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.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Origin of F.O.R.C.E.

The Origin of F.O.R.C.E., Sam B. Miller II, Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2015 

Here is an alien invasion novel that starts with What Really Happened at Roswell.

The Chrysallaman Empire is looking for new colony planets. A very worthy planet is found, called HG-281 (Earth). The inhabitants, an inferior race called Humans, are very fragile, and are no match for Chrysallaman telepathy. They are very ruthless green lizards about five to six feet tall, and their military has no qualms about killing, or devouring any inhabitant of any planet who gets in their way. During their exploration, one of the scout ships is brought down in the American Southwest. The pilot is killed, but his son, approximately twelve years old, is captured.

The exploration ship, and its remaining scout ships, leave Earth, and head home, to a planet called Chrysalis, about 30 light years away. A very secret part of the US Military knows that they will be back, in force. A secret organization is formed, not of superheroes, but of really smart people, called the Federal Organization for Response to Celestial Enemies. Some attempt to understand the workings of the alien vessel, including what looks like a toy ray gun that shoots a very destructive beam. Knowing that conventional warfare will not work against a powerful telepathic enemy, others work on a way to genetically activate a person's latent telepathic abilities. A chemical is found, but the problem is how to get everyone in the world to take it without revealing its true purpose.

Fast forward about 60 years. The Chrysallamans return with several hundred warships, and a few million colonists. Humans have to let them land on Earth and get comfortable, because they are no match for the invaders in space. Needless to say, the human death toll is huge. The aliens are horrified to learn that their formerly unstoppable telepathic abilities have no effect on humans. But humans have found a way to bring down the ships of the invaders. It's time to take the fight right to the Chrysallamans.

This is an excellent novel. It is very easy to read, and certainly feels plausible. Famous bits of 20th Century history, like the Salk Polio Vaccine, fluoridation of water and the Hubble Space Telescope, make appearances in this book, in very unexpected ways. A second novel is in the works; I hope there is a third and fourth novel to come.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Best Time to Do Everything

The Best Time to Do Everything, Michael Kaplan, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2005

Have you ever wondered when is the best time to place a sports bet, deliver a baby, sue for millions, buy life insurance, or snag a tough restaurant reservation? Wonder no more, this book has the answers.

This book is based on interviews with experts in each of the fields. The best time to go to the emergency room is Wednesday, Thursday or Friday morning. The best time to get comped at a casino is when you make your reservations; don't wait until you arrive. According to Bill O'Reilly, the best time to rattle an interview subject is when he is about to give you a canned response.

If you want to serve on a jury, the best days are Monday or Tuesday. Early January is usually very heavy, due to the Christmas holidays layoff. The best time to turn state's evidence is just before you are going to get whacked. When do you reveal a potentially disturbing fetish to your lover? After you have had sex three times. That way, the other person knows that you can still enjoy regular sex. When is the best time to pick up someone in a bar? After you have already gotten one phone number that night. You will be extra sure of yourself, and you won't worry as much about being shot down.

There really is a best time to be dragged through the gossip columns; it's when you are young and desperate to prove yourself (there is no bad publicity). The best time to get drunk with a client is when he is Japanese; it's no sin to get drunk with clients. Summer is the best time to come out of the closet. You can take a week off from work, spend three days explaining things to your family, and take long weekend mini-vacation the rest of the time.

This is a very interesting book of the type that can be picked up and read at any point. If you want to live your life cooler, smarter and better, you could do a lot worse than start right here.

The Bridge of Light

The Bridge of Light, A. Hyatt Verrill, Capricorn Publishing, 2005

This is a rousing adventure tale about the lost city of the Mayan Empire.

Traveling through rural Spain, the narrator purchases a couple of old books from a cubbyhole of a shop in a former monastery. A piece of folded papyrus falls out of one of the books. It is a 2000-year-old Mayan Codex that has never been seen before. It's value is beyond priceless. He takes it to eminent archaeologists all over the world to get it interpreted. They can't help, but they all agree that it is a historic find. He travels to Central America, and decides to look for Mictolan, the lost cities of the Mayans.

Naturally, there are no signs saying "Mictolan-This Way". A person must pass through the Valley of Death, the Tunnel of Serpents and the Pit of the Great Crocodile. After that, the person must cross eight deserts with a raging whirlwind that cuts solid rock. There is a demon and a fiend to face in the realm of hot ashes and two blazing mountains. Last, but not least, there is a Cave of Bats to be traversed, and a Bridge of Light to be crossed. By this time, the narrator is alone, everyone else in the caravan having run away in fear, or been killed by various carnivores.

He finds the city of Mictolan. He falls for a beautiful woman named Itza, who is about to be wed to the Sun God (it involves human sacrifice). Ancient prophecy says that Kukulcan, the winged Mayan God, will send his son, a white man, to lead the Mayan people back to their former glory. This gives him some authority over the people, which he uses by stopping the "wedding". This really upsets the ruler of Mictolan, a religious dictator named Kinchi-Haman. He can't publicly say that the "son of Kukulcan" is a fraud, but he waits for his chance at revenge.

The narrator learns exactly why the Mayan people disappeared. They have done amazing things with astronomy, but the introduction of the wheel is a stop-the-presses Event. The major obstacle in his escape from Mictolan, along with Itza, is the Bridge of Light. Is is a natural phenomenon, or does Kinchi-Haman control it? Do they escape Mictolan, and make it back to civilization? What happens to the people of Mictolan?

First published in a 1920's pulp magazine, this is an excellent adventure story. To quote from the back cover, "Before there was Indiana Jones, there was A. Hyatt Verrill". He knew a lot about the Mayans, and he is also a good storyteller. This will certainly keep the reader entertained.