Grace Awards

Expanding the Tent Pegs of Christian Fiction

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Grace Awards 2016 Winners ~ in Faith Based Fiction

Grace Awards Badge 2016The Grace Awards, a reader driven awards and the most democratic awards in Christian fiction, now in its seventh year, is very proud to announce its 2016 WINNERS. This year we had an array of widely diverse judges. They are multi-published authors, traditionally published ones, indie authors, and avid readers. Our judges commented on how pleased they were with the high quality of the finalists chosen by readers this year. Several judging teams ‘complained’ they had trouble picking a winner because all three stories nominated were so good. This only serves to justify the faith we have in our Christian readers who nominate the finalists. That’s what the Grace Awards is all about.

We’ve tried to use, if you will, a separation of powers in choosing our winners. Readers nominated (via email) the finalists in six categories. After the nominations were counted, finaling titles were given to our judging teams. From that point on there was no contact between the judging teams and the Chair of the Board, except for administrative issues. The teams independently picked winners. Each step in the process was removed and separated from the next step, to insure impartiality.

We are thrilled that our winners showcase self-published works as well as titles from  publishing houses, ebooks as well as paperbacks. Our aim is to be an egalitarian award, and we believe we’ve accomplished this.

The winners are…

Women’s Fiction/General Fiction: serious women’s or men’s issues, can have humor and suspense element

You Are The Cream In My Coffee

YOU ARE THE CREAM IN MY COFFEE by Jennifer Lamont Leo (Smitten Historical Romance) ~ The author has a lively writing voice and captivated the judges’ attention from the start. Set in the roaring twenties era, YOU’RE THE CREAM IN MY COFFEE was fresh and fun as small town girl, Marjorie Corrigan, is swept into the frenzied world of 1928 Chicago. The story has the usual cast of characters, stepmother, the hometown love and the exciting new man. We found ourselves rooting for Marjorie to follow her dreams yet fearful that she would succumb to the vices of the day. For a young woman who had sworn that coffee was the strongest drink that would pass her lips, the temptations were real. The author adroitly illustrated how easily we can let our guard down on the little things until we end up on the roof of a speakeasy being raided by the authorities. Jennifer Leo didn’t force the action but allowed it to evolve with interesting twists and she totally sold the story.

Romance/Historical Romance: primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then

A Reluctant Melody

A RELUCTANT MELODY  by Sandra Ardoin (Heritage Beacon Fiction) ~ This beautiful story appeals to the heart. Though it started out slowly, we were never bored, but intrigued by the unfolding narrative, the promise of secrets to be revealed. We were soon gripped by the suspense, action, and strong undercurrent of romance, and drawn into the lives of the central characters. Though the subject matter is definitely mature, dealing with alcoholism, premarital sex, and spousal abuse, the writer keeps it clean. The interwoven spirituality inspires and encourages. We were very pleased with the ending—it’s not tied up in a pretty little bow—almost like real life.

Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense: crime fiction, there’s probably a body

Much Ado About Murder

MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER by Barbara Ellen Brink (Lapdog Publishing) ~ is a well-written, entertaining cozy mystery. The characters are believable and feel like people you might know in your own town. Blake and Shelby are charming main characters, just the right mix of strengths and weaknesses to keep the pace moving and the plot plausible. Alice and Tucker provide a light, romantic thread while Jack and Oliver add a touch of humor. The setting is presented well and the mystery progresses at a steady pace that keeps the pages turning.

Speculative Fiction: science fiction, horror, fantasy, etc.

The Alliance

THE ALLIANCE by Jolina Petersheim (Tyndale House Publishers) ~ This was a very enjoyable book. The use of literary techniques, together with strong, well-developed characters and an engaging premise, made for an interesting read. Unlikely partners were forced to form an “alliance’ of necessity, forcing readers to ask the question, “Would I be able to preserve my core values when faced with horror on every side?” This story expertly demonstrates the struggles that Christians face between religious traditional practice and selfless, Christ-like spirituality. While dystopian in presentation, the author’s focus was on the budding relationship between the two mismatched main characters. The book exemplifies the difficulty in maintaining human dignity despite destruction and possible death. A sequel is anticipated.

Action Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction: exploits, quest, expansive

Imperfect Bonds

IMPERFECT BONDS by Elizabeth Noyes (Write Integrity Press) ~ This novel  struck us as having well-formed, even complicated characters. They could be moody, funny, full of snap and wit, and sometimes just confused, like most people. The set up was immediate, and the sense of danger quickly drew us into the story. There were plenty of twists that kept us entertained and easily turning the pages. Likewise, good rising and falling action kept the plot moving forward, and the romance was smoldering without actually going anywhere beyond a kiss. The book was written from a clean and Christian world view without becoming preachy, and we liked that the main characters were on both spiritual and personal journeys. The theme of fighting human trafficking and the hunt for the bad guys made for an engaging, modern day western read.

Young Adult: includes YA, NA, and middle grade

No Safe Haven

NO SAFE HAVEN by Angela Moody (Amazon Digital Services) is a well-researched, well thought out, based on true events, historical novel for young people. A truly enjoyable book, especially to Civil War buffs. The history and spirituality of Tillie was naturally woven into the story. The war was made very real to the reader: people started out excited, but that excitement dwindled as loved ones were lost and battles were fought at home. Many young people are unaware of what our country has gone through in the past and just how gruesome and heartbreaking it was for the families who lived in the war zones and had sons and husbands off fighting often without communication for months at a time.  It was enjoyable watching Tillie grow and mature as a young woman, facing whatever came her way, even things that were out of her control. She stood up to do what was right and grew spiritually because of that.

 

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Hey! It’s a “Beach Book Bash”

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Lazing by the pool, taking in the delish aromas at a BBQ, perhaps  in the park for a summer picnic, reclining on a blanket at the beach, sitting in an air conditioned room with your e-reader, or maybe you’re under the boardwalk…take these fantastic, sizzling, compelling, inspiring summer reads with you.

 

MARCY G. DYER

Set in the hot west Texas summertime, DOWN & OUT is a fun summer beach novel. It has thrills, laughs, and love. For the scary thrills part of the book, you’ll want the bright sunshine of a beach….As one reviewer said, “Books have to make me react in some way. Whether it be a laugh, a smile, a tear, or even anger, each book that I read has to create some emotion in me or I consider it a so-so story. This one caused me to react in a way that I have NEVER, EVER reacted. It caused me to shudder. Literally shudder. Every time the protagonist of the story, Candace’s stalker, walked onto the page, a pit of fear would form in my stomach. My shoulders would go up to my ears, and I just wanted to get away from him. I felt like a part of the story. I felt like he was after me. Creepy, huh?”

Going home again can be deadly. Suddenly jobless, enterprising Candace Downs returns to the parched and dusty oil-town of Odessa, Texas as a trainee for her cousin’s towing company. Rejecting the romantic obsessions of a maniacal stranger intent on capturing her heart throws her life into a terrifying spiral downward. As the clock ticks, and her hunter ups the ante, the charismatic, handsome security consultant, Josiah Bradley, is determined to keep her alive – at any cost. Will they win this harrowing cat-and-mouse game? Or will the unrelenting stalker bury them both deep in the desert.

Out For Blood 2OUT FOR BLOOD is another chilling read for summer. It’s set in hot west Texas, but does have some beach time in sunny Southern California. One reviewer said, “The characters are extremely well defined. I don’t want to spoil it for others, but the character known as “the man” really got my attention.”
A thriller, this novel has romance, suspense, and espionage. Out for Blood won’t disappoint as a good, thriller for the beach.

Dialysis nurse, Danielle Battershawn’s, life is turned upside down when her identical twin is murdered. As she strives to deal with yet another death, the killer sets his sights on eliminating her. Can handsome security consultant, Tyler Covington, keep her alive?

 

NIKE CHILLEMI

Harmful Intent, FramedSex, lies, and murder…that’s HARMFUL INTENT. Yet it’s uplifting and hysterically funny…a perfect summer read. ~ ~ Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect. Ronnie is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who has traveled to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted. Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself. ~ ~ Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully. Now, only .99 cents.

A terrific swimmer, Lucinda Byrne fears the ocean. Her husband and parents died there. Will she? DARKEST HOUR, is set in July, 1948 on the south shore of Long Island, a summer vacation destination. ~~ A petite widow, secretary and sole support of her son and grandparents, is framed for the murder of her boss. Wealthy village residents conspire with the DA to indict her and stop further investigation. The medical examiner thinks the shooter was a tall individual and when his report is shoved aside, starts snooping trying to clear her and in the process falls in love with her. ~~ Sweet romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.

 

SADIE AND SOFIE CUFFE, a/k/a The Cuffe Sisters

Why should you read a Cuffe sisters’ book this summer? Well, for one thing, they’re $1.99 on Amazon. People think Maine is mostly about lobsters and clams, but we’re native Mainers and we don’t like either one – ain’t that odd? What we DO love about Maine is the people, not the stereo-typical old duffer wearing a sou’wester and spouting things like, “You cahn’t get theyah from heyah.”
You’ll meet Myra Stanley, shotgun-toting granny in her 80’s who can shoot the wings off a fly at 100 paces. One of our favorite Myra moments comes from WARRIOR’S JOURNEY: Molly’s friend Ashley has just accused Myra of trespassing on private property and told her to leave. Myra, shotgun trained on the offensive Ashely, responds, “Might snotty soundin’ from someone starin’ down iron moose nostrils.”

Arrow that FliessIn ARROW THAT FLIES, you’ll meet Brad Stanley, Myra’s great-nephew. He obviously has the Stanley charm. Maine Forester Jackie Duncan’s thoughts upon meeting him – She might not know a gearbox from a jewelry box, but she knew a dipstick when she saw one. Then there are the twins, Robbie and Rand Adams. Robbie and Jackie are polar opposites. Robbie’s Type-A out the whazoo and Jackie’s about as scattered as you can get, but they’re drawn to each other. Can they trust each other and find the evil archer who is intent on ruining the lives of Stellar’s Ford?

In WARRIOR’S JOURNEY, Molly Stewart thinks Rand Adams is responsible for her husband’s death, but now her 12-year-old son is in a tailspin and needs a good male mentor. Can Rand step up to the plate and convince Molly he’s one of the good guys?
Both books can be read independently of each other, but we suggest ARROW followed by WARRIOR. It’s Maine – the way life should be!

 

NAOMI MUSCHTrevelyn

Fantasy and Realism in Two Novels for summer reading! ~~ Do you watch Once Upon a Time? If so, or if you’re drawn to fantasy and retellings of famous fairy tales, then you’ll enjoy TREVELYAN ~ A Tale of Beauty & the Beast, a full length novel for the romantic and young at heart. Here’s why this new tale might fit your bill for summer reading:
• It’s Beauty & the Beast! I mean, come on. Best. Fairytale. Ever.
• TREVELYAN has elves and faeries, creatures and magic, and there are swashbuckling heroes — several of them.
• TREVELYAN is “take me away” reading to lead you on an epic adventure through the land of the Great Winter to the lost city of Trevelyan, where legends say a monster lord and his evil faerie wife have usurped a once glorious kingdom. Now evil and madness wait to prey upon the unwary who venture there.
• TREVELYAN answers burning questions about the original tale: What happened to all Belle’s brothers and sisters? How come no one else had stumbled into the beast’s kingdom? What was the deal with the faerie who turned the prince into a beast? Who helped the beast survive those lonely years in his enchanted kingdom? What was the castle really like?
You mean you didn’t wonder? Well, now you surely must. So add TREVELYAN ~ A Tale of Beauty & the Beast to your summer beach reading list!

Do you prefer realism? How about love rediscovered? In PAINT ME ALTHENA artist Ethan Day has been raising his little girls on his own for three years. When he stumbles upon a painting for sale by Althena, he thinks he’s finally found Ava, his runaway wife. But Ethan has begun moving on with the help of lovely widow Jackie. His art has become popular. He’s found a new faith. Ava moved on too, but things haven’t turned out as she’d planned. Now she needs rescue. Though old desires surface, wounds of distrust and conflict between Ava’s search for identity and Ethan’s new faith might break the safety net he offers, making the journey home to love too painful to take. PAINT ME ALTHENA was a 2013 Grace Awards finalist.

 

TAMMY DOHERTY

August 1890 is already hot in Prophecy, Colorado, and things are about to get hotter! ~~ Abby Finnegan is working hard to make a better life for her daughter while protecting both of them from Abby’s callous & sadistic brother Clayton Bigelow. Secret Service Operative Kyle Lachapelle is working undercover. Kyle can’t deny the attraction he feels toward Abby but she’s too closely connected to his counterfeiting case for him to trust her. Abby wants to trust Kyle, maybe with more than just helping with Clayton, yet his guarded attitude confuses her. When she learns he’s come to arrest her family, her doubts seem justified. Can love overcome their fears?

Celtic Knot

Counterfeiting, murder, kidnapping & cowboys – CELTIC KNOT has everything you need for great summer reading! In a 5-star review, The Wordsmith Journal Magazine says, “Tammy Doherty hits the mark with this novel. It’s superbly written with vocabulary, language, and phrases appropriate to the period in which it is set. Fast paced and suspenseful.”

Don’t miss the first novel in this series, CELTIC CROSS. Set in 1883 Colorado, Cristeen arrives on the Donovan ranch badly wounded. Matt Donovan and his sister nurse Cristeen back to health but is that enough? Cristeen must learn to trust – in God and Matt – before a madman returns to complete the murder she narrowly escaped earlier. A 5-star Amazon review states, “Wonderful inspirational, historical romance that shows the power of love, trust, and humor to bring healing to troubled lives.” Another reviewer writes, “I was caught up in the characters and didn’t want to put it down.” Sweet historical romance with Western action and characters that hook the reader make CELTIC CROSS a great beach or vacation read!

For one week only, all three novels in this series will be just .99 cents on Kindle

 

SUZANNE D. WILLIAMS

Take Me Away

“Take yourself away” for a couple hours this summer and believe in romance all over again when you read TAKE ME AWAY.

When Celia Boyle asked Gator Lawrence to take her on vacation, she had no idea that such a simple request would become so incredibly complicated. All she wanted was seven blissful days of beach sand, ocean waves, and tropical sun. But now, her sister’s sudden visit, her own misspoken statement, and a threat by Gator’s dad to send him out of town, jeopardizes everything. Unless, they take things in their own hands and go anyway. Yet sometimes life has a lesson to share that only experience can teach, and it could be what they’re both looking for has been with them all along.

Early reviews for TAKE ME AWAY: “A cute female, an honorable man, a chance meeting, and a flirty comment, what could possibly go wrong? Grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine and let this book take you away better than Calgon! This is a fun, sweet read that will leave you smiling and believing in love all over again.” ~ “Such a neat, sweet short romance with a bit of adventure and mystery behind it as well! I enjoyed it.” Now, $1.99.

 

JOY DEKOK

Rain Dance

Looking for a new summer read or two? ~~ RAIN DANCE is only .99 cents for the next few days. This is the story of two women who are surprised by a friendship others might consider impossible. I mean think about it – how can a Christian prolifer and an atheist prochoicer agree on anything? Jonica and Stacie discover they are far more similar than they thought possible. Together they struggle to find hope and healing in the tangle of their own hypocrisies, prejudices, and political opinions. Will they succeed or are abortion and infertility impossible to overcome? –Contemporay Women’s Fiction – Gently Prolife
Another option for your summer reading pleasure is BETWEEN THE LIES – Book 1 in the Northern Lights Series. Olivia Morgan was doing just fine, thank you very much. Until the dead guy in the elevator, her lover’s dismissal of her, the loss of her dream job, and an FBI agent who is looking into the past she’s worked so hard to hide. What’s a woman to do when she’s suddenly un-kept, a murder suspect, and has her own personal stalker? Olivia uses her artistic talent to remember and reveal what she knows. Will it save or convict her? This mystery will keep you guessing until the end. –Nail-biting suspense with heart and soul.

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