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