Welcome!


Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

I have another 800 reviews at my archive blog: http://www.deadtreesreviewarchive.blogspot.com (please visit).

I post my reviews to:

booklore.co.uk
midwestbookreview.com
2 yahoo groups
Amazon and B&N (of course)
Librarything.com
Goodreads.com
Bookwormr.com
Books-a-million.com
Reviewcentre.com
Onlinebookclub.org
Pinterest.com
and on Twitter
(seriously)

I am always looking for more places to post my reviews.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tesla for Beginners

Tesla for Beginners, Robert I Sutherland-Cohen, For Beginners LLC, 2016

Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest scientists of modern history, on the same level as Guglielmo Marconi or Thomas Edison. Here is his story.

In the late 19th century, Tesla emigrated to America from his native Serbia. He carried more than a letter of introduction to Thomas Edison, who was The Man at that time. After working for Edison for several months, Tesla went off on his own. New York City had started to get electricity through Edison's direct current (dc) system. Tesla developed alternating current (ac), a much more efficient way of distributing energy, which has become the standard.

Tesla had an incredible memory, and a head full of ideas. It led to him receiving over 300 patents. Among other things, alternators in cars, robotics, remote control and radio are based on his work. He envisioned a hand-held device that could connect people all over the world with pictures, voice and information (sound vaguely familiar?). He became world famous.

Tesla was a great scientist, but he was not much of a businessman. Getting funding for his various projects was a constant struggle. In later years, his work went from Cutting Edge to Just Plain Weird. In 1943, he died in New York City, broke and alone.

This is an excellent, and easy to understand, book. Tesla was world famous, and seems to have been forgotten by history. If you are reading this on a cell phone, thank Nikola Tesla. 

Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How

Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, Theodore John Kaczynski, Fitch and Madison Publishers, 2015

There are more than a few people who feel that society's rush toward a technological future will lead to disaster. This book presents some pointers for thinking in broad, strategic terms about getting society off that particular road.

The overall goal for any organization, whether it is social, political or environmental, should be clear and simple. It can't be something vague, like "promoting democracy" or "protecting the environment." The goal also needs to be irreversible; once achieved, it can never be taken away. An example is when women got the right to vote in the early 20th century. After it happened, any politician was going to have a very hard time taking it away from them. No matter how democratic an organization claims to be, there will be times when not every issue can be placed before the entire membership for a vote. There needs to be an inner core of committed members with the authority to make such decisions.

Throughout history, many people have suggested that human society needs to be "planned" or "controlled," for various reasons. A huge, chaotic thing like human society can not be controlled to any great extent. At most, it can be "nudged" in one direction or another. Who decides in what direction human society should go? What is a "good" outcome? Assume, just for a moment, that it is possible to control human society. Assume that there is a computer system big enough to handle the trillions of equations that need to be solved. Who is in charge, a person or a small group? Who gets to decide who that person, or people, should be? Can a lack of ego be guaranteed?

A number of writers, including Ray Kurzweil, are looking forward to the day when human immortality, or the coming of human cyborgs or the uploading of a person's brain to a computer become reality. The author asserts that these are nonsense. For instance, immortality will only be available to the one percent, not to everyone.

This book is heavy history and social science, so it is not for everyone. The reader will get a lot out of it. This is very highly recommended.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Danger At The Ballpark

Danger At The Ballpark, Jack Herskowitz, TriMark Press, 2017

A trip to a live baseball game is supposed to be a relaxing afternoon or evening watching America's favorite sport. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?

This book contains many examples of people getting hit in the face by foul balls coming at them at great speed. From the time the ball leaves the bat until it hits someone in the stands is about one second, so getting out of the way is not feasible. Perhaps the person is making their way to their seat, and gets hit by a foul ball. The person could be heading to the snack stand to get some peanuts and Cracker Jack, and a foul ball finds them. It is also possible to be outside the stadium, and get hit by a foul ball coming from pre-game batting practice. Instead of a ball flying into the stands at high speed, the bat might slip out of the batter's hands and fly into the stands. The bat could shatter into many sharp pieces that fly into the stands. An injured person can sue the team for damages, right?

That suit won't get very far. There is a legal principle called the Baseball Rule. It basically says that, from the time they enter the ballpark, the patron, not the team, assumes the legal responsibility for injuries that may occur there. The injury may come from a fight with a drunken patron, from falling from the upper deck (because the railings are only two feet high), or from a fight with the team mascot. A "reasonable" person is supposed to know that danger can come from almost anywhere. Any injury is the fault of the patron, not the team.

Japanese baseball parks have netting along both base lines as far as the dugouts. Why can't American parks do the same? Nothing shall interfere with the patron's enjoyment of the entertainment experience (it's no longer just a baseball game).

This book is a big eye-opener. After reading this, maybe more people will stay home and watch the game on TV. It's easy to say "What are the odds?" How much do you want to push your luck?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Vic 6: Event

Vic 6: Event, Jerry Gill, Ann Darrow Co., 2017

This book is sixth in a series about Victoria Custer, your average resident of the early 20th century. The difference is that Victoria has the avatar of Nat-ul, a 100,000-year-old cave woman inside her. Under the pen name Vic Challenger, Victoria has become a travel and adventure writer for her local newspaper. Actually, Victoria/Nat-ul travel to remote places of the world, looking for Nu, Nat-ul's lover from all those centuries ago. If she "survived" all these years, why can't he?

In this book, the search for Nu has taken a detour. O. the head of a secret government agency, asks Vic, and her friend, Lin, if they wouldn't mind taking a trip. Specifically, he would them to go the site of the Tunguska meteor explosion in Siberia. All they need to do is look around, take some photographs and ask some questions of any local natives. Simple, no? Vic is ambushed by unknown people before she leaves. The plane taking them to the site is almost shot down.

Once they arrive, they make the acquaintance of a local tribe of nomads. Joe, Vic and Lin's translator, married one of them; they have many stories about the night the meteor came to Earth. They also encounter very alien creatures. They look like a cross between a boulder and a giant clam that walks upright. The creatures track their prey by sound. A mouth tube shoots poisonous spines that paralyze the prey. Then the mouth tube attaches to the prey, people included, and somehow liquifies the prey from inside, allowing the aliens to suck out the bones, internal organs and skin, leaving little more than a puddle behind.

Vic and Lin discover a weakness of the aliens; they can't be allowed to survive. Can they, and a bunch of nomads, communicate with gestures and hand signals (Joe did not survive), and battle some very evil and carnivorous aliens?

This is an excellent novel. It has plenty of action, and does a very good job with the adventure and weird stuff. After six books, the quality of the writing has not diminished at all. This easily gets five stars.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

London Eye

London Eye, Tim Lebbon, Pyr Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2012

First of a series, this teen SF novel is set in the very near future.

A couple of years previously, the city of London was suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world. The public reason was because of a coordinated series of terrorist attacks. Since then, no one enters or leaves London. A military force called Choppers patrols the streets looking for survivors for "experiments" (think Nazi Germany).

Jack and his sister, Emily (their parents were in London at the time), and a couple of friends undertake a harrowing, mostly underground, journey into London. They have help from Rosemary, who has come out of London, specifically to be their guide. She is a healer, with some "unique" abilities. Rosemary's reason is because is because Jack and Emily's mother is also a healer, with "unique" abilities of her own. Dad's abilities are a lot more destructive; he has become a leader of the "bad guys." Maybe Jack and Emily can change his mind.

During the journey into London, the group battles a pack of wild dogs in an underground tunnel; everyone survives. The rest of the world was told that London has become a toxic wasteland. It's deserted, with large parts of the city in ruins, but it's not toxic. The group walks over a hastily filled-in mass grave, with bones sticking out. Jack and Emily have a happy reunion with their mother; the reunion with their father is not so happy. Jack tries his best to convince Dad to join them and fight their way out of London. Does it work? Are Jack, Emily and their friends now trapped in London?

This is a very good and very dystopian tale. I guess that I liked the society-building a little bit more than the actual story. I am sure that teens will like the whole novel. Yes, it's worth reading.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Always Walk Forward

Always Walk Forward, Billy Wong, Amazon Digital Services, 2016

This fantasy novel is about Vincent and Sam (female) and Drea. They are part of a theater troupe in the city of Belimia. Drea is an obvious fighting expert who tries to make their fight scenes look as real as possible. There is a late night knock on the door. The Paladins have come for Eli, another member of the troupe. Think of them as the secret police; they have kidnapped many people in the past. Vincent and Sam are determined to save Eli, despite their lack of fighting ability. Drea agrees to go with them.

For many years, humans have lived in domed cities. This is because of the ongoing war between daimons and anjeli (demons vs angels). In their travels, Drea tries to teach Sam and Vincent some basic fighting skills. They also meet daimons of various sizes. Some are easy to kill; others, not so much. After one such battle, Drea is seriously injured, but she shrugs it off like it's only a scratch. She suddenly decides to head back to Belimia, but points Sam and Vincent to a nearby city. There they meet Lady Cordelia, who would love to take down the Paladins, permanently. She is also very skilled with a sword. The trio also picks up Giorg, an anjeli with an injured wing.

After much traveling, they find Eli in an underground compound. He says that he is there voluntarily. It seems that he has considerable magic talent, and the Paladins are helping him to develop it. Sam decides to stay and make sure that it is the truth, while the others leave. What follows is a long time in a jail cell for Sam, manacled to a bed. Eventually, Sam breaks out of the compound, and goes back to Vincent and Lady Cordelia. Eli is taken to the capital. There, they learn that he has been taken somewhere else. They also learn that the ultimate plan of the Paladins for Eli is a lot more nefarious than first thought. Who survives the final battle? Does the Paladin organization collapse, once and for all?

The author loves heroic fantasy stories, especially with strong female characters, and it shows. There is lots of good writing, and the (many) fight scenes are well done. Yes, this one is very much worth the reader's time.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Golden Dawn

The Golden Dawn, Billy Wong, CreateSpace, 2017

Julianna is the ruler of the five realms that make up the land of Aerilea. She is smart, beautiful and beloved by her people. She is also a powerful mage, and a very formidable fighting opponent, whether with swords, magic or bare fists. Her latest battle is against the Mother of All Monsters, a being the size of a mountain, who has been dormant for many years. She defeats the monster, but dies in the process. She returns to life a couple of years later.

Julianna is now a being of energy, held together by magic, and the sheer force of her will. While she was gone, three of the five realms of Aerilea broke away. She is able to convince them to return. The five realms are also subject to attack by armies of monsters. They are large, carnivorous beasts with claws and tentacles. They are led, or controlled, by a humanoid who calls himself the Father of All Monsters. His motives are a lot more than just killing all humans.

A much bigger problem is that the supply of magic is almost gone. Aerilea is an island continent that floats in the air due to magic. Some of the outlying islands have fallen to the Lower World. An emissary is sent from the Lower World to ask Julianna how they have displeased her. Since Julianna's body is held together by magic, the crisis is personal. A search of the magic "reservoirs" around Aerilea reveal that they are all practically empty. A way is found to stop the collapse of Aerilea, but it involves Julianna leaving this world forever. What is her decision? Is there no alternative?

I enjoyed reading this story. Julianna is a very strong female character, almost a superwoman. There is plenty of sword and sorcery, along with lots of good writing. Fantasy fans will love it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Deep Cover

Deep Cover, Mara Moore, 2016, Instafreebie

Ashley Pepper is a present-day Washington campaign strategist. For the past couple of years, her life has revolved around getting Senator Mueller elected as President. The election is in a few weeks.

A big donor walks into Ashley's office, carrying a check with lots of zeroes. His name is Max Armstrong, and he happens to be incredibly handsome. Ashley's laser-sharp focus on the campaign deserts her. All she can think about is Max. They have quite a steamy relationship going, until the Mueller Committee's offices are raided by the FBI.

It is then that Ashley learns that Max is really FBI Special Agent Max Armstrong. Ashley is  not happy, to say the least. A woman was murdered in the private club next door, and if a cover-up was going on, Ashley would know about it, right? Ashley is attacked in her home, so Max appoints himself as her FBI protection detail. He is torn between doing his job, and totally falling in love with Ashley.

Suspicion then falls on Mason Bryant, Ashley's second-in-command. He is a brash Texan with no "filter" on his mouth. Supposedly, Mason found about his wife's infidelity, so he thought he would do the same. When the dead woman threatened to expose the affair, Mason killed her and dumped her body in the Potomac River. After his FBI interrogation, Mason's truck, and his body, were also found in the Potomac. Suicide is the official ruling. Simple, no? Ashley refuses to believe it.

As election day approaches, Ashley is kidnapped by people working for the real killer, and taken to an isolated Virginia farmhouse. Will Max and the FBI get there in time to rescue Ashley? Will Ashley be added to the fatality list?

This is a good mystery/thriller that will keep the reader guessing. But, the thriller part does not start until the reader is one-fourth of the way through the book. Until then, it is a steamy romance novel. Even if this is intended as a romance/thriller instead of a thriller/romance, the thriller part could have started a little sooner than it did.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Siding With Plato

Siding With Plato, Michelle Manning, Clink Street Publishing, 2015

Brooke is a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. A native of small-town California, she quickly makes friends with three other women in her dorm. Along with Stella, Kate and Darci, they form their own version of "Sex and The City."

The frat parties start almost immediately. There are a number of occasions where they go to a party, and wake up sometime the next day, maybe in their own bed, and maybe in someone else's bed. They may, or may not, be alone in that bed. They also have no memory of how they got there.

Along the way, Brooke meets James. He is kind, very handsome, and treats her the right way. She was not looking for romance, so she tries to hold on to an opinion of him as a rich, conceited jerk. It doesn't last long. She falls for him very hard. He seems to also be falling for her. Life is good.

Around the middle of the semester, James express his feelings about being in a relationship, with anyone, at this point in his life. Suffice it to say that it does not coincide with Brooke's feelings on the matter (the word "marriage" has crossed her mind). An atom bomb has just exploded in her heart. She loudly breaks up with him, and goes into an emotional tailspin. Her schoolwork suffers, and her friends have to drag her out of bed.

In the second semester, James is in one of Brooke's classes. She is determined to stay broken-up with him, but that, also, does not last long. They are together as often as possible. She is very reluctant to tell Stella, Kate and Darci. Does it break some sort of "rule" to get back together with the person with whom you have broken up?\

Near the end of the school year, Brooke hears from another male student that James has been "playing the field" when he wasn't with Brooke. This sends her into another emotional tailspin. Is she nothing more than a name on his sexual conquest list? Can they clear the air, and maybe even reconcile, before separating for the summer?

This one is rather lighthearted and pretty good. Of course, Millennials and "Sex and The City" fans will love it. In any college "relationship," what one person considers just hooking up, the other person might take a lot more seriously. Yes, it is worth reading.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Dark Place

The Dark Place, William C Risp, CreateSpace, 2017

This story, the novelization of a graphic novel series, brings together several different people to fight some extreme evil.

A young woman named Reh-Reh has done unspecified, but awful things for Franko, the local drug dealer. She is desperate to get away from him, but is trapped in his bathroom. Reh-Reh does have a unique ability. Whenever she cuts her wrists, she is instantly transported to the Dark Place. It is a different plane of existence, where people are still visible, but everything is gray and shadows. It is also full of hell-hounds that are best avoided.

Reh-Reh meets Tony Salazar, a 300-pound brute of a man who has never been loved by anyone. The attraction is instant, and mutual. Tony wants to do the right thing, but he also has a huge temper that makes even hardened street thugs get out of the way. During the story, Tony gets shot several times. Reh-Reh takes him to the Dark Place, Where his gunshot wounds are miraculously healed.

Michael is a very special kind of private investigator. His companion is a nine-foot tall humanoid named Zophiel, who only Michael can see. They are real angels, and Michael does his own physical transformation when he draws his sword.

The extreme evil comes from a well-dressed, older gentleman called Mr. Sunshine. He is a being whom the hell-hounds of the Dark Place respect, and fear. He pushes Tony to accept the evil that is within him, and accept his destiny as a god. Tony wants no part of it; he just wants to be normal. The book ends with a handful of humans, in the Dark Place, and a pair of angels, facing thousands of hell-hounds. Do any of the humans survive? Do Reh-Reh and Tony get back together?

Let's start with Wow, and go from there. He is an incredible piece of writing. Based on a graphic novel, it has plenty of action, and weird stuff. There is also heart, and really good characters. This novel zooms past the level of "deserves six stars." I very much look forward to a sequel.