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.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Contact: Episode One

The Contact: Episode One, Albert Sartison, Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2014

(Kindle Book Review)
This novella starts the story of Mankind's first contact with an alien civilization.

In the 22nd Century, Mankind has started to spread out throughout the solar system. He has also started to fiddle with Mercury's orbit through remote manipulation. Steve is a graduate student in astrophysics at an unnamed university. One day, the computer tracking system tells him of an unknown object coming this way from outside the solar system. Figuring that it's just a comet or meteor, Steve tells the system to keep an eye on it. Within 24 hours, the object has come from outside the solar system, used the planet Saturn as a brake, and put itself into orbit around Jupiter. That requires an insane amount of speed, many times faster than the fastest human ships.

Steve calls in Clive, a fellow grad student, to confirm his findings. Steve knows that Clive will find any holes in his theory. Clive is convinced, and the two call in Dr. Shelby, dean of the university. He is convinced that the object is not a comet or meteor, and convenes an international conference of eminent scientists. The public reason for the conference is to discuss future experiments to manipulate Mercury's orbit. When everyone is behind closed doors, Shelby reveals the real reason for the conference.

There is much discussion around the question "What do we do now?" Using electronic pulses, does Mankind say "Greetings?" Does Mankind send scientific constants or numbers that will not change, like pi (3.1416)? Will the visitor even respond at all?

Think of this as part of a larger novel, and it works really well. It's well written, and it feels scientifically accurate. It stops at the right spot, when Mankind sends its first message to the alien visitor.

(The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book in exchange for an independent, fair and honest review. We are not associated with the author or Amazon.)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Remembering Love

Remembering Love, Nadine Christian, Eternal Press, 2013

This is a tale about a woman returning to her birthplace after many years, love and family secrets.

Holly returns to Pitcairn Island after spending much of her life in a New Zealand foster home. A native of the island, her parents died in a murder/suicide when she was a child. (Pitcairn Island is in the South Pacific. The nearest recognizable land mass is New Zealand. The island's claim to fame is because of the story, and the movie, "Mutiny on the Bounty." The only way on or off the island is to get a ride on a supply ship that visits the island four times a year.)

Holly runs into Jack, her childhood friend from when she lived on the island. The attraction is mutual and instant. The people on the island (the total population is around 60) seem to thrive on gossip; the worst offender is Masie, an older woman who implies that Celeste, Holly's mother, may have been unfaithful.

Just before Holly and Jack are ready to take their relationship to the next level, a huge and sudden obstacle threatens to destroy it. Holly's search for answers is complicated by learning that soon after Celeste died, Masie intentionally burned all of her things. Does Holly find out the truth about her mother? Do Holly and Jack get back together?

Not being a romance reader, I was ready to not like this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. It moves very easily, and it is set in an exotic part of the world (the author lives on Pitcairn Island). It is recommended for everyone, especially those who don't normally read romance stories.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pilgrims to Patriots: A Grandfather Tells the Story

Pilgrims to Patriots: A Grandfather Tells the Story, Alex Bugaeff, CreateSpace, 2012

There are many ways to tell the early history of America (some of them work better than others). In this book, a grandfather tells the story to his grandchildren.

Over the course of a year, "Gomps" tells his grandchildren, nine-year-old Carter and eleven-year-old Hannah, the story of America. He starts with the voyage of the Mayflower and the Jamestown Settlement. The early settlements barely survived, but when they became established, nobility from all over Europe wanted a piece of the New World. In the 1630's, Connecticut was the first colony to have a written constitution, called "The Fundamental Orders."

The reader will learn about Molly Pitcher, the War of Jenkins' Ear, the Indian Prophecy, the day the British shot themselves in the foot, the Sons of Liberty and the Hundred-Year Lawsuit. The reader will also meet the Super Six, which included Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Gomps also explains how, during the Revolutionary War, General George Washington got little or no financial help from the Continental Congress.

Start with "excellent" and go on from there; that's how good this book really is. The chapters are only a few pages long, and the stories are told in a much more entertaining way than the average school textbook. For any young person, or any adult, who wants to learn more about early American history, this is the place to start.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Guide to Grants Writing for Non-Profits

Guide to Grants Writing for Non-Profits, Harriet Grayson, Ocean Breeze Press, 2013

For many non-profit organizations, grants are a very lucrative source of income. How does one get their modest non-profit noticed by all those corporations and foundations?

 It is going to take a lot of time and research. Visit the website of your local bank or credit union. Visit the websites of major retailers in your area. They are always looking for opportunities for good public relations. For a new non-profit, applying for a grant from the federal government might be reaching a little high, so try your state government first (the book provides websites to visit).

Some foundations might restrict their giving to, for instance, a certain geographic area, or groups run by women, or veterans, or minorities. If the grant is for a specific purpose, make sure that your group can handle it; don't apply for everything. Read the requirements, usually called the RFP, or Request for Proposal, thoroughly; then read it again. Some grantors will get very particular about what should be in the grant proposal, and how long each part should be. Follow those directions exactly. You don't want an otherwise first-rate grant proposal to be rejected simply because you didn't follow directions.

How does one get the grantor to approve the proposal? Be concise, but tell a compelling story. Mention other grants that you have received in the past. Include your proposed budget. How will your group fulfill the need better than any other group? In short, force the grantor to choose your group. If your proposal is rejected, it's not the end of the world. Sometimes the grantor will explain why they rejected it. Therefore, you will be that much more prepared next time.

This book is short, it gets right to the point, and it's very easy to read. For any person, or any group, who is new to the grants world, here is a good place to start.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Internal Security

Internal Security, David Darracott, CreateSpace, 2012

America is rocked by another terrorist attack. Has Islamic terrorism again come to America?

A large truck bomb explodes at a Daytona Beach hotel during Spring Break. The casualty list, and the amount of damage, is huge. Tom Darden, a reporter for a regional radio news service, gets into the blast area, when everyone else is being kept out. Over the next few days, he writes a story that starts to put some of the pieces together. It involves a couple of missing illegal aliens, and a black pickup truck with Texas license plates. Darden's boss has no interest in running the story, because he was officially told, by his boss, to back off the story. As punishment, Darden is sent to Iraq.

The patrol that Darden is part of is attacked, and, in the chaos, Darden photographs things that he shouldn't have photographed. He is thrown in prison, but this is not your average prison. For lack of a better term, this is an unofficial, "off-the-books" prison. It's the sort of places where Iraqis with absolutely no connection to the insurgency, are tortured, frequently to death, simply because the civilian contractors can do it. Darden's cell neighbor is a former Army medic whose "crime" was treating one of those tortured Iraqis. After a few days, Darden is released and put on a plane back to America.

Back home, Darden writes about his experiences in Iraq, and posts on several different websites. It attracts the attention of powerful people in Washington, which leads to an assassination attempt. A senior adviser to the President, called the War Hawk, goes live on national TV. Using the Daytona Beach bombing as a justification, he imposes martial law. Rioting is widespread. The country is very divided. Can Tom, along with sympathetic government officials, expose the truth before it is too late?

This is an excellent piece of writing. It works really well as a political thriller, and it's much too plausible. Highly recommended.