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.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Exodus Lost

Exodus Lost: An Inquiry Into the Genesis of Civilization, S.C. Compton, BookSurge Publishing, 2011

This book looks at history and archaeology in a very different way. It also attempts to put dates to several Biblical events.

In the early 1500s, the Aztec leader Montezuma told hernan Cortes and his men that the Aztec civilization was not native to Mexico, but had arrived there from somewhere else across the ocean. According to the author of this book, that "somewhere else" was ancient Egypt.

In Mesoamerica (ancient Mexico), the Olmec civilization showed evidence of, for instance, aqueducts, burial pyramids, paper production and the world's oldest magnetic compass. There were not the usual incremental improvements over centuries; these appeared abruptly and fully formed. Meantime, their neighbors still lived in huts.

The Phoenicians were known to be master sailors, circumnavigating Africa more than two thousand years before the Europeans. There are accounts of Phoenicians reaching a large land mass many days sailing across the Atlantic Ocean (America).

Recent drug tests on Egyptian mummies showed that they tested positive for tobacco and cocaine. Both are indigenous to America and were supposed to be unknown in the Old World before Columbus. There are many other connections between Olmec and Egyptian cultures.

The Biblical Flood has been dated at approximately 3180 BC. On the floor of the Indian Ocean, a giant crater, consistent with a meteor strike, has been found. Independent scientific evidence has been found of a huge, and very quick, drop in global temperatures at that time. Also, the amount of water vapor kicked into the atmosphere by such a meteor strike could easily have caused forty days and nights of rain.

Here is a fascinating book, very well-researched, that will get the reader thinking in a whole new way. It may not be for everyone, but, for any sort of ancient history reader, it is highly recommended.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Sum of Random Chance

The Sum of Random Chance, Lee Chambers, 2012, Kindle e-book

This novel is about a relationship between a newspaper reporter and a woman with a "different" outlook on life.

Cole is a reporter whose failure to cover an assigned story gets him fired. He didn't cover the story because he was watching Sara face down an armed robber during a supermarket robbery, armed with nothing but a smile. Because of his sudden unemployment, Erin, his shallow, high-maintenance girlfriend, throws him out of their apartment. Several other incidents with Sara, who always seems to be smiling, convince Cole that something is very weird.

Sara considers it her "calling" to help people, in whatever way is needed at that moment. Cole writes a newspaper story about Sara, hoping to get his old job back, despite Sara's request that her explanation stay private. The story makes the front page, and Sara is very upset, along with being the latest media sensation. Seeing Cole's name on the front page, Erin suddenly wants him back. Sara refuses to talk to Cole, who knows that he has screwed up with her, big time.

A "sequel" to Sara's story is printed, full of half-truths and outright lies. The national media is very interested. Is there any way for Cole to get Sara to understand why he did it? Can Cole make things right?

Are there some people in this world for whom "random chance" is not exactly random? Are there some people who consider it more important to, for instance, help someone else to win the lottery, rather than get the jackpot for themselves? This is a very intriguing idea, and Chambers does a really good job. Yes, this is very much worth reading.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead

Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead, Nancy Kilpatrick (ed.), Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2011

Whatever is ahead for humanity, how will vampires react? Will they continue to suck our blood, or will we learn to work together? This anthology attempts to give the answer.

In present-day Mexico, a street kid meets a female vampire and gives her some of his blood. She is on the run, because her kind is being hunted by the Mexican government, drug gangs and nearly everyone else. The night before liftoff, a male astronaut has a romantic encounter that ends with him being bitten by a vampire. What do you think will happen to the first manned mission to Mars?

A very high-class mausoleum, which involves preserving the dead and letting them float around inside a hollowed-out asteroid, allowing families to visit, is not what it seems. A jury has to decide if a young woman, who was beaten to death, was, or was not, a vampire at the time. A woman is truned into a vampire, and is forced to leave her husband and daughter; the temptation is just too strong. Decades later, the hunting of vampires has become established and part of society. In a world where the ozone layer has pretty much disappeared, blisters will form on unprotected skin within a few minutes. People are ripping vampire fangs right out of their mouths, because, when ground up and mixed with blood, it supposedly makes the ultimate sun-block.

This is an excellent group of stories. They are original stories that explore all parts of the vampire world. Individually, they are well-written, and, collectively, this is very much worth reading (even for those who are not vampire fans). 

A Medicine for Melancholy

A Medicine for Melancholy, Ray Bradbury, Bantam, 1963

Here is a group of stories by one of the masters of the science fiction field.

A young woman is bedridden with a baffling illness. Her family decides to bring her, and her bed, outside, on the street, to take advantage of the human tendency to give unsolicited medical advice to complete strangers. A group of male friends, of the same physical size, pool their resources to purchase an expensive white suit, which they will share. It is the sort of suit that is guaranteed to attract the ladies. A young boy is sick with what his doctor is certain is nothing more than scarlet fever. The boy fears that his sickness is much more serious.

An after-the-apocalypse story is about an America where everything, and anything, from the past is to be hated and destroyed, including a famous painting that is based on a woman's smile. A group of human colonists are stuck on Mars because of a war on Earth. A colony ship is sent, five years later, after the war, and finds several hundred Martians, with no knowledge of any human colonists. Traveling across America by train, a businessman impulsively decides to get off at the next stop, whatever it is. He learns why there are some small towns where no one ever gets off the train. A couple of men who wander California beaches looking for coins or dropped jewelry find something really interesting. A real mermaid washes up on shore. Their thought is to pack it in ice, and eventually sell it, but the tide is coming in.

This book shows why Bradbury was such a great author. The stories aren't just science fiction, or fantasy, or horror. They feel like the sort of stories that could happen to anyone. If a copy can be found, this is a gem of a book.

Voices of Doom: Tales of Terror and the Uncanny

Voices of Doom: Tales of Terror and the Uncanny, Basil Copper, St. Martin's Press, 1980

Here is a group of stories by someone who has been compared to H.P. Lovecraft as a master of horror and the macabre.

A professional occultist travels to an abandoned house, in the middle of nowhere, to see if tales told by the locals have any legitimacy. Many years ago, a family, plus servants, lived there, until they were all driven mad or died under mysterious circumstances. Was it just a string of bad luck, or was the house conspiring against them?

A man named Stovold seems to have acquired a "shadow" in the form of a gaunt man clad in black. Wherever Stovold travels around the world, his shadow is somewhere nearby. Back home, with his health falling apart, Stovold sees the shadow knock on his front door, carrying luggage for an extended visit. Is this some denizen of Hell, planning to do something unspeakable?

Soames, a local accountant, notices a closed and vacant shop in his neighborhood. A few days later, during his lunch break, he finds the shop in a different location, and it is open for business. For various reasons, he is prevented from entering. Eventually, he walks through the door of Charon Ltd. Exporters, and is welcomed like an old friend by the proprietor.

This is the way macabre and horror stories are supposed to be done; the horror part is subtle and in the background instead of in your face. Here is a first-rate collection that is really worth reading.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Familiar Stranger: The Order of the Black Swan

My Familiar Stranger: The Order of the Black Swan (Book 1), Victoria Danann, 2012, Kindle e-book

Elora Laikin is pushed into an interdimensional portal just before an assassination attempt. Imaging being run through a blender and flayed alive, at the same time, and somehow surviving. Also imagine being dumped in the middle of a super-secret military base. It's the headquarters of an elite unit, who are part of a 600-year-old Order, and whose purpose is to kill vampires.

When she recovers, Elora meets Storm, Kay and Ram, the members of the team before who she made her "entrance." Interdimensional travel is supposed to be impossible, so the three don't know what to make of her. They also can't help but notice that Elora is gorgeous. She shows them that she knows her way around the world of martial arts and fighting. Ram is something of an overgrown adolescent; he is a 6-foot-tall elf, who mates for life, and seriously messes up the courtship process with Elora.

Going up against vampires in the field, Elora shows more resourcefulness than brains. Many missing person reports seem to center on a Manhattan night club. The four get jobs there and keep their eyes open. An attack occurs, and Ram is seriously injured. In the tunnels under the cities, Elora is betrayed, and left naked and chained in a locked jail cell, with a couple of hungry vampires. Does she survive? Does Ram survive? Who does Elora "choose"? Is it possible to find true love while fighting vampires?

This is a really good paranormal story. It is just strange enough, without overdoing it. The romance part is well done, too. This is very much worth a sequel.