2013 Winners

The INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce the 2013 INSPY Award Winners:

10092908General Fiction: The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth (Tyndale House Publishers, July 2011)

The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones (Tyndale House, 2011) is a real and compelling story. Many facets of this novel made it shine brighter than the other four fine books in this category: fresh characters, contemporary setting, and the author’s ability to inspire her readers to reach deep into their souls, showing the pain of loss, the turmoil of recovery, and the hope of love. After spending time in Jones’ garden, the reader is left with a new look on faith and life. From the poignant symbolism of its title to the true-to-life issue of faith, The First Gardener exceeds every requirement of the INSPY awards, and we are happy to select it as this year’s winner.

9858514Literature for Young People: With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2011)

With a Name Like Love is a family story with a great plot – a murder to be solved, friendships to resolve, and family decisions to be made – and excellent, heart-grabbing characters. Olivene Love’s daddy is a traveling preacher, as was his daddy before him and his daddy before him, ”all the way back to the time of Moses.” Ollie herself is a good girl, typical oldest child. Ollie’s mama, Susanna Love, is “like living poetry” as she welcomes the people who come to their revival meetings. Ollie’s sisters – the pessimist who gets things done, the daddy look-alike longing to become a preacher like him, the simple-minded but graceful girl who almost has the dictionary memorized, and the eager-to-please baby of the family – fill out this wonderful and down-to-earth family.  Together, the Love family has a character and winsomeness all their own, rivaling other great families of literature such as the the Marches, the Melendys, or the Moffats. With a Name Like Love doesn’t look like much at first, but it is a surprisingly touching – and sometimes tearful – story about family and friends that will appeal to both boys and girls of all ages.

11800313Mystery & Thriller: Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins (B&H Publishing Group,  a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, 2012)

Written in three unique yet strong female voices, Gone to Ground kept us guessing til the end. With a thoroughly engaging plot, realistic action and believable characters, this is a book we would recommend to anyone regardless of genre preferences. Gone to Ground went above and beyond the Inspy guidelines in terms of literary merit, and though it is categorized as “Christian Suspense/Thriller” Gone to Ground is far-reaching in its appeal to any type of reader.

13511401Romance: The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann (Bethany House Publishers a division of Baker Publishing Group, January 2012)

Irrespective of the category The Breath of Dawn was judged by, don’t let that fool you; this novel is much more than just a romance. It’s full of excitement, challenges and a heart-tugging romance that blossoms under the sanctity of marriage. Kristen Heitzmann deftly balances romance, suspense, history and a much-needed spiritual message without letting any element suffer out of respect to another. The romance between Quinn and Morgan is tender, yet blossoms into something more passionate over the course of the story. The growing relationship between our hero and heroine is believable, and assisted by fleshed-out secondary characters who begin to feel like family by the end of the novel. Quinn’s appeal grows when the reader learns that she grew up in a cult-like religious community, introducing a backstory that makes her all the more relatable. The discussion of the community is a bold move on Heitzmann’s part, but it is dealt with in a manner that is neither derogatory or sounds like a sermon. The spiritual message in The Breath of Dawn organically grows out of the story, tying all of these elements together to produce a well-rounded, satisfying story.

14291950Speculative Fiction: Soul’s Gate by James L Rubart (Thomas Nelson Publishers, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, April 2012)

We chose Soul’s Gate from a strong and diverse field.  James L. Rubart boldly takes on the unseen world of angels and demons in a very imaginative way in regards to their interaction with Christians. This mysterious and uplifting novel takes readers into a world this is often ignored by humans: the spiritual world all around us. The novel quickly engages the reader, which makes it difficult to set the book down. The author carefully works in fresh ideas about Christian living and the way we live our lives in relation to God and with others. The well-developed characters are motivating, varied and passionate. Soul’s Gate ends in a positive way that will engage and intrigue a far reaching and wide audience. The best news is this is just book one from his Well Spring series!


Congratulations to the winners and all the nominated authors! 

INSPY 2013 Winners Press Release PDF