INSPY Shortlist Giveaway

One of the benefits of working at a publishing company is being able to cheer on our various award-winning and nominated books. It’s nice when outside judges recognize the great storytelling we get the chance to work with every day. To celebrate a recent list of finalists, we’re going to give away books from the INSPY award shortlist! (To see all the nominees, or to read fun interviews with the nominated authors, go to their website.)

You can click on each cover to read an excerpt and see why the INSPYs took note of these titles…then enter the giveaway (instructions at the end of the post). Congratulations to all!

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Category: Contemporary Romance

Plot: NFL star Gray Fowler is receiving death threats. Out of concern, his team hires a protection detail, but Gray is indignant when he meets his bodyguard. How can an attractive woman half his size protect him? Former Marine Dru Porter is, in fact, more than capable. But as danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their lives to one another?

Counted with the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

Category: Debut Fiction

Plot: The young Egyptian slave Kiya leads a miserable life. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, she’s in the middle of it all. Choosing to flee with the Hebrews, Kiya finds herself reliant on a strange God and developing feelings for a man who despises her people. Facing the trials of the desert, will she turn back toward Egypt—or find a new place to belong?

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

Category: Historical Romance

Plot: To impress the politician courting her and help her family, Lydia King is determined to obtain a donation to the Teaville Moral Society from the wealthiest man in town, Nicholas Lowe. But when complications arise, Lydia must decide where her beliefs—and heart—truly align.

Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig

Category: Mystery/Thriller

Plot: When an archaeological dig unleashes a centuries-old virus, paramilitary operative Cole ‘Tox’ Russell is forced back into action. With the help of archaeologist Tzivia Khalon and FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox searches for answers—and becomes entangled in a web of deception. As the team races to stop a pandemic, a secret society counters their every move.

Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey

Category: Mystery/Thriller

Plot: When modern skeletal remains are discovered at Gettysburg, park ranger and former sniper Griffin McCray must confront his past if he, his friends, and charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott are going to escape this web of murder alive.

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

Category: Mystery/Thriller

Plot: While attending a Regency costume party, Drew and Madeline Farthering are immersed in a new case when the fiancée of a friend dies mysteriously at the event. Drew’s friend insists she was murdered. In the face of a shocking revelation and arrest, Drew begins to doubt his own abilities and finds he is unprepared for the dangerous secrets he uncovers.

The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

Category: Speculative Fiction

Plot: Despite their recent victory, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover the continent is still far from safe. When unseen assassins begin targeting the Vigil and their gift and his associates scatter—Willet must find a way to defeat this latest threat alone.

And now that I’ve introduced the books, time for the giveaway! Comment below to answer this question, “What makes a book a standout to you?” Next Thursday, we’ll choose three winners who can select their choice of one of these seven shortlist titles as a prize.

109 thoughts on “INSPY Shortlist Giveaway

  1. A book with vivid storytelling and authentic characters stands out for me because of the emotion and experience they evoke. I want to get lost in an exceptional book.

  2. “What makes a book a standout to you?”

    On the shelf:
    · The cover.
    · Positive press – reviews, social media, blogs.

    After I’ve read it:
    · How the author engages my emotions.
    · A unique storyline or setting.
    · Character growth (faith, perseverance, repentance/reconciliation)
    · An “I didn’t see that coming” moment.

  3. I appreciate characters that are authentic- not “perfect” people, but characters I can relate to. Also, authors who can capture the emotional element of their characters drawing the reader into the story creates an exceptional read!

  4. The cover immediately grabs my attention, along with the back cover blurb (which I always check out). I enjoy characters that are realistic, and I enjoy being educated along with entertained.

  5. To a certain degree an, at least, somewhat appealing cover to catch my attention, particularly if it is a new author to me…..then an interesting sounding synopsis on the back….and then the first few pages that are clear and compelling to pull into the book.

  6. Realistic situations with amazing lessons. When a plot twist catches me by surprise, that’s even better.

  7. The cover is the first thing that draws my attention,Author, and back cover that tells about story.
    I want a story with characters I can relate to and a story I can be inspired by.

  8. The writing itself has to be good, I hate to be reading a book and having to go back and read over something to make sure I understood what the author was saying.
    The story itself has to move along. I hate to be halfway through the book and still feel like I haven’t gotten to the main plot line.

  9. For me a standout book is a book where the characters, plot and the way of writing is like a symphony. It flows together with its ebbs and flows, and comes to a crescendo at the end. When you close the book and say, that was good.

  10. I go a lot on recommendations from others! I am also drawn alot by the cover of a book and also the back cover telling what the book is about!

  11. The cover, the setting and type of character, and good writing. There is nothing more distracting than finding mistakes in a book.

  12. Books stand out to me first with a great cover. That’s if I don’t already know the author. If it’s an author that I know, then I look for a compelling synopsis on the back of the book. Action, humor, romance, a unique situation or setting, are all things that catch my eye!

  13. What makes a book stand out for me is a book that holds my attention and that is well-written and woven together. I have a hard time with a book full of errors. I like some authors’ style of writing more than others.

  14. It starts with a great cover. Then if the story holds my attention and moves along. I really like mystery/suspense.

  15. Reading enjoyment for me is a combination of a good plot, interesting characters and the satisfaction knowing that my time hasn’t been wasted. The characters may be flawed but so am I; the plot may be contrived but sometimes I need situations that let me live vicariously and allow me to have a little mystery and suspense in my life. I truly enjoy historical fiction but I need to think that the author has researched the subject and that I have gained knowledge as I received enjoyment!
    I’m sure that all of these book finalists fill my needs and I congratulate all of the authors!

  16. Great characters and plot makes for a great book. I like to be able to connect with the characters ie they remind me of someone, they would be someone I would like to meet or like to dislike. Believable helps too or historical

  17. Interesting characters really grab my attention. An interesting plot helps, BUT I have to have an interest in the characters or it fall flat for me.

  18. I would say that what makes a book stand out to me is relatable, believable characters, an interesting, exciting, and suspenseful plot, and a beautiful cover all contribute to grabbing my attention. I have read several of the books on the above list and have not been disappointed by any of them!!

  19. The depth of the characters, the plot and attention to pertinent details. If a book is great to me, I feel like I have had to peel layers to discover the heart of a character which in turn makes me feel as if I know that character. I love a book that invites me to dive in with them and see what makes them tick,how the Lord has/is using their past and current circumstances to grow their faith, walk with Him and how it impacts those they come in contact with in their lives.

  20. Books that make me laugh…Books that have me so invested in the characters that I genuinely care about them and forget they aren’t real…Books that challenge me to go deeper in my walk with God…These are all things that make a book stand out to me.

  21. A Heart Most Certain looks wonderful
    What makes a books stand out to me? its cover, a book that holds my interest, one i have trouble putting down, the story line, that it is historical, that it is inspirational

  22. A good old fashioned western, historical, romance, adventure all in one…and of course a happy forever after ending.

  23. A standout book is one that captures me at the first page and holds me till the end. Simply stated it’s a book I can’t put down!

  24. I read a lot of books, and generally I enjoy the books I choose to read, but occasionally there is something in a that strikes a chord with me, and I know instantly it’s a story I could read again and again and be touched every time. It really depends on the book–sometimes it’s the characters or the plot; sometimes the story is so much more poignant than I was expecting or that perfect combination of hilarious yet real, or sometimes just something in the book speaks to my life at that moment. Sometimes it’s just an extremely well-told tale that could have been written specifically to catch my fancy. I’ll know if it’s a stand-out book after I read it.

  25. I read alot. The first thing that catches my eye is the cover when it’s on the shelf. Then I read the blurb on the back. I like action books with good characters and I always check to see who the author is. There are some I know they are good books just by the authors name.

  26. A book cover that doesn’t try to sell with skimpily-clad people or lots of blood will help get my attention as I watch for authors I trust. A book that stands out to me has character interaction with sparks and humor. I enjoy, re-read and share books that are clean mysteries with those interactions mentioned and with an ending that doesn’t leave me hanging even if it is part of a series. Looking forward to reading the books mentioned.

  27. For me, the first thing that makes a book standout is the cover. I do judge a book by it’s cover. When they are aesthetically pleasing I am more likely to pick it up and look at the back cover. That leads to the second thing that stands out…if the blurb captures my interest by the first couple of lines, I am pretty hooked and will most likely buy the book. The final thing that stands out to me is the book reviews. If a book has many 4 and 5 star reviews, that is the clincher for me. I will definitely buy the book. And, then, yes, the book needs to have great characters, an excellent plot, and well written syntax.

  28. Before i read a book what stands out to me is the cover and the description on the back. After i read it, whay stands out could be a certain line or how the book as a whole makes me feel. Thanks for the giveaway!

  29. To me it’s a matter of exciting plot and likeable characters mostly. And I like humor too, and of course romance – but I can’t stand ‘instalove’, it’s better if the feelings & relationship are developing gradually. This way feels more genuine, authentic. (Sorry if my grammar and vocabulary are lacking, English is not my mothertongue…)

  30. A book stands out to me when it has a cover that captures my attention, likeable and relatable characters, a picturesque setting and a wonderful story line.

  31. For me, a book stands out if first, the plot doesn’t feel like a ‘cookie cutter’ plot when I read the back of the book (even though, I will still enjoy a book even if it is ‘cookie cutter’). After I read it, if I couldn’t put it down. Thanks for the giveaway!

  32. What makes a book stand out to me is how well I can visualize the characters, as if I am part of the story too. Also, I love it when the author uses a character to make a profound spiritual statement that makes me stop and say “Wow! I really needed that at this time in my life.”

  33. The plot is the main thing–if it keeps me reading, it is a great book!! All these look great—I’ve read a few of these and loved them–especially Ronie Kendig!!!

  34. The cover and the back is a standout. The visual is what catches my eyes and says – this could be interesting. The model, scenery, location, colors all plays a big deal for me to pick up the book. Then obviously your caption will hold my attention or make me put it back on the shelf.

  35. If the characters are relatable, their struggles and commitment to each other are shown, healthy relationships and the secondary characters impact on the relationship.

  36. I love reading and what makes a book stand out for me is unique storylines that aren’t overused, as well as relatable characters. When I finish a book I want to feel like I just made new friends and look forward to “seeing” them again when I re-read.

  37. The cover first. And the author, especially if I’ve read her( or him) before. Then I’m interested, if it’s a place that I’ve lived or visited or am partial to because I like historical places. Then if the blurb on the back seems plausible and intriguing. Endorsements by authors I recognize is in there , too.

  38. I always look at a cover. It has to grab my attention and make me want to read the back of it. Then, the description has to pull me in!

  39. Beautiful writing. Unforgettable characters. Twists and turns in plot that leaves me gasping and quickly turning the pages.

    • I like books I can get lost in and don’t want to put down. If I cry my way through, I love them. I want them fast moving, rather than dragging. Suspense helps, but not necessary.

  40. Books that stand out to me are the ones that make my emotions jump. Whether they make me laugh in delight, get choked up, or surprise me with a twist. It is no wonder that these books made it on the INSPY lists since they are such good authors. Thanks for the giveaway!

  41. I’m drawn to historical fiction. It’s like living in a real place meeting new friends and I hope to learn something new. A quiet way to spend my afternoon .

  42. The characters. I like to get so involved in their lives and stories that I miss them and feel sad when the book ends!

  43. To be honest, it depends on my mood. I used to love to read, then during college, I burned out. Had trouble reading anything without going to sleep quick. One day probably 10 years ago now, I wasn’t sure what to do. My father in law was putting a movie on that I wasn’t interested in at all. My daughter brought a Lori Wick book to me and started reading it out loud. I was hooked. Since then I have been reading as often as possible. I love history, Christian topics, things that make me think, yes romance (as long as it doesn’t go too far in descriptions )and how the author can paint pictures of what is going on. I tend towards historical romance, but love a mystery as well. As a firefighter and EMT, I love to read books that deal with those topics. In ways, one of the things most important, I think I love how God’s love and miracles get woven into the stories I have read. I love a good story that catches me in the emotions of the characters and sometimes what I read might help me help someone out by a story I read and how the characters dealt with similar issues.

  44. A standout book for me is one that keeps my attention so that it is hard to put down. Great characters that are “real”. A plot that takes a great message/lesson and spins it in a new and refreshing way.

  45. What makes a book stand out to me?
    I like a book that makes me forget that I’m reading. A book where I become the characters for just a short time. A book where I am transported to another time and place. A book that makes me do a double-take when I put it down, makes me wonder why everything is so quiet, when just a moment ago people were shouting, children were laughing, guns were firing, doors were slamming, tractors were backfiring. A book that runs me through the emotional ringer. A book that teaches me something spiritually without me even realizing it sometimes. These are the characteristics of a good book that stand out to me.

  46. I’m always drawn to plot lines and characters. Is it interesting? Does it sound like something I’ve already read? I always enjoy being caught up in the story.

  47. Such a tough question to answer, because everyone has different tastes! To me, it’s not as much about a unique setting/character/aspect as it is about how a story is told, how the author chooses to reveal the big picture in a way that makes it surprising or emotional.

  48. Its first of all the characters, the era the story is taking place in, and based on the synopsis the exciting and unimaginable but great things that will take place, whether I can imagine vividly through reading the story how everything moves together and most of all the the motive it leaves behind once I’ve closed the book. Oh and the cover.

  49. A strong protagonist and antagonist who are in conflict with one another make a book I’m reading stand out. But before I read the book, it’s an intriguing cover that draws my eye.

  50. A book that stands out to me has a good storyline, engaging characters, and an excellent plot. Surprising plot twists are a plus as well. Suspenceful situations, humerus events, and a good mystery also catch my eye. But most of all a book that I wish would never end.

  51. Congrats to all of the finalists! What a great list of authors!
    I love a book that I can relate to! Covers are a bonus, but love it when they actually match the authors descriptions in the book. Love when the book is based on a real location that I might someday be able to visit.

  52. Either a book that I can’t put down, a character I find myself thinking about when I’m not reading the book, or growing in my spiritual walk because of reading the book.

  53. A book stands out to me when it takes me away from my world and puts me in the story. I like to lose myself for awhile and be able to relate to a character. Learning something valuable along the way is a blessing.

  54. A book needs more than one thing to capture my attention; however, plot is definitely at the top of my list followed by engaging characters.

  55. I love great character chemistry that comes through in the story. Believable characters with great dialogue that you can picture interacting while you’re reading. That makes a good book stand out and become a great book.

  56. As I work in a bookstore, a good cover is what catches my attention first! Next, an intriguing storyline, character development and a “I didn’t see THAT coming” moment! It is a 5-star novel if I don’t want the story to end…..and it leaves me feeling enriched and better for spending my time with the characters.

  57. What a good question! Superficially, I look at the cover and title. On the inside, I think it all just depends on whether or not a book can engage my emotions. If I feel for the characters and sympathize with their circumstances, that’s what makes a book stand out. And if I can be so engaged that I forget my physical surroundings, that’s a GREAT book.

  58. A book that tells a good story stands out to me. If I am transported and focused on the story, I know it’s not good but great!

  59. There are so many factors that make a book stand out. The covers sometimes draw me in right away, but the plot needs to sound interesting. Of course I like a little romance as long ad it is clean! I enjoy action or suspense, but ultimately knowing it is an author I like or that is recommended to me helps as well.

    Congrats to the authors on the INSPY shortlist. I recognize all the author names but some of them I haven’t had the privilege of reading any of their books yet!

  60. Remarkable characters: main characters you can relate to, and quirky secondary characters that stand out in your memory.

  61. What makes a book standout to me? First of all is the author, then the cover, book summary and if it is in a series I have been reading.

  62. The context of the book and the way each and every page leaves me captivated and always wondering what will happen next, the characters in the book ; the kind of people the author portrays them to be, the era the book is taking place in and most of all the motive and message it leaves once I close its pages. Oh and the cover.

  63. The context of the book and the way each and every page leaves me captivated and always wondering what will happen next, the characters in the book ; the kind of people the author portrays them to be, the era the book is taking place in and most of all the motive and message it leaves once I close its pages. Oh and the cover.

  64. a book that has a compelling story line. Keeps me riveted to the story. Has interweaved about trust and faith in God. And the author.

  65. A book is a standout to me if the characters are relatable and real. I like to feel that I’m walking in the desert with them, feeling their pain, and seeing their world through new eyes.
    Setting is also a fantastic part of a standout book to me! If I can feel the desert wind, smell the salty ocean air, and hear the birds in my imagination without overly wordy prose, chances are it will draw me in.

  66. A book that stands out to me is one that draws me in, and makes me feel the emotions portrayed. Also one with a a strong message of true love, the kind that never fails, and of God’s love and who He truly is.

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