Friday, August 9, 2013

4/5 House of James Staff Recommend....

As a bookstore, it's our job to tell you know about the best, that is exactly what we plan to do. I (Denise) fell in love these books (as did Esther and Lynn) but when I read Lauryssa's review, I knew I could not put it any better...

The Staff and Sword Trilogy by Patrick Carr

With the first page, Patrick W. Carr throws you into a world and story with the epic promise of Tolkien's Middle Earth or the myths of Camelot. Errol Stone is a nobody, the village drunk in a quiet little town in Illustra. And he likes it that way. But when he signs up to deliver an urgent message from the church to the local hermit priest for coin, that cherished simple life is thrown out with the bathwater. Errol finds himself being attacked and compelled out of Callowford on a dangerous mission that seems to hold no viable connection to him. With each turn the world around him becomes darker and he is forced to face his past with its demons to overcome the oddsThis tale should be held on the same level as the great stories such as Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Brilliantly told and well cast, the book captivates the mind. The story is woven into a vivid and tangible world without the distraction of extensive vocabulary to slow you down. Its intricacies are astounding and well-developed, with unique characteristics to each race, town, kingdom, and class. Throughout the story, Carr only ever reveals as much info as is needed, keeping you on your toes til the very end. It truly is a masterpiece, and a must read for all fantasy lovers! ~Lauryssa Toews 

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Recommendation from Lando

You Are The Boy coverAs a bookseller I've been saying for years that we need more fiction books that tell parts of the "Mennonite Story". As many Mennonites in North America embrace modern culture the remarkable stories of the past are lost. Thankfully Danny Unrau has given us a fascinating and well written account beginning in 1876 and coming into current times. I loved how he connected various family members by going forwards and backwards in time. Some of the twists and turns of events were very surprising and kept me turning pages. Maybe I wasn't listening earlier but I had never heard of the Jewish and Mennonite connections in Russia. So interesting to me to see two people groups really in search of freedom of religion and a life of peace yet experiencing much persecution and hardship. And how not all Mennonites kept subscribing to "pacifism"; some leaving that element of their faith behind.
I appreciated how Unrau developed some of the main characters and paid a lot of attention to their passions, feelings and longings, not just their occupation, marital status or life calling.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a finely articulated story and who wants to learn more about this group of Mennonites that eventually came to Canada. ~Lando

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Guest Blog Post by Bryan Davis

 This week the newest Bryan Davis book arrived....Exodus Rising is the third book in the Tales of Starlight Series!! We love it when Bryan comes to visit us here in Canada so I thought I would ask if he would be willing to write us a post for us and was thrilled when he agreed. I think you will enjoy what he has to say about  encouraging young readers to think deeply. 
See here for complete listing of Bryan Davis  books
Stretching Young Readers by Bryan Davis

When I began writing Raising Dragons, I pondered the "depth" concept. Can I write a deep story that's geared toward young readers? Most of the Christian books I had read for young people were pretty superficial, in fact, boring. They seemed intentionally dumbed down, and I thought most readers in the target age group must be yawning or even insulted.
I decided to write a straightforward story that contained hidden depth. Any astute reader would be able to gather the hidden treasures, while the youngest readers would just have fun with the story. Still, I held back a bit. I wanted to write more complexity and more puzzles, but I thought I would start with something that would stretch my readers just a little. I didn't want to risk any readers thinking, "Huh? I don't get it."
With The Candlestone, I took a step forward in complexity. My hope was that readers of Raising Dragons might be ready to dig a little more. I added new characters, a bit of familial pathos, and a dash of science fiction. I also took the step of killing two characters. One was the object of the redemption theme, Bonnie's father, and one was a villain.
It's not unheard of to kill off a "good guy" in youth literature, so that wasn't a huge step, but it is more unusual, from what I've read, to kill off someone who is a big part of the story and is redeemed at the end.
The bigger step, I think, was to use my protagonist (Billy) to kill a villain (Palin) in a way that wasn't exactly courageous. In fact, he did directly the opposite of what he had been told to do. As readers know, this killing, even in its improper manner, is absolutely essential to the story and the development of Billy. Readers have debated his actions on my message board, so I know it was a seminal moment. It made them think about inward sin, rationalization, and God's work on the inner man. Most important, it helped them to consider another face of redemption.
Bryan Davis - authorWhen I wrote Circles of Seven, I took the gloves off. I decided to make it as complex and deep as my heart desired. Were my readers ready for such a leap? I thought so. If they could handle the depth of The Candlestone, maybe they were ready for another stretching exercise.
It would take too long to comment on the story themes and their many symbols in this book—godliness, redemption, sacrifice, sanctification, contentment, longsuffering, and more. I think I could write a book on this book, and it might be longer than the original. There are quite a few hidden treasures that no reader has ever commented on, so I wonder if they have all been found. Even so, I poured my heart into it, and it brought great satisfaction, so I am content to hope that each little point in the story may find a life-changing place in some reader's heart.
With Tears of a Dragon, I took sort of a sideways step. I went back to the simplicity of storytelling that I used in Raising Dragons while trying to keep a good deal of the depth that is in Circles of Seven. I used more pure action, but I worked on infusing that action with the tying up of story loose ends that would make readers think. The symbol of a dragon messiah, fully dragon and fully human, dying for hopelessly lost souls brought my series-long redemption story to its climactic moment. Still, I wanted to personalize the redemption issue, so the heart of the redemption story was realized in a single soul, Jared/Clefspeare, and his return to Billy through his repudiation of pride. This worked as the peak of my thematic mountain.
Still, I wanted to take one last step. As most of my readers are young, I knew they identified more with Billy and Bonnie than with Jared/Clefspeare. I wanted to search their souls. Billy was my messiah character, but he was an imperfect symbol, needing so much redemption himself. He had to empty himself of everything in his past.
But what about Bonnie? She was my symbol of the faithful Christian. While still growing in wisdom, grace, and knowledge, she bowed before her savior in obedience at every turn. She had to learn to be content with her "grotesque" feature, and she learned the value of using her weaknesses for God's glory, but did she need to empty herself as well? Was she really content with what she had no matter what? My desire was for readers to examine their own hearts. This is the final stretching moment that I hoped to achieve, self-examination.
So, as you might have gleaned by now, I believe in stretching young readers. They can take it. In fact, they crave it. When they get to the end of the exercise, they feel its value and the rush of spiritual adrenaline. They don't want to be insulted by the finger-wagging of simplistic stories that tell them what to do or not to do. They want to feel the inner passion of heart-felt conflict and see how it works out in lives that they care about, even if they are fictional.
But that's what good stories do. They stretch us beyond what we normally think we can achieve, and we need to remember that young people are often far more flexible than we might realize. We just have to be sure to help them stretch in the right direction.
~Bryan Davis

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Leadership Review

Here at House of James, we are fortunate enough to be able to host many different events. We often have music in our coffeehouse (in fact Jacob Moon is going to be here again on Friday, June 28), we have authors like Bryan Davis come and visit us (encouraging our youth to read and pursue writing dreams), we have new authors like Trudy Beyak come in for book launches (her book is quite amazing, you should read it and find out for yourself), we have occasional workshops and we have breakfast meetings (with hot yummy breakfasts baked fresh in our coffeehouse)…we are blessed to be able to serve in a variety of areas and we love it!

General - E Leadership Book CoverLast week we had Rick Goossen visit and talk about his new book, Entrepreneurial Leadership,  which he co-authored with R. Paul Stevens. It was quite a morning as many of our community business men and women arrived early for a freshly made breakfast served with plenty of coffee. Upon walking into the store, there was a buzz around the room as people talked, connected and shared…it made me smile as I marveled at the group that had come together.

'I found this to be a really important book that helped me understand my role as a Christian entrepreneur. Full of thoughtful and well researched content that validated how I often feel as a business leader. Paul Stevens  and Rick Goossen have taken ideas from Peter Drucker, John Maxwell, the Bible and many entrepreneurial interviews to bring us clarity and and a strong foundation in understanding these leadership roles. They source Stephen Spinelli and Jeffry Timmons who say there are six dominant themes that have emerged from what successful entrepreneurs do and how they perform: Commitment and determination; leadership; opportunity obsession, tolerance of risk, tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty; creativity, self-reliance and adaptability; and motivation to excel. 

I loved the chapter on risk and reward which covers The Risk Taking God, The Trinity and Entrepreneurship, and Thoughtful and Careful Risk Taking- I think this would be an excellent book to read with others and discuss it together. Not a quick read on how to be a better leader but a thoughtful, content rich discourse on who we really are and how we can live out our calling. I commend the authors for giving us this great work and Inter Varsity Press for making it available.' 

~Lando Klassen-Owner/Manager of House of James

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


It is amazing how quickly time can pass....we have been pretty busy around here but that is no excuse to be neglectful so I apologize for the lag in new posts.

This morning at staff meeting, Lando shared from Philippians and I wanted to share it with you as well.  Although he read from the Message, I have taken the text from the NLT. 

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Phil 2:12-13 New Living Translation)

We discussed the joy of "being able to carry the light, bringing a message of hope into a polluted world."  

She was stunned!
This past month we have been we have had the privilege to do just that. We have done a couple of off site book tables, a librarian's night and were able to take a 'store' to History Maker Youth Conference in Chilliwack.

What a great time surrounded by so many young people and of course fun Christ loving youth pastors. With the help of Kings Music, we were able to bless this beautiful young lady with a new Godin guitar.
Youth Pastors are such good sports!!

Then we got a would we like to be the scene of movie?? What a blessing! We were able to gift a small movie production company, EVE Entertainment Inc.,  by allowing them to 'borrow' our coffeehouse for their project (we will keep you informed about it).

Here is a shot of the crew!

And of course there are the numerous interactions we are able to have with our regular customers. Some days I wish I could share  the stories that we are blessed to play a small part in here at House of James...there are many moments of pain, triumph and opportunity to pray with is safe here so the people come and we would not have it any other way.

Yes, we are a retail store but we are so much more, we have a unique opportunity here to 'carry the light' and I just wanted to let you know that we are blessed by it!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Java Jive : Volume 2

Welcome to the Java Jive 

As these April showers guide us towards May flowers, be sure to stop by the coffee shop and check out some of the exciting things we have to offer.
 Slowly but surely, the weather is getting nicer and along with it, temperatures are starting to rise. Be sure to check out the wide variety of gelato we have to offer. With sixteen flavours available and different ones being added all the time, there is always a reason to come back for more. Roughly half of our offerings are dairy free and we always have a sugar free option available. Monday nights between 6 and 9, our gelato is buy one get one free, a great opportunity to try a delicious, refreshing treat.
 Speaking of flowers, if you’ve happened to glance out the window lately, you may have noticed some sprouting on the patio. Yes, if you are looking to soak up some sun or just get some fresh air, our patio is the place to be. Cozy, convenient and comfortable; patio season has arrived.
 Summer us almost here, so be sure to keep checking our website to keep up to date on all of our awesome events going on. As always, thanks for reading and we hope to see you soon!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Easter, Paska & Bunnies

Welcome to the Java Jive

Spring has sprung early at House of James. As we cross our fingers and pray that this cold, rainy weather gives way to warm sunny days, we are introducing several new products to the coffee shop. 

When you swing by be sure to pick up some of our delicious homemade paska. From the intoxicating aroma and taste of the freshly baked bread to the lovely combination of sprinkles and icing, you can’t go wrong. However it will only be available for a limited time. So be sure to get it before it’s gone!

If it’s something chocolaty that you are craving, we’ve got you covered! Just in time for Easter, our chocolate Easter bunnies from Denman Island Chocolates have arrived. These delectable, rich, dark chocolate sweets can be found hopping around the counter. If you like those, be sure to check out our variety of  of Denman chocolate bars. Oh yeah, did we mention that they’re gluten free! With chocolates as lovely as these, it’s hard to say no.

Speaking of those chocolate bunnies, one of them, Buttons, has been giving us a bit of trouble. She likes to escape from the coffee shop and wander around the store. Usually we can find her but this time we could use some help. Remember hunting for Easter eggs as a kid? Well, it’s time to put those skills to the test. 

Matt & Buttons
If you do find Buttons, please bring her back home to the coffee shop. We will even reward your efforts with a free specialty coffee. 

Easter is always a busy time of year. So why not come on in, grab a coffee and some paska, have a seat and relax. Thanks for reading and we hope to see you soon.


Friday, March 1, 2013

With Everlasting Love...

Reflections from Rick

I have been reading through Jeremiah in the ESV Study Bible....and finding a very daunting process. But today I read a verse that resonates with my spirit in a way that surprises me. 

Jeremiah 31:3: "...I have loved you with an everlasting love; 
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." 

Now I know that God's love for us is one of the most basic tenants of the Bible. But today, it hit me all over again. And I know God is referring to Israel, but I think that it's okay of you and I take it personally. I am also impressed by the idea that God continues His faithfulness to me. the people of Israel have been anything but faithful to God; that is what most of the book of Jeremiah is about. But God chooses to be faithful to unfaithful people; and that includes you and me! 

The ESV Study Bible features more than 2,750 pages of extensive, accessible Bible resources, including completely new notes, full-color maps, illustrations, charts, timelines, and articles created by an outstanding team of 93 evangelical Christian scholars and teachers.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How do we read our Bible?

A few weeks ago I (Denise) had a chance to hear George Guthrie speak at a conference in Richmond...I found some of what he said astounding!! The day started with some interesting stories and statistics (such as 10% of Americans think that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife ). Soon I found the day would be filled with wonderful tools that would encourage me to dig into my Bible in a way I had not done in a long time.  As the day progressed I was challenged...challenged to read more, challenged to read better and challenged to dig deeper! I came away wanting to take out some of my reference books and start searching!!

Dr Guthrie has a long list of credentials which you can read here if you choose, but the main focus of the weekend was Bible Literacy.
  • an understanding of how to read the parts of Scripture well,
  • a perspective on the Bible as a grand story God has written on the world,
  • a grasp of the themes of Scripture that thread their way powerfully and beautifully from the beginning to the end of this book of books, and
  • sound application of the Scripture to modern-day life.
Here is what he has to say on his website:

The Read the Bible for Life Biblical Literacy Initiative. 

Over the past two decades I have become increasingly concerned about the state of biblical illiteracy in the church.  In my Introduction to Bible Study classes I have asked students this question: "How many of you have ever been members of a church that offered a course or seminar on how to read and/or study the Bible well?"  In courses of 20-25 students I have never had more than 7 hands go up.  The average is about 3-4.  This semester, in a class of 20, no hands were raised. 
Also, over the past 4 years we have been giving a simple, 18-question biblical literacy quiz in a number of our survey classes at Union.  The questions are basic, multiple choice: "How many temptations did Jesus experience in the wilderness?," "Which book is from the New Testament?," "Who was the person whom Pontius Pilate released during Jesus’ trial?," etc.  In the past 3 years the average score has been a 57 on the quiz!  Our students at Union are very bright, and most of them come from church backgrounds.  Their performance on this quiz is not abnormal for students across the country at top Christian universities.  Similar quizzes at Wheaton and Seattle Pacific have similar results.
Now, biblical literacy has more to it than merely knowing Bible trivia.  For instance, it concerns reading the parts of Scripture well and understanding the "grand Story" of redemptive history, areas with which our incoming students are also unfamiliar, for the most part.  The biblical illiteracy we are witnessing in our students is part of a broader problem in the church, and we need to give attention to it.
About 3 years ago I entered a conversation with LifeWay and Broadman & Holman Publishers concerning ways we might address the problem.  By God's grace, we have embarked on a biblical literacy initiative entitled, "Read the Bible for Life."

At the heart of the initiative is a book entitled Read the Bible for Life. I encourage you to take a look. With some additional study tools such as a small group DVD and a readers guide that takes you through the Bible chronologically (in order to see the big picture) it has certainly piqued my interest!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What exactly is in a word

word :[wurd] noun
1.a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.

There is power in the spoken word....words can be good or bad, positive or negative, helpful or hurtful...what we say and how we say it is as important as the interpretation of what we said. There is power in the written word. They can tell a story, convince us to take a stand, or provide us with's post is about a word, just one word.

I have found myself feeling somewhat scattered the past seems that my lists are simply too long... I have so much that should or could get done, so many deadlines and wish lists that I felt nothing was actually getting accomplished. As I started the new year I wondered what it would bring, what God wanted from me, how could I help my kids, what needed to happen at work or in my volunteer life....what about my friends and relationships?

The more thought I gave it, the more I wondered how I could get it all done.

As I was praying about this,  the word 'nothing' kept coming to mind. I never make resolutions but pick one word each year in hopes of clarifying what I want to accomplish. Maybe that should be my word for the year? Nothing, hmm nothing....even though I understood what it might meant to me, it did not seem like a positive word to spend a full year focusing on...and it hit me...focus...FOCUS...I need to spend this year focusing on God or I will not accomplish any of the rather large challenges I have this year. I can do nothing without Him who strengthens me....therefore I need to spend more time focusing on Him.

So that is my word, focus. It has already been helpful...a few of us here at House of James have words that we have chosen this year such as focus, challenge & steadfast...we look forward to witnessing the power of 'one word'

My One Word
There is a new book titled, My One Word by  Mike Ashcraft on our shelf. It outlines a very simple way of narrowing down the one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you this year and helps to concentrate your efforts. Ashcraft writes ,"There's power in words. Beauty in words. Grace in words. Words create movement. They craft nations. They seal a marriage. They cast vision. They make us laugh. They focus our attentions. And they script our possibilities.".

Perhaps you would like to pick a word this year...we would love to have you share what that word is and possibly why you chose it :)


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Heart is Steadfast

Reflections from Rick

I was reading Psalm 57 recently and was struck by verse 7: "My heart is steadfast, O god, my heart is steadfast!..." I think the reason why that declaration captured my attention is that I am so often NOT steadfast. The context suggests that David was in some kind of trouble, and he was crying out to God for His mercy, and help.When I need God's help, "steadfast" is often the least likely heart response that I might be manifesting. Things like "desperate" or "frustrated" or even "angry" is much closer to the surface. resolution before God is to become more steadfast in the face of life's adversities. I cannot claim to have the kind of turmoil that David had, but in my own little struggles, I can emulate this great man of God, and try to be more steadfast in my trust of God's Grace and Mercy; even when it is not the most obvious response to the circumstances. David was called "a man after God's own heart", and his steadfast trust is obviously part of that heart orientation.So in some small way, my goal is to say with David: "my heart is steadfast, O God." What about you?

Fog Harbor Series by Nicole Deese

Every once in a while, we find an author that speaks to us…Nicole Deese is one of those authors for me. As often happens, I was first attrac...