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, September 23, 2012

The Lodestone Trilogy

The Lodestone Trilogy, Mark Whiteway, 2011, Kindle e-book (B006OOC5MC)

This combination fantasy/science fiction trilogy is about an enslaved planet, and a small group who intend to do something about it.

The Kelanni live in a medieval type of society, and are ruled by an unseen being called The Prophet. The Keltar are the Prophet's judge, jury and executioner. They go from village to village, kidnapping in broad daylight, and taking the unlucky ones on a one-way trip to "serve The Prophet." Their actual destination is much more brutal, and more down-to-earth.

Alondo is a genius who has had some Keltar training. Lyall is a musician who plays a very special type of instrument. Shann is an orphan child whose parents are "serving" the Prophet. They learn that the Prophet's skin is actually white, and his blood is red (the Kelanni have green skin and tails). They are joined by Keris, an ex-Keltar who brings along a strange being named Boxx, who has custody of an even stranger machine. It allows the group to speak to a woman from several thousand years in the past, who tells them of a weapon that will stop The Prophet, once and for all. Getting to the weapon is the hard part.

After many days travel, they reach the Barrier of Storms, which certainly lives up to its name. Their first attempt to cross is unsuccessful, because forces loyal to The Prophet are hot on their trail. They eventually cross in a modified sailing ship. Shann and Boxx are separated from the others, and find themselves in a much more technologically advanced society (the two societies know nothing about each other). Along the way, Shann and Boxx learn some really interesting things about themselves and their respective societies. Are they successful in stopping The Prophet, and un-slaving their world?

Here is an excellent piece of writing. The author does a fine job at making the Kelanni seem human, even though they are not human. It is very much worth the reader's time.    

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

That Girl Started Her Own Country

That Girl Started Her Own Country, Holy Ghost Writer, 2012, Kindle e-book (B0094IH8HC)

This novel is about a woman who is able to handle herself quite well in federal prison. It is also connected to two very famous pieces of writing, "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas and Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.

A woman is arrested in present-day Miami on charges of running a very sophisticated money-laundering operation. She refuses to cooperate with the authorities, but does give the impression that she may be actual royalty. At her arraignment, she represents herself. She shows that she knows, and can argue, the relevant law better than even a first-rate lawyer. Later in the book, she shaves her head to prevent the authorities from getting her DNA from a strand of her hair.

While in prison, and as an experienced hacker, she looks for dirt on the pair of FBI agents who arrested her. With access to seemingly unlimited amounts of money, she starts leaking high-level information to crusading journalist Steven Larsen, the only man who ever meant anything to her. Very strong precautions have to be taken, because this is the sort of information that could get any journalist on the assassination list of many governments. The connection between a present-day suspense story and a famous piece of 19th century literature comes near the end of the book.

Here is a first-rate piece of writing. I may be among the few people who have never read any of Mr. Larsson's books (I will have to do something about that). This book is very contemporary, and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Lurking Man

The Lurking Man, Keith Rommel, Sunbury Press, 2012

This novel is about a woman who is forced to take a hard look at her life, and the choices that she made to get her to this point.

Cailean will never be nominated for Mother of the Year. She has take to alcohol to ease the memory of a terrible thing that happened to her when she was a child (it's not what you think). She doesn't drink simply to get drunk; she drinks to pass out. She and Wilson, her husband, are separated. Her record for visiting her son, Beau, who simply wants his mother to visit him, is not good. One day, Cailean shows up at Wilson's door, sober, and convinces him to let her take beau to her condo for just a few hours. The intention for Cailean is to show Beau and Wilson that she really can change. Things do not end well.

Existing somewhere between life and death, Cailean finds herself trapped in a cone of bright light in a snowstorm. She is being held there by a humanoid being named Sariel, who forces her to take a hard look at her life. She finds out just what it was that turned her into such a mean and rotten person, filled with self-hatred (again, it's not what you think). Cailean also sees what has happened to the "good" part of her. At the end, does Cailean have an Ebenezer Scrooge-like epiphany, and work to regain the confidence of Beau and Wilson? Does she even survive the encounter with Sariel?

This book will certainly get the reader to look inside themselves, to see if they have any Cailean-like behavior. It is recommended for everyone, especially those in the grip of alcoholism. Do you and Cailean share a similar reason for your actions?  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Maynwaring's: A Game of Chance

The Maynwarings: A Game of Chance, Digger Cartwright, 2012 (Kindle e-book)

Set in the Nevada Territory just after the Civil War, this novel is about a family for whom things suddenly start going very badly.

The Maynwarings are one of the founding families in Carson City, the territory's capital. Barron, the family patriarch, is a United States Senator. They own several buildings in town, along with an immense cattle ranch outside of town.

A well-dressed stramger named Giddeon Van Thorn rides into town, and offers to purchase several businesses, including a saloon and the local mercantile, for a very generous price. Those who decline his offer have a nasty habit of ending up dead. Van Thorn says that he is part of a shadowy Association from back East, whose intention is to develop Carson City, bringing jobs and tax revenue (sound familiar?).

A neighboring rancher, Dan Arkin, is found dead, several hours after a poker game that went bad. Suspicion falls on Jeremy Foster, a recluse, and another participant in the ill-fated poker game. The Maynwarings set up a search party to ask Foster some hard questions; the circumstantial evidence against him is pretty strong. Several of Van Thron's thugs are unknowingly included in the search party. They reach Foster first, and lynch him, preventing the Maynwarings from following the law. The body count starts to rise. The local judge is in Van Thorn's pocket. Things get serious when anthrax is found in their cattle; it can wipe out an entire herd very quickly. Things get even more serious when one of Barron's sons, Houston, is shot and seriously wounded by an unknown assailant in broad daylight. Is all of this Van Thorn's fault, or is there some other explanation? Can Van Thorn's plans be stopped? Will the Maynwaring ranch survive?

The author does a very good job from start to finish. He puts the reader right in the middle of the story, and the characters feel like real people. Here is a first-rate piece of writing.