Book Review: I, James by Mike Hartner + Guest Post & Giveaway


Title: I, James
Author: Mike Hartner
Series: The Eternity Series #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Eternity4Popsicle Publishing
Pulished: September 16th 2014 
Page Count: 285 pages
Format: eBook
Source: From Kate Tilton & author in exchange of an honest review


Summary:
James Crofter was ripped from his family at age 11. 
Within a year the prince was a pauper in a foreign land. 

Is nature stronger than nurture? And even if it is, can James find the happiness he so richly desires? 
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 4/5 stars
I, James is another great historical fiction that follows almost side-by-side the tale of I, Walter (for a while).  Mike Harter spun another wonderful adventure at sea and on foreign countries, but this time, instead of only being an adventure of seeking a better future (like Walter's), it's about Walter's son, James, who is forced into a life of slavery and abuse as he's kidnapped by his uncle at the age of eleven.

While I loved I, Walter, I have to admit I enjoyed I, James a lot more. James story drew me in from page one and I grew quite attached to him. His personality and strength is admirable and his values hardly falter from good. Drifting through his tale was tough and inspiring at the same time, and I loved how this character was compensated for his great deeds and smart thinking.

Another great thing that I loved was Rosalind's point of view. It was nice to step into the mind of another character who was just as brave and strong as James. They were destined for each other and I really liked how they effortlessly fell in love. As they journey together, they have more than their fair share of struggles, but I'm glad that until the very end, their love doesn't die down.

Ugh, but the ending, it tore my heart (whywhywhy??). Hate that I can't spoil it to you because I really, REALLY want to. Just so I could rant and relieve my feelings. But oh well. I can only say that jealousy is a fickle thing. 

Overall, I, James was an extremely satisfying read to finish off my year. Never a dull moment and upon finishing it, I even felt rewarded (and sad, did I mention that?). Maybe I'll never set foot on a ship in the likes of I, James or come even close to a journey as his and Rosalind's, but in these pages, I felt like the journey was all mine.

And on a more personal note:

Because my native language is Spanish, I always get thrilled when books mention the language or even have characters speak it. I feel a closer connection to it than I normally would,  even though I'm not from Spain (though I'm obviously a Spanish descendant).

That's what makes me like Mike Hartner's books much more. They don't shy away from diversity, and not only because of Spanish characters, but because it shows many more cultures that other books don't get close to. It's a nice change of air and I know now that I will always find that in his tales. :)
*****
And now on to Mike's wonderful guest post that tells a bit more about his books!

Differences between writing I, James and I, Walter
I was asked the question, “What differences were there in writing I, James vs. writing I, Walter?”

The answer is that there were a number of similarities, and yet there were also a number of differences.

One similarity is that they are both memoirs, and coming of age stories. 

The first difference is that Walter’s story was written from an old man’s ability to look back at his life. And thus, it came off as he succeeded in everything that he did. A few readers even commented on how much ‘luck’ Walter had. And I agree with them, to a certain degree. But, we have to remember it is Walter that is telling his story. So, he’s humble enough to gloss over some of his successes and the work that they required, and he’d do the same thing for the problems he overcame in winning.

James’ story, really, starts when he is kidnapped from home. And the reader, and in fact me as a writer, gets to go through these life-changing events as they happen to James. So, rather than being told from someone looking back, it’s told real time.

A second major difference is that I, Walter is 90% Walter’s voice. That is, 90% male voice. Or at least, that’s how I as the writer will characterize it. And I, James is not. I, James has a very capable female character in Rosalind. And the story is 50% told from James’ POV and 50% from Rosalind’s. And Rosalind’s voice comes out very loud, and plays an important role in nearly everything that they do. She is a strong, capable female. To which a friend of mine looked at me and asked, “Hmm… a strong, capable, female. We don’t know any role models for that, do we?” And if you can’t hear his voice dripping with sarcasm, you’re the only one.

A third difference, though it is less obvious, is the action. Walter left home at age 11 voluntarily. James was kidnapped – ripped from his home unceremoniously. Walter therefore was capable of charting much of his own path. Admittedly, he stumbled upon some very good things…his friend Bart being one of them. But he did that at his own pace and during his own time. His son however was thrust into service on the boat that he was a prisoner on, and then the plantation, and the boats afterwards. 

Finally, in I, Walter the book is written around Walter, and it surrounds what happened to Walter. In I, James, I have tried to weave the story of James Crofter, as well as the story of Rosalind Roth Caufield together. Their story is somewhat like a “Y” in that two separate stories come together with the force of two people aided by serendipity.

These are the major differences I have found. For me, writing I, Walter was a learning experience. Writing I, James meant challenging myself yet again, without writing a cookie-cutter repeat of the same story. I hope that my readers and reviewers will consider I, James a worthy successor.

 About the Author 


Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

Find him online:   Website | Twitter | Facebook


Enter the rafflecopter below to win either a kindle copy of I, Walter (the first book in The Eternity Series) or I, James! There will be two winners, one ebook provided by Mike Hartner (thank you so much!) and one by me. This is open internationally and giveaway ends January 11th at midnight. Good luck!




The Week's Entrée #45

Hi! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

Today marks the last Monday of the year and I'm a bit sorry to see it go. 2014 has been a great year full of wonderful books, of trying new things and a great year of making friends. Yet I'm pretty excited of what 2015 may bring, so here's to another amazing year!


Books I Got Last Week:
{For review}
From Netgalley, authors, etc.

 


Thanks go out to Amy del Rosso from Lady Reader's Bookstuff for the first two books, and to Ciye Echo for the review copy of Florence!

{Gift}


I received these wonderful books from my friend Kate Tilton <3 Now I can finally find out why this series rocks so much and fully appreciate the signed bookmarks I have :D Thanks, Kate!

To Read This week:


I'm currently reading Raven by Pauline Creene but I'm quickly moving on to other unfinished reads I have lying around. I haven't completed my Goodreads challenge yet but I still have three full days to go. I will make it. ;)

*****
And that's it for The Week's Entrée! What are you reading this week? :)

Top Ten of 2014: Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2015


Today is day five and the last day of the Top 10 of 2014 week event hosted by Rachel of Reading YA Rocks Jaime of Two Chicks on BooksMindy of Magical Urban Fantasy Reads and Nancy of Tales of a Ravenous Reader. This week was about sharing our favorite reads of 2014 and the ones we're looking forward to in 2015!

BOOKS I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2015

Gosh, where to start? There are tons and tons of books I'm so excited to read next year! I managed to keep my list short and sweet (only one honorary mention) but believe me, this list could have been much, much longer. ;)

1. Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

June 2nd can't come soon enough! The first book in the Malediction Trilogy was my favorite read of 2014 and I'm hoping this one will be my favorite of 2015! More Trolls, more Tristan, more Magic! (I also cannot wait for the cover to be revealed this January!)


2. Confess by Colleen Hoover

Look at this beauty of a book! Any Colleen Hoover book is a must have for me. Pretty hyped about it!

3. Never Never by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

Yup, another Colleen Hoover book! This time she co-authors with Tarryn Fisher and it's going to be fabulous, I just know it. I even have this beauty already pre-ordered. ;)
Here's the short blurb:
"Best friends since they could walk. In love since the age of fourteen. Complete strangers since this morning.
He'll do anything to remember. She'll do anything to forget."


4. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Eeeeep! I need this book in my life right now!! It looks so pretty and sounds so freakin' incredible! Beauty and the Beast mixed with Faerie lore? HELL YES!


5. The Forgotten Crown by Julie Kagawa

I haven't heard much about the third book in The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten series, but the expected publication date is 2015. I really do hope it comes out next year, I want to know what happens with Ethan and Keirran and the rest of the gang. I also want another glimpse of Ash (stillin love with him).
Sadly, this book doesn't have a cover yet...


6. One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin

I'm very excited to read this book and I'm so glad I managed to snag a review copy, but I'm reading it starting next year. It's a YA contemporary about a girl who sets up dates to girls with her best boy friends. But she eventually falls for one of them and things get complicated...


7. A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

I can't wait to get my hands on this book. I love parallel universes and magic!


8. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Yay, finally! I loved Nova's Imaginary Girls book, so I've been waiting for 2015 to come to start reading another work of hers.


9. The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Isn't this cover gorgeous? I WANT IT.


10. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

I've been eyeing this book for a while now, and besides from wanting to have it because of its STUNNING cover, the synopsis makes it sound too good to pass: "this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds…two races…and two destinies."


*HONORARY MENTION*

What Remains by Helene Dunbar

Already have this book waiting for me to pick it up, but since it's a 2015 release, I didn't want to leave it out. The author is a favorite of mine and it thrills me to have another book of hers to loose myself into. She's an amazing writer.


******
What books are you looking forward to the most? :D

Top Ten of 2014: Best Book Boyfriends of 2014



MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Many blessings and best wishes for you all. Hope Santa brought you tons of books! :)

Today is day four of the Top 10 of 2014 week event hosted by Rachel of Reading YA Rocks Jaime of Two Chicks on BooksMindy of Magical Urban Fantasy Reads and Nancy of Tales of a Ravenous Reader. This week is about sharing our favorite reads of 2014 and the ones we're looking forward in 2015!

BEST BOOK BOYFRIENDS OF 2014

What better way to spend Christmas day than by talking about book boyfriends?!***silence*** Exactly. From trolls to rockstars, here's my list of the guys that set my veins on fire!

1. Prince Tristan de Montigny
(Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen) 
Gosh, how I LOVE Tristan. He's THE ONE for me. He's brave, loyal, handsome, at times snarky but other times incredibly sweet (when he lets his guard down of course). *Le sigh* I want him for Christmas!


2. Jason Brody
(Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross)
Oh, but Jason Brody you guys! He's HOT, and cool, and totally swoon-worthy. The feeels this guy evokes are the real deal!


3. Roth
(White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout)

Aaaagh, can I change my mind and pick Roth instead? This bad boy made me swoon non-stop. If Layla decides to go with Zayne, I'll gladly take up her place.

4. Ben Tyler
(Aspen by Rebekah Crane)

My sweet, funny Ben <3 I love how he treated Aspen right from the start. He was the right kind of support she needed, and even though he was in pain and fighting inner demons, he had always a smile on his face. So strong, my boy. 


4. Ridge Lawson
(Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover)

Wait no, I'd very much like to have Ridge as my own! The songs he wrote for me Sydney made my heart melt into a puddle of feels. Oh, how I wish he were real...


5. Jake Masterson
(Fever Pitch by Ann Marie Frohoff)

Rocker boys like Jake take my breath away. He's too sexy, too messed up and way too interesting. I love him!


6.  Noah Van Tassel
(Raven by Stacey Rourke)

I love Noah mostly because of his sense of humour. Even in the most dire of situations he would keep his cool and deal with the problem with a bright attitude.


7. Brett
(Diamonds In The Rough by Michelle Madow)

I love how smart and sweet this guy is. From the first book I loved him as a character, and after reading the second book, my love for him grew even more. Courtney sure is one lucky girl.


8. Jack Tyler
(The Body Electric by Beth Revis)

I liked a lot this mysterious guy! He's full of surprises but has a great heart and obviously cares a lot about his girl, Ella.


9. Josh Wasserstein
(Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins)

Josh is so cuuuute! I wish I could keep him in a box and carry it around with me everywhere so I could peek inside every time I want a dose of him :))


10. Tiam
(Drowned by Nicholla Reilly)

Tiam also deserves to be on this list because he is such a sweet guy and has cared for Coe right from the start. I love how innocent he is because where he lives, people don't know what a hug or kiss means. Imagine that! My favorite scene is when he discovers a kiss' meaning with Coe. ;) 


******
So these were all the boys of 2014 that made me swoon hard! Who were your best book boyfriends this year?

Top Ten of 2014: Best Contemporaries of 2014


Today is day three of the Top 10 of 2014 week event hosted by Rachel of Reading YA Rocks Jaime of Two Chicks on BooksMindy of Magical Urban Fantasy Reads and Nancy of Tales of a Ravenous Reader. This week is about sharing our favorite reads of 2014 and the ones we're looking forward in 2015!

BEST CONTEMPORARIES OF 2014

For day three I decided to share the top ten contemporary books I read in 2014! Some were published this year while others have been around for some time now, but they all have one thing in common: the best feels ever! These books made me swoon, made me cry and a few even made me laugh out loud. So without further ado, here are my top ten:

1. Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross

Jason Brody Jason Brody Jason Brody! This unbelievably sweet contemporary romance got my heart racing at full speed. Plus, it has baseball and awesome characters.


2. 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

I LOVE Andrew Smith's writing style. It's so unique and interesting, and his characters are quirky, just like the cover. <3


3. Aspen by Rebekah Crane

Aspen has it all! Awesome characters, sweet romance, humour and a heartfelt story. I love it so much!


4. Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Again with Maybe Someday! It's just an amazing reading experience and if I could highlight my favorite parts of the book, I would end up highlighting every inch of it. It's so darn perfect. And RIDGE too <3


5. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

This book made me twirl and feel all the butterflies. That part where they are in the escalators <3333


6. The Good Sister by Jamie Kain

Touching story with misunderstood characters. It made me cry, it made me love. 
Amazing.



It's not a 2014 release, but it stood out from my other reads. Such a sweet story that made my heart ache for true love. *sniff*


8. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Xander!! <3 Kasie West knows how to write the best sweet romances (and book boyfriends). 



Have you seen the movie?! If not, do so now! It's hilarious and super cute, and the book is ten times more. Although you may have already read it because it's practically ancient compared to the other books. But oh so awesome and worth your time. Also, it has a cat and cats rule.


10. These Gentle Wounds by Helene Dunbar

A book that made my heart hurt and managed to heal it at the end (somewhat). It's a stunning, unforgettable read!


******
Love my contemporary books! What were your favorites in 2014? 

ARC Review: We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

Title: We Should Hang Out Sometime
Author: Josh Sundquist
Genre: YAMemoir
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: December 23rd, 2014
Page count: 336 pages
Format: eBook
Source: From publisher via Netgalley (thank you!)

 Goodreads | Amazon 
Book Summary:
A bright, poignant, and deeply funny autobiographical account of coming of age as an amputee cancer survivor, from Josh Sundquist: Paralympic ski racer, YouTube star, and motivational speaker.

Josh Sundquist only ever had one girlfriend.
For twenty-three hours.
In eighth grade.

Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: What went wrong?

The results of Josh's semiscientific, wholly hilarious investigation are captured here. From a disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), to a misguided "grand gesture" at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love--or at least a girlfriend--in all the wrong places. 

     *The Reader's Review*

     My rating: 5/5 stars
This is the first time I read a memoir and I'm so happy that it turned out to be a fantastic read. Actually, hilarious is the right word. I laughed so hard with Josh's unsuccessful attempts to get himself a girlfriend when he was younger that I actually feel a bit bad about my reaction because it shouldn't be funny, but the way Josh tells it makes it impossible NOT to laugh.

We Should Hang Out Sometime doesn't really feel like a memoir (not that I know much about them) but like I said, it's extremely entertaining and I found myself rooting for Josh and groaning or feeling embarrassed for him every time something would go wrong on his dates (or when he would ask someone out). This is the kind of book that makes you want to put down just to deal with the intense embarrassment, or to cry out loud "OH YOU DID NOT!", and then break out laughing.

I liked how Josh writes about every almost-relationship he ever had. He goes from explaining the background of each girl-why he liked her, what he did when the time came to take the next step-to then pointing out his hypothesis and meeting up with said girl in the present and asking her about it (the nerve!). It was brave of his part (and a bit stalkerish too) to seek answers like that, and then make it publicly in this book. But awesome nonetheless.

To be honest, I had never heard about Josh Sundquist before this book. I didn't know he's famous, or that he's an amputee, or that at age 25, he had never had a girlfriend. But now, I can call myself a fan of his. I liked his upbeat personality while telling us about his memories and about his theories, and I can certainly see why he's a great motivational speaker. I highly recommend this book! I'm certain you will enjoy it.