband and their three homeschooled children. In her free time, Rachel writes, reads, blogs, bakes, watches movies, and daydreams.

 


Speculative Fiction Judges

Ian Acheson’s debut novel, Angelguard, is available in the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK. This is the first release in the Angelguard Chronicles, a series of speculative fiction novels that explore the interconnection of the spiritual and physical worlds and the power of prayer. Ian reads a lot, and a lot, and a lot more. He reads widely in fiction, non-fiction, magazines, web and newspapers. He’s been telling and writing stories for most of his life since early childhood.

When Ian’s not writing he’s a professional strategy consultant having been in the Corporate world for the past 25 years. He brings some of this experience into his stories. He’s lives in Sydney, Australia, and shares life with his wife, Fiona, two adult sons and one gorgeous daughter-in-law. In addition, they have two adored dogs that keep them active. This will be Ian’s third year as an INSPY judge and he’s excited about getting his hands on the shortlisted finalists.

___________

Michelle R. Wood is a professional freelancer in theatre and web development. Her education included studies in Theatre and English, including classes in London and an internship with Walt Disney World. When not working backstage or on a computer, she continues to enjoy reading, a habit she learned at a tender age from her bookworm mother. Michelle’s personal musings and book reviews can be found at her blog, Distractions of Grandeur (www.woodmr.net/blog). She is honoured and excited to return as a judge in the speculative fiction category for her fourth time.

___________

Meagan Myhren-Bennett developed an early love of reading growing up in a family where books were the gift of choice. And when you move often books quickly become one of your best friends. This love was the perfect excuse to become both a reviewer and a librarian.

When not at the library, she can be found at home, which is a small farm in rural Northwest Central Wisconsin, spending time with her family or reading with some of the family’s 15 dogs, of which 13 are dachshunds who   

Meagan also leads the Page Turner’s Book Discussion Group in Bloomer, which is a monthly themed book club  Where she’s more than willing to help other readers discover her favourite authors.

This is Meagan’s third time serving as an INSPY judge and another great excuse to pick up her next great read. You can connect with her on her blog Blooming with Books, Facebook, or Twitter.

Judging Applications for the 2017 INSPY Awards are Now Open!

Not only are we turning the page on a new month – happy March 1st! – we’re thrilled to announce the 2017 INSPYs judging applications are now open. Bloggers, you can now apply to be a 2017 judge! We’re so excited you share an interest in the Inspy’s with us. Without you, this program wouldn’t work and we value your time, enthusiasm, individual perspective and dedication to these awards for the month-and-a-half you will be reading and critiquing the shortlisted novels with fellow judges. Before applying, we do ask that you carefully consider what is involved in judging and understand what you are agreeing to.

We have some upfront simple criteria that must be met:

• You must be a blogger.
• You must provide a link to a recent book review you’ve written.
• You must agree to our statement of faith. We are looking for judges who are people of the Christian faith.
• You must be willing to obtain all of the books if necessary.
• You must agree to read all five shortlisted books by June 14 and participate in an online discussion with the other judges to determine the winner.
• You agree not to blog/tweet/Facebook about the shortlisted books as you are reading them or discussing them. After the winners are announced, you are welcome to blog about them.

The judging for the INSPYs takes place in two stages.

First Stage Once the period for book nominations has closed, the INSPYs Advisory Board will review the nominations and create a shortlist for each category of five books each.  This will be a collaborative process and every effort will be made to read at least a sampling of every book nominated.

Second Stage The shortlists will then be passed onto the preselected judges.  All judges must be bloggers with some book reviewing experience.  These judges will consider the books and select the winner.

For more information on who and what we will be looking for in a judge and the application form, please visit our 2017 application page to apply.

We are so excited to find a fabulous panel of judges and look forward to working with you!

We will accept applications (via the application form) through March 31, 2017. Judges will be announced April 15, 2017 (and shortlists will be announced April 30).

INSPYs 2017 | Nominating Changes and Reminders

INSPYs 2017 Nomination ChangesGood afternoon, readers. Today we have an amendment to our nomination process to announce and some helpful reminders to reiterate.

Earlier this month, we announced one of the changes to our Advisory Board. We said goodbye to a longtime board member, Stacy Millican and welcomed new member, Kara Boone. You can read more about this in our official statement.

Today we’re addressing new nomination changes. This year we are integrating Indie novels into our nomination process. We’re excited to open our nominations to the talented publishing world of independent novels, which has experienced rapid growth. Same as with all of our categories and nominations, there are some rules we ask nominators to apply to their nominations.

Rules Specific to INDIE Novels:

+ In order to be eligible for nomination, an INDIE novel must have a minimum 50 reviews on Goodreads.

+ INDIE books must have a four-star rating average on Goodreads.

+ The popular vote rule still applies; the top 15 novels from each category will constitute our longlists.

As an overview reminder, here is our book criteria (which applies to ALL nominations).

-The book must have been published in print in the United States between January 1st, 2016 and December 31st, 2016. Print books that were first released as eBooks prior to 2016 are ineligible.

-Reissues and eBooks are not eligible.

-The book must possess exceptional literary qualities including but not limited to: innovative, original writing, and depth of characterization.

-The book must respectfully grapple with some element of the Christian faith.

-The book must not have excessive profanity or explicit sex scenes.

Our categories are as follows:

Debut Novel: A debut novel (by a debut author) from any of the categories that is of exemplary literary quality. Unlike other categories, debut novels will be judged by the Advisory Board. Debut novels may also be nominated in their respective categories.

General Fiction: Realistic stories set in historical or contemporary settings that do not have plots with a central romance. This category may include literary and women’s fiction.

Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense: The romance category encompasses all romantic contemporary and suspense subgenres, with the exception of speculative romance. In order to be classified as a contemporary romance, the novel must be set in 1960 to the present. The plot must have a central love story that commonly ends in a happily ever after.

Historical Romance: Any novel set prior to 1960 that includes a plot with a central love story usually ending in a happily ever after. May include elements of suspense and includes all subgenres, such as biblical fiction.

Speculative Fiction: A story with fantastical elements (this includes science fiction, fantasy, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, magical mysticism and alternate history). Middle grade and up.

Mystery & Thriller: Fast paced, action driven stories or mysteries, usually with a clearly defined hero against an evil villain. Includes cozy mysteries, police procedurals, legal thrillers, detective stories, gothic mysteries, historical mysteries, espionage, suspense, crime fiction, psychological thrillers, medical thrillers, and political thrillers.

Literature for Young Adults: Fiction books of any genre, with the exception of speculative fiction, written with a target audience of 13- to 19-year-olds.

You may nominate an Indie novel in any of the seven categories listed above. We ask that you please make note of the following criteria before nominating.

Below are a few reminders and refreshers which apply to ALL nominations. Please read through them carefully before you nominate your favorite books on December 27th.

+ When nominating a Debut Novel, please remember, this category is set aside for first-time authors. You can discover an author’s first publication by visiting their respective website or Goodreads page.

+ We reserve the right to move a book to a different category if we deem its nomination is in an inappropriate category.

+ Every nominator is allowed only one book per category.

+ Same as with INDIE novels, the popular vote rule is still in effect no matter the book; the top 15 novels from each category will constitute our longlists.

Nominations open December 27th. We look forward to discovering the books you loved in 2016.

INSPYs 2017 | Advisory Board Changes

INSPYs.com 2017
2017 begins the seventh year for the INSPYs Awards. Seven years ago, this journey began with a group of talented bloggers who led the way for so many of us in this blogging community.

As we roll towards December, the 2017 awards are entering a new season. This means changes accompany the start of a new year. One of these changes is bittersweet.

It’s with a sense of regret and gratefulness we adjust to saying goodbye to one of our veteran board members. The Advisory Board loses a champion in Stacy Millican. We graciously thank Stacy for her years of service and enthusiastic insight, and most of all, for sharing these talents with us. We wish her all the best as she focuses on personal commitments and pursues other projects.

On the heels of this goodbye, we are pleased to welcome new board member, Kara Boone. Kara has been a tireless champion of authors, fiction and book blogging since 2012. Her blog, Flowers of Quiet Happiness, is a testament to her vibrant personality and love of this community. We welcome Kara with excitement, and look forward to the perspective and valuable wisdom she will bring to the Advisory Board.

You can read more about Kara on our Advisory Board page. Please join us in welcoming her.

We will also be making nomination changes. An official announcement will be made in the coming weeks.

2016 INSPY Award Winners

INSPYs 2016-INSPY Winners Feature

Following careful consideration, our incredible judging panels chose the 2016 INSPYs award winners in our seven respective categories. Following months of reading (by the Advisory Board and later, our judging panels), planning, author interviews and emails in access, the INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce the 2016 INSPY Award Winners.

Below are the seven winning novels in their respective categories and a statement from our judges on the reason why they felt it was worth the award…


CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE / ROMANTIC SUSPENSEBook - The Dandelion Field

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer: In a category full of wonderful contemporary romances, we had a tough choice to make! Ultimately though, The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer stood out from the rest with its character growth and true-to-life issues as well as the author’s expressive way with words. Each character in the story was intriguing – from Gin and her daughter Raine, to firefighter Dan and Raine’s boyfriend Cody, to Dan’s big crazy family, Cody’s mom Evie, and even Gin’s coworkers. The romance between Dan and Gin was sweet and built slowly (but not too slowly), and the obstacles between them felt genuine, rather than just thrown in to create conflict. The relationship between Cody and Raine also felt real and sincere. Throughout this novel, Springer deftly dealt with true-to-life issues like single parenthood, teen pregnancy, poverty, and judgment within the church, showing how God can work through the hard things in life to bring healing and beauty. Really, that “realness” is what makes The Dandelion Field a perfect expression of the Inspy Awards’ mission statement, and it’s why we chose it for the 2016 award for Contemporary Romance.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH KATHRYN SPRINGER

DEBUT FICTION

JadedJaded by Varina Denman: Representing the best in debut fiction, Varina Denman’s Jaded is a complex contemporary novel that goes against the security most in its genre exhibit. The faith issues it wrestles with, the efficient snapshot of small-town living, and the quiet yet meaningful prose collide to create a story with depth. The romance is refreshing, not because of the opposition it presents, but because of the characters. Its heroine, Ruthie is a beautifully flawed and relatable character, whose fall from grace makes the lessons of forgiveness impacting, a theme that will stay with the reader long after the final page.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH VARINA DENMAN

GENERAL FICTION

Book - Secrets She KeptOur panel chose Secrets She Kept as winner of the General Fiction INSPY award for its deep emotional impact and for the subtly powerful way its theme of forgiveness is threaded into the story. We loved the way the dual timelines interwove and built on each other as secrets from the past were gradually revealed to modern day characters and to readers. Gohlke’s vivid storytelling and close attention to historical detail immersed us in the historical time period with Lieselotte, even as we discovered with Hannah just how profound an impact the past can have on the present. We found the lead characters endearing, and gladly cheered them on – Hannah toward self-discovery and a better understanding of her mother, and Lieselotte in her perseverance in following her conscience despite danger, betrayal, and hardship. The story as a whole impressed us all, and we are delighted to give the INSPY to this title.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH CATHY GOHLKE

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Through-Waters-DeepThrough Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin: Through Waters Deep was an inspiring story about two individuals who learn that they’re stronger together while trusting in God than they are going it alone. Loveable characters, some suspense and danger, an historical setting the comes alive, sweet inspirational moments, and a romance that builds from friendship, all combine to make a masterly woven story that is engaging from beginning to end. Perfect for Historical Christian Romance readers!Book - An Uncertain Choice

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH SARAH SUNDIN

LITERATURE FOR YOUNG ADULTS

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund: An Uncertain Choice stands out with a breathlessly tangible medieval setting, vividly described characters that are constructed in such a way that invites readers to know them better with every page. The writing, the characters, and the romance; every nook and cranny of An Uncertain Choice was flawless! Every page is a masterpiece of relatable storytelling as expressed through its impactful POV. Beyond its beautiful prose, An Uncertain Choice boasts a delicious romance, with three dreamy and chivalrous knights (!).The novel has everything and more any reader could want in the YA historical, or any fictional world, genre!

Book - The Bones will SpeakMYSTERY / THRILLER

The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks: We chose The Bones Will Speak because it draws readers in from the very beginning. Opening a suspense novel should involve a riveting and twisting plot that will hold reader’s attention until the final page. The Bones Will Speak provided just that. Its suspense is top notch, but the main character Gwen Marcey is what keeps us flipping the pages. The nail-biting suspense keeps readers engaged and the shroud of mystery surrounding the real culprit keeps the whodunit a guessing game. Fine writing, complex characterization and a great story make this book a winner.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH CARRIE STUART PARKS

SPECULATIVE FICTION

9780764213465The Shock of Night by Patrick Carr: This novel seamlessly combined the best of fantasy and mystery to create a unique story all its own. The complex tale described a world very much like our own: a nation grown complacent in its undeserved blessings, flawed characters who sometimes failed despite their good intentions, and yet, also, the redemptive work of God through his servants. The protagonist is a man mired by doubts and fears but unbroken by the darkness around and within him. Instead, he pours his heart out in honest, broken prayer, and takes the example of his Lord to heart by striving against the odds to bring good into a world that often does not recognize it. Engulfing twists, delightful wit, and authentic discussions of tough moral quandaries make The Shock of the Night a book not to be missed.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH PATRICK W. CARR


We’d like to thank our judges for their hard work and careful consideration of each title.

Congratulations to the winners and all the nominated authors! 

Announcement: Amendment to 2016 Debut Shortlist

2016 debut category

Dear Readers and Authors,

The Advisory Board wishes to apologize for an error in the Debut Category on the 2016 Shortlist. After announcing the finalists, it was brought to our attention that one of the authors nominated did not qualify for the Debut Category and had to be eliminated from contention. Consequently, the Debut Category will be comprised of four shortlisted titles this year instead of five.

The Advisory Board assumes full responsibility for this oversight and offers our sincerest apologies for the confusion and error. We verify each nomination during the longlist open nomination process; with the increase in participation this year, we made a mistake.

The Inspy Awards would not be possible without your involvement. We appreciate your understanding and continued support.

With heartfelt apologies,

The Inspy Awards Advisory Board

2016 Shortlists Announced

Office Desk (2)

As many of you will remember, there were significant changes made to our awards at the beginning of our 2016 program year. Despite this, the INSPYs program saw an increased number of nominations this year. We thank you so much for understanding our need to change and evolve as we strive to create a program that is considerate of the many wonderful novels written in this genre. We experienced an incredible show of support for the INSPY program yet again. 

Multiple book deliveries later coupled with juggling multiple time zones, and our respective schedules, the Inspy Awards Advisory Board is thrilled to (finally) announce the 2016 shortlist contenders. As each year does, another daunting task was placed before us to pick just 5 books in each category from a long list nominated by readers and bloggers around the world. After careful consideration and deliberation, the INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce that the following books have been shortlisted in the 6th annual INSPY Awards. 

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE/ROMANTIC SUSPENSE 

Contemporary Collage

London Tides (David C. Cook) by Carla Laureano

The Dandelion Field (Zondervan) by Kathryn Springer

Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Howard) by Beth K. Vogt

A Love Like Ours (Bethany House) by Becky Wade

The Wonder of You (Tyndale House) by Susan May Warren

 DEBUT FICTION

2016 debut category

**UPDATE: Please refer to this post**

The Thorn Bearer (Vinspire Publishing) by Pepper D. Basham

Jaded (David C. Cook) by Varina Denman

A Noble Masquerade (Bethany House) by Kristi Ann Hunter

Irish Meadows (Bethany House) by Susan Anne Mason

GENERAL FICTION 

General Collage

A Cup of Dust (Kregel) by Susie Finkbeiner

The Art of Losing Yourself (Waterbrook Press) by Katie Ganshert

Secrets She Kept (Tyndale House) by Cathy Gohlke

Water From My Heart (Center Street) by Charles Martin

The Brontë Plot (Thomas Nelson) by Katherine Reay

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Historical Collage

The Wood’s Edge (WaterBrook) by Lori Benton

Not by Sight (Bethany House) by Kate Breslin

The Mistress of Tall Acre (Revell) by Laura Frantz

Luther and Katharina (Waterbrook Press) by Jody Hedlund

Through Waters Deep (Revell) by Sarah Sundin

MYSTERY AND THRILLER

Mystery Collage

The Last Con (Thomas Nelson) by Zachary Bartels

A.D. 33 (Center Street) by Ted Dekker

Vendetta (Revell) by Lisa Harris

Falcon (Shiloh Run Press) by Ronie Kendig

The Bones Will Speak (Thomas Nelson) by Carrie Stuart Parks

LITERATURE FOR YOUNG ADULTS 

YA Collage

Season of Fire (Blink) by Lisa T. Bergren

Shades of Doon (Blink) by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

The Choosing (Tyndale House) by Rachelle Dekker

An Uncertain Choice (Zondervan) by Jody Hedlund

Siren’s Fury (Thomas Nelson) by Mary Weber

SPECULATIVE FICTION

Speculative Collage

The Methuselah Project (Kregel) by Rick Barry

Heir of Hope (Enclave Publishing) by Morgan L. Busse

The Shock of Night (Bethany House) by Patrick W. Carr

The Curse of Crow Hollow (Thomas Nelson) by Billy Coffey

Embers (Enclave Publishing) by Ronie Kendig


Congratulations to all of the nominated authors and shortlist contenders! We now turn the job over to our judges to select a winner in each category. Winners will be announced June 28th.

Download Press Release here.

2016 Judges

Computer and Desk3Now that the advisory board is (nearly) done with the task of shortlisting the books nominated in the 2016 INSPY Awards, the advisory board is pleased to introduce you to our 2016 panels of judges. We now hand the job of choosing the winning novel over to them. The INSPY Advisory Board thanks each and every applicant for their enthusiasm and is thrilled to announce the judges for 2016. The shortlists will be announced on April 30 and once these judges receive their respective books, they then have the task of narrowing the list from five novels to the one worthy of the 2016 INSPY in each category.

We welcome these judges and thank them for their service.

Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense Judges

AnnieAnnie LOVES books – the look, the feel, the smell and the words. She’s an avid reader turned blogger reviewer. She dabbled at sharing her thoughts on her blog, Just Commonly for years (very sporadically), and only since 2015 have she focused on reviewing what she loves best, BOOKS! A widely known book nerd, once you get her started on a book, she might talk your ear off until you just had to get your own copy. She’s a big fan of all Christian fiction, as well as books in the Young Adult, Middle Grade and even Kids Fiction genre. She’ll test out recipes from cookbooks and share thoughts from biographies to books on nutrition, spiritual help or just any book that struck her fancy. Being a speed reader, she’s happy to be able to immerse herself in more books than normal. Next to reading, her other interests includes spending time with friends and family, eating and somehow challenge her non-existent athletic abilities to improve (tremendously) her tennis and golf game.

Becky Ritta

Becky Ritta is a thirty-something single girl from small town Nebraska. She’s been a voracious reader ever since the moment she realized c-a-t spelled “cat.” By day, she teaches journalism and manages the website and social media accounts for a Christian high school. By night, she reads, blogs, experiments with gluten free baking, and binge watches ’90s TV shows.

Becky began blogging on MySpace back in 2006; in 2008 she moved over to Christian Chick’s Thoughts  and posted her first book review. She loves interacting with authors and other book lovers, and her favorite part of reviewing is discovering great new (or new-to-her) authors.

Carrie SchmidtINSPYSCarrie Schmidt (aka MeezCarrie) is an avid reader, a book reviewer, a story addict, a KissingBooks fan and a book boyfriend collector. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Her passion in blogging/reviewing is to connect readers with a new favorite author or book, especially in the Christian fiction genre. Carrie lives in central Kentucky with her hubby Eric and their quirky dog Zuzu and is the long distance cool aunt to nine nieces and nephews. When she’s not reading or reviewing or “cool-aunting”, Carrie teaches English as a Second/Other Language to international adults. Learn more about Carrie at Reading is My Superpower.


Historical Romance Judges

Alyssa-Faith Washburn lives in the mountains of Northern California amidst Gold Rush country and former Maidu and Miwok territory. She began her reading journey with Nancy Drew and the Lord of the Rings at an early age, and never turned back. Alyssa also loves to write, classic films, music and all things vintage. She’s also very involved in her church as a Sunday School Teacher. She has a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Pro-Life Movement, Politics, Personal Freedom, and an advocate against Human Sex Trafficking. Alyssa is an amateur Genealogist and has found her ancestry to have everything and the kitchen sink. Her stories are a mixture of truth, social issues and happily ever afters, because this world needs more happily ever afters. Éirinn go Brách (Clan O’Neill).

0Hayden Wand is a Christian, author, and college student who loves mysteries, musicals, and period dramas. She began blogging in 2010 as a way to share her love of reading and classic literature (and also to inquire if there was anyone else out there who loved The Scarlet Pimpernel). The piles of books stacked under her bed range from Christian fiction and Young Adult sci-fi to obscure Victorian novels and an 800-page biography of George Washington. She pens book reviews at A Tree, A Book, and a Breeze and blogs about everything else at A Singular and Whimsical Problem.

Tressa has been an avid reader her whole life. She grew up listening to her parents read such classics as C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, Robert Louis Copy of Blog ProfileStevenson’s Treasure Island and Kidnapped, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, among others. She developed a love for the inspirational and happily-ever-after aspects  of Christian Fiction as an adult and busy mother. She also reads in the Young Adult and sweet Romance genres. Tressa blogs at Wishful Endings and is a tour co-host at Prism Book Tours. Outside of blogging and reading, she is active in her church and spends most of her time with her husband, four children, and spoiled puppy. She also enjoys watching movies, cooking, playing racquetball, gardening, sewing, and crafting when she can fit them in.


General Fiction Judges

Amy MAmy M has been enthusiastic about reading for as long as she can remember. She has a deep love of history and literature and reads both fiction and nonfiction. She enjoys sharing her love of Christ, books, and reading on her blog, Building Life’s Library, and is always happy to connect with authors and fellow readers there. Amy lives in Virginia with her husband and son, where she practices law. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time outdoors with her family.

KarenCollier

Karen Collier writes and reviews Christian fiction, enjoys a good book discussion, and likes to keep an audiobook and an ebook handy at all times. She puts her Master of Library Science degree to use as a substitute librarian for a local public library but spends most days mothering two adorable kids and squeezing in writing and reading time whenever she can. Karen and her husband Dave make their home on a stretch of farmland on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Her full bio, social links, and bookish blog posts can be found at karencollier.com, where she loves to connect with fellow readers.

rosie wilsonRosie Lapp is a writer with a passion for the written word. She blogs at Writings of Rosie, loves to read, writes sometime in between, and is a wife to the most wonderful man on the planet. Recently, she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English from Thomas Edison State University. Rosie strives to glorify God in both word and deed (Col. 3:17), endeavoring to share the Gospel and her love for Christ in all she does. It is her pleasure to endorse Godly fiction as it comes her way, but her greatest joy is to lift up Christ in her writing. Whenever she isn’t busy she likes to curl up on the couch and drink iced tea.

Literature for Young People Judges

alyssa-zech

Alyssa is a wife and SAHM to Baby Girl (3 1/2) and Baby Boy (3 months). She has been reading since before she can remember and devours all kinds of books. Her blog Sunrise Avenue is her home for blogging about all things book related. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, Alyssa can be found blogging, drinking coffee, watching Doctor Who, or hanging with family. Find her also on Instagram or Goodreads.

Bekah Malik is a 21 year old living in the Chicago area, homeschool graduate, and college student pursuing a degree in Liberal Arts. She’s a dreamer and you canBekah M usually find her with her nose in a book, whipping up a batch of cookies, binge-watching Netflix, drinking coffee, or hanging out with her three wonderful sisters. She blogs over at Will Bake for Books, where you can find recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth and book reviews usually of the Christian fiction or Young Adult genres.

IreneIrene Wesley is a Southern born, quiet, book loving, BBC drama kind of girl.

Which means there’s always some sort of grand adventure going on in her world!  She started book blogging a year ago after realizing the joy and opportunity of sharing the love of literature with fellow readers.  And as the story goes, she has embraced it whole heartily ever since.

You can find out more about Irene – plus check out book reviews and other bookish fun – on her blog, A Thought Reflected.


Mystery / Thriller Judges

Beckie Burnham is very happily married 31 years (in June) and the mother of three grown children. She has always loved to read, but alas, the years she chased after11072929_855775971135473_3544893896183617040_n children curtailed her reading time. As the kids became more independent and able to take care of themselves, Beckie restarted her love affair with the written word. Six years ago she began to share her thoughts online with her blog, By The Book. Still energized by nagging, er, encouraging others to read good books, Beckie also leads three book clubs, including an informal group at the local women’s transitional center. When not reading or blogging, she enjoys time with family (still chasing after kids across the country), leading a Bible study and volunteering.

35568_137295162954529_621761_nRebekah Johnson – I am an avid reader. I love ebooks and paper books too. I started my blog Caffeinated Christian Raves – N – Reviews  three years ago to take my love for reading and books to share with others. I have just recently branched out in my reading adventures to include Historical Fiction (Civil War, World War II and The Renaissance Eras) and am finding a whole new adventure in reading. I am have also just started discovering “new” and “new to me” authors too. I am loving my new adventures in reading.  I am also involved in a Christian Ladies Book club and this even expands my love of reading.20160323_112002

Karen Weido is a wife, mom, blogger, avid reader and Instagram addict. Her blog, Ting’s Mom Books, features new releases from various Christian fiction genres, well as non-fiction and children’s books. She also blogs about her family life at Ting’s Mom Blog. Karen lives in South Arkansas with her husband and two children.


Speculative Fiction Judges

19_Ian Acheson_22.05.12_by rasha photography

Ian Acheson’s debut novel, Angelguard, is available in the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK. This is the first release in the Angelguard Chronicles, a series of speculative fiction novels that explore the interconnection of the spiritual and physical worlds and the power of prayer. Ian is busy completing the second in the series.

Ian reads a lot, and a lot, and a lot more. He reads widely in fiction, non-fiction, magazines, web and newspapers. He’s been telling and writing stories for most of his life since early childhood.

When Ian’s not writing he’s a professional strategy consultant having been in the Corporate world for the past 25 years. He brings some of this experience into his stories. He’s lives in Sydney, Australia, and shares life with his wife, Fiona, two adult sons and one gorgeous daughter-in-law. In addition, they have two adored kelpies that keep them active.

This will be Ian’s second year as an INSPY judge and he’s excited about getting his hands on the shortlisted finalists. Ian is also a judge for the three contests offered by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the CALEB Awards that recognize Australia and New Zealand’s best Christian fiction.

You can connect with Ian on his Website,  Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads

Meagan

Meagan Myhren-Bennett developed an early love of reading growing up in a family where books were the gift of choice.  This love was the perfect excuse to become both a reviewer and a librarian.

When not at the library, she can be found at home, which is a small farm in rural Northwest Central Wisconsin, spending time with her family or reading with some of the family’s 13 dachshunds piled on her lap.  

Meagan’s reviews can be found at Blooming with Books (http://BloomingwithBooks.blogspot.com) where her eclectic reading tastes can be fully appreciated.  And she’s more than willing to help other readers discover her favorite authors.

socialMichelle R. Wood has been an avid reader from a very tender age, since her mother first began reading aloud to her. Eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and English, Michelle has worked as an editorial intern, staff writer, blogger, and print/web designer. Her personal musings and book reviews can be found at her blog, Distractions of Grandeur (www.woodmr.net/blog). She is honored and excited to once again serve as a judge in the speculative fiction category, having previously taken part in 2011 and 2014.