Category Archives: Christian Fiction

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Christian Fiction Books and Audiobooks of 2016


My blog post today is based upon this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt provided by The Broke and the Bookish – Top 10 Best Books of 2016. I decided to limit my list to Christian fiction books and audiobooks that were both released in 2016 and read by me in 2016. There were some really fabulous stories released this year, so as you can probably imagine, it wasn’t easy to choose!

Step by Step by Candace Calvert.
Contemporary romance from Tyndale House.
Book 2 in the Crisis Team series.
Quick Links: My Review | Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Site

Far and Near by Amanda G. Stevens.
Speculative fiction from David C. Cook.
Book 4 in the Haven Seekers series.
Quick Links: My Review | Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Site

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry.
Historical Fiction from Tyndale House. Audio from Recorded Books.
A great choice for book discussion groups.
Quick Links: My Review | Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Author’s Site

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore.
Contemporary Mystery from Tyndale House. Audio from Oasis Audio.
A great choice for book discussion groups. Review to come.
Quick Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Author’s Site

Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon.
Contemporary Romance from Revell. Audio from Recorded Books.
Book 2 of the Hope Harbor series.
Quick Links: My Review | Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Author’s Site

Priceless by Joel and Luke Smallbone.
Contemporary Fiction from Worthy Publishing. Audio from christianaudio.
A novelization of the movie by the same name. Review to come.
Quick Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Author’s Site

Always Watching by Lynette Eason.
Romantic Suspense from Revell. Audio from Tantor Audio.
Book 1 of the Elite Guardians series.
Quick Links: My Review | Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Author’s Site

Close to You by Kara Isaac.
Contemporary Romance from Howard Books.
A debut novel by a talented new author. Review to come.
Quick Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Site

Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa.
Mystery / Suspense from Revell. Audio from Oasis Audio.
Book 1 of the Coffey and Hill series. Review to come.
Quick Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Author’s Site

Fraying at the Edge by Cindy Woodsmall.
Amish Fiction from WaterBrook Multnomah. Audio from Recorded Books.
Book 2 of The Amish of Summer Grove series. Review to come.
Quick Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Author’s Site

So those are my top ten reads of the year for 2016, though I know there are lots more fabulous books out there that I haven’t had the chance to read yet, including some on my must-read-soon list. Which were your favorites this year?

My Top 9 Favorites in Christian Fiction from 2014


Why 9, and not 10?  A couple of reasons.

First, there were a couple of books I really wanted to read in 2014 that I suspect would’ve made this list if I’d only managed to fit them in before the end of the year (based in part on how much I’ve enjoyed past books by their authors), so I’m kind of leaving that spot open for those honorary favorites that I haven’t actually gotten to read yet.  I’m looking at you Seahorse Legacy and Love Unexpected.  (Why only 24 hours in the day?  Why!)

Secondly, even taking into account only those books that were A) published in 2014 and B) read by me in 2014, there would’ve been a tie between about six different books for that tenth spot.  Rather than feature 15 books, I went with 9, because I really wanted to emphasize the absolute tops among my favorites.

Here they are, organized by genre, with links to my reviews:

Contemporary Romance

Historical Romance

General Fiction

Biblical Fiction

Speculative Fiction / YA

So those were my favorites of 2014.  What were yours?

Update: Okay, so apparently I can’t stand to leave it at just 9 books after all, when there were so many amazing books published in 2014.  So here’s the rest of my top 15!

For a few more Contemporary Romance picks, there’s Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck and the Winter Brides collection featuring novellas by Denise Hunter, Deborah Raney, and Betsy St. Amant.  In mystery/suspense I loved Heather Day Gilbert’s Miranda Warning.  For romantic suspense, my favorite was Deceived by Irene Hannon.  And if you like novels with a medical or a military flavor, I recommend Lip Reading by Harry Kraus and Raptor 6 (review to come) by Ronie Kendig.

Celebrate an Inspirational Christmas… Category Romance Style (2014)

Looking for a quick and entertaining read this Christmas season?  Craving a little holiday inspired romance?  I’ve put together a list highlighting this year’s Christmas themed inspirational romances from Harlequin’s Love Inspired, Love Inspired Historical, Love Inspired Suspense, and Heartsong Presents lines.  Without further ado, check out these gorgeous covers!

Love Inspired : Contemporary Christian Romances

Love Inspired Historical : Historical Christian Romances

Love Inspired Suspense : Inspirational Romantic Suspense

Heartsong Presents : A Mix of Contemporary & Historical Romance

Want some more bookish Christmas fun?  Don’t miss my earlier post, featuring Christmas themed novels and novellas from a variety of Christian fiction publishers.

Christmas Themed Reading for 2014

Ready for some Christmas themed reading to help get you into the Christmas spirit? I’ve compiled a list of this year’s new Christian fiction novels, novellas, and collections that focus on Christmas. I hope you enjoy the gorgeous covers and maybe even find something you’ll want to dive right into reading. Merry Christmas!

Oh, and if you enjoy inspirational category romance, watch out! I’m working on a similar Christmas themed list featuring Harlequin’s Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense, Love Inspired Historical, and Heartsong Presents titles. Stay tuned.

General Fiction

Contemporary Romance

Historical Romance

Romantic Suspense

Amish Fiction

Karen #ThanksPublishers

My family's 2013 Thanksgiving Feast

This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for all the usual things – family, friends, finances, food, health, etc. but with my blog focusing on books, I wasn’t planning on posting about any of that.  In fact, I wasn’t really planning on posting about Thanksgiving at all (aside from a brief mention in Tuesday’s post about upcoming Christian fiction book discussions).  But then I got an email from NetGalley that inspired me to write this post.  In that email, they thanked me (and 210,000 other members) for using NetGalley to find, request, and access advance reader copies of books for reading, reviewing, and recommending.  They also suggested:

“You can pass the Thanksgiving goodwill along by thanking publishers who use digital galleys. Post a thank you message on our Facebook page, or on Twitter using #thankspublishers. We’ll collect and share each “thank you” on your behalf.”

What a great idea!

But I didn’t want to stop there.  I wanted to thank not just those publishers who use digital galleys (I really do love the convenience of digital galleys!), but also those who supply print books and audiobooks for review.  Not to mention the publicists, authors, and other individuals who play a role in providing ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) to bloggers like me.

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  You probably have no idea how much I appreciate you, so I’m gonna go ahead and spell it out.  Okay?

As an aspiring author of Christian fiction, having access to complimentary Advance Reader Copies of the latest Christian fiction books being published does two amazing things for me.

  1. It gives me something to blog about so I can begin connecting with the readers who may someday read my books.
  2. I get to read a steady stream of great examples from which I can continue to learn and hone my own writing.

Not to mention, the librarian side of me delights at the opportunity to continue playing a role in connecting readers with great books, even though I’m not currently working in a library!


Now I’m going to go out on a limb and give (alphabetical) shout outs to the publishers of Christian fiction whose books I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing so far.  Sincere apologies if I leave anyone out by mistake.  I considered foregoing the list altogether to avoid the possibility of an unintended slight, but felt my readers might like to learn more about some of the publishers on this list, so… here goes!

Thank you, one and all!

While this note is primarily addressed to publishers, I would be remiss if I neglected to thank my blog’s readers as well.  I love reading your comments and connecting on social media.  Thank you SO MUCH for making this blog worthwhile!

Autumn’s Audiobook Options


So, yeah, I’m a big fan of Christian fiction and of audiobooks.  Combine that with my librarian-ish tendencies to try to pair books and people, and you get a post kind of like this one….

For readers of Christian fiction who love audiobooks, or simply want to give them a try, here’s an overview of Christian fiction titles coming to audiobook this fall.  I’ve organized the discussion by subgenre, to hopefully help you find some titles to suit your taste.  And if you do find something you like in this post, please take a moment at the end to leave a comment and let me know.  Oh, and I’ve got a question for you at the end, on your feelings regarding audiobooks.  I hope you’ll stick around and share your thoughts!

Amish / Mennonite

For fans of Amish and Mennonite fiction, there are quite a few options this season, including releases by a number of popular authors, and a few titles featuring Christmas themes in preparation for the holidays.  Beverly Lewis’s The River and Cindy Woodsmall’s A Love Undone are sure to be popular choices.  If you’ve been following Leslie Gould’s The Courtships of Lancaster County series, you’ll be happy to know that the fourth book, Becoming Bea is available this fall.  Looking to start a new series?  Check out Kim Vogel Sawyer’s When Mercy Rains, Book 1 in The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy.  And when you’re ready to get into the Christmas spirit, look for Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher or An Amish Second Christmas, a collection featuring four romances by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Ruth Reid, and Tricia Goyer.


Those readers/listeners wanting to immerse themselves in stories set during Biblical time periods have some great options to choose from.  Keepers of the Covenant continues the Restoration Chronicles series Lynn Austin began with Return to Me, exploring the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Oasis Audio is releasing audio editions of popular and award-winning Biblical fiction titles from Tessa Afshar including Harvest of Rubies and Harvest of Gold, both set during the time of the prophet Nehemiah.  And if you’re looking for a story set during New Testament times, look no further than A.D. 30, the start of a new series from bestselling author Ted Dekker.


What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than with some seasonally inspired holiday audiobooks!  I already mentioned a couple of Amish Christmas themed titles with the other Amish titles, but for fans of romantic suspense and/or short story collections there’s more Christmas loveliness to be had right here.  Fans of romantic suspense will want to start their holiday season with Colleen Coble’s new releases, All is Calm: a Lonestar Christmas novella and Silent Night, Holy Night, a collection featuring characters from two of the author’s series.  Can’t get enough Christmas themed stories?  Check out Robert J Morgan’s, 12 Stories of Christmas.

Contemporary Romance

Readers (listeners?) of contemporary romance will find a lot of options from Zondervan and Brilliance Audio this season, thanks in large part to the Year of Weddings Novella series.  Titles releasing this fall include A September Bride by Kathryn Springer, An October Bride by Katie Ganshert, A November Bride by Beth Vogt, Love at Mistletoe Inn: A December Wedding Story by Cindy Kirk, and Winter Brides, a collection featuring novellas by Deborah Raney, Betsy St. Amant, and Denise Hunter.

Contemporary Fiction

Want more contemporary novels?  The Promise by Beth Wiseman is a real discussion starter, taking place partly in Pakistan.  And fans of Jan Karon’s Mitford series, will find the tenth installment available this fall, entitled Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good.


I could only find one speculative fiction title releasing in audiobook this fall, but it sounds like an interesting one.  Fans of Stephen R Lawhead’s Bright Empires fantasy series can get the audio edition of book five, The Fatal Tree, beginning in November.

Historical Romance

If you like Western-themed historical romances with humor, there’s not one but TWO new series starting out with audio editions to look into.  Mary Connealy’s Tried and True starts out her Wild at Heart series, and Trails & Targets serves as book one in Kelly Eileen Hake’s new Dangerous Darlyns series.  For fans of Regency romance and those following Sarah E Ladd’s Whispers on the Moors series, Book 3, A Lady at Willowgrove Hall is among those releasing this fall.  Rounding out the historical romance category, To Everything a Season starts off a new series by Lauraine Snelling, set in Red River Valley.

Suspense & Romantic Suspense

For romantic suspense, check out Irene Hannon’s Deceived, the third book in her Private Justice series, or one of the titles by Colleen Coble listed under the Christmas category, above.  For more suspenseful reads (listens?) consider Motherless by Erin Healy, In the Heart of the Dark Wood by Billy Coffey, or, for a story set on a Greek island with a secret, try The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn.

So tell me, do you consider yourself an audiobook listener?  Or more a fan of ebooks or print books?  Does it depend on the book, availability, the narrator, price, your schedule, or other factors?

Not sure how you feel about audiobooks or wondering how I feel about them?  Or just not sure where you can find a copy of one that interests you?  Check out my earlier post, “The Joy of Audiobooks.”

Award Winning Christian and Inspirational Fiction

Award Winners

Award Winners (Image Courtesy openclipart)

Thinking of delving more into the world of Christian Fiction? Wondering where to start? You could read and subscribe to blogs like this one for reviews. You could browse the best seller lists to see what’s been popular recently. And you could ask friends for their recommendations. Personally, I think those are all great options, and I highly recommend them. But there’s another option for finding good Christian fiction that I want to talk about today, and it’s a favorite of mine. Award winners.

The beauty of seeking out award winners in Christian fiction is that the hard work of narrowing down the field to identify some of the best stories has already been done for you. Granted, you may not wind up loving every award winning title, because your tastes may differ from that of the judges. But then again, there had to have been something special about a book for it to rise above the other possibilities and catch the attention of the judges. So if you’re looking for something special, read on to find out about some of the top fiction awards in Christian publishing today, and to find out which novels have won those awards or been featured as finalists.

Christy Awards

The Christy Awards have been described as the “Oscars” of Christian fiction.  They are annual awards to recognize Christian novels of excellence copyrighted in the preceding year in a variety of genres.  The judges are drawn from among librarians, literary critics and others not directly affiliated with a publishing company, and the winners are announced at the annual International Christian Retail Show in June.  I’ve personally found some great reads by browsing their lists of past winners.  The official Christy Award Web site provides additional information about the awards including the origin of the name, as well as a list of past winners.

Carol Awards

The Carol Awards also aim to recognize some of the “best Christian fiction published by traditional publishing houses in the previous calendar year.”  These awards are brought to you by ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and the winners are announced at the annual ACFW Conference in September.  These awards cover a wide range of genres and categories within Christian fiction.  The ACFW Web site includes more information about the awards, as well as annual lists of winners from 2002 to the present.

ECPA Christian Book Awards

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, bestows the honor of the ECPA Christian Book Awards, formerly known as the Gold Medallion.  Their awards cover a wide range of categories including Bibles, Non-fiction, Children’s Materials, and Inspiration.  All genres of Fiction are considered in selecting the winner within the Fiction category.  The Christian Book Awards Web page gives more information about the awards and links to past award winners.

RITA Award, Inspirational Category

The RITA award is given by the Romance Writer’s Association (RWA) “to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas.”  This award has been given in a variety of categories since 1982, with the Inspirational category being introduced in 1995.  The winners are announced at RWA’s annual conference in July.  More information about the awards and a list of past winners is available on the RWA Web site.

INSPY Awards

The INSPYs Web site describes the INSPY Awards as “The Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature.”  These awards are judged by bloggers, and they invite nominations of faith inspired books in a variety of genres, not just from specific Christian publishers, but also from the general publishing market.  Nominations begin in December and the winners are announced in June.  This is a newer award, with winners from 2010, 2011, and 2013 thus far.  Visit their Web site for more about the awards.

Grace Awards

The Grace Awards are a reader driven award for faith-based fiction. This award differs from others listed here in that it considers self-published books in print and/or electronic formats alongside traditionally published books. For more information or to browse award winners, visit the official Grace Awards blog.

Did you find any of your favorite Christian fiction titles on these lists?  Any titles you’re looking forward to reading?  Leave a comment and let us know!  And please take a second to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or by Subscribing to the blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Note: This page was last updated on 1/15/2015.

Best Selling Christian Fiction: The Lists

For general fiction, there are plenty of best seller lists to consult if you want to get an idea of what books are popular.  Well known publishers of best seller lists include the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, the American Booksellers Association, and large retailers like and Barnes & Noble.  Each source uses its own methodology to compile its list, and the results will vary accordingly.

For Christian Fiction, there are likewise, a variety of sources of best seller lists, including associations and large retailers.  By browsing these lists, you can get an idea for the titles that may be popular at any given time among Christian and Inspirational Fiction titles.

Best Seller Lists

Best Seller Lists

ECPA Bestsellers (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association): The lists are compiled monthly based on sales in various retail outlets nationwide.  Visit their site for more specifics about their methodology.

CBA Bestsellers (The Association for Christian Retail): Monthly listings of the Top 50 books selling in Christian stores, monthly listings of more specific categories including fiction, and weekly glimpses into the top books selling in selected categories. Lists are updated hourly using a proprietary formula that takes into account both recent and historical sales by this retailer.  Within the Christian Fiction category, there are separate lists for Bestselling Books, Bestselling eBooks, and Most Popular Free eBooks.  And if you’re looking for a particular genre within Christian fiction, you can select that genre for a more specific list.

Barnes & Noble: Their Christian Fiction & Literature offerings can be sorted by Best Selling, and you can limit the list to show only physical books or NOOK books if you wish. Their fiction offerings can be sorted by Bestseller.  You can limit the results to one of more than a dozen subcategories by genre if you’re looking for something specific.

You may have noticed that I used the terms Best Seller, Best-Seller, and Bestseller interchangeably.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement over which is the correct or accepted spelling, so I attempted to use the term that a given list uses when referring to that list.

If you found this blog post helpful and haven’t yet done so, please consider subscribing to my blog or connecting with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Discovering Christian Fiction

I have been a Christian and a bookworm for as long as I can remember.  But it was only a few years ago that I discovered and embraced Christian fiction.  I think I knew in the back of my mind that it was out there.  But I thought it was the stuff that sat ignored in those bookstores where you go to buy a nice Bible, or the latest devotional, or a wall hanging featuring a pretty pastoral scene and a Bible verse.  And not the kind of thing you might want to read for enjoyment.

Inspirational Wall Hanging

Inspirational Wall Hanging

I assumed Christian fiction was for the type of Christian who was afraid of regular fiction.  The type of Christian who avoids movie theaters out of principle regardless of what’s showing and who considers dancing a sin worse than sex out of wedlock.  I figured that if I wanted to be edified, I’d read the Bible or a nonfiction Christian book, and if I wanted to be entertained, I’d read whatever fiction was popular in the world at large.

Now that I’m reading more Christian fiction, and writing it, I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that it suffers from a lot of false assumptions and overgeneralizations.  And that Christians would do well to read more of it, and talk more about what they’re reading.  Allow me to explain.

Some say Christian fiction is too preachy or didactic.  That the stories aren’t stories so much as thinly veiled evangelism.  While I’m sure you could find examples to support that idea, I’ve found that many of the best authors of Christian fiction (and fiction in general) avoid “telling” in favor of “showing.”  When the characters are allowed to make mistakes, face the consequences and learn from them, and when the Christian element arises naturally from the characters and the situations they’re facing, it doesn’t come across as preachy.  It comes across as thought-provoking and discussable.  And in my opinion, that makes for good reading.

Some say Christian fiction is too bland.  That it’s been sanitized and pasteurized until there’s no life left in it.  Let’s just say that some Christian novels are kinder and gentler than others.  Some readers are looking simply for a clean, safe read.  Others want to be challenged by more complicated and potentially controversial themes and ideas.  And there are Christian authors and novels out there appealing to both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between, with entertaining and enjoyable books.  It might just take a little digging to find the authors and titles that will appeal to any given individual.  But is that surprising?  Even in the general fiction market, not every author appeals to every reader to the same degree.

What I think a lot of Christians don’t realize is just how much Christian fiction is published and how widely varied it is.  Whatever your preferred genre or style of writing, there’s a good chance Christian fiction offers it – romance, mystery, suspense, science fiction, historical, literary.  You name it, chances are, it’s out there.  The problem as I see it, is that most libraries and secular bookstores carry a very limited selection of Christian fiction, and few people take the time to look beyond what’s readily available.  Even Christian bookstores tend to stock only a fraction of what’s out there.  Publishers, bookstores, and libraries try to guess at what will be popular, and supply that kind of book, but it’s an imperfect process.  The good news (or bad news, depending on your perspective) is that what’s readily available is impacted by what sells.

So here’s my suggestion.  If you’re a Christian, who hasn’t read much Christian fiction and are open to trying it, start seeking it out.  Consider reading not just one book by one author, but a wide sampling of it.  Read across sub-genres and across publishing houses.  And when you find a book or an author you love, write reviews and tell your friends.  Chances are, they’ll love it too, and when they buy their copies, sales increase, publishers take note, and more books of that type will be available in the future.  While you’re at it, ask those same friends for recommendations.  Most likely they can recommend some titles you’d love to read too.  And as more Christians read Christian fiction, the publishing industry will discover there really is a market for it, and a greater variety will become more readily available in bookstores and libraries.

In my opinion, it’s worth a little digging to find books you’ll love.  There are a lot of gems out there in the world of Christian fiction just waiting to be discovered.  I’ll be blogging here about some of the books and authors I’m reading as I continue to explore the world of Christian fiction, so consider subscribing to my blog and reading along with me.

Do you have any favorite titles or authors when it comes to Christian fiction?  What is it you like about them?  Please share your comments below, so the rest of us can seek out those books.