Category: iRead Book Tours

Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy

iRead Book Tours

Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy is a carefully researched glimpse into the “Doll Woman’s” life as a collector of dolls, and as the highest paid American woman who spied for the Imperial Japanese Government during World War II.

About Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy

Velvalee Dickinson was born in Sacramento, California, graduated from Stanford University, married three times, and then in the early 1930s moved to New York City where she eventually opened her own exclusive doll shop on the prestigious Madison Avenue. It was there that she built her reputation as an expert in rare, antique, and foreign dolls. She traveled extensively around the country lecturing and exhibiting her dolls while building a wealthy clientele that included Hollywood stars, members of high society, politicians, and other collectors.

When medical bills started to accumulate because of her husband’s poor health and business started to fail with the onset of World War II, she accepted the role as a spy for the Imperial Japanese Government. By hiding coded messages in her correspondence about dolls, she was able to pass on to her Japanese contacts critical military information about the US warships. After surveilling Velvalee for over a year, the FBI arrested her and charged her with espionage and violation of censorship laws. She became the first American woman to face the death penalty on charges of spying for a wartime enemy.

Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy is a carefully researched glimpse into the “Doll Woman’s” life as a collector of dolls, and as the highest paid American woman who spied for the Imperial Japanese Government during World War II.

My Thoughts

This book intrigued me right from the start – I had never heard of Velvalee Dickinson and even the idea of using dolls to put through messages!

This is an incredibly informative story that is not overwhelming, heavy on too many facts or too lengthy. She gives you an incredible look into the life of Velvalee – how she started in the doll business and what turned her to spying. She is a woman who really made quite something of herself, while even committing such a grave crime, she gained quite the reputation as someone who had extensive knowledge in her area of expertise and held herself with grace. At times, I almost felt bad for her but then at other times when she tried to blame her deceased husband, you almost get a different look at this woman. You never really know is she truly innocent and forced to commit the crime, did she do it for her husband or did she do it for selfish reasons?

I loved that while it is a biography on her life, the way Barbara writes it almost feels like a story as well. You want to keep reading to see what happens next with the way that she describes her, the situations and the way the plot unfolds. She did a fantastic job of putting this story together and readers will appreciate this.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Rating: 4/5

About the Author

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. Her nonfiction book, Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave, is under contract for a major film. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency.

Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2018 Barbara received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three pets who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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What We Do For Love Book Review

iRead Book Tours

Is having faith in yourself and doing the right thing always possible?

About What We Do for Love

Thirty-eight year old Nicole Adams has given up on finding love. Instead, the single mother focuses on the things she cherishes most—her sixteen-year old son Justin, her friends, and her art. When she convinces a prominent Los Angeles museum to feature a piece of her work, a large-scale installation, she thinks her life has finally turned a corner. Then Justin brings a girl, Daniela, home to live with them. Daniela’s angry parents have thrown her out of the house, because she’s pregnant with Justin’s child.

Shattered, Nicole takes Daniela in and, in so doing, is drawn into the inner circle of Daniela’s family—a frightening world of deceit and violence. Nicole struggles to keep life going as normal. Forced to deal with people she doesn’t trust or like, fearful for the future of both her son and the grandchild they’re expecting, Nicole wonders if she can do what she tells Justin to do: always have faith in yourself and do the right thing.

My Thoughts

I fell in love with this book immediately – I felt so connected to Nicole and her struggles as she raises her sixteen year old son on her own. She is such a strong, giving, kind person who faces the same struggles so many of us do. Your heart just warms to her and you want to reach out and hold her at times to give her comfort.

True to how life is, just when Nicole thinks she can move forward in life and lift her family of two up, life throws that curve ball. This time in the form of her son’s girlfriend who is pregnant. Nicole is terrified for the two, as she herself was a young mom and knows the struggles. She has to come to terms with a lot but she is always there to support the young couple. She is the type of mother that people could only dream of having. Although I do feel for her as she does sacrifice a lot of herself in order to be there for others. When you throw in her sister’s crisis, you sit there and wonder how is she going to make it through everything?

The ending through me right off and was not what I was expecting but definitely added a fantastic twist to the plot.

This is an excellent read from start to finish and I have already re-read the book twice, it only gets better. You will love the characters and their honestly and connect with how their very real struggles and pain. A definite must read!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Award-winning novelist Anne Pfeffer grew up in Phoenix, Arizona reading prodigiously and riding horses. After working in Chicago and New York, she escaped back to the land of sunshine in Los Angeles.

She has worked in banking and as a pro bono attorney, representing abandoned children in adoption and guardianship proceedings. Anne has a daughter living in New York and is the author of four books in the YA/New Adult genres. You can connect with her on her website.

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Song of Atlantis Book Review

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A shocking discovery leads one scientist down a dangerous path in Brian Power’s compelling debut novel, Song of Atlantis.

About Song of Atlantis

When Amon Goro, master architect of Atlantis, discovers a way to harness the earth’s forces into an infinite source of clean energy, it seems destined to change civilization as we know it.

But 4,500 years later, Atlantis exploration team leader Palen Golendar is brutally captured by a Native American tribe in modern-day South Dakota—derailing any hope Atlantis held of utilizing its energy secrets.

Eight thousand years in the future, Native American anthropologist Gordon Tallbear and his team of highly skilled researchers stumble across a connection between the recent discovery of Golendar’s remains and an intricate cavern system deep in the mountains of Antarctica…a connection that finally reveals the Atlantean secret of perpetual energy.

While Tallbear and his team plan to recreate the energy source that will change the world, a wealthy group with deep ties to carbon-based fuel producers decides this newfound energy source must be destroyed—and they will stop at nothing to assassinate the researchers in order to bury what they know.

Can Tallbear’s newfound knowledge survive?

My Thoughts

The first thing that attracted me to this story was the legend of Atlantis – how can you not be a fan of this legend? There is always so much conspiracy, thoughts and myths around this magical place. I remember as a young girl, wishing I lived there! I wanted to be a mythical princess of this land of technological advances and perfection. So I couldn’t wait to dive into this story and this novel did not disappoint.

Brian Power writes a well written and researched story that has a little bit for everyone – history, fantasy, mystery and more. It is full of attention to detail that really gets your mind thinking. I loved the way he wrote the story and the way it unfolded, as it allowed you to draw the story together and match up the missing pieces, while still leaving you not quite too sure what was going to happen next.

The plot itself was incredible and one that makes you really think about good versus bad and how do we harness the power of technology to do good not harm. Is this technology everything that it is meant to be? Is it worth death? Could this happen in modern times today?

This is an excellent well written novel with a lot of work done by the author to really pull the plot together. It has many complicated layers that will engage you and really make you think. It had me reading long into the night as I had to know what happened next. A definite must read!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Rating: 4/5

About the Author

Brian Power is an educator who has taught at both the high school and college levels. He earned a BS degree in English and Secondary Education, and an MA in International Relations. A retired corporate consultant and trainer, he is also a retired Marine Corps Reserve Lieutenant Colonel who served for 24 years on both active duty and in the reserves. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife. SONG OF ATLANTIS is his first book. You can connect with him on his website.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Free Pizza Book Review

iRead Book Tours

Then Brian receives a mysterious birthday card that says, Free Pizza. He soon discovers the card has nothing to do with food and everything to do with the big questions in his life.

About Free Pizza

Brian McSpadden is always hungry. Does he have a disease? Worms? Does it have something to do with his being adopted? He spends his days at his crazy friend Danny’s house, hoping for snacks, but nothing seems to fill the void.

Then Brian receives a mysterious birthday card that says, Free Pizza. He soon discovers the card has nothing to do with food and everything to do with the big questions in his life: where did I come from, why did my mother give me up and is there anyone out there who will like me the way I am?

My Thoughts

This cute, fun but full of emotions book introduces us to Brian. A young boy growing up with his adoptive parents and their two siblings. He struggles as any pre-teen would with this younger siblings – they drive him crazy. He struggles to find where he fits in with his family as he was adopted. He doesn’t feel close to them and struggles to find who he is. He is still learning right from wrong and is easily influenced by his closest friend in the world. The two together can get up to some pretty dangerous and adventurous acts!

His whole world changes when his birth mother is in contact with him. He so desperately wants to meet her and have her affection. He is full of questions and feels this may just be the void he needs to fill. This moment turns his whole family life upside down not only just his. We learn more about his adoptive father and mother, and we watch as they struggle with this new relationship growing.

This was a fun tale (Brian is still learning and can get up to some pretty crazy adventures with his best friend), not to mention the sibling love-hate relationships going on. But it also tells us a deeper story of how to we fit in, where do we belong and how do we figure this out. How do we remain true to ourselves during this transition – and how do we even know who we truly are. It is a great book for adults and young adults alike.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4/5

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About the Author

G.C. McRae is the bestselling author of two young adult novels, three illustrated children’s books and a collection of original fairy tales. His writing is fall-down funny, even when the theme is darker than a coal miner’s cough. McRae reads to anybody at any time, in person or online, for free, which probably explains why he meets so many people and sells so many books.

In his latest work, Free Pizza, McRae spins the highly emotional themes from his decidedly unfunny childhood into a brilliantly comic yarn. After being given up for adoption by his teenage mom back when single girls were forced to hide unplanned pregnancies, his adoptive parents didn’t exactly keep him under the stairs but, well, let’s just say, there were spiders.

A lot has changed since then. McRae’s own children have now grown and he runs a small farm with his wife, who is herself an award-winning writer.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Winter Frost Book Review

iRead Book Tours

It all started with a chance encounter in the city with Blair, his late wife.

About Winter Frost

Chris Matheson and the Geezer Squad, working under the guise of a book club, dig into the events surrounding his late wife’s supposed death halfway around the globe. A state department employee shoots himself in the back three times. A CIA operative goes missing. A woman is targeted by an international assassin three years after being declared dead in a terrorist attack overseas.

Nothing is as it seems.

In his most personal cold case, Chris fights to uncover why the state department told him that Blair, the mother of his children, had been killed when she was alive. What had she uncovered that has made her a target? Who terrified her so much that she had gone into hiding and why are they now after him?

My Thoughts

This book had me on the edge of my seat right from the start – everything I thought I knew about Chris and his family was thrown right out the window and I never saw it coming.

This all centres around his late wife, Blair, who he thought had left him to advance her career only to be killed overseas. Imagine his surprise when so many years later, he sees her on a chance encounter! He is desperate to find out if this was truly her and if it was, why did she lie to him? Why did the government lie to him? Does he still keep moving forward with his life? Can he forgive her for their children’s sake? How does he even begin to tell his children?

What we uncover is a lot deeper and thicker then what first meets the eye – his wife was much more than she appeared and had uncovered something that made important people want her and those others who knew to disappear. They would stop at nothing to accomplish this.

I don’t want to give too much away but this book was by far the best in this series. I was not seeing any of those curve balls coming but they made the story. We learn so much about their history, find forgiveness to move forward and uncover one huge case of murders, deception and corruption. You will not want to put this book down!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Audible.

Rating: 5/5

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About the Author

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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