America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie Review + Signed Giveaway

Title: America's First Daughter
Authors: Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie
Historical Fiction
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

Source: e-ARC from publisher
This is my honest review.
Rating: 5 Stars ~ Excellent

I never knew Patsy Jefferson’s life was so fascinating! An absolutely riveting read!

My first thoughts immediately after reaching the end of America’s First Daughter was that Patsy Jefferson led an incredibly captivating and extraordinary life! I didn’t realize the great care she took in selecting which of the thousands of letters her beloved father, Thomas Jefferson, wrote that would be passed down in her family and inevitably preserved as a historical diary. In doing so, she kept many secrets to herself in order to protect her father’s reputation for generations to come. As eloquently explained in the Author’s Note at the end of the book, this gives way to so much interpretation to “fill in the gaps”, so to speak, as to what might’ve happened in her and her father’s lives during an important time period in American history.

Who is Patsy Jefferson? There was so much more to this woman than being the eldest daughter of one of America’s Founding Fathers and third President of the United States. America’s First Daughter describes Patsy Jefferson’s life so fully and in great depth. Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie beautifully present her life in an intriguing way. It starts with Patsy going through her father’s letters and deciding which to keep. As she reads the letters, some of which are excerpted at the beginning of each chapter, she goes through each delicate memory that relates in her past. I thought this was a lovely way to bring fact and fiction together, and it certainly made the plot interesting and flow steadily.

Although Patsy Jefferson had many great opportunities in her lifetime, she wasn’t perfect and made mistakes. America’s First Daughter paints a picture of both the good and bad things that happened or might’ve happened in her life. She was undoubtedly her father’s rock when he needed her the most, and they shared a lifelong father-daughter bond. She was so devoted to him that she sacrificed so much, all while exuding much grace and strength. In a time of great controversy, I can certainly see why she would want to keep family secrets hidden.

Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, thank you for enlightening us all with Patsy Jefferson’s story! America’s First Daughter was an all-consuming read that kept me up several nights! By the end I felt like I came to fully understand this remarkable woman’s hopes and dreams, strengths and weaknesses, and endearing compassion to those most present in her life.

Book Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Author Websites:

~*~ GIVEAWAY ~*~
Prize: America's First Daughter (1 signed paperback, US only)
February 26, 2016-March 11, 2016


My Book Snack's Short and Sweet Sunday Post (#12)

The Short and Sweet is my version of The Sunday Post.
The Sunday Post meme is created by Kim the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Bought Borrowed & Bagged is hosted by TalkSupe. It's a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

The Sunday Post

The weather has been nice lately, so I've been taking long walks with a dear friend and hiking with my family on the weekends. I love being able to climb a big hill and taking in the views at the top.
Do you like to be outdoors when the weather is nice?

I will recap the past few weeks.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi Audiobook Review

Awakened by the Wolf by Kristal Hollis Cover Reveal/Excerpt

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith Audiobook Review

In Her Eyes by Wesley Banks Cover Reveal/Excerpt

Share the Love Giveaway Hop

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes Audiobook Review Repost

Hard Ever After by Laura Kaye Release Blitz/Excerpt

Hard Ever After by Laura Kaye Review/Excerpt

Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson Review

Never Let You Go by Katy Regnery Review


Amazon links

Gifted the hardcover:

Happy Sunday!


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi #Audiobook Review

Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Random House

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air, which features a Foreword by Dr. Abraham Verghese and an Epilogue by Kalanithi’s wife, Lucy, chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a young neurosurgeon at Stanford, guiding patients toward a deeper understanding of death and illness, and finally into a patient and a new father to a baby girl, confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

Source: Purchased
This is my honest review
Narrators: Sunil Malhotra, Cassandra Campbell
Random House Audio
Rating: 5 Stars ~ Excellent

An inspiring, moving, poignant, and profound memoir

How does one begin to make sense of everything after being diagnosed with cancer? I know from witnessing some of my close family and friends deal with cancer, facing death is truly devastating. When Breath Becomes Air is Paul Kalanithi’s heartfelt journey as a medical student, as a neurosurgeon at Stanford, and then as a cancer patient.

“As a doctor, you have a sense of what it’s like to be sick, but until you’ve gone through it yourself, you don’t really know.”

I found this to be an incredibly moving read. Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir offers the perspective of both doctor and patient and of the doctor/patient relationship. Being a neurosurgeon, he knew exactly what was coming when he was diagnosed with cancer. It still didn’t make things easy for him or his family. Dr. Kalanithi was a man with a brilliant mind who had a zest for learning and a love for literature. I was engaged with reading how he faced death head on.

A dear friend recommended this book to me while we were taking one of our long walks, chatting about books and life. I had read a few cancer memoirs before, and I always appreciate each person’s unique situation and viewpoint. Dr. Kalanithi’s writing is deeply poignant and will make you think, if you haven’t already, about death and dying and your own mortality. Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, and his wife’s words in the epilogue will make you cry. Thank you to Paul and Lucy for sharing your touching and memorable story with the world.

The When Breath Becomes Air audiobook is narrated by Sunil Malhotra with the epilogue being read by Cassandra Campbell. Both narrators deliver clear readings with good pacing. Having listened to and enjoying one of Sunil Malhotra’s narrations before, I was delighted to learn that he was the main narrator for this book. Despite the sad tone, listening to this audiobook continued to be an enlightening experience.

Book Links
B&N | Kobo | iBooks


Awakened by the Wolf by Kristal Hollis ~ Cover Reveal, Excerpt, Giveaway

Title: Awakened by the Wolf
Author: Kristal Hollis
Paranormal Romance, Wolves
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne
Pages: 304

Release Date: June 1, 2016

Who's been sleeping in the Alpha's bed?

Exiled from his pack by his father, Brice Walker has secretly come home to visit his ailing grandmother only to discover a human and very desirable female sleeping in his bed. Their attraction is instant. But his new bed buddy seems determined to resist his Southern charm and Alpha allure. 

For Brice, fiercely independent Cassie not only represents a chance to build a new life in Walker's Run but is also his one true mate. Cassie's reluctance dissolves when a rogue shifter kidnaps her, and now she and Brice must work together to save his pack. But once she witnesses the savagery of wolfan justice, can Cassie accept Brice as man, beast and her true love?

The car jostled over deep potholes in the washed out road. Through the thick nest of trees, Cassie glimpsed a farmhouse. While Hadler’s attention focused on not driving them into a ravine, she shoved open the car door and jumped.

She slammed into a ditch, pain searing her shoulder. Seconds later, the car careened to a stop.

Cassie rolled to her feet and ran for her life. The soft soil beneath her sneakers grabbed at her feet, and the muscles in her legs strained to propel her forward.

In one week, Cassie had ended up right where she started. Being chased by a wolfman.

“I’m coming, Cas. Do whatever you can to stay safe. I will find you. I promise.”

Cassie shook Brice’s imagined voice from her mind. This wasn’t the time to succumb to delusions. She wove through a thicket of trees. Sapling limbs snagged bits of her hair, yanking strands from her scalp. Unforgiving branches and leaves scratched her arms as she protected her face. Sweat and blood trickle down her skin. She had a hard time catching her breath.

Up ahead she saw the farmhouse, rundown and abandoned. The place she ran to for safety didn’t look safe at all.

Stopping, she swallowed the bitter frustration that in the dead of nowhere, no one but Vincent Hadler would hear her scream.

Book Links

About the Author
Southern born and bred, Kristal Hollis grew up amid cane fields and orange groves. Books fed her imagination, providing adventurous portals to ancient civilizations, medieval fiefdoms, alternate realities and futuristic worlds. Then, a friend gave her Johanna Lindsey’s FIRES OF WINTER, a historical romance which ignited a life-long love affair with romantic fiction.

After earning a degree in psychology, Kristal has enjoyed career and volunteer endeavors that have included sales, banking, social services, and animal rescue. When a family medical situation required her to take a work sabbatical, she began penning deliciously dark paranormal romances as an escape from the real-life drama. Even though the crisis passed, her passion for writing continues.

Currently, Kristal lives with her husband and two rescued dogs at the edge of the enchanted forest that inspires her stories.

~*~ GIVEAWAY ~*~
Kristal is giving away a print copy of Awakened by the Wolf! Open INT.
To enter please fill out the giveaway widget!