*** I helped judge the Amish category. I bolded the books I have read. ***
December 13, 2010—The INSPY Advisory Board announced today that the following books have been awarded the inaugural INSPYs in their categories. Recognizing the need for a new kind of book award, the INSPYs — http://inspys.com — were created by bloggers to discover and highlight the very best in literature that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith.
The INSPY Award winners are:
Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes, General & Literary Fiction (Tyndale House)
Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans, Creative Nonfiction (Zondervan)
She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell, Historical Fiction (Bethany House)
The Knight by Steven James, Thriller/Suspense/Crime Fiction (Revell)
Green by Ted Dekker, Speculative Fiction (Thomas Nelson)
Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman, Amish Fiction (Thomas Nelson)
Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren, Romance/Romantic Suspense (Summerside)
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr, Young Adult Fiction (Little, Brown)
The 2010 INSPY Awards cover books published from July 2009 through June 2010.
"We on the Advisory Board are really pleased with this year's winners," said Amy Riley, who spearheaded the INSPY's creation. "We're looking forward to building on this year's success in the future." The winner in each category was collectively chosen by a panel of blogger-judges, who were working from a short list of five books.
The Advisory Board collectively expressed their appreciation for the volunteer judges. "We really want to thank our judges for all their time and hard work," Riley said.
The judges in each category explained why they chose the winner they did:
• "Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes focuses on issues we all must face, such as life, death, relationships, and the choices we make when faced with our mortality.… Holmes leaves her characters flawed and human, which makes them extremely relatable."
• In Evolving in Monkey Town, "[Rachel Held] Evans' honesty in telling her faith journey impressed us along with how much her love of the Lord imbued the entire narrative. Interweaving her own tale with the views of people she meets, Evans juxtaposes all of the voices about God in her life."
• In She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell, "a steadfast faith is embedded into the plot seamlessly and not, instead, centered out as a forceful plot device. The novel's inspirational resonance will reach Christian and non-Christian readers alike."
• "The literary skill employed by Steven James creates a story" — The Knight — "that steals the reader’s sleep while also stealing their breath. Creating an unforgettable set of characters who face an unimaginable and escalating series of terrifying crimes, James captures both the imagination and heart of the reader as he spins his tale."
• "The brilliance of Green by Ted Dekker is the fact that it is both the beginning and the end of the series. He did something completely unexpected with the ending of his book, while tackling the Christian faith from a different angle."
• Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman "is perfect for people who have never read Amish fiction before. The story line was interesting and it was easy to get involved with the characters. This book dealt with subject matter not normally found in Amish fiction, which made it a refreshing change."
• "Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren is an epic story that spans a couple decades and takes place on several continents. Warren took us from the Greek Isles to Prohibition-era Chicago, and back again, with enough description to make us feel like we'd lived in both places; she filled the book with rich detail, multi-layered characters, and plot twists we never saw coming."
• In Once Was Lost Sara Zarr "authentically portrays Sam, a pastor’s daughter, grappling with her faith in the midst of personal upheaval and uncertainty. Teens will relate to this excellent and very real book that goes beyond a surface-level exploration of what it means to follow God."
The innovative INSPY Award is designed to help readers in their search for the preeminent faith-inspired literature of today. The INSPYs were created to select and showcase books with the highest literary standards that grapple with the Christian faith. To find these works, the INSPYs net is cast wide, accepting nominations of books aimed at the Christian bookstore market as well as those from the general market.