Saturday, September 24, 2016


Cover image for Emissary
     The journey of twenty-one-year-old Hyam in a realm of swords, steeds, danger, and strange magic is a wonderful fulfillment of fantasy-fiction and world-building dreams. The death of his mother at the beginning of the story throws his life into uncertainty, and shortly, chaos, with the revelation of part of his ancestry and an encounter with armed warriors heralding war. Hyam is accused of using forbidden magic to toil on his thriving family land, magic he has only just discovered and learned he can use. And it is that same magic that allows him to defeat these men and their threat on his life, and further spread the warning of war to his hometown.

     Hyam's account finds him exiled. Alone. His only company: the warhorse he acquired from defeating the soldiers, and the massive wolf-hound gifted to him by the mayor of his village when he sent him away. He has his weapons, his newfound powers, his pets, and nothing but pieces of advice to make his way in the world.

     His first stop introduces us to a race called Ashanta - a community oriented, gentle, guardian-type people who, like several of the other groups in this story, are very private and unapproachable. Through a series of questioning and unexpected abilities they make Hyam their emissary, throwing him into a world of peril he never could have anticipated or imagined.

     Locke's selling point in this story, for me, is his unique blend of wizardry and fantastic creatures and people. The world-building alone is enough to hold my interest, but Locke embarks on a never-slowing adventure through treacherous land and life, facing Hyam with threat, danger, and love. It is as much action-adventure-fantasy as it is a riveting story about identity and belonging.


     For more information on Emissary by Thomas Locke, visit our website here.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Calling All: Readers & Writers!

     Make the most of your reading and review a book purchased from our store, for a chance to win! Prizes include a free specialty coffee from our coffeeshop or a giftcard to spend in the store. This is your chance to recommend that amazing book that you think everyone should read. Spread your love for words; showcase your talent for writing. If your review is chosen, it will be featured here on our blog, Book Talk, and on the House of James facebook page.

What we're looking for:

     Rate the book out of 5 stars, give us an idea of what it's about, and tell us what you thought about the book. Be sure to include the title and the author's name(s). Keep your word count between 200 and 600 words and email your completed review to, and make sure to mention your own name somewhere at the end of the review or email, so that we know who to give credit to. And especially for fiction book reviews, no spoilers, please! If someone likes your review and wants to read the book, you're not doing them any favours by giving away the ending.

What kind of books?

     Any kind! As long as it's a book that we carry at the House of James, you can review anything from non-fiction to fiction, from kids picture books to books on systematic theology. We want to know what our customers are reading and enjoying.

Kids Reviews?

     If you're 13 years old or younger, don't worry! You can also review a Junior Reader or children's book (picture books do count!), or a tween or teen novel, or non-fiction issue. Either from your own email, or with help from your parents, you only need to write 100-200 words for kids books, or 200-400 for tweens and teens. Kids and teen books are an important part of our store, so we want to know what the you're reading and enjoying, just as much as the adults.


     Our goal is to post a customer review once or twice a month, on Saturdays, so depending on how you all respond, if your review isn't chosen the month you send it in we might just be saving it for the next time! And if you're unsure about anything, or you want some clarification, feel free to email me any questions as well:

Your reviewing checklist:
  • Rate the book /5 stars
  • What it's about: a short summary, an idea of the genre, but no spoilers please!
  • What you thought! Constructive criticism is welcome.
  • The book's title
  • The author's name(s)
  • 200-600 words for regular fiction/non-fiction
  • Your name!
And email everything to

Happy writing!


For an idea of what kind of new books you might like to review, visit our website here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Every Young Woman's Battle

Cover image for Every Young Woman's Battle
     I've known about this book for years. It sat on my parents' bookshelf when I was a teen, meant to be read eventually. And then in the midst of moving, and life, and all of those things that get in the way, it was forgotten for a while. Which was probably a good thing. People talk about God's perfect timing, and I have a feeling this was it for me. There is a right time to read this book, and it will be different for everyone.

     Every Young Woman's Battle was written as a result of the initial success of Every Man's Battle, by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker; a book intended to help young men in the struggle for purity in a sex saturated world. So the question was asked: what about women?

     One of the main points they seem to make is that, while men struggle more with the visual, women struggle more with their emotional purity. Entertaining feelings and thoughts that are not necessarily pure or healthy, which can lead to sexual compromise.

     There is power in this book, in that Ethridge and Arterburn both write very sensitively to the failings of the human mind and body. They do not condemn or judge, and they offer help and hope, in a biblical, healthy, and trusting way.
"Whether you have so far protected yourself emotionally and sexually, feel that you've been robbed of your purity, or have given in to temptation in some way, this book can help you achieve or  reclaim sexual integrity. It can also guide you through the temptations and pressures of young adulthood while demonstrating how you can live your life to the fullest - without regrets."
     I would recommend this book to any young woman trying to fight her way through the woes and throes of friendships, relationships, and interactions with members of the opposite sex.


For more information about Every Young Woman's Battle by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn, visit our website here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Pharaoh's Daughter

Cover image for Pharaoh's Daughter      "I’ve always been fascinated by ancient Egypt; the lifestyle and religion (how did they remember ALL those gods!?) I find most interesting. Even in the Bible, some of my favorite stories involve ancient Egypt: Abraham and Sarah’s encounter there, Joseph, and (obviously) Moses.
     The story follows Anippe: daughter of pharaoh and the possible victim of Anubis, god of the afterlife, who has already taken her mother and baby brother. So when she is married off to Sebak, captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army, she comes up with a plan to make sure she won’t bear his child; a plan that involves two Hebrew midwives who have been ordered by Pharaoh Tut to drown newborn boys of their own people in the Nile. But when she happens upon a baby floating in a basket down the river, Anippe believes her prayers have been answered by the gods, burying her even deeper into the deceptions she has already created, placing her and her son, Mehy, or Moses, in danger.

     If I’m being completely honest though, there is always a bit of skepticism when it comes to reading historical Christian fiction for me. One of my favorite secular historical fiction authors is Margaret George, and so I tend to put down a book if it doesn’t come to par with her writing and her depth of research for the given topic she’s chosen to write on. But my OH my, this book totally captivated me the moment I read the prologue.
     Mesu Andrews does a beautiful job at making the story jump off the page and come to life. This is a story I’ve always wanted to know more about and wished that the Bible went in to just a bit more detail, and I love what Andrews adds. This book is right up there with Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series and Redeeming Love. If you are a fan of those books, I highly recommend you pick up this book as well."

     --The other Elise--
For more information on The Pharaoh's Daughter by Mesu Andrews, visit our website here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Progeny

     More than one review of this book told me that it was impossible to put down once you started reading. I didn't take them quite seriously enough. Sleep deprived and gushing praise for this book from my very pores, I bring The Progeny to you from Tosca Lee. What a marvel. What a story. I am overwhelmed again.
     "I'm twenty-one years old and my name doesn't matter because it's about to be erased forever."
     Meet Emily Porter. All she knows about herself is that she forgot the rest of her life on purpose, with very good reason, and her only instructions are to live, love, and discover. Anything except the details of her past.

     Aside from riveting, gripping storytelling and fascinating characters and plot, before I read this book I actually took a look at the summary on the back. I tend to avoid this because too many books overshare and spoil most of the story for me. The Progeny is a beautiful, wonderful exception. The summary made me want to know more, for once.
"Intricately woven, intriguing, and romantic - I literally couldn't put it down."
     ---Jennifer L. Armentrout
     Which about sums up my exact feelings on this one. This book was absolutely thrilling, and so very enticing. It follows Emily Porter as she struggles to remember, to forget, and to escape the death that hunts her. I was totally captivated by the turning of the first page. I lost myself in these chapters, in the lives of these characters and all of their emotions - tragedy, pain, loss, desperation - from the beginning, when Emily is struggling to come to terms with the fact that she specifically made herself forget everything, through every car chase, fist fight, crossfire, and trial of will or heart or logic.

     Tosca Lee brings these different parts of Europe and North America to life, making me want to travel and discover, and plunge into conspiracy theories for the rest of my life. She always has a twisted, terrible, incredible historical aspect to her novels. The Progeny manages to maintain some of these key elements of history, research, and credibility that I've found in Lee's previous books, and still be so vastly different from everything else she's written before.

     Tosca Lee is right up there with Ted Dekker for me, which is an even sweeter realization with the fact that they co-authored a trilogy together: The Books of Mortals series - Forbidden, Mortal, and Sovereign.

     Any book by Tosca Lee is bound to be an unforgettable adventure.


For more information on The Progeny by Tosca Lee, visit our website here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Ringmaster's Wife

     The 1920's, from London to New York, from the perspective of an English Lady and, contrarily, a working woman in the states. The Ringmaster's Wife flits back and forth in perspective between Lady Rosamund, a young lady who abandons her home and arranged marriage in order to thrive in the world of circus life, and Mabel, a simple girl with big dreams that she carries around in an old cigar box.

     The circus has always been a fascination of mine, from the flying acrobats and showy displays of the Cirque de Soleil, to the run-down rides in a forgotten town, or even the sinister settings of stories like Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ray Bradbury). Cambron winds the fascination of the circus lights and the excitement of the Roaring '20s into a descriptive and emotional narrative, with a sense of mystery, intrigue, and suspense.

     In The Ringmaster's Wife, she opens with a curious prologue, and from there on we are introduced to various different sides of different lives. Mabel displays a willingness, perseverance, and belief in dreams. Her story starts simply, on a farm, surrounded by siblings and chores and a quiet life. Lady Rosamund strives for much of the same, with confidence, independence, and a talent for knowing her own mind, but she comes from a rich family in high-class London and a lifestyle that she as good as throws aside for the pursuit of freedom. The question is if that freedom will prove to be more than either of them bargained for.


For more information on The Ringmaster's Wife by Kristy Cambron, visit our website here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom From Shame

Shame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
     In Chapter One of her book, Unashamed, Heather Davis Nelson makes an important distinction: “Guilt is associated with actions while shame taints your entire identity.” She quotes BrenĂ© Brown to explain that “the majority of shame researchers and clinicians agree that the difference between shame and guilt is best understood as the difference between ‘I am bad’ and ‘I did something bad’.”

     Guilt is as simple as a natural response to wrongdoing, where you know what you have done is wrong. On the other hand, shame is better described as:
“The feeling that we have missed the mark according to our own standard or our perception of someone else’s standard for us. Shame keeps us from being honest about our struggles, sins, and less-than-perfect moments. Fear of shame drives us to perfectionism in all areas of our life, so that there would be no imperfection to be noticed and judged. Shame is what we heap on others when they fail us.” (p.20)
     Shame burrows into your very being and instills in you this sense that everything you do and say – your very existence – deserves punishment. It is a waking purgatory for every wrong you have ever committed. Realizing this, we must therefore come to the conclusion that shame is wrong, and this is what Nelson wants to instill: shame is wrong, and damaging, and rooted in brokenness. The only true way to curing this disease is through the hope of Jesus Christ, who covers our shame like God covered Adam and Eve in the garden. Nelson returns to this image several times throughout her book as a beautiful picture of what Christ can do for our brokenness.

     Unashamed is a message of hope, of finding "healing [for] our brokenness and freedom from shame". The book is organized into nine sections, aside from the introduction on what shame is and the conclusion that ties together the shame-free destiny available to all of us. The sections she addresses include body shame, performance shame, and shame in marriage, parenting, and the church. Each section features discussion and reflection questions at the end, in order to ease the reader into response. Aside from blaring fundamental truth from the loud speakers, Unashamed invites the reader into the beginnings of healing - this being, first of all, the realization that everybody struggles with shame in one way or another.

     I am in no way shame-free as a result of reading Unashamed, but I am more acutely aware than ever of what differentiates shame from guilt, and what areas of my life might be tainted by the former. Nelson helps the reader identify in their own life the kinds of things that they struggle with in shame, and identifying those elements is one of the keys to healing.


     For more information on Unashamed by Heather Davis Nelson, visit our website here.