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.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Yarashell Abbily and Her Very Messy Room

Yarashell Abbily and Her Very Messy Room, Sybrina Durant, CreateSpace, 2014

This is the tale of a little girl and her very messy room.

Yarashell is your average three-year-old who jumps out of bed each morning with a spring in her step and a song in her heart. She tears through her dresser, and her closet, looking for the right outfit to wear (it just happens to match the outfit of one of her dolls). Her room is now a mess, because Yarashell has tossed clothes everywhere in her search for the right outfit. Mom walks in, and she is not very happy.

Yarashell can't explain it, but says that she enjoys messing up her room. Dad is called in, to see if he can help. Can Dad convince (and not tell) Yarashell to clean up her room?

This book is made to be read to the average three- or four-year-old, especially those who are in the "messy room" stage. It helps when the author dedicates the book to her four granddaughters, who each had a messy room when they were Yarashell's age. Yes, this book is really worth the money.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Shambling Towards Hiroshima

Shambling Towards Hiroshima, James Morrow, Tachyon Publications, 2008

This novel is about an audacious plan to end World War II in the Pacific, without invading Japan. It involves a man in a rubber monster suit.

In mid-1945, Germany has already surrendered. A Top Secret American project involves the creation of a trio of mutant, bipedal, fire-breathing lizards, and unleashing one of them on a Japanese city. A total Japanese surrender is the only way to cancel the attack. It is decided that the Japanese should first witness a demonstration of the potential devastation. A miniature mockup of the city of Shirazuka is created at an isolated Army base in the California desert. The hope is that the visiting Japanese delegation will be so horrified by what they see, that they will run to the Emperor, and beg him to surrender.

Enter Syms Thorley, veteran B-movie actor. He is most known as the living mummy Kha-Ton-Ra, and the monster Corpuscula. Thorley is assured that just one rehearsal is needed, with a less-detailed mockup of Shirazuka, and there will be just one performance, so he can work it around his current movie. He has to get used to the rubber suit, so he takes it to the beach a couple of times, and almost gets arrested. He also drives around Los Angeles with the suit strapped to the roof of his car.

Performance day has come. The miniature Japanese ships and planes are firing bits of actual gunpowder at him, to make it look as real as possible. As the mock-devastation goes on, Thorley is supposed to act "injured," but he really is injured. Does Thorley give the performance of a lifetime? Is it enough to force a Japanese surrender?

I really enjoyed this story. It's short, and easy to read, and it is very well done, from a veteran author. It is very much worth reading.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Wind City

The Wind City, Summer Wigmore, Steam Press, 2013

Set in present-day Wellington, New Zealand, this book is about two people who learn that the world is not what they think it is.

Saint is a destitute, loser type. On the bus, one day, he sees a very strange woman with straight white hair named Hinewai. Saint is the only one who can see her. She tells him that beings from Maori legend, that go under the general name of iwi atua, are coming to Wellington, some with violent intentions toward humans. Saint can't help but think that he is losing his mind, until his roommate (who he calls The Flatmate) turns into a large, hairy, carnivorous creature who almost makes Saint his next meal. Saint meets an ethereal being named Noah, who convinces him that the rest of the iwi atua are just mindless creatures who don't deserve to live.

Tony is a female boat owner who runs one of those see-the-dolphins tourist boats. One day, her boat is deliberately sunk by Hinewai, who tells Tony that she is actually a type of iwi atua, called a toniwha (a type of large lizard that can swim underwater). Tony is surprised when she actually transforms into a toniwha. Hinewai is upset because, in Maori folklore, she has only a minor role in someone else's tale, but she doesn't have her own tale. Tony figures that the first step in getting Hinewai her own tale is to take her to some of the bars and restaurants in Wellington, where she might meet her True Love. They run into Saint, who learns, to his shock, that those iwi atua that he has been killing, by the hundreds, really are intelligent beings. Many of the surviving iwi atua would like to make Saint pay for what he has done, slowly and painfully. Can Tony keep Saint alive, and prevent a war between humans and the iwi atua?

This is a gem of a story. Considering that it is the author's debut novel (she was only nineteen years old when it was published) brings it to the level of Wow. It is well-written from start to finish, and it is highly recommended.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Lockdown, Timothy O. Goyette, Quantum Muse Books, 2013

This novel is about a man who did a considerate thing, and is paying for it, big time.

The good thing that Samuel Rochez did was to keep a bomb from exploding, that would have killed many aliens called the Loscar. Unfortunately, humanity was at war with the Loscar at the time, a war that humanity eventually lost. Rochez is universally reviled as the person who was responsible for humanity's defeat. His attempts to live in anonymity don't last very long.

Rochez is forced to join a band of mercenaries traveling to another planet looking for Carlinium, the rarest mineral in the galaxy. It is supposed to be a very simple operation, paving the way for the industrial mining equipment that will come later.

Rochez discovers that the planet is inhabited by very friendly flying creatures that communicate by telepathy. There is little, or no, fear of strangers. Rochez undertakes a long-distance journey with Jawell, one of the natives, to attempt to convince them that the rest of the humans mean to do them, and their planet, a great deal of harm. Along the way, the natives have a more urgent problem. Imagine a herd of stampeding buffalo heading right for your village. What, if anything, can be done about it?

Meantime, back at the ship, a major complication occurs when the Loscar visit the planet, and put it under lock and key. There is no leaving the planet without the Loscar knowing about it. A mutiny is staged because the Captain is supposedly too moderate with the natives. Rochez is re-captured, and a plan is put together to create a way to leave the planet secretly, a plan which involves a nuclear warhead which may destroy part of the planet. Can Rochez keep the home world of the natives from being destroyed?

This is a strong, well-done piece of storytelling. Parts of it might seem preachy or predictable, but it is still well worth reading.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sammy, Where Are You?

Sammy, Where Are You? An Unconventional Memoir...Sort Of, Ira Spector, Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2014

This is a memoir of a person's life, but it is not the average memoir. Instead of separate chapters looking at each part of his life, this book is a bunch of related short stories chronicling his life.

Born in Depression-era Brooklyn, Spector did the usual teenage things. He frequently stayed out late at night, and once he locked the keys in his father's car a long way from home (there was no AAA in those days to unlock the car). As teenagers, he and a friend took a two-day bus trip to Miami, with the permission of his parents. They then hopped on a plane to pre-Castro Cuba to see the sights (including the local prostitutes).

In the early 1950's, Spector joined the Coast Guard, and was able to have his official file specify No Ship Duty (because of a lifelong tendency toward extreme seasickness). Becoming a pilot, one day he was flying in formation, when a small plane, unwittingly, flew right through their formation. Only some quick thinking by Spector prevented a mid-air catastrophe.

After the Coast Guard, Spector got married, and lived in Southern California. His wife, Suzi, was a commercial artist, so Spector was the Sales Department and assistant artist. The first bit of art he ever did in his life was a 24-foot long mural for a major department store. A married couple who were friends of theirs commissioned a large sculpture for their front yard. They approved the design ahead of time. It was about nine feet tall, white plaster over a metal framework, and with multiple arms. A picture of it is on the front cover of this book; it is the sort of thing that is guaranteed to get the neighbors talking. It was installed in place, and that night, the wife had a nightmare about it. The husband paid the agreed-upon fee, but requested its immediate removal. It took a long time before the sculpture, named Sammy, found a permanent home. Another piece looks at some of the employees the couple had, for their art business, and for their ill-fated attempt to own a pizza parlor (it eventually destroyed their marriage). Some of the people were decent and reasonable, but the majority could, charitably, be called jerks.

I really enjoyed reading these tales. There is a good mixture between humorous and serious. It is the sort of book that can be picked up and read at any point. This is very much worth reading.