Thursday, July 21, 2011

Christy Awards

The Christy Awards recognize the best in Christian fiction. Around since 1999, the Christy awards aim to:
  • Nurture and encourage creativity and quality in the writing and publishing of fiction written from a Christian worldview.
  • Bring a new awareness of the breadth and depth of fiction choices available, helping to broaden the readership.
  • Provide opportunity to recognize novelists whose work may not have reached bestseller status.
The winners for 2011 are:

Contemporary Romance

Sworn to Protect
by DiAnn Mills

"Danika Morales, a widowed border patrol agent, finds out that she may be the target of a drug cartel. Her husband, a high school teacher and former immigration activist, was murdered in the desert two years earlier. Since then her brother-in-law, another border patrol agent, has been going off the deep end. With someone reporting sensor locations to the coyotes smuggling people and drugs over the border near McAllen, Texas, both of them become suspects. Then Danika's partner is shot, and she meets Dr. Alex Price who treats agents and illegal immigrants the same. As Danika struggles with raising a four-year-old deaf daughter, family conflict, a missing niece, and the realization that her husband's murder may have been part of a bigger conspiracy, she finds herself liking Alex more than she wants to.

Readers who like contemporary romantic suspense steeped in prayer instead of sex will enjoy this intriguing page-turner." - Booklist

Historical Romance

Girl in the Gatehouse
by Julie Klassen

"It might not be much, but the abandoned gatehouse is Mariah Aubrey's new home. After a brush with scandal threatens to tarnish her family's social standing, Mariah is sent away by her father. Fortunately her aunt, Mrs. Francesca Prin-Hallsey, offers the use of the old gatehouse on her late husband's estate. But since Mariah also needs a way of supplementing the meager funds provided by her family, she begins writing novels. Inspiration for her literary efforts is the one thing not in short supply, especially once Captain Matthew Bryant arrives to lease the estate after her aunt's death. Both kind-hearted and courageous, Matthew is the stuff from which romantic heroes are made, and he would be perfect for Mariah if only he wasn't so determined to marry another woman!

Christy and RITA nominee Klassen creates a wonderful cast of engaging characters while neatly stirring in a generous dash of mystery and danger into the plot of her latest, charmingly romantic inspirational romance." - Booklist


The Bishop: a Patrick Bowers thriller
by Steven James

"In the fourth Patrick Bowers thriller after The Pawn (2007), The Rook (2008), and The Knight (2009) the FBI criminologist is called to the scene of a gruesome murder. At a primate research facility, a woman was attacked by two chimpanzees, but this was no accident: someone had tied the victim, a congressman's daughter, to a tree and set the animals on her. Patrick, who's faced his share of twisted killers, might be encountering his most clever foe. This is a fine thriller, featuring a strong, compassionate protagonist and a couple of pretty scary villains (imagine if Bonnie and Clyde were serial killers, and if they were completely mad). James, an accomplished writer who seems equally at home writing hard-edged thrillers and books about spirituality for adults and younger readers, clearly knows how to spin a yarn; and despite its thematic similarities to the television series Criminal Minds this novel is fresh and exciting." - Booklist

Contemporary Standalone

Almost Heaven
by Chris Fabry

"Billy Allman has a hard life. His humble home is destroyed and his dog killed by a wall of mud when the poorly constructed dam overlooking their West Virginia valley breaks. His brother dies in Vietnam. His father commits suicide. His mother suffers from Alzheimer's. His love is unrequited. But Billy goes from Job to Noah when he begins to build a radio station from bits and pieces in his little mining community. Fabry's inspirational story is narrated in turns by the beleaguered hero and his often-absent guardian angel. With his lyrical style and haunting descriptions, Fabry shows that, with a strong determination and a lot of faith, if you build it, they will listen" - Booklist

Contemporary Series

The Reluctant Prophet
by Nancy Rue

"At age forty-two, Allison Chamberlain is still making a half-hearted attempt to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. Although she has been a pew-sitting member of a church for seven years, "prophet" has never been on the short list of possible careers.Then one Sunday Allison senses a divine nudge to buy a Harley motorcycle and go wherever it takes her. Soon she is wondering if she is called to present the reality of Christ to one of society's darkest corners-and challenge her own church to look beyond their fears.

The first in a brave trilogy from seasoned writer Nancy Rue, The Reluctant Prophet shows how one person's response to God's call can change a community forever." - Publisher


While We're Far Apart

by Lynn Austin

"Austin loves to blend storytelling and interesting history, with her newest novel no exception. She sets her characters in one New York City apartment building during the difficult years of WWII. Esther Shaffer, 12, mourns her dead mother and now faces her father enlisting in the army; Penny Goodrich, long in love with Eddie Shaffer, volunteers to care for his children, hoping to marry Eddie when he returns; and Jacob Mendel, a Jewish widower, struggles to find Hashem (God) amid his loss. Their lives intersect as Jacob rediscovers his faith, Penny discovers her past and her future, and Esther begins to understand life and love.

Add family drama, D-Day, the Holocaust, arson, and young love, and you'll see why Austin is so popular. While her story is entertaining, it lacks the narrative flow of some of her other work; her characters grow and change, but the story reads more like a history lesson than a novel. Still, readers will find much to enjoy." - Publisher's Weekly


To Darkness Fled
by Jill Williamson

"Christian fantasy is the wee niche in which this fat book fits, and here's hoping its quality helps enlarge the niche. Williamson pens an action-packed, imaginative second installment in the Blood of Kings trilogy. Achan Chan, a prince who was switched at birth, rides with a party in Darkness, the unlit half of the Kingdom of Er'Rets, to free two unjustly imprisoned knights. His party includes Vrell Sparrow, who is Lady Averella Amal disguised as a young boy to flee an unwanted marriage to Esek, who has usurped the identity of Prince Gidon Hadar.

All the familiar epic elements and emotions are freshly rendered, with Vrell and Achan especially memorable as they grow during their journey. The Christian elements are not subtle, especially Achan's dramatically unnecessary chat with C,an, son of the one god Arman. Overall, though, the pace gallops along, leaving readers hungry for the concluding book" - Publisher's Weekly

First Novel

by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

"Debut author Stengl conjures the fantastic world of Parumvir. The kingdom's Princess Una is courted by Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore. She, however, finds him insufficiently romantic and much too boring in his concerns for her safety as a dragon approaches the kingdom. When Una makes the wrong choice, catastrophe ensues for the princess and her family, and love, courage, and trust are needed when darkness engulfs the kingdom.

Allegory is hard at work here-occasionally too hard, when the intended meaning drives the plot instead of the plot being driven by the momentum of events. But Stengl does let her imagination run in inventing some delightful things and scenes: the Twelve-Year Market that appears in its own good time and sells fairy goods; a clever blind cat who is invariably underfoot and has, of course, a secret. Since they never get enough to read in this small market niche, Christian fantasy fans will be particularly enthralled by this first in the Tales of Goldstone Wood. A clever debut from an author worth watching." - Publisher's Weekly

Young Adult

Motorcycles, Sushi and One Strange Book
by Nancy Rue

"Normal? While family dinners and vacations to touristy destinations are ordinary events for her "normal" friends, fifteen-year-old Jessie Hatcher's normal life means dealing with her ADHD and her mother's bipolar disorder. So why is Jessie shocked when the unexpected happens? Now her "normal" includes living in Florida with the father she always thought was dead and learning the secrets of sushi from a man who teaches by tormenting her. Life isn't any saner with her dad, but a cute guy and a mysterious book might just be the crazy Jessie needs." - Publisher

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