The Grace Awards 2017 is now into its eight year. This year, the number of reader nominations kept pouring in and we were eager to count them. We had a record number of novels nominated. Works from major publishers, small publisher, and independent author were nominated.
Grace Awards is a reader driven literary awards. We are “the little engine that could” of Christian fiction awards.
According to the rules, every novel had to have been accompanied by at least a 45+ word statement telling why the story was nominated…a sort of mini-review or critique. This year the reasons given were astute and outstanding. There is no doubt that today’s Christian reader is both intelligent and perceptive.
And now…the finalists in six categories are…
WOMEN’S FICTION/GENERAL FICTION: (serious women’s/men’s, societal issues, can have humor and suspense elements)
GRACE IN STRANGE DISGUISE by Christine Dillon (Amazon Digital Services) ~ Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her. But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small?
WHERE THE SKY MEETS THE SAND by Chris Loehmer Kincaid (Ambassador International) ~ The story of Jenny Neumeyer and Ole, a homeless boy she befriends while she and her husband are on vacation in Kenya. As she comes to terms with a secret in her past, two missionaries to Africa discover discover Ole and are determined to lead him home. Along the way, they realize that the boy is not the only one who is lost.
THE AUSTEN ESCAPE by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson) ~ Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees. Then Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath.
ROMANCE/HISTORICAL ROMANCE: (primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then)
MAGNOLIA STORMS by Janet Ferguson (Southern Sun Press) ~ Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except…she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south—into the storm.
HOLD THE LIGHT by April McGowan (WhiteFire Publishing) ~ Amber spent her life adapting—first to being abandoned by her birth mother as a toddler, and then to the death of her adoptive father in her teen years. Now she’s moved past all that, loving life as an independent woman: she has a job as an art instructor and the perfect apartment. But when a routine eye appointment reveals she’s losing her sight, life comes to a halt. Even after her blindness counselor, Ethan, befriends her and opens her eyes to new opportunities and the possibility of a deeper relationship.
FINDING JOY by Melanie D. Snitker (Dallionz Media) ~ A horrific accident changed everything for Parker Wilson. The beautiful new employee his mom hires is the last thing he needs and he’ll do whatever it takes to make the girl quit and regain the peace and quiet he prefers. Nothing short of desperation would force Chelsea Blake to work on a local cattle ranch. She may not be cut out for ranch life, but her determination to succeed is stronger than her handsome employer’s efforts at forcing her to leave. Unprepared to discover all they have in common, if they set aside their initial dislike, they might find joy beyond measure.
MYSTERY/ROMANTIC SUSPENSE/THRILLER: (crime fiction, probably a body)
MIDSUMMER MADNESS by Barbara E. Brink (Barbara Ellen Brink) ~ When Blake and Shelby Gunner are hired to find a stolen fishing boat, they never expect it will turn into a murder investigation. But after Jack’s dog, Arthur, discovers a stranger’s body in the water not far from the bed & breakfast, the Gunners are pulled in to solve the case. Discovering the man’s identity and why he was in town leads to a murky past with connections to a number of upstanding Port Scuttlebutt citizens. Can Blake and Shelby stop a killer before someone else is pulled beneath the waves of madness?
ANDER’S REDEMPTION by Mary Vee (CreateSpace) ~ A young man with a brain injury but who can do amazing things with dessert is offered a job as a pastry chef in a prestigious restaurant in a village and it comes with an apartment.The longer he stays the more Brice begins to think something is going on. Can Brice figure out the village’s secret before Christmas?
THE HOUSE ON FOSTER HILL by Jaime Jo Wright (Bethany House Publishers) ~ Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.
SPECULATIVE FICTION: (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.)
WINTER QUEEN by Erica Marie Hogan (Elk Lake Publishing) ~ She will bring a storm like none they’ve ever seen … and change the world forever. Five years ago, Roderick Kael murdered King Vihaan Sundragon, claiming the throne of Sunkai and all of Nfaros for himself. Five years ago, the Princesses Adlae, Mirae, and Brae were forced to give up everything they’ve ever known. Five years since the Creator of All allowed winter’s snow to fall. But now the wind stirs with a familiar chill. Winter is coming down from the Ice Mountains, brought by the only one who can wield the storm. The Winter Queen herself.
THE REVISIONARY by Kristen Hogrefe (Write Integrity Press) ~ Nineteen-year-old Portia Abernathy plans to earn a Dome seat and rewrite the Codex rules to rescue her exiled brother. Her journey demands answers from the past civilization, but uncovering the truth means breaking the rules she set out to rewrite. This dystopian story opens in Cube 1519, a ghetto where the only use for obsolete cell phones is to throw them like rocks at mongrels. Portia and her father survive like many other citizens, with no electricity or technology and no expectation for a better life.
WHITE WOLF AND THE ASH PRINCESS by Tammy Lash (Amazon Digital Services) ~ Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when she was injured in a fire. Jonathan Gudwyne rescued her and took Izzy in, but who did she belong to before? Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the young stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property’s rock wall to a world that promises possible answers, but also great danger. A scorched castle in the woods and a mysterious cellar filled with secrets sets Izzy on a path to the New World, where she will not only have to face her own terror but face the people responsible for her scars.
ACTION-ADVENTURE/WESTERN/EPIC FICTION: (exploits, quest, daring, expansive)
THE HEALING HILLS by Ann H. Gabhart (Revell) ~ Francine Howard has her life all mapped out until the WWII soldier she planned to marry tells her he’s in love with a woman in England. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service. Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.
THE RELIANT by Dr. Patrick Johnston (Ambassador International) ~ When the dollar collapses, widespread rioting and looting threaten the peace of a family in Zanesville, Ohio. Eight children tragically lose their parents in the chaos. The oldest, 19-year-old lovesick Sophie, is forced to care for her defenseless and hungry siblings in a stretch of woods surrounded by lawless anarchy. Their father has been killed, and their mother and Adam, Sophie’s fiancé, have gone missing. Running out of food and facing threats from encroaching marauders, they are tempted to doubt God’s love.
AGAINST THE ODDS by V.B. Tenery and David Arp (CBC Publishing) ~ It was the mother of all bad days.The date, September 11, 2012. The place, Benghazi, Libya. While a brave band of warrior’s fight for their lives in the consulate and CIA annex, outside, a Mossad Agent, a missionary, and a Mississippi giant fight a different battle. Caught between terrorist and an enraged Russian arms dealer, they must complete the mission and manage to stay alive until they can escape or tAhe cavalry arrives. Never assume things can’t get worse.
YOUNG ADULT: (including Middle Grade and New Adult)
KNEE-HIGH LIES by Dawn Ford (Splickety Publishing Group) ~ What happens when the lies you tell grow so high you can’t see the truth? To the outside world Avery Denton’s life looks happy, normal even. But it isn’t. Not even close. She believes nothing can make it worse. When her mother skips town with their banker, the small-town gossips focus on her. Jaxson Stewart, Avery’s neighbor and friend, has had a crush on her for years. She makes his heart race, which is dangerous for a boy with a heart condition. Unlike their community, he refuses to hold her mother’s actions against her.
A TRAIL OF CRUMBS by Susie Finkbeiner (Kregel Publications) ~ Spence has been through more in her young life than most folks could handle. Then a devastating tragedy throws the whole family into a tailspin–and signals the beginning of the end of her secure life. Now the Spences are fleeing their Oklahoma wasteland for an unknown life in Depression-era Michigan. Pearl isn’t sure she’ll ever see home or happiness again. Will any trail of crumbs be powerful enough to guide her back to the dependable life she once knew?
MISSION OF A LIFETIME by Priscilla J. Krahn (Ambassador International) ~ A missing airplane . . . Hostile tribes . . . Mysterious kidnappings . . .Responsibility falls upon twenty-one-year-old William Rodriguez when his missionary parents disappear in the hostile jungles of Columbia. Willie knows that he has to go find them, but what will it cost him? When Willie finds himself in the midst of a drug smuggling ring, difficult decisions are thrust upon him. Can he escape his captors before his family is killed? Can he find forgiveness in his heart for the very people who ruined his life or will it only bring back more painful memories? Will he be able to survive the mission of a lifetime?