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
Chatabout.com
Flickr.com
Pinterest.com
and on Twitter
(seriously)

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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dirty Martini

Dirty Martini, J.A. Konrath, CreateSpace, 2013

Part of a series, this novel is about Chicago Police Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels. Her nemesis this time is The Chemist, someone who spreads very lethal poisons in public places. The body count, along with the level of panic, rises very quickly. Before heading to parts unknown, The Chemist plans one last act of terror. Can Jack and the police stop it? Do they stop The Chemist, permanently?


This is an excellent story. It easily reaches the level of Stay Up All Night Reading Until Finished. It also gets two strong thumbs up.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Get Smart!

Get Smart!, Brian Tracy, Jeremy P Tarcher/Penguin, 2016

Everyone wants to act and think like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. This book shows how anyone can move in that direction.

What do you really, really want to accomplish, either personally or professionally? Writing that Ultimate Goal on paper, and posting it somewhere prominent, is more meaningful than simply keeping it in the back of your mind. Be sure to break that Ultimate Goal into smaller, more manageable pieces. Resolve to do at least one goal-oriented thing every day.

Corporate thinkers are concerned with pleasing their bosses, following the rules and doing the absolute minimum necessary to keep from getting laid off. Customers are nothing but whiny irritants. Entrepreneurial thinkers obsess about customers all the time, they continually upgrade their skills and look for ways to become more valuable to their company. Which one are you?

Is it worth it to be in motion all day, looking like a video tape stuck on fast forward, and ultimately not getting much done? On the other hand, maybe you should prioritize your tasks, doing the important ones first, and resolve to actually work while you are at work. Leave the socializing for lunch time. Also, you should resolve to check your email only at specific times during the day. Stay away from it for the rest of the day.

Every policy and procedure in your company should be periodically re-evaluated, for possible changing or removing.The reason that most people stay poor is because of ingrained bad habits, like procrastination, fear of failure and lack of persistence. This book tells how to change those habits.

Start with "excellent" and go from there; that is how good this book is. It is highly recommended for people from any walk of life, young or old, blue- or white-collar.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Wish

Wish, Scott Hungerford, Amazon Digital Services, 2013

The city of Emerald (formerly known as Seattle) is like something out of the Arabian Nights. Communication is done through a form of Skype that uses talking mirrors. Getting around the city is not done with cars or buses, but with flying carpets. The Sultan (the absolute ruler of Emerald) has been deposed in a coup. The new Sultan is a young man named Cassim. He is known to Shea, and her scholar father, as an arrogant, elitist jerk. Several magic rings give Cassim the power to, among other things, command an army of stone soldiers.

Few people know this, but Cassim started his reign by marrying his sister (without her consent), taking her to his bedroom, and, the next morning, ordering the disposal of her headless body. The stone soldiers spread out throughout Emerald, gathering up 500 young women, including Shea, and her best friend, Chloe, to be part of Cassim's harem. The previous night, Shea was attacked by a djinn who forced on her the ability to know a person's complete life story, including when they were going to die, just by touching them. Inside the palace, a sprawling complex of unimaginable luxury, the other women dream of being Sultana, but Shea knows that they have a very short life expectancy. Cassim finds out about Shea's abilities, and orders her to read anyone he wants, and tell him their story, especially the violent and sexual parts.

After being forced to read Chloe, the two manage to get Cassim's magic rings away from him, and help many others to get out of the palace with help from Shea's mother, Eve, a professional assassin. It's now a race to a cavern deep inside a mountain to get a magic lamp, the ultimate source of Cassim's power. It just happens to be guarded by a very large dragon. Do Shea and her parents get to the lamp first? Is Cassim the winner, and does he consolidate his tyranny?

This belongs in that large gray area of Pretty Good or Worth Reading. The story gets better in the second half of the book. Even a small explanation as to how Seattle became Emerald would have been appreciated. Teens will enjoy this book, and adults will like it, too.

Europa Journal

Europa Journal, Jack Castle, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2016

Harry Reed was part of a US military training flight that left Florida in December 1945. It vanished in the Bermuda Triangle. How did his body end up inside a submerged pyramid on Europa about two hundred years later?

Commander Mackenzie O'Bryant is called in, because she has a prominent place in Reed's journal, which she pockets. A member of her crew accidentally pushes the On button. They just manage to escape the flooding of the pyramid, but they don't escape the suddenly-created wormhole that sends them Somewhere Else.

After crash landing on an alien planet, their attempts at First Contact do not go well. They eventually meet up with Reed, who is the only survivor of his flight. He has been accepted by several awumpai (think of a samurai crossed with a yeti). The planet is ruled by a very powerful being called Atum-Khaos. He knows of Earth's existence. His ultimate objective is to take an entire floating city back through the wormhole, and kill or enslave all of humanity. Can he be stopped by a handful of humans, and a couple of World War II-era bomber aircraft? How does Reed's body get to Europa?

I totally enjoyed this novel. It's very easy to read, with heart and emotion along with very alien aliens. It also has lots of action, with a rather high body count by the end. This is another case where just as a novel, this is excellent. Considering that it is the author's first SF novel brings it to the level of Wow.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Subversion: Science Fiction and Fantasy Tales of Challenging the Norm

Subversion: Science Fiction and Fantasy Tales of Challenging the Norm, Bart R Leib (ed.), Crossed Genres Publications, 2011

This is a group of new science fiction and fantasy tales about challenging the status quo. It doesn't have to be political; the status quo can be social, religious or even personal.

In an interplanetary confederation that uses slavery (it's called "contract labor"), a young boy, son of the slave owner, becomes friends with a female slave of the same age. After learning exactly what contract labor is all about, he starts to plan the revolution that will bring down the system, once and for all.

A Jewish woman's grandmother was a pro-union activist in the Great Depression era. The woman's average teenage daughter suddenly decides to drop out of college and become a political activist. That wouldn't be so awful, except that the daughter suddenly starts speaking in Russian-accented Yiddish (just like grandma), a language to which she has had no exposure. Maybe the grandmother is not yet ready to "cross over."

A pair of brothers in the foster care system each have their own android Guardian. On a car trip, they stop at a seedy-looking house for some very illegal upgrades to the Guardians, without the Guardians catching on.

The only way to keep a powerful dragon from destroying a trio of kingdoms is to send heirs to those kingdoms to the dragon, as sacrifices. But one of the three takes the words Know Your Enemy more seriously than do the others.

As in most anthologies, some stories are better than others, but, overall, this group of stories is well worth the time. There is a good variety of times and places, and the writing is really good.

Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen

Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen, Claude Lalumiere and Mark Shainblum (ed.), Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2016

This latest installment in a yearly compendium of science fiction and fantasy stories from Canada focuses on superheroes. It involves a lot more than constant battles against Dr. Bad Guy.

A female super-villain breaks out of prison and crashes her family's barbecue, in order to visit her dying grandmother. The rest of the family is not thrilled about her sudden appearance. When a superhero is injured in battle, does he or she go to the local hospital, or to a special superhero hospital?   After the public adulation has disappeared, and the government no longer needs their services, what is a superhero to do? Are they forced to fly around the city, carrying a giant "Available" sign, like an airborne taxi?

A woman becomes sidekick to Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost things. A native of Prince Edward Island passes up a chance to join an all-Canadian league of superheroes. There is a story about a person who sets herself on fire, and then reincarnates, like a human phoenix. A female friend of Captain Freedom was murdered, chopped to pieces and pinned to a wall as a warning for the Captain. Now she's back from the dead.

Not only is this an excellent bunch of stories, it's also an excellent addition to the superhero universe. There is a lot more to being a superhero than fighting evil.

Tochwyatis

Tochwyatis, Frej Wasastjerna, Amazon Digital Services, 2012

The two-thousand-year sleep of the Sky Father is scheduled to end in a few years, so Kumulhan, High Priest of the Sky Father, decides to honor him by making the whole world worship him through a brutal war of conquest. Ugude, the military leader of the Tagaiashaian people, cuts a swath through the planet of murder, pillaging and desecrating temples of the Cat People and Bird People. Tochwyatis, a young and untrained sorcerer of the people of Maimo, seems to be the only one who can stop him.

The Maimonese gain allies in the Cat People, who are tired of Kumulhan's tyranny. Tochwyatis falls for Niariti, one of the Cat people. The attraction is mutual. There is a long journey to a certain mountain where, it is thought, Ugude will pass in his travels. Tochwyatis kills Ugude with sorcery, but that is hardly the end of the story. There are many battles, with a very high body count.

The end of the book finds Tochwyatis and Niariti in the central Temple of the Sky Father. Kumulhan knows that things have fallen apart, so, as a last resort, he awakens the Sky Father early. What is the Sky Father's reaction?

The overall story may be a bit simplistic, but the author does a very good job. Everything feels very believable, from the romance to the battle scenes to the reality of how to use a crossbow. This easily gets four stars, maybe even four-and-ahalf stars.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

D-99

D-99, H.B. Fyfe, Pyramid Books, 1962

Mankind has started to spread throughout the galaxy, and has met alien races with all sorts of, to humans, strange laws. When those laws are broken, and a human is thrown in jail, the Department of Interstellar Relations is tasked with getting them out and off the planet. When that doesn't work, D-99 gets the job. It's one of those super-secret agencies that officially does not exist.

A pair of men crash landed on a planet where such a thing is illegal. The natives had just finished an interplanetary war, so they were understandably wary of outsiders. The plan is to slip them pills which, when consumed, will make them look dead. The natives will dump their bodies in the nearby desert, where a ship will pick them up. A female journalist is arrested on a different planet for wanting to buy a souvenir, and for being excessively feminine. The plan is to have her transferred to a work farm outside the city, but she never gets there.

Meantime, back on Earth, a major power failure has stranded the D-99 employees at the office on the 99th floor of a skyscraper (that's where the "99" comes from). They can't call for help, because the D.I.R. will never let them hear the end of it. So everyone is stuck until the power is restored. A more serious problem concerns Lydman, one of the employees. He is an ex-spacer who spent time in an alien prison. Everyone is worried about what he will do when he learns that he is trapped at the top of a skyscraper. Does Lydman find his own solution? Despite the handicap, does D-99 rescue the detained humans?

The book is certainly interesting and readable, but there is not much reason to recommend it, either. I wish I could say more than just Meh.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Humanoid Touch

The Humanoid Touch, Jack Williamson, Holt Rhinehart & Winston, 1980

This novel, sequel to Williamson's justifiably classic novel The Humanoids, takes place about one thousand years from now. A small remnant of humanity has fled to a pair of planets orbiting a binary star, in order to get away from robotic servants called humanoids.

What's so awful about robotic servants whose only purpose is to serve Man, and protect him from harm? Aside from the fact that they number in the trillions and are spreading throughout the galaxy, they gently, but firmly, insist on doing everything for mankind. They haven't just taken over dangerous jobs like coal mining or crab fishing, they will not let mankind even drive a car or go to the grocery store. Earth is an enslaved planet.

In this book, most of what's left of mankind don't believe that the humanoids are real; they are nothing more than something for parents to mention to misbehaving children. Keth Kyrone and his discredited father are among the few who still fear the humanoids. Keth inadvertently finds something that may be mankind's only weapon against them.

The humanoids arrive, and start manipulating people's beliefs. Even hard-nosed military types suddenly disappear for several days; when they re-appear, they are practically singing hosannas about the humanoids to anyone who will listen. Is it real, or have they been brainwashed? Keth has to undertake a dangerous mission, mostly on his own. to open humanity's eyes to the benevolent slavery of the humanoids. Does he succeed? Are the humanoids stopped?

By itself, this is a really good story from a master of science fiction. When compared to The Humanoids, the older novel is better. This is still a fine piece of writing that looks at the downside of robots and artificial intelligence.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Eyes Behold Tomorrow

The Eyes Behold Tomorrow, Ken Hart, World Castle Publishing, 2014

Edward Robert Teach is your average human male. He is smart, rich and very un-politically correct. He also abhors his famous namesake, Blackbird the Pirate. One day, a spaceship lands on the lawn of the White House. Out come several gorgeous women. They are actually from the female-dominated planet of Feletia. They are here to recruit human males, including from the general public, to join the Feletian Space Navy. Feletia is in the middle of an interplanetary war against the Lyonians, who have already visited Earth. Edward is personally recruited by Princess Kamini, the leader of the expedition, for her "stable."

On Feletia, Edward becomes the unlikeliest captain of a prototype space destroyer in the Feletian Space Navy. He gets quite a reputation after destroying a Lyonian battle cruiser with a lucky shot with a torpedo. There is a Lyonian bounty for his capture. There are many personality clashed between strong-willed Edward and the equally strong-willed Feletian women.

A new player has entered the Feletian-Lyonian war. Edward watches as a ship of unknown origin destroys several Lyonian ships like it was nothing. Returning from a mission, Edward finds the population in an uproar. There has been an attack by unknown individuals, with many Feletian casualties, including Kamini's mother, Queen Aphelia. He learns from a captured intruder that they are called Grrulagans, and they can change into any being they want. Their intention is to foment a Feletian-Lyonian war, and then clean up afterwards. By this time, Kamini has assumed the throne, and Edward has become Regent. Only Edward can see the Grrulagan impostors among the Feletian population, and after teaching others how to do it, several thousand Grrulagans are rounded up. As Regent, Edward's job is to protect Kamini, any way he can. This leads to more clashes with the Feletian hierarchy. Does Kamini survive? Is there now a three-way war?

This belongs in the large gray area of Pretty Good or Worth Reading. The author, intentionally, does not try to answer any Great Questions, like "Where did mankind come from?" It is a tale of one person's physiucal and emotional journey, and it is worth reading.