INSPYs 2013: Reading and Judging

June 28, 2013 15 Comments

Hey, all! In the last two months, I have been reading like crazy; the kind of reading that I quite literally felt like I was going to
drown in. Here’s why. First reason being, there are too many awesome, wonderful blog tours out there tempting me when I’d open my email page – I just couldn’t pass up too many of them… so basically, I didn’t.  

INSPYs 2013: Reading and Judging. Talking about the winners of the 2013 INSPYs, and my experience as a judge. Text © Rissi JC

Then, I was honored and surprised by getting to participate in the 2013 INSPY awards which is a program that was created to honor the best in inspirational Christian fiction by the bloggers who read, review and promote the best in Christian fiction. Of the
five categories, I was in the “romance” genre and here were the five novels up for the award.    

  • Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden  
  • Breath of Dawn by Kristin Heitzman  
  • My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade  
  • Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz  
  • To Whisper her Name by Tamara Alexander   

…and the winner is: The Breath of Dawn      

Below is what all three of us judges say is the reason why. 

INSPYs 2013 Contemporary Fiction Statement

“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.”

The other winners were:

  • The Frist Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones (General Fiction)
  • With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo (Young Adult Literature)
  • Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins (Mystery and Thriller)
  • Soul’s Gate by James L Rubart (Speculative Fiction)  

I have to say that in reading these five books, they blow the reader away Out of the five I’d not read four of them, and each one surprises, which disproves my theory that I could judge if a book is “right” for me. Not all can win, but I honestly think all five had something to offer. The INSPY advisory board made the right call in narrowing it down.

There will be reviews posted on most if not all of these novels in the coming days and I’d love to know what you think of the books or authors when they do show up! Be on the lookout.  

Thank you INSPYs (Lydia and Rel) for the pleasure and honor of working with you in this process – I sincerely thank you for including me in this; it was a wonderful learning experience! Also to Rachel Brand and Susan Brangz, my fellow judges; it was a blast working with you, ladies!  

CONGRATS to The Breath of Dawn and Kristin Heitzmann for winning the 2013 title; it’s very deserving. Cooler yet is that Kristin also won the Christy Award for her novel in the romance category earlier this week.  

I cannot wait to see what will come for the 2013/2014 INSPY season. It promises to be a terrific year!

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Kellie June 28, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    How fun to get to judge! :D

    • Rissi June 28, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      It was, Kellie! :)

  • Hannah Elise June 28, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    What an honor to get to judge that!

    • Rissi June 28, 2013 at 8:01 PM

      Yes, I agree, Hannah! I was surprised to be among a talented group of readers and bloggers. It was a fun honor and wonderful learning experience. :)

  • KayM June 28, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    This is my first visit to your blog. I know I am going to enjoy reading it. I agree with you, there are so many good books being published right now, it is hard (impossible for me) to keep up and read all that I want to read.

    • Rissi June 28, 2013 at 8:02 PM

      Welcome, Kay! Thank you so much for visiting – stop in anytime. :)

      Oh, I know! Just glad they don't all release at once; imagine keeping up with that publishing schedule. ;)

  • Lydia June 29, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    Dearest Rissi it was such a joy to have you on my judging panel! All three of you (Susan and Rachel) made the process of picking a finalist intellectually stimulating and I was so pleased to see everyone’s point of view. Looking forward to reading your reviews of the books

    • Rissi June 29, 2013 at 3:18 AM

      Thank you, Lydia for bringing this organization to my attention – if it weren't for you and Rel, I might never have known about it! It was a lovely experience and I am sincerely grateful to have been a part of it!

      Again… thank you. :)

  • Rel June 29, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    I'm with Lydia ~ even though I didn't get to work with you in your category, I know it was a joy to have you! Hope you join us again next year :)

    • Rissi July 1, 2013 at 7:52 PM

      Hey, Rel! Thank you for dropping by!

      I'd certainly LOVE being a part of the INSPYs in 2014 – it was a joy to experience and a wonderful learning journey. Thanks to you and Lydia for the introduction – and for your kind words. :)

  • Jorie June 30, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Hallo Rissi!

    This is my first post on your lovely blog which I discovered the other day and had hoped to return too over the weekend! I was over on Ms. Anderson's blog a moment ago expressing my keen interest in this lovely novel that *won!* both a Christy + INSPY Award this year! I've been keen on *The Breath of Dawn* since I first learnt of it whilst it was being showcased around the time of it's release! I was even going as far to say, that I really ought to read a combination of both Awards (winners) as I hadn't realised that four of the books were ones that I've been attempting to read!

    I appreciate that you commented on the secondary characters, because I too, applaud writers who carve out such a wicked space in-between the primaries and the secondaries, as its the novel of the whole that endears me the most when your able to fully emmerse yourself into the story!

    Congratulations on your participation!
    Quite the honour, indeed! :)

    • Rissi July 1, 2013 at 8:11 PM

      Jorie – hello, hello! Welcome to Dreaming Under the Same Moon! I am delighted you stopped by. :)

      It was pretty cool to see The Breath of Dawn win a Christy just as the INSPYs was also choosing it to win the "romance" category.

      The three judges each gave a statement and the quote above is how our statements formed into one – I think it sounds great together so the INSPYs advisory board did a nice job condensing it. :) These secondary characters are really "good" – especially Noelle, didn't love Quinn's friend and her story but it was okay. :)

      Hope you are able to read the book – it's really good.

      Thanks – being a part of the INSPYs was an experience I'm not soon to forget. :)

  • birdienl July 4, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    How wonderful that you were asked to judge in such a contest! Seems like a great experience and just up your alley!

    • Rissi July 5, 2013 at 11:40 PM

      You know my reading personality too well, birdienl! This was just my kind of scene. What fun it was aside from being a really wonderful honor to have participated.

      Like you said, it *was* a great experience. I felt like I learned invaluable things. :)

  • […] mixed feelings of trepidation and excitement. This is the place I am finding myself in right now. This past Spring I was honored to be a part of the INSPYs (@INSPYs) as a judge. It’s a fun, wonderful […]

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