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Giveaway,  Hope-filled Fiction

Five Must-Read Contemporary Christian Novels

By Deena Adams

I’ve been an avid reader since childhood but when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1992, my reading preferences changed drastically. Once I discovered Christian Fiction, there was no other fiction I wanted to read.

This week, I’m sharing five Contemporary Fiction must-reads. This short list only scratches the surface of wonderful offerings available in this genre. I encourage you to explore the options and find your favorites. You’ll find an Amazon link for each book by clicking on the cover.

Over the coming months, on the weeks I don’t post an author interview, I’ll share my recommendations in various Christian Fiction genres such as Romantic Suspense, Historical, Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Split-Time, Biblical Fiction, and Mystery/Thriller.

Be sure to comment on this post by April 27 for a chance to win a copy of the book of your choice from my shared list!

Life After by Katie Ganshert

It could have been me.

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest. 

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake. 

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale

A Nest of Sparrows by Deborah Raney

His Fiancée Was the One Woman He’d Loved.
Her Children Are All He Has Left.

Reserved contractor Wade Sullivan never expected to fall in love with Starr Parnell or to love her three small kids as if they were his own. But that’s exactly what happened. As their wedding draws near, however, tragedy strikes–and Wade must put aside his own grief in order to help Starr’s children cope. 

As Wade focuses his efforts on caring for the children, he discovers that their tender, young lives give tremendous meaning to his own broken one. Then Starr’s abusive ex-husband shows up to claim the offspring who barely remember him–and Wade prepares for the fight of his life. 

Will Anyone Believe His Claim to Love the Children More than Their Father Loves Them? 

A powerful novel of loss and discovery, courage and grace, A Nest of Sparrows masterfully illustrates one man’s struggle to know when to fight, when to let go, and when to simply wait.

Sophie’s Heart by Lori Wick

After the tragic death of his wife, Alec Riley struggles to put his life back together. He and his three children are lost in their grief… until Sophie walks unexpectedly into their lives. Having left her native Czechoslovakia, Sophie has discovered the land which seemed so bright with promise is far from her dream. A highly educated woman, Sophie now finds herself keeping house for Alec and his family. How can Sophie find peace in her new job? Will God use her gentle spirit to help heal Alec’s broken heart? From the author of The Visitor and Bamboo and Lace comes a warm contemporary story of God’s tender mercies and loving intervention in the life of one family.

The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

From the New York Times bestselling author of Redeeming Love and The Masterpieceand “one of [Christian fiction’s] most honored and talented writers” (Library Journal)―comes a heart-wrenching but uplifting story about a highly controversial topic.

Dynah Carey knew where her life was headed. Engaged to a wonderful man, the daughter of doting parents, a faithful child of God―she has it all. Then the unthinkable happens: Dynah’s perfect life is irrevocably changed by a rape that results in an unwanted pregnancy.

Her family is torn apart and her seemingly rock-solid faith is pushed to the limits as she faces the most momentous choice of her life: to embrace or to end the life within her.

This is ultimately a tale of three women, as Dynah’s plight forces both her mother and her grandmother to confront the choices they made. Written with balance and compassion, The Atonement Child brings a new perspective to a widely debated topic.

When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin

A man with a painful past. A child with a doubtful future. And a shared journey toward healing for both their hearts.

It begins on the shaded town square in a sleepy Southern town. A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. But the little girl’s pretty yellow dress can’t quite hide the ugly scar on her chest.

Her latest customer, a bearded stranger, drains his cup and heads to his car, his mind on a boat he’s restoring at a nearby lake. The stranger understands more about the scar than he wants to admit. And the beat-up bread truck careening around the corner with its radio blaring is about to change the trajectory of both their lives.

Before it’s over, they’ll both know there are painful reasons why crickets cry . . . and that miracles lurk around unexpected corners.

Join the conversation. Have you read any of the books mentioned? What Contemporary Christian novels would you add to this must-read list?

Comment by April 27 for a chance to win a copy of one of these five books in your preferred format (digital or paperback).

If you missed last week’s Zoom author interview with Lisa Renee, find it here.

As a Jesus girl for more than thirty years, Deena Adams understands how important hope is to daily life, which fuels her passion to inspire others through hope-filled fiction based on true to life stories. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and is a multi-award-winning writer, an active ACFW member, and ACFW Virginia president. Connect with Deena through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  • Deena Adams

    Congratulations to Vickie! You’re the winner of your choice of one of the five novels listed in this post. Look for an email from me. 🙂

    Thanks to everyone who joined in the conversation!


    I’ve read The Atonement Child and Sophie’s Heart! I think I have a Nest of Sparrows on my kindle but haven’t read it! I would add a new one Facing the Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti which released recently. It is a great book!

    • Deena Adams

      Hi Joan. I read Facing the Dawn last month and I agree! It was so good. My list of five only scratched the surface of all the amazing contemporary books out there I love! Thanks so much for reading and chiming in!

  • Phyllis

    I have the last three of these on my wishlist but had not heard about the first two. I have books from both authors but not these. The Kate Ganshert book sounds great since I love historical CF. Thanks for posting!

    • Deena Adams

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Phyllis. I love Katie Ganshert’s writing. I’ll be posting historical recommendations at some point in the future. I hope you’ll continue to follow the blog posts.

  • Vickie

    Though I’ve heard of all of these authors, I’ve not read any of these. Thanks for the recommendations!

  • Patty

    I haven’t read The Atonement Child or Life After, but I’ve read the other three.

    I read more historical fiction than contemporary I think, but is few years ago I ran across My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade and since then I’ve been reading more contemporary fiction, she is one of the best at it currently I think.

  • Linda McKain

    Deena, I am enjoying your blog. I first saw you this past fall at the zoom conference. From there I signed up for your blog.

    I have read two of the books you mentioned in this blog, “A nest of Sparrows” I love Deborah Raney & I have been working my way through her books, I think I have read them all, I am awaiting her new one. But thus far A nest of Sparrows is my favorite.

    I have also read “The Atonement Child”. By Francine Rivers I have read other books by this author. I plan to read this list you posted.

    I am presently writing a book which i plan to have complete by summer’s end.

    Always in Christ
    Linda McKain

    • Deena Adams

      Hi Linda! I’m so encouraged that you enjoy the blog. Thanks so much for your support. I love Francine Rivers and Deborah Raney, too. Deb is such a sweetheart.

      Congratulations on writing a novel! It’s hard work, isn’t it? Writing books makes me appreciate authors all the more.

      I lead a Facebook group for Christian fiction writers called Marathon. You’re welcome to join.

  • Jeannie

    I read Sophie’s Heart many years ago it is the kind of book you want to keep a copy of to read again!!
    Thank you for recommending these Christian books

  • Teresa+Moyer

    I had not read any of these 5 books but boy do 2 of them pop out to me! A Nest of Sparrows by Deborah Raney and The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers both sound like such good books! Thanks for shareing these 5 books with us.

  • Deb Gorman

    Hi Deena!

    What an stellar list of Christian fiction books.

    I’ve read just about everything Charles Martin has written, including When Crickets Cry. I haven’t read the Rivers book mentioned, but I’ve read The Last Sin Eater and am presently reading the last book in her Mark of the Lion series. I can’t describe how these stories have deepened my love for God and my admiration for these talented authors.

    I haven’t read any of the others mentioned…I see I’m behind!

    • Deena Adams

      Thanks for chiming in, Deb! I love Francine Rivers’s writing. She’s amazing. If I could only write half as well. You’re not behind! I’m sure you’ve read many other books I’ve never read.

    • Marbeth Skwarczynski

      Many of these look good. I’ve heard of Atonement Child, but have never read it. After reading this summary, it’s going on my TBR.

      Hopefully, my book will end up on a list like this someday.

  • Lois Kennis

    I haven’t read any of the five must-read contemporary Christian novels you mentioned, but they all sound wonderful. Thank you for listing their titles and summaries. I wrote them on my list of books to read ASAP.

  • Traci Winget

    I’ve added the 1st two to my TBR list! I love Deborah Raney’s writing, so I’d probably pick that one 1st if the 2. I read the other 3, but highly recommend every one of them!!!

    • Deena Adams

      Yay, Traci! Glad you have a couple new ones to check out. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation and adding your thumbs up on several of the books mentioned.

      • Connie Isbell

        Thanks for the book recommendations Deena and for the summaries! I think I would like to read ‘When crickets cry’ first. 💞

        • Deena Adams

          Thanks so much for reading and joining the conversation, Connie! I think you’d love When Cricket’s Cry. Let me know if you read it what you think.

  • Deena Adams

    I thought the same thing when I finished the post, Jennifer. Guess I know what kind of books I like to read. Must be why I’m writing the same genre. I love to see God’s redemption shine through difficult trials. Thanks for reading and joining the conversation!

    • Lisa Kelley

      I’ve read Life After and When Crickets Cry and loved them both. I’m a fan of both authors. Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese is one of favorites.

      • Deena Adams

        Thanks for joining the conversation, Lisa. I love Katie Ganshert’s writing. She’s one of my favorites. Before I Called You Mine is on my TBR list! I’m looking forward to it.