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:

2 yahoo groups
Amazon and B&N (of course)
and on Twitter

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Pineville Heist

The Pineville Heist, Lee Chambers, MISFP Publishing, 2011

This novel is about your average teenager caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. He might just pay with his life.

Pineville is a small town in Ontario that has seen better days. Its last remaining bit of industry, a mill, has been bought by Derek Stevens, a corporate-raider type. The expectation is that he will close the mill, turning Pineville into a ghost town. Anticipating your town's demise can make people do strange things. That makes Aaron, his son, not the most popular person at the local high school.

Cutting class one day, Aaron and a couple of friends head for the woods just beyond the high school, and come upon a bank robbery gone bad. Hiding under a canoe, Aaron sees a couple of the robbers shot point blank by an unknown person. Grabbing a knapsack full of money from the bank that was robbed, Aaron makes it back to the school. Steve, one of his freinds, wasn't so lucky.

The school day is over, so the school is deserted. Aaron runs into Miss Becker, his drama teacher, only a few years older than Aaron. She becomes convinced that he is telling the truth when "Mr. Big," the person who did the shooting, enters the school. He makes it clear that he wants the money, and that he does not plan to leave witnesses. Mr. Big has smashed the school's electrical circuit breakers, plunging the school into darkness. Earlier, the principal made the school a "no cell phone" area, so there is no way to call for help. They are also locked in for the evening.

The three fight several pitched battles all over the school. Every time Aaron and Miss Becker think that Mr. Big is no longer a threat, he wakes up, meaner and more upset than ever. Do Aaron and Miss becker survive the night? Is Mr. Big taken care of, once and for all?

I read the entire second half of this book in one sitting, it's that good. The book is somewhere in the process of being made into a movie. If it is anywhere near as thrilling as this novel, it is recommended for teens and adults.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rad-Claire The Symphony Mouse

Rad-Claire The Symphony Mouse, Shawnita J. Chevis, Reimann Books, 2012

This children's book is about a music-loving rodent named Rad-Claire. What happens when music is permanently taken away from her?

Rad-Claire is part of a royal family of rodents that live in the walls of a high-class apartment building. One day, a pipe bursts in the building, and Queen Mary, Rad-Claire's mother, is swept away, clutching her flute. Queen mary, Rad-Claire and Prince Blake, her brother, all love music. Despite a diligent search through out the local sewers, no sign of Queen mary is found. In his grief, King Baisly, Rad-Claire's father, bans all music throughout the kingdom.

Rad-Claire loves to listen to listen to music from the building's human occupants. It could be anything from classical to hip-hop; Rad-Claire sometimes joins in on her mouse-sized violin. As brothers are inclined to do, the King finds out from Blake about Rad-Claire's refusal to give up on her musical dream, and she is brought before him.

After being told to give up music, or be confined to the Rodent Palace forever, Rad-Claire runs away from home, and finds herself on the streets of Manhattan. She samples some fine cuisine, and crashes in a luxury hotel. She visits a church to listen to the gospel music. Later that evening, she ends up in a jazz club to hear the blues. After being befriended by an escaped lobster, they go off to find an orchestra.

The next day, they find themselves at Radio City Music Hall during a performance of the New York Symphony Orchestra. Naturally, they are dressed for the occasion. Rad-Claire plays along on her violin, and is noticed by the conductor, who places her on the podium, and gives her a tiny conductor's baton. The audience is captivated. Does Rad-Claire return to the Rodent Palace? Does King Baisly rescind his music ban?

This one is pretty good. It shows that musical talent, and love of music, can be found in the most unlikely places. Children will enjoy it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sammy's Next Move

Sammy's Next Move, Helen Maffini, Third Culture Kids Press, 2011

This is a children's book about a snail named Sammy, who is moving to another country, again.

Sammy has been living in Italy for about a year. He has just gotten used to his new house, and Alex and Amanda are his friends. One day, Sammy's parents tell him that the family is moving to Japan. Sammy is very upset. How can he leave his friends? What if no one at the new school will be friends with him? What if he doesn't like the new house?

His mother reminds of the good times he had in the previous places where he lived. There were trips to Disneyland in Hong Kong, playing board games inside during typhoons and seeing Hong Kong from the harbor. In the United Arab Emirates, there was camping in the desert, and watching fireworks on National Day. Sammy's grandfather recorded himself reading Sammy's favorite bedtime stories, so that he was with Sammy every night. In the past, when the family was getting ready to move, Sammy and his father would research their new destination, and make a collage with pictures of all the fun things to do. Then Sammy's mother would cook a traditional meal from that country. While Sammy would miss his friends in Italy, he begins to treat the move as an adventure, with a new land to explore.

The book also includes some tips for parents. Be honest with your child about the move. Acknowledge their frustration/anger. Keep traditions from home alive in your new home. Let your child say goodbye to the place you are leaving. Maintain regular ties with family back home. Let your child express their feelings.

This is an excellent book for any child moving to another country (and for their parents, too). It may just make the whole process of moving a little easier.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Older Man Younger Man: A Love Story

Older Man Younger Man: A Love Story, Joseph Dispenza, Createspace, 2011

This is the true story of the evolution of a relationship between two men with a 30 year age difference between them.

Joseph (the older of the two) joined a monastery right out of high school as a way to deal with his sexual confusion. It's the sort of place where, for the first year, silence is required. When he left the monastery eight years later, he was no closer to any sort of answer.

Later in life, Joseph meets Mike in a small town in Mexico. Mike is a massage therapist whose dream is to become a naturopathic doctor, and Joseph is immediately smitten. To his joy, Joseph finds out later that day that Mike is also gay. Joseph has written several books on spiritual matters, so they decide to join forces and start an organization intended to help people through various life transitions. They eventually set up shop in a small town in Mexico.

Most relationships have their petty quarrels and misunderstandings, but the only bad parts of this relationship seem to be health related. Mike is subject to epileptic seizures, which he controls with medication. Later in the relationship, Joseph experiences pain during his much too frequent urination. Several prescriptions have little, or no, effect. When it turns out to be more than just a urinary tract infection, Joseph, or anyone in their 60s, can't help but think "Is this the beginning of the end? Will you be forced into the role of caregiver as I start to physically fall apart?" The death of Joseph's only brother, back home in Ohio, helps send him into a fit of depression. Mike notices Joseph's withdrawing, or hiding, from him, and loudly expresses his frustration.

When reading about an intimate, caring relationship between two people of very different ages, "Ew" is a normal response. In this particular case, don't be concerned. The sex is very minimal, and this is a well-written story of two people seemingly made for each other. Besides, isn't a strong and loving bond between two people the ultimate goal of any relationship? If it happens between two people at different stages in life, what's the big deal? This one is really worth reading.