Friday, November 30, 2007

How about some free books before Christmas?

Ashberry Lane is having a contest and giving away books. Read the announcement below from their website and follow the instructions to be entered if you so choose. Be sure to check out their webpage and sign up for their newsletter to be entered.

****We've added 65 subscribers in the last few months and that's largely because you spread the word. But we're not happy yet. We're not even close to satisfied. Which leads right into our BIG announcement ...

We write about relationships. We are a relationship. We want to dominate the relationship brand. And we want to have at least 500 subscribers by the first of the year. Should we expect you to keep working so hard at strong-arming your friends to sign up while you get nothing out of the deal? No way!

Compassionate as we are, we've worked up a HUGE new incentive. How better to promote our relational fiction than featuring other fiction that focuses on different types of relationship? Why don't we give our supporters a chance to win EIGHT autographed books? Without further ado, we present, with a booming voice,

For the Friend Relationship: Roxanne Henke's After Anne
One of our absolute favorite books. As you watch Olivia and Anne struggle through a difficult challenge, you'll want to be a better friend.

For the Prodigal Relationship: Robin Lee Hatcher's Return to Me
How many of us have walked away from what our father wanted for us? Or away from our Father? This story will remind you that the you can go home again.

For the Marriage Relationship: Robin Jones Gunn's Wildflowers Wildflowers
Married Genevieve falls in love with the man she least expected could win her heart. It's not who you might think ....

For the Sibling Relationship: Laurainne Snelling's Ruby (Dakotah Treasures #1)
In the first of this frontier series, Ruby must deal with her new "inheritance" while protecting her sister from its influences.

For the Man's Perspective on Relationships: James Scott Bell's Breach of Promise
A heart-rending story of a man trying to keep his family together.

For the Supernatural Relationship: Tosca Lee's Demon: A Memoir
Don't let the title of this book scare you away. There is no glorification of the demonic, but an enlightened fresh look at what History means.

For the Relationships Gone Bad: Bette Nordberg's Serenity Bay
A truly terrifying story of woman who married Prince Charming and discovered he wasn't.

For the Single Among the Marriage-Minded: Camy Tang's Sushi for One? (The Sushi Series, Book 1)
You'll laugh. You'll relate. You'll be impressed with this debut novel from up-and-coming author Camy Tang.

EIGHT books. ONE winner. Here are the ways to win:

Any new subscriber or referral will gain another entry.
Publicize this to your homeys through newsletters: one entry.

Blog about the contest: one entry. (Email us and we'll send you what to post or copy off this newsletter.)

Include it in your Christmas cards: two entries.

Tuck it in the gift bag with the fruitcake you'll be leaving on random doorsteps: five entries.

Just log on to:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

George Washington's Thanksgiving Speech

George Washington's 1782 Thanksgiving Proclamation expresses beautifully the utter dependence on God of our Founding Fathers, the Continental Congress, and the earliest leaders of our government. With these words, President Washington gives credit to God for every victory and success experienced by the fledgling country of America. His expressions of gratitude amount to a virtual grocery list of the blessings of the Almighty upon the country.

"It being the indispensable duty of all Nations, not only to offer up their supplications to ALMIGHTY GOD, the giver of all good, for His gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give Him praise for His goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of His providence in their behalf. They do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for His goodness, by a cheerful obedience of His laws, and by promoting, each in His station, and by His influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness."--George Washington, 1782

May we all remember what boundless grace, love, and supply we have from our Father God, and truly praise Him for it. Not only at Thanksgiving, but at all times. As we gather with our families and friends, or even meditating alone with the Lord, we also need to be grateful that we have a day set aside to give thanks, even though many people do not see it as more than a day off of work or a day to stuff our faces.

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Monday, November 12, 2007


Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage;

Minds innocent and quiet take that for an hermitage;

If I have freedom in my love, And in my soul am free,

Angels alone that soar above Enjoy such liberty.
( “To Althea From Prison,” Richard
Lovelace 1618-1658)

For her second novel in the Ascendancy trilogy, Caprice Hokstad chose an appropriate title, Nor Iron Bars a Cage, alluding to themes in the above poem as well as referring to events in the novel itself. In a fantasy world where slavery is a normal part of a culture, one of the big questions is, “what is true freedom?”

Events take up right where they left off in The Duke’s Handmaid. In case you haven’t read the first book, there are enough details that you can easily follow the story, although it would be preferable to read both books. Nor Iron Bars a Cage is set in the imaginary country of Latoph. (You can find some cool details about Latoph, including a map, at In this world there is a duality to everything: two suns, two moons, two races of people. Even twin brothers who were supposed to reign together as kings, but only one was given the throne. The other one, our hero Duke Vahn, has only his duchy at his control. This is a cause of major sibling tension.

The story starts up a while after the Duke’s former wife had taken off with their son, fleeing with her lover back to her father’s kingdom of Ganluc. Prince Duke Vahn has searched in vain to discover where his former wife Saerula had hidden Dauntère in Ganluc. Finally, kee, his secret wife and handmaiden extraordinaire, devises a plan enter Ganluc as a recaptured runaway slave, reasoning that a slave will not be suspect and may get information that others could not. The plan is dangerous for all of them, but especially kee, who must be kept locked in a cage as they transport her through the country. There are some very serious misadventures, but I won’t spoil that here.

Meanwhile, while kee is gone, the Duke finds himself in hot water due to a hasty bet with an angry duchess who tried in vain to snatch the Duke as a groom. The loser has to act as slave to the winner for eight weeks. As the saying goes, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

There are some very deep issues in this novel, much deeper than they may appear on the surface. Quite honestly, I had to come to terms with the slavery, which is nothing like the slavery that existed in the United States, but there is a natural repulsion to the whole idea. This is a totally different culture, but even more than that is the Biblical example that kee in particular was following. We serve either God or Mammon, as it says in the King James Version, so while we do have free will, we will end up serving someone. True freedom is found when we willingly submit to the will of God and allow Him to be the Lord of our lives. One of the gems that this novel contains is coming to terms with what Lordship means. When God is truly Lord, He is also our Father. He takes care of us, feeds us, protects us, and has our welfare in mind even when He corrects us. Vahn learns to be more of a Christ figure in the second novel. Hebrews 2:18 reads, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” You will have to read the book to discover how he suffered. There are several other Christian values and world views expressed: loyalty, friendship, faithfulness, a desire to bring honor and glory to the Lord, a willingness to accept blame and not find fault with others, respect for all people, and substitution and sacrifice. The virtue is not so much in getting our rights as being submissive to God and others.

One point I wish to make clear: just because this is fantasy, do not expect it to be a Young Adult or children’s book. It is quite definitely written for adults and describes adult issues. Mrs. Hokstad has said that since she couldn’t find the kind of book she wanted to read, she decided to write it herself. Adult scenes are worded carefully, with no vulgarity or cheapness, but it is suggested that parents read the novel first before handing it to any teenagers. You won’t find anything more graphic than is depicted in the Bible, in fact many passages in the Old Testament are a great deal more violent and graphic.

By and large, this was a very entertaining and insightful, richly detailed story. Caprice Hokstad has painstakingly laid out a new world with luxurious descriptions, from the topography and weather to the racial and cultural differences to the events and décor of the homes. The duality theme is carried out in so many levels. Her descriptions made me wince with pain, smile at the sweetness of kee, and feel the thirst in the desert. It was not a book with action packing every paragraph, since a great deal of the action was internal. Nevertheless, there were plenty of exciting scenes along the way, and quite a few truths to ponder as we impatiently wait for the third book in the series.

Nor Iron Bars a Cage by Caprice Hokstad
348 pages
Publisher: Vici Publishing
Copyright: © 2007 Caprice Hokstad
Standard Copyright License
Language: English
Country: United States
Available in hardcover, paperback, and download.
If you would like to read a preview of the first three chapters, you can find it at
Caprice Hokstad’s website:
Available through her website and
Should be available very soon at, but the price is better at

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Book Trailer for Faith Awakened

Grace Bridges made this book trailer with the help of her friend and roommate, Ruth Wierer, a classical pianist who wrote the song (Day's Breaking) that she is playing on the grand piano

Then there is a funny video to entice you to buy the book:

Hot Topics and Buzz Words

Faith Awakened includes several topics that are hot these days, especially in science and science fiction. In the true spirit of Christian Speculative Fiction, Grace Bridges uses her novel to address several “what if’s” that many others flirt with as well. What if stasis was a real possibility? How long could life be sustained until the person wakes up again? What, if anything, would be happening to that person while in stasis? What about cryogenics? Is that a feasible method of inducing stasis? Then there’s the whole virtual reality realm. Just how far can we go with virtual reality? Can we create something like the holodeck programs that they had on Star Trek? What if we could make an alternate life in virtual reality? In scientific experiment with DNA, what if they discovered some way to grow vegetables and fruit that were super sized and faster growing, that could grow even in less-than-ideal conditions? What kind of effect could that have on the world population and commerce? What if that discovery came at a price that didn’t show up right away? How about a virus so lethal and contagious that it causes a severe worldwide pandemic?

Suppose there was a one world government some day. There are many, many takes on this idea. Suppose it was a takeover by a few big business concerns, and once they controlled the markets, they forced people to serve them if they were to survive? How would people react to this slavery? What if this government forbade any religious activities? (We know this has already happened in certain societies) Would Christians find a way to still meet and practice their faith?

These are a few of the ideas found within the pages of Faith Awakened. There are quite a few more: revolution, energy crisis, computer technological advances, dystopian society where people have lost technology and ability to use it. There are a lot of questions raised as well as some interesting reading.

Faith Awakened by Grace Bridges and
180 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4303-1111-9
Copyright: © 2007
Country: New Zealand
Available Nov. 5, 2007 through as well as

Faith Awakened is featured this week at Christian Diction Review Blog,

Some participating sites are:

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Grace Bridges and Faith Awakened Summarized

From, I took the following synopsis of Faith Awakened and a short biography of Grace Bridges, the featured author of the CFRB Blog Tour this week.


In virtual stasis to escape a deadly virus, an ex-slave finds far more than just survival...

Ireland as it has never been seen before – in a future where hope is hard to come by. Mariah, living in the dark time after the advent of a one world government, seeks the light in the underground Fellowship of the Awakened. Shortly afterwards, nearly the whole earth is silenced, and she struggles through the shock with a handful of survivors. Yet the danger has not passed away entirely, and they are forced to fight for their lives using an untested technology.
Faith, too, grows up in Ireland, but it has little in common with the homeland Mariah knew. Sometimes she thinks her life is perfect, asking herself, “If this is a dream, when am I going to wake up?” Other times it seems repetitive and monotonous. She experiences much to delight her, but also suffers from inexplicable bouts of amnesia that rob her of the past again and again. Seeking answers, she travels much in the free world, where disappointments and successes vie for the upper hand until she finally finds fulfillment in spite of all her disasters.

About Grace Bridges
Grace Bridges is a New Zealander with partly Irish roots, and has spent many years in Germany. She was homeschooled and spent most of her early learning years reading novels – in the end it made her a writer. Faith Awakened is her first novel, which needed eight years of incubation followed by six years of writing. She also enjoys reading (of course!), culinary improvisation, living with cats, inventing things, web design and graphics, and meeting people both real and virtual. The story is set in Bangor, near Belfast in Northern Ireland, although many familiar aspects of life in New Zealand can also be found in these pages. Bridges is a pen name - Grace is for real!
Download or buy now: Faith Awakened at!
Get your free e-book - or the print copy at cost price!
ISBN: 978-1-4303-1111-9 Use this to order from your local bookstore.
Faith Awakened at

Faith Awakened

Faith Awakened is the tale of two women, both Irish, living in two very different worlds. Both begin their lives in Belfast or nearby Bangor. They both love the beach and the sea, and they are both Believers. Beyond that, their lives take far different turns, as do the circumstances in which they live. The narrative, all told in first person but from two different perspectives, spends a few chapters with Mariah, and then switches to Faith. Any person who has read a few novels knows that there must be a point where the two them intersect in some way, but the question is how and when. The answer comes as a surprise.

The story seems to start in the middle or near the end, as Mariah is obviously in a frantic race with time in a bleak future world. Hurriedly she is rounding up a group of people, putting them into cubicles and hooking them up to something that is painful for a moment. We know their lives are at stake. But why? Are they going into stasis or committing suicide, planning to meet “in Paradise on the other side?” This is the brief introduction.

In Chapter 1, the reader is introduced to Faith as a child. It appears that her life is idyllic, yet something is constantly nagging at her. The nagging feeling is one of the things that kept me looking for some problem to show up eventually in her life. When the story switches back to Mariah, it goes to a time a while before the introduction, when she is a slave to the One World system that is running everything and every one. Basically, in order to get food, the people of the world had to agree to the terms of the powerful leaders, which virtually meant enslavement. One day, a mysterious stranger invites Mariah to a secret meeting of the followers of the Awakener, and her life changes completely. However, there are many twists and turns in both of their lives, more than I can even hint at in this review. I may be somewhat slow, but it took me a long time to suspect the connection between these two women who had such very different lives.

This was a very different type of novel, more like a romance novel on one hand, but very definitely science fiction with lots of technical/futuristic portions. It would appear that Ms. Bridges has done her homework. I love her descriptions of places, especially along the shore near Bangor and Belfast. Really, she does a masterful job of describing people and ideas as well as scenes. I was saddened when a couple of the characters died in some unexpected turns of events. Once I started reading, I honestly could not stop, reading far into the wee hours of the morning. For the most part, it was an easy read, although I became a little bogged down on the technical elements. This is a fresh narrative full of nuances, twists, and surprises. The projected audience is probably adult, but adolescents would be just as engrossed in it as I was. I believe most proponents of Speculative Christian fiction (romance, too) will enjoy Grace Bridges’ first novel.

Faith Awakened by Grace Bridges
180 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4303-1111-9
Copyright: © 2007
Country: New Zealand
Available Nov. 5, 2007 through as well as